How about Pro-Power Mini speakers? They're $1.33.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Cheap ways to fill out your gift list

Dec. 12, 2010

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard

   My job this week is to find that special gift your technophile doesn't already have -- without breaking the bank or robbing you of that last penny for the old man's hat.
   For the iPod owner who wants external speakers: Pro-Power Mini iPod Mobile speakers, self-powered using AAA cells or externally powered by a USB connection: $1.33 from www.amazon.com.
   For the digital camera user who keeps complaining about a run-down battery: Two new batteries from an Internet discount store. Find out the exact model of the camera (do it surreptitiously) and use the model name and number when you locate the replacement. Try www.batterydepot.com. (Buy two so one can be charging while the other is in use.)
   For the office worker who's incurred the wrath of fellow employees by listening to reggae on his laptop at full blast: A pair of ear buds from Big Lots. Look for the Sentry brand. I think they sound better than just about any kind you can buy. $4 to $5.
   For the nephew who burns his own music CDs: A Sharpie felt-tip pen so he can write on the platter without worrying what's the matter (as he'd have to do if he used a ballpoint pen, which can gouge the protective surface). A couple of dollars from your local office-supply store. Buy 'em by the dozen and save big.
   For grandpa and grandma, who always ask you to read them the tiny text in instruction manuals because they can't make it out: A magnifying glass from a drug store. Get the kind with a built-in LED lamp if you want to spend more than a pittance.
   For your Uncle Marty, who usually forgets his gloves and has to drive to work with semi-frozen fingers on the wheel: A padded, pop-on steering wheel cover from Big Lots or Walmart. $5 to $8. (I bought the model with puffy hand-holds at the 10:00 and 2:00 position; it's made my driving a joy.)
   For every Windows user on your list: Freedom. (No, I'm not going to tell you to buy them all a Mac. This is a cheapskate advice column.) Get them out of the cycle of paying every year for antivirus software by baking them a cake -- OK, cookies if you're THAT cheap -- and putting a note in the box telling them about the best free antivirus and anti-spyware software that ever came downloading the pike. It's Microsoft Security Essentials. I use it and would not trust my Windows PCs to anything else. Tell them to get it from www.microsoft.com/protect.
   Finally, for the family member who can't seem to remember where the cell phone went: Velcro-type tape from Walmart. Stick some on the back of the cell phone and on the wall, next to an outlet for the charger. The phone will be out of the way and always in the same place when it's not being carried.