Many of the latest tech gadgets and holiday must-haves are pricey and likely beyond the budget of the average college student. However, it’s still possible to give a memorable holiday gift without breaking the bank.
Most of the guys I talked to said they would prefer a single large present rather than a bunch of smaller ones. I put together this list with that in mind and set the price range to no more than $150. I understand that might be pushing it for the average student, so I have also listed some cool, less expensive — but memorable — presents.
The Kinect for the Xbox 360 might not seem like the go-to gift for a typical college gamer, but it’s great for parties and a perfect way to spend time together. Even if you aren’t normally into video games, the intuitive motion control system and ever-expanding library of fun, casual-based titles offer an experience that anyone can enjoy.
However, there are several things to keep in mind before purchasing. The unit requires 6 feet of space between the unit and player, which might be a problem in the average dorm room. It’s also a fairly new product, meaning it’s hard to track down, and there are only a few games that support it so far.
Before you scour every retail store for it and drop $149.99, I’d suggest feeling out what the reception might be.
The Amazon Kindle is another tech gift he is sure to appreciate. He will have access to a huge library, and many OSU textbooks are available for the device at a discounted price.
There are several models, but the $139 version is perfect for any OSU student. It doesn’t have 3G support, but the university’s Wi-Fi will let him download books anywhere on campus.
The downside to the Kindle is that it takes many digital book purchases to break even on the cost of the unit itself. However, the great screen and Internet connectivity make up for this in spades.
The Flip Video is a slick, portable camcorder with high-definition video recording and an easy-to-use interface. The unit is as simple as a point-and-shoot camera and easily connects to the user’s computer via a built-in USB connection.
It’s the perfect present for anyone looking to dabble in video and is great for recording those crazy college hijinks that would otherwise be relegated to memory and legend. There is a wide array of cool accessories for the device, including tripods and underwater housings. The unit’s design can be customized on Flip’s website at no extra cost, so it’s easy to put together a gift that he’ll always remember.
There are several models available, but the $149 UltraHD 4GB model is great for those who have regular access to a computer and don’t need to store lots of video on the camera.
Netflix gift cards
A Netflix gift card might seem like it’s in the same boring league as its retail brethren, but it’s truly one of those simple gifts that keeps on giving.
Netflix has completely changed the way I view entertainment. I stream movies to my laptop between classes, watch HD television shows on my Xbox 360, and queue up tons of new Blu-ray releases as soon as they come out. All of that, plus no lines, no hassle and no late fees equals an awesome gift.
You can purchase a three-month gift card for roughly $27. If you want to avoid the “gift card feel,” set up the account for him and give him the log-in details. You could even customize things by putting a few movies you want to watch with him in queue.
DVD boxed sets
DVD boxed sets are great, as they are incredibly cheap this time of year. You can pick up titles such as “Dexter” and “Weeds” for as little as $20 if you catch them on sale.
Every guy I know has some sort of boxed set collection. They’re great for killing time and perfect for diving into a television series. They’re also cool conversation pieces for parties, something that Netflix can’t offer.
Customized Chuck Taylors
If you want to score some extra cool points, consider getting him some customized Converse Chuck Taylors. They never go out of style, and he’ll always think of you when he puts them on.
Converse’s website has tons of Chucks that can be customized in hundreds of ways, and the prices run between $58 and $80.
However, it’s critical to order them right away. The shoes take three to four weeks to ship.
Although iPod earbuds might be part of the “college look,” their sound quality is best described as tinny and flat. A pair of noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones will not only bring new life to a music aficionado’s MP3 player but will also provide a convenient way to drown out loud roommates.
It is important to remember that you get what you pay for when it comes to headphones. A $20 pair will likely sound worlds better than stock iPod earbuds, but they will lack the bass response and overall fidelity of a Sony or Sennheiser set that costs around the $100 mark.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about the experience. If you can put something together that is meaningful to both of you, any gift will do. The best ones will be the ones you can share together, so look for something creative and customizable.