A guide to this year's best tech gifts

By Don Lindich

McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3 2013 10:13 a.m. MST

Samsung's new tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, is demonstrated in this Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 file photo in New York. The Samsung Galaxy tablet is one of this year's hot gift items.

Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

These are picks from the best products of 2013, as well as some enduring choices that prove their value year after year.

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GREAT GIFTS FOR UNDER $100

—Monoprice HDMI cables: Don’t waste your money on expensive HDMI cables sold in stores. These HDMI cables are just as good as the expensive ones and sell for under $5 each. www.monoprice.com

—Nakamichi 780M headphones: Selling for $25 online as well as at Sears and K-Mart, these over-the-ear headphones come in many colors, fit comfortably and sound surprisingly good. I recommended these last year and readers loved them, so they are back again this year. www.nakamichi-usa.com

—RCA RTS735E sound bar: Flat-screen televisions have notoriously bad sound. For only $59, this sound bar provides a lot of performance for the money and is easily found online and in big-box stores. www.voxxintl.com

—OontZ Bluetooth speakers: Cambridge SoundWorks’ line of OontZ Bluetooth speakers has been critically acclaimed for sound quality and value. The top-of-the-line OontZ XL is on sale for holidays for only $99 using promo code XLSALE99. The OontZ XL was recently reviewed by Sound and Vision magazine and was found to have better sound quality than the $249 Jawbone Jambox, remarkable given the huge price difference. The OontZ XL can fill a decent-sized room with high volume, high quality sound, it works as a speakerphone and has a battery life of 10 hours. The original OontZ sells for $49 and is much smaller and lighter, while delivering excellent sound quality in smaller spaces, and the new, pocket-sized OontZ Curve is on sale for the holidays for $29.99. All have class-leading performance at lower prices than the competition and long battery life, making them standout values. www.theoontz.com

—D-Link SharePort Go: For only $45, this nifty device is sure to be appreciated by tablet and smartphone fans, especially those who travel. The D-Link SharePort Go can transform any Internet connection into a secure wireless hotspot, has a high-capacity battery than can be used to recharge your smartphone or tablet, and includes a USB port that can be used to add storage to your device or stream music, photographs and movies. www.dlink.com

—Spin-Clean Record Washer: This $79 record cleaner is sure to be loved by vinyl record lovers. It duplicates the cleaning efficiency of far more expensive vacuum record cleaning machines, though it requires a bit more effort. www.spincleanrecordwasher.com

—RHA MA450i Noise-Isolating earbuds: Widely available at The Apple Store, these $50 earbuds are a nice, affordable upgrade to any device. www.rha-audio.com

—Panasonic DMP-BDT230 Blu-ray player: If you do not have a Blu-ray player yet, what are you waiting for? This great Blu-ray player provides 1080p movies from Blu-ray, streaming from Amazon and Netflix, upconversion to improve the picture of your DVDs on your HDTV, and adds SMART TV features to any television using Panasonic's VieraConnect. www.panasonic.com

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GREAT GIFTS UNDER $500

—Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 7.0: Widely available for $200 or less, this 7-inch tablet is a good introduction to tablet computing. www.samsung.com

—Think Tank Photo Airport Navigator camera bag: This $289 rolling camera bag features premium construction, smooth inline skate wheels and enough capacity to fit a large laptop, an iPad, a professional camera system with multiple cameras and several large lenses, and plenty of pockets and cubbyholes for storing batteries, chargers and accessories. All Think Tank Photo bags feature premium zippers and smaller models have magnetic closures that are secure, yet quick and easy to open. www.thinktankphoto.com

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