This Season's Hot High-Tech Gifts

Fun and useful options for the techie in your life.

Gadgets and gizmos are fun to gift—and plenty of fun to get—for the holidays. But have you ever noticed that many of them don’t actually simplify your life? Dump bulky pedometers, pieced-together sound systems, clumsy earpieces, and wasteful paper books, and try these tech options that will truly help a loved one streamline.

Get Fit
Gone are the days of bulky pedometers. The Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Tracker uses a 3D motion sensor to record your fitness and sleep, the calories you burn, the distance you travel and the stairs you climb. Your data is automatically uploaded onto FitBit’s website, where you can add details about your nutrition and weight to build a graph that will help you visualize your sleep, eating and exercise patterns for a better routine.
$100 on Amazon.com

Talk Safely
Earpieces are annoying and handheld devices aren’t safe in the car. The Blue Ant S4 Bluetooth Car Kit is a speakerphone you mount on your sun visor, which can connect two phones simultaneously, uses voice command dialing and can play music, too.
$49.95 at all4cellular.com

Don’t Sacrifice Sound
Watching movies on a tablet, listening to tunes in your hotel room—portable speakers can be a road warrior’s best friend. But carrying batteries is inconvenient, so iHome has a new solution. The iHM62 collapsible speakers come with a 2-in-1 cable enabling charge from a USB device and output via a standard 3.5mm audio plug. The lithium ion battery buys you two hours and is rechargeable. They provide great bass and another fun feature: color changes (if you want them).
$49.99 at ihomeaudio.com

Lighter Tablets
Barnes and Noble’s Nook may have been overshadowed by the iPad and the Kindle Fire, but its newest tablet has gone on sale for $269. With a 9-inch screen and weighing 27 percent less than the $499 iPad, Nook is worth another look. The new Nook Video service, announced in September, lets users buy movies and television shows from providers like HBO and Walt Disney Studios, and the video, like other Nook content, can be stored via cloud computing and accessed on multiple devices.
$269 at Barnes & Noble

Not to be outdone, Apple unveiled the iPad mini in late October. The new device weighs 7/10ths of a pound and has the same display resolution as 2011's iPad 2.
Price ranges from $329 to $659 at apple.com