Tis the season for gift-giving, and this year tech toys are undoubtedly atop many a list.
Problem is, you might be receiving something you really don't want — even though the gift giver thinks it's cool.
To make matters worse, Black Friday and Cyber Monday likely means thrifty friends and family will take advantage of deals on outdated electronics and discounted video games — all for you to unwrap come late December, with a fake smile of appreciation slapped across your face.
Even if the tech picks aren't lame, per se, there are just some things people don't want to receive as gifts because they're personal and thus better purchased yourself.
If you're not exactly sure what constitutes as tech no one really wants, the following are some notable examples — or feel free to share your own suggestions in the Comments section.
Cases are a popular accessory for a smartphone, right? Indeed, but you don't want someone buying it for you. Not only could that tech-challenged aunt of yours buy you a case for a phone you don't have — such as an iPhone 4 case even though you have an iPhone 5 — but since you're carrying it around, it must reflect your style and needs. A goth chick might not want a Hello Kitty case for their Android, nor will an on-the-go student have a need for a thick waterproof Otterbox case. If you're not sure what to buy a smartphone lover on your holiday list, make it a gift card and let them decide what to spend it on. (Er, if you really do like that pink Labrador iPhone case above, click here.)
Cheap Android tablets
You don't have to look very far to see some tablets are now below the $100 price point — but remember the old adage: you get what you pay for. Your mom might've seen one hocked on QVC or HSN and reached for the phone to snag one, but when you get it in your hands you realize your calculator from grade 9 has more processing power. Sure, it may be an Android device, but remember the cheaper tabs don't grant you access to the Google Play store, unless you root it, therefore you can't choose from a large selection of apps. For example, the $92 Coby Kyros is a slow 7-inch tablet with paltry storage (4GB), poor battery performance and limited selection of apps. And don't worry if you haven't heard of the $75 XTAB fro XO Vision, as it received an average of 1 star out of 5 among Best Buy customers. If you unwrap these kinds of tabs on Christmas Eve, don't expect them to be working by Valentine's Day.
dSLR cleaning kits
Unless you're a pro shutterbug who takes their craft über-seriously, there's no need to use one of these fancy cleaning kits for your digital Single Lens Reflex camera. Just blow the dust off your damn lens, wipe it with your shirt and take some pictures. You can just hear the excitement on Christmas morning: "Ooh, cleaning liquid, a lens pen, dry wipes and a microfiber pouch -- you shouldn't have!" While a pricey new lens might be unrealistic, other good gifts for a dSLR owner include a tripod (maybe a snaky GorillaPod model), slick-looking weatherproof bag, high-capacity battery or extra memory card (32GB minimum).
GPS nav units
People who buy GPS units should get lost. Get it? Oh, forget it. But it's true GPS navigation units are as trendy as George W. Bush jokes. Your smartphone is your new GPS because you never leave home without it, you can use it easily while on foot (or transit) and do up-to-date web searches for local businesses (not just "points of interest"). Plus, it's not only the premium cars preinstalled with a nav unit these days. Unless the gift recipient doesn't have a smartphone or new car, and prefers to have something mounted to the dashboard for directions, steer clear of a GPS unit.
Smartphone accessories come in all shapes, sizes and prices, but one you should resist buying is a clock
dock. You know, those alarm clocks with a spot to plant your iPhone or other smartphone. Most of them are cheaply made with terrible audio quality, and the gift giver needs to ensure the clock dock works with the smartphone you own. There are only a couple of Android-based ones with a microUSB port, plus new iPhones, iPads and iPod touch use the 8-pin Lightning connector — yet at the time of writing this there aren't any accessories yet. No one wants to use the auxiliary input (via 3.5mm cable) as it's ugly, you can't control your tunes on the alarm clock and it won't recharge your phone.
Random video game
This is one Bart Simpson could relate to. Instead of receiving the ultra-violent Bonestorm, Bart's mom Marge bought him the cheesy Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge because the store clerk at the Try-N-Save told her it's the new game "all the kids want." Make this a lesson for non-gamers: don't buy a kid (or kid at heart) a video game without knowing what they're into. First-person shooter fans likely have no interest in Epic Mickey 2 — and for the love of God don't buy any of those music games with plastic guitar-shaped peripherals. When in doubt, gift cards and accessories are a safe bet.
Walk into your favorite electronics retailer and you'll see a number of products tied to major theatrical releases, performing artists or video games. While you're excited about Skyfall it might not be smart to buy Sony Mobile's James Bond smartphone. Musical tastes will likely move away from Justin B. even though you received a pair of Bieber Beats headphones ($178.99 for the over-the-ear model). Instead, buy a pair of awesome-sounding Sennheisers for half the cost. And while Halo 4 is cool, do you really want to see Master Chief plastered all over your limited-edition Halo 4 Xbox 360 in 2014? Buying licensed merchandise is shortsighted, therefore resist buying these kinds of presents for loved ones — especially if they're pricey tech products.
Other tech gifts to avoid if you can: a Bluetooth headset (especially the large, flashing blue ones that make you look like a nerdy Borg); digital photo frames (2005 called, they want their tech back); and anything with a subscription — such as a smartphone or satellite radio — or else the gift recipient must pay monthly to use their present. Oh, what fun.
Yahoo! readers, surely I've left out some good ones. What tech do you really not want -- but expect you might receive?
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