With the end of the year rapidly approaching, that special techie in your life deserves something awesome.
Oh, you haven’t gotten anything yet?
Look, it’s no big deal: You’ve been busy, or maybe you just forgot. But even if you only have a few hours (or minutes) to spare, a ton of readily available gifts are out there that your tech-savvy chums will adore — although some terrible choices are also lurking.
We know you don’t have much time for research, so we’ve done the hard work for you. Here are seven last-minute gift ideas that (hopefully) won’t disappoint.
Spotify: You know it, and you love it, but you probably don’t pay for it. But a premium upgrade brings a host of benefits.
Subscribers can listen to any of Spotify’s 20 million songs without suffering through ads every few minutes. Premium also enables you to download playlists to your desktop or mobile device so you can listen to them offline, making Spotify exponentially better on the subway (or anywhere else with a spotty online connection).
Subscribers get higher audio quality, too. While most folks are content with Spotify’s regular streaming quality, audiophiles will appreciate Spotify Premium’s doubled bitrate (from 160 kbps to 320 kbps).
Spotify gift cards are at retailers like Target, Walmart, and Staples, but you can also buy Spotify e-cards online. Spotify Premium costs $10 per month.
An e-book subscription service
Now you can binge on books the same way you gorged on House of Cards.
While some folks will always prefer paper and ink, e-book services are becoming increasingly enticing now that they’re embracing Netflix-style subscription models. The two frontrunners are Oyster Books and Scribd’s e-book service.
Oyster, which has intuitive and attractive apps for iPhone and iPad, offers more than 100,000 books to subscribers. It’s signed up publishers like HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Workman, and Perseus. Highlights include a social media connection that shares what you’re reading with your friends (and vice versa) as well as some nifty viewing options that go beyond just text size. The service costs $10 a month.
Scribd, meanwhile, supports iOS, Android, and web browsers, making it the clear choice if your gift recipient isn’t an Apple person. At $9 a month, it’s also a bit cheaper, and it just signed a major deal with indie publisher Smashwords on Dec. 19, adding 225,000 additional tomes. Scribd now offers more than 325,000 books to subscribers, with participation from publishers like HarperCollins, Rosetta Books, Workman, and Sourcebooks. It also has social-sharing options, though its font selection, pagination, and other customization options aren’t as great as those on other services.
Ultimately, either would make a great gift, offering readers a new way to browse, discover, and consume one of the oldest forms of media.
Amazon Prime is a gift for people who like to buy stuff.
Ideal Prime recipients don’t want some thoughtfully acquired, predetermined object; they want fast, free shipping for all the other crap they plan to purchase in 2014. A Prime subscription ($79/year) also provides access to one Kindle book per month from Amazon’s “Lending Library” as well as thousands of streaming movies and TV shows through Prime Instant Video. (You know you want to rewatch Galaxy Quest.)