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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Best Holiday Tech Gifts

As you can imagine, the technology reporters and editors of the New York Times love tech, so many of the gifts they received during the holidays were tech-related.

Some picked their favorites (and took a guess at the prices):

Portable Charging Station. (AviiQ; $60) I travel a lot and I travel with at least four electronic devices that need frequent rechargings. This charging station is a zippered vinyl case, much like a shaving kit or toiletries kit looked like before the TSA forced us all into plastic bags. Neatly arranged inside are USB ports to plug in the wires and a capstan to wind up the wires out of the way. The USB port is attached to an electrical plug. So I no longer will have to deal with a tangle of wires in my bag or - and this is so important - leave rechargers behind in hotel rooms. DAMON DARLIN

Billingham Hadley Pro Camera Bag ($280). When I'm not writing on a keyboard, I'm often out documenting the underbelly of a city with my Leica camera. It has been difficult finding the right bag that is inconspicuous enough to hold an expensive camera, laptop and iPad while I'm shooting. A new camera bag made by Billingham seems to be the perfect accessory for my equipment. It is designed to fit a DSLR or rangefinder camera and an extra lens, an 11-inch Macbook Air, and an iPad, Mini or biggie. There are also a few pouches in the front for wires, cables and additional SD cards. The bag comes in a few colors, including black, beige and an army green. NICK BILTON

Pizza stone and iPhone case. My family tends to dabble in low-tech gift giving tendencies. Books, artwork and chunky scarves are a bit more in their comfort zone. So this year for Christmas, I bought myself two techie accessories intended to make my life a bit more interesti ng. The first was a pizza stone, to make all of my pizza party dreams for 2013 a reality. Ceramic is supposed to be more porous than other materials, absorbing moisture and leaving behind a crispy, crunchy crust, the perfect vehicle for roasted tomatoes, cheese and anything else you throw on there.

I also bought a new case for my iPhone 5. It's white, to match the finish of my phone, and the back is covered with gold metal spikes. It's infinitely less practical than my previous case, a Speck SmartFlex Card, which is outfitted with a pocket that doubles as a wallet, but much more interesting and a guaranteed conversation starter. Despite its pointy exterior, the case is soft and fits snugly in a back pocket or even wedged between cheek and chin for taking the rare mobile phone call. Plus, I kept the Speck case around for afternoon jogs or evenings out when I don't feel like carrying a separate wallet or purse.

I found my latest case on Etsy, which is full of inventive and creative smartphone covers and cases.

The best techie gift I gave: A StickyGram gift certificate to my older sister, an Instagram fanatic. StickyGram is a service that lets you turn your Instagram photos into cute refrigerator magnets. It costs $15 per set of 9 magnets, including shipping. JENNA WORTHAM

Streaming music system. Sonos Play:3 ($300) There are a lot of ways to cobble together a wireless system for streaming music to multiple rooms in your house at the same time, but none work as well as the products made by Sonos. The Play:3 is a speaker with a built-in wireless receiver that plays songs stored on my computer a nd from Pandora, Spotify and an array of other online music services. I've resisted buying Sonos products for years because of their price. I finally gave in after realizing the reliability and elegance of Sonos is worth it. NICK WINGFIELD