10 Best and Coolest Tech Gadgets for the 2014 Holiday Season

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There are hundreds, maybe thousands of great high-tech gadgets to choose from this holiday season. From tablets to phablets, to portable speakers (but no beakers), there's something for everyone this year. It doesn't matter whether you're a gadget geek, or someone that can't figure out where the ON button is, there's something out there for all ages and sizes.

We've scoured the Web and doubled-checked our notes and reviews to come up with a list of the ten best and coolest gadgets to get and give this holiday season.

10 - Extended Smartphone Batteries

It would be great if the rechargeable battery that came inside your smartphone lasted a few weeks - or days - or, in some cases, one full day on a charge. If your phone has a user-replaceable battery you can always carry an extra with you. But many new designs seal the battery inside to save space and device weight.

For those devices you can't replace the battery, considering getting an extended rechargeable battery. There are dozens of portable designs on the market including plug-in types which provide an emergency power source as well as extra battery power cases which add always available reserves as well as extra weight and bulk to your device. We especially like the Morphie Juice Packs (pictured above) and the Anker Astro Mini external pack. 

In many cases the positives outweigh the negatives. Depending on your smartphone model (doesn't matter whether it's an Apple (AAPL) iPhone, Google (GOOG) Android or Microsoft  (MSFT) Windows Phone or and the amount of extra power you need an external extended battery should cost anywhere from a low of $16 to as much as $100 or more for more elaborate designs.

If you, or a loved one is inseparable from a smartphone and constantly looking for a place to recharge an extra battery will be a welcomed holiday stocking stuffer.

9 - Razor Electric Scooter

You've seen foot-powered Razor scooters everywhere being ridden by kids of all ages. They're simple devices that fold-up and are easily carried and inconspicuously stored in a corner or under a desk.

In addition to those, Razor also makes a line of electric powered scooters. There's the "kid sized" E100, the larger E200 for riders 13 and older, the E200 which lets you stand or sit, the E300S for olders teens and adults and even a Trikke E2 with three wheels for extra stability. The E300 is recommended for riders weighing 220 pounds or less, with the battery said to provide up to 40 minutes of continuous power per charge.

Prices range from $100 to $150 for the E100, $200 for the E200 and E2 and slightly more for the E300. The top speed for these electric models is 12-15 miles-per-hour and helmets for all riders are highly recommended.

8 - Fitness Bands

Basically, these devices are smartwatches without the watch. Or, conversely, smartwatches are just fitness bands with an emphasis on time keeping instead of health.

The bands will keep track of your exercise progress and, at the same time, allow you to monitor your vitals such as heart rate, calories burned and amount of time spent exercising. Some even monitor your numbers while you sleep.

These devices come in a number of styles, shapes and sizes. For the most part, you should look for bands which accomplish what you want them to from one of the leading companies in the category such as Fitbit, Garmin (GRMN) , Jawbone and Microsoft. Of the bands we've tried, we found the Jawbone Up to be one of the most accurate and comfortable and we love the styling of the new Fitbit Charge.

7 - Portable Bluetooth Speakers

Portable Bluetooth speakers come in varying sizes, shapes, colors and prices, but they all accomplish the same task - connecting your audio source (a smartphone, tablet or laptop) to an external speaker system via Bluetooth. The idea is to let you hear your music anywhere while hearing great sound.

You can spend between $50 and $100 for a one-speaker design or anywhere from $100 and up for a one-box stereo design. Some of the companies making great-sounding systems come from Jawbone (the Jambone comes in a number of different sizes), Sony (SNE) , Logitech and the line of speakers from Bose including the Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker III.

For the most part, expect the speaker systems with larger enclosures to sound more full-bodied than those with smaller overall dimensions. Aside from choosing one design or another based on the size or color, you should try out a number of models in a retail store to see which one sounds best to you.

6 - Pono

Apple popularized digital music downloads and portable iPod players in the 21st century and Pono is now trying to raise the quality level. Rock legend Neil Young is the frontman for this new company's portable player and digital download service and the technological know-how comes from some very well-respected, high-end hi-fi experts.

The $399 PonoPlayer was a huge crowd-funded success. The pyramid-shaped design stores super high-fidelity music files in 64GB of flash memory plus there's a microSD card slot for additional storage. The higher-resolution music files are much larger and more expensive than the former industry standard MP3s. In addition to downloading hi-res songs from the Pono Store you can also buy them from others such as HDtracks, Acoustic Sounds and others.

Pono is currently taking orders for its Players promising delivery in the first quarter of 2015. If you're in a hurry to get one before the holidays, there are other hi-res players on the market from companies such as Sony, Fiio and Astell & Kern with prices ranging from $100 to more than $2,500.

5 - Kindle Voyage

Amazon (AMZN) invented the idea of book readers and the newest model, the Kindle Voyage, takes those devices to the next level.

The Voyage is a small, lightweight device with an amazingly easy on the eyes black-type-on-white, 300 pixels-per-inch "Paperwhite" screen. In addition to having a battery that lasts more than a week, this little marvel lets you turn to the next page by a small flick of the wrist. Amazon has also improved the book reader with a new system of adjusting the backlightling to better react to all lighting conditions - indoors and out. In a brief test, we found the device to be very cool.

All this new technology doesn't come cheap -- the Wi-Fi only version of the Voyage sells for $199 (or $219 if you want to avoid adds on the lock screen). If you want your reader to connect with Amazon's book store via Wi-Fi and "free 3G" you'll pay $269 (or $289 without ads) for the Voyager.

Remember, you can also read your e-books on a less expensive Amazon tablet. We really liked the $99 Fire HD 6 when we reviewed it last month.

4 - Smartwatches

There are some amazing smartwatches available this holiday season, with great designs from Motorola, LG, Asus, Samsung (SSNLF) , Sony and Pebble among many others. They all tell time, provide exercise monitoring and feedback plus interconnect/sync with your smartphone to provide messages, directions and even phone calls on your wrist.

These timepieces retail anywhere between $150 and $300 depending on the brand and the materials used (plastic versus stainless steel). All use small, internal battery packs which need daily recharging. You choice could untimately be based on style, shape, price or available supplies this holiday shopping season.

We tested a number of Android designs and came away very impressed by Motorola's nearly round Moto 360 design and also the great looking, $199 Asus smartwatch.

Apart from all the Android Wear-based designs there's also the elephant in the room - the upcoming Apple Watch. Expected to be released sometime in early 2015, the Apple models will add to the smartwatch frenzy and raise these products to the next level. Expect some high-end watchmakers to get into the game as well. There's word that TAG-Heuer and others are working on smartwatch models of their own for 2015.

3 - Nest Learning Thermostat

High-tech meets home environment control, as the Nest Leaning Thermostat replaces your old-fashioned, 20th century thermostat.

Instead of having to get up and change the room temperature - or having to stand around and program your current unit to turn-on and turn-off at specific times Nest learns what and when you like and programs itself to heat-cool your space and save you money doing so. The system know when you are sleeping, knows when you're awake and knows when you are home or not and reacts accordingly. You can also change Nest's setting from a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Nest was acquired earlier this year by Google for $3.2 billion in cash, as the company looks to move into the connected device marlet.

Nest currently sells $249. Depending on the size of your living space and the fuel you use to heat and cool the area, Nest could save at least that much in a year, maybe more.

2 - Google Cardboard

Looking forward to next year, virtual reality headsets could be the next big thing in 2015. Whether it's the upcoming head-mounted display from Facebook-owned (FB) Oculus or the devices being developed by Samsung (SSNLF) and others, these all-encompassing goggles place the user in a different, and very real-looking three-dimensional reality.

Yet, if you can't wait till next year you can make your own. Google offers instructions to create what it calls Google Cardboard from "from everyday items you can find in your garage, online or at your local hardware store." The electronics are provided by your Android smartphone.

The result isn't very polished or high-tech looking but it does provide the user with an idea of what to expect from future designs. Google provides construction plans online. The necessary parts (minus the cell phone) should cost less than $25 or so. Or, you can buy one of the many kits available from Amazon's online store.

1 - 3D printers

A science-fiction dream just a few years ago, 3D printers are now all the rage. These devices make three-dimensional objects using computer-aided designs (CAD). These printers use an additive process to create everything from automobile parts, clothing and shoes, electric motors, guns and even human body parts.

Many of the smaller printers look like microwave ovens but they're much more complicated. They sell for anywhere from approximately $500 and up depending on what they can accomplish and how fast they can finish the task and the quality of the finished product. Like home printers of the past it's not only the coast of the hardware but pricing of the materials used in the printing process (such as plastic filament) which must be taken into account.

Some of the trail-blazing companies making affordable, leading-edge home printers include the compact XYZ Printing DaVinci (picturted above),  Airwolf AW3D HD2x, Cubify's Cube and the Ultimaker 2.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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