Despite my best intentions to give personalized gifts to everyone on my holiday list, at least one or two people always end up with a gift card. Deep down I can’t shake the feeling that I’m calling it in. This year, I’ve resolved to consider gifting some great online services, a gift that keeps on giving, month after month.
The Best Gift Cards For Music Lovers: There are several great options to stream music either to a computer or to any number of wireless-enabled personal electronic devices. Streaming music has gotten really popular — and really easy. Services such as Pandora and Spotify offer the ability to listen to a wide variety of music without having to purchase and/or download it. Unfortunately, the free versions also have annoying pop ups and commercials. Consider a subscription to Pandora One (www.pandora.com), where a year of ad-free music streaming can be had for $36. Spotify’s library and service is constantly improving, and you can buy gift cards at major retailers, or its premium membership is 7.49$9.99 a month.
The Best Gift Cards For Book Lovers: If a Kindle is out of your price range, consider a membership to Audible. Members can instantly download any of the more than 100,000 audio books in its holdings. Membership typically permits one download a month, with additional books at a reduced price. You can give a membership by the month (three months is $45, six months is $90, etc) or give a specific book. Install the audible app on any number of personal electronic devices and stream books from a smartphone or a wide selection of MP3 players. With the gift of audio books, your avid reader can catch up on “The Hunger Games” — Suzanne Collins’ young-adult series — while picking up the house or carpooling the kids to soccer practice. Win-win!
The Best Gift Cards For Movie and TV Lovers: There are options. If that special someone doesn’t already have Netflix, you can purchase a gift membership for $7.99 a month. Netflix’s gift memberships are limited to the streaming service, not movie delivery. Keep in mind that the certificate is nonrefundable and requires that the recipient enter a valid credit card number and authorize automatic re-bills after the gift membership expires.
Or give Blockbuster Total Access a try. Gift memberships start at $9.99 a month for one DVD out at a time and are available in various combinations of months and number of movies out. Movies can be returned or exchanged in store, and the monthly rate includes the ability to rent video games. Some users have complained about movie turnover — the time from mailing a movie back to the receipt of the next movie — being longer than Netflix, but Blockbuster claims that new releases are available up to 28 days before Netflix or Redbox. That may make up for waiting three or four days for replacement movies to arrive by mail.
Or consider gifting a membership to Hulu Plus, a TV streaming service that lets users watch their favorite shows and thousands of movies, on demand, on any number of wireless-enabled devices. Gift memberships start at $7.99 a month. If Uncle Jim is distraught when he misses an episode of “House,” make him and his couch happy again.
I’ve compiled links to all the cool Nerdy gadgets, services and products I’ve reviewed this season at www.nerdsecret.com. Friends don’t let friends give boring gifts.
(Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site computer and home theater set-up and repair. Based in Redding, Calif., it has locations in five states. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea.)