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Originally published December 12, 2014 at 7:27 PM | Page modified December 15, 2014 at 5:37 PM

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Tech review: Some overlooked choices for gadget gifts

The leading tech devices get virtually all the attention at this time of year. Here are some that fly under the radar, but can make interesting gifts.

The Dallas Morning News


Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. I hope you’re at least partially finished with your shopping. (I’m certainly not.)

We’ve got something for everyone.

Connected by TCP

What it is: A smart lighting system with LED bulbs and a small hub you connect to your network at home. You can then use your smartphone to control the bulbs.

Turn them on or off or adjust the brightness from wherever you are — at home or across the country. Control up to 250 bulbs from one hub.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to get started with home automation or just control lights from a smartphone from anywhere in the world.

Cost: Starter pack with two bulbs and the hub is $61.79.

Where to get it: Home Depot or

SKITS Tech Case

What it is: A small, light case for organizing the smaller items in your computer bag or suitcase. It looks like a case for binoculars, but it zips open to reveal four or five compartments. The compartments are made of clear plastic so you can see what’s inside.

Who it’s for: Anyone with a computer bag, backpack or suitcase who would like to organize smaller items.

Cost: $49.95 (four pockets); $59.95 (five pockets)

Where to get

BlackBerry Passport

What it is: The latest phone from BlackBerry, the Passport is the most distinctively designed phone I’ve ever seen. Engadget calls the Passport the best BlackBerry you can buy. Its 4.5-inch display is square and the shape reminds me of a Pop Tart, but it has a nice physical keyboard and very solid specs.

Who it’s for: I realize this isn’t for everyone, but the BlackBerry user on your list wants one of these if he or she doesn’t already have one.

Cost: $599

Where to get or

Ventev PowerDash r900

What it is: A very cool USB battery/charger for your car. Plug it into your 12v accessory port and connect your phone’s charging cable. The r900 not only charges your phone, it’s also a battery. If you need more power during the day, pull it out and slip it into your pocket or purse. The r900 has a 900mAh battery to give your mobile device extra juice.

Who it’s for: Everyone who has a car and a smartphone or tablet.

Cost: $27.50

Where to get or

SOL Republic Deck Ultra

What it is: A Bluetooth speaker with great sound, a 22-hour battery life and a range of up to 450 feet. This isn’t a cheapo speaker. It has some heft (from the large battery) and nice bass for such a small package. It also has a Heist Mode where up to five friends can connect at once and each can “steal” the stream and change the music.

Who it’s for: Anyone who likes to listen to music.

Cost: $149.99

Where to get it: Best Buy or

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