Five cheap, mobile-minded, hopelessly nerdy gifts you'll probably just buy for yourself

Affordable and very useful mobile-minded things you can ask for this holiday season, but can also just buy yourself.


Charge any USB-powered device from a wall

Charger that works with basically any USB-charged device

The PowerGen Dual Port USB wall charger is black, round, and almost entirely brand-less. It has two plugs: one that works for almost every device that can charge through a USB plug, and one for almost every device, plus newer iPads. One is labeled "A," presumably for "Apple," the other "NA" for "Non-Apple." Weird, but that is kind of the way the gadget world looks right now.

You plug it into a wall, look for the blue LED light, and then use the cables you already have to plug in your devices and charge them. Because you have two plugs, you can come across as a really nice person at airports and conferences by offering to charge other people's gear, too. Also, it is $10, which seems just about perfect.

Three bag-friendly cables for just about every device

Miniature cables for every USB-charge-ready device

Griffin's USB Mini-Cable Kit is a $11 deal that seems weird until you've had them for a little while. There are a few cases where, yes, you would actually like more than one or two inches of cable between a device and the thing that's charging or connecting it. But in most cases, longer cables just sit coiled on surfaces, or tangled inside your bag or pocket. Griffin's cables are tiny, flexible, and you get an Apple, a mini-USB, and a micro-USB, which covers a lot of ground.

Combined with the PowerGen wall charger (noted just above), you are basically now a human conduit of USB connectivity. Owners of brand-new iPhone 5 or fifth-generation iPads or iPad Minis are out of luck, for the time being.

No more tangled headphones forever

Headphone wraps that work for any headphone

Headphones get tangled. It almost seems like that has been the guiding principle of their design, enforced by an unseen madness.

Young and impassioned electrical engineer: Boss! I've found a way to nearly triple the low-frequency response of these headphones, using an inexpensive routing of the listener's own motion energy!

Veteran headphone manufacturing boss: Yes, Whitson, but let me ask you this: will that routing prevent our headphones from bunching, tangling, and knotting together into a marvelous kinetic sculpture that sings of the suffuse charms of modern entropy?

Young, suddenly sullen engineer: I'm quitting, effective today, and going into social media marketing.

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