Last-minute holiday gifts: 10 low-cost Android gadgets

Who says Android-related gifts have to break the bank? Here are 10 items under $60 that Google fans will love.

Android Neon Light

Want to light up an Android enthusiast's life? Check out the Android Neon Light, a 9-in.-tall tubular tribute to the Android robot mascot. The statue sits on a black base and lights up bright green when activated. You can plug it into the wall with the included AC adapter or directly into your computer's USB port.

Now, that's Android power.

Available for $36.40 from the Google Store.

Mophie Juice Pack Reserve Micro

If there's one near-universal flaw of smartphones, it's that they always seem to run out of juice too soon. That's where Mophie's Juice Pack Reserve Micro comes into play. The keychain-sized device is like a spare gas can for your gadgets: It packs a 1000mAh battery and integrated micro-USB cable. When your phone's battery runs low, just plug in the Juice Pack and top off its charge.

As a bonus, you'll look like a super-geeky version of James Bond when you connect it.

Available for $39.95 from Mophie.

Andru USB Phone Charger

Most phone charging takes place in the home, but that doesn't mean you have to use a boring old charger to get the job done. The Andru USB Phone Charger adds a pinch of fun to the experience: The charger doubles as a robot-shaped desk trinket with movable arms. Pulling the bot off its base reveals a standard AC power plug; an included USB-to-micro-USB cable fits into the creature's head and then into your phone.

The robot's eyes even light up -- blue while charging and white while in standby.

Available for $25 from Salom America in green, white or black.

MOGO Mobile Gaming Controller

Got a friend or family member who loves to game? The MOGO Mobile Gaming Controller can take phone-based play to new heights. The MOGO Controller looks like a regular gaming controller but has a special pull-up attachment that holds a smartphone. It connects to the device via Bluetooth and lets the player use its full set of sticks, triggers and buttons to interact with a game.

The MOGO Controller is compatible with any phone running Android 2.3 or higher and is optimized to work with numerous games (click on the Games link) from the Google Play Store.

Available for $49.99 from PowerA.

Agloves Original Touchscreen Gloves

It's a fact of life: Cold weather and touchscreen technology don't go hand-in-hand. Trying to interact with a smartphone while wearing gloves is about as productive as trying to shovel snow with a broom.

A good set of touchscreen-friendly gloves, however, can change that. Agloves' Original Touchscreen Gloves utilize a special conductive material that lets you swipe and pinch your device's screen while keeping your fingers warm. You can buy them in three different sizes -- all unisex -- making them a perfect gift for any chilly-handed Android fan.

Available for $19.99 from Agloves.

Android Light Switch Cover

Did you know that Google's Android mascot is officially known as Bugdroid? He may have a silly name, but Android fans love him -- and with the Android Light Switch Cover, he'll become a true "turn on" in their lives. (He'll also give them plenty of opportunities to make groan-inducing puns.)

The Android Light Switch Cover fits over any standard single-switch plate; all it takes is a flat-head screwdriver to put it in place.

Available for $5.10 from the Google Store.

Logitech Tablet Keyboard for Android

With the right keyboard, a typical Android tablet can turn into a full-fledged productivity tool. Logitech's Tablet Keyboard for Android is up to the task: The keyboard is comfortable and responsive to use and features a full set of Android-optimized function keys. It also comes with a protective case that folds out to double as a tablet stand.

Logitech's keyboard connects to a tablet wirelessly, via Bluetooth. The latest version works with both Windows 8/RT and Android; it is available from Logitech for $69.99. But you can still find Logitech's original Android keyboard at a few vendors.

Smartphone-Controlled Desk Pet Tankbot

Come on -- who wouldn't want one of these things? The Tankbot from Desk Pets transforms your smartphone into a wireless command center for a tiny, feisty robot. All you do is plug an attachment into your phone's headphone jack, install a special Desk Pet control app and then drive, baby, drive.

If you don't feel like controlling the Tankbot yourself, you can activate autopilot with its touchless navigation or "autonomous personality" mode. The gizmo even includes "advanced optical navigation technology" to keep it from running into objects when left to its own devices.

Available for $24.99 from ThinkGeek and Best Buy.

Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver

Let your loved ones enjoy their tunes from afar with the Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver. The simple device plugs into a speaker or stereo receiver via a 3.5mm headphone jack; it then connects to their Android (or iOS) device via Bluetooth 2.0 and allows audio from any app to be streamed from up to 33 feet away.

The receiver can remember connections for as many as six different devices, making it easy to use with multiple phones or tablets.

Available for $22 - $64 from a variety of retailers.

Squishable Android

Our last item serves no functional purpose -- but darn it, it's cute. The Squishable Android is a giant green stuffed Android robot that makes a dynamite deskside companion. If you want something a wee bit smaller, the Squishable also comes in "mini" and "micro" sizes.

Available for $39 (regular), $19 (mini), or $8.50 (micro) from

JR Raphael is a Computerworld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog. For more Android tips and insights, follow him on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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