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Oh My Tech!: Valentine’s Day tech gifts for the gadget lover

By Vince Horiuchi

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 06 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Feb 10 2014 04:51 pm

Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and the last thing many people think would make a romantic gift is an electronic gadget.

But this is the 21st century. A way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart isn’t always through their stomach. Sometimes it’s through their technology. I know some men and women who are such tech hounds, if they got a small gadget for Valentine’s Day, they’d hop in bed with their significant other for a week.

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For those who might like their Valentine’s gifts with silicon chips instead of chocolate, here’s a handy list of inexpensive gadgets that would set any tech-geek’s heart aflutter.

Chromecast ($35) » This little tech wonder is about the size of a USB flash but fits into the back of your television via an HDMI port. What it does is allow you to then stream video from your smartphone or computer tablet to your TV.

It’s easy to setup and the video quality is outstanding. Right now, it only works with a handful of video apps, including YouTube, Netflix and HBOGo. But Google, which makes the device, claims more will be supported.

Neftlix ($7.99 per month) » What’s a better gift for a movie or TV lover than an endless stream of movies and TV shows? Netflix is the video service that provides unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of films and television shows. You can watch them on your smartphone, a computer tablet and your TV and through a variety of devices such as the Roku, a video game console or a Blu-ray player.

It doesn’t have the most recent DVD releases, but there are a lot of newer movies and shows in the catalog. Netflix also has started to make a name for itself with its own original programming, and getting the service for just "House of Cards" is worth it. You can purchase a three-month, six-month or one-year subscription.

Amazon Prime ($79) » This gift is one part a video service like Netflix and one part a key that unlocks the power of Amazon. It’s a one-year membership for Amazon that gives you free two-day shipping on millions of items you purchase through the online shopping service. But with that, you also get access to Amazon’s Instant Video service, which has thousands of movies and television shows that you can stream to a mobile device or TV for no additional charges.

Roku ($49) » Say you have Netflix or Amazon Instant Watch, but you want to watch all that video on your TV, not a computer. Roku is a box you hook up to a television that allows you to stream all kinds of video content to your TV. All you need is a Wi-Fi network in your home. It includes hundreds of video apps that you can download and install that stream videos to your TV, ranging from martial arts films to "Curious George" episodes.

Nook Simple Touch ($59) » It used to be that an e-book reader was something like $150. But did you know that you can get one for as low as $59? Barnes & Noble’s base model has a 6-inch screen and access to the bookseller’s vast catalog of titles. If you have a book lover in your life who is only interested in reading and not all that other multimedia stuff that can be played on a full-fledged iPad, this is the choice for you.

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Mophie juice pack helium ($79) » Don’t you just hate it when you run out of battery power on your smartphone just before completing the last level of "Candy Crush"? Mophie makes a series of cases for mobile devices that are also battery packs.

The juice pack helium is the cheapest version for the iPhone 5 that can add an additional 80 percent more battery life to your phone. That could mean watching all three of this season’s episodes of "Sherlock" on the plane instead of just two.

Chargekey Lightning Cable ($25) » If I had a nickel for every time someone in my office asked if I had a lightning charging cable for their iPhone 5…

Now you can always have a USB/lightning cable with you wherever you go. A company called Nomad has created the Chargekey Lightning Cable that is a small two-inch rubber cable that has a lightning plug for the iPhone 5/5S on one end and a USB plug on the other. It’s small enough to fit in a wallet or coin purse and just long enough to connect your phone to a computer for a quick charge in a pinch.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he’ll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/Topics/ohmytech.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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