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Last-minute gift ideas that won't disappoint

Candy canes - or the dreaded lump of coal - may be traditional. But Gizmo Guy's got better ideas for last-minute gifts.

Jon's Gizmo Column.
Jon's Gizmo Column.Read more

CANDY CANES - or the dreaded lump of coal - may be traditional. But Gizmo Guy's got better ideas for last-minute gifts small enough to stuff into a Christmas stocking.

OPEN ME FIRST: Out of its box and onto the tree goes the Voxx Jingle Balls Wireless Speaker. Powers up with Santa's "ho-ho-ho," entertains with music streamed from a phone or tablet. $19.99 at Lowes.

TO YOUR HEALTH: Dubs Acoustic Filters (Doppler Labs) are a better, cuter set of ear plugs for concertgoers. Cuts the volume 12 decibels without destroying musical detail. Will last till you lose them. $25 at Best Buy.

GAMESMANSHIP: Shopping for a Nintendo Wii U gamer? Odds are strong he/she already has the red-hot "Super Smash Bros." But maybe not the amiibo "toys to life" action figures - Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, etc. - that add extra play options to the game (and others!) for $14 a pop. Smart-chipped characters for Activision's "Skylanders" and Disney's "Infinity" video games are good for stuffin' too.

SAVE SONY'S CHRISTMAS: Buy into the state-of-the-art Sony PS4 game system and show cyberbullying North Korea what for. Stuff a stocking with video games like "Call of Duty - Advanced Warfare" (Activision), "Shadow of Mordor" (WB), "Grand Theft Auto V" (Rockstar), "Diablo - Reaper of Souls" (Blizzard) and PS4-exclusive "The Last of Us: Remastered" (Naughty Dog). $40 to $50 each.

CASE THE JOINT: Spiff up a mobile phone with a protective Speck Candy Shell case. Snazzy and shock-absorbing, with thumb bumps on the bezel and treads on the back for improved grip. $25 to $35 at REI, Target and Best Buy.

ENERGY BOOSTERS: Power users lose it when a mobile phone or tablet runs out of juice. Save their sanity with a supplemental battery pack:

Monster Powercard is ultrathin ( 1/4-inch) for sliding into a pocket or even wallet. $40 at Sears.

The higher-powered MyCharge Hub 6000 boasts built-in cables for both Lightning and micro-USB connections. $99.97 at Home Depot.

PNY Powerpack 1D 10400 has huge capacity and a digital fuel gauge. $39.15 at

The D-Link DIR510L ($90 at and Hoo Too TripMate Elite HTM04 ($38 at Amazon) double as wireless Wi-Fi hot spots (for multiusers) when connected to a single hardwired (Ethernet) Internet line.

COMPUTER ADD ONS: The shiny Samson Meteorite USB Condenser Microphone looks like an ornament, functions far better for computer recording, Skype and Facetime. $40 at Best Buy.

Logitech's Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 mates great with a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. $60 at Apple stores. Windows laptoppers deserve the T630 version. $50 at Best Buy.

NOW HEAR THIS: For talking "hands free" on the street or in the car, the Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Headset looks and sounds terrific, has a dedicated Siri/Google Now button. $84 at

Rather keep the conversation on your wrist, secret agent man? Worn like a watch, the clunky but light Bem Wireless Speaker Band beams music from a smartphone, interrupts with an incoming caller ID, and has two-way chat. A dandy diversion for dog walkers. At for $25 (white or blue) to $42 (black).

STEREO REJUVENATORS: No need for an older iPod/iPhone speaker dock to gather dust, because it lacks a compatible port for a new Apple or Android phone. Dock Boss Air by Cable Jive plugs in and provides a wireless connection to any device (and source) that outputs via Bluetooth. $35 at

Upgrade a proud (but aging) stereo system to Bluetooth receptivity with a best-of-breed Mass Fidelity HiFi Wireless Receiver ($249 at World Wide Stereo). Boasts a high-end Burr Brown D/A converter, aptX signal coding (available on many Android phones) and robust external antenna. Sound performance is stunning!

SLIP 'EM A CD: Just in time for gifting, D'Angelo's understated (yet forceful) neo-soul masterwork "Black Messiah" (RCA) searches for salvation in us all. Country superstar Garth Brooks moves well to the pop arena with "Man Against Machine" (RCA). Headbangers' delight AC/DC vow "Rock or Bust" (Sony).

HOMEGROWN: New Philly albums deserve our holiday/any time suppoWrt, too. Especially alt rockers DRGN KING with "Baltimore Crush" (Bar None), super scattin' song stylist Paul Jost "Breaking Through" (Dot Time) and the Temple University-spawned, jazz/chorale scored suite "That Music Always Round Me" with lyrics by Walt Whitman set to music by Garry Dial and Dick Oatts (BCM+D Records, available at

Craving homegrown holiday cheer? Oldie but goody "Christmas with Mario Lanza" (RCA) is always in stock at the little known Mario Lanza Museum, 714 Montrose St., inside St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi Church. Call for hours 215-238-9691.