The best high-tech holiday gifts

— -- High-tech gadgets are popping up on nearly everyone's holiday wish lists this year.

E-readers have been flying off the shelves -- and the fastest growing category of users is older than 55, according to a Nielsen study.

Tablets, too, are high interest. A host of inexpensive Android competitors are popping up to challenge the supremely dominant Apple iPad, something no tablet has been able to do.

Here's a look at the very best of what will make the people on your shopping lists smile this holiday season.

Apple iPad 2

This year, it's all about the tablet. And judging from readers' questions, many people are looking for a less expensive, not-iPad tablet. Bad news there, though. Those $200 or less Android tablets almost all run an old, non-tablet version of Android. They'll lure you in with the promise of a tablet experience for just $99 or $199, but the iPad is still the only tablet I can whole-heartedly recommend. It's more expensive than many, but there's just nothing else like it. It has the most apps, the longest battery life and a screaming fast processor. Don't accept any imitations.

Price: Starts at $499

Kindle Fire

One of the biggest battles this holiday season is between the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet. I've used both, and the Fire is the e-reader worth your money. Don't buy it expecting a fully realized tablet experience -- the hardware is a bit slow and it's missing features like Bluetooth connectivity -- but it's the best e-reader ever made. It can also run a small set of Android apps, including Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Price: $199

Jawbone Jambox

There isn't a better piece of technology I've used this year than the Jawbone Jambox. It's a beautifully designed, palm-sized wireless speaker that syncs with any device over Bluetooth. This thing packs incredible sound, too. It's a perfect companion to any smartphone, tablet or iPod. It's a great companion for the frequent traveler, too. There is no better personal speaker out there.

Price: $200

Peel Smart Remote

This stylish, pear-shaped universal remote control sits near your entertainment center and syncs with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, allowing you to control your TV, cable box, DVD player or set-top boxes like the Roku. It basically turns your iOS device into a remote that can control your whole set-up. The app is a great visual guide that shows programs in photographic tiles. Want to watch "Glee?" Just click on it.

Price: $79 at the Peel store online

Lytro Light Field Camera

This camera has been called the biggest leap forward in picture-taking in decades. Unlike traditional cameras that capture light headed in one direction -- toward the camera -- the Lytro captures every bit of light traveling in every direction. This means that you can actually focus the image after the fact, using software. With its innovative shape and embedded technology, it's sure to be a discussion starter. The base model is 8 GB and holds 350 photos.

Price: Starts at $399

Pop Phone

This retro handset plugs into your smartphone, allowing you to talk using an old-fashioned receiver. The phone can stay in your pocket or handbag. It's a trendy accessory popping up on the streets of New York and Los Angeles. Celebs like Lenny Kravitz and Jamie Lee Curtis have been spotted with the Pop Phone. It comes in more than 10 colors. It's a fun gimmick, but it's also being touted as a way to limit the amount of radiation some fear we're exposed to holding a phone to our ear.

Price: $30

Driinn mobile phone holder

If you're looking for an easy stocking stuffer, this clever phone holder makes the process of charging a smartphone a bit neater. It comes in a ton of colors and is available everywhere. Just do some searching online.

Price: $10

Contact Mark W. Smith at Follow him on Twitter: @markdubya or subscribe to his posts on Facebook or on Google+.