Welcome to the very first How-To Geek Holiday Gift Guide, where we’ve put together a list of our absolute favorites to help you weed through all of the junk out there to pick the perfect gift for anybody. Though really, it’s just a list of the geeky stuff we want.
We’ve got a whole range of items on the list, from cheaper gifts that most anybody can afford, to the really expensive stuff that we’re pretty sure nobody is giving us.
Here’s a couple of ideas for items that won’t break the bank.
LED Keychain Micro-Light
Magcraft 1/8-Inch Rare Earth Cube Magnets
Best little LED keychain light around. If they don’t need the penknife of the above item this is the perfect gift. I give them out by the handfuls and nobody ever says anything but good things about them. I’ve got ones that are years old and still running on the same battery. Price: $8
Geeks cannot resist magnets. Jason bought this pack for his fridge because he was sick of big clunky magnets… these things are amazing. One tiny magnet, smaller than an Altoid mint, can practically hold a clipboard right to the fridge. Amazing. I spend more time playing with them on the counter than I do actually hanging stuff. Price: $10
Lots of Geeky Mugs
Astronomy Powerful Green Laser Pointer
There’s loads of fun, geeky mugs you can find on Amazon or anywhere else—and they are great choices for the geek who loves their coffee. You can get the Caffeine mug pictured here, or go with an Atari one, Canon Lens, or the Aperture mug based on Portal. Your choice. Price: $7
No, it’s not a light saber, but it’s nearly bright enough to be one—you can illuminate low flying clouds at night or just blind some aliens on your day off. All that for an extremely low price. Loads of fun. Price: $15
Geeky TV Shows and Books
Sometimes you just want to relax and enjoy a some TV or a good book. Here’s a few choices.
The IT Crowd Fourth Season
Doctor Who, Complete Fifth Series
Ridiculous, funny show about nerds in the IT department, loved by almost all the geeks here at HTG. Justin even makes this required watching for new hires in his office so they’ll get his jokes. You can pre-order the fourth season, or pick up seasons one, two, or three for even cheaper. Price: $13
It doesn’t get any more nerdy than Eric’s pick, the fifth all-new series of Doctor Who, where the Daleks are hatching a new master plan from the heart of war-torn London. There’s also alien vampires, humanoid reptiles, and a lot more. Price: $52
Battlestar Galactica Complete Series
MAKE: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery
Watch the epic fight to save the human race by finding the fabled planet Earth while being hunted by the robotic Cylons. You can grab the entire series on DVD or Blu-ray, or get the seasons individually. This isn’t your average sci-fi TV show. Price: $150 for Blu-ray.
Want to learn the fundamentals of electronics in a fun, hands-on way? The Make:Electronics book helps you build the circuits and learn how it all works—as if you had any more time between all that registry hacking and loading software on your new PC. Price: $21
Geeky Gadgets for the Gadget-Loving Geek
Here’s a few of the items on our gadget list, though lets be honest: geeks are going to love almost any gadget, especially shiny new ones.
Klipsch Image S4i Premium Noise-Isolating Headset with 3-Button Apple Control
GP2X Caanoo MAME/Console Emulator
If you’re a real music geek looking for some serious quality in the headset for your iPhone or iPod, this is the pair that Alex recommends. They aren’t terribly cheap, but you can get the less expensive S3 earphones instead if you prefer. Price: $50-100
Eric says: “As an owner of an older version, I can say the GP2X is one of my favorite gadgets ever. Touted a “Retro Emulation Juggernaut,” GP2X runs Linux and may be the only open source software console available. Sounds too good to be true, but isn’t.” Price: $150
Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p
Western Digital WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player
If you do a lot of streaming over Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon’s Video on Demand, Pandora, and others, the Roku box is a great choice to get your content on your TV without paying a lot of money. It’s also got Wireless-N built in, and it supports full 1080P HD. Price: $99
If you’ve got a home media collection sitting on a hard drive or a network server, the Western Digital box is probably the cheapest way to get that content on your TV, and it even supports Netflix streaming too. It’ll play loads of formats in full HD quality. Price: $99
Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 Color Mobile Scanner
Doxie, the amazing scanner for documents
Trevor said: “This wonderful little scanner has become absolutely essential to me. My desk used to just be a gigantic pile of papers that I didn’t need at the moment, but couldn’t throw away ‘just in case.’ Now, every few weeks, I’ll run that paper pile through this and then happily shred the originals!” Price: $300
If you don’t scan quite as often and are looking for a budget scanner you can throw into your bag, or toss into a drawer in your desk, the Doxie scanner is a great alternative that I’ve been using for a while. It’s half the price, and while it’s not as full-featured as the Fujitsu, it might be a better choice for the very casual user. Price: $150
(Expensive) Gadgets Almost Anybody Will Love
If you’re not sure that one of the more geeky presents is gonna work, here’s some gadgets that just about anybody is going to love, especially if they don’t have one already. Of course, some of these are a bit on the expensive side—but it’s a wish list, right?
The Kindle weighs less than a paperback book, the screen is amazing and easy on the eyes, and get ready for the kicker: the battery lasts at least a month. We aren’t kidding, either—it really lasts that long.
If you don’t feel like spending money for books, you can use it to read PDFs, and if you want to get really geeky, you can hack it for custom screensavers. Price: $139
iPod Touch or iPad
You can’t go wrong with either of these presents—the iPod Touch can do almost everything the iPhone can do, including games, apps, and music, and it has the same Retina display as the iPhone, HD video recording, and a front-facing camera so you can use FaceTime. Price: $229+, depending on model.
The iPad is a great tablet for playing games, browsing the web, or just using on your coffee table for guests. It’s well worth buying one—but if you’re buying for yourself, keep in mind that the iPad 2 is probably coming out in 3 months. Price: $500+
The MacBook Air comes in 11” or 13” versions, and it’s an amazing little machine. It’s lightweight, the battery lasts nearly forever, and it resumes from sleep almost instantly. Since it uses an SSD drive instead of a hard drive, you’re barely going to notice any speed problems for general use. So if you’ve got a lot of money to blow, this is a killer gift. Price: $999 and up.
Stuck with No Idea for a Present? Gift Cards!
Yeah, you’re not going to win any “thoughtful present” awards with these, but you might just give somebody what they really want—the new Angry Birds HD for their iPad, Cut the Rope, or anything else they want.
ITunes Gift Card
Amazon.com Gift Card
Somebody in your circle getting a new iPod, iPhone, or iPad? You can get them an iTunes gift card, which they can use to buy music, games or apps. Yep, this way you can gift them a copy of Angry Birds if they don’t already have it. Or even Cut the Rope.
No clue what to get somebody on your list? Amazon gift cards let them buy pretty much anything they want, from organic weirdberries to big screen TVs. Yeah, it’s not as thoughtful as getting them a nice present, but look at the bright side: maybe they’ll get you an Amazon gift card and it’ll balance out.
That’s the highlights from our lists—got anything else to add? Share your geeky gift ideas in the comments.
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