Gifts for the Geek Who Has Everything

It’s well known that geeks crave gadgets, devices, and software that represent new twists and turns in the world of technology.

However, identifying quality items for that nerdy someone on your
Christmas list can be as difficult as buying a fine wine for the
discerning collector.

And since not even David Copperfield could make an XBox 360 appear in time for Christmas, I’ve compiled a list of alternates.

First off, a sure-fire hit (it’s at the top of my wish list, anyway).

Not only is this one a fascinating example of robotic technology put to good use, it’s an icon deeply rooted in modern geek mythology: the voice-activated R2-D2.

Just over a foot tall and weighing in at six pounds, this is as close as you can get to the real thing without having Kenny Baker over for dinner.

R2 will respond to voice commands, can act as a security sentry to a room and is even prone to periodic spastic robot fits, just like the real thing.

R2 is available online at Hammacher Schlemmer.

Moving into slightly more esoteric territory, I’d recommend the Battle of the Planets Ultimate DVD Set with Limited Edition Toy. Truly, this is niche material, but any contemporary geek worth his or her salt was into the adventures of G-Force whilst growing up.

In the 70s, Battle of the Planets was the cutting edge Japanese anime series that the “in” kids just didn’t “get”.

And I ask you: what red blooded geek-boy didn’t swoon whenever Princess transmuted?

This particular DVD edition is notable for the Jason figurine that’s included. Yes, if you want your geek to cry like a baby Christmas morning and then run around the house wearing a bed sheet as a cape while yelling, “Fiery Phoenix!” this DVD is the one for you.

Of course, any Battle of the Planets DVD will suffice, the one I suggest is just the ace of the lot.

And mark my words: G-Force is the next Spider-Man.

These DVDs are available online at amazon.com (but not amazon.ca, unfortunately).

The be-all, end-all gift to give the geek you’re absolutely ga-ga over is the Sonos Digital Music System. This aesthetically awesome wireless music system provides access to your ripped tracks from wherever in your house you decide to feature it.

Throw the Sonos on your Wifi network (you do have one, don’t you?) and after the super-easy setup you’ll be able to remotely browse the music on all the PCs and Macs in your home using its brilliant handheld remote that looks like the iPod’s big sister. The tunes play through two included speakers that complete the look and reportedly are top-notch from an audiophile’s perspective.

Remember those little glass bubbles that you shake and then it seems like it’s snowing on whatever kitschy plastic scene is inside? Well, you don’t have to shake them anymore.

Hit the Japanese e-let’s web site and order up a “Merry Christmas on a String“. There are two models to choose from: Santa and Rudolph or a girl with a cell phone.

Both have built-in blizzard action, flashing lights and cheesy MIDI Christmas music.
Once this little beauty arrives from afar, just plug it in to your PC’s USB port for power and you’ve got instant desktop yuletide cheer; not to mention plenty of annoyed cubicle buddies.

It’s a well known fact that geeks view any printed material — including photos — as devil spawn from the Dark Ages.

With this in mind, consider the digital picture frame.

This is basically a smallish flatscreen computer monitor that has slots for memory cards, like the ones you use in digital cameras. The frame randomly shuffles through the images you’ve put on the card, displaying them on its screen. Some models even play music.

I’ve recommended these things in past columns (thought never actually received one — hint hint) but they’re finally starting to become affordable. The Source by Circuit City has a reasonable 5×7 desktop model.

If you just want to be sensible with your gift giving but have a limited budget, figure out what types of gadgets your geek already has. Then just buy the right kind of battery, memory card, or other cool accessory for them. These small items are always appreciated (we’re usually too stingy to buy them for ourselves).

Of course, if you can get your hands on an XBox 360, pick it up without hesitation. Even if you don’t actually want it, you’ll likely be able to turn a quick profit on eBay. Or at least trade it for something more valuable, like your geeky newspaper carrier’s firstborn.

Because that’s what Christmas is all about: getting the cool gadgets into the right hands, whatever it takes.

First published in the Yukon News on Friday, December 9, 2005

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