10 geek gifts for the whole family this festive season

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Are you, or someone you love, filling your “Dear Santa” letters with 3Gs, MB’s, and USB’s? Hoping that Santa’s little helpers know their way around the information super-highway? Well, rest easy with our shopping guide for the geeks who made the “Nice list” this year that’s sure to make all the “Naughties” think twice!

Beyond the obvious holiday purchases like a new computer, an external hard-drive, or an iPod, buying for techies can be really tough. I myself struggle with holiday shopping for my PC-loving engineer husband just as much as he battles with gift ideas for his Apple-loyalist media-driven wife. If you’re still looking for that perfect and thoughtful gift this holiday season, here are 10 sure-fire ideas that will make your shopping this Christmas a breeze!

Mobile Addict: iPhone 4, Blackberry Torch, Nokia N8

In South Africa we love our smartphones, there is no doubt about that. Assuming your Geek-Giftee does not already have one, consider this to be your easiest holiday shopping objective. If they are an iPhone user, they will most assuredly love the new iPhone 4; fast app switching and multitasking, camera zoom, inbox streamlining, email threading… I could go on for days! Though, if they are looking to upgrade to a smartphone from a more traditional mobile device then consider the Blackberry Torch first, it’s an easy bridge with it’s operating system and dual touchscreen/hardware keyboards. It also has a huge capability for fast and rich browsing which is especially nice with a flat rated data plan available in South Africa. For the media-driven types, go for the N8, not only does it record high-definition videos, but has a 12MP Carl Zeiss optics lens camera with a Xenon flash, pretty serious stuff for a mobile device.

Photography-buff: Nikon S1100pj Projector Camera

Not only a pretty nifty 14.1MP digital camera with a Nikkor 5x zoom lens, 17 scene modes, HD movie recording feature, and a wireless remote control, this baby also is also a projector! This innovative camera first stormed the market with its predecessor, the CoolPix S1000pj in late 2009. Nikon has, with the S1100, capitalized on the unique projection feature of images/video taken with the camera and those sourced via USB connection, and has also improved the photographic aspects to create a fantastic gadget with some major aesthetic appeal. Projecting up to 47-inch displays with 14-lumens, the projection is bright and clear. This techie-tastic gift also has what I like to call a ‘party-favour function’, on its 3-inch touch screen you can use the paint mode to create some real works of art while displaying them real time, don’t forget to load your background music!

Audio-phile: Ion Audio Profile LP USB Turntable

For the Hipster Geek with a record collection that surpasses their software stash, you will make their day with the ability to create MP3 files from tracks on their favourite vinyl. This LP Conversion system, both Windows and Mac compatible, plugs into the USB to write tracks that are playable on most devices such as iPods and home stereos to name a few. It’s fairly compact, comes with software to reduce the static and surface noises with old or worn records, and has all the cables you need to get it up and running on Christmas morning. In case you record store junkies were wondering, yes, you can set it to 45 speed.

Gamer: Xbox Kinect

We all remember the Gamer Christmas feeding-frenzy of 2006: PlayStation 3 versus Wii. Although Wii has been a chart topper for years, the Kinect paired with Xbox 360 may blow the competition over this Christmas. Launched in November, already 2.5 million Kinect sensors have found their way to the present hiding spots of many Geek-Gifters. Bring the webcam-inspired Xbox 360 peripheral to your living room, though if you are immediately shunning away from more accessories, consider this – by the gamer using physical movements and spoken commands to play their Xbox, you will end the obstacle course of remote controller cords forever! Using gesture navigation, Microsoft has taken the cake with its full-body 3D motion capture, facial, and voice recognition abilities. What can I say, Xbox + Infrared = Geek gift win!

Cinematic-Fanatic: Digital Video Recorder (DVR/PVR)

TiVo changed the way we watch television, recording programs while not at home enabled households everywhere to turn their TV off without worrying about missing their favourite shows. The more universal device is a Digital Video Recorder; the DVR, also called a PVR (Personal Video Recorder). Multichoice has a HD-PVR decoder which allows for viewing of one channel and recording of another simultaneously for up to about 50 hours of HD recorded programs. Alternatively, you can take it a step further and purchase a Multimedia player that doubles as a storage device, such as the Iomega Screenplay Pro. This way, you can set your device to record programs with more storage options, keep just about any media you like on there, and play it all from any display device. This way you can have a PVR without having to have DSTV!

Content Lovers: eBook Reader or Tablet PC

I won’t say get an iPad, I just won’t. Sorry Steve Jobs, I love all my Apple products but I’m holding out for at least one more version (specifically one with a USB port). I will say that if your Geek is craving something to hold instead of a newspaper with their morning coffee or catch up on the New York Times Bestsellers list with: the Kindle, Nook, or any of the Sony Readers are great options. With the development of E Ink technology these devices are readable in direct sunlight and would make a paperless addition to your Geek’s book collection.

Before you purchase any of these, really understand the needs of the person you are shopping for. These devices aren’t cheap and each has different features. Amazon’s Kindle, the more popular member of the group, is a fairly user-friendly product for even non-techies. Barnes & Noble’s Nook is also available and you can lend your eBooks to friends while it also functions with some light browsing capabilities. The Sony Reader has a huge selection of models to choose from but is currently only available in North America; and the iPad, well, it’s going to be amazing… in 2.0.

Rather get this Netbook:
If you are set on the touchscreen and want something small and versatile, I cannot recommend the Acer Aspire 1825PTZ more. It’s a convertible tablet-netbook in one. Not only do we love the 11.6 inch touchscreen, (which is 2 inches bigger than the iPad), we also love the really swivel feature. You transform the traditional ‘Notebook’ mode to ‘tablet’ mode by turning the screen and closing it onto the keyboard for a seamless user-experience. With multi-touch technology on the screen, this wonderful little machine can do anything a tablet can do and more, and with a 1.3GHz processor and all the connectivity anyone could want. Don’t be alarmed if your Geek tries to Transform it into other things and conjoin with other gadgets in the house, I certainly would!

Something Green: Solio Solar Charger

I’m very excited for this gift, any Geek can go Green this year with one of these charger models. There are several models to choose from including a adventure-durable, pocket-size, and the very chic Classic model. All three can charge over 3200 devices! Using high-efficiency solar cells to charge long-life internal Lithium-Ion batteries, you just unfold the solar panel blades and soak up the rays. You charge your Solio in the sun and then connect your device via USB to the Solio to charge your mobile phones, GPS, cameras, etc. Give the gift that keeps on giving – renewable energy. Love it!

Something Silly: USB Webcam Missile Launcher

Make your Geek the ‘Master of their own Domain’, this gadget comes with the software to enable launching of foam missiles at targets through MSN Messenger. The launcher has no additional power requirements, uses only a 4 foot USB cable, and needless to say the pre-recorded sound effects are the icing on the cake! Dig around online and you’ll find that there is a huge array of USB toys: Lava Lamps, Beverage Coolers, Christmas Trees, Aquariums, the list goes on. But who are we kidding, we want to push the big red button!

Something From the Heart!

After the hyper-excitement fades and the shrapnel of cellophane is cleaned off the floor, at the end of the day we all know the best gifts are those from the heart. Especially for Geek Parents, a fantastic idea is to craft something with the little ones for Mom or Dad (or both) that they can display at the office!

Try some of these:

  • Old Floppy Disk sticky note holders
  • Desktop icon whiteboard magnets
  • Create a photo file to upload to their mobile device or office screen saver
  • Create a holiday eCard with family photos by JibJab
  • Don’t forget that discarded cords and parts make great tree ornaments!

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