Dear Santa: A geek’s Xmas wishlist

Dear Santa

I’ve been better behaved this year. For one, I finally tidied up my garage, sorted out my closet and apologised to our neighbor for setting his hedges on fire… again. And I gave up smoking (as a result of said neighbour’s burning bushes), pretended to be nice to my relatives and kept my promise not to store jellybeans in random secret locations in our office. Okay, so I still swear too much on Twitter and poke fun at certain key political figures and I do occasionally still forget to brush my hair and wear matching socks to work but, for the most part, I have been pretty good. I blog regularly, manage my own site and can pull off a four-course 30 minute meal for my family in just under an hour. I also gym quite regularly and have cut down on sodium and sugary treats. And I fulfilled my oath to behave better at funerals.

So, Santa, old boy, old chum, ye-of-the-red-suited-white-bearded-variety, below is my list of expectations for 2010. Because, lets face it, 2010 has been a year of great expectations: We hosted a World Cup, District 9 won us some awards and now they’re busy filming Judge Dredd somewhere in Cape Town. So, can you please fill my Christmas stocking with this trivial list of 10 must-have items?

Your sincere and partially-well-behaved friend,


1. Nokia N8

I managed to get my hands on a prototype of this mythical Symbian 3 device earlier this year and from what I’ve seen, it’s one mean piece of gorgeous touchscreen eye candy. With its 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus lens, mechanical shutter and Xenon flash, an HD video recorder of 720p, Dolby Surround Sound, an awesome scratch resistant Gorilla Glass screen with an AMOLED display (stretches easily to a 640×360 resolution) and bundled with all the internal software perks like Flash support and multi-tasking, this is one Smart Phone that you will want to have in your stocking this year.

2. Spynet Mission Video Watch

It may look clunky and something your sugar-high nephew may wear while slapping his arm and chanting some or other ‘Ben10-omnitrix’ incantation, but this supercool piece of hardware is crammed full of the latest tech: Sound recorder, video recorder, still picture cam, as well as some downloadable games, apps and a Snake Cam add-on (in case you need to peek around corners, find your wedding ring you dropped down the sink or hide it in your formal dinner jacket at the next top secret geek summit), this is exactly the sort of gadget you want to flash when ordering your martini. Shaken of course, not shtirred.

3. The Macbook Air (13 inch)

I don’t really need to explain myself on why this is a must-have for every geeks Christmas stocking. I don’t really need to mention the ultra-slim design which uses no hard drive and weighs in at around 2.5lbs (about roughly 1kg). I don’t need to tell you about its super-sharp 13.3 inch backlit screen, it’s Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 RAM and it’s solid battery life. I don’t really need to say more now do I? It’s a Macbook and it’s the thinnest, sexiest piece of equipment you want to be seen with. But then, you already knew that. Right?

4. The EyePet for the PSP

It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die! Augmented reality apps and games have really hit home in the last year and Playstation’s EyePet takes this approach into the virtual pet arena. Aimed mainly at younger audiences, the PSP version allows you to take your pet out of the living room and virtually anywhere with it’s clever Magic Card/ PSP Camera interaction, both of which comes bundled with the game. Gameplay is fairly straightforward – starting up the game, you get an egg from the EyePet centre, follow instructions from a professor (who sounds a lot like Barney) and then lay down your card and watch as your egg hatches into the cutest, heart-meltingly adorable virtual critter you could imagine. The EyePet reacts to your every move: stroke it with your finger, blow into the microphone to see its hair move, give it games and toys to play with, watch it dress up or even: get it to mimic your artwork and make it come alive. This is one game you will keep coming back for!

5. XBox 360 with Kinect

Full Body Gaming is what the folk at Microsoft are calling it. Kinect, an XBox 360 peripheral, is simply an adrenaline-induced webcam that plugs into your console via USB. Except it’s much smarter than any other webcam in that it uses Infrared to track you in 3D space. It spotlights the entire room in IR and along with some advanced propriety software and a multi-array microphone provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice capture. The controller-free gaming platform has received positive reviews and is a worthy rival to both the Wii’s MotionPlus and Playstation’s Move. The Kinect will need an XBox360 to run but comes bundled with 6 free games to get you experiencing the awesomeness of full body gaming. But it’s not just for gaming: it’s a full-on augmented reality peripheral that transforms your gaming console into something spectacular. Don’t believe me? See it for yourself!

7. Magic Wand Programmable TV Remote

Okay so get this: It’s a TV Remote which can learn 13 infrared remote codes and replay them at your command. Only, it’s a magic wand TV remote with built-in accelerometer that is able to recognize 13 different hand gestures? Need to control volume? Simple – Just rotate your wrist in a clockwise/ anti-clockwise motion and say ‘Wingardium Leviosa” . Or swish and flick to switch between channels with an ‘Alohamroa’ or freeze that important movie scene and setoff your Patronus charm. Okay, so the incantations are optional. But this remote is bloody brilliant.

8. The iPad

The iPad is probably the most significant, innovative breakthrough gadget this year and is (and will be for a while), the forerunner of all tablet PCs. With its gorgeous 9.7 inch 1024 x 768 LED-backlit display, it’s ultra-smooth curved aluminium body, that ever-popular touch-screen interface and over a gazillion apps and games to download (my favorite is still Angry Birds), this is one item your stocking deserves.

9. Samsung TL500 (EX1) Digital Camera

Being an avid ‘wannabee’ photographer, my stocking would feel less complete without a gadget worthy of capturing my most precious dysfunctional family holiday photos. While the majority of point-and-shoot digi cams are now being sold with over 10 megapixels (see the N8 above), the humble truth is that more megapixels do not always guarantee a better picture. This partially due to the fact that the image sensor used in traditional p&s digi cams are much smaller (and thus collect fewer photons) than those in the digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. Samsung’s TL500 is a top end product designed to meet all your photo-savvy requirement while still maintaining all the key features you would expect. The front offers an impressive F1.8-2.4 zoom lens that covers a range from the wideangle 24mm equivalent out to 72mm equiv. The back features a stunning OLED display and best of all, it’s not clunky.

10. Star Wars: The Old Republic

World of Warcraft has dominated the MMO scene for a very long time and it’s often refreshing to see a new, and yet familiar, theme attempt this genre. Enter Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare’s first ever Star Wars MMO/ RPG. Choose to side with the light side and customize your character to be a Jedi or go all darkside and become a Sith Inquisitor or even a bounty hunter or clone trooper, this is one MMO that will have every Star Wars junkie whooping like a Wookie at Christmas. Check out the awesome trailer below:



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