Gift shopping for nerds is a daunting task. Do you know, for example, just what GPU she wants, or how much memory he has in his PC? No. And that means you’re doomed to failure.
To find the right gift, just think back to any of the interactions you’ve had in the last year. Was she trying to open up a tablet or phone with a butter knife? Boom. She needs iFixit’s Pro Tech Tool kit. Does he still grumble about how J.J. Abrams didn’t get the Star Trek movie reboot right and that he’s afraid Star Wars is going to be ruined too? Look to our Star Trek or Star Wars gifts.
See? Instead of going the specific, technical route, consider going for something a bit more fun—like the nine killer gifts that follow.
Star Trek Electronic Door Chime
No nerd cave would be complete without the $29 Star Trek Electronic Door Chime. Styled after classic twenty-third century Federation technology, this door chime features a motion detector that will sound an alert whenever any carbon-based life forms try to sneak into the cave without permission while you’re watching Starfleet Cadets Gone Wild.
Sounds include the classic Red Alert klaxon and the whooshing of Turbo Lift doors. Pressing the call button on the door chime sounds the perfect Bosun’s whistle, letting you announce to the house that the captain is on the bridge.
Star Trek Pajamas and Sleep Shirt
Unfortunately, no lawyer would file your lawsuit against J.J. Abrams for stealing your idea for a Spock and Uhura relationship in his Star Trek movie reboot. You did, after all, posit the idea in a fanfic that you published in 1986 on the alt.startrek.creative newsgroup. But at least with Think Geek’s $39 Star Trek Pajamas and $29 Ladies’ Sleep Shirt, you can now reenact your fanfic.
The pajamas are available in all official Starfleet branches, including science division blue, command gold, and expendable red. What makes these pajamas so wonderful (besides the ability to cuddle up) is you don’t even have to change out of them if you need to run to the grocery store. We know this because no alien culture ever batted an eye-lid at Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy running around in these PJs, either.
iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit
If you can hear your high school metal shop teacher yelling “use the right tool for the right job, coconut head!” whenever you see your nerd friend trying to pry open a device with a plastic spork, maybe he or she needs the $64 iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit. This kit has just about everything you need to work on devices, and it's brought to you by the people who basically invented the modern Internet teardown.
The kit includes a full set of those annoying pentalobe screw heads, spudgers, plastic pry bars, tweezers, and a handy suction cup for pulling the screen off the body of a device. If you have a problem with a bit or tool, you’ll find comfort in knowing the kit carries a full lifetime warranty through iFixit.
Nerf N-Strike Modulus ECS-10
You know what happens every Friday at 5:00 p.m. in the server room? Yup, Nerf battle. Give your nerd a firepower upgrade with the $49 N-Strike Modulus ECS-10. It fires 10mm explosive tip caseless nerf darts (kidding, they don’t explode even if we wished they did). It's also motorized, so there’s no need to pump it for every shot.
Reloads are quick and easy thanks to a well-placed magazine catch. Just move your index finger forward, press the release catch, and shake the Modulus to the right—the mag will spin out, allowing you to insert a fresh one with your free hand.
The Modulus isn’t just about laying down suppressive fire—it’s also about the most important thing combat veterans of Call of Duty care about: Accessories. You can add a red dot sight, vertical foregrip, bi-pods, long range optics, and even a compensator. Yes, it’s practical and tactical. Now your nerd can lay down a base of fire while the rest of the team flanks around the SAN cluster on the right. “Ramirez, take the backup takes out!”
Whether you’re crawling under your desk trying to plug your analog headphones in to your computer (is it green or pink for audio out?) or searching for the keys you dropped in the server room, any good nerd worth his or her salt needs a good flashlight. Fenix’s $56 PD25 isn’t just a good flashlight—it’s an amazing flashlight.
It puts out a retina-searing 400 lumens of light using a single disposable lithium battery (which you can buy online for a buck). And with a rechargeable battery installed, you can increase that output up to 550 lumens with a nice white, base of light. The typical two D-cell alkaline that the Scooby Doo gang used for their flashlight would be lucky to emit one-tenth of that light.
On its lowest setting of 5 lumens, you can squeeze 100 hours of it on a disposable battery. On its medium setting of 150 lumens, you can expect more than three hours of runtime.
If you’re looking for a smart phone gadget that will wow any nerd, the $250 FLIR One can’t be beat. It’s essentially a thermal vision imager that attaches to your smartphone’s port (iOS and Android are supported) and lets you view heat gradations. What makes the FLIR One so great for thermal imaging is how it blends images from a visible light camera with an infrared camera. The result is beautifully rendered images that are far easier to interpret than its competitors that use just plain thermal imaging.
The FLIR One is a hoot to use to find hot spots in a computer, or find out what part of the BBQ is the hottest. You can even walk around the homestead in the winter to find areas that lack insulation.
Air Hogs Millennium Falcon Quad
You’re either a Han Solo kind of person or a Luke Skywalker kind of person (goody two shoes that he is.) Well, kid, you know what? We’ll take the Falcon and a good blaster at our side any day of the week.
The $99 Millennium Falcon Quad can fly up to 200 feet away and takes off vertically like any good Corellian ship should. The body is styrofoam and survived dozens of terrible crashes around our office—including flying out the mouth of a giant space slug.
Sure, you say, what are the odds or surviving a direct impact with a stainless steel refrigerator? We don’t care about the odds, so meet us at docking bay 94.
Tauntaun Sleeping Bag
With winter here, snuggling up on the couch for a Star Wars marathon has never been so much fun as from the warm insides of a Tauntaun. The $150 Tauntaun Sleeping Bag is large enough to fit kids of all ages—including middle-aged IT managers wearing an authentic Cosplay Rebel Alliance winter uniform.
The Tauntaun’s head acts as a comfy pillow. To open the sleeping bag, gently tug the lightsaber zipper and peel back the Tauntaun’s top layer to reveal... well, intestines. (Little known fact: Tauntauns excrete waste oils through their pores, and even then, they still smell worse on the inside.)
$6 nerd shirts
The good news: The days of Mad Men and the suit and tie for the office are gone—welcome to the days of the ironic T-shirt uniform as daily wear for most nerds. The bad news? He or she can’t wear the same T-shirt twice in the same week without getting the stink-eye from coworkers. And while shirts like Thinkgeek’s fab ”No, I will not fix your computer” are great, filling out an entire wardrobe won’t be cheap.
That’s where the $6 dollar t-shirt comes in. Why pay $25 for a sublime shirt at the mall when you can buy your nerd an entire week’s worth? For $50 you can get 10 cleverly silk screened shirts including: “Hey, there’s a beverage here” and the old standby Cyberdyne Systems.
The quality on the shirts we purchased were quite good considering the price. They may not be the heaviest material, but they’re a few steps above the knock-off team shirts that get sold on the corner when your local sports team makes the playoffs. Our only real warning: Size XL really means XL, so check the sizing carefully.