Oddball Gifts for Uber Geeks
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and Christmas is right around the corner from that, so it's time to start thinking (a month-and-a-half in advance) about awesome gifts to pick up for your friends and family.
Your book-loving father? How about a Barnes & Noble Nook? Your accident-prone brother? Why not a tough laptop or rugged phone? Your social-networking sister? The Sony VAIO X-Series netbook should do the trick.
But what about your most seriously geeky friend? You know, the one who wants you to call him "Ian Thornwald the Dwarf-Slayer" (the name of his level-70 Paladin), the one who dragged you out to wait in the pouring rain for the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and the one who gets so many shipments from Woot.com that the site's customer service department has him on speed-dial? I mean, what do you get a person who has already preordered Starcraft II?
We looked around the Internet, and found some gifts that even a geek who has everything would appreciate.
LED Binary Clock
Who to give it to: The programming geek
One of the best things about geekhood is being able to laugh at normal people when you understand something that they do not. And what do geeks know that normal people don’t? Binary, of course! After all, there are only 10 types of people in the world...those who understand binary, and those who don’t. True programming geeks spend so much time sifting through code that they probably dream in binary and hex, not boring old decimal. The LED Binary clock ($19.99, ThinkGeek.com) ensures that your geek will be able to tell the time like nobody else (except other geeks).
Ice Invaders Ice Cube Tray
Who to give it to: The retro-gamer geek
What self-respecting geek doesn't remember (and love) the classic arcade game Space Invaders? Shooting aliens as they slowly advance toward earth has never been more fun! And when the red spaceship goes speeding across the top of the screen, you know the party has started. Well, now a geeky obsession with pixelated space aliens can extend into the kitchen--with the Ice Invaders Ice Tray ($7.45, neatorama.com). The 24-block ice tray features two different aliens, and is made of silicon so it's easy to pop 'em out. There's no spaceship, but the cute alien ice blocks even feature indented eyes.
Wi-Fi Detection T-Shirt
Who to give it to: The mobile computing/Internet geek
There are a few ways to search for Wi-Fi these days: You can use your smartphone, you can use a Wi-Fi detection gadgets, or you can walk around with your laptop open, hoping to run into a signal. But all of those options involve being proactive (taking your smartphone out of your pocket, for example).For the really lazy geek, there's now another option: the Wi-Fi Detector Shirt ($19.99, ThinkGeek.com). This black T-shirt shows the signal strength of 802.11b or 802.11g Wi-Fi networks, changing as the signal strength changes. The animation runs on three AAA batteries, which can (and should) be removed--along with the signal decal itself--from the shirt for washing. It's the perfect gift for someone who needs to know the status of Wi-Fi hotspots at all times.
Who to give it to: The gadget geek
Here's the perfect gift for someone who is rich in gadgets but poor in electrical outlets. The Chargepod supports simultaneous charging of up to six gadgets, and has different adapters to accommodate each one. So, you know that guy who’s always tripping over a tangle of cords because he has three phones and an iPod? (I do.) Or that girl who's always traveling across the country and complaining about how she has to bring her iPod cord, her phone cord, her Bluetooth headset cord, etc.? Help them out. The Chargepod ($39.95, callpod.com) comes with one mini-USB adapter and a voucher for an additional adapter. Each adapter after that costs $9.95. Or pick up the Bundle Pack ($79.95, Callpod.com), which comes with six of the most popular adapters and a car charger.
Computer Key Cufflinks
Who to give it to: The social geek
Even geeks need to spend time in polite company (when they get married, for example). But even when they're unavoidably away from their computer at home, geeks can still represent--if they're wearing these handsome computer key cufflinks ($88, Uncommongoods.com) on their cuffs. These sterling silver cufflinks come in three sets: Ctrl/Esc keys and Delete/Help keys. They're handmade in New York and feature power symbols on the back. Go on; give your geek the gift of style.
Who to give it to: The nonretro gaming geek
The upgraded version of the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo DSi ($169, Walmart.com) is an MP3 player, a camera, an Internet browser, and a storage device all in the body of a handheld gaming device. It features Wi-Fi, two built-in cameras, two 3.25-inch screens, and an SD storage slot. How could a geek not lust after it? It's a great gift for anyone who likes Nintendo games, enjoys snapping funny photos, appreciates music, or wants to browse the Internet without hauling around a laptop or netbook. Of course, gift givers might want to hold out for the rumored Nintendo DSi XL, which will have a larger screen and may hit stores before the end of 2009.
"I'd Hit That" T-Shirt
Who to give it to: The geek with a sense of humor
The "Hit That Nintendo T-shirt" ($22, 80stees.com) is a great way to demonstrate an in-depth understanding both of what cool kids are saying today and of what retro-Nintendo gamers (in this case, disciples of Super Mario Brothers) have been saying for years. Give this shirt to your favorite Nintendo geek as an expression of how you totally appreciate their, um, video-game prowess.
USB Webmail Notifier
Who to give it to: The email-obsessed geek
Every seasoned Gmail addict downloaded the Gmail Notifier program ages ago. The only problem: It puts a tiny mail notification icon--smaller than a fingernail--in the status bar. How are you supposed to check your mail every second if you have to hunt down and squint at such the minuscule icon and to see whether it's lit up? That's where the USB Webmail Notifier ($29.58, Curiosite.com) comes in. This 3-by-1.9-inch envelope behaves like a real-life version of the Gmail Notifier icon, lighting up according to the status of the inbox--blue when there's new mail, red when the mailbox is full, and green when the mailbox is empty. Compatible with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Outlook Express, and ISP with POP3 services, it's an e-mail addict's new best friend. Trust me, true geeks will thank you for giving them something else to obsess over.
Samsung CL65 Camera with Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth
Who to give it to: The camera geek
If your geek travels a lot and takes a lot of pictures along the way, the Samsung CL65 Camera ($399, Samsung.com) might be the perfect gift. This 12-megapixel model is the first digital camera equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS/Geo-tagging.
The Samsung CL65 allows photo-geeks to upload pictures and videos directly from their camera to Flickr, Facebook, Photobox, Picasa, and YouTube, as well as via e-mail, over unprotected wireless networks. The built-in GPS tags photos with the locations where they were taken. And Bluetooth capabilities allow you to stream photos and videos or send them to other Bluetooth-enabled devices: phones, computers, and even HDTVs. The Samsung CL65 features Smart Face recognition, scene recognition, 5X optical zoom, and a 3.5-inch touchscreen display. It's a great gift for anyone who's geeky enough to want Wi-Fi in a camera…or for anyone who tends to forget where they took this or that awesome picture.
Virtual Laser Keyboard
Who to give it to: The geek who likes to show off their gadgets
A virtual keyboard that works best in total darkness is probably only useful for spies and, well, people who don't want CSI teams to pick up their prints. But, it is pretty cool-looking, especially for geeks who like to impress people with their spylike gadgets. Does your geek tout his or her ability to compute from anywhere, with the help of roll-up keyboards and jailbroken iPhones? Well, then I-Tech's Virtual Keyboard ($169.99, Virtual-Laser-Keyboard.com) will make a great gift for them. You can project this full-size QWERTY laser keyboard onto any surface, and it even makes clicking sounds as you type. It's compatible with PCs, Macs, and most smartphones, and the physical device is just a little larger than a matchbox (3.5 inches by 1.5 inches by 1 inch). Though you have to set the virtual keyboard up in a moderately dark environment to see the thing, typing e-mail in the gloom of night (or a well-sealed closet) might be worth it for the "wow" effect.