Have yourself a geeky little Christmas...
Geeks love to build and create, and to push tech to its limits. With that in mind, here are some of the coolest gifts for geeks we could find.
Left: A Christmas tree made of Lego at St. Pancras Station in London. [Photo: David Burrows/Shutterstock]
Arduino Starter Kit
If you read GeekTech on TechHive, you already know how much we love the Arduino board. The Arduino, which lies at the heart of many DIY projects, is crazy versatile. And the Arduino Starter Kit is a great way to learn how to use this little board. It's available from Adafruit for $125, and comes with just about everything you need for your first project.
Another welcome gift for do-it-yourselfers, the Raspberry Pi is a tiny Linux-based PC that's about the size of a deck of playing cards. You can use it as a regular computer, sure, but it can also function as the brains for many home-built electronics projects, like this itty-bitty arcade cabinet.
The latest model costs around $40 and is available from Adafruit and Element14. So if you're looking for something for a geek who likes to tinker, but you don't have a lot of money to spend, the Raspberry Pi is a fine option.
[Photo: Raspberry Pi]
Hummingbird Robotics Kit
Know a kid who wants to build robots and other tech projects, but who needs to work with something a little more approachable than an Arduino board? Check out the Hummingbird Robotics Kit.
Priced at $200, the Hummingbird Kit is designed for kids ages 10 and up who want to learn more about electronics and robotics—and who want to build something! The kit comes with various components, a microcontroller, and a kid-friendly programming tool. If you want your kids to fall in love with electronics, this looks to be a good place to start.
Speaking of robots, the programmable Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kit is perfect for any Lego fan—though it's somewhat pricey. The $280 kit lets you build and program your own Lego robots, and you aren't limited to the example projects. You can use it to build all sorts of machines, from a Rubik's Cube solver to a Mindstorms-based printer. It's rated for ages 10 and up, so it's a good starter kit for youngsters, or for grown-ups who want to get their Lego geek on.
How about something to add to a Lego enthusiast's model collection? Lego's R2-D2 set ($180) is a scale replica of everybody's favorite android. The model that this particular set produces is over 12 inches tall and 7 inches wide, and features a movable third leg, front panels that open to reveal R2's saw blade and computer interface arm, and a head that rotates. Nice.
Nyan Cat Plush Toys
Mini Electric Guitar Kit
Looking for a gift for a musically inclined geek? Check out the Mini Electric Guitar Kit from ThinkGeek. This $70 item won't replace a standard electric guitar from the likes of Fender or Gibson, but assemble this one yourself, and it looks like a fun electronics project.
Squier Strat Guitar With USB and iOS Connectivity
If your goal is to find a more practical instrument with a nerdy element, consider the $200 Fender Squier Strat. This electric guitar comes with a USB port and iOS support, so you can attach it to an iPad and record your next chart-topping rock anthem.
The New Way Things Work
One of my favorite books as a kid was The Way Things Work. This classic book features illustrations by David Macaulay, and shows the science and technology behind things we use everyday—and now it's back in a brand-new edition (list price, $35; currently $23 on Amazon) that covers things that didn't exist when the original edition came out in 1988. It's a great gift idea for any curious kid—or adult for that matter.
[Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]
Hey, a geek's gotta stay caffeinated, right? The Aerobie Aeropress single-serving coffee maker uses air pressure to push your coffee through a microfilter as you press it, which means you won't have coffee grounds floating around at the bottom of your cup. TechHive editors Jason Cross and Jon Seff swear by theirs. The Aeropress usually costs around $30, but Amazon has it at $26 as of this writing.