’Tis the season for giving the tech geek on your list something special. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of gifts that are guaranteed to elicit the desired level of awe from their recipients—and if you’re lucky, a little bit of envy from anyone who fell on the wrong side of your naughty-or-nice list.
Whether you’re buying a gift for your favorite desk jockey or an outdoor enthusiast who likes to stay on the grid, here’s a list of techie gifts that cover a wide range of interests. From the silly to the essential, these gadgets will add an extra dose of high-tech to your holiday.
High on the list of this year’s trendiest tech are the 7-inch tablet computers that flooded the market earlier this year. For the Mac faithful, there’s the iPad Mini, which starts at $329 for the basic model. However, anyone who hasn’t drunk the Apple-flavored Kool-Aid might want to check out Google’s Nexus 7, which starts at $199, runs on the popular Android operating system, and offers many of the same features as the iPad Mini.
With smartphones becoming the music players of choice for countless commuters, the Jawbone Jambox is the other piece of tech that’s becoming a must-have peripheral for mobile audiophiles. A wireless speaker system that measures just under six inches long and weighs 12 ounces, the Jambox is more than just a top-tier, portable speaker for your phone, tablet computer, or television. It also features a powerful internal microphone to use for conference calls, video chats, and other conversations that usually test the limits of stock technology. The Jawbone is pricey at $199, but it’s expected to be a hot seller this holiday.
If there’s a bicyclist on your list who loves cycling but has serious issues with smartphone separation anxiety, take a peek at BioLogic’s array of bike gear to find the perfect gift for two-wheeled techies. The company’s iPhone and Android smartphone mounts for bikes ($50 and $45, respectively) let your favorite cyclist keep the phone on the “dashboard” while pedaling away.
While Go Pro’s line of high-definition digital video cameras is the industry leader when it comes to capturing first-person footage of your adventures, the base-level camera’s $199 price tag—and that’s without much of the requisite gear—can be a little intimidating. Action Shot’s new, wearable line of digital cameras offers an affordable alternative to Go Pro with a $49 base model and a $99 HD camera. The Action Shot line doesn’t offer nearly as many features as Go Pro, but what it does give you is a cheap way to play passive director in the movie about your life.
If you wince at the sight of a tangled mess of cords, Skooba Design’s Cable Stable Rollup Kit ($14.95) is a great gift for anyone—including yourself—who could use a better way to manage earbuds, charging cords, adapters, and all of the other elements of a tech-friendly mobile lifestyle. All rolled up, the organizer is approximately the same size as a standard eyeglass case, and it offers a nice way to keep all of your cords, adapters, and other peripherals arranged while you’re on the go.
You’ll earn points with the photographer on your list if you deliver one of The Impossible Project’s refurbished Polaroid cameras, which come with enough film to get started on making real-world versions of Instagram photos. The cameras start at $55 and also offer a nice history lesson for those whippersnappers who think overexposure and grainy images are the new cool.
For anyone who’s more comfortable giving dry, functional gifts instead of the flashier stuff we’ve mentioned, you can’t go wrong with cleaning supplies for the techie on your list. Along with the requisite monitor wipes and microfiber cloths, you can add a little flair to your gift with a tub of Cyber Clean cleaning putty. This day-glo gel looks weird, but it does a great job of cleaning food, dust, and other debris out of keyboards and hard-to-reach areas of your electronics. Small tubs of the cleaning putty can cost anywhere from $6 to $10, so it makes a nice stocking-stuffer, too.
On the far other side of the tech spectrum—both in practicality and price—is the iRock, a $1,300 rocking chair that uses the motion of the chair to power an iPad. As there is a docking station for the iPad attached to the chair, we’re not sure if it’s the most high-tech rocking chair we’ve ever seen or the most low-tech charging dock. Either way, it’s pretty fantastic.
Finally, the most expensive item on this list is naturally the most desirable, too. Formlabs’ Form 1 3D Printer has a $3,299 price tag, but that actually makes it the most affordable 3D printer on the market right now. The Form 1 uses liquid plastic to create any 3D object you can create on your computer, right down to the tiniest detail. It’s a laser-guided maker of wondrous things, and it will certainly make its owner the envy of every techie in a 30-mile radius, too. Sure, it costs a lot of money, but can you really put a price on a gift like this? It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.