I always get asked what my favorite gift suggestions would be- so here is my top ten list. Have other suggestions? Add them below in the comments.
Happy holidays and happy shopping!
10) Cans of Spray Air
Maybe it’s just me but I love getting consumables as presents - things I need, yet run out of. Canned Air is a great geek choice for this category. Unlike some consumables - like solder, pretzels or soda - a person isn’t likely to have a favorite brand of canned air. As long as it can blow Doritos crumbs out a keyboard they’ll be happy. Consumables are appreciated and won’t clog up closets like yet another sweater or a 15th pair of gloves.
- Anyone who doesn’t own an air compressor.
- Anyone who often eats over their keyboard.
9) Geeky Label Printer (!)
The geek on your list probably has multiple drawers, bins and compartments filled with stuff ranging from Sega CD add-ons to resistors and model rocket parts. Granted, duct-tape-magic-marker labels are cool and all, but why not surprise them with a shiny new Label Printer? There’s plenty of models well under $100 to choose from, and don’t forget to throw in a couple extra label cartridges as well!
- Obsessive compulsive.
- Has lots of bins and / or storage.
8) Good SD Cards
Everything uses SD cards these days, so every geek needs them. Said geeks will probably be shoving them into a Raspberry Pi or a Data Logger, so size isn’t really that important, 8 gigs is cheap and useful. However all SD card are not created equal - the “class” (speed) is listed as a number inside a circle on the card and packaging. Dirt cheap ones are usually Class 2, but Class 10 isn’t really all that more expensive. Spend a few extra bucks and make them smile.
- Does data logging, robotics, uses microcontrollers.
- Photography or videophiles. They especially need Class 10 cards.
7) Wireless Communicators
Might your geek want to rig up a You’ve Got Mail detector at the end of the driveway? Control a quadrocopter? Or send data wirelessly to a 3D printer? Get them a Wireless Communicator! There are 2 basic types:
- 2.4 GHz Serial Xbee. These devices act as a serial port “tunnel” - like a wireless USB cable. One Xbee gets serial data, the other receives it. Or vice-versa. So you should always buy them in pairs, and throw in an Xbee Explorer so your geek can program them too.
- Bluetooth Modules. Like an Xbee in the fact it exchanges serial data, but instead of pairing with another module, it pairs with a Bluetooth device like your cell phone or laser pointer.
- Robot enthusiasts, model car / plane / helicopter lovers.
- Android App developers who also love robotics.
Not actually a pie but a low-cost ARM based computer, which can easily run Linux and soon Android. Bundle some 8 gig Class 10 SD cards with it for bonus geek points.
- Linux enthusiasts (If you’re not sure, check for Penguin-related bumper stickers)
- Programmers, or those wishing to learn.
- That person you know with a basement filled with extra monitors, mice and keyboards.
5) Jumper Wires (!)
Why solder when you can use jumper wires? Super useful for hooking things up in experiments, and helps you get your breadboards done fast. Even if the geek on your list has some, it’s one of those things you can never have enough of!
- Electronics experimenters
- People who don’t like to solder / can’t do it well.
Geeks like to buy electronics, not clothes. But they still need clothes. Help them out with a fresh pack of socks! Who doesn’t need socks? Just make sure they’re white and nerdy.
- Everyone but sandal lovers.
3) Arduino Shields or Raspberry Pi Plates (!)
Plugging a “Shield” onto an Arduino or a “Plate” onto a Raspberry Pi gives them added functionality, ranging from Ethernet ports to sound generation, motion sensing, compass directions and more.
- People who don’t like, or aren’t good at, soldering
- Robot lovers
- Kids and experimenters.
2) Motorola ATRIX 4G Laptop Dock
Before you say “But I don’t know any geeks with an ATRIX 4G phone!” let me explain. This short-lived peripheral (which you can find on eBay for under $100) has many general-purpose features.
- It has an 11.6” HDMI screen. (They’ll need a micro HDMI adapter, but they’re geeks so no worries)
- It has a keyboard + trackpad.
- It has built-in speakers and a USB hub.
- It has its own rechargeable battery and wall adapter.
Use it for a NAS terminal, Raspberry Pi interface or make an XBox 360 laptop. The choices are endless and the price is great.
- Linux Lovers
- Likes to take things apart and rework them
- Enjoys building computer-related items.
1) 3D Printer
Your geek will have to be quite a ways from Naughty to score one of these, but they’re guaranteed to love it. 3D printing has come a long way in recent years and is now easy enough and affordable for the hobbyist market.
Expect to spend from $500 for a printrbot up to $2100 for a Makerbot Replicator. If they love putting things together on weekends, save a few hundred and get them the kit version.
- Knows / uses 3D modeling programs.
- Architect / industrial designer / anyone who loves to build.
- Doesn’t mind the smell of molten plastic.