If your holiday list includes techies or tech fans, here are 10 great gifts for you to consider, from least to most expensive:
There are lots of wide angle, telephoto and macro lenses that attach to smartphones, but most require you to either use their case or not have a case on at all. This macro lens is a simple rubber band that attaches to the outside of a case. I haven’t tried it yet, but the reviews on Amazon generally agree that it takes great photos as long as the camera is within an inch of the subject. At this price, I think it’s worth a try.
2. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe – $11.99 (paperback)
Fans of the xkcd webcomic will love this collection of stick figures seriously explaining the answers to crazy hypothetical questions. Nerds of all ages will appreciate learning whether it’s possible to build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns (p. 68), what would happen if you gathered a mole of moles in one place (p. 47), what would happen if all the lightning strikes happening in the world on any given day happened in the same place at the same time (p. 266) and so much more.
3. Goldie Cablekeep, by Nice – $13
I have several Nice Cablekeeps, in various colors and fish species. Just tuck your USB plug into the fish body, wrap your cord up and snap it into place on the tail. They’re great for ensuring that stored cords don’t unwrap, and when you plug them into the wall you can roll up the part of the cord you’re not using. Besides, they’re colorful and cute, thereby (nearly) ensuring that you won’t leave your phone charger behind.
4. Pocket Tripod – $19.95 – $25.00
I always have a tripod on-hand for my phone, since the Pocket Tripod fits in my wallet. I just fold it into position, pop my (caseless) phone into it and rotate it for the perfect angle. Then I use the timer app on my phone so I don’t shake it or so that I can be part of the picture. Be sure to order the one made for your phone, since there are separate models for the iPhone 4, 5 and 6.
5. iHome Bluetooth Rechargeable Mini Speaker Cube – $21.72
This little speaker packs a big sound. I have one permanently set up in my bedroom so I can listen to podcasts while I fold laundry. If I were younger, I’d probably blast music over it, but I save that for Friday afternoons in the car. In any case, this inexpensive speaker is a great gift idea for anyone with a smartphone or an iPod. Bonus: it works via Bluetooth, so you don’t even need to plug your smartphone into it.
6. Raspberry Pi Starter Kit – $69.95
This is the ultimate nerd gift. The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized, single board computer that runs on Linux. We got this for my stepfather, a former Bell Labs engineer, for his birthday. He said it’s the best toy he’s gotten since he was a boy. He had fun exploring all the different things he could do with it, and finally decided to program his solar water heaters. If he changes his mind, he could monitor penguins, teach Braille or control Christmas lights with it, or come up with something else. I think we might need to get him another Pi…
7. The Power Wallet (Triple C via Photojojo) – $70.00
This handy wallet not only holds your iPhone, credit cards, bills and coins, but it also charges your phone! It works with with the iPhone 5, iPhone 6 & 6 Plus, iPod 5 and Android phones. I like not having to take my purse everywhere, so this is a great way to carry all my essentials in one place either out of the purse or in the purse. My old Lilly Pulitzer case finally died, so I’ve added it to my wish list. (hint hint)
8. Solar Birdbath – $89.98
My entomologist friend would be appalled if I maintained standing water in my yard, so I figured that some flowing water might discourage mosquitos while attracting birds. This lightweight Smart Solar Smart Solar Somerset Verdigris Solar Bird Bath Fountain took about a minute to set up, and it works perfectly. The birds have finally discovered it, so hopefully I’m doing my part to help our local fowl in the drought.
9. Evernote Triangle Commuter Bag – $199
After years of toting around my laptop in bags that either weren’t padded enough, tipped over when placed on the floor, slipped off my shoulder or looked like they belonged on a high school student, I finally sprang for the Triangle Commuter Bag last spring. It is worth every penny. It holds my laptop, iPad, Kindle, chargers, eyeglasses, pens and more in a nice-looking bag that stays on my shoulder and stays upright when it’s placed on the floor.
At least 56.4% of the geeks I know are obsessed with the weather. Even if they live in the most temperate climate on Earth, their favorite channel is The Weather Channel. This comprehensive weather station measures temperature, humidity, rainfall and windspeed. It can even be set up to stream data to Weather Underground. It’s complicated to set up (speaking from experience) but well worth the effort.
I considered adding drones, 3-D printers and color laser printers to this list, but I personally think you still need to pay too much to get a good one. Hopefully this list helps you buy something great for your favorite nerd, geek or wannabe-of-either, or even yourself!!