In the spirit of giving, we take a look at some of the fun, useful and clever gift ideas to buy for that special engineer, gadget fanatic or do-it-yourselfer in your life this holiday season.
Finding the right gift for that special gadget-hound, sci-fi enthusiast or tech fan is often easier said than done. To help in your search for the perfect geeky holiday present, check out our annual list of clever, funny and offbeat products.
The Livescribe Sky Smartpen’s 2GB and 4GB models have a built-in mic and speaker for recording and playing back audio that accompanies your notes — up to 200 or 400 hours of it, respectively. The device also has built-in Wi-Fi, automatically sends notes and audio to Evernote and lets you access notes from a PC, Mac, iOS or Android device — basically anything with a browser. $170-$200.
For those of us obsessed with recording our lives, the Memoto Lifeblogging Camera, about an inch and a half squared, clips onto clothing and takes a geo-tagged picture once every 30 seconds. It can store up to 4,000 pictures memory chip. You’ll never miss a moment (for good or bad) with this one. $250.
Okay, how can you not love these? At only 10 bucks, the Whooz? vinyl ID labels make for great stocking stuffers that will actually get used instead of just quietly tossed in a drawer by New Year’s. They’re removable vinyl labels you put on chargers and cables to always tell which one is which no matter how tangled they get. $10.
A perennial favorite among geeky gifts: TV’s MythBusters’ Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman immortalized as bobblehead dolls. See how much dynamite it takes to blow them up. $29.99.
The Lazerwood keys for Apple keyboards have class written all over them. These make good gifts for anyone who likes technology, but thinks it’s too, well, geeky. Comes in walnut or cherry (wood colors, not flavors). $45.
If you know somebody who loves all things Guinness, chances are he’ll also love Guinness soap. Congratulations, you have the opportunity to give the best beer-based bath product around. $8.
It’s a bird! It’s a nerd! It’s… GeekMan! The action figure is sure to brighten up any cubicle. According to his creators, “GeekMan comes equipped with five ‘weapons’ of Wisdom and Tech Gadgetry: Visual Input Device (removable glasses), PDA (handheld computer), Cerebral I/O and Trusty Sidekick (laptop), Geek Battery Charger (coffee mug) and Wristwatch.” $22.49.
While it looks like an ordinary wine bottle resealer, the Corkcicle keeps wine chilled for hours and manages to remain elegant. No more messing around with buckets of ice or taking up valuable fridge space. Keep the wine on the table without losing any chill. $25.
Laugh all you want, but some folks would be grateful for an Obol. It keeps cereal on one side and milk on the other, so you never end up eating soggy cereal. Yes, most people make peace with that little tradeoff, but why compromise if you don’t have to anymore? Imagine enjoying a bowl of Frosted Flakes leisurely, instead of having to wolf it down before the flakes go limp. $19.99.
The Kill A Watt electricity usage monitor lets you track energy consumption by the kilowatt-hour via the LCD readout. According to its makers, the device offers “a 0.2 percent accuracy rate and monitors voltage, line frequency and power factor.” Find out which of your devices really burns up energy and replace them or at least put them on a diet. “Helps to track and budget electrical expenses by the hour, day, week, month, even an entire year.” $19.20.
No more freezing your fingertips off while texting in the cold. North Face offers the eTip Glove, which works with touch screens just like your finger would, but also helps your hands stay warm. Plus it looks cool. $45.
You knew there had to be a lightsaber lamp. Well, here it is, from ThinkGeek. As company officials say, “the path of the Jedi is the illuminated one.” Switch to different colored bulbs for mood lighting, especially if you’re trying to cultivate a Tatooine vibe at home. $39-49.
This invention from HANDeBand will make you smack your forehead and say, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that when I dropped my iPhone?” It attaches to the back of your mobile phone, iPod or other device, such as tablets, and keeps you from dropping your favorite gadget. Finally, you can take your phone skydiving. $28.95 for a pack of two.
Strange as it may seem, not all women appreciate geeky gifts equally. But if you’re pretty sure you’re on safe ground, go for the USB Bracelet from Scandinavia, a silver-and-gold metal, 2GB thumb drive on a braided leather cord. As the company website explains, “Always wear your memories with you.” $49.05.
Here’s Holy Grail of VW geekdom. This brilliant toaster was never actually offered for sale, but was used as a premium giveaway to certain customers. VW-philes regularly scour eBay for them, so if you can find one for that VW lover in your life you will have a friend forever. Various prices.