You wouldn’t buy a new toilet snake for your buddy the plumber, because he already has a top-of-the-line model. And if he wants a new one, he should pick it out himself. So why on earth would you buy a laptop, tablet or smart phone for the tech geeks on your list when we either already have these products or would need to pick our own? Fortunately, there are plenty of high-tech gifts that even hardcore geeks probably don’t have. Here are our 10 favorite gifts for geeks who have almost everything.
PC On a Stick: Android 4 Mini PC MK802 II
The geeks on your list may have an ultra slim smart phone, a lightweight laptop and a tiny tablet, but they probably don’t have anything as pocket-friendly as a computer on a stick. These days you can get a dual-core computer the size and shape of a USB Flash drive that turns any HDMI-capable TV or monitor into an Android station.
The Android 4.0 Mini PC MK802 II costs around $50 and provides performance that’s good enough to watch HD videos and the flexibility to run Ubuntu or other Linux flavors in addition to Android. The slightly more expensive MK808 ups the ante with a dual-core CPU, more internal memory and native 1080p output.
3D Printer: MakerBot Replicator 2
Most serious geeks don’t do a lot of printing. We have tablets and phones with us all the time so why waste the paper? 3D Printing, on the other hand, is a whole other ball of plastic. With a 3D Printer like the MakerBot Replicator 2 ($2,199) your geek can take 3D models from the computer and “print” them out as colorful plastic models. What self-respecting geek wouldn’t want to do that?
Double Robotics Telepresence Robot
The geeks on your lists are already more than capable of making video calls from their tablets and phones, but they almost certainly don’t have a telepresence robot. Buy them a $1,999 Double Robotics iPad robot and they can attach an iPad to the top and use it to roll around rooms remotely, chatting with other people. With the Double Robotics, your geek will be able to roll over and communicate with other office workers while working remotely or patrol the house while on vacation.
More: 7 Amazing Robot Gifts
USB Wall Socket: Newer Technology Power2U
Your phone, tablet, your Wi-Fi hotspot, your media player and even your charger all charge over USB. Yet, when you want to plug these devices into an outlet, you need to dig out a series of heavy, easy-to-lose AC adapters. However, with a USB faceplate kit like the $24.95 Newer Technology Power2U, the geeks on your list can upgrade any of their outlets to include two powered USB ports next to the two three-pronged outlets.
Like everyone else, geeks own their share of jackets. However, most of these jackets just have a couple of pockets that aren’t large enough to hold a gadget as large as an iPad. Enter ScotteVest, a company that makes a line of high-tech jackets and vests that have plenty of large, internal pockets to keep all of your devices safe and dry, even in the worst weather.
Better still, most have an internal wire path that allows you to route your headphone wire up to your neck. LAPTOP Editor Mike Prospero was able to fit a ton of gadgets into the ScotteVest Sleeve 7.0 ($160) and its 23 pockets.
SmartWatch: Sony SmartWatch
Back in the 1980s, my fellow geeks and I wore our Casio calculator watches with pride, but these days, most of us leave our wrists bare, a waste of valuable skin real estate. However, now you can buy a smart watch that lets you control your phone, check email, play music or even get social updates, without wasting precious seconds digging in your pocket for your handset.
Android phone-using geeks like me will love the Sony SmartWatch ($150), which pairs with your phone via Bluetooth and runs a wide variety of custom apps, including special Facebook and Twitter clients, along with email and a music player.The SmartWatch can also be configured to sound an alarm when you take it too far away from your phone, alerting you that you've left your handset behind.
External Laptop Charger: Veho Pebble Pro or Hyperjuice 60wh
The average ultraportable notebook gets barely more than 6 hours of endurance when running at 40 percent brightness. That’s not enough to get your favorite geek through a long plane ride or an active day running around the show floor at CES.
Most of the external batteries on the market can only charge USB-powered devices like phones and tablets. However, there are a couple of options that will also charge a laptop. The Veho Pebble Pro, which really saved my bacon during hurricane Sandy, costs just $70 and comes with a slew of tips for charging. Mac users will appreciate one of the Hyperjuice batteries, such as the $170 60Wh version that promises an additional 20 hours of endurance.
Mechanical Keyboard: Unicomp Ultra Classic
Your favorite geek will appreciate an upgraded keyboard that will allow them to type faster and game better when sitting at their desk. For the ultimate typing experience, nothing beats the feel of mechanical keys that spring back at you. I can type 10 to 20 wpm faster with the Unicomp Ultra Classic ($79), which uses the same “buckling spring” technology as the old IBM PC keyboards. Another solid choice is Rosewill’s attractive RK-9100 ($119) illuminated mechanical keyboard.
Portable USB Monitor: Monitor2Go or Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421
When we geeks are at our desks, we have a second or even third screen that lets us keep a ton of windows open. However, when we hit the road, we’re stuck staring at just one desktop.
A portable monitor with DisplayLink technology is light enough to fit in our bags and flexible enough to send its video signal directly over our notebook’s USB port so we can have a second screen wherever we go. And even if the geek on your list already has one, it can be daisy chained together with your gift to provide a portable three screen setup.
Though there are more than half a dozen portable USB displays on the market, two stand out: the 14-inch Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 ($199), which is completely bus powered and has a very sturdy kickstand, and the 15.6-inch Monitor2Go, which provides a 1600 x 900 resolution display and the ability to mirror your iPad’s screen.
Gaming Mouse: Razer Naga
No doubt your favorite geek has a mouse, but does their mouse have more than a dozen buttons? Many of today’s gaming mice come with a series of programmable buttons which can launch custom macros or open programs.
If your geek is a big gamer, having the ability to assign actions to these buttons could mean the difference between winning and losing. If they don’t play games, they can use the buttons to launch their most-used programs or paste frequently used text into emails. Amongst many-button mice, the Razer Naga stands out for its tactile, easy-to reach buttons and speedy navigation.
More: Gaming Mouse Reviews
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