What GeekParent doesn’t love his or her gadgets? This year’s Gadget Gift Guide is replete with useful and semi-useful electronica. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, click on the gift guide logo (right) to see the aggregated GeekDad Gift Guides of prior years.
The hottest bit of technology in the past year. It’s 3D printing made open-source, accessible and affordable. Print up useful and useless stuff from Thingiverse or design and output your own 3Ds. While not exactly “tea, hot, Earl Grey” it’s definitely the way we’re heading. Buy it from MakerBot Industries.
Adafruit Ice Tube Clock Kit
Somehow the clever folks at Adafruit Industries managed to score a crate of Soviet “ice tubes,” glowing blue 8-digit display tubes which they’ve turned into awesome clock kits. It’s actually a fairly full-featured clock: It also displays the date and there’s an alarm with 10-minute snooze. For hackers out there, it’s also completely open source. Note that Adafruit recommends this kit for people with non-zero ‘tronics experience because of the kit’s complexity. Buy it from Adafruit.
Iomega Home Media Hard Drive
Hard drive (available in 0.5, 1 and 2 TB capacities) that can be mounted anywhere on the network via a standard ethernet cable. With the enclosed Retrospect Express disk you can organize automated backups and even access your drive from anywhere on the Internet. Buy it on Amazon.
TARDIS USB Hub
The noble TARDIS: chariot of the Time Lords! Beneath the unlikely facade of a 50s-style police box exists a vehicle that can carry you and your trusty companion(s) to any point in space or time. Assuming, of course, that you don’t mind its 11 x 6 x 6cm constraints. And while I can’t guarantee that it’s bigger on the inside, this bad boy does sport 4 USB 2.0 ports and show-authentic lights and sounds. Buy it on ThinkGeek.
Fenix TK10 LED Flashlight
If you’re gonna buy a pocket-sized flashlight, you might as well as do it right. The Fenix TK10 outputs 225 lumens, is clad in aviation-grade aluminum and looks like it broke off of a T-1000′s rib cage. Note, uses nonstandard CR123A lithium batteries, not included. Buy it on Amazon.
Samson Go Mic
Compact USB condenser microphone. Plug and play on PCs and Macs, and folds into its own base, perfect for travel. Speaking of the base, it’s solid enough to provide a stable support when standing on your desk, but also clips onto your laptop for even more stability. Plus, how can you not like the awesome retro look? Buy it on Amazon.
Electronic LSD to expand your mind, man. No, seriously. Cornfield Electronics’ Mitch Altman created these glasses to blink lights and pulse chi-soothing white noise at brainwave frequencies. Slip these babies on and you’ll find yourself hallucinating groovalicious patterns as you slip into a meditative trance. You absolutely have to try Trip Glasses before you dismiss them. Buy them on ThinkGeek.
SOG B61-N Multitool
This beauty proves that there are alternatives to perennial geek favorite Leatherman. SOG builds tough-as-nails tools borne of Vietnam-era special ops technology. The B61-N’s black oxide and sinister curves make it as sexy as it is effective. Buy it on Amazon.
Corsair Flash Survivor
My biggest complaint about flash drives is their fragility. I’m supposed to entrust gigs of my precious data to a tiny bit of plastic that bangs around in my pocket with my keys? Hecks never. The solution is the Survivor, clad in a rattle-proof and drop-tested tube of aluminum. Trust it. Love it. Buy it on Amazon.
Sony Pocket Reader
Analysts are pegging eBook readers to be this holiday season’s runaway gadget gift. If you find the Kindle or Nook don’t fit your budget, are a tad big to lug everywhere with you or you want access to a wider range of file formats, the Sony Reader Pocket Edition may be the eBook reader for you. A high contrast screen, support for multiple open and DRM file formats (including access to public library collections via ePub), two weeks of reading on a charge and an attractive brushed aluminum case make the sub $200 price tag a relative bargain. Buy it on Amazon.
Vtech Internet Radio
Full featured internet radio with wifi, large color display with easy-to-follow menus, and decent speakers with a small sub. Don’t want to listen to the radio? Stream in music from your ‘puter or play tunes from your MP3 player via aux in. Buy it on Amazon.
Getting Started With Arduino Kit
Wanna get in on the hottest hobby microcontroller on the planet, but don’t know where to start? Tube ye to the Maker Shed and check out their awesome Arduino Starter Kit. Comes with an Arduino Duemilanove and a pack of electronics components including switches, LEDs, resistors and so on — everything you need to get started. As a bonus, they throw in Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi’s Getting Started with Arduino book. Buy it from the Maker Shed
Dymo LabelWriter 450
With this printer I will bring order to the universe. Outputting 71 labels per minute, pocking dual reels for two sizes of label, and printing through a USB cable like any other printer — nothing could be easier. Here’s an example of how slick this printer is: Say you want to send out a hundred packages. You print Postal Service barcodes on one reel and addresses on the other. Plus, it prints thermally so you don’t have to buy ink. My only worry, annoying the wife with my ultra-organization techniques. Buy it on Amazon.
Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive
I plugged this drive into my laptop and it asked if I’d like to use it as a backup. “Why yes,” I responded. Ever since then we’ve been best friends. Packing FireWire 400/800 as well as USB 2.0, and available in 250 gig, 320 gig and half-tera sizes, this slender hard drive works great for desktop-based storage. But even better, take it on the road with confidence because it’s drop tested to 51 inches. Buy it on Amazon.
Victorinox Cybertool 41
Computer repair Swiss Army Knife by the original multitool maker, Victorinox. In addition to the classic components like the big and small blades, file, scissors, corkscrew, bottle opener and so on, it packs stuff you need to fix your computer: a DIP switch setter, a pair of small pliers and a mini-hex screwdriver with four double-sided, exchangeable bits including Torx, Phillips, hex and standard. (It also accommodates bits from similar screwdrivers like the Kronus I got from the Shack.) Buy it on ThinkGeek.
Weller WES51 Soldering Station
Tinkerers need a soldering iron, and this model is one of the best. Sure, you could spring for a $10 jobbie from the Shack, but it won’t come with a stand or sponge, won’t have variable settings, and won’t have a timer-based auto-off. This Weller has all that and more. Buy it on Amazon.
Apple Magic Mouse
My biggest regret about using a mouse with my MacBook Pro is losing the trackpad with its awesome multi-finger gestural controls. Voila, Apple has come up with a mouse whose surface works as a trackpad! Note: Works only with a bluetooth-enabled Mac. Buy it on Amazon.
Roku Digital Video Player
Turn your TV — any TV, even an old one — into a movie player capable of downloading HD or lo-fi programs from Amazon VOD or Netflix. The Roku packs a wifi card, sets up in less than 3 minutes, and has ports for component video, HDMI, ethernet, S-video, all that jazz allowing it to fit into any home theater setup. Buy it on Amazon.
MicroRAX makes fantastically useful and super-strong 10mm x 10mm aluminum girders that can be used for everything from project enclosures to shelving systems to robots. Is the 900mm length too long for your project? Simply hack off the size you need. MicroRAX is also available in a new ultra-sinister black anodized version! To learn more, check out John Edgar Park’s post on Make: Online or visit MicroRAX.com.
Jabra Halo Bluetooth Headphones
Do those pesky earbud cords cramp your style? The feather-light Halo pairs with your phone and your MP3 player simultaneously. Autopairs via Bluetooth 2.0 but retains the option to wear it wired, the Halo offers 6 hours of music listening time. I definitely dig the subdued look without all the flashlight lights and blatant switches that come with many headsets. Buy it on Amazon.
For those of you who read a lot, especially away from home during a commute or long trip, acquiring a Kindle is an excellent way to lighten your load. Whether you like the larger but still-smaller-than-a-piece-of-paper Kindle DX or the smaller book-sized Kindle, both will allow you to read ebooks and other documents, view images, listen to music or audiobooks and more. Finish your book while you’re out and about? No problem. Without needing access to wi-fi hot spots, your Kindle can download your next book very quickly.
Extech 382202 DC Power Supply
Electronics tinkerers need to power their creations to test them out. Battery packs are a PITA when you’re troubleshooting. Plus, what if you don’t have the right pack for the voltage you’re looking at? The solution is a nice entry-level desktop power supply like this one. Buy it on Amazon.
Flip MinoHD Camcorder
Fantastic pocket HD video camera. Stores 120 miniutes of 16:9, 720p, 30 fps footage in the on-board 8-gig memory, then uploads to your computer via a handy flip-out USB plug. Or, you can watch movies directly on your TV thanks to a HDMI port. Buy it on Amazon
Toshiba NB205 Netbook
If a netbook is in the cards for someone in your household, Toshiba’s NB205 has a lot going for it, including a 10.1-inch screen, svelte 2.9-pound frame, 1024×600 TruBrite backlit LED display, 160 GB hard drive and 6 cell Li-ion battery that Toshiba claims is good for nine hours. Brian Chen reviewed this model for Wired.com back in July and found a lot to like, including a capable processor and impressive battery life. Buy it on Amazon.