GeekDad Holiday Gift Guide #5

Gift Guide Hacking the Holidays

We’re into December, and that means you’ve got only a few weeks left! But no worries, we have the ultimate gift suggestions. And if you don’t see it here check out our previous gift guides. Individual reviews are by Kathy Ceceri (KC), Jenny Williams (JW), Charles Laughton (CL), Jonathan Liu (JL), Curtis Silver (CS), Z (Z), and myself (JB).

Booq Boa Squeeze Backpack

There are backpacks that are too light, like the classic vinyl backpack that lasts only one school year (if that) — then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum, a tank that weighs as much as the books inside it. The Boa hits the sweet spot between the two. It’s very light, constructed from ballistic nylon, and features a plethora of pockets — the most I’ve seen on a backpack — as well as a laptop sleeve that accommodate 13″-17″ Macs and 13″-15″ PCs. Buy it from Amazon. (JB)

Doodle-Track Car

Hackers take note: the Doodle-Track Car is basically a line-following robot in desktop toy form! With two little light sensors on its undercarriage, this tiny model car will zip around a track you draw on any white paper with black marker. You can also design your own track on their website, complete with traffic signs and signals, and print it out. Comes with decals, pre-printed play mat, and marker (but not the two AAA batteries needed). (KC)

Nintendo 3DS

Though it fell victim to unfortunately sluggish sales after its initial launch, the Nintendo 3DS seems to have picked up steam thanks to a recent price drop. This, coupled with a fourth quarter release lineup that includes first party heavy-hitters like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, could mean that this holiday season is the ideal time to adopt the new handheld. Its beefed up graphics, stereoscopic 3D display, analog controls and VR gaming options give it a nice next-gen sheen, and backwards compatibility means that, even during the lean season, gamers are never without a backlog of quality titles. (Z)

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss has been nominated for a National Book Award. As noted in our review, the book is part art tome, part graphic novel, part biography, and part history of the study of radioactivity and its effect on our world. A stunning work, worth reading multiple times. And the cover glows in the dark. (KC)

Verbatim Clip-It Flash Drive

Perfect stocking stuffer fodder, these tiny flash drives come in bright colors and feature a built-in clip that can secure your drive against loss. Buy them from Amazon. (JB)

STM Bags

Our mobile devices take a beating when we carry them around. For the larger ones, such as our iPads and laptops, good protection is vital. STM Bags are ideal for this purpose. They all contain high density foam, protecting devices incredibly well. The bags also have plenty of room for other gadgets or items. STM Bags come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, including sleeves, to best fit your device! (JW)

Air Hogs Pocket Copter

R/C helicopters aren’t anything new, yet there have been some I’ve tried that are hard to fly. Not so with the Air Hogs Pocket Copter. Extremely small, light and fairly durable, this plastic copter lifts off easily with simpler controls than its bigger brethren making it perfect for indoor flight. Charges in 10 minutes for 5-15 minutes of flight time. Its packaging doubles as a case for perfect portability. Read the review or buy it on Amazon. (CL)


While it may sound odd to have a card game based on a Street Fighter-esque fighting game, Yomi is a blast to play. The base mechanic is a bit like rock-paper-scissors, but there are layers of strategies on top of that which help you predict what your opponent’s next move might be — and vice versa. Get the whole set for a good mix of characters, or pick up one of the two-character packs to try it out. Read the full review or buy it from Amazon. (JL)

Iomega SuperHero iPhone Charger

This phone charger (and who couldn’t use another?) has an SD card slot that can, along with a free app, serve as a backup option if you can’t plug in your phone or want a second backup. It grabs your photos and contacts only. Buy it from Amazon.

DeLorme InReach Satellite Communicator

This device pairs with an Android phone and allows you to compose and send 160-character messages as texts, tweets, Facebook messages, and emails from anywhere in the world, thanks to the Iridium network of satellites. It can also serve as an emergency locator and you can pre-program emergency text messages that can be sent at the touch of a button if your phone dies. Buy it from Amazon. (JB)

Nyko Power Grip

Nyko handily won my favor early after the release of the Nintendo 3DS with their Power Pak+, a battery peripheral that doubled the system’s usually meager play time. Their latest product, the Power Grip, however, does even more. Whereas the original power Pak+ replaced the existing system battery, the Power Grip supplements it. It clips over the handheld’s housing and plugs directly into the 3DS power port. You then charge your system and this secondary battery by plugging the system’s AC adapter into the peripheral itself. The net effect is three times the power with your only concession being a bit of added system bulk. As the name implies, the Power Grip includes ergonomic cut-outs to accommodate bigger hands, which makes it the perfect accessory for grown-up gamers. (Z)

Scribblenauts Remix

If you’re looking to outfit that new iPad with some gaming goodness for the holidays, look no further than Scribblenauts Remix. More than a simple port of the DS original, this iOS iteration uses the superior game mechanic of sequel Super Scribblenauts – which allows additional vocabulary-based problem solving by supporting adjectives – as well as platform-specific options like cloud storage. Help rooster-combed protagonist Maxwell solve 50 madcap puzzles using tools like a “futuristic angry caveman” or a “large happy cotton griffin.” With solutions as numerous (and potentially ridiculous) as your imagination, Scribblenauts Remix is a great title for children and adults alike. (Z)

Thingamagoop 2 Synthesizer

Super fun and easy-to-operate synthesizer packs a square wave amplitude modulator and triangle wave pulse width modulator into a metal case (complete with alien artwork). For added fun there’s a LED-equipped antenna — the LEDacle — that can flicker its light into its own light sensor eye for optical theremin goodness. There are a huge number of sounds possible with this cool toy. You can either buy the Thingamagoop as a kit or a completed product. Buy it from BleepLabs. (JB)

D&D Dragon Collector’s Set

Magnificent collector’s set of five iconic dragon figurines, one for each red, black, blue, white, green dragons. Each figure is about the size of your fist and is extremely intricate and detailed. Just thing to spring on your party of PCs, or simply to display on your shelf. Buy it from your Friendly Local Game Store. (JB)

Gunnar Optiks

Gunnar glasses are quickly changing how geeks see the world. But Gunnars aren’t just for the avid gamer anymore. Anyone who works in front of a computer, any gamer and many families are embracing the glasses that eliminate stress & fatigue headaches. Gunnar glasses, while offering Major League Gaming styles, are also available in many other styles, including “hipster.” You can get Gunnars via their website at (CS)

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