The holiday season is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking long and hard about what to buy the geeks in your life. But what do you buy for someone who seemingly has everything?
We all know Christmas isn’t just about giving and receiving gifts, but finding that unique present you know that special someone is going to love makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Here are some far-out unique gadget gift ideas that even the nerdiest of nerds should love!
Here’s a unique gift, though I’ve got a bit of a confession to make before everyone rushes out and buys one. At present the Pandora is in the pre-order stage, and probably won’t be shipping till January, possibly February.
Never mind, because if you think someone would love a tiny, handheld Linux PC that tears through games it’ll be worth the wait – because that’s exactly what the Pandora is. Using an open, community-developed distributon of Linux, the Pandora has been built with 43-key QWERTY keyboard, Nintendo DS-style game controls and a resistive touchscreen (complete with stylus) to boot.
The unit itself is similar in design to Nintendo’s handheld, except it functions as a fully operable PC and is the perfect platform for emulation. I’ve personally wanted one of these since watching Stuart Ashen’s review (YouTube video, below) in which he puts it through its paces, playing all manner of arcade and console classics with a battery life that outshines the 3DS.
The Pandora comes with nearly everything you could ever want from such a machine including an SD card slot, USB 2.0 and serious grunt under the hood (full technical specifications can be found here). The lucky recipient might have to wait a bit, but your €375 (or €445 for EU customers, inc 19% VAT) will be well spent when the beast arrives.
Pretty much the closest thing you can get to a real-life Lightsaber, Wicked Lasers are a company that specialize in creating unbelievably powerful (and legal) lasers. I’m honestly not that sure what you’d use the products supplied by Wicked Lasers for, but you can’t argue that it’s not a unique gift.
The most powerful model, the Spyder III Arctic, is recognised as the most powerful handheld laser in the world. It takes a rechargeable battery, has 9 modes of operation and can quite literally burn through most combustible material – all for US$299.
Be warned – these are not toys. They are highly dangerous and could cause serious injury to eyes or skin if misused. They sure do look fun, though…
Note: These products are illegal in some countries, so if you’re seriously thinking of dropping $300 on a laser at least check you won’t go to jail first.
Are you looking for a gift for someone who likes to tinker with electronics? Does this person have a drawer full of cables, circuit boards and books on programming? Then an Arduino Starter Kit might just make their Christmas wish-list this year, and doesn’t cost the earth either.
James jumped at the chance to write this MakeUseOf article all about Arduino, explaining the general aim of the project and roughly what’s achievable. Put simply, Arduino is a somewhat-revolutionary device that can be programmed to do all sorts of different things.
Both software and hardware is open source, and the programming aspect has been simplified so that anyone with a passing interest can have a go. If you do end up buying that special someone an Arduino Starter Kit then don’t forget to check back in at MakeUseOf where we’ll have a series of guides and tutorials online soon.
The first of two musical gift solutions, Maschine is a dedicated hardware groove sequencer that interfaces with your PC for an old-meets-new approach to building complex beats and rhythms. Those of you with an iPhone might have noticed iMaschine, an app that aims to bring Maschine-like qualities to iOS, but for those who are serious about music an app just can’t compare to a physical pad.
Developed by Native Instruments, the company who bought you Traktor and Komplete, the Maschine has multiple uses including groove sequencing, sampling and even performing live. The unit itself is compatible with both Windows and OS X machines and comes with more than 6GB of samples to get started.
Those of you who have been busily tapping out beats on your iPhone can finally put them to use on your computer, tweaking and continuing your work at your desk. There’s a lot of fun to be had with a Maschine, though it doesn’t come cheap at US$669 for the full version. Check out the video below to really see what the professionals can do with this expensive but awesome box of fun.
Two analogue synthesizer solutions – one for the hobbyist, one for the musician. I actually bought the original Monotron a few months ago and can testify that it’s a fantastic palm-sized synthesizer that can be used to generate some bone-shaking noises whilst retaining pocket-sized portability. What’s more these little babies are cheap, and the basic model will only set you back about US$60.
Two more Monotron models have been released, the Duo and Delay, and you can check out the differences between them here. All models feature standard 3.5mm connections that handle both input and output and are the perfect introduction to the world of analogue synthesizers – though I’d recommend using a stylus (not supplied) for accuracy.
The microKORG is a completely different kettle of fish, providing far more functionality thanks to a 37-key mini keyboard, programmable presets, a microphone complete with vocoder, effects and delays for anyone with an interest in warm, fuzzy analogue synth. As you’d expect the microKORG costs considerably more, but at around US$400 it’s not a bad deal and should provide hours and hours of fun.
Hopefully these rather unique and unusual gifts will give you some ideas whilst shopping around for gifts this holiday season. If you’ve got any similar ideas that might help fellow shoppers out then don’t hesitate in adding them in the comments selection below.
Will you be buying any of the items on this list this year? Any unique gadgets that caught your eye? What on earth would you use a high-powered laser for? Confess, below.