Holidays are coming and there’s never been a more exciting time to be a geek. The next-generation of consoles are arriving, but not everyone can afford the $400 price tag this Christmas. So here’s my selection of fantastic geeky gifts for under $50 – gadgets needn’t be expensive.
Anything motion-activated is generally guaranteed to be awesome on at least some level, but these under the bed light bars serve a useful purpose as well as just being cool. As geeks, we often fill our bedroom floors with all manner of power cables and other 3-pronged nasty things: these can be particularly nasty to step on at night. Save a visit to the ER with a set of MyLights!
For many, a gateway drug to a lifelong love of good boardgames, Catan is a city building, resource gathering and trading game for up to four friends. Unlike that dusty copy of Monopoly sitting in the cupboard that can drag on for hours, Catan will remain a firm family favourite as the tension builds toward the end. If your geek already has Catan, consider getting them one of the many expansion packs instead – Cities and Knights adds a great level of complexity with new resources and city upgrades.
Your geek no doubt has a tablet device already – be it an iPad or Nexus 10 – but do they have a keyboard? Typing for extended periods on a tablet is pretty much the most tedious and unproductive thing you can do. Add in a real keyboard, and watch productivity fly – leaving them with more time to remove the malware from your clunky Windows machine. Win win!
This keyboard can pair with multiple devices and has a special key to switch between them; and you can charge as you type over USB.
In case you really don’t know: Dungeons and Dragons is a role playing game. That means one person takes on the role of Dungeon Master, and guides any number of other players through an elaborate and rich fantasy world where anything is possible. I feel like Dungeons and Dragons has a bad reputation as being reserved for only the highest order of geek – and that really isn’t fair. For most D’n’D players, it’s an excuse to get together, drink beer, and hang out with your friends. Yes, they make up silly names for even sillier monsters (“you’re attacked by a ravenous bugbear!”), roll dice and refer to stats tables – but that’s all just a ruse to provide some semblance of structure to the core purpose of hanging out. If you think this is something your geek might enjoy, a starter set like this is a good way to sample the hobby. You’ll get some ready-made adventures and characters, plus a tile set, tokens to play with and a set of D4-D20 dice. Be warned: it’s addiction that’ll soon have them buying all manner of monster manuals and miniature figures – but at least you’ll have the next 10 years of Christmas presents figured out.
Imagine if you had a puppy in your lap, right now – that gleeful smile of sheer heaven as someone has gifted you something so gosh darned cute. That’s exactly how any geek will feel when given a Portal 2 Sentry Turret. This little cutie is motion-activated with pop-out guns (non-lethal) to protect your desk while you’re away. Don’t knock it over though or it’ll be very sad.
The “pajama” nomenclature is somewhat inaccurate – you may find your geek wearing these all the time, accompanied by bouts of screaming “Make it so, Mr Wharf!”
Wait, am I getting my DS9 and TNG mixed up? Sorry.
New Trent: iDual NT5200 ($25)
5200 mAh of rechargeable goodness with two USB ports will make sure your geeks gadgets always have enough juice; all in a package about the same size as an iPhone. Holds enough juice for two full charges of most devices, and the two USB ports mean you charge both at the same time.
Incredible bass sound at a superb budget price, this headset from Azio is designed exclusively for PC gamers, so it connects over USB. If your geek is stuck using a pair of tinny computer speakers, or worse still a laptop (gasp), they will seriously appreciate these. Good luck getting them to come down for dinner, mind.
You can’t really go wrong with colour-changing mood lighting for instant wow factor in any room. Complete with remote control, these affordable LED RGB strip lights come in 5 meter lengths but two sets can be combined to fill any room. Thess are super bright, unlike the ridiculously expensive LED bulbs like Philips Hue, and you can even hack these with an Arduino – here’s a demo of the ambient monitor surround I built with them.
Google Chromecast ($35)
If your geek is constantly watching YouTube or Netflix from their mobile device, consider getting this one of these cheap wireless video adapters which plug into any big screen HDMI socket. Super-simple to setup and start broadcasting, though I’m afraid we can’t vouch for the quality of YouTube videos they’re watching. Here’s our full Chromecast review if you’re not sure. (Not available in the UK)
Every geek is different – but surely one of these great picks will be good for yours? If you have a better idea, do let us know in the comments!
Image credit: gadl