Monday, December 2, 2013

Gadgets For Good Geeks

It's that time of year again, you've got to buy a gadget for your favorite geek or risk not getting support for another year.  This year, we've got lots of great gifts for geeks to consider.  There are far more than I could cover so I'm only sharing what I'm either using or wishing I was using and why.  Please help everyone by carrying on the conversation in the comments and adding the gadget you crave or favor the most.

Tablets
This is the most versatile gift you can give anyone right now as they can be used for play or for work.  The iPad dominates this category and is my recommendation if price is not an object.  It has the most application support and is the easiest to use.  The iPad air is an excellent product and while "expensive" holds its value well.

The runner up is the Google Nexus.  It's Google's answer to the iPad and the latest version is very good.  Going with the Nexus ensures you get the latest update to the Android Operating System when Google upgrades.  It is a beautiful device.

Mini (7") or Full Size?
This is a matter of preference and many people swear by their iPad Mini or 7" Nexus.  I like the 10" devices personally.

Phones
The iPhone 5s is the winner for much the same reasons the iPad wins for tablets.

But a true geek will want an android, so if the recipient is a true geek, the close runner up in this category is the Samsung S4 phone.  Bigger screen and more features than an Apple device.  This is my phone and I love it.

Bluetooth speakers
This is a GREAT gift for a geek. Practical, useful, and reliable.
My current favorite is the $99 Exogear because it is waterproof, has great battery life, portable, nearly indestructible, and a great price.


For inside the house where looks matter more than portability, I like the $99 SoundFreaq because it can also charge your devices.

If you don't like either of these, find one you do like such as Jawbone.  Bluetooth speakers make a great gift!

Laptops
Not a great gift but still some people need a new laptop.  Don't go for chromebooks yet and while Macs are great, they are very expensive for what you get.  The best value today is the Lenovo Yoga with SSD for about $1100.

Headphones
A very personal choice for so many people but I'm glad to see people recognize bluetooth headsets are out of style.  My favorite headphones are from ZAGG.  Lots to chose from, I use the smartbuds (currently on sale for $25).  The best thing about Zagg is they don't ever tangle and the 2nd best thing is they are durable, I've washed a pair and they still work (yes it was an accident!).

Entertainment
Too many things to say and list here but let's cover it quickly.  First, the hype is all around PS4 and Xbox One.  Either one is great but I think the Xbox is a slightly better value.  Since no previous games work with the new consoles, you really have to look at what games they have that appeal to you. Mashable provides a nice comparison.

Most people, however, will benefit from a new device for their TV.  If you are a fully apple family, the $99 Apple TV is a no brainer.  I love my Apple TV.  It's simple, powerful, and inexpensive.  Using airplay you can project anything from your iPad to your TV.  It also comes preloaded with great apps like HULU Plus, Netflix, and more which work on your home network (you need subscriptions to use HULU, etc but the apps are there).  Easy to setup and can extend your itunes library to your TV set.


Since I have a Samsung S4, I like Chromecast.  Currently compatible with some iPad/iPhone applications, Chromecast works with androids and your laptop (Chrome browser mostly).  It lets anything that plays on your device play to the screen.  Works great and is a great deal at $35.

Wearable computing
I'm not a fan yet.  The Galaxy watch is horrible and most of the rest are not any better even if they are a better value.  And there are many devices like Fuelband, Fitbit, and others that track your activity.  If the geek in your life is a fitness geek, these might be good gifts but are very personal as they style is an issue.  I also expect these devices to improve dramatically in 2014 so any purchase you make will have a short useful life.

Portable Power
Everyone needs portable power now, batteries everywhere.  Get one that doubles as a wall charger and lets you charge multiple devices. Also be sure it supports the new iPad.  Once again, I like Zagg ZaggSparq on sale for $50.

Rounding out my top choices for the geek in your life:

  1. EcoGear bluetooth speaker -- For $100, a product everyone can use.
  2. ChromeCast - It's only $35 and has great features.
  3. iPad Air - At $500 most expensive but the most appreciated.

What did I miss?  What is your favorite gadget and which ones did I recommend where I got it wrong?