If you're not a geek yourself, filling the geek's stocking with small or inexpensive gifts can require a team of savvy elves. Luckily, the elves have started a list of gift ideas that work equally well for stockings or Secret Santa exchanges. (Geeks are everywhere -- especially the IT department.) Here are five high-tech stocking stuffers that won't require too much hunting, use too many tools, or take too much out of Santa's wallet. These are fun and inexpensive enough to buy multiples for all the geeks in your life.
Now that Apple has made the iPod Nano music player truly tiny, there are lots of cool new ways to use it. There are also a million ways to lose this little guy. Keeping track of a Nano is far easier when it's clicked into the brightly colored iWatchz Q collection ($24.95) [source: iWatchz]. Just snap the latest generation iPod Nano into the translucent plastic clips. The architecture allows access to all the buttons and connectors on the Nano, and the quick-release pins allow the soft silicone band to be changed out on a whim. The Q2 adds a bit more durability with aluminum clips to hold the Nano in place ($39.95).
Digital books may be the latest way to read, but lots of geeks are downloading classics onto their e-readers. Many of the books are cheap or free, and it's far easier to carry around a digital copy of Dickens's collected works than one paper copy of A Tale of Two Cities. But e-readers need protection and a little personalization.
For heavy readers of the e-book type, a jacket for their Kindle, Nook, or iPad with a classic cover combines the best of digital and dead-tree worlds. Out of Print has teamed up with M-Edge to create jackets from vintage literary eras, with titles including "Pride and Prejudice," "The Great Gatsby," and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Prices vary by device, but range from about $20 to $30 [source: M-Edge].
Conspiracy theorists, would-be hackers, and cubicle sharers will all appreciate this little device. The Screen Keeper turns off the computer monitor when you walk away from your desk. A clip-on transmitter sends a signal to a receiver near the computer when you reach a preset distance away -- say, 10 feet (or about 3 meters). When you come back in range, the screen fires up again, no password re-entry required. The user sets the distance, so the screen could go dark as soon or as late as they like. Keeping sensitive data (or a novel in progress) safe from prying eyes will cost Santa about $30 [source: Screen Keeper].
This is for the person who constantly checks their Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, or all of the above. The Web Mail Notifier ($17) allows them to do so from across the room -- it's up to you to decide if this is a good thing or not [source: Brando]. All they have to do is put the envelope-shaped alert on the desk and plug it into a USB port. As soon as a message arrives, the envelope will glow blue, red, or green, and play a sound. It's perfect for the office gossip who wanders away from her desk but never wants to miss a message.
This is the quintessential high-tech stocking stuffer. It's cute, it's small, and it'll remind the recipient of your thoughtfulness all year long. Unlike most stocking stuffers, this 4GB Building Block USB Drive ($34.99) is also useful [source: Perpetual Kid]. One half-inch-square plastic block holds the memory stick, while the other acts as a cap. The whole thing is attached to a key chain, so it will always be with the geek in your life and it will be harder to misplace, since the whole memory stick is only an adorable inch long.
A police body cam manufacturer is now adapting a similar device for the civilian market. Learn more in this HowStuffWorks article.
- Brando.com. (November 9, 2011) http://usb.brando.com/prod_detail.php?prod_id=00681
- Craziestgadgets.com. "Screen Keeper Locks Your Screen as Soon as You Walk Away." Aug. 15, 2011. (Nov. 11, 2011) http://craziestgadgets.com/2011/08/15/screen-keeper-locks-your-screen-as-soon-as-you-walk-away/
- Ford, Nicki. "Christmas Gifts, Gadgets, and Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Your Loveable Geek." Theparanoidgamer.com. Nov. 6, 2011. (Nov. 9, 2011) http://theparanoidgamer.com/christmas-gifts-gadgets-and-stocking-stuffer-ideas-for-your-lovable-geek/
- iWatchz.com. (Nov. 9, 2011) http://www.iwatchz.com/collections/q-collection
- M-Edge Store. (Nov. 9, 2011) http://app.medgestore.com/stylelab/?device=;theme=OOP;sort=;limit=0,40
- Perpetual Kid. (Nov. 11, 2011) http://www.perpetualkid.com/4gb-building-block-usb-flash-drive.aspx
- Screen Keeper. (Nov. 18, 2011) http://www.screenkeeper.biz/