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December 11, 2013

9 geeky gifts you’ll want to keep for yourself

By shutterstock_109461782_feat

Holiday shopping is no longer the challenge it used to be, thanks to an endless sea of online deals and access to basically every product ever in existence (thanks, internet). The biggest challenge now is sorting through the clutter to find out which items are actually worth buying. Below are nine of the best geeky gifts to give this year. You’re probably going to want to keep most of them. Good luck with that.

Pencil, $50-$60 – iPad owners may be among the easiest geeks to buy for, since there are approximately 10 billion different accessories to go along with the ever popular tablet. Of course, not all third-party iOS gadgets are created equal (in fact, most are downright awful). But Pencil stands out in the crowd thanks to its thoughtful design and functionality. Created by the same guys who brought us Paper, Pencil makes the whole digital drawing experience far more realistic. Available in graphite or walnut, this impressive stylus is the same shape as a carpenter’s pencil and offers several useful features like a built-in eraser and palm rejection, which ensures that the Paper app doesn’t allow your hand to do the drawing when it touches the screen. Better yet, it boasts a full month of battery power and Bluetooth connectivity.

Basis B1 band, $199 – There are those who believe that the way to a healthy body is resolve and determination, and then there are others who believe that what you really need is data, lots and lots of data, maybe also an app. The Basis B1 band by Basis Science gives you all of that by auto-detecting physical activity including running, walking, bicycling and — get this — even your sleeping patterns. It’s the perfect gift for the health-nut in your life. The sophisticated device gives comprehensive measurements and helps establish healthy habits by offering achievements when activity goals are met. While it’s slightly more expensive than some of its competitors, it goes above and beyond what others currently offer.

Clocky,  $29 – Things aren’t easy for alarm clocks these days. With nearly everyone toting around a smartphone, fewer and fewer of us hit the old snooze button anymore. But if you give Clocky half the chance, it’ll make you a believer in waking up the old fashioned way by doing something that your phone can’t. You see, unlike your phone, Clocky actually forces you to get out of bed by jumping right off your nightstand and rolling around on your bedroom floor until you manage to catch it. The adorable clock gets around on its two large wheels, which immediately activate if you hit the old snooze button more than once. Wrap it up for the friend or family member who’s never on time.

Mophie reserve micro, $40 – This little juice pack makes one heck of a stocking-stuffer or an excellent standalone gift for the friend who is forever forgetting to charge his phone before heading out. Mophie’s reserve micro power station features integrated charging cables which can be easily accessed in a pinch. It’s also extremely lightweight and nearly impossible to lose since it’s designed to attach to a set of keys.

iNecklace, $75 – Yes, it’s from ThinkGeek, but this one is just too good to pass up. Both chic and geeky, the iNecklace is the perfect gift for any Apple-lovin’ lady on your list. The pendant glows with Apple’s “breathing LED pattern,” but since it’s completely open source you can change the glow pattern to whatever you want. The iNecklace comes with a circuit board and two batteries…because you’ll have to replace one eventually.

Super magnetic putty, $15 – Where the heck was super magnetic putty when you were a kid? Show-and-tell never would have been the same. While it just looks like old blob of putty at first, it becomes an instant superhero-like tool when placed near the included Neodymium Iron Boron magnet. Within just five seconds the putty will actually stretch itself in a freakish attempt to reach the magnet. Once you’ve allowed it to charge up, the putty can perform the tasks of any standard magnet…so, basically not much, not much at all. Still, it makes a super sweet stocking-stuffer.

USB Typewriter, $799 – OK, so it’s a bit of a splurge, but nothing says happy holidays quite like a sexy Underwood typewriter. And unlike the hipsters who dish out top dollar for the antiquated machines, this one actually serves a purpose beyond impressing your houseguests (though that’s certainly an added perk). Simply connect it into any USB-compatible device and start plugging along. This gift will have to come a little late, as delivery can take up to four grueling weeks (drone delivery, anyone?), but the wait will be worth it, as you type out the next great American novel, e-cigarette dangling from your lip.

Molecular Gastronomy Kit, $59 – Remember when it was acceptable to play with your food (save for your mother’s disapproving glares)? Now there’s a whole new art to it, specifically for grown-ups who’ve graduated from ketchup smileys to tomato foam. The molecular gastronomy kit from UncomonGoods lets you get seriously nerdy with your dinner by turning you into the Grant Achatz of your home kitchen. Imagine transforming liquids into jelly-like cubes, turning produce into gel beads or bubbles, and morphing chocolate into spaghetti (watch your back, Willy Wonka, ‘cause shitake just got real).

Gramophone for iPhone and iPad, $159+ – A throwback to simpler times, the Gramophone for iPhone and iPad will charm the pants off of just about anybody with a passion for vintage tech. Available in a variety of woods and finishes, this elegant speaker, based on the original Edison design, will boost the volume on the device by up to four times with no need for electricity. That’s right, no plug, no batteries, just solid science and good old fashioned American ingenuity. Best paired with a bottle of bourbon.

About the Author

is a contributing editor of the Pluralsight blog. She has been a freelance writer since 2006. She deals in tech and food -- an odd combination, but it keeps her sated. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.