A very geeky Christmas...
December 14, 2011 6:26 AM   Subscribe

My husband is into geeky electronic things. I am not. Help me figure out some gift ideas for him. More inside.

My husband's favorite gifts of the past have been things like:

- a touchpad remote control with keyboard

- wireless sennheiser headphones so he can watch TV in bed at night without waking me up

- a blue tooth adaptor thingie so he can listen to his droid phone over the car speakers

- universal remote that controls both the PS3 and TV

Basically, he likes geeky tech things, of which I sometimes randomly stumble upon, but basically know very little about. He likes spending his time doing things like connecting our TVs to computers and reinstalling Windows and rooting his Droid.

With that in mind, I am looking for suggestions from like-minded men about gifts they would love to receive (ideally $150 or less).

Thank you!
posted by corn_bread to Technology (25 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Does he want to do hyper-nerdy electronic things? If so, Arduino. You can get very complete kits for under $100.

Personally, I totally want a Tankbot, but that's just me.
posted by scruss at 6:30 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, thinkgeek.com essentially caters to this crowd and may help you find something.
posted by MangyCarface at 6:30 AM on December 14, 2011

Not electronic but a bucket of cable ties are always fun for anyone that has a constantly growing rats nest of wires to contend with.
posted by ian1977 at 6:34 AM on December 14, 2011

Is he a reader of books? I am a pretty techy guy as well (who also loves to read), and I always thought that e-readers were not my thing. I liked the feel of books, the smell of a new paperback, etc. Then my wife got me a Kindle, and man oh man is it awesome. Since it's NOT a Kindle Fire or an iPad, it's really dedicated to reading. And with batteries that last in terms of months and not days, it is really awesome for vacations.

For example, we were on the beach in the Dominican Republic, and I was reading a book, and thinking (because I could see I was 93% done) "Gee, this author better start wrapping shit up, he's got a LOT to cram into these last pages!" when suddenly, the book ended with a big fat "TO BE CONTINUED". I had been reading a trilogy all along! NOOOOOO!!!! Then I remembered that my kindle has worldwide free 3G coverage, so I checked if the other books were out yet. Sure enough, within five minutes, and without leaving my beach chair or fruity tropical cocktail, I was reading the second book in the series. I felt like I was living in the future!
posted by Grither at 6:36 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Given your previous gifts), Your husband and I share very similar tastes. These are things I've thought about in the past:

I think he will like the Boxee Box. It's slightly over budget ($170).

If you want a cheaper option, you could also get a Roku Box. That's about $79.

Here's one out of left field. What do you currently use as an alarm clock? My gf, who was struggling for an idea, came up with the Sony Dash and I love it. It's $100 on Amazon.
posted by unexpected at 6:38 AM on December 14, 2011

As with men buying underwear for women: if you don't know what you are doing you will choose poorly.

Anyway, surprises are vastly overrated for anyone over the age of about 11, ask him for hints, disguise your intention by asking for book, gadget and clothing hints.
posted by epo at 6:41 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Would he like something he can really play around with? There's a Kickstarter for this thing called Twine which has gotten a lot of press lately. It's a device that can sense things and you can program it to then connect to the internet and do stuff. I got one for my geeky husband for Christmas. It won't deliver til after Christmas but they will give you a gift card so you'll have something to put under the tree/in a stocking/etc.
posted by misskaz at 6:41 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Thinkgeek.com has tons of great stuff. We do a good portion of our Christmas shopping there.
posted by PJMoore at 6:47 AM on December 14, 2011

I think he will like the Boxee Box. It's slightly over budget ($170).

If you want a cheaper option, you could also get a Roku Box. That's about $79.

If they have a PS3, it's already doing what the Boxee/Roku do.
posted by griphus at 6:51 AM on December 14, 2011

that depends, griphus. Boxee box can stream far more formats than a PS3 (speaking as someone that has both!)
posted by unexpected at 6:52 AM on December 14, 2011

These are the neatest portable storage I have ever seen. They make cunning use of what would otherwise be wasted space in a standard USB connector, and they're small enough to be robust as hell. Mine are surviving very nicely in a pocket full of keys and stuff that have killed several other USB drives. They'll stay nicely capped on a keyring provided you drill a 1/16" hole right through both sides of the end cap down near the tip, and thread the lanyard through that on its way to the manufacturer's attachment point on the device proper. That attachment point, by the way, is quite awkward to get the lanyard through; I found I needed to use a fuse-wire hook to thread it.

Get him half a dozen of those and a bunch of fast MicroSD cards to go with them (make sure there's at least one 32GB one in there, just for amazement value).
posted by flabdablet at 6:53 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Boxee box can stream far more formats than a PS3

Is that considering the PS3 Media Server, or do you mean 'formats' as in content providers?
posted by griphus at 6:55 AM on December 14, 2011

I was of the same mind as Grither and have now become a Kindle advocate as well. The Kindle Touch is a great present, and you can get library books for it now too!
posted by kcm at 7:01 AM on December 14, 2011

griphus, PS3 media server can't play 50% of the crap that i have accumulated over the years. Additionally, playing mkv files on the PS3 is next to impossible.

Netflix, Hulu, etc. will be the same on PS3 vs Boxee, for sure - but there's something to be said about having an integrated media experience. I use Plex, almost a sister to Boxee, and it's *really cool* - like the coolest thing I've ever done in my geeky, techy life.

The Kindle Touch would also be a great gift. I adore mine. I would stay away from the Kindle Fire - the reviews have only been "ok".
posted by unexpected at 7:06 AM on December 14, 2011

Definitely +1 on Arduino.
posted by tomwheeler at 7:17 AM on December 14, 2011

I just got a Dingoo A320, which is a knockoff handheld game player. It is less than $75 with free shipping, and emulates and saves old Nintendo (NES) games expertly. I have about 100 of my favorite old games - which you can download as ROM files from the internet - loaded up. It has been a blast playing through Zelda again and the Buffalo Bills are about to complete a perfect season and win the 1991 Super Bowl.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:35 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

another vote for Arduino; Sparkfun has the excellent inventors kit that's right in your price range.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:44 AM on December 14, 2011

Ultraviolet LED flashlights are awesome. You'd be surprised how many things have hidden printing on them in UV ink -- like your credit cards, and your money.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:50 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can poke around thinkGeek for cool stuff.
posted by shothotbot at 7:59 AM on December 14, 2011

I was given an arduino kit a month or so ago (well, OK, it was more like "this is what you've bought me for my birthday, btw"), and it has been the most singularly awesome thing I've gotten in a while.
If he's into things like re-installing windows (!) and rooting his Droid, you might also want to consider something like a Nook Color. It's easy to get sucked into rooting it, trying out the multitude of different ROM variants, etc., tweaking the various settings available to you once rooted so that movies play just perfectly, and so on.
posted by Runes at 8:56 AM on December 14, 2011

It's not electronic, but I'll 99.95% guarantee he'll love the Lonpos physical puzzles (http://www.lonpos.co.uk/ also on Amazon et in the US). Ten bucks, hours of peace and quiet.
posted by ewan at 9:07 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I bought an Arduino kit. What a great idea - thank you all for your help!!!

Please keep any suggestions coming. I have like a whole list of potential future gift ideas now. :)
posted by corn_bread at 10:44 AM on December 14, 2011

How about a Squeezebox Radio if he's into music? It's one of my favorite items (I've got two squeezeboxes that sync up).
posted by iamscott at 1:12 PM on December 14, 2011

Make Magazine. Loads of Arduino projects and ideas for projects, and interesting to read what other people are doing, even if you decide that building your own, I don't know, blimp docking tower isn't your thing.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2011

Response by poster: I gotta tell you guys, I bought the Arduino starter kit basically not really understanding fully what it could do, but rather just trusting in metafilter. I just looked at Make magazine's 53 project guides for Arduino. Holy crap! This is the first time I've ever been intrigued enough to seriously consider learning geeky technological things myself. :)

Totally amazing!
posted by corn_bread at 5:40 PM on December 14, 2011

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