12/13/2012 - I’m getting to the age where the best gift I could possibly get is more time: to play with gadgets I already have, to clean, to nap, that sort of thing. Despite more than 40 years of research since Jim Croce’s bold mission statement, we have yet to figure out how to put time in a bottle, can, box, or any other container, so you still can’t really give it as a gift.
Still, there are plenty of hot items that any geek on your list would love to have.
Wii U: Even reviewers aren’t quite sure what to make of Nintendo’s latest console, but let’s face it: if you want to play the latest Mario game, you need it. The single controller it comes with has a screen built in, which can be used in various ways. Some multiplayer games have players using the GamePad, as it’s called, to assist their compatriots. Other games let you transfer the gameplay from your television to the built-in screen. It’s a bit weird.
For $300, you get the base console, one GamePad and 8GB of storage space (some of which is taken up by the operating system, blah blah). For an extra $50, that storage gets bumped up to 32GB and you get the game NintendoLand, a collection of 12 minigames in a virtual theme park.
Tablets: What? You know a nerd without an iPad? Everybody has an iPad now. The sleek new iPad mini is $329, while the latest fourth-generation full-size model starts at $499.
Too much? Android tablets cost less, but it’s harder to sort the wheat from the chaff, so stick with brand names to be safe. The 7-inch Nexus 7 from Google is just $199, and its pedigree ensures that it always has the latest version of Android. If the giftee is a heavy Amazon user, the newest Kindle Fire HD is also $199.
Too little? There’s always a Microsoft Surface RT. With the keyboard cover, the base model costs $599. Only for serious Microsoft loyalists, though.
Accessories: If your budget is smaller or you’re buying for someone with everything, there’s always the accessories market. Find out specifically what gadgets they have and seek out accessories. Smartphones and tablets need cases and screen protectors. So do beloved digital cameras. MP3 players can probably use some decent headphones.
Then there’s the ultimate accessory, the gift card. If you’re shopping for someone with an iPhone, an iTunes gift card will be most welcome; for an Android lover, a Google Play card will let them buy music and apps.
USB drives: I recommend these all the time. They’re the little USB sticks with some number of gigabytes of storage available on them; just stick one in a USB port and you have removable storage. Now that everyone’s storing stuff in “the cloud” (also known as “online”), they might not seem as vital anymore, but transporting tons of pictures or videos or whatever on a tiny bit of plastic in your pocket is still just plain cool. You can also store entire operating system installs on there, so technician types can boot to their own custom desktop on any machine in the world.
Best of all, they’re cheap. Deals vary from week to week, but it’s not uncommon to find 32GB USB drives for around $20. Generally anything under a dollar per gigabyte is a fair price right now.
Send those gift cards to @CitizenjaQ on Twitter.