With Christmas just around the corner (where did the year go?) I thought it was time to look at what gifts were available for the geek in your life. As any friend/partner/acquaintance of a true geek knows only too well, buying for the technically focused individual can be a challenge. When buying a ‘practical’ gift, it is critical to fully research all specifications of all the available options and then choose the best item based on the one specification that the gift-recipient values above all else. In other words, it is very difficult to buy the correct practical gift. Which leads me to my thought process for this article. Forget about trying to buy a useful item for a true techie – if the wrapping paper comes off and there is a mobile phone or PC or tablet or gaming console under the paper, don’t be at all insulted when the first action is not to thank you but to go to the specs and look up the options on the Internet to see if, indeed, this would have been the same model they would have chosen. Don’t be insulted. It is nothing personal – just an inherent desire to make sure the best option was chosen.

The option therefore is to buy something that is not in the normal purchasing landscape of your potential gift-recipient. Translation: Find something that is cool but is not something that is totally practical.

The first item on my list is the Mr. Fusion Car Charger. The device is modelled on the unit by the same name in the “Back to the Future” movie. This device does have a practical component – you can plug it into your 12V vehicle power adapter and you have access to two USB ports to power devices. The good news is that, unlike the unit used by ‘Doc’ Emmett Brown, you won’t be required to load this unit up with garbage to make it work. The trade-off is that you can’t time travel!

Next on the list is the Self-Destruct USB hub. Nothing gives you that feeling of Presidential power more than a box that sits on your desk with two switches, a key and a big red button under a transparent cover. With realistic sound effects linked to a self-destruct protocol, work colleagues will possibly not drop that ‘urgent’ work on your desk at the last minute for fear that you may, in fact, trigger the self-destruct protocol. Sure, it looks a bit like a toy, but do they want to risk it. Oh, it is also a 4 port USB hub so you can plug your phone and other gadgets in to charge or connect to your PC.

Remember the original Etch A Sketch that was released in 1960? The modern equivalent is an LCD writing tablet. It uses a 10-inch screen that allows you to write on to leave notes for family and co-workers. They are almost as cheap as the original Etch A Sketch but adds that essential electronic touch.

If you are trying to get your Star Trek fan into the kitchen, there are two perfect presents that will encourage the culinary in your household geek. The first is a pair of oven mitts with the fingers permanently in the Vulcan salute. The salute was made famous by Mr. Spock on the original TV series. The second item is a pizza cutter in the shape of the Starship Enterprise. What Trekkie wouldn’t want to make pizzas just to use this cheese cutter?

If you happen to be travelling overseas during the holidays then maybe a pair of Google Pixel Buds would be the perfect choice. Just like the fabled Babel fish from the Douglas Adams series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Buds will live translate a two-way conversation in forty different languages. The minor issue is that you need a Google Pixel phone to take full advantage of all the translation features.

Lastly, and my favourite (hopefully my wife is reading this) is the Useless Box Kit (UBK). As most kits do, it arrives as a bunch of parts that then lead to hours of joy on Christmas Day in the construction phase. Once constructed, the UBK presents a shiny black box with a switch on top. With no idea what will happen, an unsuspecting user of the UBK can’t help but flick the switch. The result? A finger comes out and turns the switch back off.  That is it! How good is that?

If you do want practical, maybe try out the latest in smartwatches; robotic vacuum cleaners; gaming consoles; tablets and smartphones but it is hard to go past some of the fun and useless stuff. Happy shopping!

Mathew Dickerson

Scroll to Top