December 3, 2006
As a technology enthusiast with a bad impulse purchase habit, I'm unrepentantly difficult to buy gifts for. The way I figure it, the only reason to grow up is so you can afford to buy yourself all the crap your parents wouldn't buy you when you were a kid.
That said, here are some of my favorite lists of cool, quirky, offbeat geek gifts for 2006:
This year, I preemptively treated myself to a the new 4 gigabyte iRiver Clix ($199), and after living with this stellar little flash music player for a week, I can heartily recommend it to anyone.
It does everything the iPod refuses to do: subscription services, wma/ogg support, FM Radio (w/recording!), Flash Lite games, video playback, and voice recording. It has a speedy, intuitive UI that can be switched between landscape or portrait mode at will. And best of all, no software installs are required*: just plug it in, drag and drop your music on it, then play. But don't take my word for it: read the glowing critical acclaim at PC Magazine, ABiP, and Cnet.
I've provided one specific gift recommendation, and my favorite geek gift suggestion lists so far. But I'm sure I've missed plenty. Are there any cool geek gift lists I've missed?
* caveat: assuming you have an OS that supports MTP.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
The NXT kit on the first list looks cool! Lego had an area set up at the FIRST Robotics Competition championship in Atlanta back in April (May?) showing it off (the FLL and FVC championships are also held there).
For something somewhat on topic, I'd recommend just about anything on ThinkGeek.
The best toy I've treated myself to in a long time is a Squeezebox from www.slimdevices.com
It pipes your PC music collection to your stereo wirelessly, as well as allowing you to play internet radio stations, pandora etc.
The UI and physical design of the box are very well thought out, would certainly be top of my list if I felt like being generous to a geek.
You forgot to include the coolest gadget of all, the new optimus keyboard: http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/. It's not out yet but I still want it!
I can't help noticing that there seem to be some hardcore mac fanboys hanging onto every iPod comment. I sometimes wish that people would stop trying to force everyone to use their particular OS/Gadget/Brand of choice. iPod users: The iPod is NOT the ultimate solution to all the world's problems, please get over it and stop talking about why we should all be using it.
Yes, optimus looks interesting... when you look at it. Alas, I look at the screen, not the keyboard.
As for iPod comment - it was asked for.
Didn't take long for the iPod evangelists to come out did it?
Seems like a lot of the lists consist of items sold by companies like Firebox.com (which is actually pretty good, and great for buying gifts for men).
I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
Thanks for the lists, now I have something to email out to friends and family easily. the optimus103 looks cool, but not as 'cool' as its $1200 price tag as announced recently.
I was worried about you mentioning ipod anymore, seems I was correct too. The zealots are clearly waiting in the shadows.
Ok, lets look at [the iPod]
1. We are comparing flash devices to flash devices. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. The iPod Nano does not do Adobe Flash Lite games (they are proprietary). And it certainly doesn't do video.
2. We are comparing "out of the box" functionality. Yes, you can buy third party add-ons that you have to carry with you to get FM radio support or voice recording. But that defeats the point. It's additional cost, and another thing to deal with.
3. Obviously every music player ever released supports MP3. Hmm.. with the possible exception of the early Sony players, which only did ATRAC, I guess.
The iPods are lacking a bunch of features that I think are important. But we've covered this in depth in another thread, so I won't belabor it any more.
I just wish they would start making these devices so that they can RECORD video. I could find a hundred uses for that and it wouldn't cost that much more to build. The trend is certainly toward multimedia playback and recording of all kinds. But video capture doesn't seem to ever make the list. :(
Oh well, maybe in a couple of years you'll be able to buy one that not only records in HD quality, but will pick up broadcast HD over the airwaves. Now wouldn't THAT be cool!
I've been blogging on this subject for the past week or so, but I've been staying away from gadgets and focusing on other things geeks might like (note: I heavily borrowed from your recommended reading list for the programming section).
wow, the core77 list is really good.
I'm very disappointed with the thinkgeek.com list, lots of cruft.
Open source handheld running Linux.
Runs all major emulators and plays mp3,oggs,video and has picture viewer.
Also can be hooked up to the TV. Plus has a SD expansion slot. What more could ask for.
It does everything the iPod refuses to do: subscription services, mp3/wma/ogg support, FM Radio (w/recording!), Flash Lite games, video playback, and voice recording.
Ok, lets look at that.
Ipod doesn't do mp3. Oops Wrong, Ipod does do mp3.
Ipod doesn't do wma. Hardly suprising, nothing but windows does drm wma, but you can just convert. http://www.macworld.com/2005/03/secrets/mayplaylist/index.php
Ogg Support, fair call. I know 3 people out of hundreds that use mp3, that use ogg, but yup Iriver can, ipod can't.
Ipod does radio.
Recording? on a portable device? Why, just set it at home, there's plenty of tivo for radio for linux/osx and yes even windows.
Games on ipod..erm check they do.
Video playback..erm check they do.
Voice recording..erm yup they do..
So enjoy your music player. But realise it comes across as very inadequate to say I bought this because the ipod does/doesn't do x y z.
Comes across that you really wanted an ipod, but felt the need to justify what you bought instead.
Hell I used to do the same, I had an early creative Zen, 20gb to apples 10gb, and less money.
In the end I gave up and went ipod..shiny.
Also, can the iriver do.
Car integration supported by most major manufactuerers
Support on OSX for a store to download music legally from...
just enjoy it.
Me, I'd like an Archos for those long flights...
yeah, i have an ibui blue.
its made by a korean company, it can play both audio (MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, AC-3, ASF, AAC-LC, G.726) and video (MPEG1,2,4, DivX 3.X, DivX 4.X, DivX 5.X, Xvid, WMV9, H.264, AVI, OGM, WMV 7,8, MOV, Real Video) like every codec under the sun!
it works as both a media play and a 30gb portable hard drive. not to mention that its plug and play w/ no divers needed (pc, mac, and linux!!!)
it also can record audio from a tape casset, cd, vinyl, etc. and it ENCODES VIDEO in the xvid codec.
it isnt available in the us quite yet,
but i got one over the internet from a UK site
check it out:::
Jeff, I've been scouting flash-based MP3 players for over a month now and I think you've convinced me with the Clix! I was considering the Creative Zen V Plus (which I still think is a better deal than the Nano), but once I saw the iRiver I changed my mind. No other player offers the same kind of features/functionality as the Clix.