10 tech gadgets I want for Christmas but won't buy

10 tech gadgets I want for Christmas but won't buy

Summary: Call it a wish list, a want list or a nice-to-have list but I won't call anything on it an "I have it." Techno gadgetry beckons to me like sweet nectar for hummingbirds but I'll not sample even one of them for myself.

TOPICS: Apple, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs

Sure, I'm a technology guy. Sure, I love gadgets. Sure, I have a long wish/want list. But, I also have the restraint not to purchase any of them for myself. Now, that said, I'd certainly accept any of them as gifts but I won't hold my breath waiting for delivery. Every Christmas season rolls around for me and I always feel a bit panicky when anyone in my family asks the much loaded question, "Hey, Ken/Dad, what do you want for Christmas?" I never know what to say. There's nothing I really want so much that I can't go buy for myself and anything that I really want is too expensive to ask for. It's quite a dilemma for me. Really, it is.

But, just in case anyone cares, I do have a few items that I am curious about or outright want for myself. Ten is a nice round number, so I'll go with ten. These are in no particular order.

1. iPhone 5 - Yes, it's true. For as much bitter dialog that I have recently launch at Apple because of its policy to not support my iPad 1 for a new iOS version, I still want an iPhone 5. I have an iPhone 4. The 4S wasn't enough of an upgrade for me to switch but the 5 really is more what I'm looking for in a phone. A little thinner, a little larger display and just a little cooler overall. I want one. I'm sorry but I do.

2. iPad 2 through 4 - The iPad 1 is cool but I'd really like to have one with front and rear facing cameras. That's really the only feature that I can say that I'd use beyond what the iPad 1 has. I also want/need one because of the iOS support. iOS 6 has some features that I like and would like to have on a tablet. I want one. Any one of the three newer versions.

3. Surface - My oldest son is getting one for Christmas and I want one. Now that I've warmed up to Windows 8, I could really use a Surface. Actually, I'd really like to have a Surface Pro. That's the one I really could use. Unfortunately, the price point is going to be out of sight for me. I want one. Someone needs to give me one or I need to win the lottery.

4. MacBook Air or MacBook Pro - Yeah, yeah, I know. For my multimedia aspirations, there's nothing else like one. I need it for podcasting, videocasting and other creative projects. Don't judge me. I want one. Again, I need to buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best.

5. Drobo - I need some fast, local storage for backups and retrieval. Drobo makes some cool devices--the Mini, the 5D, the upcoming 5N, the S and others. All cool. All out of my price range. I want one. O, lottery gods, be with me as I go and take my best shot with you.

6. Servers - I need about four nice rack servers so that I can run and test applications, virtualization, etc. for my many technical writing gigs. My garage data center is needing a boost. I have some servers but they are near their end-of-life and I need new ones. Really cool ones. I'd take just about anything but prefer 1U systems. Something energy efficient would help. Pondering the lottery numbers now.

7. Android tablet - I'd like to have an Android-based tablet for carrying around. Since they don't carry the high price of an Apple tablet or of a Surface, I could use it as a "field" device without reservation. For something under $250, I feel that it would be almost disposable and I wouldn't need to treat it as if it were a Faberge Egg. I want one. No lottery ticket needed.

8. Gaming PC - Preferably an Alienware M18x ultimate gaming machine. If you know what it is, then you know why I want one. If you don't know, then it's hard to explain. OK, it might be impossible to explain but if I win the lottery, I'll have one in every room.

9. Colorfly Pocket HiFi C4 Pro - It's the ultimate audiophile gadget. It's modern, it's elegant, it's retro and it's kinda pricey at $800 buckazoids, it's not the kind of thing you ask for. Even lottery winnings might not justify it. I don't know why I want one, I just do.

10. Home Theater System - OK, if I win the lottery, my new ultra house will have a Theater room complete with soda fountain, kegerator, surround sound, a huge theater style screen, fancy theater seating and fresh popcorn made in one of those cool, retro popcorn makers. Now, that's living. I'll take pictures.

I guess if I had to add something else to the list that's not "high tech" and just on my wish list, I'd probably buy up a bunch of my favorite film cameras--everything from old 4x5s to the latest lomography stuff. I love film photography and old cameras. I also rather like the newer Holgas, Dianas and the whole range of simple Russian cameras such as the Smena and Zenit. There's nothing that makes me smile quicker or larger than using an old school 35mm or 120 camera. It's an obsession.

As far as high tech gadgetry, I think you get a feel for where I am with what I want. Sometimes I feel like a kid again, thumbing through the Christmas Wish Book looking at all the stuff I know I can't have and am afraid to ask for. I can dream can't I?

So, what's on your high tech wish list for Christmas? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Apple, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • What gifts? Depends on whether you've been naughty or nice!

    Spoiler Alert: I'm going to razz you, Ken and then I'll "play it straight" in my comments.

    I suspect that if Santa had read your last two blogs, he would have concluded that you had been telling fibs or acted out of extreme meanness and, as a result, the name of Ken Hess would undoubtedly be on the "naughty list" for 2012. In that case, the following gifts from the Island of Lost (but really bad) Tech Toys might find their way under your Christmas Tree. (Sue me, I'm not going to be politically correct at this time of year): A Kin phone or a Nexus Q.

    Now, with that out of the way, in trying to answer your question in a forthright manner, I recalled another question poised a long time ago. It had to do with survival instincts and determining what is really important, desirable or necessary.

    You may have heard of this question before, Ken. It's prefaced by this problem. You are on a boat 1000 miles from land. The boat starts to sink. What item - or items if you have the time to choose more than one thing - do you take aboard the life boat? And in what order.

    Some choose food items. Some choose clothing. Some choose tools to catch food with or defend oneself.

    The correct answer - if only one item could be taken before the ship sank - was a mirror. Not because a person should give into vanity but because the key survival observation made was that - the person was 1000 miles from ANYTHING and the chief thing to do first is try to get rescued. A mirror reflects the sun and can be used as a signaling device that can be seen for miles.

    So what is really desirable, or important to have in this day in age? If I had to choose only ONE tech gadget, I would choose a smartphone. (Actually, for myself, I purchased my very first smartphone ever - The Apple iPhone 5 - and it amounts to my Christmas present for 2012)

    I have reasons for that choice. I have found the need to have a quality camera (still or video or both) with me 24/7 capturing fleeting moments of joy or happiness that I can share with my family or friends. It has access to the Internet. And, it has access to an almost unlimited set of quality applications.

    Now, some may choose a different smartphone - I have no problem with those choices. Samsung, Google, Microsoft and, yes, even RIM and Nokia all have worthy smartphones available to the consumer.

    So I ask you, Ken Hess - What single gadget above all other tech gadgets would you wish for? (If you ranked your list in order, that the iPhone 5 could be your answer - but that would be only a guess on my part.) BTW, I hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.
  • Re: "For something under $250, I feel that it would be almost disposable"

    As the saying goes, the best gadget is the one you have on you.
  • Ideally, when making a list like this...

    ...you don't choose a bunch of items that all do the same thing. You have iPad, Android Tablet, and Surface all listed. If you got all three, then inevitably two of them would end up sitting in a dark dusty corner somewhere.

    And a gaming laptop? Really? I don't have quite so many qualms with laptop gaming as most do (as I used one exclusively for gaming during my college years), but going extreme cutting edge really is a great waste of money. You go for functional on a mobile rig. If you're really willing to drop 2000 dollars or more on a cutting edge gaming rig, then go all out with a desktop.
  • Wants versus Needs

    That's the kicker isn't it?
    If it's a need, you'll spend the money, at the lowest price you can find for the functions you absolutely have to have to survive.
    If it's a want, then you're not likely to spend the money in a poor economy.
  • I only wanted one thing for the Holidays and have it in my Nexus 10 Tablet.

    I received my Nexus 10 on the 23rd of November and have been enjoying it watching a lot of You Tube Videos with it connected to a 24 inch external Monitor. I am not much of an Apple Fan and think that the Surface is too underpowered for the type of performance I am used to with my i7 computers. So far my Nexus 10 had been a positive experience in comparison to the editors of computer magazines. Apple leaning writers will especially find fault with it. Some of them have stated that it feels cheap. I find that it is easy to hold since it shouldn't slip out of your hands. Have only a smattering of experience with Android that I put on my W7 installed ASUS Netbook. I had an N550 processor that had the equivalent of 4 cores and I installed an extra gig of ram to bring it to 2 gig. W7 was sluggish on that setup, but my cobbled up version of Android 4.0.3 that I installed to try it out worked great even though the device was not made for that O/S. I have given that away for someone else to use mainly for games. I am looking to forward to using the Nexus 10 well into the future. Of course my main computers will still be my powerful Windows 7 Lenovos. For about $500 the Nexus 10 seemed to be my best selection for a useful tablet.
    • Nexus 10 is good

      I bought a new tablet over the summer, the Asus Transformer Infinity, with keyboard. And while the Nexus 10 is very cool, I'm happy I didn't wait. The Nexus is faster per-CPU, but the Infinity is faster overall. It's got 64GB internally, I have a 64GB microSD card in the tablet, and still room for a full sized SD card in the keyboard (mostly intended for media transfer... I can upload an SD card from a camcorder or camera, copying it directly to a USB HDD, just as a laptop could). The Nexus is also a bit weak on battery life. The display is killer, sure, but the Infinity's 1920x1200 display is not too shabby either, and the optional IPS+ mode gives the the best outdoor visibility I've seen in any tablet other than one with a reflective or transflective display (ePaper, Pixel Qi).

      You'll get the fastest updates from Google, no doubt, but Asus is pretty good with updates as well. That's one reason I was interested in buying a tablet from a traditional PC industry company, used to updating things, rather than a CE company like Samsung or Motorola (sure, Samsung does PCs and pretty much every other kind of device, but like Sony, they still think primarily like a CE company).
  • Not Audiophile Enough...

    Ok, I love the look of the Colorfly, and the fact that it takes a real 1/4" headphone plug, not one of the oh-so-snappable 3.5mm variety. Love the steampunk look and the wood. But seriously, only 108dB SNR on an $800 iPod-replacement? That's 18-bits worth of the 24 I'd want to be cranking out (and yeah, my HDTracks collection isn't THAT extensive, but I very much would be able to use such a device). Also, 32GB is nothing when you're talking about 96kHz/192kHz+24-bit in FLAC.. it needs a full sized SD slot or two, and it better be SDXC compatible.

    As for the other stuff... just how many frackin' computers does one person need at a time? And once you have that gaming PC, you'll also have a far, far better multimedia creation machine than Apple's every built. The Air isn't even suitable for media content creation... not that anything but a high-end MacBook Pro even comes close. And that's still left wanting; a video editing machine needs at least six cores and a high-end GPU these days (all modern NLEs use the GPU to speed up rendering).
  • Not much

    I wouldn't mind having an SSD for my own desktop, but what I'd really like is to be able to put together a nice solid middle-of-the-road gaming rig for my husband instead of the merely adequate one he'll be getting.
  • Mr. Hess

    What a wonderful article. On the question of wish list, I am a little too old to have one. Again, liked the article.