I love stocking stuffers. I love to stuff the stockings and I love to look in my stocking at Christmas. Getting past the candy at the top can be tough but there's always a big reward near the bottom. A gift card for my favorite local camera shop that carries photographic papers, lomography films, developing chemicals, lomography cameras, and develops black and white, slide, and color films is one of my favorite things to find at the bottom of the big sock. Hint, hint.
But this post isn't about what I want in my stocking—or maybe it is—it's about what your geek wants in his or hers. This list brings several items to your attention this holiday season. You still have time to order online. In no particular order, a list of essential stocking stuffers for your geek.
The Jackery line of portable power bars are perfect geek stocking stuffers. And you can find one to fit any budget and need. The very powerful JackeryFit features a 2.1A output, 7,500mAh power capacity, three large LED status indicators, a very bright LED flashlight that provides up to 450 hours of light, and it works with Apple iPhones, iPods, iPads, Android devices, Windows phones, and just about anything else that you can power up via a USB connector.
Portable power keeps those devices running during road trips, power outages, hikes, camping trips*, long flights, coffee shop visits, and anytime that pluggable grid power just isn't available or convenient.
The JackeryFit is $69.95 but there are Jackery portable power products starting at $19.95.
Remote Shutter Release
If your geek is a Phoneographer, then you need to buy him or her, Shuttr, the one-touch shutter release. You can put your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4 (most iOS and Android devices) up to 30 feet away, and with the click of the Bluetooth remote shutter release, you’ll have great photos. No timer, no apps, no clunky arm in the picture! Shuttr is small enough to be concealed in your hand during photos and designed to attach to your keychain.
The Shuttr also works with more camera apps than just the Phone's default Camera app.
I use the Shuttr to remote start my iPhone's video so that I can position myself and not have to do a lot of cutting and fiddling before or after a video take. Plus, I can pause the shoot to move the Phone or to feature a product shot in the middle of a cast. The Shuttr is one gadget that I'll never be without. $39.79 on Amazon.
Phone Lens Set
Again, for the Phoneographer, there are two different lens sets and individual lenses for your phones. I know it might sound weird for those of you not into Phoneography but it's very cool for us phone photography geeks.
The lenses mount via a magnetic circle that surrounds your phone's camera eye. They work very well. I bought the standard iPhone set that comes with three lenses, a telephoto, a wide angle, and a fisheye. It's actually four lenses: Fisheye, macro, wide angle, and telephoto.
If it's four, why did I write three? Well, you get three lenses but the wide angle lens unscrews to give you a macro lens, which makes four. But the wide angle part isn't usable by itself. You have to couple the macro and wide angle together for the wide angle view.
Trust me and just buy the set or the Super Kit. Prices vary from $20.00 for an individual lens to $90.00 for the Super Kit.
The iPhone Super Kit comes with 6 lenses and a mini tripod! The Wide Angle/Macro Combo, (new) Super Fisheye, (new) Polarizing Lens, 2x Telephoto, and 10-12x Telephoto are all included.
You can find hundreds of other stocking stuffers at Photojojo.com as well.
A Raspberry Pi "Computer"
Yes, a Raspberry Pi "computer". I put computer in quotation marks because, although there is much debate about it, it's not a whole computer. It's a mother board with an onboard processor and RAM (memory).
Although the Raspberry Pi (Pi) is advertised as a $35 computer, it's neither $35 nor is it a computer. However, all arguments aside, it's an interesting toy computerette. You can get one for about $40 on Amazon but I suggest buying the Pi Canakit for $61.95 that comes with just about everything you need to get started.
Yes, the whole kit will fit into any Christmas stocking. Your geek will squeal with joy at the sight of the Pi. No, I don't understand it either. I have one and have yet to find anything useful for it to do except gather dust but some people are in love with the darn things, so there you have it.
Eye-Fi Wireless SD Card
The Eye-Fi is a strange beast. It's an SD card, like those you put in cameras, cell phones, computers, and TVs, but it has an added feature: WiFi connectivity. Yes, in that little card. Wonderful stuff, technology.
So, what can you do with a WiFi-enabled SD card?
You can upload your pictures and movies to other computers when you're connected to WiFi. First, you install the Eye-Fi software or app onto a computer, or multiple computers, including smartphones and tablets. Then you setup your WiFi connection on the Eye-Fi card. Once complete, place the Eye-Fi into your camera or other device, take pictures or movies and then watch them sync to your computer.
Think of it as something like PhotoStream for an SD card.
The cooler part is that you can enable multiple WiFi networks on your Eye-Fi and then enable yourself to upload from multiple locations. The only fail with this device, that I've found, is that you can't upload directly to Dropbox. Maybe Eye-Fi has fixed that in later releases but not on mine, which is two years old now.
Eye-Fi cards come in a variety of sizes, speeds, and features to fit almost every application. They range in price too from $32.00 for the 4GB up to $100 for the 32GB.
USB Drive (Thumb or External HDD)
Your geek needs more space and that extra space needs to be portable. School, work, play, and home is where your geek needs his or her extra space. But instead of buying four devices, you can buy one: a USB thumb drive or a USB external hard drive.
Prices and manufacturers vary widely on size and price. You can buy 4GB up to 512GB sizes and the prices range from $5.00 up to over $500.00 depending on speed and other features. You can buy character drives that are really fun or you can just buy the normal ones for a lot less money.
As a guideline, don't spend more than $0.50 per GB and buy USB 3.0 drives for better throughput. Your geek will appreciate the extra search term (USB 3.0) you use to find the right one. USB 3.0 is common so it won't be a stretch. If you buy USB 2.0, you'll save money but not face with your geek.
For the external hard drive variety of extra space, buy him or her a USB 3.0 1TB drive. It will set you back anywhere from $60.00 to $80.00 or more depending on where you buy it or the brand you buy. They're all pretty good but try to stick with brands you know. Don't worry, you'll recognize them.
Ear Buds or Headphones
My kids go through ear buds so rapidly, sometimes I wonder if they have moving parts. The ear buds that is, as I know the kids don't have moving parts. We originally bought branded ear buds, aka Apple, for them but the destruction and replacement rates were so high that we opted for Wal-Mart specials in the $5.00 to $7.00 range.
I'll be dropping new ear buds into all the stockings this year. The cheap ones.
Now, your geek might be different and deserve the higher end ones. If so, you have a lot of choices. If he or she takes care of these items, buy the branded ones. Your geek might have a particular brand in mind as well, like Skull Candy or Beats. Be prepared to shell out major buckazoids for those "high end" versions.
Frankly, at some point, one brand is as good as another—or at least I can't tell the difference. I honestly can't detect the delicate nuiances of a Beastie Boys'** song with $200.00 headphones anymore than I can with $50.00 ones. So, buy the less expensive ones unless your geek has a weird high end brand preference.
My suggestion for a high quality, decent priced pair is the Eskuche Control v2 headphones. They have retro 1970s styling and awesome sound. If you check Amazon and other places, they get 4+ stars for reviews.
Although I really like some Apple products, you rarely find me pimping them. One reason is that I think they're way overpriced. The other reason is that, for some reason, I'm not on the "preferred list" of analysts who ever get any news or product info from Apple. So, we have an unspoken understanding, I guess.
The iPod Touch is an interesting gadget. There's really nothing else quite like it out there. It does everything but make mobile phone calls, which you can get around if you're WiFi connected. You can install Skype or some other phone app and use that. Plus you have Face Time for calls to other iGadget users. And you still have iMessage, so you can text your friends.
Yes, of course, they're not cheap. Expect to pay $220.00+ for the 4th generation iPod Touch and $300.00+ for the 5th generation one. But, hey, there's no monthly fee, no over use minutes, and no data charges. It's a geek's dream gadget. It's also a geek parent's dream gadget without those monthly charges, which as you know adds $50.00 or more to your monthly fee.
Portable Bluetooth Speaker
For anyone who listens to music, a mobile phone or tablet just isn't a great hands-free, long-range listening device. These small devices just don't have the dynamic range needed for a great listening experience. Enter the portable bluetooth speaker. Portable bluetooth speakers can sit far away from your mobile device (100 feet or more) and play with a nice range of sound—good bass, good treble, and from quiet to eardrum-blasting.
My favorite is the Rocksteady XS by Killer Concepts. It's just over $85.00 on Amazon and Prime qualified.
You can see my complete review of it, if you're interested. It's small size, big sound, long range, and durable construction make it a must have for any geek that wants to listen to music, podcasts, or phone calls in an untethered fashion.
Roku Streaming Player
The Roku is a small 4-inch by 4-inch by 1-inch box that attaches to your TV via an HDMI cable that streams movies, TV, news, videocasts, and other programming to your TV via WiFi. It comes with a small remote and nothing else. Its simplicity is exceeded only by its awesomeness. I love the two we have. We have one in the family room and one in our bedroom. We have Amazon Prime, Netflix, Acorn TV, and HuluPlus subscriptions that gives us all the TV and movies we could ever watch.
And it's all cheaper and easier than dealing with the cable company.
There are hundreds of channels from which you can choose. Some are free, some are not. The non-free ones require a monthly subscription that varies from a few dollars to maybe $20.00 per month. I stay in the $7.99 per month range. Any higher than that and I don't feel that I'm getting a value.
I own the Roku 2 XD Streaming Player 1080p. There are multiple models from which you can select and they range in price from $39.00 for the Roku (original) to about $99.00 for the newest model, Roku 4.
Now there's a Roku Streaming Stick that looks like a USB thumb drive that you can purchase for $70.00 to $80.00. I don't have any experience with it but Roku makes very good products that are well supported, so I say go for it, if you don't want another wired box near your set.
So, those are my ten awesome geek stocking stuffers, just in time for Christmas stocking stuffing. Keep your geek happy with one or more of them. Hey, and let me know, should you purchase from my list, how it goes with your geek. Happy stuffing and Merry Christmas!
*Don't give me any rants about getting back to nature without technology. La-la-la, I'm not listening. Everyone sneaks a peek at Twitter, Facebook, or email no matter where you are, so don't try the high road on this one.
**The best rap band ever. I can listen to their rap. It's cool and still a bit defiant. I assert that they're the best because they've outsold all other rap bands combined. Yeah, that's the stuff, and not a real gansta among 'em.