Well, chances are, if they're college students, they don't have much except a half dozen donuts scrounged from the Dunkin's dumpster and a leftover Bud Light. That, and a bevy of electronic devices that digital natives simply can't do without. So what would a tech-oriented holiday gift guide look like for the student(s) in your life? We'll leave off the smartphone and PC, for sure, but there are still some interesting bits of kit that can make the average student grin. Consider this a guide for high school students and beyond, by the way. Anyone younger will be hoping for a PC or a console that doesn't require competition with siblings, parents, and grandparents for time, or better yet, a phone that doesn't scream TracFone.
To make things easier (since you're reading this less than 10 days before Christmas and, like me, probably either haven't started shopping yet or are at least looking for that one last perfect gift), most of these are readily available in local stores. I've seen them all (with the exception of the last item, which you'll need to order ASAP, but was just too cool to exclude) at Target, but it isn't too late to order them from your favorite e-retailer either. If you go the Target route, then target.com can help you locate them in stores, even if they are sold out online (us last-minute shoppers have to stick together).
The Sony Reader I have to put this out there. I know that e-readers aren't everything they can or should be yet for students and educators, but I also know that there are still at least 2 or 3 students out there who like to read. Even if they don't like to read, they most likely will have 20 books (not textbooks, but actual books for which e-readers are designed) they need to slog through for an English lit or political science class. The Sony Reader remains the best of the bunch, with durable construction, and low price for their low-end PRS300 ($199). The PRS300 is light, pocket-sized, and easy on the eyes and gives students full access to countless orphaned books via Google as well.
Skullcandy Pipe iPod Speaker Dock They all have iPods. Sure, maybe the Zune HD is better, but iPods are ubiquitous and a really compact speaker is a must for any dorm room or bedroom. The Skullcandy Pipe iPod dock is loud, looks cool, and can easily sit at the back of a desk. At $69, it's a lot cheaper than a bookshelf stereo system or other available docks and gets those earbuds out of your kid's ears for a few moments of eardrum recovery.
Casio Exilim 10MP Camera This comes in pretty colors that would even make my wife happy, is tiny enough for cargo pants or a backpack pocket, and has a high enough resolution that pictures will look good even if they choose to print them out instead of post them direct to Facebook. At only $120, it's cheap enough that you won't worry overly about them taking it everywhere and since students feel the need to take a picture of everything they do and post it online, a cheap compact camera is an easy choice. It will also be a major upgrade over the cell phone pictures they tend to take, just in case they want to shoot something other than their latest beer bong antics. It even includes a YouTube Video capture mode. What could go wrong with that at your average party, right?
Flip HD Camcorder So sometimes YouTube capture mode on a still camera just won't cut it. The Flip HD is more than adequate for capturing those bits of school life that we all wish we could relive. It will handle most school projects requiring video and will certainly meet partygoing needs quite nicely. No cables, no muss, no fuss - just easy video capture and, again, at only $180 it can go where your students go.
To be honest, these would be great gifts for schools to give themselves. Want your students creating content? Podcasts? Video journals? Here's a cheap and easy way to get quite a few students shooting and editing video.
Gunnar Digital Performance Eyewear Yes, I did just say Digital Performance Eyewear. I didn't expect to like or find a use for these glasses that a PR friend of mine suggested I try. After all, I'm not a gamer. I spend all day and all night on a computer, but Gunnar products are marketed to gaming nerds in ThinkGeek.
Guess what? I was completely wrong. The particular glasses I tried were their least expensive Groove model. At $99, they're hardly cheap and, as I noted earlier, they can't be had at Target. They just completely rock, though, reducing fatigue after hours in front of a computer and softening glaring light, both from fluorescents and from the screen. As advertised, color contrast is sharp, eye dryness is reduced, and your time in front of a computer is limited by the numbness in your posterior rather than tired eyes.
Students spend inordinate amounts of time in front of some sort of screen. Quite unexpectedly, Gunnar gaming classes live up to their billing and make all of this screen time a lot easier on the eyes. Besides, they just look cool and what student doesn't want to share his eyewear with the likes of Soulja Boy?
Have a happy holiday, folks. I don't know about anyone else, but I have some shopping to do!