Geek gift ideas for the holiday season

Need a geek gift idea for the techie you love? Read what our panel of IT pros would like to unwrap this holiday season.

Let's face it: Shopping for tech geeks can be hard. They're exacting about their personal technology choices, and have forgotten more than most of us non-geeks have ever learned about each product on the market. 

But have no fear; our own panel of IT pros offered some geek gift ideas that will please the techie on your list this year.

Depending on your budget, it's hard to go wrong with the iPhone 5, provided your geek doesn't already have one. It's Time magazine's Gadget of the Year, and geeks wax poetical about its capabilities. Failing that, there are always the copious amounts of iPhone accessories on the market, or a pair of touch gloves for geeks in chillier climates.

No geek, as it turns out, is too old to play with Legos.

For those of you looking for a different type of substantial gift this season, other mobile devices, especially tablets, are also high on our experts' lists of geek gift ideas. "I am a big fan of thin, light, powerful and great displays," said one expert. "On my wish list this year: iPad Mini."

Several of the IT pros we consulted also mentioned the Raspberry Pi. It was originally designed as a tool to get kids interested in computer programming, but grown-up geeks can get in on the fun, too. "Coupled with a starter kit from Adafruit, it'd make a nice present for someone," said one of our geek advisers. "Similarly, Arduino kits from Radio Shack would make a nice gift, too." The Acer ChromeBook is also pretty high on the list this season, as it can be modified (or hacked) to run Linux.

Geek fitness is also en vogue in 2012. One of our health-conscious geeks recommended the Jawbone UP or Fitbit One. "Remind your favorite geek to get out from behind the keyboard and get moving," was one geek's advice. "The data logging and reporting will keep them interested."

Geeks who already have every gadget in the known universe can still benefit from expanding their home data storage kit to hold all the movies, TV shows, games and songs they're sure to have downloaded. Our geeks recommend the Drobo 5D direct-attached storage or Synology's DiskStation home network-attached storage.

Here's some advice for the truly advanced geek shopper: Your geek will thank you for your purchase of a solid-state drive (SSD) to turbocharge home storage performance. Recommendations include the Samsung 840SSD and the Intel 335SSD.

If your techie has moved home operations into the cloud, Amazon gift cards are a versatile gift because they can be used for space on Amazon Web Services' cloud, in addition to the retail products Amazon sells. An Amazon Prime membership is also a recommended item.

Toys, games and other great geek gift ideas

Of course, geek gifts don't have to be technology based. "Vulcan/elf ears are always a net-positive stocking stuffer," one geek adviser said.

So are all things related to the long-running British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who, from DVDs (excuse me, Blu-ray discs) to action figures and posters. Other Blu-ray sets on the wish list: Game of Thrones (seasons 1 and 2), The Pacific and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (just in time for The Hobbit).

No geek, as it turns out, is too old to play with Legos -- check out Lego Mindstorm, especially. Ditto toy cars -- here the recommendation is SCX Digital Slot cars.

Books with mad scientist projects, such as 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), are great for geek parents, according to our panel of techies.

If all else fails, your geek may be intrigued by quality power tools.

Or, as one of our geeks put it, "I always enjoy a nice polo or button-down shirt, picked out by someone with better taste than me."

Don't forget the pocket protector.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com and SearchServerVirtualization.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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