Between jetting off to the in-laws, preparing for the kids’ winter break, reconnecting with friends and relatives, plus, you know, actually keeping the lights on and all, something had to give: Namely, any free time you’d scheduled for holiday shopping. But relax – it’s not too late to still surprise that special someone in your life who adores gadgets and consumer electronics with a killer high-tech gift. Following are just a few last-minute selections sure to light up any technophile’s face as much as the glow from a swank menorah or Christmas tree:
Gift Cards and Certificates
iTunes, Zune Marketplace, Amazon.com, Xbox Live, WiiWare, the PlayStation Network… There are a million places we geeks love to shop, and even more options for giving us the slush funds needed to do so. Simply visit these online providers to purchase email-ready gift certificates, or visit local retailers from Best Buy to Target and GameStop to grab a gift card in nearly any desired amount. While it may seem impersonal, the reality is that today’s tech enthusiasts tend to be hyper-conscious of their multimedia content. So the easiest way to satisfy one? Let us shop for our own favorite songs, shiny new computer hardware or downloadable games – that way, we have only ourselves to blame when we rip open the wrapping only to discover (shocker) that Kevin Federline album sucks.
Creative’s Vado HD budget high-definition camcorder’s a great way to record holiday memories, while RCA’s Small Wonder and Kodak’s Zi6 offer cool alternatives. The slotMusic player and iPod Nano also prove solid options for music lovers, and you simply can’t go wrong with a Nintendo DS or Sony’s new PSP-3000 for the multimedia maven. DigitalFoci’s Pocket Album Deluxe OLED portable photo frame further makes a great way to show off scenes from the office party, with the iPhone 3G still our favorite (if pricey) pick of smartphone devices. Don’t forget a Nikon CoolPIX S60 digital camera or Iomega’s ScreenPlay TV Link either, the latter of which lets you connect USB 2.0 thumb drives or external hard disks to your television and savor films, tunes and photos on the living room set.
Awesome last-minute additions to PC and next-gen console line-ups are plentiful, all of which you can snag at virtually any retailer. Already done with Gears of War 2 or Resistance 2? Try giving friends the gift of James Bond in Quantum of Solace, which jazzes up the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare engine, or Legendary, which lets you pit modern weaponry against mythological monsters. Fallout 3 and Fable II a little heavy in terms of required time commitments? Check easy jump in/out blade-swinging Greek mythological role-player Rise of the Argonauts or iPhone God of War knock-off Hero of Sparta. Kids can go crazy with slightly older, but still popular outings like Boom Blox and Tak and the Guardians of Gross, or check more recent fare, e.g. Animal Crossing: City Folk, Spray and MySims Kingdom. Auto buffs are in luck too: Need for Speed: Undercover remains tops for high-stakes police chases, while MotorStorm: Pacific Rift leads in off-road excitement. Can’t make it to the store? Sites like GOG.com, TelltaleGames.com, SteamPowered.com, ImpulseDriven.com, BigFishGames.com, iWin.com and GamersGate.com have you covered via the magic of digital downloads.
Books and Movies
Albeit not for children, the Afro Samurai DVDs can’t help but satisfy those who enjoy hip-hop, anime or both. Aqua Teen Hunger Force boxed video sets likewise offer a skewed look at foul-mouthed cartoon reality, while more family-friendly gems such as Kung Fu Panda, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and WALL-E can be found on Blu-ray disc aplenty. (Also the format of choice for diehard home theater buffs thanks to tons of flicks from Blade Runner to Casino Royale.) We’ve additionally become smitten with Lifehacker’s handy productivity-enhancing how-to guide Upgrade Your Life. Shameless plug too: Digital Trends’ contributor Damon Brown’s recent volume Porn and Pong provides a surprisingly mature retrospective covering the history of sexuality and interactive entertainment, while editorial director Scott Steinberg’s Get Rich Playing Games might just help pay for itself.
If that certain somebody doesn’t own a GPS by now, you owe it to them – or the spouse aggravated that they won’t ever stop for directions – to grab a budget model such as the TomTom ONE Third Edition or Garmin Nuvi 200. Much ado as is made about print media dying, a subscription to publications like Wired, GQ, Real Simple, Lucky, Bon Appetit or Maximum PC – no, techies aren’t all male; yes, some even enjoy travel and fine dining – can still make a great year-round reminder of your thoughtfulness as well. (Countless online aggregators feature deals from $5-20 and up, while providers like Barnes and Noble and Zinio offer digital access to dozens of periodicals.) Last but not least, if you’re feeling creative, just hit up CafePress.com, Snapfish or Shutterfly to order custom mugs, calendars, posters, mouse pads and more stamped with personalized photos. Happy holidays from your friends at DT!