I'm excited about this holiday season. There are so many great gadgets available this year that my head is spinning with desire. I'm going to share ten of my favorite gift ideas with you so that you can surprise and delight the IT person in your life, especially if he or she is an Apple fan (although there are non-Apple items on the list, too).
iFixit iPhone 4 transparent rear panel
One of my favorite mods for the iPhone four is iFixit's iPhone 4 transparent rear panel. This mod is not for the faint at heart, however; the techie in your life can use this kit to remove the back side of an iPhone 4 and replace it with a transparent back that allows you to see the phone's internals.
The Nest thermostat
This happens to be one of my favorite gadgets on the list! Made by the gentleman that designed the iPod, the Nest thermostat is a smart thermostat that learns how to maintain your home's temperature as you use it. Beyond it's drop-dead simple interface for managing temperature, it also has the ability to check outdoor weather so that it can accurately adjust for conditions. It can sense activity in your home and knows when you're away; it is accessible from your computer or mobile device, and even makes recommendations that will save you money. I've had one of these for about a week, and I absolutely love it. [UPDATE: Darn! The Nest is sold out currently but the website says it will be available again in early 2012.]
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
A word of caution, if you ever want to see the person that you're buying gifts for again you may want to step away from this game. Skyrim, available for Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows, is one of the most epic games I've had the pleasure of playing and by far the most addictive. With thousands of hour's worth of gameplay, huge environments to explore, and amazing graphics to boot, this game will keep any gamer and even some non-gamers busy for quite a while.
iPhone camera lens case from Photojojo
For budding photographers that love their iPhone, there are several iPhone camera lens and adapters out there that can make shooting pics with the iPhone feel like shooting with a professional-grade camera. Photojojo has release a case that has three lenses called the Lens Dial. Each lens has its own use — fisheye, wide angle, and telephoto — and weighs only 10 oz. It's a bit bulky, but if your techie is in anything like me and loves taking pictures with the iPhone, then this is a must-have accessory.
Djay for Mac
Available on the Mac App store and for iPad and iPhone, djay transforms your Mac into a full-fledged DJ system allowing you to mix music from your iTunes library. Not to mention, it's a beautiful piece of software. The interface imitates two turntables while giving you direct access to your music.
Tuneup, also available on the Mac App store, is great for cleaning up your music library and is a must for the music aficionado in your life. Tuneup uses an algorithm to detect the music files in your iTunes library then updates your music's meta data with track names, album artwork, and much more. Any one who loves to collect music and has a large collection already will definitely enjoy Tuneup.
If your special someone hasn't already made the leap to the AppleTV, now is a perfect time to surprise them with this amazing little device from Apple, and especially if they already own an iPhone 4S or an iPad 2. Not only can you stream content purchased from iTunes, but you can stream content directly from your modern iOS device, access NetFlix and live sports, and stream content from YouTube and Vimeo. The AppleTV is especially great if you're on a budget at just $99.
Infinity Blade II
Hot off the proverbial presses, Infinity Blade II for iOS is out and it is a gaming masterpiece. Graphically speaking, this game blows my mind. A device like the iPhone really shouldn't be capable of such graphical feats such as this in my mind, but the folks at Chair have proven my mind wrong. Beyond the graphics, the game mechanics are simple and fulfilling. With hours of game play and tons of upgrades and boss fights, this game will keep your techie busy on long road trips and during those ever important board meetings and can easily be gifted via iTunes.
BookBook from twelvesouth
The BookBook cover from twelvesouth is for the fashion-conscious, laptop-toting techie in your life. This beautiful bound-book laptop case is designed to take your MacBook out and about in style while protecting it from scratching with a soft padded interior. There's also the fact that your portable can be disguised as a book on a shelf with the rest of your reading collection!
The last item on my list is the Microsoft Kinect. Not just for the gamer, the Kinect has become a bit of a cult hit for people who like messing with hardware. Microsoft has made available a development environment for tinkering around with the device, giving users the freedom to make new and interesting software that works in unique ways with the device. If you have a gamer in your life, this is a great addition to the Xbox, but if you have a Maker in your life, then this by far one of my favorite gadgets for hacking and learning about software and hardware.
What's on your wishlist? Have you found any under-the-radar gadgets to recommend?
Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!