Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic’s Geek Gift Guide 2009.

There’s a lot of baggage associated with being a geek. No, I’m not referring to emotional baggage, I’m talking about the kind that a geek needs to schlep around — there are laptops, power supplies, disks, USB drives, USB cables, FireWire cables, Ethernet cables, and Ethernet crossover cables. It’s reached the point where it’s not so much commuting to work, as it is an exodus. I’m not sure, but I think that Moses traveled lighter than today’s geeks. That’s one of the reasons why the Ethernet Crossover Adapter is a great geek gift for $7.99. (Figure A)
Figure A

Ethernet Crossover Adapter

If you’re unfamiliar with a crossover cable, it is an Ethernet cable that permits one to directly connect two devices of the same type together. As opposed to an ordinary Ethernet cable, which is used to connect two different devices (such as a computer and a router), a crossover adapter is a small device that attaches to a standard Ethernet cable. Once attached, the cable functions as a crossover cable, which eliminates the need to carry two separate cables. Figure B shows the adapter in action.
Figure B

Adapter in use

The recipient of this geek gift will find it useful to create “a poor man’s network” between two computers. This can be accomplished through setting one computer’s IP address to and the second computer’s IP address to, with a subnet mask of If the work group is the same and the firewalls don’t get in the way, any shared resources should be available. It’s lighter than an external drive, and it’s less expensive and faster.

What I like

  • It eliminates the need for a separate cable.
  • I don’t need a $40 crimper to make my own cable.
  • It fits on a keychain.

What I don’t like

  • If you have fat fingers, it’s somewhat hard to remove from the port.
  • It’s pink.

Geek bottom line

The Ethernet Crossover Adapter is one of those useful items that could quickly become an IT pro’s favorite gadget. With the under $10 price tag, it will likely fit into the office grab bag price range and, unlike the usual coffee mug, won’t prompt an “um, thanks” response from someone who doesn’t drink coffee. Also, with the Ethernet Crossover Adapter’s keychain attachment, the recipient really won’t want to leave home without it.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ****
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: ****