13 awesome gifts for the geek guys and gals in your life

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13 awesome gifts for the geek guys and gals in your life

We’re in the golden age of being a geek (“geek” herein, as always, used in the most loving way possible. We, at TechCrunch, are geeks.)

Technology is rooted deep into the core of our lives. eSports are on major tv networks. Hell, half the damned world was running around playing Pokemon together a few weeks ago.

But buying us geeks a gift can be… challenging, to say the least. We know what we like — and, in all of my experiences, we’re mostly a pretty picky bunch.

And yet! After many conversations amongst our staff, colleagues, and friends, we came up with a handful of gifts that we’d unanimously be ecstatic to get.

Tap that right arrow over there to view the gift guide — or, if you’re on mobile, just scroll!

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Snapchat Spectacles

Snapchat’s $129 Spectacles are like the Furby-in-1998 of the modern tech world.

They’re stupidly hard to get and maybe a little silly, but people are going crazy for them. You tap one button and a camera built into the glasses frame shoots a video that uploads right into snapchat — meanwhile, a spinning indicator light right on the front lets everyone know you’re recording.

If you can get your hands on a pair and can resist throwing them on eBay for a crazy markup, that’s a damned solid gift.

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Tickets to a real life escape room game

Real life escape rooms are a relatively new concept to most, but they’re amazing.

If you’ve ever played a point-and-click adventure or Flash game wherein you’re solving a series of puzzles to escape a dungeon or a castle or whatever… it’s that. But in real life, and built for 4-6 people to do together.

These places are super trendy right now, so they exist in most major cities. Do your research to figure out which one near you is best, as, like a video game, they’ll vary widely in quality.

I’m particularly excited about Defenders of the Triforce, a Nintendo-approved, Zelda-themed escape room that will be traveling from city to city. The first set of cities (SF, Phoenix, LA, San Diego) are sold out now, but another batch of cities (Seattle, Chicago, Houston, NY)  is going up soon.

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The NES Classic

If you can get your hands on an NES Classic ($60), you’ll be someone’s hero.

Launched in limited supply at a time when classic gaming nostalgia is at an all-time high, these things are tough — but not impossible! — to get.

Amazon made the mistake of telling people a specific time for when they were going to put their batch online, and their servers crashed within seconds.

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Alternatively…

You could build your own powered-up NES Classic and give it to them.

1) 3D print an NES Raspberry Pi case, or buy one on Etsy

2) Put a Raspberry Pi in the case, loaded with something like RetroPie that’ll act as the OS/Front End.

3) Buy some USB controllers (and yes, there are totally USB gamepads shaped like NES controllers)

Tada! You’ve got a little bootleg NES Classic… except this one can play way more than the 30 NES games of the official one. Oh, and it can do SNES games. And Genesis games… And a whole lot more.

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5/15

A really good drone

Drones are pretty much the most impractical thing that none of us would be sad to get as a gift.

Alas! A lot of drones are garbage. Turns out making a little lightweight robot that can float through the air like a leaf is really hard. Even GoPro’s first effort was recalled after 2 weeks

The good news: the $999 DJI Mavic Pro is one of the finest drones our team has flown. It’s powerful, but portable.

The bad news: DJI keeps delaying it. Current orders are expected to go out in 6-8 weeks, which makes it a no go if you want to actually give it to someone on Christmas. You’ll have to give them an IOU.

DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro is also really good… but it’s much less portable, and, depending where you buy it, up to $500 more.

6/15

A sweet sous vide

Cooking with a sous vide looks and feels like cooking with science. And yet, once you get the hang of it, it’s easier than most other methods.

The short version: put food in vacuum sealed bag (or a Ziploc with the air forced out). Put the sous vide in a pot of water, set the temperature. Put the food bag in.

Bam! Steaks, pork tenderloin, chicken, vegetables, whatever, all cooked to the precise degree you want. And since the water never gets hotter than your set temperature, neither does the food — so its really, really, really hard to overcook stuff.

I like Anova’s $200 WiFi/Bluetooth Precision Cooker — or the $150 Bluetooth-only variant. Others on staff like the Nomiku, which I’ve also found to be just fine. I prefer how the Anova attaches to the vessel you’re cooking in — but both do a damned good job of making water (perfectly) hot.

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A Raspberry Pi Zero (or three)

The original $40 Raspberry Pi has become a staple of the DIY/hacker/tinkerer world.

It’s a programmable chip with a 1Ghz CPU that can be used as the brains for… well, literally anything electronic. That homebuilt NES classic from earlier in the guide? Raspberry Pi. Want to build a robot? Raspberry Pi. Limited only by your imagination and skillset, giving a geek a Raspberry Pi is like giving an artist a blank canvas.

The team behind the original Pi blew everyones mind with the introduction of Raspberry Pi Zero, which brings an incredible amount of stuff from the original into a tiny package… for $5. Insane.

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For the itty-bitty geeks: an itty-bitty Tesla

Got a geek-in-training (3-8 years old) in the household? This tiny $500 Tesla from Radio Flyer (yes, the wagon company) will blow their mind. They partnered up with the actual Tesla to produce a ‘Mini Model S’ for your mini me. We tried this one out with our mini TechCrunch family and they were super happy with it.

If you’ve ever bought a ‘Big Wheel’ powered car for your kid, you get the idea — but this is far more detailed and fun than one of those slow kludgy things. There are two speeds, fast and really fast, that you can toggle in the trunk (where you also insert your Tesla branded battery.) The details really make this thing, from the LED headlights and metallic paint, to the Tesla charging port to the actual frunk (front trunk) and MP3 player connector.

This could have been a complete cash-in job by Radio Flyer, but there was some real effort put into making this thing a ‘real’ Tesla analogue and it shows.

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9/15

The "Essentials" DIY repair kit from iFixit

I like to tear things I own apart and put them back together. I always have. Most geeks do. Why? Because we like to see how stuff works. And because we can.

But this has gotten harder and harder. Manufacturers don’t like when people take their stuff apart and poke around, so they’ve turned to all sorts of annoying specialized screws and latches to keep them locked up tight.

The folks over at iFixit tear more stuff apart than anyone. If you’ve ever seen one of those step-by-step teardowns of a just-released gadget, that was them.

They’ve taken their knowledge of must-have specialized tools and put together an “essentials” kit that’ll open… well, not everything, but most things. If something in your house breaks and you want to peak inside, chances are pretty damned solid this kit will get you in.

10/15

A big ol' 5k monitor

Feeling particularly spendy?

Most of us stare at screens all day. Staring at a screen sucks.

Staring at a monstrous 5k screen sucks a little less.

LG and Apple are working on a $1000 27″ 5k monitor that’s scheduled to ship by the holidays, and we’re all drooling over it. Between the two brands involved, it should be outstanding.

Need something sooner? Dell’s 27″ 5k monitor, the UP2715K,  is pretty excellent… but at $1,636  it’s also nearly twice the price.

11/15

This remote controlled NERF tank because holy crap

Remote control stuff is wonderful.

Nerf is wonderful.

Put the two together, and, uh, yes please.

They basically took a NERF gun, strapped a little wireless camera on it, and stuffed it on top of a remote control tank. And that’s just wonderful. This is the toy I wanted when I was 8, and it’s the toy I’ll want when I’m 88.

It’s seemingly a Toys “R” Us exclusive right now, where it’s going for $229

12/15

Games!

Buying someone a game — unless you reaaaally know them — is tough.

The first step? Figure out what game console they have, and go from there.

I usually start with the best stuff exclusive to that console. Alas, much of this year’s best console exclusive stuff are sequels or remakes, which requires some additional research to make sure the recipient has played the previous titles (or hasn’t recently played the original thats being remade.)

But if you’re going the console exclusive route:

PS4: Uncharted 4. Lots of people bought the PS4 pretty much just for Uncharted 3, and Uncharted 4 is supposedly going to be the last one in the series (until, you know, they change their mind)

Xbox One: Gears of War 4. Despite not being the first Gears title not built by Epic Games, it’s a Gears game to its core.

Wii U: Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. It’s a remake, but it’s a remake of one of the finest games of all time. If you can suss out that the recipient hasn’t played the original, this one is a surefire win.

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13/15

Speaking of exclusives…

If the person you’re getting a gift for has a PS4 and you’re willing to take a slight risk, consider The Last Guardian.

It doesn’t actually come out until December 6th, so there are no reviews of it yet… but it’s the third game from Fumito Ueda. He’s the designer behind ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, which are both absolute masterpieces — so expectations are pretty high for this one.

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Alternatively, the non-exclusives:

Or, if you’re not worried about something being a console exclusive, any of these are easy wins (assuming the person you’re buying for is into first person shooters. Most of this year’s massive releases were FPS.)

Overwatch: a team-based shooter that plays heavily on different classes of characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Battlefield 1: Despite the title, it’s actually the 15th game in the Battlefield series. Like the others, it’s a destruction filled madhouse.

Titanfall 2: It’s being overshadowed a bit by the popularity of Battlefield 1, but Titanfall 2 is an incredible game in its own right. Players battle for control of the map while piloting Titans, which are massive, building-size mechs. Unlike the original, this one has a single player storyline (and it’s actually pretty good!)

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Or just buy everyone Firewatch

Firewatch is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. It’s short — only a few hours long — but it left me thinking for days.

It’s a first person game, but it’s not a shooter by any means. At $20 and available on most platforms (Mac/Windows/Linux, Xbox One, PS4), I’d recommend it for just about anyone with a heart.

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