5 Low-Tech Geek Gift Ideas

Need a holiday gift for the technology enthusiast in your life, but you’re not sure what platform to buy for? Want to skip the whole iTunes/Amazon/Red Lobster prepaid card thing? Overwhelmed by the sheer number of phone and tablet cases out there?

Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

1. Tablets are great for reading ebooks or watching videos in bed, but who wants to hold the darn thing up the whole time, especially when trying to relax? The $33 Peeramid Pillow is great for propping up your tablet — or even a hefty treeware tome — when one is inclined to recline.

2. Crazy weather and power outages can happen anywhere and you know how we get when our phone batteries slip into the red zone. If your gift sense leans toward the practical, consider a deluxe combination USB charger/radio/LED flashlight powered by solar panels or hand cracking; the $60 Eton FRX3 fits the bill — and you can also connect an MP3 player to pump out some tunes in the dark. The company makes several other charger models branded by the American Red Cross as well.

3. If you’ve got a radio lover in the family, consider a portable Wi-Fi model like the Mutant Innovation M-Wavio, which you can pick up online for around $80 from sites like NewEgg and Amazon. Once connected to a wireless network, this little baby can pull in streams from about 12,000 radio stations around the world, including those from the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio France and other international broadcasters. You can also tap into college radio stations from around the country, specialty streams and some Internet-only stations. And if the power goes out, flip the radio over to the regular FM band to get live news and make sure the zombies haven’t gone all apocalypse now.

4. For those young learners and engineers-to-be, check out the many educational kits from Radio Shack, like the $15 Tin Can Robot, the $13 Velleman Traffic Light Kit and the $70 Electronics Learning Lab. Science is the most fun when you can do it yourself and see it in action.

5. If the programmer on your list eschews the traditional can of Red Bull for a more stately approach to caffeine consumption, there’s the $20 Star Wars Death Star Tea Infuser, designed to brew up that cuppa with Imperial flair. And if you’re not shy about mixing movie franchises, you can back-order a $15 tin of officially licensed Star Trek Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. — which should be back in stock from ThinkGeek around January 4th. (Hmmm, January 4th. Why does that date seem so familiar? Oh…yeah.)



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