Digitally Enhanced

Digitally Enhanced

16.12.2016 Gift ideas for the geek in your life: Weekender Digitally Enhanced Column 30


I am sure all of the readers of this column have a family member who is lucky enough to be technically obsessed – and this time of year is always difficult. What to buy the person who thinks a piece of sporting equipment would be a great device to gather spider webs on; clothes are something that should be bought once and then kept forever and jewellery is good for the Gold within that could be melted and used in electronic devices.

I am here to solve your gift problems this Christmas with a snapshot of presents that would have any geek drooling with excitement.

To start with the future, I want to go back in time. Nintendo is one of the largest video game companies and was founded way back in 1889. Obviously they didn’t have video games in 1889 (Edison only invented the light bulb in 1879) but they originally produced handmade playing cards. In 1985 they released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which became the best-selling gaming console of its time. Nintendo have now released the NES Classic Edition where you can enjoy 30 classic games including Super Mario Bros.; Donkey Kong; Legend of Zelda and one of my arcade favourites, Pac-Man. Parents might even have a chance of beating their kids on games they grew up on!

Snapchat ten-second videos are perfect for the short attention spans of our modern society. The problem is that it takes longer to take your phone out of your pocket and get it ready to video than the actual video. Not anymore. Snap’s spectacles capture a ten-second circular video that you can easily share on Snapchat. To take out the creepy factor, a light on the glasses shows when you are currently recording.

Virtual Reality has been discussed ad infinitum but the headsets are not starting to become reasonably priced at good quality. After extensive research, my son splurged on the Sony Playstation VR headset and I can vouch for the sometimes too realistic feel of the headset. With this you can be Spiderman or ride a roller coaster or pilot a spaceship. Head movements can be used to control your direction and the Playstation Move motion controllers put your hands into the action. The minor issue is that you also need a PlayStation console.

With cameras galore on our phones, printing photos seems so yesterday – but maybe the concept is coming back. There is nothing like that little photo wall in your bedroom or a great photo stuck on the fridge. HP have just released a portable photo printer that will allow a Bluetooth connection from your phone to print direct to the printer. Quick, easy and simple and the quality of the photos is impressive for a small portable printer.

Noise-cancelling headphones are not exactly brand new. I have been using a couple of different versions from the inventor of the category, Bose, for a few years now. Bose have just released their latest version though. The Bose QuietComforst 3.5. All the great features of the previous Bose noise-cancelling headphones with the added benefit of Bluetooth. And let’s face it. Everything is better with Bluetooth. If you know someone who spends too much time on an aircraft, this is the gift that keeps giving.

I explored Bluetooth standards in a previous article but one of the great advances of Bluetooth since the invention of the concept has been the low power consumption of the technology. You can now use a Tile – a small device about the size of a 50-cent piece – to track any device you want to keep tabs on. Keys, wallet, children (not sure on the legality of attaching one to your child) or even, in the case of my daughter, teddy bears. You can track the location with your smartphone or make the device emit a tone to track it down precisely when you are nearby.

If you are buying presents for techies that like to spend time in the kitchen, the Death Star Waffle Maker is for them. You can make waffles for dessert (or breakfast!) and have them imprinted with the image of the Star Wars Death Star. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

If you want your techie family member to remember you every day (or in the case of some techies, every week), the Bluetooth Showerhead Speaker is the one for you. The waterproof speaker lets you stream music or podcasts from a phone nearby and simply clips out of its magnetic holder to recharge or use in another room. It takes singing in the shower to an entirely new level.

For the last suggestion, I am going to go with traditional jewellery. Well, not exactly traditional. This cocktail ring syncs with a phone to function as an alert for texts; calls; calendar alerts and more. Vibrations and coloured lights let you know to check your phone. There are four vibration patterns and five colour options to distinguish the different options on your phone. And to keep the price down, it has been made with cubic zirconia rather than the normal Carbon allotrope.

That should be enough to get the gift juices flowing but, as I am sure you know, there are tens of thousands of Web sites just waiting to take your money for geeky and gimmicky gadgets. Enjoy the creativity of the people who create these items.

Mathew Dickerson