December 10, 2007's 2007 holiday gift guide

Author: Staff

Admit it -- you put off your holiday shopping this year and now it's crunch time and you don't know what to get everyone on your list. Because we feel your pain, we've put together a last-minute shopping guide with ideas for some of your geekiest friends.

Executive Editor Lee Schlesinger recommends the BlackBerry 8800 or the HTC P3600 Smartphone: "While I'm impressed with BlackBerry's technology, if I had my druthers, I'd use an HTC P3600. It has all the connectivity options (GSM, EDGE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth), a large touchscreen, and a built-in camera. Its Windows Mobile operating system may be slow, but there's a huge universe of applications that work with it."

Staff writer Joe Barr likes the Linux-based server appliance Bubba: "Bubba would make a great gift for the wannabe geeks on your list that want a full-featured SOHO server but don't know how to create one on their own. It's a small, powerful, and easy-to-use appliance. Bubba provides instant mail, FTP, HTML, backup, streaming media, and print services. It even works for Windows and Mac users."

Staff writer Lisa Hoover says the Chumby is the geek toy of the season: "This Linux-based gadget connects to your home's wireless network and pulls widgets from the Web site that display all kinds of information. I have mine set to rotate my friends' and family's Flickr pictures and display news and weather. My kids like to watch Panda Cam and Shamu Cam, and also use the touchscreen interface to set the clock's alarm to go off when I least expect it. Teens will love it because it has iPod integration and a bunch of social networking widgets. Anyone who loves tinkering with code will enjoy turning Chumby into the gadget they've always wanted."

Staff writer Nathan Willis has an idea for the TV lover on your list. The HDHomeRun is the reigning champ for delivering HDTV to your computer. It's small, it accepts both cable and over-the-air HDTV signals (processing two at once), and it plugs right into your network over Ethernet -- no need to mess with drivers or pop open the case. With it you can tune in to live high-def programming from any computer on the network. Or if live isn't your thing, you can record it -- support for the HDHomeRun is built right in to MythTV.

If you have a budding graphic artist to buy for, Nathan says, "Any 3-D artist geek on your shopping list would appreciate a SpaceNavigator from 3dconnexion. This small, USB-connected peripheral is a six-degrees-of-freedom controller for 3-D manipulation. Windows and Mac users can plug it in for a variety of commercial applications, but it supports Linux too. There is a plugin for the popular 3-D modeler Blender, and now there is an open source driver to let you use the device with other Linux apps. And if none of that makes the sale, it's also really, really shiny and it lights up with a cool blue LED glow. "

Freelance writer Dmitri Popov has a number of ideas for holiday shoppers. He recommends the Linux Phrasebook, a pocket-sized reference guide packed with command-line code phrases and customizable commands. Popov also likes the VX Nano Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks. This compact mouse uses a receiver so small that you won't need to remove it before you stow your notebook in a bag or backpack. The compact mouse is comfortable, and sports five programmable buttons. If you're a mulit-tasker (and who isn't these days?), you'll love the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife with 1 GB USB memory stick. In addition to the usual blade, nail file, and screwdriver, this spiffy gadget also includes a mini LED light, ballpoint pen, and scissors.

If you're light on cash this holiday, consider burning a DVD of popular open source games to hand out as gifts. Frets on Fire makes Guitar Hero look like child's play. For military games, try Scorched 3D, which lets you go to war with your computer or with human opponents over a LAN. When smashing tanks on the ground gets boring, there's always Alien Arena, a first-person shooter game with a following that's approaching cult status. Don't forget to throw in the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator for good measure so the kids can play games like Pac-Man and and other old arcade games.

Now you know what we'll be shopping for this holiday season. What's on your list?


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