I have a horrible habit of waiting until the last minute to order gifts online and, as a result, I have to chunk out more change for quick shipping. Unsurprisingly, the same goes for this column, which I cobbled together the night before it was due. As a result, this gift guide isn't for everybody. Actually, it's pretty much just for me, or techno-geeks like me (since I already bought myself a few of them for Hanukkah):
Power present: I'm a heavy mobile user and so my iPhone is in a constant state of battery drainage. I'm also really bad at remembering to pack my cable when I leave the house, even though I now carry a portable external power source everywhere. So, topping my list this year is a phone charger than can attach to my keychain. Bluelounge's Kii fits the bill and costs between $20 and $40, depending on your model of phone. There's also the ChargeKey from Nomad, which finished up a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this month. It costs $25, but won't ship until mid-January.
Gift apped: What's draining my battery? Figure from Propellerheads has become my favorite music-making app for ioS. It allows users of varying skill—from never-even-learned-the-recorder to Mozart-class virtuoso—to create complicated electronic loops that are easily shared online through Soundcloud. For 99 cents, you can't really go wrong gifting this. If the object of your generosity loves literature and interactive puzzles, then definitely buy them Device 6 for $4. The ioS app masterfully combines concrete poetry, paperback thrillers, multimedia and closed-room puzzles into a stylish, brain-buzzing, phone-twisting game.
Console prize: Speaking of games, a few columns back, I wrote about my Playstation 4 quandary: The game I wanted was postponed to June, and I didn't know whether I should still go through with my pre-order. In the end, I bought it and haven't regretted it. If you've got a next-gen gamer in the house, there are two games to get them. On the expensive end (about $60 or so), Assassin's Creed: Black Flag is the ultimate pirate game, with an awe-inspiring open world in which a player can explore the Caribbean and incredibly detailed versions of Havana, Nassau and Kingston. There are assassinations, cannon-and-mortar battles with warships, harpooning missions and treasure hunts. Every night for the last three weeks, I've chased my murderous swashbuckling with Flower, a $7 game that allows you to control a gust of wind in six or so blissful environments by tilting and turning the control, rather than pressing buttons and joysticks.
Art in the cart: Since I'm pretty obsessed with my mobile devices and gaming consoles, my laptop hasn't gotten a lot of love, and I don't have any recommendations for peripherals. However, one thing I would love is a thoughtful piece of art for the back of my laptop to replace the piecemeal stickers I've slapped on for the last year. Two sites I'm eyeing for designs: gelaskins.com and decalgirl.com.
Snapshots in a snap: While we're on the subject of art, as much as I love shooting digital photographs, something is indeed lost when you no longer have the physical object of a print. For $300, The Impossible Project is offering a crazy new device, Impossible Instant Lab, which transfers images from iPhones to Polaroid film using a bellows system.
Santa's Little Makers: On the theme of using technology to turn online artifacts into physical objects, let's talk about 3-D printers, the gift that allows the receiver to create even more gifts. If you're willing to spend a small fortune, MakerBot offers a complete package (printer, two spools of filament, a digitizer and warranty plan) for $3,800. If that's a bit steep, then check out the Portabee GO, a portable 3-D printer available for pre-order for $395. Although it won't ship until Jan. 1, you won't receive any complaints if you leave a Portabee IOU in a card under the tree.