2009 may not have had the blockbuster gadget releases of years past, but there are still plenty of gifts to fill your tech lover's stocking. Below, we've showcased 11 of this year's best products. From camcorders to laptop bags, ereaders to coffee presses, we'll help you find the perfect present for the geek on your nice list.Pure Digital was kind enough to send me a MinoHD as part of its custom screen-printed series this year and I love it. For such a small camcorder it takes fantastic, 720p video and the thing couldn't be easier to use. Flip also introduced customizable skins to the mix this year, so you can gift a Flip with the image of your choice, or use their design/pattern generators to make this a little extra special.
You can get the MinoHD in either 60min (4GB) or 120min (8GB) storage sizes for $199.99 or $229.99 respectively. Customization does not cost extra, so get something funky unless you want that classic industrial design.What's a camcorder without a good tripod? No good at all, that's what. Part of the problem with handheld camcorders is a lack of grippable parts for stability. Joby's GorillaMobile can be bent around just about anything, including your wrist if you want to rig up a little wristmount system. Really, though, I like the GorillaMobile because it's so small and versatile. It's perfect for throwing in a bag to use at casual family functions and parties, keeping the 720p video on your new Flip nice and steady.
If you want something a little more substantial you could also consider the larger GorillaPod. Joby also makes a GorillaMobile specifically for the iPhone 3G/3GS and the GorillaTorch, a light sporting the same bendable legs. Check their official site for prices on each.I tend to change my mind on iPhone cases all the time, but I always come back to the Mophie Juice Pack Air when I'm low on power. It minimally augments the size of the phone while providing an extra 60-80% battery life on the go. There are more powerful options out there, but they tend to be a little too bulky for my taste. Mophie's Juice Pack, on the other hand, is a close fit without too many frills.
Mophie recently updated the line to include a soft-finish variety with the same power rating. It's a nice addition, especially if you live in a humid climate like I do. You can get the Juice Pack Air in white, black, purple, or red for $79.95 from Mophie's website.I tried to make a conscious effort to recommend a bag other than the Boa Nerve from Booq but I just couldn't do it. I'm in love with this messenger and I'm sure you know someone who would be, too. The Nerve comes in small and large sizes to accommodate different sized laptops. There's a removable laptop sleeve, which is perfect for a quick trip to the coffee shop, and plenty of pockets should you be headed for a full day of work. One of the best features is the stability strap, which pulls bag snug against your back if you have to run for a train or take the fixed-gear for a spin.
Booq was having trouble keeping these in stock, but they're available now and ship within 24 hours. You can get the Boa Nerve for $129.95 at the Booq website.I hesitate to recommend this because I'm generally averse to ereaders. There are those among you who like these things, and you all probably know someone who wants one, so I'll go against my best instincts for the sake of your friends. The Nook is best of the ereaders I've seen. Since no one, not even the major sites, have had a chance to review these it's tough to say how that little color screen will pan out, but it seems like a decent idea. You also get the ability to lend your ebooks to your friends and share your own media between your computer and your iPhone.
One BIG caveat for this one: The Nook is completely sold out for shipments arriving during 2009. The next flight will land January 4th, so you could always give the gift of the late present, which can be pretty cool. Barnes & Noble wants $259 for this one.Now that your loved ones will be spending all their hard-earned money on ebooks, they'll need an inexpensive way to stay perky for those long reading sessions. The Aerobie AeroPress should be in every coffee lovers' home, at least if they're on a budget. It brews a decent cup of espresso and great Americano if you add a little water. Get a cheap frother and you can make your drink of choice in under two minutes and far cheaper than you'll find at any cafe.
The press comes with a year's supply of filters and everything you'll need to make your perfect cuppa. The best part is the price, a mere $25.95 with free shipping from Amazon.The Livio Radio is a great choice for any audio lover you know. The original debuted with built-in Pandora support, allowing users to listen to Pandora in any room of the house. The little screen makes it easy to browse through your favorite stations and you still get your thumbs-up/thumbs-down buttons for encouraging/discouraging specific tracks.
Livio also added an NPR specific radio to its lineup this year, providing access to some 800 NPR stations over a wireless connection. The NPR radio just started shipping this week. You can get either model for $199.99 from the Livio website.I reviewed Able Planet's Clear Harmony noise-canceling headphones earlier this year and fell in love. I'd even pick them over the Bose QuietComforts because you can play music even if your batteries die (no active noise-canceling if that happens, though). These things sound excellent, last forever on a pair of AAA batteries, and tuck away nicely into a hardshell case.
The only thing that may scare you off would be price, but for this kind of quality you should expect to spend a little cash. Get a deal at Tiger Direct for $249.99.Personally, I'm not a Playstation guy. Never have been. Never will be. But I can't think up a good reason you should follow suit. With the recent size reduction and price drop, the PS3 is looking as good as it's ever likely to. With the recent release of "Modern Warfare 2" and "Uncharted 2", Sony's lineup got a nice facelift as well.
Be sure you shop around for the bundles, though. Some of them are region specific, but Sony is so far behind in the console race that it's offering crazy deals to get this system into your home. Most everything will run you $299 for the 120GB model.This Blu-ray player is a nice little mashup for all your media needs. You obviously get BD Live support, but you can stream HD movies from Netflix and hook this thing up to your audio system for Pandora, too. And though price may have held Blu-ray back in times gone by, the P1600 is going for $149.99 as a part of Samsung's Black Friday deals. Check the Samsung website for a list of retailers and other Samsung deals. So you're staying away from Blu-ray this year and you don't want the PS3 Slim? I'd call you crazy, but "Wii Sports Resort" and "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" are plenty to keep you busy through the holidays. Just don't forget to pick up enough Wii Motion Plus dongles for everyone to play along (with the first title, anyway). The tiny attachment dramatically improves the Wii's motion-sensing abilities, so your jumper from the elbow can be just as bad as your game in real life.
Get a single WMP from Amazon for $16.99 or pick up the Wii Sports Resort Bundle (WMP included) for $46.99.