5 Gifts That Will Shock a Techie

It isn't too late to surprise someone with a cutting-edge gift.


Christmas is right around the corner, and you're desperate for that one gift that will thrill and surprise your tech-savvy spouse. These gifts are not only reasonably priced—with only one a smidgen over $200—they're cutting edge. Many of these gifts can be found at electronics stores, and there is still time for a two-day or overnight delivery. You'll not only make any geek happy with these gadgets, you'll startle them with your know-how.

[See Getting the Most Gadget for Your Money]

Pulse Smartpen ($150)—This pen does more than just record audio as you take notes. It also keeps track of where the audio is in your notes. Later on, you can tap your notes, and the pen will play the related audio. That's impressive, but you'll be even more impressed when you can explain how it works using paper that's covered with tiny dots.

[See a review of the related Tag Reader for kids]

Hauppauge HD DVR ($210 online)—This little box turns a PC into a high-end digital video recorder. The device records HDTV to your computer and to a TV source, whether antenna, cable, or satellite. When it gets unwrapped, laud the eye-popping 1080p resolution, the power of its H.264 recording codec, and bemoan the lack of an HDMI port.

[See "5 Things to Consider When Tackling DIY DVR"]

The Spot ($150 after rebate)—Does your loved one like to boat or hike, particularly to distant, remote spots? The handheld Spot talks to satellites anywhere in the world to signal trouble and location. The price includes a year's service, which lists for $100 a year but is often discounted. In fact, sign up before December 31 for Yahoo's Fire Eagle location-tracking service information, and get a free year of Spot service. Then explain how Spot uses the "Globalstar Simplex" system and its one-way data signals, so that you'll have no way to bother them in their solitude.

[See A Driving Sense of Direction]

Aluratek Internet Radio (about $120 online)—This radio picks up thousands of Internet stations with no PC needed. The radio uses Wi-Fi networking to get the signals from a home-router. The sound quality won't blow you away, but the set up is fairly straightforward and the streaming works well. All that and an alarm clock, too. To show off a bit, mention that it supports either 802.11 "b" or "g," and that it has a USB port for adding a music player.

[See a review of the similar Aluratek Internet Radio Jukebox.]

Eye-Fi Explore ($120)—This little memory card not only holds hundreds of high-resolution photos, but it also tags them with data on where each was taken. That makes it relatively easy to put up a map annotated with photos of your travels at online sites like Flickr, Picasa, and Smugmug. The card will also download photos wirelessly from your camera to access points. Just be ready to throw around terms like "geotag" or "goecode."

[See "Geotag" Your Digital Pictures]