My Favorite Gifts For Geeks


If you want a really excellent curated list of tech gifts for this holiday season, check out the Gift Guide at  It covers Laptops & PCs, Digital Cameras, Music & Audio, Smartphones, Tablets & E-Readers, Televisions and Toys and you are sure to find something for almost everyone on your list.

However, a friend just asked me if there was anything (other than donations to the Pediatrics Department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) that I would personally recommend holiday season – and there is.

skyscoutFirst, on my personal list of Gifts For Geeks is the Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium. You simply point the SkyScout at a celestial object, and it will identify it with one click.  It can locate over 50,000 stars, planets and constellations.  The unit provides both text and audio descriptions complete with history, mythology and some other entertaining info.  There are also constellation lessons and built in field guide.  At a street price around $200, this is a super fun way to spend an evening with your kids, friends and any other stargazers you might know.

Next on my list is the Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter.  It’s a super-fun RC helicopter on steroids!  Best of all, you control it with your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device.  Did I mention that it’s Awesome!!!

drone-quadricopterEver thought about piloting a military drone?  This may be as close as you get. The Quadricopter has all kinds of sensors on-board: a wide-angle camera, high-speed camera and MEMS (micro electro mechanical systems), accelerometer, gyro sensors, and ultrasound sensor.  And, in case you’re wondering if you can fly it – the AR.Drone autopilot allows easy takeoff and landing. After takeoff, autopilot stabilizes the AR.Drone at an 80-centimeter altitude. When you remove your finger from your device, the autopilot function automatically puts the AR.Drone into stationary flight. Lost connection with the AR.Drone? Autopilot takes over again and stabilizes the device before attempting a soft and safe landing.

There are all kinds of additional features, including interesting Augmented Reality Games you can get at the Apple App Store.  The AR.Drone is about $300 ready to fly.

waterfield-laptop-bagFor less expensive Geek Luxury, I love the Waterfield laptop bags and cases.  They have a fabulous custom laptop sleeve page on their site.  You just pick your laptop model and add the features you want – a flap, strap, leather trim, a piggyback pouch, etc.  There’s nothing like a custom configured laptop sleeve to make even the most jaded Geek happy this holiday season.

If you’re looking for a collection of super Geeky things to purchase, my favorite website is  There you will find a literal cornucopia a gifts and games for the discerning hacker or self-described Geek.

macbook-airAnd last, but certainly not least, is my top pick for Geek indulgence – the all-singing, all-dancing Apple MacBook Air.  Specifically, the 13-inch, 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB memory, 256GB flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 3000.  It’s $1,699 from Apple.  You need Apple Care a USB to Ethernet adapter and a case, so get ready to spend around $2,200 – but it’s worth it.

I’m not sure I can fully describe the visceral pleasure of using a full-power MacBook Air.  It is a perfect combination of speed, power, screen size and weight.  In a world where so much of what we do can be accomplished with cloud-based applications, every self-respecting Geek will be able to configure this computer to their personal satisfaction.

If you’re wondering if it is a true laptop or desktop replacement – check out MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro on my blog.

Please accept my best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.  And, if you can find it in your heart, consider giving a small portion of this year’s gift budget to those who are in need.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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