Our top five Christmas geek-gift gadgets include a hub for oversize USB plugs, a wearable WiFi-detecting t-shirt, and a superportable MP3 player. Merry Christmas!
Stumped for gifts to give the geeks in your family? Put a little something digital in their stockings this year. We've hand-picked five gadgets - none of them expensive - that can help ease your shopping woes. From a sleek and stylish MP3 player to a completely silly USB device, any of these five gifts will bring a smile to somebody's lips this holiday season.
1. Clip on your tunes
SanDisk Sansa Clip
Smaller than a box of wooden matches yet capable of holding 15 hours of music, SanDisk's Sansa Clip truly is a small wonder. As the name implies, you simply attach the (less than an ounce!) player to your pocket, shirt collar, or even your hat using its spring-loaded clip. The Sansa Clip plays MP3s, secure and DRM-free WMA files, and Audible books; it's also compatible with Napster to Go, and sports an FM tuner and a voice recorder.
A tiny (but impressively bright) LCD shows either the artist and song title or a very cool-looking equalizer animation. About £24 buys you a 1GB black Sansa Clip that can store approximately 250 MP3s. Add a tenner or so, and you double the capacity - and you get to choose from ice blue, hot pink, or candy-apple red models. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more agreeable exercise partner. Buy a SanDisk Sansa Clip here.
2. Solving the USB puzzle
USB 180-Degree Revolving Hub
Here's what I hate about USB hubs: my flash drives are always just a little too wide, so I can't plug them in next to each other. The USB 180° Revolving Hub, however, is an ingenious solution. The multicoloured dingus looks like a string of children's blocks, with one USB 2.0 port in each of the first four cubes.
Cubes #1 and #2 each rotate 180 degrees, so you can plug superwide USB dongles into the top and back, leaving the last two ports free for less outsize connectors. AC and USB power connectors in the fifth cube complete the puzzle. The Revolving Hub is available from Hong Kong-based gadget-meister Brando Workshop for $16 (£9). Get the USB 180° Revolving Hub here.
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3. Mighty mouse
Rubber ducky optical mouse
When is a mouse more than a mouse? When it's also a duck, of course. Uncommon Goods' Rubber Ducky Optical Mouse features the familiar yellow waterfowl bobbing in an aqua-colored pond at the base of the 4.5in unit.
The £20 pointing device is perfect for the youthful computer genius in your household. And if the mere sight of the thing causes the song "Rubber Ducky, You're So Fine" to play endlessly in your brain, as it does for me, you can select other alter-mice designs, such as a Lady Bug, Doggie, or Kitty.
The Rubber ducky optical mouse isn't as easy to find as it should be, but go on an online duck hunt, and you just might get lucky!
4. Wi-Fi on the fly
Wi-Fi detector T-shirt
Wonder which of your neighbours has Wi-Fi? Forget wardriving. Put on Think Geek's stylish black Wi-Fi Detector T-shirt, and you can warwalk.
Electric blue bars on the front light up when you encounter a wireless network; the more bars that light, the stronger the signal. (But it won't tell you whether the network is secure - sorry.) When it's laundry time, you can remove the detector, which draws power from three AAA batteries housed in a compartment that slips into an interior pocket. Wow your friends, impress your neighbors, and convince your spouse that marrying you really was a terrible mistake.
5. Holiday on ice
USB Mini Fridge
You can keep your digital cameras, flash drives, media players, mice, keyboards, LED lights, and desk fans. I've finally found something truly useful to plug into my USB port: a personal refrigerator. The $33 USB Mini Fridge draws just enough power to chill one can of lager (or perhaps another beverage of your choice) to about 48 degrees Fahrenheit (8.5 Celsius). Better yet, when you open the door of this 8in tall fridge, an LED light comes on. Gadgets just don't get much cooler - literally. Get the USB Mini Fridge here..