The 2008 geek gadget gift guide: SkyV

Stuck in the basement? You can still get a skylight for a more pleasant environment

Why you must have it: The cold glow of an LCD monitor doesn't exactly give you the mental health benefits of real windows, something that most geeks only experience in their cars. After all, datacenters, development labs, and basement workshops -- where many techies spend hours -- rarely have windows. That's where Sky Factory's SkyV comes in: You put one of these custom light boxes in your ceiling, and they adjust the scenes automatically for time of day and season, simulating the outside world, no matter where you are. The SkyV uses a high-definition display and can show a variety of scenes. (The less expensive Programmable Sky Ceiling uses a static image, with only lighting changes to simulate times of day and seasonality.) Test Center contributing editor Logan Harbaugh calls them "the ultimate gift for a cubicle-dwelling geek."

Your chances of having the first one on the block: Very high, as the SkyV won't ship until early 2009 (the Programmable Sky Ceiling has been around since just August).

What you must know: These ceiling light boxes are custom-made, so you can't buy one and install it yourself. You'll need to contact the manufacturer directly to get a quote. The company also offers lighted window boxes that present natural scenes, but these don't have the ability to change color and intensity as the day and seasons progress.

What you need: A building that you can install the light boxes in, which typically means having a dropped ceiling (standard in office buildings) or an attic or crawl space above the ceiling (common in modern homes), plus available power circuits.

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