The InfoWorld 2009 geek gadget gift guide

10 must-have geek gadgets that make the perfect gift for the geek in your life

InfoWorld 2009 Geek Gadget Gift Guide

Indulgent gifts for the techie in your life

It’s that time of year. The first snows, the time to reflect over the Thanksgiving holidays, and the soon-to-be-endless Christmas jingles at stores everywhere. While a geek is always on the lookout for cool gadgets, the holidays are the time when he (possibly she) might actually indulge in gadget desires. Or when a loved one decides to let him (or her) indulge.

InfoWorld is here to help. We’ve selected 10 must-have geek gadgets that make the perfect gift for the geek in your life. As always, we skipped the obvious items that you probably already have decided to get -- this week’s release of the new Star Trek movie Blu-ray, a new iPhone or possibly Motorola Droid or Palm Pre, that 1.5TB external network drive for all your music, videos, and photos, and so on.

Acer Aspire 1420P

Acer Aspire 1420P

The tablet concept is not new, and neither is the swivel screen. But the Acer Aspire 1420P gives the tablet concept new life, given that it uses multitouch technology on the screen and can work easily as a notebook PC or as a tablet. If you give presentations or demos, the combination of swivel display and touch could be amazing. We only wish that Windows 7 had more expansive gesture support built in.

Price: not yet available. | Get more details.

Apple Magic Mouse

Apple Magic Mouse

What’s a geek gadget gift guide without an Apple product? This year, Apple’s reinvented the mouse, again. The wireless (via Bluetooth) Magic Mouse brings the oh-so-hot multitouch technology pioneered by the iPhone and later brought to the MacBook Pros to the surface you probably use all the time: your mouse. The top of the Magic Mouse is a touchpad, letting you use gestures and motions for navigation, zooming, and more. How cool is that? We only wish it worked with Windows PCs as well as Macs.

Price: $69. | Get more details.

CableOrganizer.com Animal Clips

CableOrganizer.com Animal Clips

Hey, they’re cute! Whether you have a soft spot for animals (and are willing to show it) or want to get your budding geeklets to spend more time behind the desk as trainee techs, check out these cable clips. We only wish there were Velcro-strap versions for use with bigger cable sets.

Price: $0.55 each. | Get more details.

CloudEngines Pogoplug

CloudEngines Pogoplug

Here’s the kind of cloud computing that IT geeks can get behind: This little device makes any USB hard drive or thumb drive accessible over the Internet -- personal cloud storage. Plug it into your router, plug your drive into it, then set up a registration code at the Pogoplug Web site, and your drive is now accessible over the Internet, but only to those who have its code. We only wish there was a FireWire port as well.

Price: $99. | Get more details.

Fitbit

Fitbit

Fitbit -- which is the name of both the company and the product -- is a Wii-like motion-sensing tracking device that you wear to collect data on your physical activity and your sleep, for uploading and analysis on your PC. Why? To see if you’re burning as many calories as you should, being as active as you should, and sleeping as soundly as you should. We only wish we didn’t have to wait until February 2010 for it to ship.

Price: $99. | Get more details.

Kymera Magic Wand

Kymera Magic Wand

If your favorite techie is into fantasy (the kind involving wizards and dragons), here’s a remote control you’ve got to try. The Magic Wand is a standard infrared remote control for TVs, stereos, and the like -- except it uses gestures based on how you wave the wand to control the equipment. There are 13 gestures to which you can assign the IR codes your equipment uses, so you get to choose what your “spells” do.

Price: £49 (about $81) | Get more details.

Navigon MobileNavigator North America

Navigon MobileNavigator North America

If you have an iPhone, you don’t need a separate GPS navigation device. And if you don’t want to pay the phone company $10 per month to get navigation service, look to Navigon’s iPhone app instead. It offers more than the directions you’d expect, with features such as day and night display modes and user-defied points of interest. (A European version is also available.) We only wish it was also available on Google Android and Palm WebOS devices.

Price: $90. | Get more details.

Pioneer VSX-1019AHK AV receiver

Pioneer VSX-1019AHK AV receiver

We all know that home entertainment is getting more and more connected. But the receivers that at as the central repository are often ungainly to use. Not the Pioneer VSX-1019AHK. It has excellent sound quality for a midrange receiver, but what really sets it apart is its intuitive remote control that lets you work with iPods, TiVos, and so on very naturally -- no mean feat given how different these devices are from standard stereo equipment, and how clunky the standard stereo remote control usually is. We only wish the text was a tad larger on the control.

Price: $499 | Get more details.

ThinkGeek Wireless USB Digital Microscope

ThinkGeek Wireless USB Digital Microscope

As a kid, you probably had one or more “junior scientist” research kits to explore the skies or the creek behind the house. The Wireless USB Digital Microsoft lets you continue to explore the world around you today. You can zoom from 20X to 200X on any object, and the images (still or video) transmit up to 6 feet to your USB base station, from which the images are uploaded to your Windows PC for viewing and storage. We only wish the software was also Mac-compatible.

Price: $139 | Get more details.

Uncommon Goods Geek Clock

Uncommon Goods Geek Clock

OK, this one is more of a novelty, but if you’re a math geek, it’s the perfect way to show it. Each hour is indicated through a different mathematical formula, such as 3! For 6 o’clock.

Price: $25. | Get more details.