’Tis the season to give presents — so you’re likely spending your weekend running around trying to find the perfect gift for that nice someone. But there’s only so many ties and snowglobes one can use. So why not get the geeks in your life something special this year?
No, you can’t get a new Mac Pro yet, and even if you could it’d have to be a very special someone if you were going to put one of those under the tree for them. That doesn’t mean you can’t get something very nice for them still, all without breaking the bank. So here’s our favorite geeky Mac gifts for this year, ones we’d love to receive and happen to think you’ll be tempted to splurge on for yourself as well.
I know, I know: we said this roundup was of great Mac gifts, and the first thing on the list is a Linux computer. But it’s in many ways the most awesome tiny computer ever built. For just $25, you can buy a full ARM-powered computer on a tiny board that you can plug into your monitor or TV and hack away. It’s being used in all types of home automation projects — including, of all things, a home DVD ripping setup, and all types of awesome stuff our Tuts+ team has thought up — and it includes a free copy of Wolfram Mathematica, something that’d usually cost hundreds of dollars for personal use.
For the kid that’s learning to code, or the geek that loves tinkering, it’s the perfect gift.
All the new game consoles let you control them with your hands, just like Minority Report showed us over a decade ago. It’s time for you to stop touching your Mac’s touchpad and start using your hands and thin air to work magic. The new Leap Motion controller wasn’t perfect in our review, but it’s cool enough that it’s bound to make anyone’s Christmas. This little connecter will let your Mac detect your hands so you can pan around Google Earth, play games, or even show off a 3D model just by waving your hands around.
If you do pick one up, be sure to use the coupon code LeapHoliday2013 to get free shipping and $10 credit for the [Airspace}(https://airspace.leapmotion.com) app store. That makes it an even more attractive Christmas gift!
Legos are the toys you never grow out of, and Chris McVeigh’s lego sets are more amazing than any of the branded Lego sets ever imagined being. Most special, of course, is the original Macintosh remade out of tiny legos. It’s the perfect compliment to any Mac lover’s desk — come on, you know you want one already. But hey: if you want something even more different, he’s got lego versions of everything from an instant camera to a turkey, all with free guides you can build yourself or as kits you can buy and put together simply.
For your traveling Mac-loving friend, here’s the perfect gift that’ll make their bag lighter and traveling days brighter: the PlugBug. It’s an ingenious little charger from the Twelve South team that combines a MacBook and iPhone/iPad charger all in one stylish accessory. It’s so clever, we’re just surprised Apple hasn’t made something like this already.
Price: $34.99, or $44.99 for the international version
Want to add more space to your MacBook? It’s next-to-impossible to put in your own SSD, but it’s tough to settle on storing everything on external drives. The next best option is the Nifty MiniDrive. It’s a tiny adaptor for your SD card slot that’ll let you keep a microSD card inside your Mac without anything sticking out. That’ll give you an extra 32-64Gb of storage that’s almost as nice as built-in storage. I’ve been using it myself to store my iTunes and iPhoto libraries, and it’s been a great addition to my MacBook Air’s 128Gb of internal storage.
There’s the flatbed scanners we’re all used to from 3-in-one printers, and then there’s the Doxies. These innovative little scanners make it easy to go paperless, enough so that you’ll actually want to scan all of your documents. There’s the Doxie One that lets you feed in your paper and scan in seconds, and the new Doxie Flip that turns flatbed scanning into the simplest way to scan anything — paper textures, full notebooks, and more. Either one would make a great gift for anyone that’s trying to clean up their cluttered offices and go paperless.
Price: $139 for the Doxie One, $149 for the new Doxie Flip.
This one’s going to require more than just a Mac, but it’s too cool to pass up. PowerUp is a new remote controlled paper airplane that lets you turn your smartphone and a paper airplane into a remote controlled plane that can fly for 10 minutes on one charge. It’s currently raising funds on Kickstarter, so you can’t get your hands on it just yet, but this is a gift that’s nice enough that the special person in your life shouldn’t mind waiting for.
Price: $30+ — and remember, Kickstarter isn’t a store, and there’s no guarantee it’ll ship, but at over 12 times its original goal it seems pretty likely this one will ship.
This book won’t give you any new insights into Apple, or let you know what Steve Jobs was thinking when he left the company to found NeXT. But, it does include some of the most beautiful photography of everything Apple’s made that you could imagine. From pictures of original Macs and iPods to box art on Apple Software, it’s bound to be any true Apple fan’s favorite coffee table book. And if you’re willing to spend even more, there’s a special edition that includes a case that looks like a vintage computer.
Price: $75; $300 for the special edition
USB 3 External HDD
You can never have too much storage space, and with most new Macs shipping with SSDs, a couple external drives are always great to have around. The new USB 3 drives are plenty fast enough — there’s no real reason to spend nearly double the price for Thunderbolt drives, in most cases — and you should be able to find one just about anywhere. That’s the perfect wrapable gift for almost anyone these days, seeing how many pictures and videos most people take around the holidays.
Price: Depends on model; around $69 for 1Tb and $120 for 2Tb
Quick tip: There’s two seemingly obvious gifts that we thought we’d make sure to mention you should not get. The first would be any external HDD that’s USB 2. They’re far slower than USB 3 drives, and the price isn’t enough cheaper to be worth that. And then, whatever you do, don’t buy Office 2011 as a gift. Every indicator is that Microsoft will release the next Office for Mac early next year, so just don’t buy it now. If you must, buy an Office 365 subscription since it’ll get updates for free.
You can’t gift Mac App Store apps, for some strange reason, so it’s rather hard to give software as a gift these days. But, there’s always iTunes gift cards that let you buy anything you want on the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store. That’s plenty to keep anyone happy, whether it’s a new app or tunes they’re looking for. Of course, make sure to get an iTunes Gift Card and not an Apple Store gift card if you want them to be able to get something downloadable — the former is for Apple’s digital stores, and the latter is only for Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail stores for Macs, iOS devices, and more.
Of course, if that special person in your life is a gamer, it might be better to gift them that Steam or GOG game they’ve been wanting, since both services let you digitally gift games. Or, if they’re a reader and not too fond of iBooks, an Amazon gift card might be even better since it can get eBooks, paper books, or, well, anything else Amazon sales (though that makes it that much less of a personalized gift, of course).
One of the more obvious gifts for any Mac lover would be a new MacBook bag, sleeve, case, or any other way to keep their Mac warm and protected. And yet, there’s so many different MacBook bags out there, and each of us have such varied preferences, it’d be impossible to list the perfect MacBook bag. Earlier this year, our team rounded up the MacBook bags we all use, with prices varying from around $25 to over $100.
If you know that Mac lover in your life really well, and have your eye on a bag you know they’ll love, this could be a great present. Just be warned: there’s a ton to choose from, and most people are really picky about how they cary their Mac around.
Price: At least $30+, realistically
This will sound like a worse cop-out than an iTunes Gift Card, and only a tiny step up from putting cash in a card, but hear us out. See, you can gift a Netflix or Spotify subscription — or order a gift card for either — that’ll let you give several months of unlimited TV shows or music for that special person in your life.
It’s your way of giving them an excuse to binge watch House of Cards over New Years, or liven up their work in the new year. That’s not so bad — it might even come across as a thoughtful gift. And even though our Web.AppStorm readers were generally against the idea of subscriptions as a gift, they seemed to think services like these still made fine gifts.
Mind if I include something I personally liked enough to order for myself? No? Ok, good.
Frank Chimero’s The Shape of Design book started life as a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2011, and since has been turned into the most nicely designed online eBook about design that’s been made yet. And it’s nothing like what you’re thinking. The Shape of Design isn’t a dry book about the concepts behind design and typography and more, but rather a thoughtful piece about putting creativity into our work. It’s inspiring, thought provoking, and beautiful. And now, it’s finally back in print, so it’d be the perfect gift for that design-focused Mac lover in your life.
Price: Free PDF/ePub download, $30.00 for hardback book
Computers and tablets were supposed to replace paper, but there’s just something about writing in a paper notebook that you can’t replicate on a computer. So Evernote set out to make the best of both worlds, with Moleskin notebooks — now in a whole arrange of shapes and sizes — that are designed to be easy to scan into Evernote. They even include stickers so you can add real-life tags to your notes that’ll show up in their digital copy in Evernote.
They look great — enough that our own CEO Collis picked one up in Japan just because of the cover — but they’re also more valuable than just their paper. They also come with free Evernote Pro, with the small journals including one onto and the larger notebooks including three months for free. You can’t gift an Evernote subscription right now, but you can buy a Moleskin that’ll make a beautiful gift and give that special person a bonus Evernote subscription.
Price: From $11.95 for a pocket journal to $29.95 for a large classic notebook.
And That’s Not All!
That’s some pretty awesome stuff, but it’s no where near everything we could have included. After all, there’s always the random Apple t-shirts you can find on eBay, the books about Apple we’ve loved this year, the brilliant stuff from ThinkGeek and the xkcd store, and the always handy nicer earbuds, keyboards, and more that make perfect geeky Christmas presents. There’s more, for sure, so if you’ve picked out a great Mac gift for this year, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
And hey: from the Envato and AppStorm families to yours, here’s to a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for us all!
Gift icon via Artdesigner.lv