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Network Computing's 2012 Geek Gift Guide

  • Most, if not all, IT workers are hard-core geeks at heart. And like most geeks, they experience full-on techno lust for cool and unusual gadgets.

    Of course, IT geeks appreciate many of the same gadgets that appeal to general consumers. But for this list, rather than include the usual suspects such as iPads, iPhones and Kindles, we’ve decided to focus on gadgets that have a very special geek angle, which goes a long way toward making them the perfect gifts for the fellow IT geeks on your list.

  • Canon EOS-1D X

    The Canon EOS-1D X DLSR is a feature-rich camera for the prosumer, so why include it in our round-up? The built-in Gigabit Ethernet jack used to transfer images over the wire. The transmission is automatic, too. Pick the images to transfer, and the camera will wait until it has a connection before sending, making it easy to go from the field or studio right into a workflow.-- Mike Fratto
    Price: $4,999

  • FXI Technologies Cotton Candy

    What’s 3.1 inches long, 1 inch wide, less than half an inch tall and packs a quad-core ARM A9 1.2 GHz processor, quad-core GPU, 802.1 b/g/n, Bluetooth, 1 Gigabyte RAM, a micro-SF slot, and a USB and HDMI connector? FXI Technologies' Cotton Candy. A tiny computer that relies on an external USB power source and HDMI-capable screen, Cotton Candy can run Android or Ubuntu Linux, and a virtualization client for other operating systems. While it’s not available yet, your geeky loved ones will gladly take an IOU and wait for this puppy to ship. -- Mike Fratto
    Price: Not disclosed; rumored to be $200

  • Google Translate

    Probably the coolest mobile app I've ever used, Google Translate is the closest thing to the universal translator from Star Trek. Google Translate can translate text between nearly all languages, but the coolest thing is its conversation mode, which makes it possible to have a back-and-forth conversation with someone while the app translates each side of the conversation. -- Jim Rapoza
    Price: Free

  • HP TouchPad

    My pick for gadget of the year is HP's TouchPad tablet computer. Like the majority of the world, I thought tablet PCs had a very limited market for vertical applications like healthcare. Then Apple came along and convinced the majority of the world that life without a tablet wasn't worth living. As with the iPod and iPhone, the company re-imagined a technology and virtually overnight stood atop a mushrooming market that nobody else had envisioned. However, after playing with an iPad, I again decided to pass on tablets as something that didn't fit into my needs or budget. And then along came HP, which broke through my tablet indifference by offering the TouchPad at one-fifth its manufacturing cost. At $100, I suddenly saw the light and realized my long-buried tablet envy--right up until they decided not to produce the system any longer and ran out of units before I could get my hands on one! -- Steve Wexler
    Price: $100, if you can find one.

  • Kogeto dot

    Kogeto’s dot is a lens attachment for the iPhone 4 and 4S that turns the lens into a panoramic camera. You can shoot 360-degree video and, using the app, you can play the video back and swipe to rotate the view. You can share your videos with your friends, using either another iPhone or Flash in a browser. The app doesn’t support stills or streaming. -- Mike Fratto
    Price: $79

  • Kymera Magic Wand Remote Control

    Who doesn’t want to point a wand at a TV and make it do your bidding? With a limited number of gestures, the Kymera Magic Wand Remote Control lets you do most common functions with a flick of your wrist. Yelling magic phrases, optional. -- Mike Fratto
    Price: $89

  • Movi: Cisco TelePresence On the Go

    When people think of Cisco TelePresence, they think of the room-based studios costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Cisco has broadened its portfolio to include more sensible and affordable TelePresence options, including Movi, an HD camera that clips onto a laptop and plugs into a USB port. The camera works on the Cisco Callway hosted service, which, for $99 a month, allows mobile workers to join an HD videoconference on the fly. Movi is typically sold to enterprises that distribute multiple units to their road warriors, so it’s not like you can pick up one camera for yourself at Best Buy. Still, it’s a way to make TelePresence more approachable. -- Robert Mullins
    Price: $99 per month

  • Obscura Digital Pool Table

    If you like billiards and high tech, you can combine them into the coolest pool table on the planet, the Obscura Digital Pool Table. Three different effects are available to suit your moods. It can fit your existing table or be shipped with one. -- Mike Fratto
    Price: $25,000