12 Tips for Buying Geek Christmas Presents

By andy

So you’ve a geek to buy presents for this Christmas? Abide by these twelve simple steps and you’re much more likely to get it right.

1. Features matter

Given the choice between two similarly priced gadgets, one with more features and the other simply covered in crystals or other “precious” bling, you should definitely pick the feature-laden item.

Features trump bling any day. Even if you think you’re dealing with a girly geek, chances are high they are much more interested in what their new gadget can do than how much shiny stuff there is on the outside.

And definitely no Hello Kitty. Please.

Example: You might think those Swarovski crystals add a much needed wow factor, but your geek will simply be looking for the extra 2GB of memory, expansion port, megapixels, extra controllers…

2. Brand matters

If you know that your geek is after a specific brand, then it’s for a good reason. It doesn’t matter whether the reasoning (assuming you’re told it) matches your perceptions or not — it has been well researched, is there for a good reason, and is generally set in stone.

You might be tempted to buy a cheaper unit from a different manufacturer, but be aware that smiles on Christmas morning are highly unlikely if you do this.

Example: if your geek wants an Apple iPod Touch, don’t buy a Zune or something by Creative. And so on.

3. Speed matters

Don’t buy a slow gadget, either on purpose or out of naivety.

As mentioned in point two, a great deal of research will likely have gone into your geek’s choice of gear, and buying something that doesn’t do the task (quickly enough or at all) just won’t cut it.

4. Capacity matters

You’d expect this to follow point three.

If a geek has told you that the latest gadget needs 16GB of storage, it’s because that requirement has been painstakingly measured. Buying a gadget (even when all else is equal) with just 8GB of storage will leave your geek in a quandary.

Better buy the right capacity in the first place. Memory is cheaper than a broken relationship.

5. Platform matters

Please make sure that you know what computer platforms or games consoles your geek has before trying to buy software for it.

Software can be quite a personal choice as it is, but at least get the platform right.

Example: Buying a Mac user something that only runs on Windows will not go down well.

6. Power matters

Find out what most gadgets of a certain type run on, and stick to that.

For example, many geeks turn their noses up at digital cameras that don’t use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries because it’s the standard for decent cameras.

Many geeks will have invested in USB battery chargers for AA, AAA and other usually disposable batteries, but they tend not to go down so well.

7. What I want matters

The best way to know what to buy is to ask the geek, but with technology and gadgets it can be so easy to get the choice wrong because you didn’t get the product code quite right.

Why not ask your geek for their Amazon Wish List instead?

The geek may well have preferred vendors for really specialise geek stuff, but knows that nearly everyone has heard of Amazon and knows how to use it, so will oblige with a list for that purpose.

8. The Store matters

If you’re not using the Amazon store, you might want to give vouchers, but make sure they are for a store that actually sells decent geek stuff.

If you’re unsure, find out in advance. Examine old packaging lying about the house for clues.

If all else fails, money works well.

9. Snacks matter

(Photo: Terren in Virginia)

It’s not all about the gadgets. It’s about what geeks eat when they’re using them.

Sometimes, proper mealtimes fall by the wayside while a new piece of hardware or software is investigated, so find out what their favourite beverages and foodstuffs are, and buy them a large supply.

10. Duplicates matter

You can never have too many of certain items, but others are a pain to have in duplicate, so do check that your geek hasn’t already got the same, or very similar, item you’re thinking of buying.

11. Boredom matters

(Photo DaveFayram)

Some gadgets are the equivalent of socks, underwear and toiletries — useful but boring.

Items that fall into this category are USB memory sticks, cables, discs, hubs, and so on. Unless your geek has specifically asked for them, avoid them.

12. Deconstruction matters

(Photo makelessnoise)

Most geeks are sensitive enough not to disassemble their presents in front of you, but you need to understand that it’s not cool for you to be offended if one day you visit their house and find that present in bits all over the living room floor.

Maybe it went wrong, or maybe it’s being upgraded (even if it’s not supposed to be), or maybe your geek just got bored and decided to see how it works.

You might shudder at the thought of doing anything but the norm with your gadgets, but it’s merely second nature and child’s play to your geek.

So there you go. Twelve tips for buying decent presents for the geek in your life.

I can’t guarantee you’ll buy a perfect present because every geek is different, but at least you have a better chance now.

Geeks, help me out here. What tips would you give to non-geek friends and relatives in their quest to buy you decent presents?

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