Tech Toys: The Five Geekiest Gifts On Eric Finkenbiner’s List

Photo credit: Eric Finkenbiner

Eric Finkenbiner leads our deep tech news, reviews and how to gallery team. If you are a super geek or you have one in mind this season, this is the only tech gift guide you need right now. Five Eric Finkenbiner recommendations! Sweet. Above,check out the Arduino project kit – but you’ll need your soldering iron. And it comes separately : )

There are seemingly a zillion products attacking the market. Keeping them straight – knowing what’s good out there and buying folks the exactly right device or peripheral holiday gift — the one they really want — is harder than ever this year.

As an IT pro in Washington, I get to see almost everything out there. And use it. Play with it. Root it. I see a lot of software, too.

Out of all the stuff I saw, used, installed or reviewed this year, here are my top five picks for best bang for the buck 2011 top tech toys.

Let’s start with that dark horse, the Asus EEE Pad Transformer Prime — with optional dock.

The original Asus Transformer is great. Nicely done. The new Transformer Prime outclasses it, though. It’s skinnier, lighter and way, way faster. Ah, and then there’s the $177 tablet’s price. Sweet.

The Transformer Prime even sports a front and rear camera — unlike the, ahem, Amazon Kindle Fire. And don’t worry. Asus is no startup. It’s among the largest motherboard makers in the world.

This outrageously good gift is sure to please the wallet and you!

Photo courtesy: Asus

 Barnes&Noble Nook Tablet
I just want to hack this thing to death. I am dying to do it. As soon as I take it out of my stocking, I’m rooting this new Nook Tablet. Is that really so wrong?
Get the B&N Nook Tablet for someone in your life like me — someone dying to tinker, root, maybe even tear down. Its price is decent and its performance is impressive. I think it’s better for reading than the Kindle Fire, too.

(Photo credit: Barnes & Noble)
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is only in the UK for now — we expect a US release soon, now that federal judges turned down Apple’s request to stop Samsung from selling Galaxy smartphones and tablets in the US today. Samsung should be here, any day now. So save a space on your list for this smartphone — the first to run Android 4.01 Ice Cream Sandwich. We’re expecting great goodness – a pure Google experience without the kind of fluff the HTC Sense pushes on you. If that sounds attractive, wait a little longer. Try anyway
(Photo credit: Samsung)
Jawbone UP
No tech gift list for the last two years has been complete without a Jawbone gift. This year, Santa will be carrying a bunch again. This year I’m putting the Jawbone UP on my list. It kind of represents my dream of one day transferring my consciousness into a robot body. Until then, this will be a good first step.The UP is a wristband that tracks multiple aspects of your life. UP monitors how much you move, your sleep and eating patterns — then gives you healthy habits to pick up considering your real life daily diet and rest. I want this bad enough that I’d get it even before an Android version of its app comes out. My wife’s iPod touch will do just fine for now.
(Photo credit: Jawbone)
Arduino Tutorials and Project for, the Ubergeeks
I’m now fascinated with the Arduino community. It’s got some neat projects to complete and outstanding tutorials. Now I just have to find my soldering iron …  maybe slide a new one of those in the stocking, too.I’d love one. HINT FOR WIFE.
(Photo credit: Eric Finkenbiner)


  • I love 4 of the items on your list but I’m a little surprised at the Jawbone Up band. Like you I eagerly awaited one but the quality issues which have been plaguing it (Check out the Jawbone forums where they admit that there’s a problem with a ‘small portion’ of the bands but they are even paying a $50 bounty if you’ll accept a replacement instead of a refund, as well a other forums/blogs/Facebook) make me very leery to recommend it until the issues have been fixed.
    Any device that has people exchanging up to 3 times & still having product failures (even if it’s only 1 – 2% & I suspect much, much more) isn’t, in my opinion, something I’d recommend.

  • Thanks for calling out the quality control issues with the UP. Its definitely worth noting if you’re looking at buying it, especially if it continues to be a problem. Personally, if it is just a defective batch, they should be having retailers send back the ones that are affected. I’d still love to get my hands on one not only to use it, but also see if there’s anything fun we can achieve with that 3.5mm connector. Can the data be dumped regardless of having the app?

  • Quality issues aren’t an issue for Eric Finkenbiner, Dr. Mom, because he’s the kind of guy who will root or secure or fix the firmware on pretty much anything he gets.

    I mean, see his note above. Eric F wants to see what “fun we can achieve with that 3.5mm” connector. This geeky gift obviously is intended for anyone who would say something like that ; ) Great piece, ERIC F! gs HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

    More AND editor wish lists to come! gs

  • There is an unofficial API out for the device but I’d make sure that they’ve got the quality issues nailed down (& I’m sure they will with enough time) before I’d start developing for it.