45 Amazing Gifts To Buy For The Family Nerd | Popular Science
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45 Amazing Gifts To Buy For The Family Nerd

Popular Science editors roll out their holiday wish lists

We like to geek out over all kinds of things here at Popular Science. From retro-cool, to cutting-edge, to future-tech—there's nothing like a good gizmo to get our gears whirring.

Here, we've put together a list of the particular gifts that have us drooling this year. Click through, fly your geek flag, and maybe pick something out for the science fan in your life.

DJI Inspire 1

DJI Inspire 1

DJI

I’m a big fan of drones, and the DJI Inspire 1 is the best consumer-grade drone I’ve ever seen. Its transforming landing gears and 4K camera set it apart from all others in its class. Plain and simple—this is the best flying machine on the market. $2,900

Michael Nuñez, Technology Editor

Parrot Zik

Parrot Zik

Parrot Zik

I have a confession: I’m an audio snob, and I tend to review headphones pretty harshly. I like a very specific balance of sound, and it’s usually one that complements the jazz classics I listen to in the morning. The Parrot Zik headphones have noise isolating earphones and a smart equalizing feature, which means that they can adapt to the specific needs of the listener. In short—you can’t lose with these headphones. $399

Michael Nuñez, Technology Editor

Asus Zenwatch

Asus ZenWatch

Asus

There are a lot of smart watches on the market, but most of them don’t fit my personal style. The Asus ZenWatch is the most appealing smartwatch I’ve seen to date. Who doesn’t like a little gold on their wrist? $199

Michael Nuñez, Technology Editor

Phantom v2511

Phantom v2511

Vision Research

Everything looks better in slow motion, and with the world’s fastest slow-motion camera, the Phantom v2511, I’d film my lousy day-to-day life and make it look so much cooler. Brushing my teeth! Riding a crowded subway train! Spilling food on myself! All of it would look so much cooler in slow motion. ~$100,000

Michael Nuñez, Technology Editor

Project Tango

Google Project Tango

Google

If I only received one gift, I’d want Project Tango, the ultra-advanced 3D modeling device built by Google.The Android-powered device is fitted with a 7-inch screen, two rear-facing cameras, and additional infrared sensors that enable it to create 3-D models of the environment around it. It's not commercially available yet, which makes it even more desirable to a gadget nerd like myself. Expect this to be on my list until I can actually buy one. N/A

Michael Nuñez, Technology Editor

4 Strike Bike

4 Strike Bike

4 Strike Bike

The bicycle is already the most efficient means of self-powered transportation in the world, but this holiday season it's getting even better. The 4 Strike Bike's double drive train lets you pedal with your hands AND your feet simultaneously. Not only will it make me look like a cat awkwardly falling-swimming through the air (score!), but I'll get to warm up my guns (i.e. arm muscles) on my way to the gun show (i.e. climbing gym). Not yet announced

Breanna Draxler, Assistant Editor

Science...For Her!

Science...For Her!

Simon and Schuster

Science...For Her! (Because I like science almost as much as I like to laugh). Comedian and Parks and Rec writer Megan Amram's new book is a hilarious take on the women's magazines you see by the checkout line at the grocery story. But instead of boring ab workouts and terrible dating advice, the content is a commentary on gender stereotypes and inequality in the field of science. It's nerdy and empowering and definitely NSFW. $16

Breanna Draxler, Assistant Editor

Google Contributor

Google Contributor

Google

A subscription to ad-replacement service Google Contributor, so I don't have to be creeped out about how much Google knows about me...and everything I've ever searched for on the interwebz. $1-3/month

Breanna Draxler, Assistant Editor

Turtle Shell 2.0

Turtle Shell 2.0

Outdoor Technology

Urban biking is best enjoyed with some good jams. That's why the Turtle Shell 2.0 is on my wishlist this year. The bluetooth speaker mounts right on my handlebars so I can rock out to my favorite tunes on my way to anywhere. It's weatherproof, shockproof, and hopefully NYC-taxi-taking-a-left-turn-without-using-a-turn-signal-proof, too. $130

Breanna Draxler, Assistant Editor

Moleskine Adobe

Moleskine With Adobe

Moleskine

The new Adobe Moleskine is a regular Moleskine notebook, but with special marks on its pages. Machine-vision software in an iPhone app uses those marks to capture a sketch from the page and convert it into a vector image. Yes, I work with data and mostly create graphics with code. But at heart I'm a pen-and-ink gal, and a little illustrated flourish—like a charming Pilgrim hat decorating an otherwise dry chart on Thanksgiving travel—can be just as engaging as the graphic itself. Please, non-denominational gift fairy, help me make bar charts fun. $33

Katie Peek, Information Editor

Intuos Creative Stylus 2 Wacom

Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2

Wacom

Wacom has always done a good job and I love their tablets. With my iPhone 6+ being comparable in size to the iPad mini, sketching anywhere and syncing them to the Adobe CC cloud will be easy. $80

Michelle Mruk, Junior Designer

Harman Kardon

Harman Kardon BT

Harman Kardon

When I want to relax on vacation days I tend to blast music and cook meals that use all four burners. Unfortunately, back home I live with two roommates who prefer I keep my Yeezy to a dull roar. The ideal solution? These bluetooth-enabled headphones from Harmon Kardon. They're not the newest or most advanced earphones on the market, but you can't beat that hi-fi company for quality, and the wireless setup frees me to roam the kitchen in typical frenzied fashion without tangling cutlery up in the cords. My roommates should appreciate the quiet, even if there's not much they can do about the pungent food aromas. $250

Rafi Letzter, Web Intern

Kobo Aura HD

Kobo Aura HD

Kobo

I once swore I'd never abandon my physical library for an e-reader. After a childhood of hiding Animorphs serials behind my textbook in class (Sorry Mr. K!), there's still something romantic to me about paperback fiction. The thought of buying a Kindle or Nook (and, by extension, their respective corporate ecosystems) felt like a kind of treason. But I had the chance to try Canadian mini-competitor Kobo's Glo model a few months ago and converted—splurging on their "luxury" Kobo Aura HD as soon as I found one on sale. The big, textured E-Ink touch screen feels like a book in some important, essential way, and I like that I can easily dump open-source EPUB files onto the device without going through their company store. Most importantly, as I bump around the country I love that I get to carry a whole library in my backpack. (Warning: if your hands aren't big enough to grip a basketball one-handed, you might find the sandwich-sized Glo a bit more comfortable than its extra-wide cousin.) $100-169

Rafi Letzter, Web Intern

The Tale Of The Dueling Neurosurgeons

The Tale Of The Dueling Neurosurgeons

Hachette Book Group

Speaking of books...there's no subject weirder or more fascinating in the scientific non-fiction genre than the inner workings of the human brain. If, like me, you've exhausted everything Oliver Sacks, Steven Pinker, and other mainstays have to offer, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean lives in that sweet spot between history and science that made Emperor Of Maladies so gripping while dealing with the only slightly lighter subject of our cranial quirks and catastrophes. $13

Rafi Letzter, Web Intern

Bounce:S4

Adidas Porsche Design Bounce:S4

Adidas

I'm only the millionth writer to note that running is a kind of therapy. Beyond the physical benefits, it fights insomnia, fatigue, and other stresses on the brain. In the summer, I like minimalist, low-support shoes so I can really feel the ground slip by under me in my jaunts up and down Lake Shore Drive. But when winter comes around and the sidewalks become downright dangerous, sane people move to indoor tracks with no texture to speak of. At the gym, it's nice to have a little cushion to push past personal milestones. And there's no padded running shoe more gorgeous or interesting than the Adidas Porsche Design Bounce:S4. The cost may be prohibitive, but I'm dying to feel what those supercar engineers put in this mesh and carbon-fiber shoe. $550

Rafi Letzter, Web Intern

LG Digital Cinema 31MU97-B 31" Widescreen LED Backlit IPS 4K Monitor

LG 31MU97-B 31" LED IPS 4K Monitor

LG

A solid monitor can make a huge difference in video and photo editing. When I built my workstation last year, I looked for a low-end IPS screen that excelled in color accuracy, and sacrificed the size, resolution, and a refresh rate stats that gamers and movie lovers crave. Now, ultra-HD IPS screens have begun to hit the market. A big, clear screen (or two, or three) that'll do equal justice to my RAW files, movies, and video games? Yes please. $1,399

Rafi Letzter, Web Intern

Monbento

Monbento Lunch Box

Monbento

Nothing makes me want a product more than when it radically improves on a universal through the power of great design. That's exactly what Monbento achieves through its microwavable, segmented, and indestructable line of bento-style lunch boxes. I'm a big eater so I use the bulky Square, but the slimmer Original easily stows in a purse or bookbag. $32-36

Rafi Letzter, Web Intern

Tesla Model S

Self-Driving Tesla

"Tesla Model S"/Tesla

Earlier this month, many Teslas were given a self-driving mode upgrade, and this makes for a SUPER fun Halloween costume. Unless you have a car costume lying around, you'll have to make your own (the internet is your friend). But once it's done, you can run around anywhere claiming the car is driving itself and you have no control (also a great way to get out of boring conversations and not offend the other person--it's the car, not you).

Bose QuietComfort 25

Bose QuietComfort 25

Bose QuietComfort 25

Sometimes you just want some peace and quiet. High on my wishlist are the Bose QuietComfort 25 noise cancelling headphones. $299

Mary Beth Griggs, Contributor

The American Museum Of Natural History

Museum Membership

I am a sucker for museums—especially natural history and science museums. Living in New York, I'd love a membership to the American Museum of Natural History. Or the Bronx Zoo. Or the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Or the Met...you get the idea. Something that I can visit throughout the year would be an awesome treat.

Mary Beth Griggs, Contributor

iMac

iMac

Apple

This year, I finally started setting up my home office, and while my MacBook Pro has been a fantastic workhorse for the past several years, I'm starting to long for a computer that I don't have to be hunched over all day. I still plan on using my laptop, so my ideal desktop would still be in the Apple family—something like a 27-inch iMac 3.2 GHz. $1,799

Mary Beth Griggs, Contributor

boom boom

Binauric Boom Boom

Binauric

In many ways, the Boom Boom is a standard Bluetooth speaker. But it has a really cool exterior—I think it would look great on my desk. And I love the fact that you can update it through the app without having to buy additional hardware. There's no need to shell out for Boom Boom 2.0. $249

Sophie Bushwick, Projects Editor

Serious Scientific Answers To Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I'm a regular XKCD reader, and I love Randall Munroe's offbeat, funny, and incredibly nerdy style. So of course I want to get my hands on a copy of What If?. I need to know the answers to all the most important questions in life—what would happen if I pitched a fastball at near-lightspeed? What if everyone on Earth jumped at once? What if you exploded a nuclear bomb in [insert improbable location here]? $12

Sophie Bushwick, Projects Editor

Bionic Boots

Bionic Boots

Keahi Seymour

Unfortunately, the Bionic Boot isn't on the market. But who wouldn't want shoes that boost your running speed to 25 MPH?

Sophie Bushwick, Projects Editor

etsy elements jewelery

Elemental Jewelry

IntermezzoDesigns

I want a necklace—like this one—with a pendant that says Francium, which is my namesake element. Just kidding, unfortunately, francium was not named after me. But I'd still love the bling. $38

Francie Diep, Contributor

Retro Public Health Posters

Retro Public Health Posters

U.S. National Library Of Medicine

I would love a vintage public health poster printed from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The posters say so much about their society and their time. Light, Inc., in Maryland will print and ship them for you.

Francie Diep, Contributor

Stylish Cold-Weather Cycle Gear

Stylish Cold-Weather Cycle Gear

Bogs Footwear

Winter commuter gear for staying warm while not looking like a total bike nerd: Stio's Dulcet Pants, Supernatural's Cloud hoodie, Bog lace up boots—oh, and some serious fenders. $150 $239 $130 $52

Lois Parshley, Associate Editor

Feathered Friend's Snow Bunting winter sleeping bag

Feathered Friend's Snow Bunting winter sleeping bag

Feathered Friends

Featuring 850-fill down, weighing 43 ounces, and rated all the way down to 0 degrees, this sleeping bag is for something a bit more hardcore than crashing on your friend's couch. Use when biking to work just isn't enough time outside. $599

Lois Parshley, Associate Editor

Teleportation Machine

Teleportation Machine

Kavli Institute of Nanoscience

Actually, as long as I'm dreaming big here, a teleportation device. Physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience proved this year they can teleport quantum bits, so maybe this is no longer in the realm of purely science-fiction. Then I could teleport from anywhere in the world to work, and I wouldn't even need that bike gear. The zero-rated sleeping bag, though, that I'd keep. A few million in NSF grants

Lois Parshley, Associate Editor

Withings Activité

Withings Activité

Withings

I don't think I would ever exercise in a watch that costs more than $400, but the Activité does a beautiful job of solving a big wearable problem. So often they look like technology, and they take up wrist space, so a watch is not an option. Activité brings technology to a stylishly designed watch.

Lindsey Kratochwill, Assistant Editor

Lego Research Institute

Lego Research Institute

Lego

I think it would be pretty cool to get my hands on a LEGO Research Institute Set. Not only is it awesome to have lady scientist minifigures, but they have some of the coolest props too. A dinosaur skeleton, a telescope, and a chemistry lab? Yes please. $20

Lindsey Kratochwill, Assistant Editor

1981 DeLorean

1981 DeLorean

roxysdayoff via Ebay

Under my Hanukkah Bush this year, I'm hoping for a refurbished Delorean. As much as I love my grandpa's '95 Lincoln Town Car, with a tested seating capacity of nine, I'm ready for a car that doesn't stop working whenever it gets wet. Nothing says new car like a 1981 5-speed. And who knows, maybe I could even arrange for it to get struck by lightning. $39,995

Michael Tabb, Video Intern

Armabenders Stop-Motion Armature Kit

Armabenders Stop-Motion Armature Kit

Armabenders

It's never seemed quite practical to me to spend $200 on a metal puppet skeleton, but oh, the animations I could make if I did. Because who needs CGI when you can animate frame by frame?

Michael Tabb, Video Intern

Priority Bicycle

Priority Bicycle

Priority Bicycle

I've been coveting Priority Bicycle's maintenance-free bike ever since it made an appearance in the PopSci office. For less than $400, this is the city bicycle, reimagined: A rubber drive train, an internal hub, foot-braking, three speeds, and theft-resistant bolts in lieu of quick-releases. It's gorgeous, surprisingly lightweight, durable... and did I mention it's maintenance-free?

Jen Schwartz, Associate Editor

Hydro Flask Insulated Food Flask

Hydro Flask Insulated Food Flask

Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask bottles, specifically the Insulated Food Flask for my winter-grub arsenal of soups, stews, and oatmeal. I've tried practically every brand of stainless-steel bottle over the years, and this company produces the best ones. Hot stuff truly stays hot through a long work day, and the ice cubes in my cold-brew coffee never seem to melt. They're also indestructible and leak-proof. $28

Jen Schwartz, Associate Editor

Truly Universal Biking Pants

Truly Universal Biking Pants

Raphas, Outlier's, and Giro

I've had my eye on Rapha's city trousers, Outlier's daily riding pant, and the Giro mobility cuff pant, because I am forever searching for the pair of pants that seamlessly transition from saddle to office (or bar). I'm not sure the ideal ones are out there yet; what I really want is for someone to design them! $145 $198 $130

Jen Schwartz, Associate Editor

Universal Streaming

Universal Streaming

Jen Schwartz

A single streaming device that has managed to hack through the industry's licensing battles to provide me with all possible media in one little stick. So... maybe Hanukkah 2050?

Jen Schwartz, Associate Editor

Monkey Lectric Bike Lights

Monkey Lectric Bike Lights

Monkey Lectric

Monkey Lectric wheel lights. Because being visible at night doesn't have to be boring. Not just a novelty, they're waterproof and theft-resistant (and would make excellent conversation-starters). $50

Jen Schwartz, Associate Editor

Automatic

Automatic

Automatic

No need to call a 1-800 number to see how I'm driving. The Automatic is a little box that plugs into your car's computer and lets you know when you're driving wastefully. So if you're accelerating rapidly, braking roughly, or speeding, Automatic will give you a little ping to let you know that you'll pay for it all at the gas tank later. In case of a crash, it can also alert local authorities to make sure you're safe and sound. $100

Dan Moren, Contributor

Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band

Microsoft

There's a ton of fitness technology to help you improve your health, and only so many wrists to wear them on. The Microsoft Band is one of the newer models, and despite its Microsoft heritage, it'll work with pretty much any smartphone. The $200 wristband has sensors that track your heart rate, sleep schedule, and even UV exposure. Plus it'll notify you of incoming texts and calls, remind you about calendar appointments, and even answer your questions with Microsoft's intelligent Cortana assistant.

Dan Moren, Contributor

Nexus 6

Nexus 6

Google

I'm a sucker for new phones, especially those that tease a "vanilla" version of a mobile operating system that isn't tarnished with after-market bloatware. I want to see what the newest versions of Android are capable of before carriers disable or edit features that are inconvenient to their business models. Sorry, family—this one's all for me. $649

Dave Mosher, Online Director

Aura

Harman Kardon Aura

Jonathan Kambouris

My dad is a handyman who loves to jam to his favorite tunes on job sites (I blame my affinity for Frank Zappa on him). He's also a former hi-fi store manager and audio nerd—so deep bass response, clear mids, and crisp highs are paramount. Trouble is, most bluetooth speakers are tinny and weak, and have poor battery life. The only portable speaker maker that has truly impressed me on all fronts, having heard many review units at the office, is Harman Kardon. I'd love to get my dad an HK Onyx—or an Aura (above) if he doesn't mind plugging it in—but the requisite $300-$500 is pretty steep. Dad, are you worth it?

Dave Mosher, Online Director

Samsung 850 Pro

Samsung 850 Pro

Courtesy Samsung

In another life where I actually have time for fun, I'll build the ultimate personal supercomputer to cut through RAW image files, video rendering jobs, and desktop gaming like a hot knife through butter. Essential to my dream machine: an array of top-of-the-line SSDs. We really liked Samsung's new SSD 850 Pro series here at Popular Science, enough to give it a 2014 Best Of What's New award. So I'll happily take four 1TB units and put them in RAID 0—risk of failure be damned! Now if I could just find enough cash under my mattress to cover the $500 I need per drive...

Dave Mosher, Online Director

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos

Dolby

I don't need it, and my wife certainly doesn't want it, but my home theater begs for it: Dolby Atmos for home. Having sat through Atmos screenings of Gravity and Godzilla this year, I can verify that 3-D soundscaping makes a difference. You can hear a helicopter flying overhead, explosions to the right and above, and so on. I suspect most moviegoers wouldn't notice, at least overtly, but tricking the brains of home theater nerds makes our skin crawl. **Price varies**

Dave Mosher, Online Director

Lock8

Lock8

Jonathan Kambouris

I've been mugged for a car, seen my brother's apartment robbed, and been bilked out of hard-earned money. There's nothing that makes me go into "Hulk mode" more than thieves—and nothing more satisfying than seeing them caught. So when I bike in one of the most bicycle theft-prone regions of the U.S., aka New York City, I dream about the Lock8. If anyone tries to make off with my chrome alloy steed, this device would not only scream bloody murder, but also alert me via my phone. Price not yet announced

Dave Mosher, Online Director

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