The Gifting Season, Dave's Upscale Geek Gifts
First up, let’s see what El Capitan – Dave Altavilla -- has his heart set on...
Dave is a 40-something Dad now, and we’ll leave it at that. His realization of “it’s not about you anymore” came a long time ago. He settled into that groove thankfully without completely losing his sense of self, partly because he raised two wonderful geek kids in the process as well. Unsurprisingly, they share the same love of tech decadence that their old man does. As a result, holiday gift list items these days have scaled in complexity and sometimes cost for him. And with kids approaching the college/empty nest years, some of the following selections you might even get the notion that they have a distinct “it’s almost me time again” feel going on too…
Acer 34-inch Curved QHD XR341CKA - $849
Nothing says you mean the world to me like 34-inches of curved IPS love. We’ll leave this one for interpretation as to whether or not it’s a “I’ve been good this year, so I’m shopping for myself” type gift or just an wish list item, hoping Santa was taking good notes. Either way, 3440X1440 pixels over 34-inches and a delicately curved IPS display area definitely helps the sugarplums dance. This Acer gaming panel series also sports a nimble 4ms response time and an overdriven 75Hz refresh rate as well. The shopping link here is for the FreeSync capable model but an NVIDIA G-Sync capable model (with the “A” designation on the end) is also available and actually in-house at HH for review right now as well. And that "A" version is actually 100Hz capable for its overclock.
If you’re on a desktop system or docked notebook setup, everyone should enjoy the benefits of a high quality mechanical keyboard. Not only do they help productivity but their greatly improved ergonomics and general mojo enhancing benefits are easy to observe as well. The Das Keyboard 4 Pro lives up to its namesake. You can go with Cherry MX Blue or Brown version switches for some extra tactile punch, clicky sound and spring (blue) or a non-clicky, softer touch vibe (brown), which could help for not annoying co-workers or roommates. Either way, there’s nothing like the German engineering that’s poured into this bad boy. If you’re a wordsmith of any level, Jedi or Padawan, treat yourself. You’ll thank us later.
Netgear Nighthawk X8 - $396
Glorious bandwidth and uninterrupted connectivity are invaluable. Live in a larger-than-most domicile or have more than your fair share of bandwidth siphons on your network and you’re going to pay for trying to run your small office, home office or connected crib on a second rate WiFi router. That’s where Netgear’s new Nighthawk X8 can swoop in with stealthy precision for the rescue. Netgear’s Nighthawk X6 scored top marks in our recent 802.11ac router round-up and the follow-on X8 model listed here should bring even more robust firepower. In addition to offering combined AC5300 WiFi speeds up to a rip-roaring 5.3Gbps, the new ‘Hawk X8 has powered, active antennas for even better range. In short, basically this thing will leave you no excuse for that crushing Rocket League defeat you might endure over the holiday break. Lag for all intents and purposes will be a non-issue.
B&W Zeppelin - $699
If there’s one thing that my kids will attest to, it’s that dinner prep at our house is usually punctuated with music in the air. My parents use to have Frank Sinatra piping through the kitchen with “Summer Wind” putting us all at ease, even in the dead of Winter. You just can’t put a price on the rejuvinating power of old blue eyes. These days, for me, nothing helps get the culinary juices flowing like a little G. Love and Special sauce or Sugar Ray. (Special Sauce, Sugar… maybe it’s subliminal?) And for parties or family gatherings, music in the kitchen area is a must. And so is a solid, well-equipped Bluetooth enabled speaker to wirelessly connect to a smartphone, notebook or tablet for righteous streaming of the appropriate jam – from whoever might want to offer it up. That’s where the B&W (Bowers and Wilkins) Zeppelin comes in. With a pair of dome tweeters, two midrange drivers and a 6.5-inch woofer, this whole lotta wireless audio love is just what the chef ordered. In my college days, I worked in a HiFi store and all the rich folks would come in looking to hear Klipsch, Bose or some other over-priced name-brand speaker setup. I’d flip on the B&W’s and the natural mids, clean highs and tight bass response would sell themselves for me.
GHOST Aerial Drone - $799
This one we threw in just for giggles. It’s totally a family toy, no if ands or buts. We're an active group in our house; running, skiing, boating and fishing through the seasons. An auto-follow drone would be great to take on various adventures. The GHOST Drone Aerial for Android or iOS, though a little pricey at $799, is totally dialed for the task and all business. It sports a 30 min hang time, waypoint mode, follow-me mode, hover and return to launch mode. And you can hit this all from the comfort of your smartphone. The GHOST also sports a GoPro mount of course. Some day soon the FAA may make you register these bad boys, so might as well get in on the action before the Air Space Nazis crash the party.