There are many flavours of geek: web designers, illustrators, graphic designers, developers… and the archetypical comic book loving geek, of course. Incidentally, at Thunderbolt Digital we’ve got all of the above but not necessarily in the way that one would expect (our comic book and computer game nerd is female for starters). Away with stereotypes! On the other hand, we must admit that we love all things digital (it’s our motto for a reason) and are fascinated by gadgets, technology and good design. So perhaps we’re a little bit stereotypical after all.
This year we’ve been drooling over new tech, great gadgets and gorgeous books on design. We thought we’d share our top Christmas wish list with you, just in case you have a techie or a designer to buy for yourself. It’s not too late! We have gathered our recommendations on a pinboard on Pinterest (follow us for inspiring pins all year ’round).
The Sci-Fi section… or is it?
The most requested (and most outlandishly priced, at £1915.50) item on our list is a 3D printer. Not quite the Star Trek replicator, but getting there. It really is possible to print real, usable 3D objects at home now. Our female techies have enjoyed the idea of printing shoes and everyone has been fascinated by the potential (iPad cases and curiosities today; what tomorrow?). Will there be a day when we’ll order some furniture online and print the self-assembly pieces at home? Will we be able to print working gadgets?
Speaking of futuristic wishes, several of the techies and geeks we surveyed for this highly scientific “best of” list wanted a drone of their own. Google’s purchase of Boston Dynamics has sent speculative fiction writers into a flurry and techies into wild dreams of drones becoming so commonplace that one really will be able to ask for one for Christmas. We think that the Wildcat videos and Amazon drone news this year have been mostly a little sinister (not least because the drone technology has been so chillingly developed and used for military purposes), but perhaps there are more benign ways of advancing this technology. A drone to clean your house and run your errands? Yes, please. Or maybe you could use your drone to operate the 3D printer and… well, that’s getting a little sinister again.
For genuine at-home electronics projects, Raspberry Pi has become a top wished-for item (somewhat more realistic than the above). This is what the people at Raspberry Pi have to say: “The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It is a capable little computer which can be used in electronics projects, and for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.”
Meanwhile, for Designers
We’ve gathered some stunning books which are guaranteed to go down well with designers: The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design is a robust boxed set charting the history of graphic design and it is beautiful to look at as an object, too. Currently, on offer for £70 (instead of the usual £140), this would make a great present. A pragmatic present for web designers who wish to learn more about responsive web design; Responsive Design Workflow includes plenty of practical tips, including a method for visualising the points where responsive designs change.
For a bit of fun (with a design twist), Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book looks like a great present. Or maybe something to decorate the office walls? How about Pictogram rock posters by Viktor Hertz?
Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information showcases and thoroughly analyses the variety of contemporary visual depictions of complex networks. Great for statisticians and other information professionals.
One of the most beautifully illustrated graphic novel series, Flight, is an under-appreciated visual delight for anyone interested in graphic design and illustration. The stories are great, too.
Gadgets and Goodies
For the bookworm in your life, how about something a little unusual – a scented candle that smells of books? Great to accompany a tablet reading session to scent the air with that traditional fragrance, so sadly missing from the digital devices. Of course, every true bookworm owns and loves books in all available formats. It’s the situation that matters – a heavy tome or a coffee table book might be great at home but as everyone who has carted around one of George R.R. Martin’s novels on the train can testify, a digital version is much easier to carry.
Speaking of tablets, the Kindle Paperwhite is easily the most pleasant digital reading experience, full stop. It’s the perfect device to take with you on your daily commute or to read in bed or on holiday.
If you’re looking for a multi-purpose tablet, the top choices (and some of the most wished-for items amongst those we surveyed) are iPad Air and Google Nexus 7 (a verdict that the Guardian tech editors seem to agree with – watch their 2013 best and worst tablet review to see which ones to consider buying and which ones to avoid). With portable Bluetooth keyboards now widely available, these small devices have become a great bridge between a smartphone and a laptop. They are particularly useful for bloggers and social media managers because you can do all your work from anywhere and have many useful features and apps at your fingertips. If you want to pretend you’re in an 80s sci-fi film, you could get one of these virtual keyboards from Think Geek.
A great pair of headphones is a must if you enjoy your music and movies on the go – or if you work in a noisy office and want to isolate yourself (as many coders and designers do; there is nothing worse than getting interrupted in mid-thought and watching your mental work crumble down like a house of cards). The V Moda Crossfade headphones are a good example of a nice set but there are others worth buying around, too, of course.
Coffee, glorious coffee! There aren’t many more fantastically indulgent inventions than bean-to-cup coffee makers and if you love coffee, it’s likely you’ll love one of these machines. They are expensive, though, but Tesco has a very good deal on a De’Longhi bean-to-cup coffee maker that is apparently much more expensive elsewhere.
We hope you have enjoyed our selection of drool-worthy gifts for geeks (and send all presents to this address, please). If you’d like to treat yourself to a new website or new brand identity, please do give us a call and we would love to help you. Thunderbolt Digital is a full-service digital agency in Farnham, Surrey and we bring our combined extensive experience to you in a friendly and efficient package. It’s the best kind of package you could give your small or medium business.