Most tech-oriented holiday gift guides are for engineers, by engineers. Unless you live with your coworkers, all that'll get you is another sweater or a bottle of Old Spice in your stocking. Better to plop your laptop on the dining room table so your significant other -- or your cat -- can tune in to what you'd really like. Spoiler alert: Many of these suggestions are off the beaten path.
10) Tastier than Christmas Fruitcake
Fear not, OQO and Toshiba Libretto fans. There's a downsized computer for the twenty-first century. It's called Raspberry Pi, and if you haven't heard of it, you have to turn in your tenured engineers' pass.
The diff this time is that Raspberry Pi isn't a Wintel PC jammed beneath a Chiclet-sized keyboard. It's a tech teaching tool, propelled by the Raspberrypi.org Foundation, whose mantra is "to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere."
That's resonating with the marketplace, as evinced by Allied's notice that extreme demand and short supply may make you wait several months for delivery. I can see the look on your engineer's face when she reads the card promising the board in time for Christmas 2013.
By that time, though, there'll be lots of I/O add-ons that'll turn the Pi board into a veritable bakery of application options. Two of the most interesting came to light at Electronica in November, where I caught up with Gert van Loo, who developed the Pi board's alpha hardware. Now he's created the eponymous GertBoard, which stacks atop the Pi and enables it to control motors, robotic arms and other physical devices. "It gets [developers] off the screen and able to do things in the real world," van Loo told our Peter Clarke at Electronica. I shot a video with Van Loo, who's also queuing up a Webcam add-on, for release in 2013.
But buyers beware: The Pi will set you back $35 and the Gertboard $45. (The Webcam isn't priced yet.) Think you can afford it?