Nov. 10 2014 04:49 PM

These are the top-dollar tech gifts (and a couple cheap ones) I want this December

Hendo hoverboard

    It's early, I know. The idea of baking Christmas hams and risking an encounter with razor-thin glass shards when you reach into the ornament box, or breaking out the dreidels and running to the store for just the right gauge candle for Bubbe's menorah, or championing godlessness in a rant about capitalism while waiting in the line at Walmart—ugh. It's not even Black Friday yet, who the Blitzen do I think I am? 

    Well, I'll tell you: I'm the elf who's making sure Santa doesn't leave you a snowflake sweater that might as well have been bedazzled with chunks of coal from a miner's black lungs. I recommend you either lay this issue of CityBeat folded open above the toilet or leave this column open on your web browser for your lover to see.

    Now, as I was compiling this list, I realized that a lot are big ticket items that may only be a reasonable purchase if Elon Musk is the man in the felt fat suit. Still, one can always believe in Christmas miracles. Nevertheless, I've jammed a few cheaper ideas at the end.

    If you were my Silicon sugar daddy: I have an answer to the age-old question of what to buy for someone who has everything, especially in an era of on-demand consumerism: Buy them things that aren't available yet.


    First on my list: Panono. Looking like that little flying lightsaber practice ball that zapped Luke Skywalker in the ass in the first Star Wars, it's a camera with 36 lenses that can shoot 360-degree panorama photographs when you toss it into the air. Panono, available in two colors, can be preordered for $549, but I recommend also picking up the tripod adapter for $14.99 for low-light or indoor situations. 

    Here's another age-old question: Where's my McFlyin' hoverboard? Guess what: The folks at Hendo are now making them. While the boards themselves aren't yet ready for mass production, you can buy the hover engines so you can play with the underlying technology at home. For $350, you can preorder a little white box (called a "Whitebox") that will hover in the air, but for $849, you can preorder one that you can move around wirelessly from your smartphone. 

    If you're spending more than a grand on your lover anyway, then you may want to put a ring on it. We all know that diamonds were never really anyone's best friend, but now, with the Mota Smart Ring, you can wear your best friends instead of a rock. Available in "midnight black" or "pearl white," the ring has a little screen that will alert you to social-media updates, emails and other things. These are available for pre-order through Kickstarter at the discount price of $75 for one or $145 for a matching set. 

    Love me, love my dog. Spend big on me, spend big on my dog. Developed by UCSD neuroscientists, CleverPet is a computerized distraction device (almost an arcade game) to keep your pet occupied while you're away. It's got lights, sounds, buttons and treats and apparently is based on legitimate animal psychology. If you pre-order, you can get one for $249. 

    Like most of the others, CleverPet doesn't ship until 2015, so here are a few stocking stuffers so you're not just leaving luxury IOUs:


    You don't need to be rich to be my Hanukkah Harry: As I complained a year ago, I end up spending more money each year replacing frayed earbuds than on the music I listen to on them. I've tried out a large variety of cord spindles and they've always been totally ineffective or easily lost. Until now. Check out the Fosmon Headset Smart Organizer:You just place an earbud in the cups on either side, then wrap the cord around the middle. This little treasure is easily found on Amazon for a couple of bucks. 

    If your beau is shaken up about privacy in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, here are two items worth checking out: San Diego technologist Jeff Hammett (also CityBeat arts editor Kinsee Morlan's husband) is recommending YubiKey by Yubico for managing how you log in to your devices and online accounts through two-factor authentication. Prices start at $25. 

    Drones are hot shit right now, but the entry price point is often outside the limits for would-be enthusiasts. Behold, the Bionic Bird, an elegant, electronic bird you can control with your smartphone. The basic kit is already sold out, but, for $120, you can pre-order the Holiday Gift Set, with charger, extra set of wings and a T-shirt. These ship in time for Christmas, but as I'm writing this, there are only 25 left.  

    Email or follow him on Twitter @Maassive.


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