Geek is the new cool.
Once tormented in locker rooms across the country, the geeks have inherited the Earth. They're your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers — maybe even your husband or wife.
You can't even change your motor oil anymore without someone scanning your car with something that looks like it was beamed off the Starship Enterprise.
Geeks are everywhere, and more likely than not, you're going to have to buy a gift for one of them this holiday season. How will your Luddite brain ever figure out which gadgets are great and which are garbage?
Never fear, FOXNews.com has you covered.
The Xbox 360
Americans spent $9.9 billion on video games last year, according to market research company the NPD Group. That's about $500 million more than we spent going to the movies. So what better place to begin our geek gift guide than in the video game aisle?
The latest and greatest in the video game world is Microsoft's Xbox 360 console.
Microsoft is first out of the gate in the next-generation console wars, dropping a sleek, powerful system that really takes advantage of high-definition television, digital sound systems, wireless controllers and online gaming networks.
A real gamer geek will opt to buy the $399 "premium package," which comes with a 20 GB internal hard drive, wireless controllers and a headset.
You could spring for the $299 "core package" — which comes sans hard drive, headset and wireless controller — but you'll have just blown a bunch of money on a system that won't play your old Xbox favorites such as "Halo 2." There's no point in buying an Xbox that can't play the console's flagship game, so bite the bullet and shell out that extra $100.
If your nose started bleeding when you scoped the hefty price tag on the Xbox, here's a cheapie gift that will get you top score with your gamer geek: the Atari Flashback 2.
This game console is going to run you only $29.99. It's designed to look like the classic Atari 2600 — complete with faux wood paneling — and comes preloaded with 40 games including "Pong," "Combat," "Asteroids," "Centipede" and "Missile Command." Just plug the Flashback 2 directly into your TV and feel your brain turn to mush all over again.
Be careful, the Flashback 2 is addictive, especially in large groups, and can lead to a condition known as "Eightiestolgia." If you feel the urge to tease your hair or roll up the sleeves of your pink Armani blazer, stop playing immediately.
If you do catch a case of Eightiestolgia, the only treatment is to listen to the Cure, Madonna or maybe Duran Duran at high volumes. Apply liberally as often as needed by iPod.
If you don't know what an iPod is by now, you've either been living under a rock or you've just come out of a coma. Apple has, however, released a couple new models of its hit digital music player this year, so here's the lowdown.
Get the video 60 GB video-enabled iPod ($399), which holds 15,000 songs or 150 hours of video, for serious audiophiles or someone who might watch episodes of TV shows on a daily commute.
Truth be told, the video feature will only really wow power users, and even then it's something of a novelty. The iPod is still a music player first and foremost.
For most users, the super slim 4 GB iPod Nano ($249) will do the trick. It holds 1,000 songs and can slide comfortably into most wallets. In fact, Marware has designed a snazzy billfold wallet ($34.95) specifically for the Nano. Just don't forget that your iPod is in there if you carry it in your back pocket.
The 1 GB iPod Shuffle ($129) doesn't have a screen — which is a lot less annoying than it might sound — and is barely bigger than a pack of gum. The Shuffle is a great option for anyone who goes to the gym on a regular basis.
Putting the 'I' in iPod
Of course, a real geek knows that it's not the style of the iPod that matters, it's the accessories you dress it up with.
The Altec Lansing InMotion IM7 sound dock ($250) can turn your iPod into a crowd-pleasing boombox. The iPod slips into the unit like a tape into a tape deck, and can even be controlled by remote. The 4-inch subwoofer and 1-inch tweeters deliver some body-grooving sound.
Logitech's Wireless Headphones for iPod ($150) is one of the first stereo Bluetooth headsets to hit the market. Just plug the low-profile Bluetooth radio transmitter into the iPod and you can walk up to 30 feet away and still be cranking tunes from your iPod. Weighing in at just 3.2 ounces, the headphones are comfortable to wear and can play for up to eight hours.
If you're the outdoorsy type, the O'Neill H2 series of sport backpacks will keep you rocking as you climb Mount Everest.
A special water-resistant compartment protects your iPod and mobile phone from the elements. You can control all your gadgetry from a special fabric control pad on one of the straps. Oh yeah, the solar panels on the back of the pack will even recharge your gizmos while you hit the slopes.
Grado Labs' SR80 "Prestige Series" headphones ($95) are a great pick to replace the puny earbuds that came with your iPod. For a bit more money, Bose Triport headphones ($149) are luxuriously comfortable and can really kick up the bass.
OK, the iPod is cool, but it isn't the be-all-end-all of music geekdom (it just has better marketing). For comparable features and quality — and if the geek in your life has an aversion to all things Apple — check out the Creative Zen Micro ($200).
Voices From Above
If the geek you love drives a lot or just can't exist without FOX News Radio, pick up a portable satellite radio player. First you'll have to decide which service to pick up, XM or Sirius.
If you go the XM route, check out the Delphi MiFi. It's a handheld satellite radio receiver with a 5-hour memory buffer for timer recordings and includes a built-in FM transmitter. It also comes with everything you need to hook it up to your car.
The XACT XTR1 has similar functionality for Sirius — if being somewhat clumsier physically — if you gotta have your dose of Howard Stern in the morning.
Lost and Found
Of course, the King of All Media isn't going to help you much when you realize you've driven to Canada by mistake. Luckily, your TomTom GO 700 GPS navigation system ($899.95) can guide you back stateside in a variety of languages.
The teardrop-shaped unit attaches easily to your windshield or dashboard, and its integrated Bluetooth lets you make phone calls through the headset.
The Mio 168RS ($599) is also a good solution for geeks without a sense of direction. The Mio is actually a PocketPC that runs Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition as well as GPS software.
Although it can attach to a car like the TomTom, the Mio is much more PDA-like, and would work well for people who need to do light computing work when they get to their destinations.
Gifts for Couch Potatoes
If the geek in your life is something of a homebody, you're going to need some serious home entertainment equipment — especially if you're going to splurge on an Xbox 360.
High-definition television is truly a beautiful sight to the eyes of an A/V geek. The picture is amazingly clear, and most screens come in movie-style 16:9 aspect ratios.
Unfortunately, the technology is relatively new and fairly confusing. If you're interested in buying one, you need to seek out an HDTV guru to guide your purchase.
As a rule of thumb, it's better to buy higher-end HDTVs that are likely to last longer than kick yourself for trying to go cheapo and ending up with a lemon. Stick to name brands like Sony, Phillips and Pioneer to be safe.
Not every geek is glued to the couch all day. If your geek has an unhealthy obsession with sports, here are a couple gifts that might get him or her fired up.
NanoDynamics says its new line of NDMX golf balls ($24.95) will reduce hooks and slices in your golf swing. The balls are designed from specially engineered nanotech materials that allow more energy to be transferred from your club to the ball when shooting long drives as well as making the ball perform "like a wide-track tire" when putting.
CueSight's Laser-Sighted Pool Cue ($49) can turn a Slippy McButterfingers into a Minnesota Fats. These break-apart cues are made of solid Michigan maple wood. With a flick of a switch, the cue projects a bright red crosshair from below a specialized leather tip so hustlers and wannabe hustlers can correct and inaccuracies in their strokes. The laser tips screws off and can be replaced with a regular leather tip so you don't get surly looks from the pool hall regulars.
Eagle Sonar's SeaChamp 2000C DF marries sonar and GPS technology to give your fishing geek the technological edge to land the big one. The unit maps data about lake floors onto an ultra-bright 7-inch LCD screen that can be overlaid with a GPS map.
A Camera Worth a Thousand Bucks
When you do land the big fish, you can prove to your friends "it was that big" with your handy digital camera.
If you're new to the digital-camera scene, or realize its about time to throw out that massive metal brick that passed for a camera four years ago, some of the latest offerings from Casio should come into focus.
Casio's Exilim line consistently gets high marks from gadget reviewers. The Exilim EX-S500 ($349) sports a gorgeous 2.2-inch LCD display, weighs only 4.5 ounces and can slide into the pocket of even the tightest jeans without making unsightly bulges.
Packing in 5.0 megapixels into a unit a little bigger than a credit card, this camera is perfect for the casual snapshot photographer. Power users, especially those who want to print blow-ups, should check out the EX-S500's older brother, the 7.2 megapixel Exilim EX-Z750 ($359).
Although it is slightly bulkier, the EX-Z750 takes crystal clear photos and has a lot more features than its slimmer sibling and still comes in a similar ultra-compact package.
If All Else Fails ...
But what do you get for the geek who has everything?
Razors make great stocking stuffers. Guys will get an ultra-close shave with Gillette's sonic M3Power Nitro razor ($10.99). The Nitro's sister, the Venus Vibrance razor ($10.99), gives ladies silky smooth legs, too.
Have a little bit more to spend? The Logitech Harmony 880 Universal Remote Control ($250) is something every geek will appreciate.
Once the geek in your life is properly geared up, he or she is going to have a nightmare of tangled wires, remotes and switch boxes. The Harmony 880 can control almost any TV, DVD player, VCR, DVR, stereo and game console on the market today (and most of yesterday's, too).
It can even "learn" commands from an unfamiliar remote. For the most part that feature is unnecessary, because the remote can download all the info it needs automatically from the Web.
For the geek that has all the toys already, give him or her the gift of control. Because there's nothing like technology that works the way it's supposed to.