It's Christmas time once again and stockings are waiting to be filled across the land. Buying technology for someone is always tricky and, rather than try and recommend specific stuff that's in the shops now, Shaun and I have done a roundup of what we wish could have been in our Christmas stockings over the years.
This, of course, means that some of the things on the list either aren't available now, or are so outdated that you wouldn't want them to be. But the list will give you ideas of what makes a good geek gift and what doesn't.
As ever, Shaun and I argued long and hard about what to put on the list. We got our top 10, but still included a pair of honourable mentions. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.
Iomega Zip drive
Shaun Nichols: In today's world of 1GB thumb drives, web-based storage services and DVD-burning laptops, external media drives are becoming increasingly rare. Ten to 15 years ago, however, they were all the rage. And none was more popular than the 100MB Iomega Zip drive.
The Zip drive was everywhere in the heyday of the dotcom boom. PC vendors offered the drives as a built-in option for a number of years, and the Zip disk in its individual plastic case became a staple of any college student's book bag.
That's not to say that the drive wasn't without its faults; external Zip drives were notoriously fragile and prone to a serious defect known as the 'click of death'. But, as the alternatives were the 1.44MB floppy disk or an expensive CD burner system, the Zip drive won by a landslide.
Iain Thomson: I knew the Zip drive was popular when the one on my desk got stolen. I'd had it in for review and left it there to check upload and download speeds the next day. However, despite questioning all those around, the drive was nowhere to be seen.
Zip drives were so popular that production companies started referring to 'zipping' something over to you, much as people now refer to 'Googling' something. Back in the day this would have been a great Christmas gift.
Iain Thomson: The first optical mouse was a gift indeed for geeks everywhere. Up until that point mice had been controlled by a track ball inside the casing. While this worked well on mouse mats and certain hard surfaces, it was no use whatsoever on surfaces that couldn't get traction on the ball.
You also had to open the thing up once in a while and scrape off the accumulated gunk that built up on the control wheels if you wanted the thing to work.
But with the optical mouse you just needed a surface to roll a laser along. At last you could use a laptop in bed by running the mouse along the sheets. You could dump the mouse mat and just use the desk instead. The optical mouse would have been a great gift, and it's a design that will stay with us.
Shaun Nichols: There are few advancements more underrated than the transition from the trackball to the optical mouse. It is one of those things that doesn't seem like a big deal until you use it, at which point you can never imagine going back.
There are still some limitations, such as the ability to work on certain types of surfaces, but by and large the optical technology has been the most important thing to happen to the mouse since the advent of the second button and scroll wheel.
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