Leatherman Skeletool CX, $96.00
A craftsman is only as good as his tools, of course. With this compact, collapsible tool-box-in-your-pocket, you can pull screws, cut wire, and slice muggers. For those not versed in the ways of the multi-tool, the Leatherman Tools Group has perfected the Swiss Army knife with its own take on the idea. Leathermen come with knives and pliers built into a swivel joint, allowing for the whole contraption to be safely stored in a pocket or belt. The Skeletool CX ups that ante by including a combination bottle-opener/carabiner for easy belt-hanging.
Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, $499
The Internet is everywhere. Unfortunately, carrying your laptop around wherever you go can twist the spine and cause you to walk like Quasimodo. So for the hunchbacked digital road warrior on your list, the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet is the lightest possible way to stay connected while staying upright. This little Linux-based computer has a full keyboard hidden away behind its stylus-driven touch screen. You can watch movies, read maps, and check your location with the built-in GPS receiver. It’s not a full-fledged phone, but does enable calling over the networks of Skype, GoogleTalk, and Gizmo. And thanks to some ingenious open-source hackers up north, you can even modify this tablet to look and sound like a Star Trek Tricorder.
OQO Model 02, $1299
For those who are still Windows-bound in their computerized pursuits, the OQO is the smallest Windows PC you’ll find. A mobile PC screams for a mobile Internet connection, so the OQO offers multiple wireless options. For the hipsters on your list who are cool enough to have Verizon or Sprint wireless data plans, OQOs can be customized to include modems for either of these services. Regular old 802.11 a, b, and g come with every OQO, so coffee shop denizens can check their e-mail without even putting this paperback-sized beauty down on the table.
Sidekick ID, $299
Noticing a trend with these “keyboard under the screen” devices? Well, the coolest flip-out screen of them all has got to be that of the Sidekick. For the connected teen or fashionable business person, this little device includes phone, web browser, e-mail, AIM, Yahoo IM, and MSN Messenger. With a T-Mobile account, you can get unlimited data for all of these various Internet services for $20 a month. And because the most connected of us are teenage females, the Sidekick ID has removable bumpers available in all sorts of colors. Bright pink would be appropriate for the hopeful prom queen in your life.
Wowwee’s FlyTech Dragonfly Robot, $50
Even if the playful one on your list isn’t a kid, it’s a sure bet they’ll appreciate the FlyTech Dragonfly Robot. This simple as pie robot is built just like a real dragonfly, save for the propeller embedded in its tail. That prop is used only for steering because the fundamental properties at work in actual dragonfly design are what keep this flying marvel aloft, however briefly. Make no mistake: the FlyTech is not a graceful bird. She’ll buckle in the slightest of breezes, and the tail rotor offers little actual control over the device’s direction. For anyone who got and enjoyed a remote control helicopter last year, this is a terrific follow-up.
Nikon D40 Digital Camera, $550
After a few days with the D40, the shutter bug on your list will probably rush out and buy a top notch printer. Nikon’s smallest-ever digital SLR is a professional-grade camera in every way. It features 6.1 megapixel image quality with a large 2.5-inch color screen and a compact 18-55 mm zoom. And this gift-that-keeps-on-giving can be supplemented over the next few gift-giving occasions with lenses, camera bags, external flashes, memory cards, batteries, photography classes, frames, and art shows. Not to mention all those beautiful high-resolution pictures of grandkids you’ll get out of the deal.