Admit it, you're totally screwed. You're really completely screwed. It's December 20th and you aren't even close to finishing your holiday shopping, are you? We're here to help. Your pals here at Engadget have thrown together a little holiday gift guide with some last minute suggestions to make things a little easier. It's up to you whether you want to fight the crowds and try and hunt these down at Circuit City and Best Buy or buy online and pay some major FedEx fees to make sure everything gets there on time, but we have included a link to the latest Froogle prices at the end of each entry (we don't make any sort of commission or anything).
We're not going to waste your time recommending obvious stuff like the iPod (which we're pretty sure you already know about) or the Nintendo DS (which you probably already know about and/or won't be able to find anyway), and instead we're offering up some other ideas for how you can spread some gadgety goodness this holiday season. Feel free to add your own last minute ideas in the comments:
The Atari Flashback
Your punk ass kids will probably be pretty pissed off to find this sitting under the Christmas tree instead of a Nintendo DS, which is why you'll want to save the Atari Flashback, a 7800-style box with two joysticks that comes with 20 integrated vintage games (including one unreleased title, Saboteur), for your favorite nostalgic Gen-X gamer. Only about forty-five bucks, too.
The SanDisk Photo Album
Last Christmas we bought our mom SanDisk's Digital Photo Viewer, a multi-format memory card reader which did one thing, and did it well: let you view your digital photos on a TV. A few months ago SanDisk reincarnated the Digital Photo Viewer as the SanDisk Photo Album, only this time around they weren't able to resist the siren call of convergence and have souped it up with the ability to playback both MPEG-1 and Motion JPEG video clips and MP3 audio files, as well as all that digital photo viewing stuff. Not bad for fifty bucks, but there's also a USB port on the back. It's ostensibly for plugging in USB flash drives, which means you could hook the Digital Photo Viewer up to an external USB hard drive and instantly have a cheap digital audio jukebox that connects to your home stereo. Not that your mom is going to use this thing for anything besides looking at digital photos, but at least you'll know that she could.
Sure, you could spring for an iPod mini, but for about $50 less you get a gig more space in a sleek little package you still wouldn't feel ashamed to pull out of your coat pocket on the L train. It's still hard-drive based, of course, so do think twice before giving it to your fitness-obsessed mum.
Delphi XM MyFi portable satellite radio receiver
Okay, so it may be ugly as sin, and sure, Howard Stern is headed for Sirius, but right now you've only got one choice for portable satellite radio, and that's the Deliphi XM MyFi. And don't worry too much, with winter nipping at our heels you can always stuff this thing deep, deep down into your fluffiest warm winter coat where it can be heard. Not seen.
Zipit Wireless Instant Messenger
Great for finally getting your kid off your damned computer for a few minutes, the Zipit does one thing and one thing alone for your geeky early teen. IM over WiFi. And thank god, because if we had to spend one more minute sharing our workstations with some IMing turboteen we might like totally go crazy ROFL :))))))
[Available only at Target]
Despite its girthy size, this little baby is hands down the king of WiFi signal detection. It is, after all, the only one on the market with an LCD for displaying not only 802.11b/g signal strength, but the network's SSID, channel, and whether or not it's encrypted. Mondo useful for the roadwarrior and mobile nerd alike.
[Available only from Canary Wireless]
Say what you will about the cultural politics of the device, the TV-B-Gone is the gift this year for both the culture jamming elite and, well, the overzealous prankster. Just be careful the one on the receiving end doesn't turn this gift against you (unless you want them to, that is).
Sure, it may be on the pricey/cheesy side for you, but we think just about everyone knows someone who'd totally dig on this sucker. It's basically just the best home laser and LED light show you can actually afford to buy someone; for the full effect make sure your gift's receiver jams out to the first Small Faces record when they turn it on for the first time, it's like, crazy man.
Creative Nomad MuVo TX
Even if your gift receiver already has an MP3 player, if they are quite active in sports (such as running or skiing), you might consider the Creative Nomad MuVo TX for them. This tiny USB 2.0 MP3 player has up to 512MB of memory, can be used as a USB drive for important files, weighs a scant 1.1 ounces, and yet it can still record up to 32 hours through its built-in microphone. It's powered by one AAA battery which can be found at stores easily, not a proprietary one.
So your brother's bachelor pad is a mess and it looks like he hasn't cleaned for weeks, maybe months. While he may not have time to vacuum (or chooses not to), a Roomba Discovery Robot Vacuum may be the answer. This third generation of the Roomba, the Discovery, now has three times the storage, cleans edges better, cleans for two hours at a time, and can even dock itself when it needs more juice.
Keyspan Express Remote
Anyone who's turned a computer into an audio or video jukebox has likely discovered one of the major inconveniences of doing so: you have to use your keyboard and mouse to control it. This can be especially annoying if you've hooked up a wireless solution like Apple's Airport Express, which lets you stream your music to another room, but doesn't give you any way to control it short of heading back to your computer (or yanking the plug if you can't be bothered). Make life easier for the networked mediaphile in your life with Keyspan's Express Remote. Looking pretty much like a garden-variety remote control (albeit one clad in Apple white), the unit can either plug directly into your computer, letting you control audio and video from across the room, or — and this is the part that kicks — it can connect to the USB port on an Airport Express, letting you control the music from the room where you're actually listening to it.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0
If anyone on your gift list got their first digital camera this year, chances are it came with some really lame bundled software that they never even bothered installing. Help them out by giving them the latest version of Adobe's consumer photo-editing program. Not only does it include quick-fix tools that actually work, but it now also incorporates Photoshop Album, which will help them organize their pics (if you're giving this to a Mac user, teach them how to use iPhoto; the Mac version of Elements doesn't include Photoshop Album).
Philips GoGear KEY019 keyring
This one has stocking stuffer written all over it. We don't want you to encourage anyone's secret voyeuristic "tendencies" or anything (or rather, want you to encourage anyone else's secret voyeuristic tendencies), but until the cellphone people get their act together, Philips' GoGear KEY019 keyring camcorder is just about the easiest way to carry two megapixels in your pocket. Plus whoever you give this to can use it to record video clips and listen to MP3s.
This one has been warming our jaded robotic hearts ever since it entered our lives back in September. We wouldn't recommend giving the Gmini 400, Archos tiny little 20GB personal video, to anyone who can't figure out how to rip a DVD or "acquire" movies online, but if you're looking for something that'll impress your fave gadget freak, this should do the trick.
Soyuz Laptop Bag
Here's something sure to impress any space-loving friend or family member. Each bag includes an actual piece of a Soyuz parachute (your choice from either a mission to Mir or the International Space Station) and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by that mission's flight engineer. Sure, you could just buy them a cheaper laptop bag, but then they wouldn't be able to brag about how part of their bag has been in space, would they?