Hey, look. We know what it's like trying to buy a gadget or some other related piece of technology for the man in your life. It's scary, and weird, and you never know if you're doing the right thing until it's too late. But that's where Engadget (and our Holiday Gift Guide) comes into play. We take all the guesswork out of this experience so you can sit back, kick your feet up, and let the thanks just roll on in.
Of course, if you're simply trying to figure out what you want to beg, cry, and gently ask for this year, think of this chapter as a kind of cheat-sheet for the forthcoming festivities. Read on to get the scoop.
Update: Due to overwhelming demand, we've added a $0-50 category -- you can expect to see these for all the guides.
$0 - $50
Hori Wii Classic Controller - If the guy you're buying for has a stack of GameCube titles that just don't get the exercise they should thanks to the Wii's overbearing presence, this might help things. Hori's gamepad sports a near-Cube shape, which will mean it's mighty familiar, but also tacks on a whole host of autofire dip switches, for when things get really sticky in RE4. How can you say no to this baby blue? Answer: you can't (well, if you can it also comes in black and white).
$29.90 - Buy from Play-Asia
Belkin Mini Travel Surge Protector - This little surge protector / USB charger looks a bit boring and obvious at first glance, but it'll be the first thing he tosses in his gear bag for that next trip. There's room enough on here to charge up a camera, camcorder, laptop, phone and iPod all at once, or perhaps a pair of heated USB slippers, a USB fan and a few strings of Christmas lights. We won't judge.
$20 - Shop for Belkin Mini Travel Surge Protector
USB webmail notifier - We're guessing that the "for him" in question here is a serious email junkie (we're using ourselves as a model, of course). If that's the case, you might want to turn your attention to the USB mail notifier. It's pretty basic -- the box lights up when you've got a new piece of mail while a robotic voice says "you've got mail" -- but the gesture is huge. It's like you're saying, 'Hey, I know your email is more important than me or the children.' And that means a lot.
$17 - Buy from USB Geek
$51 - $100
Shure SE102MPA - What's a better stocking stuffer (or nice thrifty gift) for the gadget geek we all know than a decent pair of new earbuds? Shure, a company widely respected for delivering pristine audio, has priced its SE102MPA headset kit at something approaching totally affordable. The pair is a bundle of the company's SE102 buds and MPA phone adapter cable, which makes these great for PMP or smartphone duty, and they're sound isolating -- which is a big plus for train rides, gym visits, or just good, old-fashioned "me" time.
$99.99 - Buy from Shure
Logitech Harmony 510 Remote - We're all looking for a little more control... right? If you know a gentleman who is constantly shuffling between remotes, the Logitech Harmony 510 might be just the thing for you. With a spacious, intelligent layout, LCD screen, Harmony controller software (which lets you program activities on your computer and upload them to the remote), and a copious quantity of buttons, it should be perfect for getting his digital world under control. And with this price tag, it won't destroy your financial world, either.
$99.99 - Buy from Logitech
Microsoft Arc Mouse - If you're trying to find something unique and cheap, Microsoft's quirky Arc mouse might be just the ticket. The 2.4GHz wireless device sports a mighty 30-foot range, laser tracking, and can be easily folded up and slipped into the included carrying case. If the dude in your life isn't somewhat stoked to have such an odd looking (yet useful) gift bestowed upon him, you'd better schedule a doctor's appointment.
About $60 - Shop for Microsoft Arc mouse
$101 - $250
LaCie Neil Poulton eSATA drive - Perhaps you know someone who's a perfect storm of incredible nerd and rampant minimalist? If said individual also happens to require a pile of storage for their collection of Herzog films and Harmonia bootlegs, the LaCie Neil Poulton eSATA hard drive should be just what the doctor ordered. The sleek black box is available in all sorts of capacities, but if you really want to show how you feel, nothing less than the 1TB version will do.
$199.99 - Buy from LaCie
BlackBerry Storm - Okay, as we said in our review, RIM's new BlackBerry Storm isn't for everyone -- but there are whole bunch of guys you know who probably really, really want one. If the target of your gift giving this year is already a Verizon customer, there's few handsets you could get him that pack in more features (or more cool). With a beautiful 3.25-inch touchscreen, GPS, EV-DO Rev. A, and that patented BlackBerry email / messaging on board, handing this over come holiday time should provide you with a whole year's worth of thank-you's.
$199.99 with 2-year contract - Buy from Verizon
Popcorn Hour A-110 - As any good geek will tell you, a media player can never handle too many formats. The Popcorn Hour A-110 streamer is a perfect cocktail of flexibility and affordability, allowing the guy you're getting this for to watch or listen to just about any kind of file you can throw at it. Add in support for 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SATA drives, HDMI 1.3a (with DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD output), three USB ports, component outs, S/PDIF audio, and a heaping mess of server and web services, and you've got a veritable tech explosion on your hands. So, uh... watch where you point this thing.
$215 - Buy from Popcorn Hour
$251 - $500
Dell S2409W - Everyone knows it's impossible to get anything done without three or four large LCDs to distribute IM and audio visualizer windows among, and Dell's HD-friendly, 24-inch S2409W fits the bill nicely. The 1080p resolution and HDMI input make it perfect for doubling as a bedroom Blu-ray playback display or for plugging in his Xbox 360 -- there are certainly higher quality 24-inch displays out there, but it's hard to beat the price.
$349 - Buy from Dell
$250 - Shop for MIO Knight Rider GPS
Sony Reader PRS-700 - While overshadowed by Amazon's Kindle, Sony's most recent e-book is packed with features that might appeal to his inner-nerd. Most notable of these is a touchscreen display for text entry and annotation, and an LED "reading light" for sneaking his Calvin and Hobbes comics under the covers sans flashlight and Superman cape.
$400 - Buy from Sony
$501 - $1000
Dell Inspiron Mini 12 - While most netbooks sport impossible small screen sizes to match their impossibly small price tags, Dell's Inspiron Mini 12 boasts only the latter. The performance is hardly a boost over traditional netbooks, but he'll get a lot more done on the 12-inch, 1280 x 800 display, and it's still small enough to simplify a trip to the coffee shop -- or act as a small projectile in a heated debate over that prime 9pm TiVo slot.
$549 - $649 - Buy from Dell
TiVo HD XL - Speaking of TiVo, the HD XL is really a gift for the whole family, since its gargantuan 1TB hard drive makes room for 150 hours of HD recording, and you can even add an external drive if you find that too limiting. Really, can you ever have too many stored episodes of Friends? We think no.
$599 - Buy from TiVo
Sanyo Xacti HD1010 - The budding YouTube auteur in him will love this incredibly portable HD video camera, especially once apprised of the 300 fps slow-motion video this thing is capable of. It shoots 1080i video, 4 megapixel stills, and while that might not be enough to help him crash Sundance next year, it should make watching his lipsync video to "Womanizer" a bit more bearable.
$600 - $800 - Shop for Sanyo Xacti HD1010
$1001+Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch - He might gripe about the glossy display or the odd, buttonless trackpad on Apple's latest, high-performance MacBook Pro, but that will only be in between bouts of insane productivity and unbridled creativity. Or World of Warcraft.
$1,999 - $2,499+ - Buy from Apple
Woody B Internal Combustion Guitar - If his Santana-esque guitar stylings have neighbors about one decibel away from a lynching, this guitar might save some sanity. It sends noise out to an amp and then back into the guitar, where a "coupling mechanism" feeds that sound back to the strings, allowing for low-volume (and relatively low-priced) sustain and feedback. Your battered eardrums offered to chip in.
$2,500 - Buy from Woody B
Mitsubishi LaserVue 65-inch HDTV - Sure, he'll probably receive anything with "laser" in the name with great enthusiasm, but Mitsubishi's brand new LaserVue TV technology is more than just a nerdy new way to build a boob tube -- it's resulted in a couple of the best televisions ever tested. The contrast and brightness are right in there with the best plasma has to offer, but LaserVue's extensive color gamut just blows away other technologies -- for a price, of course.
$6,999 - Shop for Mitsubishi LaserVue 65-inch
Jaeger LeCoultre AMVOX2 DBS Transponder - We know it can be hard at times to rid yourself of excess briefcases of cash, but maybe Jaeger LeCoultre can help. They've built this excessively expensive watch for the sole purpose of unlocking an Aston Martin DBS (he does have an Aston Martin DBS, right?) at a 10-meter range, and will be perfect for making those cigar club buddies of his incredibly jealous. If none of this sounds remotely affordable, perhaps he might go for a Bluetooth watch -- he'll still love you. Probably.
~$40,000 - Sign up at Jaeger LeCoultre
So, did we forget anything? We've got plenty more gift guides to go, and if there's some burning item on your wish list this year, let us know in comments, maybe we'll find some place to work it in.