Welcome to Engadget's holiday gift guide! Head back to our hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the month.
Peripherals sound about as exciting as a trip to the dentist, but trust us: Companion devices have plenty to offer, and some even have a wow factor. Just take the Pebble smartwatch, for example; it lets you view notifications (as well as the current time) directly from your wrist. Especially well-heeled types can shell out for a VR headset or 3D printer, but we're sure your loved ones will be thankful for a cutting-edge hard drive all the same.
ON THE CHEAP
It's backlit, it's rechargeable, it weighs next to nothing, and you can pair it with up to three devices for easy switching among your phone, tablet and desktop. It's also surprisingly comfortable to type on, despite its svelte profile. The K810 hasn't completely replaced my mechanical keyboard, but it's a lot quieter and takes up a lot less space. -- Marc Perton, Executive Editor
Key specs: Bluetooth; minimum 10-day battery life; adjustable backlight; compatible with Windows, iOS, Android.
Ever since Minority Report came out, geeks have been looking for the holy grail of finger-tracking technology. At $80, Leap Motion takes a respectable (and affordable stab) at next-generation touchless control. Its limited app selection and wired connection leave it far from perfect, but it has more than enough novelty to serve as a high-end stocking stuffer. -- Sean Buckley, Associate Editor
Key specs: Compatible with Windows 7/8 and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, includes two custom-length USB 2.0 cables, weighs 0.1 pound.
Price: $80 from Leap Motion
iPad users prayed to the art gods to deliver unto them a pressure-sensitive stylus for their tablets, and Wacom answered. The Intuos Creative Stylus features a brushed-aluminum design with a soft silicone grip that sits comfortably in hand, while two on-board buttons are designed for use with apps like Bamboo Paper and ArtRage. -- Melissa Grey, former Associate Editor
Key specs: 2,048 pressure levels, iOS-friendly (iPad 3, iPad mini and newer), Bluetooth 4.0.
Price: From $85 on Amazon
Even with some occasional bugs, we found Livescribe's WiFi connected smartpen to be a serious asset to any note-taker who still prefers the feeling of paper and ink. Not only does it send images of handwritten notes straight to Evernote, but it also records audio and time-links it to the words that were being scribbled at the same time -- and unlike the newer Livescribe 3, it works independently with no need for an iOS companion device. -- Sharif Sakr, UK Editor
Key specs: Records more than 200 hours of audio, free Livescribe plan for Evernote, starter dot paper notebook, micro-USB cable, two ink cartridges, two smartpen caps.
Price: From $119 on Amazon
Smartwatches are a dime a dozen these days, and while Pebble doesn't boast a color display or the ability to take calls, it does cover all the basics. It gives you notifications from your phone, outstanding battery life (relatively speaking) and a robust community of folks building apps -- and yeah, it tells time too. At $150, it's roughly half the price of the competition, and with the company shifting focus to software, you can expect your Pebble to acquire plenty of new abilities in the months to come. -- Michael Gorman, Senior Editor
Key specs: 1.26-inch (168 x 144) e-paper display, ARM Cortex-M3 CPU, LED backlight, Bluetooth 4.0, up to seven days of battery life, compatible with iOS and Android.
Price: $150 from Pebble
If you're planning a winter retreat somewhere with limited connectivity, the Aero is a worthy travel companion. It's a battery-powered hard drive that creates its own little WiFi zone, allowing it to stream stored music and video to up to five devices simultaneously. The Aero can back up content from those devices too, and provide internet passthrough via its Ethernet port. If you give this to someone who really deserves it, you could use the USB 3.0 port to copy over some nice photos or home videos before you gift wrap it -- for that extra emotional edge, you know? -- Sharif Sakr
Key specs: 1TB of storage; stream simultaneously to five devices; USB 3.0 connection; 6-hour battery life; apps for Android, iOS and Kindle.
Price: From $170 on Amazon
MONEY IS NO OBJECT
For the early adopter out there, few things are more worth the money than the Oculus Rift. These virtual reality goggles strap a motion-sensitive, 7-inch display right in front of your eyeballs. Although they're still technically developer kits, games like EVE Valkyrie are already smooth, immersive and a million miles away from the gimmicks of yesteryear. The current model could be replaced pretty soon, likely with one that has better head position-tracking, but such are the risks of jumping into the future instead of waiting for it. -- Sharif Sakr
Key specs: 1,280 x 800 resolution (800 x 640 per eye), DVI/HDMI and USB inputs, 110-degree diagonal field of view/90 degrees horizontal, six degrees of freedom for head tracking.
Price: $300 from Oculus VR
Don't let the lack of touch keep your artistically inclined mitts away from Wacom's 13-inch pen display (with a full HD resolution, naturally). The most compact offering in that sector of the Cintiq line, it serves up the best of the company's tech that won't require a bigger desk or your best mate to lift. Thanks to the included three-position display stand, you'll be able to work in a variety of environments as well. -- Billy Steele, Associate Editor
Key specs: 13.3-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display, pressure- and tilt-sensitive Wacom Pro Pen, four customizable ExpressKeys, three-in-one connection cable for Mac or PC, weighs 2.6 pounds.
Price: From $1,000 on Amazon
How do you please geeks who don't know what they want? Get them a MakerBot Replicator 2 so that they can build what they desire. The 3D printer is comparatively easy to set up, and it produces large, detailed objects. While pricey, it's potentially just the right present for a creative companion -- or yourself. -- Jon Fingas, Associate Editor
Key specs: 100-micron precision 3D printing, 410-cubic-inch object volume.
Price: $2,199 on Amazon
The VAIO Flip PC has an innovative, er, flippable design, and its high-res display is beautiful. Flip the screen to use it in tablet mode, or keep it in clamshell position to get to work in Windows 8. Enter the raffle below for a chance to win the convertible, and be sure to check out our giveaway rules.a Rafflecopter giveaway
- Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
- Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia, 18 or older! Sorry, we don't make this rule (we hate excluding anyone).
- Winners will be chosen randomly. One winner will receive one (1) Sony VAIO Flip PC.
- If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes a contact email. Social media contact details are not carried over into our system.
- This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Sony and Engadget/AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
- The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
- Entries can be submitted until December 31st, 2013 at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
Leap Motion Leap
Livescribe WiFi Smartpen
MakerBot Replicator 2
Oculus VR Rift (development kit)
Patriot Memory AERO