The Geek Gifts You Didn't Get (But Still Can) for Christmas 2013

Here are a dozen gadgets sure to tempt the true geek's holiday wallet.

InfoWorld 2013 geek gadget gift guide
12 cool gadgets for a post-holiday splurge

The Christmas morning gift unveiling is now over for most people. Whether you now have holiday cash for an indulgence or didn't quite get what you were hoping for, InfoWorld.com presents our picks for the coolest gadgets for Christmas 2013.

Some you'll find at a big-box retailer, whereas others are gems not so widely available and are likely to be all the more special.

Be sure to check out our previous years' recommendations in case you missed anything cool: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

Star Trek electronic door chime
Star Trek electronic door chime

Yes, just as in most every previous geek gadget gift guide, there's an item for Trekkies. This year, it's a door chime that looks like the wall communicators on the original starship Enterprise.

As you pass through the door, you hear the familiar whoosh of the automatic doors from the series -- but no, it won't open your door for you. You can set it to play the red-alert sound instead, to discourage stealthy visitors, such as parents, kids, roommates, or (at an office) coworkers. Press the comm button to hear the signature "weeh-oh" message alert from the series -- because you can!

ThinkGeek Star Trek Electronic Door Chime
Price: $30

Android key ring
Android key ring

The Android robot mascot is one cute fella. Now the Android fanatics in your life can carry it wherever they go thanks to this keychain. Squeeze its left arm, and the robot's eyes light up and it utters sound effects.

Gadgets and Gear Robot Keyring
Price: $11

Belkin Bluetooth music receiver
Belkin Bluetooth music receiver

Bluetooth speakers are very handy for listening to music from your device or computer -- and some even have great sound. But what if you already have good speakers for your main stereo system? Belkin has a solution.

The HD Bluetooth Music Receiver plugs into an audio jack in your stereo and receives music via streaming from most Bluetooth-equipped devices. It remembers as many as eight devices, supports near-field communication (NFC) on Android devices for tap-and-play use, and supports digital coax and optical connectors for HD sound, as well as standard 3.5mm standard-def connectors. A $50 version supports six devices and 3.5mm connectors for standard-def audio with no NFC support.

Belkin International HD Bluetooth Music Receiver
Price: $80

Nest Protect smoke detector
Nest Protect smoke detector

The Nest Thermostat has made a mundane appliance cool, with its elegant design, readable display, human-oriented menu options, and mobile and Web management. Nest Labs has done it again with the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector available in both wired and battery-only models.

Before it screeches at you, it speaks the issue aloud, so you can address it with your wits intact. You can use a gesture to turn it off when, for example, burnt toast sets it off -- no need for a broom to wave the smoke particles away. And no more finding a ladder to push the reset button. Oh, and it's a motion-activated nightlight as you walk past or beneath it.

Nest Labs Nest Protect
Price: $129

Combination USB charger/receptacle
Combination USB charger/receptacle

Wall outlets with USB ports are not new, but the first ones weren't UL-listed and had questionable safety. Later UL-listed designs sacrificed at least one standard electrical port to make room for the USB ones. That's changed, with this UL-listed, tamper-resistant wall outlet that has two usable standard outlets plus two usable USB outlets. You can use all four simultaneously as long as you have no devices with power blocks directly on the plugs. You can even charge a tablet and phone simultaneously. It's the no-compromise wall outlet you'll love.

It's available in several colors, as well as in 20-amp and 15-amp versions and in non-tamper-resistant options.

Cooper Industries TR7745 Combination USB Charger
Price: $25 to $36, depending on version

Atomic analog clock
Atomic analog clock

After all these years, I still find that most digital wall clocks look tacky. The old-fashioned clock face is elegant, and it strangely feels more accurate. No wonder that Apple's iOS 7 uses an analog face to show the current time in its Clock app's icon. But analog clocks are often inaccurate, as their springs compress or stretch, or their motors vary their output based on the current charge from the wall or battery.

The 14-inch-diameter Atomic Analog Clock takes the best of both worlds: A clean, elegant analog face and a radio that syncs to the official, atomic-powered current time so the time is always accurate.

La Crosse Technology WT-3144 Atomic Analog Clock
Price: $40

Automatic
Automatic

If you're someone who likes to track what you do and how well you do, and you're also someone who likes to drive, take a close look at the Automatic, which plugs into most cars since 1996 and monitors your driving and your engine.

It tells you your gas costs for each trip, where and how you drive poorly, and where you drive -- but it won't rat you out to your insurer. Plus, it translates the check-engine light to an understandable explanation and tells you where to find the nearest mechanic.

I really liked this device when I tested it, and it's a great example of how your smartphone can be used for all sorts of purposes we're just now discovering.

Automatic Labs Automatic
Price: $100

iHealth wireless activity and sleep tracker
iHealth wireless activity and sleep tracker

The burgeoning self-monitoring trend has been fueled by smartphones, with wearable monitors communicating over Bluetooth to your iPhone or Android device. The Fitbit is the best known of these devices, but others are worthy of attention, such as this monitor from iHealth. It tracks your movements, so you can know how much you've walked, slept, and been generally active or inactive -- and when. It has a vibrating alarm to get you up early to take your run or walk, and it alerts you when you've grown slothful.

iHealth Lab Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker
Price: $60

TrendNet N150 wireless travel router
TrendNet N150 wireless travel router

If you travel a lot, you know how expensive Wi-Fi service gets in airports, cafés, and hotels. Worse, there's been a trend to charging for each device's wireless access to hotel and other hospitality Wi-Fi networks. And some hotels still have only wired Ethernet connections, leaving tablets disconnected.

TrendNet's N150 router is an inexpensive way to overcome the Wi-Fi gouging at hotels and so forth. It converts a wired network into a wireless one for your devices, and it lets you use one Wi-Fi signal to connect all your devices. Plus, it has interchangeable plugs for overseas use, can make USB storage into wireless drives, and even charges mobile devices.

TrendNet N150 Wireless Travel Router
Price: $60

Digit II wireless remote
Digit II wireless remote

If you use Apple's Keynote presentation app with its Keynote Remote appon an iOS device, you know how wonderful a remote control is. But what if you want to control a PC running PowerPoint, iTunes, or Android device's music player, or an iOS device's camera from across the room, too? That's what Digit II does. Using Bluetooth connections, the handheld device can control a variety of devices and their content.

AirTurn Digit II
Price: $40

Sony DSC-QX100 lens-style camera
Sony DSC-QX100 lens-style camera

Apple loves to brag that the iPhone is used to take more pictures than any camera. But as good as the iPhone's camera is, it's no DSLR. And neither are the highest-quality Android devices' cameras.

Sony's DSC-QX100 is an attempt to square that circle by providing a DSLR-quality camera lens that is actually a camera, one that your smartphone controls via NFC or Wi-Fi. Unlike other Wi-Fi DSLR cameras, the DSC-QX100 attached to your smartphone, turning the device into a big LCD preview screen and chassis for your "buttons." If you don't need DSLR quality but want a quality 10X zoom lens for your phone, consider the $249 QX10 model instead.

Sony DSC-QX100
Price: $500

Interactive plush monkey
Interactive plush monkey

Kids love plush animal dolls. And kids take to smartphones and such devices like fish to water. The interactive plush monkey combines the two. If you connect the monkey to your smartphone or music player's audio jack -- or play the conversation or music via speaker -- the battery-operated simian mouths the words it hears in real time, as if it were conversing or singing along.

Sharper Image Interactive Plush Monkey
Price: $40