Unretrofied Gift Guide 2012

Welcome to the first annual Unretrofied Gift Guide! The holidays are right around the corner, and I thought it would be fun to put together a gift guide for the geek(s) in your life.

This isn't meant to be a comprehensive of all the great gifts available this year, but it's a good starting point. If you don't buy anything from this list but it inspires you to get something else, then I've done my job.

Hope you enjoy :)

Gadgets and Tools


1. iPad Mini

Thinner and lighter than any previous iPad, the new iPad mini is the ideal choice for gamers, students and travelers. Also works well as an e-reader. ($329)

2. Kindle Paperwhite

If you're looking for an e-reader but hate being distracted by all those flashy games and apps, or if your budget is simply too low to afford the iPad mini, the Kindle Paperwhite offers the best experience, hands-down. ($119)

3. Studio Neat Glif Tripod Mount & Stand for iPhone

This thing is invaluable to anyone wanting to take their iPhone photography to the next level. Currently only available for the iPhone 4/4S, but you can preorder the new iPhone 5-compatible model and it will ship toward the end of November. ($20)

4. Cocoon Grid-It Organizer

Ever get tired of keeping track of the various tiny items in your bag? We're talking charger cables, thumb drives, writing utensils, screwdrivers, mice, guitar picks, Apple remotes, and the list goes on and on. Well, now you can use the Grid-It Organizer to keep everything strapped down in a single, convenient place! Easily one of the best purchases I've ever made. ($20)

5. Joby Gorillapod (Flexible Tripod)

This is a must-have in any photographer's kit. The flexible legs and overall portability allow for a wide variety of ways you can setup the tripod and get that perfect shot. Stand it upright, wrap it around a tree branch, hang it upside-down...the possibilities are endless. Works very well with the Glif tripod mount listed above. ($11)



1. Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder

Looking to up your coffee-making game at home? The first thing you'll need is a quality grinder. Put away that can of pre-ground Folgers, grind your own fresh coffee beans only as needed, and enjoy a better cup. Baratza grinders are the top choice for many coffee connoisseurs, due to their high quality design and the company's fantastic customer service. ($129)

2. Aeropress Coffee Maker

The Aeropress is one of the easiest methods for brewing a single cup of coffee. Seriously, it only takes a few minutes, and the resulting coffee is fantastic. It's also well known for being extremely easy to clean up. Highly recommended. ($26)

3. Chemex Coffee Carafe

If you're looking for an experience that's about as easy as the Aeropress but need to prepare larger batches of coffee than one cup, go with the Chemex pour-over method. ($37)

4. Hario Buono Drip Kettle

Whichever of the above brewing methods you go with, the Hario Buono drip kettle is the perfect way to get a smooth, accurate pour of hot water. ($53)

5. Toddy Cold Brew System

While it is entirely possible to make an excellent cup of cold-brew using an Aeropress, I personally enjoy using the Toddy system to brew large batches of the stuff that I can drink over the course of several days. Always delicious and a personal favorite treat during the summer. ($36)

6. Contigo Tumbler

Now that you've brewed your coffee, obviously you need something to drink it with! I recommend this Contigo tumbler because it's double-walled and it auto-seals. You can toss the thing around and not leak a single drop until you actually press the button to take a sip, which is handy for traveling. This thing can also keep drinks hot or cold for several hours. Love it. ($17)

Books/Graphic Novels


1. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

The story of a former graphic designer who ends up working at a book store but discovers strange occurrences going on within its walls, and soon finds himself tangled in a web of intrigue, adventure, and secret societies. Chosen by Amazon as one of the best books of the month. ($17)

2. Cloud Atlas

Author David Mitchell weaves a rich tapestry that connects the lives of six different protagonists and stretches from the 19th century all the way into a post-apocalyptic future. I recommend reading the book before seeing the movie. ($9)

3. Daytripper

This profound graphic novel follows the different possible paths that lead to Brás de Oliva Domingos' death. Each chapter features Brás at different points in his life, bouncing back and forth between his youth and adulthood, but all ending with his death in one way or another. Every story is gripping yet tragic, beautiful yet melancholy. ($13)

4. Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share

Exactly what the title implies (although it's obviously perfectly suitable for Geek Moms too). Features projects ranging from exploding-drink practical jokes and wi-fi signal boosters, to composting and homemade cartoons. ($12)



1. The Dark Knight Trilogy

Perfect for the fan who wants all 3 films but doesn't need some sort of Ultra Super Deluxe Collector's Edition. Available for pre-order, and ships on December 4th (get it now while the price is low!). Includes bonus features for each film, as well as an excerpted form of the book, "The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy". ($30)

2. The Hunger Games

I was pleasantly surprised how well the novel translated to the film. Well-acted and perfectly cast (even Lenny Kravitz was great as Cinna). Don't dismiss this as a teenybopper flavor of the week, it's actually quite good.  ($19)

3. Prometheus

A sci-fi spectacle that takes place in the same universe as—and acts as a sort of precursor to—the Alien films. Worth watching for Michael Fassbender's fantastic acting alone. ($25)

4. The Avengers

Easily the best comic book movie to come out of 2012. ($25)

5. The Amazing Spider-Man

This one was another pleasant surprise for me. I had pretty low expectations from a Spider-Man movie being released so soon after the previous trilogy ended, but I loved every minute of this film and Andrew Garfield has quickly become my new favorite Peter Parker. ($19)

There you have it! If you liked this guide and would like to see others like it, let me know. Share it with others, too. I might make this a recurring feature if enough people are on board.