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Geek gift ideas for the IT pros on your list

Stumped when it comes to buying the latest gadgets for geeks? Have no fear -- our experts are here with their wish lists to offer some suggestions.

It's that time of year again -- time to brave the crowds at the mall in search of holiday gifts or anxiously await packages ordered online.

The geeks on your gift list can be hard to buy for -- they seem to already have every gadget known to man, and can be finicky about them. We enlisted some of their geek brethren to tell us what they'd like this year, to help with this predicament.

Among our geek advisors, drones were an oft-mentioned wishlist item this year.

"Drones are getting much more affordable and are an ultimate geek toy," said one advisor.

Specifically, one drone helicopter, the DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter, listed for about $450 on Amazon.com, is causing geeks to, well, geek out. The Quadcopter also has a spot to mount a GoPro digital camera, another popular gift item among our geek advisors. GoPro cameras are listed on Amazon.com ranging from $200 to $400.

"Attached to a drone or a helmet, I have seen more and more unique GoPro videos -- it seems like every significant event has some shot from a drone," said one of our geek pals.

Geeks also recommend robotics and computer-building kits such as the ever-popular Raspberry Pi, as well as Intel Corp.'s Edison kits, which range from $75 to $150 and, for the younger members of your family, $149 Kano kits are also sought-after.

"[Kano's] a great build on top of Raspberry Pi that makes it cool to assemble and then learn programming," said one geek. "I bought one for my 12-year-old girl."

For the grownup geek, why not get them started with home automation with a SmartThings kit? A Smart Home Starter Kit retails for $199. For geeks who have already gone there, our advisors recommended home automation kits by Wink, which go for $315.

Other ways for geeks to make cool toys for themselves include the Makerbot Replicator Mini Compact 3D printer. It's a big-ticket item at more than $1,300, but geeks rave about it.

"This is a great gift to share with my kids," one geek said. "Add a Makerbot Digitizer and we would be occupied until the 2015 holiday season."

Drones are getting much more affordable and are an ultimate geek toy.

This expert also recommends the Oculus Rift Development Kit, a virtual reality system which costs about $350.

"I have so many ideas on what to develop for it after I have had a chance to really play around with it," he said. "Virtual reality has been promised for many years, with each predecessor being either too bulky or a slow, painful experience -- it seems to me that the technology and requirements to have a smooth user experience have finally aligned with the Oculus Rift."

For those with upscale tastes, a Sonos music system, which wirelessly connects speakers together in a home to deliver music to each room, is a sought-after gift. Wireless speakers for the Sonos system start at $199.

"In my crowd, it is all about Sonos," said one of our geek experts. "It is hands down the best audio distribution system for homes you can get."

For the pensive geek who likes to read, a book called What If? by Randall Munroe, author of the xkcd Webcomic, is highly recommended this year. The book tackles scientific questions such as, "What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity?"

"Answer: nearly everyone would die," said the geek who recommended What If? "Then things would get interesting -- and he goes on for six more pages."

The best news of all? Amazon has this book for less than $15.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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What's on your Christmas list this year?
Wishful thinking would be for the iPhone 6 but realistically, I'm looking to get the Roku 3 from Amazon.