But if you ignore all that, you can also find fantastically cool devices for security, surveillance and fun. One of the bigger catalogs is Brickhouse Security. Their best new item is a $599 weather-proof, ruggedized, battery-operated, motion-activated camera called the Global Watchman.
It can be taken camping or set up anywhere, inside the house or outside -- in just about any weather. It uses a cell phone data connection to transmit images. The Global Watchman is ideal for spotting bigfoot or busting burglars. It even takes clear pictures in total darkness! Your loved one can monitor the feed on a Web site, or just have pictures sent to a cell phone.
The Think Geek catalog is totally devoted to nerdy fun. The site has a lot of tech-themed but low-tech products, like Internet-meme t-shirts and video game ice cube trays. But they also have hardcore nerd gadgets. One of my favorite is the $495.99 SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot, which the Think Geek crew calls a "Mars Rover for your home."
It's basically a Web server on tank wheels with a webcam attached. The device will connect to the Internet anywhere there's a Wi-Fi connection. The robot can live at home or in an office, and they can see through its camera and control its movement from anywhere in the world. It requires some technical skill to set up, and it's fully programmable.
Not only is the device a wacky electronic toy, it's also an elegant piece of kit. The cockroach is rechargeable, and the remote-control unit doubles as the recharger. GizMine also specializes in crazy alarm clocks and nutty USB devices.
Japan Trend Shop
Another cool purveyor of fine Japanese devices is the Japan Trend Shop. Anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch would love this $83 HypnosEye Projector and Screen Set. It simply throws whatever's on your device's screen up onto a wall, which is great for watching movies, giving presentations or sharing photos.
These are just a few examples -- model gadget gifts and sites to get you started. This year, don't disappoint the geek in your life: Give the ultimate gadget gift!