Analog & Digital Gift Guide 2014

Something tells me you have an individual or two on your holiday shopping list who might appreciate a really nice gadget in their stocking this year. Or maybe you can surprise this techno-maven with something a little more analog than digital. Here are a few of my favorite things mixed in with some items I wouldn't mind receiving (ahem...you know who you are).

ANALOG

Hellbrand Leatherworks Field Notes Cover - $45

There are times when typing a note into your phone is simply a bad plan. First, looking like a schoolgirl is great...if you're a schoolgirl. If you're a grown ass man like me, writing things on paper is pleasurable - not to mention a necessity of bad memory. And think of it this way - the person standing in front of you will know what you're doing; paying attention, making copious notes, and not posting on Facebook. It's a grown-up tool that fits in your back pocket and will be a lasting companion of usefulness. I even keep my business cards inside, killing two birds with one kick-ass piece of American made leather.

Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen - $24.49/dozen

It's a rare occasion when I'm caught without my Varsity. The Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen is the smoothest writing pen I've ever used...and they're inexpensive. You can buy them by the dozen for $24 if you know where to look. There are only two kinds of people who will be displeased using the Varsity: lefties and dumb people.

Alden 405 "Indy" Boots - $530

Remember Indiana Jones? He was equally comfortable with a whip, gun, or machete. And what does a man like that wear? Boots, leather boots, made of Horween Leather. When Harrison Ford was cast as Indiana Jones, he insisted on wearing his Alden 405s. You might choke a bit when contemplating their cost but you will never regret owning these shoes. Equally appropriate for running a technology business or searching for the Ark of the Covenant, the Alden 405s look great with jeans, or dress pants. I wear mine every single day. And when I wear them out, I can get them resoled by Alden...and wear them for another three years. And again after that. They're tough as a $2 steak on the outside and as comfortable as a baseball mitt inside. You'll hate them for the first couple of weeks when breaking them in, but you'll sing their praises from that point forward. And if you're in Nashville, buy them local at J. Michaels. Tell 'em I sent you (I'm not on commission).

Filson Padded Computer Bag- $358

My constant companion is my Filson Padded Computer Bag. Yeah, that number sounds expensive...but unlike some cheapskates I know, I'll never have to purchase another briefcase and it will look fantastic for the rest of my life. It's got more pockets than you can probably use, and you won't look like you buy your luggage at Office Max. The Filson Jeep is optional. 

DIGITAL

Now the real fun begins...

Samsung Level Headphones - $350

I own two pair of headphones, but these are the ones I REALLY want. They're over-the-ear design (superior), noise canceling, wireless, and look fantastic. Why should that screaming child in coach keep you from thinking about your boots and enjoying your favorite music?

ClamCase Pro - $169

For several years I had an iPad and an Apple Wireless (bluetooth) Keyboard. It was great, but including the iPad stand necessary to use the keyboard, it was unwieldy and still required a cover to protect the screen. Needless to say, I was overcome with joy when I finally found the ClamCase Pro - an all-in-one bluetooth keyboard that served as screen protector, keyboard, and stand. Unlike many competitors, there is nothing to unfold and setup to enjoy the ClamCase. Open and enjoy. Even better, it works flawlessly. I actually use my iPad again. Even with my big mitts, typing is a joy on my ClamCase. And for those dying to ask me, no...I don't want a laptop. iPad = instant on, incredible reliability, great battery life, and multiple uses.

Hanx Writer - FREE (some in-app purchases available)

For those of you who learned to type on an actual type-writer, keep reading. The rest of you young turks won't get it and can move on. Tom Hanks likes technology, but also likes the click-clack-shook noise and singular purpose of the typewriter. He has created a fantastic little app which turns your iPad and ClamCase Pro keyboard (not required) into an old fashioned writing machine. I enjoy writing with my iPad/ClamCase combo. Add in the Hanx Writer and an expertly mixed Manhattan...and you've got the recipe for a classic tale created on new-fangled machinery.

Lumix DMC-GM1 - $749

Gone are the days of obtusely large D-SLR cameras. Didn't get the memo? Yeah, you can still buy one, but who in the world wants to tote one of those monsters around all day. Sure, they're great if you're a professional, but let's be honest...most of what you're shooting is right under your nose. The Lumix GM1 is a pleasure. And it's got that classic look of an old-school Leica rangefinder camera (the lens IS a Leica), enabling you to capture fantastic photos AND look like a hipster all in one fell swoop without spending the $8,000 for the Leica. And if you really want to look like a dandy, get the leather case. It's deluxe.

Kindle Voyage - $199

I love my Kindle Paperwhite, and Amazon has gone off and one-upped the game with the new high-resolution Voyage. I'm still amazed at the number of people who insist on traditional books. Yes, I get the feel of a book thing...but you have to appreciate the fact that you can take an entire library with you wherever you go, make notes, bookmark pages, and have all of this magic fit in a light device that works in the dark, thank you very much. Did I mention that books are cheaper, can be accessed in seconds, and read across multiple platforms. I like my Field Notes, but books be damned.

Google Cardboard VR Headset - FREE

If you buy an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset, there is a period of time when you're going to look like a jackass. At least with the Google Cardboard VR Headset, your jackassery can be economical.

Automatic - $99

It's 2015. We should have moved beyond the "check engine" light by now. Cars certainly have - they're basically a PC on wheels - but the diagnostics are usually reserved for those with the equipment to read the data (your car dealership). Not any more. With the Automatic device and app, you can skip the enigmatic indicator and get the real lowdown on what's the what with your whip AND it can help you save gas and remember where you parked.

And if you're really adventurous (and flush with cash), you could buy someone a hoverboard or drone (just think of the possibilities).