Books and prophylactics aren't the only bits of gear you need for college. Whether your Christmas-list collegiate is majoring in neurobiology or English, we've got what he needs to get the most out of four (or nine) years of learning.
1. LiveScribe Echo Smart Pen, $149 (4GB) - $199 (8GB)
Woody Allen once said that "80% of success is showing up." Armed with the LiveScribe Echo smart-pen, you barely even need to do that. When used with the included smart-pad this pen-plus records everything you write and hear. You can then upload these notes to your computer, sync them with the recorded audio, and archive everything within customized, searchable "notebooks." Boom: easy A.
2. BeerOutlaw Beer Holster, $29 - $49
Be the fastest shotgunner in line for the party you're currently not getting into. Designed to sit low on the hip, this quick-draw beverage storage system keeps a frosty 12oz ready at your side. Available for both lefties and righties (get two if you're an ambidextrous drunk) and in hot pink for the ladies, the Beer Holster will help get you drunk, mocked or laid (maybe all three simultaneously).
3. Dell Inspiron Duo, $599 and up
Like a Philosophy-Engineering double major, the Inspiron Duo offers a bit of everything. With just a flip, the 10.1" capacitive touch screen rotates and the unit converts from tablet to netbook. It's no speed demon, but, with a 1.5GHz Atom dual core and 2GB of DDR3 ram, the Duo can handle most academic applications. (No, WoW does not count as an academic application—I don't care what courses your community college offers.) And, at a scant 3.39lbs, light enough to take everywhere on campus.
4. Texas Instruments TI-84 graphing calculator, $90
Whether studying particle physics at MIT or selling weed at Vassar, chances are you're going to run into some math during your stint on campus. For the right-brainers among us, the TI-84 will be the calculator to get you through. It doubles the processing power and offers nine times the storage capacity of its predecessor, the ubiquitous TI-83+. It also comes preloaded with handy student-oriented programs and speaks fluent USB for downloading app from TI's calculator app store.
5. Bose 15 QuietComfort Headphones, $299
College dorms are not exactly known for their tranquility. Luckily, the Bose 15 QuietComfort noise canceling headphones do a superb job of enforcing your personal quiet space. By integrating mics both the inside and outside the ear cups while electronically identifying and eliminating background noise, these cans drop block out ambient noise like a clingy first-semester hookup.
6. Case of BAWLS G33k B33r, $40 [@ Thinkgeek]
A midterm is looming in the morning, you're fresh out of Adderall, and still can't explain the effects of Bavarian partitioning on the European political landscape during the Wittelsbach dynasty? Get your study on with BAWLS' newest flavor of energy drink (hint: it's root beer, not real beer). Combining the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee with a shot of Guarana, G33K B33R will have you differentiating Henry XIII from Henry XV in no time (without the nuclear horse piss taste of other brands).
7. Aero 6 Mini Herb Garden, $89.95
Fight the Freshman 15 and "cultivate" some healthy eating habits with the Aero 6 mini herb garden. This self contained horticultural kit includes everything you need to grow a variety of herbs, spices, and shorter vegetables in the corner of a desk or kitchen counter. Setup and maintenance are so easy, even English majors can figure it out—right before they figure out what else you can grow under its aegis of ultraviolet nourishment.
8. Do Not Disturb Sign, $20
You know what's embarrassing? Your roommate not noticing the sock on the doorknob and suddenly becoming an unwilling participant in your Mr. Rogers Neighborhood cosplay fantasy. Make your intentions for privacy clear to even the dullest of wits with this industrial strength Do Not Disturb sign. It's almost as effective as locking the door.
The burning sensation that comes from holiday shopping isn't from rubbing against the unwashed masses at malls: It's trying to pick out presents for everybody on your list. Gizmodo's daily gift guides and best gadgets list are the all-natural, non-smelly cure.