Have someone on your holiday shopping list who uses a desktop PC? There are tons of gifts you could give that will make their computer better, more fun to use and even add years of life to it. I’ve put together a list of suggestions to help them to get the most from their desktop PC this holiday season.
Help Them Enjoy the Sounds of the Season
Christmas carols and holiday music lose some of that magic when they’re played through the grill of a built-in PC speaker. A monitor with stereo speakers is a step up, but even that has limitations in sound quality.
The best way to enjoy the sounds a PC is producing is through a good set of computer speakers. This makes listening to music, watching videos and playing video games much more immersive.
You can find computer speakers in virtually any price range, from basic two-speaker setups to a THX-certified 5.1-channel sound system with a subwoofer.
And the Sights…
Many PCs are equipped with video cards that are capable of driving a larger or higher resolution monitor than they’re currently hooked up to. Especially if the PC was bought as part of a package —an entry level monitor is often the option included by manufacturers.
The good news for gift-givers is that the price of large, high resolution PC monitors continues to drop. You don’t have to try hard to find a 27-inch LED monitor with 1080p or greater resolution for under $300.
If you know someone who is a hardcore PC gamer or who regularly uses their desktop PC for graphics, digital photo or video editing, imagine the look on their face if they unwrap a new 4K Ultra HD monitor?
I had a chance to use one of these 8 million pixel displays as part of a review and once you watch a YouTube video in 4K or see the number of windows you can open at once, it’s really tough to go back…
A UPS Keeps the Power On Even When the Lights are Out
One of the things I like about a laptop is the fact that when the power goes out, the laptop remains on. Its battery ensures “lights out” doesn’t mean I lose whatever I was working on, or result in a hard crash —the kind of event that can lead to corrupted files and system problems further down the road.
Winter is the time of year when power outages are a little too common, at least around my neck of the woods. Ice storms, cars sliding into hydro poles and that kind of thing.
A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is something that a lot of desktop PC owners lack, but one can make a world of difference.
I have my PC plugged into a UPS. It looks something like a power bar on steroids, offers surge protection and has a built-in battery that gives me five minutes of runtime during a power outage.
Five minutes may not sound like much, but it means that momentary power outages (those flickers you hardly notice but still mean you have to re-set all the appliance clocks) don’t abruptly kill power to my PC. If power is still out after a few minutes, I have time to save my work and shut down the PC nicely.
A UPS may not have the “cool factor” of a 4K monitor, but it can be a lifesaver.
An External Hard Drive is a Must-Have
Speaking of lifesavers, every PC owner should have an external hard drive. Or two. Or more. I’m of the school that says you can never have too much storage and that data backup is cheaper and more reliable than data recovery, so my PC currently has four external hard drives connected to it.
An external hard drive means being able to back data up quickly and without worrying about bandwidth caps (as you might with a cloud backup). Data that you want to access on other computers can be picked up and plugged in when you use an external drive. With a portable drive, you can even walk it over to a friend’s house.
If the desktop PC is ever replaced, having the data stored externally means one less thing to worry about transferring over —just unplug the drive from the old PC and attach it to the new one.
I keep most of my digital media on external drives for just those reasons, including our digital photo albums, music and movie libraries.
How About a Better Keyboard?
The main input device on a desktop PC is a keyboard. And that also happens to be one of those areas that could use significant improvement over the stock version that most manufacturers include.
Want to get rid of one more wire from the desktop? Go with a Bluetooth wireless keyboard.
Want to gain an edge in PC gaming? There are keyboards made specifically for gaming, with programmable, ultra-responsive keys.
If you know someone who does a lot of typing, a mechanical keyboard is a great addition. I switched to one from the chiclet-style keyboard that came with my PC and both my speed and accuracy shot up. The mechanical switches are a little louder, but I like the retro touch of the clacking…
Anyone Would Appreciate an Ergonomic Chair
Here’s a final idea for the desktop PC user who has everything. The one thing many people lack is a good, ergonomic chair.
With a laptop, you always have the ability to move from spot to spot. If you’re not comfortable in one chair, you move to another. With a desktop PC, wherever the computer is set up is where you stay. And frequently —especially in home offices or when set up as a general use computer— the chair is an afterthought. Whatever was handy.
Usually handy isn’t the same as comfortable, attractive or ergonomic. A good chair that’s designed specifically for use with a computer makes any session a whole lot better. It makes using the PC more comfortable (especially for long stretches) and it’s less likely to result in a sore back. Chances are, it will be an improvement in the looks department, too.
Even the most well-equipped desktop PC owner has something on their wish list. It doesn’t matter how perfect their existing set-up might seem, there’s always something that could make it better.