It's human nature to exhibit personality with unconventional accessories, particularly as it applies to our beloved tech items. But a constant gravitational pull toward everything "geek chic" isn't the most cost-effective way to shop for certain necessities. Naturally, a consumer might opt for sleeker options to impress friends and coworkers, and many might argue that you can't put a price tag on cool. But, we're going to try anyway. By comparing a few tech categories, dealnews will attempt to quantify just how much more you should expect to pay to have the best-adorned cubicle in the office park.
The USB Hub
Chic: If you're a devout dealnewser, you may have a collection of USB devices and bus-powered gadgets (like a lunch box warmer or mini fridge) strewn about your cubicle, which means a hub is perhaps in order. This Darth Vader 4-Port USB 2.0 Hub will blow the hip nerd glasses right off your friends' faces; just plug in a USB device — even a super-lame printer — and the hub will replicate the iconic asthmatic breathing made famous by the Sith lord. ($34.99 via code "NEXTORDER" + $5 s&h, a price low by $7)
Everyday: If you can sacrifice the sound effects and design, then this 4-Port Slim USB 2.0 Hub is an ideal cheap alternative; we've also seen comparable hubs for as low as $2 in recent months. ($3.99 + free shipping, a price low by $3)
The iPhone Case
Chic: The iPhone is a prime target for geek-style adornment, since many of its users affectionately fawn over it like it's an adorable child. Considering this, the Headcase Etch A Sketch Hard Case for iPhone 4 seems like a fitting protective cover. It turns your electronic lifeline into the beloved Etch A Sketch toy — launched in the '60s, anthropomorphized in Toy Story in the '90s — and is delightfully accompanied by a free drawing app. ($24 + free shipping, a price low by $3)
Everyday: For similar hard-shell protection, you could alternatively get the rooCASE Shell Case for iPhone 4 in red. It may not have bells and whistles, but it does come with a free screen protector and stylus. We've also seen hard cases for iPhone 4 for as low as $4. ($9.95 via code "RCIPH4S995" + free shipping, $7 off)
The Laptop Sleeve
Chic: These days, a computer is like an extension of the self — especially if you have the portability of a laptop. Why not tote it around in quirky style with this neoprene, file-shaped My Documents 15.4" Laptop Sleeve. Not only is it self-referential, but it even comes with a tiny pixelated mouse pin. ($24.99 via code "NEXTORDER" + $6 s&h, a price low by $12)
Everyday: While it lacks a tongue-in-cheek design, this Web 15.4" Laptop Sleeve is also made of neoprene and keeps your computer covered just the same. ($6.29 + free shipping, a price low by $4)
The Flash Drive
Chic: A surprising number of nerd-culture icons — Yoda, Kevin Flynn, various comic book characters —— can be found housing a flash drive. In addition to storing files, this Voltron 2GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive features the added bonus of being an easy conversation starter about how Voltron was actually better than Transformers, as far as animated robot cartoons go. ($31.99 via code "NEXTORDER" + $5 s&h, a price low by $3)
Everyday: It's abundantly clear with flash drives that cool will cost you a pretty penny; we periodically see plain-old 2GB flash drives for under $10, and we've even listed them for as low as $3. If we're being generous, a deal on a regular 2GB drive will come to $5 per GB, while the Voltron checks in at a beefy $18.69 per GB. Admittedly, prices will vary wildly for novelty drives, but this Kingston 8GB DataTraveler Mini G2 USB 2.0 Flash Drive certainly gives you more storage at a lower rate. ($12.95 + free shipping, or $1.62/GB, a price low by $1)
Our infallible and air-tight research thus indicates that you could pay up to 92% more for the cooler version of various tech items. But the envious look you earn from others is, in many cases, well worth the additional cost.