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The Tech Geek

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New York City is one of the axes upon which the world of culture and finance revolves, and it goes without saying (although we’re still going to say it) that it takes a certain level of tech savviness to keep a city like that going. New Yorkers trend a little above average when it comes to technology literacy, and we know that like attracts like, so it’s no surprise that gadget-lovers and tech geeks from around the world wind up spending time in New York.

Getting Connected

Of course, no one wants to spend much of their time visiting New York trying to figure out how to get connected to the internet, so we’ll save you the hassle. There are the obvious solutions: all Starbucks and Barnes & Noble stores offer wifi at a price (usually ten dollars for a day pass), and most hotels offer free wireless with the cost of a room, or at the very least an internet connection via the television in your room. Aside from that, you'll find there are connections everywhere in the city.

In fact, as tech savvy as New Yorkers are, some still haven’t figured out the importance of securing their wireless routers, leaving clouds of free wifi drifting invisibly around their buildings. Checking for unsecured wireless networks by walking around with your laptop open is one option—albeit a bad one—but the best bet is to buy a keychain wifi detector, preferably a directional one that can tell you where the wifi is coming from so that you can get closer without playing a game of “Hot Or Cold.”

If that’s not your style, the New York Public Library system offers free wifi at all of its branches. You could also try to elbow your way to a computer at one of the cities many Apple stores, although most are usually jam-packed from open to close (even the twenty-four hour Fifth Avenue location).

For low-tech things like faxes, or if you just need a computer to sit down at, there are dozens of FedEx Office locations in the five boroughs, at least thirty of which are open 24 hours most—if not all—of the week. The Universal News location a block south of Central Park’s southwest entrance offers computer service, as well as copies of nearly every magazine in print for perusal or purchase, along with sandwiches, pastries, and other assorted snacks.

Gamers

For the video game enthusiast, a stop at the Nintendo Store at Rockefeller Plaza may be unavoidable. With the latest games for the Wii available on the largest screens possible, including downloaded versions of Nintendo games of generations past, and a downstairs devoted almost solely to the multiplayer uses of the Nintendo DS, including trial versions of games to download to your own DS, the Nintendo World Store has something to compel even the slightest Nintendo enthusiast, including accessories and apparel. Be prepared to wait in line for the fun to begin.

After a jaunt at the Nintendo World Store, you can go right across Rockefeller Plaza to Brookstone, a more comfortable (as well as still in business) version of Sharper Image complete with weird travel gadgets and complex massaging recliners that would probably do your taxes if you asked nicely. Then back to video games, perhaps visiting Video Games New York on E. 6th Street, where old school gamers can buy copies of older systems, games, and everything even… ahem… remotely related to games.

If those games are too small for you, there’s always Dave & Buster’s by Times Square or Barcade in Brooklyn to meet your arcade gaming and drinking needs in one (or two or three) fell swoops.

But what about LAN games? How about Neutral Ground? Besides networked computers just ripe for some multiplayer gaming, they offer board games, miniature games, RPGs, and a massive amount of card games.

A final word of advice to gamers: while New York City is the basis for Grand Theft Auto 4, it’s very important to curtail any urges you might have to act as you would in-game. Aside from the obvious perils of going toe-to-toe with New York’s Finest, most New Yorkers are significantly more aware and ready to defend themselves than their Liberty City counterparts.

Apple Acolytes

While far from being the Mecca that Cupertino, CA and its Infinite Loop are, New York has a lot to offer the Mac-Manic or OSX-obsessed. There’s the iconic Fifth Avenue store, of course, with its massive glass cube monolith cast imposingly over FAO Schwartz and set right on top of the entrance to the below-street-level store. When the mood strikes to play with the newest iPhone iteration or pick a Mac Genius’s brain about that hot-key you can’t remember at 3am, Apple Fifth Avenue is still open. That’s not to forget the store in Soho or on 14th Street, which also offer workshops, one-to-one sessions, tech support, and every possible Apple-related product you could ever squander a paycheck (or traveler’s check) purchasing.

Tech Shopping

When it comes to tech shopping, it’s hard to beat New York, especially if you don’t feel like flying to Tokyo. There’s the Wired Store in SoHo, where you’ll find exactly the kind of gadgets, toys, games, and geeky good stuff that you’d expect in a store emblazoned with the Wired logo, as well as private events and special deals to lure the hesitant in to their (wallet’s) doom.

Besides the many tech-friendly stores in New York, the streets are littered with every sort of cheap tech accessory you could imagine: iPod charges and cases, camera equipment, and the like. Times Square—formerly a sort of Red Light District—has swollen in the past decade with countless electronics stores selling cheap new and used gear of all sorts. It’s important to keep in mind that anything that seems shady or questionable probably seems so for good reason, and we can’t stress the importance of doing your homework enough. Trusted retailers like B & H at Ninth Avenue and W. 34th Street are always safe bets, as are any of the countless PC Richard, Circuit City, and Best Buy locations in the city.

Always go in knowing what you want, why you want it, and how it will fit in to what you already have. That will prevent any bait-and-switch tactics, whereby you are nudged into buying products you hadn't intended and might discover, once the heavy veil of shopper’s remorse has fallen, that you don’t even want. See our shopping tips for further advice.

Assorted Tech Stuff

The tech-obsessed tourist might not want to miss a chance to visit Robot Village on the Upper West Side, where customers can buy robots, attend robotics workshops, or create their own machination at one of their Bot-Building stations. They even offer robot parties, which is certainly a more attractive option than fighting a robot uprising on vacation. Just a few blocks away, those interested in science can visit the American Museum Of Natural History’s Rose Center For Earth And Space, the home of the new Hayden Planetarium, where visitors can watch any number of panoramic, totally-immersive Space Shows.

Check out our Visitor Guide as well as Arts & Attractions for more additional listings than you could possibly fit in your iPhone.
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