Going to let you in on a little secret: Dad doesn’t want another tie for Father’s Day — nor does he care much for more aftershave, a barbequing apron or a new toolbox.
If you really want to tell your dad how much you care, a high-tech gadget might just do the trick — and you’ve got no shortage of options to suit all tastes and budgets.
The following are a few recommendations for the man in your life, be it your dad, grandfather or husband.
Tab, you’re it
Dad wants an e-book reader he can read outside, as well as in bed — without disturbing his partner? The Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch ($139) features GlowLight technology, combining a 7-inch e-ink touchscreen display that can be read in a number of environments — even in bright sunlight — but while curled up in a bed offers a soft, integrated light so you can see without needing a lamp or clamp-on book light. At just under 7 ounces, this Nook delivers a battery that can last more than one month — even with the light on.
We’re customizing our ringtones, computer wallpaper and license plate — so why not your doorbell? The Swann MP3 DJ Doorbell ($39.99) is a two part product: first connect the base (with integrated speaker) to your computer via USB, and with the bundled software, create a clip from dad’s favorite MP3s — such as the chorus to “Sweet Home Alabama.” Now mount the small doorbell outside and when pressed, it plays music on the base. Add hundreds of audio clips to change up your doorbell ring each day, if desired.
|To serve and protect
Tablets offer a number of advantages over laptops — touchscreen interface, instant-on access, an all-day battery and they’re incredibly light — but on the flipside, they don’t have a physical keyboard for long-form typing, they can’t be propped up to watch video and the thin screens are prone to damage. The Hype Deluxe All-In-One Bluetooth Workstation from DGL ($69.99), however, might give you the best of both worlds. This fitted case for iPad 2 or new iPad features a durable ABS shell, full QWERTY keyboard and built-in stand that can swivel 360 degrees. The rechargeable Bluetooth keyboard (USB cable included) lasts up to 45 hours between charges.
What to buy a photography lover? Joby’s GorillaPods (from $29.99) are clever tripod-like accessories with bendable legs and many rotatable joints, allowing you to secure your camera to virtually any object — be it a tree, rock, fence, doorknob or lamppost. Designed for point-and-shoot cameras or digital Single Lens Reflex (dSLR) models — with a few models for each camera type — the GorillaPod uses sturdy, injection-molded plastic for secure joints, while the rubberized ring and foot grips provide an extra hold to steady your shot.
We all know guys don’t like to ask for directions — and using GPS on your smartphone could drain the battery quicker than the kids can ask “Are we there yet?” Ideal for daily use, weekend excursions or family road trips, the TomTom VIA 1435TM GPS ($129.99) is a 4.3-inch touchscreen GPS with maps for all of the U.S. and Canada, millions of “points of interest,” text to speech technology (for spoken street names) and free map updates for life. Because it has integrated Bluetooth, this GPS unit also doubles as a hands-free speakerphone when a call comes in.
|Gaming to go
Sony’s PlayStation Vita ($249.99) is the most advanced portable game platform around — thanks to its stunning 5-inch OLED touchscreen, high-definition graphics and familiar PlayStation buttons and dual analog sticks. Vita, which means “life,” also boasts dual cameras, Wi-Fi connectivity, customizable apps and the ability to chat with friends while playing online. Whether dad’s in line at the bank or to release some steam on the train ride home from work, the PSVita is like a video game console for your pocket.
Decorate dad’s favorite smartphone, tablet, e-reader or laptop with hundreds of different designs. Gelaskins ($14.95 to $29.95) are high-quality skins that affix to dad’s digital devices, to give them some unique flare. You can also download free, matching wallpaper to display behind the icons. A percentage of each sale goes to the artist, plus you can upload your own design to create a custom, one-of-a-kind skin — such as a family photo. If desired, these skins can be removed and reapplied, with videos on how to do that at the Gelaskins website.
|Dock n’ rock
In search of a unique speaker for your iPad? The Samsung Audio Dock (model # DA-E750; $699.99) is a premium pick thanks to its high-quality components, exceptional sound and host of features including multiple wireless technologies. In fact, this smart-looking and great-sounding conversation piece is made from wood and houses vacuum tubes, which many audio enthusiasts believe offer a warmer, fuller and more natural sound — but digital amplification pumps the volume up to 100 watts of distortion-free sound. Along with a glide-out dock to place your iPad or Galaxy Tab (and charge it up at the same time), this speaker dock includes support for Bluetooth 3.0 (or older), AirPlay or AllShare so you can play with your tablet while listening at the same time.
If dad loves his moves but isn’t home that much to watch them, the Sony BDP-SX910 Portable Blu-ray Disc Player ($249.99) might just be the travel companion he needs.
The 9-inch high-definition player supports Blu-ray discs — as well as upconverting DVDs to HD quality — and allows you to swivel the screen 180-degrees should you want to lay the screen down flat like a tablet. HDMI output means you can connect to a television at home, at the cottage or when you get to the hotel room, while the USB port lets you connect a thumbdrive packed with videos, photos or music. Battery life of the SX910 tops 4.5 hours, which translates to two full-length flicks on a single charge.
Why buy a 40-inch TV when you can double your fun to 80? If the $4,999 price tag isn’t an obstacle (hello, credit card), the Sharp Aquos LC-80LE844U delivers 80-inches of viewing space (measured diagonally), so you can catch all the plays anywhere in the room.
Sharp has also added its exclusive “Quattron” technology to this LED television — providing a fourth colour, yellow, to the typical RGB (red, green, blue) color model — which results in brighter yellows and richer golds. Other features include 3D support, 240Hz frame-quadrupling for smooth motion, Energy Star-compliant low power consumption and integrate Wi-Fi to access on-demand online apps.