The Best Tech Gadgets for Dads and Grads
Let’s face it, gift cards are boring. And most of the time, they’re never even cashed in. So what would Dad and the grad in your family (or circle of friends) be thrilled to unwrap? Tech goodies! Here are ten great ideas that range in price from $15 to $1000.
Snappy Storage: The NASCAR USB Flash Drive
Dad always wanted to be a race car driver when he was a kid, and now that he's an adult, he deserves a race car of his own--one that he can use every day. This 4GB NASCAR flash drive from a series by Centon will make any file transfer fun.
About $20, the NASCAR would also suit a high school grad. It'll be almost impossible to lose in the college computer lab because its appearance is so distinct--and if it does go missing, it’ll be a cinch to identify in the campus lost and found.
Time for a Tiny Laptop? Meet the Asus EEE 1000 Netbook
It's small, it's useful--and if you’re completely stumped on what to get the graduate in your life, the Asus EEE 1000 is also a perfect graduation gift. The Asus weighs only 2.9 pounds, and it's the most efficient way to take notes during class--and to fact-check those off-the-wall statements Professor Smith spouts.
It sure beats lugging around a super-heavy laptop. Priced under $400, the Asus comes with a 160GB hard disk to store data, and it's easy to tote around, as it can slip effortlessly into almost any size of backpack. So whether your grad heads off to college or work, this netbook will see a lot of use. Oh, and we're sure that Dad wouldn't mind finding this netbook wrapped on the breakfast table Father's Day morning, either.
Where to Go and How to Get There: Nextar Q4-md GPS
A GPS device can serve both dad and your grad in different ways: Dad won't have to give up his masculinity and ask for directions--instead he can relax on the family's next weekend trip and let the device do the navigation.
Your grad, on the other hand, who is bound for college or work in a new city, will inevitably need to learn his way around a new area--without ending up lost in a shady part of town. The Q4-md's 4.3-inch touchscreen display and voice-guided directions help decrease the stress of driving in unfamiliar areas. It even shows 3D building views in major cities, so you'll hardly want to look out the window at the actual view! And at $330, its price is pretty middle-of-the-road for these devices.
Shoot Classier: Nikon's D90 Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera
The sad truth is that Dad can't be taken seriously at his daughter's soccer games if he continues to snap photos of her goals with a cheesy point-and-shoot camera. Help him look cool (and help his photos look cooler) with the Nikon D90. Of the many digital SLR cameras on the market, the Nikon D90 is one that's worth a good look.
This DLSR features a 3-inch LCD and a new CMOS sensor, and the resolution is stunning at 12.3 megapixels. The image quality that the D90 produces is so brilliant, even beginners can create eye-catching photographs. Prices for the D90 vary based on where you find it, but prepare to spend about $1000.
Hip College Laptop Needed? Check out the HP Pavilion dv3
The HP Pavilion dv3 is an all-around good and stylish laptop--especially fit for a high school grad who's about to move into the small confines of a college dorm room. The Pavilion dv3 is one of the HP Pavilion line's Entertainment PCs, so it can do double duty beyond its laptop functions.
For instance, your student can access thousands of TV channels via Internet TV4 with the HP MediaSmart software. And, with decent built-in speakers from Altec Lansing, it is a credible stereo replacement. The dv3 comes with 4GB of RAM that'll make viewing movies and downloading music a breeze. For around $850 (or less), HP Pavilion's dv3 is the notebook for a student who will use it to write research papers and watch DVDs--and the best part is that it won't break the bank.
Good-Looking Earphones: Skullcandy Earbuds
The news is out: Colorful earphones are no longer just for teenage girls. Skullcandy sells some manly (but-still-fashionable) earphones that suit the individual style of your dad or grad. They have everything from colored metallic earphones to wooden (yeah, wooden!) ones. And they’re not gimmicky either--they deliver powerful sound.
Check out some of the colorful earbuds that are pleasing to both ear and eye--and to the wallet, at around $20.
Don't Lug Heavy Books Around: Amazon's Kindle DX
What would college be sans 50 pounds worth of expensive textbooks every semester? Happier! One, overall tuition would be slightly cheaper. Two, college would become, at the very least, a little more fun. This fall, the Kindle DX--Amazon's large-format e-book reader--has available about 285,000 books and magazines for download. The Kindle DX is expected to start replacing textbooks for selected college courses at five universities across the country.
It's an experiment, and it will be interesting to hear what the 300 student testers think about switching from physical textbooks to digital versions. But don’t feel limited--anyone can try out the Kindle DX for their own reading materials.
Dad probably would love the Kindle DX for starting his day with morning papers from around the world and moving on later to anything else he wants to invest in. The DX costs $489, and individual book downloads are typically about $10.
Wake Up Happier: The DLO iBoom Home
The DLO iBoom Home--an iPod-compatible alarm clock--is a fun way to begin a new life of independence and punctuality, especially if your student moves out this fall and won't have Mom around to ensure they get up and off to school on time. Lots of iPod alarm clocks are out there--check to see if one has all the features you want.
And the whole transition from a deep and comfortable sleep into waking life won’t be so dreadful when you wake up to a sweet playlist--it sure beats the disorienting beeps from that old evil digital alarm clock, even at the iBoom Home's list price of $99. If your Dad's a deep sleeper, he might appreciate it also.
Print Like a Pro: The Canon Pixma MX860
Nothing's worse for a new college student than using the public print system on campus. Picture this: You get up at 7 a.m. to print out the paper you spent all night writing, only to find that you need a print card to release it from the printer. And no, you don't have time to buy one before class. For college students, a printer/scanner/copier combo is the ultimate lifesaver when it comes to creating papers and projects.
The Canon Pixma MX860 is a sleek, silver all-in-one printer that outputs brilliantly. The MX860 offers a slew of cool features including options for ethernet, USB, and Wi-Fi. Three quality machines in one, the Canon Pixma MX860 will make your favorite student's projects stand out in the pile. Oh, and did we mention this machine is the perfect size for a dorm?
Keep Credit Cards Safe: The Jimi Wallet
Remember how you’d always get Dad a new wallet for Father’s Day when you couldn’t think of anything better? Take a look at this twist on that old classic: The Jimi wallet, a thin plastic wallet replacement that’s been dubbed by creator Mark O’Neill as “The Wallet for People Who Hate Wallets.”
In other words, it’s perfect for people would rather keep cash, a few credit cards, and IDs in a clever plastic container that can easily be worn around the neck or slipped into your pants pocket. The Jimi wallet ($14.95) comes in 11 bright colors, and each wallet is made from 100 percent recycled materials. A grad might like it for those weekend road trips or that long-anticipated overseas backpacking expedition.