Tech Gifts for Dads and Grads

5/26/2011

It’s that time of year again … graduations galore. Plus, don’t forget Father’s Day is right around the corner. Luckily, if you find yourself with a long list of dads and grads to buy for, there is an equally long list of connected devices perfect for tech lovers.

Avoid giving gift cards and neck ties this year; here are some unique gift ideas from the editors of Connected World magazine that are sure to impress the grad or dad in your life. (You may even find something to add to your own wish list.)

Wilson Mini-Mobile Cell Phone Signal Booster
There’s nothing more frustrating than a dropped cell signal while on the road, perhaps on the way to an important job interview, or while trying to conduct business outside the office. The Wilson Mini-Mobile Cell Phone Signal Booster from Wilson Electronics, www.wilsonelectronics.com, boosts signals for both voice and data by increasing the power output of your phone in areas where you may be experiencing a weak signal.


No need to break out the toolkit, as the Mini-Mobile can be installed in your vehicle with minimal effort and is flexible enough that it can be swapped between vehicles at a moment’s notice. This product, which requires no physical connection to your phone or data card, supports multiple cellphones and data cards simultaneously, and works with all North American cellular providers. Price varies depending on the market. By lessening the frustration of dropped calls, this is one gift that keeps on giving.

iBike Dash Cycling Computer
Take biking to the next level with the iBike Dash Cycling Computer by Velocomp, www.ibikesports.com. It’s designed to turn an iPhone or iPod Touch into a cycling monitor that can monitor speed, power, heart rate, wind speed, time, trip, elevation, and calories. The full-color displays are designed to make it easy to see your data, such as if you are in the right heart-rate zone for your personal fitness goals.

System components include a special case and aluminum mounting hardware, plus an ANT+ wireless speed sensor that will communicate with an iPhone or iPod Touch. Add the iBike app and iBike software for your computer, and you’re ready to get biking.

Optional sensors are available for purchase to monitor cadence and heart rate. For the cyclist in your life, the iBike Dash Cycling Computer would be an incentive to keep up their riding. Purchase for $199.

Bushnell Hybrid Laser GPS
If you’re looking to gift a golfer, or if you find yourself playing a round to unwind, Bushnell, www.bushnellgolfgps.com, offers a connected device perfectly suited to make your next 18 holes your best ever. Bushnell’s Hybrid Laser GPS device is a combination laser rangefinder and GPS unit in one.

The “laser-rangefinding” technology provides precise distances (within one yard) to virtually any point on the course. In fact, nine in 10 PGA Tour pros agree.  PinSeeker Technology also provides 5x magnification. The Hybrid’s GPS function gives you access to more than 16,000 preloaded North American golf courses and distances to the front, center, and back of green.

The Hybrid also offers four custom points on a hole to help with blind tee shots, and “shot distance mode,” which helps you gauge how far a drive or an approach was hit. Bushnell’s Hybrid is ready out of the box—meaning there are no additional fees—and it is legal for tournament play. Purchase for $499.99.

Logitech Squeezebox
Now music lovers can listen to music anywhere in their home, no matter where the files are stored. The Squeezebox by Logitech, www.logitech.com, is a wireless radio that can find music on multiple computers and then play it, whether your computer is running Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. It doesn’t matter what types of files you have, Squeezebox will play most anything. Supported file types include MP3, FLAC, WMA, WMA Lossless, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, and AIFF.

Not only can you play music wirelessly, Squeezebox also allows you to browse and organize your digital music collection. But what if you get tired of your current collection of tunes? No problem, because Squeezebox is also an Internet radio.

The device sports a 2.4-inch color screen that displays album art, track and station information, visualizers, and screen savers. Squeezebox is also a true multi-tasker, functioning as an alarm clock. The display will auto-dim when the light gets low so it’s not too bright when you’re dozing off for the night. All in all, the Logitech Squeezebox is a great gift for a music lover who doesn’t want to be chained to the computer. Purchase for $179.99.

itablet Thumb Keyboard
Interact digitally, anyplace and anytime, with the itablet Thumb Keyboard from AHX Global, www.itablet.com. The Bluetooth keyboard has a patented rear-facing touchpad that aims to replace awkward keyboard experiences with one that is more “user friendly.”

Compatible with Bluetooth-equipped devices, ranging from tablets and mobile phones (Android, Apple, and Windows are all covered here) to IPTV systems, this keyboard is built around the interactive experience. It can also be used in conjunction with many of the connected gaming systems on the market today, including Sony PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

The keyboard, which is battery operated and 5.9 x 3.5 inches, is available in black or white versions with U.S. and U.K. keyboard layouts.  According to AHX Global, additional keyboard formats will be launched later this year.  Purchase for $112.00.

Cobra iRadar Detection System
If you, your grad or dad, are concerned about radar guns, speed cameras, and red-light cameras while out cruising, invest in Cobra’s iRadar Detection system, www.cobrairadar.com. The detection system consists of the Detector, a sleek, compact device capable of 360° radar detection, and the iRadar app, available for free on iPhone and Android devices.

The detector is functional with or without the app. If you do not have a smartphone, the unit will provide audio alerts when it detects radar and laser signals. Escalating alerts through the unit’s speaker will let you know how far away the threat is.

Combined with the app, the system uses your smartphone’s GPS technology and Bluetooth connection to give you access to up-to-the-minute alerts for speed and red-light cameras, known speed traps, and dangerous intersections. The display not only tells you what type of alert, but also the strength of the alert in proximity to you, Cobra says. Purchase for $129.99.
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