Hot Tech Gifts for Fathers - 2016 edition

  • 01 of 07

    Introduction

    Tech Gifts for Men
    Blend Images /Getty Images

    Gift giving can be a real struggle for families year after year.  "What can we get Dad this year?" is a common question in many families.  If your dad is appreciative of technology gifts, any gift on this list of fun and interesting technology gifts would be a real winner for any holiday or event.  I have tried them all personally, and as a guy who loves tech gifts, they are all on my  list this year.  

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  • 02 of 07

    Lutron Caseta Wireless.

    Caseta Wireless Bridge

    The Caseta Wireless system is so simple but so powerful.  I tried out the base unit called a Smart Bridge - which connects to a wireless router - and two lamp dimmer units which I connected to lamps in different parts of our home.  It was very simple to connect and to set up.  After connecting the base unit to my router via an Ethernet cable, I plugged in my lamps to the lamp unit which plugs into the wall.  

    I then downloaded an app for my smartphone (iPhone 6) and then set up the various...MORE components of the system.  I connected the lamp controller to a remote and to my iPhone which allowed me to turn on, turn off and dim the lights from either a wireless remote oir from my phone.  My wife thought it would be an excellent tool if a teenager was sitting in the living room with a significant other, letting us have control of the lights!  The system can also be connected to a Lutron, NEST or other wireless thermostat.  I also connected the device to my Amazon Echo, so I can tell the lamps to turn off, turn on or dim.  It was really easy to set up and has great instructions.  I am a big fan of the Lutron Caseta wireless controllers. 

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  • 03 of 07

    Amazon Echo

    Amazon Echo with Alexa

    I love my iPhone, and I use Siri all the time.  But the new Amazon Echo is a Siri like tool that sits in my family room waiting for my every command.  We were making cookies in the adjoining kitchen, and I asked the Echo (By saying “Alexa” first) to set a timer for eight and a half minutes.  It worked!  Connecting Smart Home appliances and the Caseta Wireless controller to it was easy, and I could adjust lights, close and open blinds and set my thermostat all from the Echo.  

    I can also listen to...MORE Amazon Prime music or music on Pandora, even selecting my favorite artist or album.  It is very easy to set up, and the settings and functions are defined via a smartphone application.  I can check the weather, see what is on TV this evening, and find out when my favorite team plays next.  I can play podcast episodes and get my calendar read to me.  The Echo is quickly becoming one of my favorite tech tools.  

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  • 04 of 07

    UE Megaboom Wireless Speaker

    UE Megaboom Wireless Speaker

    I have had a chance to try out the new Megaboom wireless speaker from UE, and it has quickly become one of my favorite wireless speakers.  It connects via bluetooth with a smart phone or other enabled device and has an amazing sound for a smaller unit.  The Megaboom measures a little less than 9 inches high and has speakers all around the cylinder shape.  It has a bluetooth range of about 100 feet and it has amazing sound and volume.  It is the perfect portable wireless speaker for a party, a...MORE day at the beach, or just listening to while you are working outside or puttering around the house.  

    Volume controls are a big plus and minus on the front of the unit, and are very responsive to touch.  And sound distortion at the high end was really not even noticeable.  It was super easy to set up and use, and the associated smartphone app gives you lots of control.  You can set it up to use as a speakerphone with your smartphone, turn it on and off remotely,  You can even set it up to use as an alarm clock.  And with a battery life of about 20 hours, it can give many hours of listening pleasure between recharges.  

    It comes with an easy carry case which protects it from damage when you take it along on your outings.  This has quickly become one of our family’s favorite devices, and has helped us enjoy music in lots of places.

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  • 05 of 07

    Otter Cases for Smartphones

    Otter Box Smartphone Cases

    I have tried a lot of cases for my phones over the years and I had the chance recently to try out several versions of the Otter brand cases for my iPhone.  Otter cases are amazingly durable, easy to get on the phone, and protect it against dropping and other hazards.  The following Otter case models were included in my review.

    • The Statement Series cases look great and have a leather accent that feels so rich and warm.  It is soft to the touch but still has all of Otter’s protection built in.  It...MORE also has a clear back for most of the case, which looks a bit different, but cool.  If you are looking for an elegant case for your dad’s phone, this one is a real winner.

    • The Symmetry series of phone cases are really slim and offer great protection.  They look sleek but feel very sturdy and give you the sense that your phone will be well protected.
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  • 06 of 07

    Zus Car Charger and Car Finder

    Zus Car Charger and Locator
    Courtesy of Nonda

    Maybe it's just my age or maybe I have a lot on my mind, but I too often find myself wandering around a parking lot trying to remember where I left my car.  But no longer!  As the proud owner of a Zus mobile charger, I can now charge my devices twice as fast as ever and I can use a mobile app to find my car.  Setting up the Zus and downloading the mobile app from the App Store was easy and intuitive.  It has its own built in cooling system, LED lights so you can find it in the dark, and 2...MORE USB charging ports, and plugs into a cigarette lighter or power port in my car.  

    So, the first week I had it, my wife and I went to a rodeo and parking in the middle of a sea of surface parking.  As I left the car, my phone pinged indicating that the location of the car had been registered and asked if I wanted to set a timer (in case the parking time was limited or I had fed a meter).  Not needed in this case, but a nice feature.  When the rodeo was over, I turned the app on and headed in the general direction of the car.  When I got close to where I thought the car might be, the app launched a compass and led me directly to the car (within about three cars).  It was admittedly pretty cool.  

    At $29.99, the price is certainly right and any dad (whatever his age or mental state) will love the Zus.

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  • 07 of 07

    Image 3-D Viewer and Custom Reels

    Image 3-D Viewer

    Now - the Image 3-D viewer may not meet the common definition of a tech gift, but withhold your judgment for just a minute!  The Image 3-D viewer is the new and improved version of what we used to call a ViewMaster when I was a kid.  This viewer looks a bit like binoculars, except it has a place where a disc of photos is placed and viewed through the viewer.  It has a 3-D appearance, without 3-D glasses.  I remember getting a ViewMaster when I was in grade school after a trip to Disneyland with...MORE many of the rides and sites on a disc.

    Today, the Image 3-D viewer is a more modern version of the old ViewMaster, but with one major improvement.  Online, you can create your own discs from your digital photos and have them shipped to you.  So, while the viewer may not be especially high tech, the idea that you can create your own discs for viewing is decidedly a tech process.

    The Image 3-D viewer is a little bit retro, which probably works well for a dad or a grandfather.  Planning ahead a little to send some of your favorite family photos electronically and getting a custom disc will result in a gift that dad will smile at, will enjoy and will remember.  If he is anything like me, he will take it to work and show his friends how cool it is!