Think your dad has everything? Imagine what’s it’s like to shop for your father when he’s a product tester and gadget expert. That’s the dilemma Phil Baker’s family is in, but this year he has some of his favorite products he’s tested that just might make perfect last-minute Father’s Day option.
Father’s Day is Sunday, so I’ve assembled a list of some gift ideas, ranging from $30 to $1,000. I’ve reviewed each of these products, so that I can wholeheartedly recommend them from personal experience.
A wallet for the 21st century
Wallets have not changed much over the years, and haven’t kept up with the myriad of credit cards and electronics we carry. So I was glad to discover the Finn wallet from WaterField Designs. Made in San Francsco of soft leather, the zippered wallet is more like a small case with room for more than 20 plastic credit cards, business cards and folded bills, much more than is possible to fit a conventional wallet. There are two mesh side pockets in the interior for carrying more cards or small items such as SD cards. The wallet comes in two sizes. The larger version will also hold an iPhone and more than a dozen cards and cash. Available in several different colors, it’s a bargain at $29 for either size.
Music in your pocket
Your music becomes more enjoyable with great headphones. For traveling I recommend the Etymotic ER-4 in-ear earphones. They were originally developed for auditory research and have become the gold standard of the category. While others have tried to copy them, no one has come close to matching their pureness and neutrality, as well as their ability to block out background noise in airplanes and other loud surroundings. When I recently met one of the top audio pioneers in the UK, I asked what he used while traveling, and he pulled out a pair of these. Additionally, they are are made in America. ($299)
The Ultimate scanner
Fujitsu has come up with what I call the ultimate scanner. It’s the ScanSnap iX500 Desktop Scanner for PC and Mac that’s a fast, versatile, two-sided (duplex) scanner with a long list of clever features, some new to scanners. First, it can scan almost anything: documents, business cards, clippings receipts and even plastic credit cards. The documents zip through in a split second and appear on the computer a second or two later, with a list of destinations in a pop up window. Listed are several suggested places where you might like to send the scanned file Word, Excel, SugarSync, Dropbox, iPhoto, eMail, Evernote, Sales Force and others. You can even add new ones, as long as they accept a jpg or PDF file as an attachment. I can even add them to my iPhone or iPad using Fujitsu’s free app.
The iX500 can scan a stack of documents of most any size or shape, because of its advanced feed mechanism. In fact I took out a stack of credit cards and my license from my wallet and placed it in the feeder and it scanned both sides of each one after the other without a hitch. I then sent the files to iPhoto and Dropbox, which keeps the card details handy should I ever lose my wallet.
As I used this scanner I kept coming across new surprises. Want to scan a document that’s too big to fit into the scanner? Fold It or cut it and scan it using the carrier provided, a portion at a time, and it will create one large image on the computer.
The all black scanner has a small footprint with folding paper and output trays to keep it out of the way when not needed. So forget those scanners you see advertised on QVC and late night TV. This is your solution to move all your papers to the computer or the cloud. ($449)
The Best Headphones Ever
For the ultimate headphone experience, I’ve been auditioning the Audeze LCD-2, reputed to be the finest headphone ever made. I can’t say enough about how good they sound and how comfortable they are for listening for hours at a time. They are made in California and provide an experience matched only by spending big bucks on speakers or headphones that cost five times as much. They are an open-air design, so they are best for private listening to avoid disturbing others. (Those nearby can hear sound, because the backs of the headphones are open.) They are best used in your home relaxing in a chair or in your office.
They are constructed of rosewood and lambskin and come in a protective carrying case, along with very high-grade cables. They can be hard to get, as the demand is so high, but are a luxury experience every father deserves. ($995)
Some other best products of the year that make terrific gifts
- Best new smartphone: The HTC One Android phone from T-Mobile, AT&T, and soon from Verizon. Another good choice is the Nokia 925 and 928, Windows mobile 8 phones that are fun to use and sport a have an elegant, modern, easy to use interface.
- Best TV add-on: The Sonos Playbar nine-speaker system brings expanded and improved Hi-Fi sound to your TV along with wireless streams of music, radio and your own tunes using the Sonos wireless network which connects to your computer. ($649).
- Best Health-Monitoring Device: The Nike+ FuelBand bracelet with a built-in accelerometer that tracks your walking and running and has a beautiful scrolling display that works as a great nighttime watch, as well. $149.
- Best iPad keyboard: Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, designed to look like a part of the iPad. Works over Bluetooth. $80 for mini, $100 for iPad.
- Best Minimal Business Case: This newly-released Briggs & Riley Digital Case is designed to carry all of your portable electronics in a single bag: it holds a 13-inch or smaller notebook, iPad, eReader, chargers and other small items. It has multiple compartments organized to carry pens, keys, cards, music players or phones. Comes with both a shoulder strap and handles in a compact vertical format. ($129)
By Phil Baker for PeterGreenberg.com. Phil Baker has more than three decades of experience in consumer and computer technology product development and program management. Check out his blog at www.philipgbaker.com.