The holidays are upon us and it’s time for a quick look at 10 cool new things I’ve found that any dad will enjoy this holiday season. As usual, the accent is a bit on technology, but also useful things that solve common problems or create situations for dads and kids to play together.
1. Sky Viper Streaming Drone – (Skyrocket Toys) – $99.99
Skyrocket toys wants to create drones that go beyond the $30 omnipresent helicopters of last year and bring manageable drones to a wider audience. Be advised that this isn’t a “pro” drone that will allow you to fly 2000 feet from your house and take pictures of the entire county. But at an accessible price point, this is a drone that takes streaming video so you can see what the drone sees at a range of up to 200 feet. That should at least give you the range of the view from a ten story building. Since new regulations for drones start at 400 feet, this is also a safe bet for a purchase that won’t require a license in the new year.
Starting at just $39.99, this little memory stick not only keeps at least 32G of storage with you, but also allows up to 3 other devices to access media on the mini WIFI network it creates around you. That means, up to 3 people can access it to watch 3 movies or all watch the same media together. This is not a problem everyone has, but think of how you’d use it in a plane, or on a long car ride, or even for sharing photos at a gathering rather than passing around your phone. While prices go all the way up to $99 for the 128G version, my bet is on the smaller size.
3. Apple TV (new generation) – $149 (32GB) and $199 (64GB)
Apple TV has long been a “good” product desperately in need of an update. Just in time for the holidays, the new Apple TV is here and we can’t wait to get one. Not only does the new Apple TV pair the magic of mini-apps to the TV, but it also brings many iOS games to the big screen using the included Apple remote. This is sure to be a hit for the price. And if he already has the Apple TV, less expensive accessories are an option, such as the Survivor Play for Siri Remote, a silicon protective sleeve at $19.99, or the Apple-recommended Steel Series Nimbus game controller at $49.99.
4. Muse Brain Sensing Headband – $299
The perfect gift for the anxiety-ridden dad who wants to meditate but just can’t see the benefits right away? The Muse Brain Sensing Headband bring ECG-type brain wave measurement to the masses helping the wearer by using brain bio-feedback to know when he is successfully calming himself. My experience with it was positive with real calming effects after one week based on the scoring mechanism within the app. The price is a bit steep but the for the right person, the benefits of true meditation are worth it.
If he’s sick and tired of print cartridge refills and all the games that go along with them, here’s a splurge present that will get a smile. The EcoTank line of printers uses refillable tanks of ink instead of cartridges. Sure, you pay a little bit more up front but you’re never again hostage to the cartridge game when you’re out of ink and all you want to do is a scan or a black & white copy. The EcoTanks start at $379 for the Expression 2500, but for $20 more you can get the more fully functioned Expression ET-2550 which includes PC-free printing and WIFI direct printing from smartphones and tablets. Or, go big with the WorkForce ET-4550 an office-level printer that also does 2-sided pricing and has a 30 page auto document feeder.
6. Denon HEOS 1 Speaker – $199
Similar to other speaker systems from SONOS and Raumsfeld, the HEOS connects over WIFI which allows you to serve up music from your computer or music services on demand. Their small speaker, at $199, fills a “normal” room with a lot of sound. The big difference with the HEOS though is the HEOS Go Pack The addition of the $99 accessory pack gives you a rechargeable battery and bluetooth connection. That means your stylish HEOS speaker can be easily unplugged and taken out to the porch, back yard, or even the beach (if you’re very careful). If you love it, the HEOS can be expanded to include home theatre components and a larger HEOS Drive amplifier.
7.X-Project Nomadic Cinema – $399.99
We reviewed the Pico Projector last spring and loved the quality, ease-of-use and portability of this little projector. This new projector makes it easy to pack a cinema experience when you travel so the whole family (or even a bar!) can enjoy what you are watching or streaming on your phone, tablet or computer. The kit comes with X-Project Pico Projector, A flexible tripod with several mounts, and a travel case.This little guy projects up to 60” which is a good size for most situations (our home big screen is 55”) and the projector includes a speaker, though you may want to bring another amplifier (plenty of small options there!) along to make the sound bigger. I also like that there is a input for Micro SD cards. The internal battery lasts 2 hours so good for a full movie, though you may need a back-up power source if you’re taking it into the wild.
8. Zolt device charger- $99.99
Imagine a laptop and 3-USB port AC adapter about a 1/3 the size of your current brick and you can imagine the Zolt adapter made for laptops with exchangeable tips for different computer. It’s a a far prettier adaptor than my white square from Apple, but also includes 3 more USB ports to keep all your devices charging off on plug. This is a perfect gift for anyone who travels with lots of cords.
9. Slingbox M2 – $199.99
The Slingbox is an easy to setup media player that allows you to access TV content from your home wherever you are in the world over WIFI or Ethernet. This is a great device if you want to access your NFL package from afar, or watch US programming when you are overseas. We were able to set it up easily and were watching TV on our iPad within a few minutes. Slight drawbacks are that on-screen menus aren’t super easy to use to change channels (though not impossible) and ad-free versions of the iOS app will run you an additional $14.99 (the free version requires you to watch an ad before you can see your programming). This is still an improvement over the “old” slingbox model that required an ongoing subscription, but it is an added hidden price tag buyers should understand.