Image by duane.shoon via Flickr
Now that Mother’s Day is over and done, it’s time to start shopping for the big guy. You know, Dad. Forget the ties and tools–what he wants is tech. I’m talking gadgets, gear, and guy toys. As a dad myself, I know just the right stuff to shop for.
Read on for five of my favorite ways to honor thy father.
Acer Aspire AS8950G-9839
Let’s face it: Dad needs a new computer. Toss his bulky, ugly old tower in the trash (or, better yet, donate it) and set him up with this drop-dead-gorgeous desktop replacement. The aluminum-clad Aspire AS8950G sports a mammoth 18.4-inch display, making it a great choice for playing games, watching movies, and other media-centric endeavors.
To that end, the system includes a blazingly fast graphics processor, a surprisingly good-sounding 5.1-channel speaker system, and a Blu-ray drive. Plus, an Intel Core i7 “Sandy Bridge” processor powers the whole works, so the system has more than enough muscle for video editing, mammoth spreadsheets, and other high-end computing chores.
The Aspire AS8950G has a list price of $1,599. This brand-new model is still a week or two from hitting store shelves, but it should be available in time for the big day.
Kodak Playsport Zx5
Kodak‘s latest pocket camcorder is perfect for dads who like to play hard. The Playsport Zx5 captures full 1080p video on dry land or underwater, where it can dive up to 10 feet and live to tell–make that “show”–the tale.
The controls are vastly improved over last year’s Playsport and Kodak has added a couple noteworthy features: an anti-glare mode that automatically increases screen visibility under bright sunlight, and a Share button for easing video sharing via e-mail, Facebook, YouTube, and other services.
Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200
Dad needs Internet access, but the last thing you want to do is saddle him with a two-year contract and a pricey monthly bill. Enter the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200, a mobile hotspot that’s available without a contract: Dad just pays for service as he needs it.
Powered by Sprint’s 3G network, the MiFi creates a secure Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five nearby devices (laptop, iPad, etc.). Yet it measures no larger than a small stack of credit cards. Just make sure you check Virgin Mobile’s coverage map first, as service (especially 3G service) isn’t available everywhere.
Samsung Nexus S 4G
Is Dad still hauling around that clunky old BlackBerry? Time for a smartphone makeover. The Nexus S 4G is the latest Android-powered handset to hit the streets, and I think it’s one of the slickest. It’s not only slim and curvy, but also way more powerful than the iPhone 4.
For example, it features a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, support for Near Field Communication (a fancy new short-range wireless technology), and the latest version of the Android operating system (2.3, a.k.a. Gingerbread).
Plus, it’s a 4G phone, meaning it can download Web pages, video, and other data faster than the 3G-only iPhone.
Zvox Z-Base 575
Most HDTVs, even the big ones, have pretty crummy built-in speakers. Usually the only alternative is a pricey home-theater receiver and a bunch of speakers (plus all the floor-snaking wires that go with them).
The Z-Base 575 is a complete audio system contained in a single cabinet, one that’s designed to sit right under your HDTV. It cranks out 133 watts of virtual surround sound, effectively doing the work of five speakers and a sub-woofer. And take it from me: it sounds a million times better than the TV’s built-in speakers. Dad will be in audio heaven–and he won’t have to run speaker wire through walls and floors to get there.
Designed for TVs up to 65 inches, the Z-Base 575 normally sells for $549.95, but you can get it from Buy.com for $449 shipped. If you want something a little more affordable, check out the Z-Base 550, which is on sale from the manufacturer for $299.99.
Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, “How to Do Everything: Palm Pre.” Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog.