The best Father’s Day tech gift ideas for 2021 | Engadget


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Parents! Where would we be without them? Nonexistent, is the answer, and so we must thank them for our existence in this world. No matter how Philip Larkin feels on the subject, its that time of the year where we celebrate our parents and reward them for raising us. If youre looking for a gift for your father, or the person who held that role in your life irrespective of their gender, weve got a list for you.

A lot of gift guides these days like to pretend that our parents were born during the baby boom, even if thats nowhere near true anymore. After all, if your parents are knocking on 50, then the first war they can remember likely featured Luke Skywalker. That means theyre likely as plugged-in to gadgets and technology as the rest of us. Its just that theyre waiting for you to splash out on some gifts they perhaps wouldn’t have bought for themselves.

Anker PowerWave 4-in-1 charger

Anker

It’s highly possible your dad is. carrying more than just a smartphone. After all, its thought that around 100 million iPhone users are also toting around an Apple Watch, with similar numbers of AirPods being sold over the last few users. Thats why we recommend a charging dock like Ankers PowerWave 4-in-1 to keep all of that gear fully powered.

As the name suggests, the 4-in-1 lets you charge four devices at once, including wirelessly charging for compatible iPhones. In addition, a vertically stacked Lightning port allows you to charge your AirPods, while an Apple Watch pad lets you do the same for your wearable. Rounding out the quartet is a USB-C port for charging any spare devices you have lying around, like an iPad.

Its not cheap, but considering that one such device will unify your charging needs in one place and free up several sockets, its definitely worth it especially if your dad is already in the habit of dumping all of his tech onto the nightstand when its time for bed. Plus, its from a credible brand with a long history in the charging business, as opposed to some flaky company youve never heard of.

Buy Anker PowerWave 4-in-1 charger at Amazon – $100

Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony

Its likely that your parents will want a pair of good-quality headphones just as much as you do. Sony makes some of the best noise cancelling headphones on the market: the romantically named WH-1000XM4. Its a pair of ANC cans which Sony has gradually refined from a powerful contender to a world beater since its original launch in 2018. By this point, these headphones have everything your giftee needs, plus plenty of things they never knew they did.

The XM4 is lightweight, comfortable to wear and has touch-sensitive earcups, as well as a battery rated for 30 hours. It also comes with a Speak-To-Chat tool that automatically pauses the audio when it detects that youve started to talk. Similarly, built-in motion detection halts the audio when you take the headphones off and resumes when youve put them back on. Plus, it incorporates Sonys 360 Reality Audio tech, should your dad be the sort who’d possibly pay for a high-definition audio streaming subscription.

Buy Sony WH-1000XM4 at Best Buy – $350

Nanoleaf Triangles starter kit

Nanoleaf Triangles

Nanoleaf

Interesting lighting setups are not the exclusive province of YouTubers and game streamers. If your dad has a den that they want to jazz up with some smart lighting, consider one of Nanoleafs starter sets. The company didnt invent smart lighting by any stretch, but its innovative system of interlocking shapes require no prior knowledge to install.

We especially appreciate that they provide a canvas for artistic expression, letting you arrange them in your own pattern across your home. You can of course can then set your own lighting sequences in the companion apps, or even pair them with the right accessory to react to music in the room. The only danger, really, is that your parents spend your inheritance decking out their home in nothing but Nanoleaf panels.

Buy Triangles starter kit at Amazon – $200

Withings Body Cardio scale

Withings Body Cardio

Withings

Withings makes some of the best smart weighing scales on the market today, with a litany of features beyond just measuring your weight. Its flagship Body Cardio can check your heart rate, body fat percentage and now offers a score to monitor your cardiovascular health. Those are all good metrics, especially if your parents are thinking more about staying healthy as they get older.

There are a couple of other things that set the Body Cardio apart from other scales, including automatic person recognition. Since most people dont weigh the same as their other family members (and if you do, well done), the scale can automatically track who’s using them during every weigh-in. That means the whole family can use the scales without having to worry about tagging their stats to their own profile afterward. Hardware aside, one of the best things about Withings is its companion Health Mate platform, which has been around for years. Not only is it well designed, but it lays out all of your health data in a way thats easy to understand.

Buy Body Cardio scale at Amazon – $150

Mackie CR-X computer speakers

Mackie CR-X

Mackie

There are lots of generally fine Bluetooth speakers out there, but perhaps your audiophile dad wants something a little classier. Maybe a pair of high-quality desktop or bookshelf speakers are the sort of thing he’s been hoping to receive as a gift. Perhaps he’s a hobbyist music maker and wants to listen to his projects in higher quality. Either way, he needs something better than the sort of junk speakers you find on an aisle-end at Best Buy.

Mackies CR-X speakers are affordable, but offer the sort of sound youd expect to pay a lot more to listen to. Theyre not as good as studio-quality monitors, but theyre close enough that only the most sensitive of ears will notice. And, you know, at this sort of price, thats nothing to sniff at. The CR-X offer open, deep and transparent sound, but are neat enough that they can sit on a small desk, filling your room with sound. Youll also get balanced TRS and unbalanced RCA inputs, as well as built-in Bluetooth on these X-series models.

Now, for this guide Ive picked the CR3s, which combine a three-quarter-inch tweeter with a three-inch woofer and built-in Bluetooth. Thats a great all-round option that will make most things sound like honey, especially if youre upgrading from a $50 speaker. But those three-inch models do suffer from a little bass rolloff since theyre constrained by their small size. If you have the budget and space, you should opt for the four-inch, or five-inch versions to help mitigate that issue.

Buy Mackie CR-X at Amazon – $120

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple

For the majority of people, the Apple Watch is the only smartwatch they need to consider. Sure, you need an iPhone to use it, but theres no watch on the Android side yet that quite matches Apples timepiece. If your parents have iPhones and are interested in tracking their fitness, monitoring their health or just staying in touch, just go with this.

Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why buying an Apple Watch for your parents is a good idea, from the ease of use to the health-monitoring features. If your dad has a heart condition, or is worried about keeping trim, having a blood oxygenation and ECG on their wrist seems like a good idea. Then theres Fitness+ which, should you feel like buying, will let them access on-demand exercise classes.

By now, Apple has smoothed out many of the early-day kinks that might have turned away prospective shoppers. The watch’s display is now always-on, the UI is more intuitive, the software is smarter and, well, thats enough. Even if the Apple Watch does seem a bit staid at this point.

Buy Apple Watch Series 6 at Amazon – $399

Garmin Approach S42

Garmin Approach S42

Garmin

Did you spring forth from the loins of someone whose identity has coalesced around the sport of golf? Do they talk of nothing but improving their handicap, watch nothing but The Masters and wear nought but beige chinos? Fear not, because you wont have to buy them another set of monogrammed tees since thats the only golf-related thing thats available to buy. Instead, consider Garmins Approach S42, a dedicated golf smartwatch for the serious puttist.

The S42 has gnarly fitness-watch styling, meaning it’s a world away from the oft-copied squircle design of the Apple Watch. It has a 1.2-inch color screen, which is easy enough to read, and it comes with 42,000 different golf courses pre-loaded. You can also use it to track your shots and can even integrate with a dedicated golf club sensor for better data. Plus, you know, its a Garmin, so youll get basic smartwatch notifications, fitness tracking and a battery that will outlast your phone five times over.

Buy Garmin Approach S42 at Amazon – $300

SteelSeries Apex Pro

SteelSeries Apex Pro

SteelSeries

Parents can be fussy and obsessive at least, some of our parents, anyway. Thankfully, Steelseries makes a keyboard catered to persnickety types, with electrically controlled actuation that does away with the notion of swapped switches. The Apex Pro is a pricey gaming keyboard for people who crave the sort of customizability few others could dream about. (And dont worry, you can disable the rainbow lights if dad isnt a capital-g Gamer.)

The secret to its adjustability is the OmniPoint Adjustable Switches, which use magnetic sensors to register a key press. Keys can set that to be remarkably shallow for fast-twitch gaming, or long and deep, for the more operatic typists out there. A small OLED display at the end of the function row enables you to store various profiles and switch between them without the use of a desktop software manager, too.

Buy SteelSeries Apex Pro at Best Buy – $180

Apple iPad Air

Apple iPad Air

Apple

Apples newest iPad Air splits the difference very neatly between the beautifully affordable iPad and the iPad Pro. The tablet packs a 10.9-inch display and Apples A14 Bionic system-on-chip, offering the sort of performance that iPad Pro users have been boasting about. Even better, the unit comes with a USB-C port, enabling you to connect any compatible accessories you have lying around. And, of course, buying an iPad over a generic Android tablet can save you plenty of time in tech support, especially if your parents arent the savviest.

Buy iPad Air at Amazon – $599

Roku Streambar

Roku Streambar

Roku

Plenty of people spend a lot of time pondering the best and biggest TV their living room (and wallets) can handle, but they often spend less time on the audio portion of their setup. If your dad is guilty of this, the Roku Streambar can elevate the sound of his home theater system. The Streambar is roughly the size of an egg carton so itll fit into almost any setup, and the installation is basically plug-and-play. Inside you’ll find the same streaming tech as the Roku Ultra, so it could also turn your dads previous dumb TV into a smart one. The audio quality is decidedly better than most TV internal speakers, while the Streambar doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, so dad can cast tunes to it when hes not watching classic movies. It also comes with a voice remote that, with a few setting changes, can be used to control the TV as well.

Buy Roku Streambar at Amazon – $130

Anova Precision Oven

Anova Precision Oven

Anova

If your dad is a cooking nerd, or wants to become one, you might consider splurging on Anovas Precision Oven. Its a combination convection-and-steam oven that can cook your food in either wet or dry heat, with precise controls over the humidity and temperature. Despite looking like a shopping channel toaster oven, Anova is pitching this at the sort of folks who want to customize how their food is cooked.

As a baker, its the sort of thing Id love to own purely since you can fine-tune the steam injection to form a better crust on your loaves. (Its probably safer than throwing a cup of water onto the bottom deck of your oven when you put the dough in, too.) Plus, with a built-in thermometer you can let the system keep an eye on the conditions to ensure your meat dishes are cooked to perfection. And, of course, this is Anova, so you can also do a bagless sous-vide and show off to all of your friends about how you can do fancy French cheffery.

Buy Precision Oven at Anova – $599

Books

A selection of book covers

The Power Broker

It was obvious decades ago that big cities need more affordable housing, comprehensive public transportation and better public infrastructure. Not only to make life easier for the people living there, but to help meet the worlds goals of avoiding a climate catastrophe. How, then, did New York City become such a car-centric metropolis despite a clear need for anything but?

Enter Robert Moses.

Moses was, broadly speaking, a civil servant who managed to amass so much power and influence over the city that he could throw his weight around like nobody before or since. This was despite the fact that he never sought elected office, and so never had to explain himself to the public.

Robert Caros profile is subtitled The Fall of New York, as the tome is a breathtaking look at power, and its abuses. Caro outlines Moses as a fallen idealist who ruled (and) lived like a king, and used the power of city planning to further his goals. Perhaps the most notable example is Moses policy of building bridges too low for buses to pass under. That was, according to the people Caro spoke to, a subtle way of preventing inner-city (read: non-white) families from easily accessing the beach. Even if you dont live in New York, however, its the sort of exhaustively-researched book that, despite its age, tells us so much about the society we find ourselves living in.

Buy The Power Broker at Amazon – $17

Live From New York

Your parent either pretends not to know what Saturday Night Live is, or theyre loudly insisting that it was way cooler when Gilda Radner / Jan Hooks / Molly Shannon / Kristen Wiig /etcetera was there. Either way, this oral history of the shows first four decades on the air is a riveting read as a bunch of kids are thrust into the spotlight.

With so many contributors involved, including (almost) all of those who passed through the hallowed halls of Studio 8H, its exhaustively researched. The oral history format works well, with the authors cross-cutting the anecdotes from all of the people who were involved at the time. Its also funny, biting and acidic as old grudges and myth-making clash with everyones varied recollections of what really went on. Sure, there are plenty of books about SNL, but this is the only one that’s essential.

Buy Live from New York at Amazon – $23

Under The Skin

Sometimes, a book will sit with you long after youve finished it, to the point that youre just not sure if youll ever get it out of your head. Michael Fabers Under the Skin is one such book, a novel set on the highways and coastlines of rural Scotland. It tells the story of Isserley, an alien who kidnaps hitchhikers to send back to her home planet, where human flesh is a delicacy.

It’s at times a gruesome book, but one thats less obsessed with grim spectacle as exploring what it means to be human, and humane. Faber uses the story to explore the ethics of plastic surgery, factory farming and how society treats those left behind. If you ever needed to convince someone that they might need to cut down on the beef, this may be the book to give them.

Whatever you do, dont watch the film adaptation starring Scarlett Johansen and directed by Jonathan Glazer. That film throws out everything from Fabers novel beyond the premise, as well as abandoning the interiority and depth of the characters and story. Instead, hand this to your parent and get ready for a four-hour phone call when theyre finished.

Buy Under the Skin at Amazon – $13



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