Cuisinart

Post image for HighTechDad’s 2011 Father’s Day Gift Guide – Products I Have Reviewed & Like

Father’s Day is almost upon us and I wouldn’t be doing my part for the Dads out there if I didn’t put together a Father’s Day Gift Guide. Gifts are obviously very personal in nature so I can’t tell you what to get your dad. What I can do, however, is provide some ideas on some things that might make your dad smile a bit more and potentially appeal to the “HighTechDad” inside of him.

Fathers_day_collage_2011

I won’t be recommending things that I haven’t actually tried, used, reviewed or have myself. That would, honestly, be quite silly. I might recommend some things that I don’t actually possess but know a lot about, but I simply won’t recommend something I haven’t tried first hand. Also not everything that I reviewed is on this list; some gadgets or electronics are just a bit better than others. In most cases, the items below will be linked to my reviews (check the object title for the link to my review) so that you can get details on just about every gadget on this list. But, since blogging is interactive, I encourage readers to leave a comment recommending some other gadgets or consumer electronics that they think are worth mentioning. And who knows, I might see something there that I actually WANT.

The following products are in no particular order or preference or anything apart from being grouped by price range. Do note, the Amazon price listed is as of the day of the writing this article (6/1/11) and is linked to the Amazon listing of that product (an Affiliate link and yes, I get a couple of pennies with each purchase…but that is what keep this blog running!).

Note: all links within the descriptions below are to reviews that I have done in case you want more details and my thoughts on that particular product.

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Better late than never I guess! Over the past year, I have tested out and reviewed a variety of gadgets and consumer electronic devices. Most of these were hand-picked for review purposes in that they are devices that, to me, looked really interesting and intriguing. Given that there are only a few days left for shopping, I realize that this post is a bit “last minute” (but so is my holiday shopping)!

I have gone through all of my reviews from 2010 and picked out some of the items that I think should be included in my 2010 Gadget Roundup & Gift Guide. If something isn’t on my list, I either haven’t reviewed it or perhaps it didn’t quite make the cut, but there are plenty of items that I have reviewed that might fit your needs. Remember though, you should think out what you are getting your friends, family and loved ones carefully because what might be good for some, might be just plain silly for others.

Without further ado, here are some recommendations (clicking on the title will bring you to my review) – and these are in chronological order based on my review date:

  • A USB Mic with a Great Name and even Better Functionality – the BlueMic Snowflakeif you are looking for a really nice USB powered microphone that has a good form-factor, solid performance and will stand the tests of time, take a look at the Snowflake. I use the Snowflake for recording interviews or other audio productions where I need an easy to use USB microphone.
  • Hands-on Video: Parrot’s AR.drone – iPhone Controlled Quadrocopter Compliments their Vision - the AR.drone is truly a gift for dads (well kids too). It’s a quadrocopter (4 propeller helicopter) that you control using your iPhone or iPod Touch. There are 2 mounted cameras that you can view on your iPhone. Steering and controlling it is done via the accelerometers in your iPhone. I never got to keep one of these but I definitely had fun flying one (see the video).
  • Charge Your Gadgets Even When the Power is Out with the Scosche solBAT II Solar Charger - I view the Scosche solBAT II Solar Charger as one of these essential gadgets. You stick it on a car or home window that has sunlight and this battery will be charged using the sun. This is an essential emergency gadget as you will ALWAYS have a battery to charge your cell phone or game. It makes a great stocking stuffer!
  • Conquer the Wind & Rain with the Uniquely Designed SENZ Stealth Umbrella - as rainy season is upon us (at least here on the West Coast), I see lots of destroyed umbrellas lying in trashcans, having been ripped appart by the wind. With the SENZ Stealth Umbrella, you really don’t have to worry about the wind destroying your umbrella. This “high-tech” umbrella not only can withstand wind, but it is also shaped to cover you back (e.g., a backpack) as you traverse the windy rain. There are many sizes that it comes it. Definitely a great umbrella to have!
  • SchlageLINK Gives You Security & Access, Even When You Aren’t Home – your family’s or home’s safety is paramount! The SchlagueLINK system is a great way to monitor and protect your family when you are away. From keyless entry that you get notifications from, to being able to control lights in your house when you are away, you always know what’s going on within your home.
  • Ford Flex & Ford Sync – if you are shopping for a new car, my family and I really loved the Ford Flex. It is a distinctive looking car (cross-over) that is really fun to drive. Also, the Ford Sync really is a great technology that gives more power and functionality to your car, making it even safer to drive. If I had a Ford Flex with a big red ribbon on it parked in my driveway, I would really know that I had been a “good boy” and not made the “naughty list.”
  • The Apple iPad (Amazon link) – I didn’t actually do a review of the Apple iPad but it is definitely on my list of HOT gadgets for 2010. I did do a post (when I first got my iPad) that were the Top 10 iPad apps at THAT time. Obviously, there are a lot more iPads apps out there now, and this list is pretty stale but from a gadget perspective, the Apple iPad is top of the list!
  • The Sony Dash – Not Just a Fancy Clock Radio – An Internet Connected Appliance! – I have to say that the Sony Dash really surprised me. This internet connected device can stream all sorts of internet-enabled content and media including Netflix and Hulu Plus. It’s not too expensive and makes clock radios just seem very last century! You can pull in Twitter and Facebook streams, news feeds and a variety of other content as well.
  • Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini Pounds Out a MAXI Amount of Quality Sound as an iPod Speaker System – there are lots of iPod & iPhone speakers on the market, but there aren’t that many that really sound good. The Bowers & Wilkins system really sounds stellar with crisp highs and deep bass. And it is really nicely designed from a visual perspective.
  • A Dude Ranch Vacation at Greenhorn Creek Ranch – Riding, Fishing and Generally “Horsing Around”! - ok, so this isn’t really a gadget. It’s actually a vacation place that let’s you (almost) disconnect from technology and have some fun on a horse ranch. Great for the entire family. My daughters LOVED the daily horseback rides and I loved the beauty of the surroundings.
  • DropCam is the Ultimate, Easy To Set Up, Security Webcam, Digital Baby Sitter & NannyCam – my wife and I simply LOVE DropCam. We use it daily to check in on our house and what the family is doing. With some of the optional DVR plans, you can check back in time to see and hear video and audio recorded previously. And, I loved how extremely EASY it is to set up a DropCam!
  • The BACtrack S75 Pro Pocket Breathalyzer – Don’t Leave Home Without One! - I think every family should have a pocket breathalyzer. Whether you are testing your teenagers when they come home from a party to simply checking your own blood alcohol levels after going to a dinner or out to eat, the BACtrack helps you know if you should or shouldn’t be driving.
  • The Portable HD Video Recorder Smackdown (PART 2): Sony Bloggie vs Kodak Zi8this was Part 2 of a head to head comparative review that I did putting the Kodak Zi8 (my personal favorite) against some other portable HD Video Recorders. There is a link to my original head-to-head where I compared the Flip Ultra HD against the Kodak Zi8. I love all of these small HD video recorders and I expect this market to really heat up next year.
  • Move All Your Remote Controls to the Logitech Harmony One! - now is the time to consolidate all of your remote controls into one. The Harmony One has been a life-saver in our household, making the controlling of various TV and other home multimedia appliances incredibly easy.
  • Calculating Speeds of Objects On The Go with Pocket Radar - this is a great gadget to have if you are a big sports fanatic and have kids playing baseball or something like that. With this device, you can track the speed of objects (e.g., balls, people moving, cars, etc), just with a click of a button. It’s extremely easy to use and pretty fun.
  • A Tradeshow or On-The-Go Savior – Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4 Battery Case - I love the Mophie Juice Pack Air (and now the Air Plus). Sure it adds a bit more weight and bulk to the slim iPhone 4 but for me, I burn through the iPhone battery in just 1/2 a day. It’s nice to know that I can just flip a switch and charge up my iPhone whenever I need to!
  • Apple TV – Uniting Ideas, Technology, Media and Gadgets – another Apple product that makes the list. I love our Apple TV. It’s a truly convergent device that bring media (audio & video) from a variety of sources onto your big screen TV.
  • Epson WorkForce 635 Multifunction Inkjet Printer – Faster than a Speeding Bullet - this multi-function inkjet printer is really a great work horse (it should be renamed to WorkHorse). Easy to set up and has many features that work great in a small office or home environment.
  • Keurig & Cuisinart Brew Coffee Making Solutions Quickly & Easily in a Single Servingthese Keurig based single serve coffee maker system that has really changed our coffee-making routines at home. My personal favorite is the Cuisinart and I love that you can even use your own coffee if you are out of the coffee packs.
  • The Jabra Stone2 is a Techy Bluetooth Headset that’s a Comfortable, Solid Performer! - currently, this is my favorite Bluetooth headset. I particularly like the “stone” part that is a holder for the headset but also a battery that charges your headset when not in use.
  • Not Just Next Gen Gaming, but Future Computer Interaction? Xbox 360 with the Kinect - last but not least, the Xbox 360 coupled with the Kinect is a real winner when it comes to home gaming entertainment. I love the tech that has been put into the Kinect. While there need to be some more games developed that utilizes the technology, I guarantee that they entire family will love it!

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I’m going to make an odd comparison here and hopefully people will get it. We all know how successful Apple has been with their App store and the products that “consume” the applications like the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Well let’s stretch our imagination a bit and apply this to the coffee brewer industry. Over the past few months, I have had the LUXURY of testing two single-serve coffee makers that are from different companies but that use the same “app store”…er…coffee store. I guess you can equate this pretty closely to the cell phone industry as there are numerous manufacturers of single-serve coffee makers and consequently, the pods or single serve coffee canisters abound as well, much like the Android app store, Apple App store, etc.

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First of all, why choose a single-serve coffee making solution? Well let me tell you this, it is literally a life saver. And, they are so easy to use that your kids can brew you that first cup of coffee on the weekend without ANY type of mess. Have you ever tried to brew a full pot of coffee? I know that you have. For starters, you need to be sure that you have coffee (grounds or bean). Then you have to grind them (potentially) and get them into the coffee maker. And wait, do you use a paper filter or one of those gold filters? Which one is better? Some say that the paper ones filter out the coffee oils while others say that the gold filters are not used by the purist. So let’s move to the next part, filling up the coffee maker with water. Do you use filtered or not? How much water do you use in relation to the scoops of coffee? And what do you do if your spouse or partner or someone else wants decaf? Now, add a kid into the mix and suddenly you have a disaster waiting to happen. And let’s say you are doing this on a school morning and you simply don’t have time to wait for a full pot to brew…your options are limited, you can wait for the pot to brew, go without coffee or order an expensive coffee from a coffee shop (that will cost you $1.50 or more!).

Single serve coffee makers are truly convenient time savers. And if you use them properly, they can save you money on wasted coffee. How many times have you brewed a full pot of coffee only to leave 1/2 of it sitting in the pot only later to throw out? Sure the per cup cost is probably less expensive if you consume the full pot…but who (other than me) really drinks a full pot! Single serve coffee brewers are so insanely simple and easy to use, you definitely CAN get your kids to get you that first cup in the morning (just be sure to warn them that the liquid that comes out is VERY HOT! – not for smaller kids to do!). Since I am talking about the advantages of the single-serving solution, let’s touch on a few more. For starters, you can brew not only various types of coffees, but also teas and even hot chocolate (that is the key for kids too!). To brew a fresh cup, you only need a minute or two (depending if you have your brewer ready to go or if you have to have it heat up the coffee first). There is no mess since the coffee is contained within the pods, or in the case of Keurig and the Cuisinart that I tested, a K-Cup. At last count, Keurig had over 200 varieties of K-Cups available for coffee, tea or other beverages. Now THAT is choice! Each pod or K-Cup contains pre-measured amounts of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, for example. And there is no mess because of the innovative way that the brewer punctures the K-Cup and streams the hot water through it.

So now that I have talked about the “apps” (K-Cups), we should probably look a bit closer at the “phones” (the brewers). The two brewers that I tested were:

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