Here’s my selection for 2014 Father’s Day tech gifts. I’ve tried each of these items and can definitely recommend them.
Pocket Pro Cameras: There have been many improvements over the past two years in pocket-size cameras, spurred on by the competition from smartphones. But these cameras beat a smartphone every time, with their larger sensors, stronger flashes and optical zooms. The best pocket-sized models you can buy are the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II or their new III, the (fixed lens) Ricoh GR, and the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark, each from $700 to $800.
If these tax your budget, consider the tiny Canon PowerShot S110, a model that’s been replaced by the S120, but is still available for an amazing $249. Lastly, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7 continues to provide great results and can be found for less than $350. It’s the same camera that had sold under the Leica brand for nearly three times the price. I’ve tested all while traveling on business and vacation, and they all are excellent, producing images that are sometimes as good as those from DSLR cameras.
A bag within a bag: With some of us now using just a lightweight computer such as a MacBook Air or Microsoft Surface, or even just a tablet, there’s less need to travel with a huge briefcase, particularly once you have arrived at your destination. Consider these cases, which you can carry separately, but are also small enough to pack inside your larger case.
Briggs & Riley KA001 Digital Cross Body: This case ($129) is just the right size for carrying a 13-inch notebook, plus a tablet, power adapters, pens, keys and cards. I used it on a recent business trip to China and it was much easier carrying this each day than a fully loaded briefcase, particularly while climbing up six flights of stairs in a factory that that had no elevator (briggs-riley.com).
Another choice is the Muzetto leather bag from WaterField Designs. Handmade in San Francisco, it’s a vertical bag available in a wide range of sizes and colors from $179 to $259 (sfbags.com).
Or consider the Levenger Stealth Laptop Messenger ($299), a slim, zippered, soft leather bag that fits a 15-inch computer, tablet and other small items (levenger.com).
Logitech Case [+]: This iPhone case is so new your dad will likely not even have heard of it. Dubbed as the only case you will ever need, it is really a multipiece system. The basic case is a high-quality black matte design with a brushed metal back panel that’s attractive and provides good protection. It comes with a snap-on battery back that provides a full recharge of the phone without adding a lot of bulk. The advantage over other battery cases is it snaps off when you don’t need it and it can be recharged while off the phone.
The case comes with a clever compact magnetic mount for your car window or dashboard. Two add-ons snap on the back of the phone case. One is a compact wallet that holds a few cards and the other is a folding stand to prop up your phone for watching videos. $199 in a presentation gift box (logitech.com).
Gene Coffee Roaster: If you can’t afford to tour the world’s coffee-growing regions, then you may want to imagine visiting them by enjoying their coffee beans. Start with the green coffee beans from Sweet Marias (www.sweetmarias.com), with more than 70 constantly changing choices. Each comes with a detailed description of the geographic area and the farms where the beans are grown. Then add a coffee roaster. The Gene Coffee Roaster (genecafe.com) is one of my favorite products tested over the past year. I liked it so much, my wife bought it for me for last Father’s Day, and I’ve been using it nearly every week. The Gene Cafe ($585) roasts a half-pound of coffee in about 15 minutes using a clever off-axis rotating design that lets you watch the beans turn from green to brown. I find the coffee to be noticeably better than even my favorite local roasters. Coffee beans cost about $6 to $7/pound, about one-third to one-half of roasted beans. (genecafe.com)
T-Mobile and the HTC One (M8) Phone: This is the perfect gift for the International traveler. For the first time, you can use your normal cellphone wherever you go in the world and forget those huge roaming charges for calls and data that Verizon and the rest of the companies charge. T-Mobile’s new Simple Choice Plan lets you call for just 20 cents a minute in nearly any country and get free data. Couple it with a HTC One (M8) phone and you’ve got the best possible combination.
iPad Air: While the Air may look like an incremental improvement over the original 9.7-inch tablet, it’s really quite a breakthrough in its reduced 1-pound weight, faster processer and only 7.5mm thickness. It retains a 10-hour battery life and is the best iPad you can buy this year. $499 for the 16GB version, $100 more for 32GB. (apple.com).Read More...