There are only a couple of more shopping days left until Father’s Day, that once-a-year event when wives and kids all across the U.S. buy Dad ties, aftershave, and other things he — let’s be honest here — will never use.
So to make shopping easier this year, we’ve assembled a few digital lifestyle ideas for your husband or Dad. Most of these are more expensive than Aqua Velva aftershave but, since we’re being honest here, these are what Dad might buy for himself, including a remote control beer cooler.
The most sought-after Father’s Day gift on the planet will be the new 3G iPhone from Apple, which isn’t available until July 11. Until then, a hand-written IOU redeemable for the iPhone will do. Thankfully, the price is coming way down: $199 for the 8 GB model, $299 for the 16 GB phone. And since it now supports the enterprise with Microsoft Exchange syncing and other business-place features, the grumpy IT guys at Dad’s office will be happy.
Alternatives: none. Sure, we could argue for a Sony Ericsson, BlackBerry, or HTC smart phone, but why bother? Until Google’s Android phones are available — long after this Father’s Day is over — the iPhone will head Dad’s wish list.
Dad already has a big screen, HD television and, probably, a DVR like TiVo. Don’t despair. This Father’s Day, give him the Netflix set-top box by Roku ($99). It’s butt ugly — just a square black box — but it delivers more than 100,000 movies and TV episodes from Netflix to his TV instantly, without having to wait for the postman.
Acceptable alternatives: the AppleTV ($229) for iTunes purchases, Vudu ($299) for movies on demand, and the Slingbox Pro ($229), which allows you to watch and control up to four video sources from anywhere in the world on a laptop or cell phone.
If Dad is a sports nut — and who isn’t? — then the ESPN “The Ultimate Remote” Universal Remote ($299) is the perfect gift. It’s billed as the first-ever digital media remote with Wi-Fi, meaning it’s a traditional advanced home theater remote but with access to the Internet. And what will Dad do on the Web? Go to ESPN.com, of course.
Lastly, dear ol’ Dad can’t be left watching movies on the Netflix-Roku set-top box or channel surfing with his ESPN remote without the greatest invention known to beer-drinking man: the RC Cooler. Yep, a remote control cooler that brings ice-cold beer to Dad and his lazy buddies. The RC Cooler is available from Solutions for $69.95 and Firebox for $78.30. No word, though, on whether the Cooler is smart enough to go on a beer run.
For the fun of it
The Sony Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable (PSP) and the Microsoft Xbox 360 are so last year’s models. At the top of any Dad’s Day list should be the Nintendo Wii ($249, if you can find one) and the new Wii Fit ($89.99), a quasi fitness game that, if used a little bit each day, is supposed to deliver a healthier, fitter Dad through a variety of fitness activities.
If Dad happens to be a more sedentary gentleman, then the new Grand Theft Auto IV ($59.99) video game will keep him on the couch for hours, maybe days as Niko Bellic wreaks havoc in Liberty City. This should be enough, but if Dad needs more there’s always Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Finally, if Dad isn’t a big video gamer he might still enjoy an activity like billiards. What’s cooler than Dad walking into the local pool hall with a new laser-guided pool cue ($79.95)? When activated, a harmless visible laser provides a precise guide for lining up the 8-ball in the corner pocket.
If Dad’s hobby is photography, then Canon’s new entry-level EOS Rebel XS (1000D), 10-megapixel digital camera will be greatly appreciated. It will replace the baby of the Digital Rebel line, the XTi, and is a relatively inexpensive, quality digital camera for consumers ($599 body, $699 with kit lens).
To go along with a new dSLR, Dad might like to have the clever Eye-Fi wireless memory card ($99), which uploads photos automatically from the SD card inside the camera to a home network or to photo sharing sites such as flickr, Picasa, photobucket, and Shutterfly and to social networks like Facebook.
If Dad endures a nasty commute to work, then consider buying him the $399 Dash Express, a two-way Internet-connected portable GPS navigator. It delivers surprisingly accurate real-time traffic information that’s invaluable when you want to avoid that hour’s delay on the 405.
To go along with the Dash is the environmentally friendly Smart car, which became available in the U.S. earlier this year. The fortwo passion coupe, which gets 40 mpg in the city and 45 on the highway, will start at $13,500 and the fortwo passion cabriolet will start at $16,590. As these cars are this year’s Mini Coopers, you might want to buy Dad a $99 reservation to purchase the car and let him pick up the tab for the new wheels.