Here are even more suggestions . . . some new, most not, but they’re great choices just the same.
SkyMeals – For dads and grads who travel by air – from LAX and Burbank, and soon from Long Beach, CA, and maybe expanding to other local airports, SkyMeals offers gourmet cuisine while we fly cheap. This is the best thing to happen to air travel since the advent of cheap fares. I am anticipating with mouth-watering anxiety my upcoming outbound trip east to kick off this year’s national media tour for Father’s Day. Why? Because I’m taking SkyMeals with me on board, making what would otherwise be an ordinary, typically crappy and unenjoyable flight something wonderful and delightful. I can sit back and savor the cuisine, thanks to my friends at SkyMeals. So, let dad fly cheap and love the experience. Read my review. Give the gift of great food to dad as he leaves on business trips from available airports here in the LA area. Call SkyMeals and let them do the rest. If your grad is heading off on a well-deserved vacation after school’s out, send him or her off in style with SkyMeals. Don’t forget to read about it in my article or look at them online at the link above. For orders or info, call 1-866-SKYMEALS (866.759.6325). Please let them know Mr. Gadget sent you.
Audible.com – Audio books of every type and description and much more, downloaded to a Mac or Windows PC that can be transferred to a portable audio player, such as iPod (and other devices, too), and enjoyed anywhere, any time. If dad’s on the road a lot, this will keep him entertained and enlightened. For grads, too! See their selection. Audible.com has been an any-occasion favorite of mine for several years and I try and never miss the opportunity to evangelize for them. Try it once and you’ll be hooked. I just loaded up with a few more selections for my upcoming national media tour to show off some of my Father’s Day and grads ideas and I can’t wait to hit the road with audible.com on my iPod. By the way, when you give the gift of audible.com, there is NO obligation to buy more or to sign up for one of their plans. Audible is just the best! Check it out. Be sure to tell them Mr. Gadget sent you.
Netflix and Blockbuster.com – I’ve been a fan and supporter, as well as a netflix subscriber since the first week they were in business, and I’ve never been disappointed. If it’s on DVD, they probably have it, and it’s only a day away, in most cases. DVDs by mail, ordered over the Internet! What a concept. They are the best at what they do. I especially like their selection of offbeat, independent films, documentaries and music videos, in addition to all the contemporary titles. For $17.99 a month, Netflix subscribers can rent as many DVDs as they want, with three movies out at a time. There are no due dates and no late fees. DVDs are delivered directly to the member’s address by first-class mail – with a postage-paid return envelope – from shipping centers throughout the United States. Easiest to navigate, most helpful site, too. Blockbuster, the new kid in the business is working hard to catch up. I have a Blockbuster subscription as well, and I find their depth a bit lacking, and they are often out of movies I want. But, they are getting better. And, as a bonus blockbuster.com subscribers receive two email coupons for in-store rentals each month. Blockbuster.com charged $14.99 per month for their similar service. Which to choose? Look at them both and decide, but give one of them as a gift to any dad or grad who loves movies! And if that grad is going on to higher education, give a gift subscription as I do to my own kids away in college. They love it! And I usually take my own mailed-to-me DVDs with me on my travels, watching either on my laptop or a portable DVD player. It’s the only way to fly.
iPod accessories – For the millions of dads and grads who already have an iPod, there are loads of useful accessories to make a great thing even better. I like the cases from Marware, but you might like others. See lots of them at http://www.meechee.com/, http://www.ipodlounge.com/, http://www.xtrememac.com/ipodgear/, http://store.apple.com/. The standard earbuds are so-so, and you can do lots better. My favorites are, on the low end, Sony’s MDR-EX71SL/WK which I found through nextag.com for only $40. Step up to top-of-the-line new Shure E4c, retailing for $300 and experience sound that was never before possible from iPod. They’re that good, or spend about half the cost for the E3c and still the user will be blown away with the sound as compared to the originals. Another standout, and not in any order, either, is the $150 Etymotic Er6i, a fabulous sound from what look like dainty speakers-in-the-ear. These guys know and love sound! Both makers’ products are sound isolating, so they block out most ambient sound for greater enjoyment. Great for travel to keep out airplane noise, without the bulk and expense of electronic noise canceling headphones. Travelers by car or air will want Monster Cable’s accessories – the $80 Monster® iCarPlay™ Wireless Plus – featuring three programmable “favorite station” preset buttons and easy-to-read LED display: Full FM tuning capability for clear sound anywhere: Smart Digital Charger™ for fast charges; maximizes battery life. To maximize battery life while traveling by air, get their $30 Monster® iAirPlay™ Charger for iPod® – Includes both 15v airplane power jack and 12-15v DC power socket adaptors for use in most airplanes and automobiles: Locking clip helps keep the adaptor in place: Duraflex® jacket and strain relief collar for durability and flexibility: Convenient 3.3 ft (1m) cord: 24k gold contacts for corrosion resistance.
Vornado Fans – The brand I have relied upon and bought for many years, get the Heavy Duty Shop Fan, $90, to REALLY move the air in the shop, the garage, outside and in the house. Check it out. I love mine! If not the shop fan, check any of their other models. For dads and grads, you know. I also get their small models for my kids off to college.
GG Bailey Floor Mats – Makes the best custom floor mats for cars, SUVs and trucks. Period. What great gifts, that are personalized for the recipient with initials or favorite college team logo. The gift that keeps on giving every time the recipient enters the vehicle. Priced from about $70 for a pair of front mats. Plain or outrageous. These are top quality, as I can attest from my own GG Bailey mats. Click the link or call 1-866-6GG-BAILEY (1-866-644-2245). Quality you will see, and quality that will last.
Weaknees and TiVo – A match made in gadget heaven! One of my new most favorite things! Get dad or that grad a TiVo, and supersize it while you’re at it from Weaknees.com. Renew an existing TiVo that is starting to make noise, or simply upgrade a perfectly working TiVo to mammoth capacity like I did. The dad or grad can even easily do it himself or herself. Yes, it is that easy. Kits start for under $100 and are totally reliable. Read all about it in my own review. Please let them know at weaknees.com that Mr. Gadget sent you. 888 – WEAKNEES (888 932-5633)
SBC DSL – If dad or the grad do not yet have DSL, and if the recipient lives in an area served by SBC, they have just announced an all time low-priced full-strength DSL package for only $14.95 when sign up is online. So, if applicable, give the gift of DSL. It’s now a bargain! Visit them to determine eligibility. Add to that a wireless connectivity package for a net price of only $50, which includes my favorite wireless router/DSL modem combo, the 2Wire 4-port model 1800HG, and it’s a package that will provide long and reliable service. With a wireless package, everyone in the house can share, Macs and PCs!
Body Wedge – The BodyWedge 21 inflatable exercise wedge is one of the best and most cost-effective ways for dad or that grad to stay fit while traveling on business or vacation.
The BodyWedge comes complete with its own pump for easy inflation (the model pictured is NOT included, however), step-by-step fitness poster and an instructional DVD. And for an easy-to-follow exercise routine, especially on the road, 21 specific exercises are printed right on the wedge in the form of picture icons. Available at Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, CVS Pharmacy, Duane Reade Drug, Target.com and The Sports Authority. The BodyWedge 21 inflatable retails for just $19.95. www.bodywedge21.com
Digital Photography Made Easy – The book for dads ‘n grads. They think they know it all, but they don’t. This little book will fill in the gaps!
I’ve spoken with the author, columnist Don Lindich, at length, and he’s such a likable chap who really cares about educating us about those confusing little digital boxes. He has done a nice job, too. It’s an easy read and covers everything the digital photographer needs to know to get started and includes a CD with more info, too. This really is a perfect gift. And it’s only about $10! Read more about it and order here.
Great Mail Order/Online Catalog Gadgets Here – My favorite online and catalog retailer is a one-stop shop for all your gift giving for tech lovers, including dads and grads. It’s the C. Crane Company, of course. Radios (my favorite CC Radio and others), high tech LED flashlights, pillow speakers, gardening tools, and so much more. Take the time to peruse the online catalog, or call to get it in print with no obligation and no solicitation. Bob Crane is the most honest, honorable and decent human being in the business and is totally trustworthy. You can shop and buy with complete confidence. That’s a promise. And you can also rely on their advice, so don’t be afraid to ask for it when you call them at 1-800-522-8863. To see some of my all-time C. Crane favorites, do a search on MrGadget.com for “crane” as in C. Crane, and you’ll see lots of past articles with loads of recommended goodies from the past, still great ideas, and new ones. Please be sure to tell them Mr. Gadget sent you!
Satellite Radio – Both Sirius and XM are very good and a worthwhile investment. I like them both. It does not matter to me that one has more subscribers than the other. Either would be a perfect gift, too. The price is about the same for the service. The difference is in the programming and hardware. Sirius has the sports with the exception of major league baseball. XM has baseball. Sirius will have Howard Stern next year and other unique programming now, as does XM. Both have $100 small units that can be mounted just about anywhere in the car and then taken indoors to use with an optional home kit. Sirius has a cool little Starmate portable for the car which I recently received. It’s so small it can go almost anywhere (I mounted it flush on a forward-facing spot on the dash with Velcro, and it plays through the vehicle speakers by broadcasting on an FM station I selected because of a weak or nonexistent station frequency in the area. I like it because it even comes with a little full-featured wireless remote control and it’s easy to use. XM has their well-regarded Roady 2, though it does NOT come with a wireless remote control. This one mounts anywhere, too. Both units can be programmed for ANY available FM station for play through the vehicle’s FM radio. Sirius allows subscribers to log on via the Internet and listen to music stations online at no added cost. I really like this feature. XM has this online capability, but at extra monthly cost. In my opinion, both services are excellent, so the choice is yours, based upon which YOU like best.
Sony PSP – This just in! I finally received my Sony PSP for long-term evaluation. In the one hour I have had to play with it until this moment, I am happy to report that I really like it and predict I will enjoy using it both at home and away from home. Initial setup for someone not used to these things would be a bit challenging. There is a learning curve to knowing which button does what. For those with PS2 experience, the curve will be shorter. For those without prior Sony PS2 experience, it’s going to take some time and be just a bit frustrating, going over the same mistakes time and again. I have made a mistake logging on to my Gadget Central wireless network, so that’s not ready to go yet. It’s going to be fun to use Memory Stick to bring in store music and photos, as well as movies, not to mention all the games coming out. So, for the dad or grad who’s expressed an interest in a new, high-tech handheld gaming device, I think this new PSP – Play Station Portable – is going to be a hot commodity and worth a look as a gift item for this or any occasion. $250.
Still the coolest gadget watch – Give dad my watch! It looks like just a cool watch, but it is really the coolest gadget watch I know about on the market. My own everyday watch, it’s the Tissot T-Touch with touch-sensitive sapphire crystal and lots of functions, without looking like a goofy, gaudy, gadget watch. Tissot is a fine Swiss watchmaker since 1853. A very nice watch on its own even without the stealth gadgetry extras, functions include Altimeter, Chronograph (stopwatch), Compass (yes, a real compass), Alarm, Thermometer, and Barometer function (atmospheric pressure in hectopascals, which, to any weather person – not me, of course – is the same as millibars). Now, really, how great is that? Priced from about $400 to $600, depending upon where it’s purchased. Look at all the different models and learn more HERE. Click to see their Tactile line. Look for best prices through google, searching on “t-touch” and by visiting Feldmar Watch Company online at http://www.feldmarwatch.com/ or call them at 310-274-8016. Read my older, original, full review HERE.
It’s a Swiss Army knife! It’s a USB Drive! It’s BOTH in ONE! I’ve carried a Swiss Army knife since I was a kid, and I have a drawer full of several models. I also use those USB drive memory devices to safekeep my digital stuff when going from here to there. Now, there are both in one, and I think the dad in your life deserves one, too.
Choose with or without the knife – without if dad’s a frequent flier, because the good ol’ TSA will snatch it up if there’s a knife and not be forgiving about it. I lost one of my regular Swiss Army knives to their scrutiny last year when I forgot to put mine in my checked bag. Oh, well, they have to protect the public from the likes of me. Anyway, the one with the knife also has scissors, file, screwdriver, retractable pen and LED light. The one without, sometimes called SwissMemory USB Flight, has the memory, pen and light only. On all models, the memory is removable from the rest of the assembly. The plastic covered models in 64MB to 1GB capacities are priced from about $51 to $200. The Alox bright metal version is in capacities of high speed (USB 2.0) 256MB for $80 and 1GB for $192, and does not include the light or pen. Pretty, sweet, though, either way, I think. Visit your local knife shop in a mall, google “swiss memory,” or visit http://www.swissknifeshop.com/.