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Engadget celebrates Father's day

Ryan Block, @ryan

This year we figured hey, why do a Father's Day gift guide? If you're an Engadget reader, you probably already know what you want to get the old man -- and if you don't, there's never any dearth of gadget-gifts-for-dads-guides in (web) magazines and blogs around the infosphere. So this year we're gonna get a little personal, and tell you what we got (or at least would like to get) our fathers on their lone day of appreciation. And don't you be shy about telling us what you gave your dad -- or what you received from your kids -- in comments!

Ryan - Last year my father -- a musician -- got a 4G iPod for his birthday (not from me, though). He had an immediate distaste for Apple's pricing and the limited use of FairPlay DRMed songs from the iTMS, and immediately started asking how he could get more music on the cheap. This year, if he'll put down the iPod, I think I'll snag him a MusicGremlin. The $15 per month all-you-can-eat downloads are exactly what he's been looking for (and didn't even know it), and will also save him from spending spare hours ripping a lot of his old vinyl that he neglected to buy in CD. Plus, the music sharing capabilities mean we can continue harping on one another's' taste -- or just send each other some sweet Bowie tracks when we're feeling a bit more magnanimous. Granted, the MusicGremlin is still a little rough around the edges, but the music download experience is amazing, and for a slightly more technically inclined parent it might be just the thing to dodge those iPod blues.

Thomas - With a thorough knowledge of Area 51 subterfuge and frequent top-secret trips to DC, let's just say I've always been a bit suspect of my father's real job. Now retired from his defensive engineering duties, I wanted to keep him in the game this Father's Day with the $299 Linksys WVC200 Wireless Internet Camera with audio, pan/tilt/zoom control, motion detection, and even an IR lamp for use in the darkest shadows of his world. Then next year for Mother's Day I'll supply Moms with an IR jammer for a Cold War flashback moment right at home.

Chris - Some might call the $179 Abacus Smart Watch 2006 a great Father's Day gift for a father you don't really get along with. Others might say it's a sick joke regardless. Be that as it may, Abacus gets incrementally closer to creating a legitimately mainstream device with each successive iteration of their SPOT line, and the Smart Watch 2006 is the first SPOT watch I'd consider fit for a technically challenged individual who still has a love for the cool factor (or uncool factor, depending on your perspective). My dad, like many others out there, loves technology but doesn't always get along with it; even if he had a data plan, he'd be hard pressed to figure out how to get news, weather, and stock quotes on his phone. MSN Direct is far from perfect, and severely limited coverage is a problem, but it gives him core information on the road with no fuss.

Evan- Unlike most of our readers, my father certainly doesn't put his money where his mouth is: he's more than a little bit interested in the products we cover here (almost every time we talk, he asks if he's "missed anything good lately"), but he's deathly afraid that anything he purchases will be obsolete by the time he signs the credit card slip. Therefore, I usually buy him something small that I know he'll be into but would never pick up for himself -- noise-cancelling headphones, a U3 thumb drive, a Segway -- and this year I decided to kill two birds with one stone and present him with a Garmin nüvi. Not only does the 3.5-inch nüvi provide him with the accuracy of SiRFstarIII-powered GPS, he can also plug in one of the 50 pairs of earphones I've bought him and rock out to his collection of Robert Johnson's greatest hits.The only down side to this choice of gifts is that my Dad won't be able to take advantage of any of the hands-free options offered by nüvi's built-in Bluetooth -- he's, like, the last person I know who still doesn't own a cellphone.

Don - You know us, when it comes to monitors; the wider and bigger the better. But we also appreciate a bargain, and it's hard to find more bang for the buck than Dell's line of widescreen LCDs. So if you want to go all out for dad, Dell's top-of-the-line 2407WFP is sure to impress, with more pixels and inputs than he'll probably know what to do with -- assuming he might want to pair it with a little something HDCP-compliant, that is. Of course, if you want something a little more affordable, we doubt he'd be too disappointed if you chose to go with the slightly smaller but way cheaper 2007WFP. This being Dell though, you can't exactly run out at the last minute and pick one up, but we're sure you'll be forgiven for being a few days late as soon as one of these suckers arrives at his door. In fact, you'd probably even be absolved of that time you crashed the car when you were 17, too. Just sayin'.

Paul - It might be a long ways away from a real recording setup or the snazzy acoustics of a real studio, but the Line6 Toneport should get my dad a good start on those song recordings he's always been threatening to make. With dual mic and dual instrument inputs, he can sing and play at the same time for some multi-track recording, but the Toneport's real strength comes from its included software that models different mic, instrument and amp types to create a whole new sound from the low-cost setup. He can create whole effect loops with vintage pedals and the like, and the included recording software lets him punch out those 3.5-minute hits he's been sitting on all these years. The UX2 goes for $200, but there's also a UX1 version with half the inputs, no phantom power and no VU meters for a mere $130.

Stan - Thanks to a contest at a local mall in upstate New York, this Father's Day will be my dad's first with cable television in quite a few years. Up until now he hasn't seen the value in paying the monthly subscription fee for a service he barely has time to use, but when someone hands you a certificate for a free year of digital service, you're gonna accept. Upon hearing of his win, I knew I could only hope to augment his good fortune by stacking yet another new box on top of his TV -- which, sadly is the same TV / VCR combo I used in college -- in the form of a new TiVo Series 2. Dual tuners and 80 hours of storage mean no more over-used VHS tapes, no more secondhand descriptions of his favorite TV shows, and a chance to catch up on all the TV he's been missing while he's been, you know, raising a family. I know it's not the Series 3, we've all been waiting for, but it sure beats the heck out of the electric shaver I got him last year.

From everyone at Engadget: whether you're giving or receiving, happy pappy's day!

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