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The best Father's Day tech gift ideas

The definitive guide of what to get for your beloved dad.

Engadget

The big day is approaching and there’s plenty of pressure for you to hand over a gift that says a lot all at once. It may be called Father’s Day, but this is an event for you to say a loving thank you to whatever person held that special role in your life, irrespective of gender. Here’s a list of the best gifts you can give to show your appreciation for all of the parenting they did, and may even still do.

Photo by Billy Steele / Engadget

Sony’s XM series of headphones are the default option for pretty much every regular buyer these days. Sony's latest model, the WH-1000XM5, offer a better looking design, a more comfortable fit and even better sound than its predecessor. As Billy Steele wrote in his review, if you thought the XM4s couldn’t get better, you’ll be staggered by the improvement here.

A lot of small things have been tweaked, including the fact there are twice as many noise cancellation microphones as on the XM4. That promises better high-frequency sound blocking, which should be great in crowded areas and on airplanes. For $400, they’re pricier than, say, Bose’s 700s, but that saving might be something of a false economy. If you just can’t stretch that far, then keep an eye out for the XM4, since the old flagship is remaining on sale at a discount.

$316 at Groupon
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$320 at Walmart$328 at Adorama

Let’s face it: You want your loved ones to stay healthy, keep an eye on their heart and generally be around for as long as possible. One way to do that is by upgrading your bathroom scales to something like Withings’ Body Cardio smart scale. Designed to look as unobtrusive as possible, but hidden inside its shell is a number of extra special features you don’t get elsewhere.

You’ll get a heart-health check, automatic person tracking and a full body composition breakdown, telling you how much fat, water and muscle you’re carrying. I’d be remiss not to mention, too, Withings’ class-leading Health Mate app, which is great for collating large chunks of health data and helping you understand it in an easy-to-digest manner.

$165 at Amazon
reMarkable

I’m a big fan of distraction-free writing machines that enable me to focus and avoid succumbing to the temptations of the internet. My go-to has historically been the basic iPad with the keyboard folio, which I’ve been using to get me out of a pinch for years now. To be clear, I still love that machine but in terms of distraction-free tech, I think the reMarkable 2 with Type Folio has the edge. It’s a stripped-down, e-paper slate designed to let you type and amend documents with its stylus in a way that’s as close to editing on real paper as you’re likely to get.

It’s a 10.3-inch tablet with an e-paper display that’s more or less responsive enough that you won’t be waiting forever for it to refresh. On its own, it’s little more than a glorified e-reader, but with the stylus and Type Folio, it becomes something a lot more powerful. I reviewed it fairly recently and found I could type a first (and second) draft of a piece and then, just by closing the keyboard and reorienting it into portrait mode, could then pull out the stylus and start making notes. The Type Folio, I think, makes the right compromises for the size, and doesn’t require too much adaptation for most experienced touch-typers.

And since I tested it, the company has launched a new version of its operating system which adds a number of small but vital quality-of-life improvements. That includes the ability to format for bold and italic text on the fly, as well as tweaks to the refresh rate for smoother scrolling. If there’s a downside, it’s that the whole setup isn’t cheap, even if you opt to buy a reconditioned model. You’ll be spending $299 for the slate, $129 for the stylus and $199 for the keyboard, so this might be one of those gifts that you’ll need to club together to buy. But if your parent has been harboring ambitions of becoming the next Tom Clancy or John Grisham, this might be the key to unleashing their literary ambitions.

$279 at reMarkable

For the majority of people, an Apple Watch is the only smartwatch they should consider if they have an iPhone. There’s only a handful of watches that can match Apple’s timepiece for versatility, usefulness and affordability. If you’re worried about your parent’s health, then the fall detection features alone may justify the investment. Not to mention the general health tracking capabilities and the fact you can keep them healthy with a Fitness+ subscription. I haven’t even mentioned the built-in ECG which is, these days, table stakes for a wearable in this class. And if they don’t have an iPhone, they can get many of the same features from Samsung’s latest Galaxy Watch.

$329 at Amazon
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$399 at Adorama$400 at Target

Of course, there are people who don’t want a smartwatch, or at least not one that looks like a smartwatch. I get it, some folks don’t want to look like a neeeerrrrrrd in their dotage, and it’s for those people that I recommend Withings’ ScanWatch Nova. It’s a hybrid smartwatch in the body of a classic diver’s watch that embodies everything that most smartwatches can’t.

Withings’ policy is to build a best-in-class hybrid watch, like the ScanWatch 2, and then put those same guts in a classier body. It has a digital subdial for notifications and an analog one for step counting, which can be set to meet your specific goals. But lurking underneath that body is also an ECG, SpO2 (blood oxygenation) monitoring and a temperature sensor – which can be used for cycle tracking and to warn of infections.

All of that tech is hidden in a submariner-style diver’s watch that comes with black, blue or green face and bezel options. Put it on and you’ll instantly feel like a rugged, outdoors-y type who has their poop together, and is ready to either Do An Espionage or Solo Pilot A Yacht Around The World. Withings is even smart enough to throw in a whole bunch of tools to help you size your band without needing to schlep to a jewelry store. Oh, and I didn’t even mention the 30-day battery life.

$600 at Amazon
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$600 at Saks Fifth Avenue

There are a lot of Bluetooth turntables which are designed for the hip crowd who want to show off their ye olde-fashioned record player. But if you’re looking for something a bit more capital-S serious without shelling out for a high-end Technics unit, Audio Technica’s romantically-named ATLP120XBT might be worth a glance. The fact it could be confused for a Technics SL-1210, right down to the s-shaped tone arm is, I’m sure, just a total coincidence.

The sound is good, and you’ll get adjustable pitch control alongside the belt-driven turntable (sorry, no scratching on this unit). And connectivity-wise, it’s well-stocked, with Dual RCA-out, USB or Bluetooth 5.0, with support for aptX. It’s a unit I’m thinking about getting for my mum, since it’ll enable her to digitize her stack of 78rpm records over that USB connection.

$399 at Amazon
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$399 at Abt Electronics$399 at Newegg

Look, if your dad is anything like me, then they’re probably not a massive gamer, or might just play the odd title. I’m told that there’s a whole genre of Dad Games out there that apparently appeal to the fathers in our lives, which are all about following some sort of process. It’s likely then that they won’t have paid much attention to The Legend of Zelda series, which feels as un-Dad a game as you could imagine. Which is why I’m here to say that, until the start of this year, I felt the same, but I’ve since had my eyes opened to how amazing it really is. Even better, is that there’s a brand new title in the Zelda series, Tears of the Kingdom, which I’d urge all of you to check out.

You play as Link, a little dude who – much like Mario – has to rescue a princess countless times throughout history. That normally involves traversing a beautiful, unspoiled paradise called Hyrule that’s scattered with all sorts of monsters who want to kill you. From the outside, you might think that it’s all just button-mashing and hyperactive combat, which is not a dad-friendly genre. But, in fact, the game puts far more emphasis on puzzle-solving and lateral thinking, and it has the best 3D puzzles this side of the Portal series which alone makes it ideal for dads the world over. Not to mention the freedom to tackle the game any which way you want to, giving you the choice to build your own solution rather than being forced to comply with Nintendo’s.

In the last game, Breath of the Wild, you could harness the game’s physics and chemistry engines to dispatch troublesome enemies by using the environment against them. For instance, you could freeze them and then give them a whack, building up the kinetic energy to such an extent that they’re sent hurtling miles away from you. Or, if you approach them in the middle of a storm, you can get them to raise their metallic swords in anger and get a dose of lightning. In this one, you can find scattered electronic components and assemble them however you want to jury-rig vehicles to help you get around. I mean, what could be more Dad-Game than that?

$70 at HSN

And if you’re buying them Tears of the Kingdom, you might also want to get the console to go with it. Nintendo’s Switch OLED Edition takes the same portable-home-console hybrid you know and love, and dials it up to 11. That includes a thinner bezel, better kickstand design and a nicer overall look and a feel that’s a little less kiddified than the standard model. If your dad’s a bit of an AV snob, too, then the deeper blacks, better color reproduction and clearer sound will also appeal.

Now, you can get the OLED Switch in the standard monochrome, which is fine but a little bland, so here I’ve recommended the specific Tears of the Kingdom edition. Not only do you get gold Joy Cons with a lovely white-and-green etching design, but you also get a white and gold TV dock. Even nicer is the concentric circle watermark on the underside, which looks significantly classier than the plain option. Especially if they’re going to play the game on the go, when they might want to let the world know that they appreciate the finer things in life.

The rumors around the Switch 2 might (understandably) make you think twice about grabbing the model that could potentially be replaced by the end of next year. But it’s not as if the new Switch will debut with a mature line-up of new titles all ready to go, since these libraries take a while to build up. And in the meantime, the Switch has a deep list of must-play games that’ll keep your parent occupied for several years to come.

$385 at Amazon
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$445 at Newegg

At school, one of my friend’s dads converted one of his home’s bedrooms into a White Room. It’s a soundproofed room with nothing but a single armchair facing a fancy HiFi, a dedicated space for Music Appreciation. In retrospect, the fact that my friend's bedroom was half the size and he had to share with his younger sibling was pretty rough. I suspect, deep down in the DNA of every dad, is the Dad Urge (™) to develop an unhealthy interest in high-end audio gear. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to prevent your parent blowing your inheritance on a pair of B&W Nautilus.

Chinese high-end audio masters Fiio produce a wonderfully elegant desktop DAC and speaker pair that’ll do the same job as a White Room at a fraction of the cost. The R7 has an Android music player in front that’ll connect directly to their streaming service of choice. And it can also play locally stored music, or connect it to another player via AirPlay, USB, Bluetooth, optical or analog audio lines. The R7 can be paired with Fiio’s matching set of SP3 speakers that have 3.5-inch woofers, 1-inch tweeters and wonderfully smooth sound. The price all-in is a bit steep, but it might scratch that itch without causing any ructions around the Thanksgiving dinner table.

$200 at Amazon

I’ll make no bones about the fact that, as a dad, I’m writing this guide as much as a vehicle for wish fulfillment as I am to dole out consumer advice. And, like a lot of people. I’ve gradually grown more and more obsessed with Fujifilm’s X-series of cameras. A combination of old-school rangefinder styling, great photo quality and relatively limited supply has made them a hot ticket. The fact the X-series comes with film simulation modes is, for many, the thing that puts it on top over plenty of cameras from other manufacturers. But the high price of the flagship – edging north of $1600 — X100 means it’s a pricey and dicey proposition for any hobbyist photographer.

Thankfully, Fujifilm has a cheaper and I might even argue better option in the form of the X-T30. It’s a step down on the spec list, with an older 26.1-megapixel sensor compared to the 40.2 of its newer sibling. But what it’s got going for it is the smaller body size which makes it so portable as to be pocketable, ease of use and the same analog dials for fine-grain control. Not to mention that, when paired with the 35mm f/2 lens, it’s wicked fast and takes pretty beautiful shots. I’ve been into my local camera shop multiple times to try out the X-T30 with this lens but, so far, neither of my kids have picked up the hint and bought one for me.

$1,099 at Amazon

I’ve been obsessed with Dremel’s electric multi-tools ever since I watched Alexi Sayle ask “did I mention we cut?” back in the early ‘90s. And yet, despite being an adult with my own home, I’ve never needed to actually go out and buy a Dremel like the 8220 you can see here. Look at the thing, it’s like an electric Swiss Army Knife, complete with drill and screwdriver bits, sanding bits, polishing bits, metal-cutting discs, grinding stones and engraving tools! Just think about all of the things I can drill, screw, sand, polish, cut, grind and engrave if I had one of those right now.

I bet you there’s a whole host of parents and parental figures out there who are just itching to get a Dremel into their lives. But I bet they, like me, are also that little bit too scared to just go out and buy one since they probably don’t know what they’d use it for. That’s why you, as loving people, should go and buy them a Dremel much in the same way that I hope my kids, when they’re old enough to earn money, go out and buy me a Dremel. And maybe a book that will teach me how to use it.

$170 at Amazon
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$142 at Newegg

If anyone asks me what TV to go for, my knee jerk reaction is to recommend LG given the broad advantages it has over its competitors. The company’s OLED TVs remain best in class and I think the base-ish model OLEDs offer excellent value for money. 2023’s OLED C3, for example, offers plenty of the same features as its higher-priced siblings. There may not be too many extra bells and whistles but for pure picture quality, you’re good to go with its massive contrast ratio and great black reproduction. Essentially, it’s a TV for people with champagne tastes but something a bit closer to a Bud Light budget.

$1,597 at Amazon
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$1,393 at Tech For Less$2,497 at Newegg

Projectors are a minefield, aren’t they? It’s a big investment for something you might not be sure you’ll use on a very regular basis unless you’ve got your own cinema room. I’ve always fancied building something in my backyard so I can run an outdoor theater in the warmer months. But I don’t know how much I’d actually use the thing after spending a hefty chunk on the initial investment.

Thankfully, if I ever do, I’ll likely buy BenQ’s HT2050A, which my colleague (and projector nerd) Steve Dent says is one of the best for performance and affordability. Coming in fairly cheap, it’s bright, has a 1.3x zoom and vertical lens shift, making it easy to place in tricky spots and easy to get the best picture quality out of its small body. It’s HD-only, of course, but then I’m not yet sold on the benefits of a 4K projector if you’re mostly watching live sports or old movies, or even your parent’s pictures of their most recent holiday.

$628 at Amazon
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$749 at B&H Photo$699 at Newegg
Photo by Daniel Cooper / Engadget

I suspect a lot of dads fall into the trap of having the ability to buy themselves nice things, but never actually go through with it. (I could easily buy myself a Dremel, for instance, but I still haven’t!) One thing they’ve probably thought about but not followed through on is to upgrade their coffee routine from whatever they bought before you were born. I myself was making at home lattes with instant coffee and a microwave for far longer than I’m prepared to admit. But I was wary about buying a bean-to-cup machine given that they can become a time-consuming hobby in and of themselves.

So, after plenty of research, I bought the Creatista Plus, a Nespresso-compatible machine that makes pretty decent coffee at home. As well as producing standard drinks, you can use the built in steam wand to prepare milk for something that’s close enough to barista-standard. Now, I’ll say that it is a lot pricier than some of the machines in its class, but I chose it as much for how it looked as what it did. Sure, there’s a built-in digital display that’ll give you fine-grain control over every fact of your coffee, but it also looks like a proper grown-up coffee machine. And it’s the sort of thing that should stand proudly on your countertop as it forms a key part of your dad’s morning routine.

$645 at Amazon
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$650 at Abt Electronics$650 at Breville

Do you find that it’s harder and harder to relate to your folks as you, and they, get older? Some of this, I’m sure, is down to the media they consume, especially if they’ve become trapped in the echo chambers found in the basement of your cable TV guide. If they’re an avid reader, however, then it might be worth offering them Capitalist Realism by the British philosopher Mark Fisher. It serves as a relatively short, and fairly gentle introduction to Fisher’s viewpoint on the culture at large, especially given what’s going on right now.

At 81 pages, it can hardly be called a weighty tome, and it lacks some of the florid language you often see from philosophy books. Fisher often draws parallels between his points and various pop culture milestones that most folks will be familiar with. A treatise on Office Space’s rules around pieces of flair dovetails into an exploration of how politicians focus on metrics for success will hide the diminished quality of whatever they’re trying to improve. References to lines of dialog from Heat become points to connect the destruction of community and the way mental health has become an individualized issue, rather than a societal one. And it might just help make your Thanksgiving dinner conversations a little more pleasant in future.

$15 at Amazon
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$15 at Books-A-Million (BAM!)