Best High-Tech Gifts for Dads and Grads

Best High-Tech Gifts for Dads and Grads

Dads seem to get the short end of the stick sometime, with Father’s Day coming after mom’s, and often getting lumped together with graduations and June weddings.  But the truth is, many dads would rather not have the attention on them, and certainly don’t want their families fretting over gifts. So what can families get for the guy who usually just goes out and gets everything or wants, or doesn’t think he needs anything?  Interestingly, many are the same things that are also perfect for kids just graduating from high school – the latest high tech gadgets. Here are five of the best high-tech gifts that are sure to be well-received by both groups – we hope that you’ll find some great picks in our dads and grads gift guide for 2012 and 2013:

PowerBag

It’s not uncommon these days to see smartphones and other devices plugged in to outlets no matter where you go.  In fact, some airports, restaurants and other establishments have begun removing or hiding plugs to avoid customers tapping in for free.

So for dads who are on the go or grads who will be out studying without reliable access to power, consider a PowerBag, a complete charging system that’s built into a backpack, briefcase or messenger bag.  Each PowerBag is self-contained, with a battery, USB connectors of all sizes and an Apple connector.  These bags are designed to be stylish and incredibly useful.  PowerBags range from $139.99 and up and can be bought directly from the company’s website.

Gorilla Torch

Resembling a mini-handheld tripod with a powerful light on top, the Gorilla Torch has bendable legs that can be secured to nearly any surface using rubber grip rings.  Designed with outdoor adventurers in mind, they’re extremely lightweight, portable and water-resistant.  But they’re perfect for any dad or grad that needs a hands-free light source, not just campers.  Gorilla Torch’s are available in four different designs, each with different colors. They can be purchased from the company’s web site for $29.95 to $59.95.

Sphero

This illuminating ball powered by BlueTooth is much more than a one-trick pony.  It’s cool enough that Sphero can be controlled via a free app for smartphones or tablets much like a remote-control car.  But there are many more free apps available which provide different ways to use and interact with Sphero.  Download one app and you can program your own Sphero routines, choosing all the precise movements and light changes.  Other apps let Sphero act as a game controller either in the palm of your hand or set on a table top.  As far as new gadgets go, Sphero is as cool as it gets for someone looking for the latest high-tech toy.   Sphero is available for $129.99 directly from the company’s website.

Syma Mini-Helicopter

Mini-helicopters are so nimble, they’re perfect for backyard barbecues, a day at the park, or even flying around indoors.  Syma creates a broad range of sizes and control schemes, including the mini Gyro Helicopter which can fit in the palm of your hand. They’re all designed to be lightweight and chargeable via USB cable, and depending on the model you get, can be controlled with your smartphone or a special controller which takes a couple AA batteries.  Check out the company’s website for helicopters starting from $29.99.

PlayStation Vita

Sony’s PlayStation Vita delivers on the promise of delivering the next generation of portable video game play.  Games are now designed so they can be played simultaneously on both the PS3 at home as well as the PS Vita, and there are other games which can remember your progress on one system and let you pick right up from the same point thanks to cloud based saves.  The Vita sports a large touch screen in the front, as well as a touch pad on the rear on the system allowing for some cool gameplay quirks in games like Little Big Planet.  There’s dual analog controls, motion-sensors and of course Wi-Fi connectivity.  The Vita is the perfect present for any gamer in your family.  You can pick up the Vita wherever video games are sold for $249.99.

Also, those shopping for Dads and Grads would do well to consider a variety of smartphones, tablet PCs and eReaders from the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab to the iPhone 4S, Motorola Droid Razr Maxx and Kindle Fire. Whichever picks you choose, expect all to enjoy their high-tech gifts!

Hottest New Video Game Gear

Hottest New Video Game Gear

It was more than just games on display at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles – there were also tons of the hottest new video game gear, gadgets, accessories and devices designed with gamers in mind to sample. Looking to give your playroom an upgrade in 2012? Here’s a look at some of the best controllers, headphones, joysticks and more that we could find.

Afterglow Wireless Headphones – PDP– The Afterglow wireless headsets provide 10 hours of wireless use, with high-fidelity surround soon and bass-boosting capability.  The devices also feature multi-colored lights, and are a great complement to the company’s popular line of Afterglow controllers.

AV8R Arcade Flight Stick – MadCatz – With a design based on historically accurate WWII aircraft, the AV8R Arcade Flight Stick is designed to accompany the aerial combat game Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII.  The game actually marks MadCatz’s first foray into the world of video game publishing, so you can be sure the AV8R Arcade Flight Stick will be a perfect complement for the Damage Inc. game experience.

Dice + – Dice + – This real-life six sided die is seemingly blank, but when it comes close to your smartphone, tablet, TV or other BlueTooth device, it can be used to play a variety of game apps which come free with purchase.  There are a wide variety of custom-made and traditional games, such as backgammon, that will have you gathering around your screen like a gameboard with friends or family.

Fusion Controller – Power A – Billed as the controller that “built for gamers by gamers,” Power A’s Fusion line of controllers feature interchangeable soft-touch and regular grips, an ergonomic design that’s been refined down to the millimeter by pro gamers, and buttons that have been machine-tested to withstand millions of presses. With its own hard carrying case, it’s sort of the equivalent of a baseball mitt or personal bowling ball for those serious about video games.

Inflatable Tablet Case for Kids – CTA – Here’s something that’s simple yet brilliant: an inflatable cube with a pocket for your iPhone or tablet computer that will allow your pre-schoolers to play with it without fear of it falling and breaking.  Measuring about two feet on each edge, the cubes are currently available in licensed versions featuring Dora or SpongeBob, or in a more generic design.

Moga –Power A –This mobile gamepad hooks up to any Android device and can also be used with any tablet computer, giving gamers on the go access to more traditional home console game experiences using their mobile device.  Developers are eager to create games that utilize this additional functionality, as it can allow for deeper game experiences created with more than just touch and swipe inputs.

Power Grip Pro – Nyko – This 3DS attachment promises to triple the battery life of the 3DS while also providing another circle pad on the right side of the screen, just next to the buttons.  Although it makes the system’s profile about 25% wider, the proposition of longer battery life and better control is something that makes the larger size worth it.

Razer Taipan – Razer – This ambidextrous mouse from the pioneers in precision gaming is comfortable, lightweight and incredibly precise.  Pro gamers helped design it, and you can customize everything from pointer speed to a personalized lift off range for the ultimate PC gaming edge.

Sphero – Sphero – If this glowing orb were simply a customizable and programmable toy device that can be controlled with your mobile phone, that would be cool enough for us to recommend it. But it also can be used with a number of free apps ranging from those that allow easy video-taking and sharing to games that have you put Sphero in your hand on a table to be used as a controller.

Turtle Beach Headphones – Turtle Beach – With designs for nearly every level of gamer, Turtle Beach’s headphones come in nearly configuration available. Gamers can find the design that’s right for them, whether it’s wired or wireless, stereo or surround sound, Xbox or PS3 and more.

How to Recycle Gadgets and Electronics

How to Recycle Gadgets and Electronics

With new phones, tablets and laptops debuting every month, rapid advancements in technology can quickly turn a beloved tech device into an outdated waste of space.  Bu although throwing them away is a convenient option, the impact of the billions of pounds this e-waste could have on the environment are frightening. So whether your computer has stopped to functioning or you’ve simply decided to upgrade, here’s a look at top options for how to recycle your electronics.

Greener Gadgets  – Presented by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Greener Gadgets site is designed to help you easily find areas where you can recycle your old electronics simply by entering your zip code. Greener Gadgets is part of the organization’s “eCycling” effort to facilitate the recycling of one billion pounds of electronics every year. In the first two years of service, the number of eCycling centers has grown by more than 50%, and the number of pounds collected has nearly doubled.

The Greener Gadgets site also offers lots of information on ways to cut down your consumption and educate yourself about using less power and resources. In addition to tips for “Living Green” and “Buying Green,” the site features a handy calculator that helps you figure out how much your electronics usage costs, encouraging you to cut back on your consumption.  You can quickly tabulate your monthly and yearly power costs for dozens of different devices.

uSelluSell offers a chance for consumers to make a few dollars as they put their still-functioning devices directly into the hands of buyers who are experts at refurbishing and reselling electronics. The site lets you list your cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, tablets, game consoles and eReaders up for auction, and once a buyer is secured, you receive free mailing materials and shipping to send it along.

Goodwill – In partnership with Dell, Goodwill accepts most forms of electronics at their collection sites, regardless of brand or condition.  Simply make sure you find a nearby location that accepts them, and drop your item off and receive a tax-deductible donation receipt. 

Manufacturer Sites – AT&T and Verizon offer customers the chance to bring in any cell phones or other accessories to their store for recycling, with the Verizon program dedicated to providing refurbished phones to victims of domestic violence.  LG’s Ecomobilize site allows you to find easy ways to either drop off or mail in your device, including the ability to request mailing info simply by texting a message to LG.

Retail Sites –Best Buy allows consumers to bring in up to two items a day per household into any of their US stores for recycling.  Office Depot sells small, medium and large boxes for $5 – $15 in which you can place however many electronics you can fit and bring it back to the store for recycling.  Staples offers in-store collection bins for small items, and will accept larger items such as monitors, printers and copiers, with a limit of six items per day.

Additional Electronics Recycling Resources

Earth 911 – Helps you find recycling centers for many types of goods, including electronics.

Call2Recycle – Offers a map of locations to recycle old cell phones and rechargeable batteries

eRecycle.org – A site set up specifically for California residents to find information and locations for electronics recycling