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7 Great Father’s Day Gifts for Geek Dads

Dan Tynan

Allow me to reintroduce you to your father.

He’s the guy who changed your diapers every night at 3 a.m. so your mom could get a full night’s rest. He’s the one you asked to make sure no monsters were lurking in the closet. He taught you how to ride a bike or drive a car, and he waited up all night for you to come home after your first date with what’s-his-name.

He might also be the guy who sat on the couch in his boxers all weekend drinking beer and cursing at the television. Or he could be a Sith lord. In any case, he’s your dad, you’re stuck with him, and next Sunday is his day. So you’d better get on it.

7 Great Father’s Day Gifts for Geek Dads

Did Luke get his dad anything nice for Father’s Day? We doubt it. (Scott Smith/Flickr)

Because it turns out that dads are feeling a little shortchanged in the gift department. According to a recent survey by discount shopping site RetailMeNot, six out of 10 dads say Mom gets better stuff on her day.

But not this year. I’m here to help you make this Father’s Day the best one yet. Most of the following products have been Tynan Tested™ for dad compatibility. And if you order quickly, they should arrive in time for the big day.

A grill a minute
You know your dad hates slaving over a hot grill while everyone else is having a grand time. This Bluetooth-powered iGrill2 lets him join the party without burning the meal. Just plug the probe into the meat, place the sensor a safe distance from the fire, and get alerts when it’s time to flip the steaks or remove the ribs.

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While wireless thermometers have been around for a couple of years, iDevices’ iGrill2 cranks up the heat with new features, like the ability to manage four separate probes for cooking different cuts, and a magnet for mounting to the side of the grill. Stumped for how to treat your meat? Use the app to look up recipes on the fly, or share your perfectly charred masterpiece on Facebook. The $100 gizmo works with the iPhone 4s and iPad generation 3 or later devices.

Internet on the fly
There are a handful of things no modern dad can live without: friends and family, beer (maybe wine), televised sporting events, and the Internet. But when WiFi is hard to come by, the $100 Netgear Mingle from Virgin Mobile fills the gap. This portable hotspot uses Sprint’s 4G LTE network to bring the Net to your dad nearly anywhere he roams.

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The Mingle is smaller than a cellphone and runs up to 12 hours on a single charge. The best part? Dad won’t have to commit to a two-year plan or pay for data he never uses. I just top up my Broadband2Go account with more money, from $5 for 250 MB to $55 for 6 gigs. The Mingle’s LCD shows me a running tally of how much data I’ve used. Then I can surf till the cows come home — or I do.

The garden of weedin’
In the age-old battle of man vs. the elements, Dad has a new secret weapon: Core Outdoor’s Power Lok system. Cool high-tech features set these cordless garden tools above the rest. They come in two parts: a Drive Unit with a 3-pound rechargeable Power Cell, and blower, hedge-trimmer, and weed-eater attachments that snap onto the unit with a satisfying click.

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Inside each unit is a circuit board and software that controls the motor’s speed, temperature, and voltage. This allows it to create more torque while using less energy, says Core CEO Lincoln Jore. It gives Power Lok products the performance of gas-powered tools without the noise and exhaust fumes, while charging faster and lasting longer than most cordless devices.

I can attest that using the hedge trimmer is like running a hot knife through soft cheese, while the weeder takes a beating and kept on eating. At $230 for the power unit and around $150 for each attachment, the Power Lok system isn’t cheap. It’s also not lightweight — you’ll get an arm workout in the bargain. But your weeds will never be the same.

High-tech necks
Meet the iTie, a piece of digital apparel that connects to your iPhone and displays apps and information — or just a tasteful pattern — on a tie-shaped flexible screen. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Before you whip out your credit card, however, be aware the iTie is merely a product concept created by artist Tomislav Zvonarić. Sorry.

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In the meantime, you can still buy Dad a tie that works with his phone, sort of. SwipeTies are made from microfiber and designed for wiping smudges from your screen (because, let’s face it, he uses his tie for this anyway, so you might as well get one that works). A bit less exciting than the iTie, but a lot more functional. SwipeTies are available in 19 patterns for $40 apiece.

Tool case
What do you give the man who has everything (and an iPhone)? An iPhone 5 case that does nearly everything. TaskLab’s TaskOne G3 turns your handset into a toolkit that would make MacGyver envious.

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It comes with 22 tools that pop out via various levers in the back — from screwdrivers and bottle openers to pliers and a 2.5-inch serrated knife (which you can remove if you need to take the TaskOne on a plane). I played with a prototype; the actual $100 case should be available by mid-June. TaskLab also makes similar cases with different tools for cyclists and for urban dwellers, available in four colors.

Dry your eyes
Nothing ruins a party faster than when Dad drops his pricey smartphone into the pool or the punch bowl. Avoid seeing a grown man cry by giving him a $40 DryCase waterproof enclosure for his phone before he gets it wet.

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The flexible vinyl bag can handle virtually any size phone, even my honkin’ LG Nexus 5. (Versions for iPads are also available.) Plug the DryCase headphone jack into your handset, drop it in the bag, seal the top, and suck out any remaining air with the hand pump. Then just plug in your earbuds; the touchscreen works just as it normally does — you can even snap selfies through the vinyl. A buoyant arm band ensures that your phone won’t sink to the bottom or float away, so you can take it swimming, surfing, kayaking, or diving. Each individual case is tested to be waterproof at a depth of 100 feet. DryCase also makes waterproof headphones, backpacks, and a Bluetooth portable speaker.

Shine a light
A man can’t be too rich, too thin, or own too many flashlights. But if you have to pick just one, make it one from ExtremeBeam. I’ve been carrying the $100 Tac24 model around for a couple of months, and it is the most serious flashlight I’ve ever used.

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Small enough to fit comfortably in my pocket, the Tac24 still beams a bright cone of light up to 400 meters away. There’s also a rapid flash mode useful for signaling rescue teams if you’re lost in the wilderness (just don’t stare at for too long or it might cause seizures). It uses two 3v lithium batteries that can run up to seven hours; the light automatically dims when the batteries run low, to prolong their life. Solid aluminum housing and double O-rings make it rugged and waterproof to 30 feet. 

If these items are beyond your budget, or there’s no time left to shop, take heart. According to that RetailMeNot survey, the top item on Dad’s wish list this year is “quality time with family.” Me, I’m totally down with that — especially if it also involves beer.

Questions, complaints, kudos? Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com.