COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | PHIL BAKER

Gadgets for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day approaching, here’s my list of some recommended gifts.

Products that hold on to your cards and money: Innovation has come to the wallet to better reflect what we carry: lots and lots of cards and less cash. Instead of the age-old folding wallet that holds a few credit cards and lots of bills, there are now clever solutions to carry a dozen or more credit cards and a few bills, creating a much more compact package instead of a huge bulging billfold.

Bellroy, an Australian company, has many innovative designs and an excellent website that explains what each of their wallets can hold. Most are variations of the traditional wallet, but with more compartments to hold stacks of cards and leather ribbons to pull them out. (bellroy.com). $60-$140

TGT has a clever band with a few pockets that stack your cards and bills in a package smaller than you can imagine, yet the cards are easily accessible. The only thing more compact is a rubber band, which I know many still use. (tightstore.com) $34-$42.

Waterfield (sfbags.com) offers a number of made in the U.S. leather wallets designed to hold more than a dozen cards and a stack of bills folded in half. I like their Finn wallet that costs. $40. Both Waterfield and Bellroy have products that will also hold an iPhone along with the cards and bills.

Staying in charge: While there are dozens of back-up batteries, nothing compares to the tiny size of the Power Bank by Eachine that manages to provide 6000 mAh, about the same capacity as some iPad models. It’s not much larger than a matchbox, and about a third the size of the batteries from Mophie and other brands. In addition, it has an LCD numerical display to tell you its current capacity. It has 2-amp output for quick charging of phones and tablets. It’s available from Amazon for just $20.

BlueLounge has a clever charging stand that sits on a desk or night table and can charge up to 3 devices at once. It’s an attractive design that hides all the cords and has enough power to handle a tablet as well. $99, bluelounge.com.

Grillin’ and chillin’: iDevices iGrill2 Bluetooth Thermometer allows you to wirelessly monitor the cooking of your food on the grill or in the oven from your phone up to 150 feet away. It’s capable of monitoring four items with optional probes, and you can preset the alarm to go off at any temperature between -22 F and 572 F and monitor your cooking progress from an iPhone or Android. It’s a huge improvement over their original device and costs $100. A mini version is also available for $37. It has a single probe and works much the same way. (www.idevicesinc.com).

For the traveling man: While we all just learned that, in a sting operation, TSA has failed to catch fake guns, explosives and bomb parts, they always seem to find my pocket knife or water bottle that I forgot to leave at home. The Leatherman Style PS is a pocket-size multi-tool that is TSA-compliant, meaning it has no knife. But it does have scissors, screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutter, nail file, tweezers, carabineer and bottle opener. It’s nicely made of stainless steel and costs just $20. (leatherman.com)

The hottest camera right now for serious shooters is the Sony Alpha 2 II. It’s a mirrorless camera with a full-size sensor that’s more compact than a DSLR. It has a magnesium body, is splash proof, and has a five-axis sensor-shift image stabilization mechanism that moves its 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor to compensate for camera shake, allowing you to shoot at one-quarter the normal shutter speed. You can use a wide variety of lenses on it from other companies, including Leica by buying an inexpensive adapter. It costs $1,699 for the body, $1,999 with the basic 28-70 zoom lens.

Watch out: For Dads not into the smartwatch craze but who have several mechanical watches, a precision watch winder makes a great gift. The winders are battery operated and simulate wearing a watch on the wrist to keep it fully wound and running continuously.

There are many brands, but probably the best ones come from Orbita, a North Carolina company. They have models that wind multiple watches or just one, and all are silent and reliable. The Sparta entry-level model winds one watch and costs $295. It runs on D cells for years at a time. (Orbita.com)

It’s hard to compile this list without mentioning smartwatches. The Apple Watch is likely the most desirable by dads, but only for those who use an iPhone. For Android users, new models from Basic and Pebble should not be overlooked. They’re very competent, less expensive and are small enough to match the size of normal watches.

The Pebble is focused more on reminders and supplementing the apps on your phone, while the Basic is better for health tracking, with its many more built-in sensors, including a very good heart monitor. Each costs about $200, as compared to the Apple Watch, which begins at $349.

Last, don’t forget the original inventors of high-tech watches, Casio, Seiko and Citizen. Each of these companies has some amazing models with built-in GPS, world time, stop watch and alarm functions. Casio G-Shock watches begin at about $100; Seiko’s latest Astron series with built-in GPS starts at about $1,500. Then there’s the Yes watch, a clever timepiece developed in San Diego that displays sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset and world time. ($800, yeswatch.com).

Droning on and on: Drones have been in the news, and the Parrot Bebop Drone is a relatively low-cost unit that can get your feet wet with this technology. It has a built-in GPS system that’s designed to bring it back to the take-off point plus some other features to make it safe to use. Parrot makes several models in the sub-$500 range that are good for fun, but not serious use. ($500, parrot.com.)


Baker is the author of "From Concept to Consumer," published by Financial Times Press. Send comments tophil.baker@sddt.com. Comments may be published online or as Letters to the Editor.

User Response
0 UserComments