From rugged outdoor radios to a digital running coach and James-Bond-worthy hard drive, we've rounded up the gadgets for dads of all types — including yours.
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Bosch Power Box 360, $220+
...for the handy dad.
Bosch's Powerbox has built-in speakers for blasting music in all directions, runs on its own internal battery, and includes a sheltered compartment and input for an iPod, plus a USB port for charging cell phones, and even an SD card slot. Not bad for a roll-cage-enclosed bit of work equipment that looks like it belongs in a cargo bay on the USS Enterprise.
Adidas miCoach Pacer, $139
...for the active dad.
Invigorate Dad's training runs with Adidas' miCoach system, which works in conjunction with an MP3 player to literally coach him through his workouts using a heart-rate monitor for feedback. A number of fitness plans — like de-tress, finish faster and lose weight — help customize his runs to what he wants to achieve and keep him there. Unlike the competing Nike + iPod system, Dad doesn't need an Apple product to supply the tunes: Any MP3 player will do.
Kiwi Wifi and Rev for iPhone/iPod Touch, $190
...for the dad with 10W-30 in his veins.
When the "check engine" light in the car comes on, this Wi-Fi connected OBD II scanner and software will not only Dad diagnose the problem from his iPod Touch or iPhone, it will give him access to more data than most mechanics would dream of. Revolutions per minute, forward acceleration, wheel horsepower, fuel trim, you name it, all in real time. You'll need to drop $150 on the hardware and $40 on the app to get access to all the features, but if this won't make Dad feel like a pit mechanic, nothing will.
Nintendo Wii, $200
...for the dad who's a kid at heart.
Even if the old man swore off gaming during the heyday of Atari, the Nintendo Wii might appeal where other systems have failed. Besides dead-simple operation, it hosts an endless number of casual games, from bowling to trivia and virtual fishing. If he's a movie fan, a recent partnership with Netflix will even let him stream movies from it instantly (though not in HD, as the Xbox 360 will).
Garage Door Murals, $229+
...for the dad with a sense of humor.
This veers a little bit from the strictest definition of "gadget," but if your dad is the kind of guy who likes practical jokes, these garage murals might be right up his alley. The mammoth-garage-sized graphics turn any vanilla garage door into a drive-through portal to the beach, Italian vineyards, or just a fantasy garage with a firetruck, jet or racecar parked in it. At $229 and up, it's a pricy gag to play, but still definitely cheaper than a real boat, Mustang or stable full of horses.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1, $380
...for the adventurous dad.
No pocket digicam will ever match the quality of a full-size DSLR like the pros carry, but Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TS1 is both small enough to carry anywhere and durable enough to survive there, thanks to a waterproof, shockproof, dustproof enclosure. A 12.1-megapixel sensor, 4.6x optical zoom, optical image stabilization and 2.7-inch LCD make it a competent shooter, too.
Fiskars Momentum Reel Mower, $250
...for the green dad.
If your dad loves the environment as much as he loves his lawn, a reel mower like Fiskars Momentum is a no brainer. It costs less than a gas mower, has fewer parts to maintain, runs almost silently, and even rolls a light aerobic workout into the weekly chore routine. Fiskars' Momentum model uses its InertiaDrive system — basically a larger reel and heavier blades — to help chew through twigs and dense grass, and has blades that extend right to the outside edges of its front wheels to eliminate uncut strips of grass.
LaCie Rikiki 250GB Portable Hard Drive, $75+
...for the dad on the run.
It's hard to get excited about something as utilitarian — and useful — as portable storage, but for bringing movies, documents and music on the go, they can be an absolute necessity. LaCie's Rikiki treats it as an art form. The anodized black, brushed-aluminum enclosure looks and feels like something out of a Bond movie, and moves data in a hurry, too. If you break down the price per gigabyte, it's also one of the more affordable portable drives in its class.
Sony Vaio CW Series, $810+
...for the stylish dad.
Replace Dad's dusty old laptop with one of the sleekest Sony Vaios we've laid eyes on. The Vaio CW may not be the lightest 14.1-inch notebook you can buy, but it specs and style more than make up for it. Every model (including the entry-level model priced at $810) gets a discrete Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics cards and Intel Core i3 or better CPU, plus a sharp high-resolution display and a glittering, automotive-quality finish.
HTC Droid Incredible, $200 on Verizon with contract
...for the business dad.
Give Dad a break and get him a phone to help him juggle his busy schedule. HTC's Incredible boasts the Android 2.1 operating system for multi-tasking and access to a wide variety of productivity apps, plus a snappy 1GHz Snapdragon processor to whip from task to task without delay, and a high-resolution screen for making even full-size webpages look sharp.