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Father's Day 2018: The best tech gifts Dad will actually use

Forget the socks. Each of these tech gifts has been selected, reviewed and tested by a gadget-loving Dad. Practical and fun doesn't have to break the bank, either: Prices start at $10.

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Topic: Hardware
Soundcore Flare
1 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Soundcore Flare

I've tested many portable Bluetooth speakers, and none come close to the room-filling, immersive power of the Soundcore Flare. In fact, I continue to the blown away by just how amazing this speaker - no bigger than a soda cup - can output.

Not only is it powerful, but the built-in battery is good for up to 12 hours, and the case is rated to IPX7, which means that it is totally waterproof, making it ideal for pool parties.

Oh, and it also features a halo of colored LEDs around the base which can put on a crazy pulse and beat driven light show for you!

iFixit Manta Driver Kit
2 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

iFixit Manta Driver Kit

iFixit's Manta Driver Kit not only contains 112 bits designed to tackle pretty much every fastener you're likely to come across when fixing electronic devices in both 4mm and 1/4-inch bit sizes, but it also comes with two premium anodized aluminum driver handles to hold these bits while in use.

Both the driver handles feature magnetized bit sockets to hold the bits, knurled grips for a positive feel in the hand, and have free-spinning tops on them so they can act as precision screwdrivers. They're some of the nicest, highest-quality bit drivers I've come across, and are a pleasure to use, and are more than robust enough to handle daily use and abuse.

The kit comes in the tough ABS plastic case, and the magnetized lid doubles as a sorting tray.

This is the perfect kit for someone looking for a driver set that's up to the task of dealing with both small, delicate fasteners, and big, chunky screws.

YubiKey
3 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

YubiKey

Looking for a quick, easy, and affordable way to protect your Google account, Facebook, GitHub, Dropbox, Salesforce admin account (and much more)? Or maybe you're looking for a way to harden your Mac or Windows login credentials.

Take a look at the YubiKey.

YubiKey is a small authentication key manufactured by Yubico that can be used to secure access to a wide range of applications, including remote access and VPN, password managers, computer login, FIDO U2F login (Gmail, GitHub, Dropbox, etc.) content management systems, popular online services, and much more.

Jabra Elite 65t
4 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Jabra Elite 65t

I've tried a lot of earbud-type headphones, and nothing comes close to the comfort, quality, and performance of the Jabra Elite 65t.

I absolutely love them!

They're great for both music and making and receiving calls, feature wind noise cancellation, and the iOS app allows for advanced features, such as allowing ambient sounds to be mixed with the audio from the iPhone.

The buds have a five-hour battery life, with the recharging case offering two more recharges. And recharging is fast, with the buds getting 1.5 hours of battery life with only a 15-minute recharge.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick
5 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

I'm always too cheap to buy an iPhone with the maximum capacity, so I end up relying on external storage to pick up the shortfall.

While I like the "flash drive" type accessories that plug into the Lightning port, I find the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick to be far easier and less hassle to use. This is a flash drive - with capacities ranging from 16GB to 256GB - that has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and battery, allowing you to access the data when you're out and about.

The drive can be recharged using a USB-A port, and can stream to three devices simultaneously.

Roav VIVA
6 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Roav VIVA

Anker -- the company that you may know better for its high-quality yet competitively-priced powerbanks, chargers, and charging cables -- has taken an Echo Dot and compacted it down to the size of an in-car charger.

Not only have they made it so it's a quarter of the size of the already petite Echo Dot, but the Roav VIVA has features that make it ideally suited for in-car use. For example, it has advanced noise cancellation and dual high-sensitivity silicon-MEMS microphones to accommodate for the fact that out cars are usually noisier than our living rooms. Also, because our cars go through a wide range of temperatures, Anker has built the Roav VIVA to have industrial-grade temperature resistance, giving it the ability to operate across a wide temperature range (-4°F/-15°C to 257°F/125°C).

This is one tough, well-made device.

Also, Anker has kitted out the Roav VIVA with two PowerIQ equipped charging ports, capable of simultaneous high-speed charging. These can fully charge two iPhone 7 Plus handsets in 2.3 hours, or two iPad minis in 3.7 hours.

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad
7 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad

The PowerWave 7.5 Pad features WaveBoost technology, which makes use of advanced components and a state-of-the-art cooling system to charge up to 30 percent faster than other wireless chargers. The silent cooling fan not only keeps the charger cool, but also allows the charger to keep charging at the fastest speed possible.

Charge times are also pretty good. While many wireless chargers take 4.3 hours to recharge the iPhone X, the PowerWave chargers cut that to 3.1 hours (the supplied wired charger takes around 3.2 hours), and it can recharge a Samsung Galaxy S8 in 2.6 hours (the supplied wireless charger takes around 3 hours).

Omnicharge Omni 20 USB-C
8 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Omnicharge Omni 20 USB-C

Without a doubt the Omni 20 USB-C is the best, most fully-featured power bank that I've every used. Think of this not as a power bank, but a $200 computer-controlled USB charging station.

This thing is a beast!

Tech specs:

  • 2 x USB-C output: 60W single/100W total
  • 2 x USB-A output: 15W single/30W total
  • USB C hub feature to allow file transfer and charging
  • USB C input: 45W total
  • Full recharge time: 3 hours
  • OLED display
  • 12-layers of electrical protection
  • 20,100 mAh capacity
Anker PowerPort+ 5 Ports USB-C
9 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Anker PowerPort+ 5 Ports USB-C

The Anker PowerPort+ 5 is the perfect charger for the person who has a lot of gadgets to keep charged up.

Not only does it have four 2.4A USB-A ports and a single USB-C Power Delivery port that's capable of charging the newer USB-C-equipped MacBooks and MacBook Pros, as well as the new iPhones (with a compatible USB-C-to-Lightning cable).

iSesamo
10 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

iSesamo

Put an end to using screwdrivers to pry things apart! The iSesamo is a thin metal sheet with a non-slip handle that allows you to split open devices. It'll fit into the most microscopic of cracks and take a lot of prying force.

It dramatically reduces both the risk of damaging the thing you're taking apart, as well as the risk of putting a screwdriver through your hand!

For $10, this is a brilliantly useful tool.

Engineer PH-50 scissors
11 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Engineer PH-50 scissors

For years I made do with cheap rubbish scissors. Then I found the Engineer PH-50 scissors and my life changed. $17 might seem like a lot for a pair of scissors, but these are high-quality, made in Japan and can handle tough, heavy-duty jobs such as chomping through hose and cables, as well and thin sheet metal.

Moshi IonSlim 10K
12 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Moshi IonSlim 10K

Why buy a thin smartphone and then carry a bulky charging pack to keep it powered up? The Moshi IonSlim 10K solves this problem by putting 10,000mAh of charge capacity into an ultra-thin and light premium anodized aluminum shell.

Not only can this powerbank fast-charge your iPhone X or iPhone 8, but if you have a USB-C-equipped MacBook or MacBook Pro then this power pack can carry out double duty by keeping that charged up too.

  • Fast-charging USB-A port (up to 12 W).
  • USB-C PD port (30 W, supports MacBook Pro charging.)
  • Charge 2 devices at once with Dynamic Power Sharing.
  • Ultra-slim profile (12.88 mm) with premium anodized aluminum.
  • Lithium-polymer cells: 10,000 mAh capacity, total output of 35 W.
  • Includes 2 charging cables (USB-C and USB-C to USB-A).
Nitecore TIP 2017
13 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Nitecore TIP 2017

For the past few years I'd been using flashlights that were powered by throw-away cells such as the CR123A, which are good but wasteful. Recently I moved up to the Nitecore TIP 2017 which features a built-in lithium ion battery that can be recharged using a USB charger and a micro-USB cable and I have to admit that it works very well.

With the press of a button the Nitecore TIP can switch from a 240 lumen monster that has a 30-minute battery life, to a 1 lumen firefly that can last for 46 hours. The flashlight has a 1 year standby capacity which means it's great for storing in a toolbox.

Neji-Saurus Screw Extracting Pliers
14 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Neji-Saurus Screw Extracting Pliers

I find that jobs get exponentially tougher when someone else has had a go at fixing something and in the process caused more problems.

One problem I come across often are chewed up or broken screws. Usually they're as a result of someone being too enthusiastic with a poor tool, but other times they're because someone's taken a powertool to the screws.

iFixit have two great tools to deal with such problems. The first is Neji-Saurus - the screw extracting dinosaur. It's a crazy name for a fantastic tool that can grip screw heads, bolts, or nuts allowing you to twist out even the most damaged fasteners. It might seem steep for $30, but it's a real lifesaver.

If you need to tackle screws that have had their heads sheared off completely, the precision screw remover set is worth a look.

Flir TG165 thermal camera
15 of 15 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Flir TG165 thermal camera

When I was first exposed to the Flir TG165 thermal camera I thought that is was a cool toy for people with more money than sense. But having used one for a while, I'm finding it invaluable to have the "superpower" to be able to see in infrared. Why? Because when it comes to electrical repairs, excess heat means that there's something wrong, and this camera allows me to see this overloading directly.

I've used the Flir TG165 to diagnose many issues - from spotting bad connections and overheating components, to binding brakes on cars. It's a great tool for spotting heat buildup in PCs.

I also find myself using it around the home for a myriad of things, from spotting heat escape points to finding airlocks in the heating system.

At $399 it's certainly not cheap, but once you learn how to use it, it becomes a totally invaluable tool.

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