Father's Day is almost upon us. For those who don't write this off as an invention by the greeting card industry, finding a gift someone will love can be a challenge. Here are some options that might just do the trick for a guy who likes technology.
Vivitar Follow-Me Drone
With a street price of about $179, the Vivitar Follow-Me Drone has four rotors (with a number of blade replacements in case you crash once too often), a 360-degree 16.1 megapixel camera, and support for both GPS and Wi-Fi, the latter allowing you to see photos or video from the ground and even lock the drone to your phone so it will follow you like an obedient giant bee.
Do expect this to need a bit of practice. I had access to a trial unit and found that an area surrounded by trees on a windy day probably wasn't the best choice of locale. That said, I can testify that the single-button takeoff and landing -- the latter having let me do an emergency landing to keep from chasing it out into the woods -- worked wonderfully. Also, if the drone loses the Wi-Fi signal, it will follow the GPS coordinates to return.
Motorola Moto phone system
Motorola's concept of snap-on additions (held with strong magnets) to its Moto Z2 Force phone ($500 at the moment, as the Z3 will come out later this summer) is pretty cool. The phone itself has a great display, clear sound, and a good camera. So do a number of other phones these days.
But the novel and innovative part is being able to change the physical configuration. I was able to try one of these and a number of mods, including a Hasselblad-branded camera (about $150 street price) with real 10-power optical zoom (rather than essentially expanding the image and losing resolution) and the JBL SoundBoost 2 (about $60) to turn the phone into a mini-audio player with speakers and a kickstand. There's a game pad, various extra batteries, a vehicle dock, a 360-degree camera addition, and probably more to come.
Weatherman smart umbrella
Yes, an umbrella. But not just any umbrella. The Weatherman (collapsible at $59, stick at $65, and golf at $89 to $95) is a fabulous and secretly high-tech way of battling the elements. The umbrellas are large. Even the collapsing model that I tried was surprisingly roomy underneath, although not so tiny folded up that it will fit easily into a smaller bag or briefcase.
But sometimes that shouldn't matter. They are wind-resistant up to 55 miles an hour (strong and thick fiberglass ribs) and are covered in Teflon-coated fabric that won't leak over you.
Plus, they all have trackers. If you've misplaced the umbrella, a smartphone app will help you find it, and also bring up a weather forecast. The last part isn't all that distinctive, as there are plenty of other ways to get one, but a nice feature to add. If Dad is in a rainy area, he'll appreciate this.
Sony Xperia Ear Duo
Nothing new about Bluetooth ear buds that seal you off from the world. The Sony Xperia Ear Duo ($279) is different. They are designed to leave the ear canal open. If you want to listen to music or a podcast or a phone call without blocking off your surroundings, this is a way to go.
There's a storage case with a plug for charging. You download an app to control the Bluetooth connection and to provide access to the touch controls on the earpieces. I found them light and comfortable, and usually have a hard time with anything that sits in the ear canal, so this was a pleasant change. You can also control some things, like accepting or declining calls and moving forward and back through music selections, through head movements.