There’s a big day coming up, and plenty of pressure on you to hand over a gift that somehow represents all of your love and appreciation. It may be called Father’s Day, but this is an event for you to say a loving thank you to whatever person held that special role in your life, irrespective of their gender. Thankfully, we’ve collated a list of the best tech gifts you can buy to at least go some small way in saying thanks for all of that parenting you did, and probably still do.
Sony’s XM series of headphones are the default option for pretty much every regular buyer these days. Sony’s latest model, the WH-1000XM5, offer a better looking design, a more comfortable fit and even better sound than its predecessor. As Billy Steele wrote in his review, if you thought the XM4s couldn’t get better, you’ll be staggered by the improvement here.
A lot of small things have been tweaked, including the fact there are twice as many noise cancellation microphones as on the XM4. That promises better high-frequency sound blocking, which should be great in crowded areas and on airplanes. For $400, they’re pricier than, say, Bose’s 700s, but that saving might be something of a false economy. If you just can’t stretch that far, then keep an eye out for the XM4, since the old flagship is remaining on sale at a discount.
Withings Body Cardio smart scale
Let’s face it: You want your loved ones to stay healthy, keep an eye on their heart and generally be around for as long as possible. One way to do that is by upgrading your bathroom scales to something like Withings’ Body Cardio smart scale. Designed to look as unobtrusive as possible, but hidden inside its shell is a number of extra special features you don’t get elsewhere.
You’ll get a heart-health check, automatic person tracking and a full body composition breakdown, telling you how much fat, water and muscle you’re carrying. I’d be remiss not to mention, too, Withings’ class-leading Health Mate app, which is great for collating large chunks of health data and helping you understand it in an easy-to-digest manner.
I’m a big fan of distraction-free writing machines that enable me to focus and avoid succumbing to the temptations of the internet. My go-to has historically been the basic iPad with the keyboard folio, which I’ve been using to get me out of a pinch for years now. To be clear, I still love that machine but in terms of distraction-free tech, I think the reMarkable 2 with Type Folio has the edge. It’s a stripped-down, e-paper slate designed to let you type and amend documents with its stylus in a way that’s as close to editing on real paper as you’re likely to get.
It’s a 10.3-inch tablet with an e-paper display that’s more or less responsive enough that you won’t be waiting forever for it to refresh. On its own, it’s little more than a glorified e-reader, but with the stylus and Type Folio, it becomes something a lot more powerful. I reviewed it fairly recently and found I could type a first (and second) draft of a piece and then, just by closing the keyboard and reorienting it into portrait mode, could then pull out the stylus and start making notes. The Type Folio, I think, makes the right compromises for the size, and doesn’t require too much adaptation for most experienced touch-typers.
And since I tested it, the company has launched a new version of its operating system which adds a number of small but vital quality-of-life improvements. That includes the ability to format for bold and italic text on the fly, as well as tweaks to the refresh rate for smoother scrolling. If there’s a downside, it’s that the whole setup isn’t cheap, even if you opt to buy a reconditioned model. You’ll be spending $299 for the slate, $129 for the stylus and $199 for the keyboard, so this might be one of those gifts that you’ll need to club together to buy. But if your parent has been harboring ambitions of becoming the next Tom Clancy or John Grisham, this might be the key to unleashing their literary ambitions.
Mackie Creator Bundle
Mackie’s range of CR-X speakers are generally excellent despite their relatively low price, and that extends to the rest of its audio gear. Its Creator Bundle is designed as a one-stop kit for wannabe podcasters looking to get decent sound quality from the get-go.
First up, you’ll get a pair of CR3-X speakers, the same pair I recommended in this very guide last year. The CR3-Xs offer great sound in a small package, with a three-quarter-inch tweeter and a three-inch woofer. With built-in Bluetooth, balanced TRS and unbalanced RCA inputs, you’ve got a wide variety of ways to get this jacked into whatever you’re doing.
Alongside, you’ll get an EM-USB Condenser microphone which connects to your computer over USB-C with on-board headphone headphone monitoring and gain control. You’ll also get a pair of MC-100 pro headphones, Waveform’s audio editing app and an extra software bundle with various useful plugins thrown in, too.
I’ve been obsessed with Dremel’s electric multi-tools ever since I watched Alexi Sayle ask “did I mention we cut?” back in the early ‘90s. And yet, despite being an adult with my own home, I’ve never needed to actually go out and buy a Dremel like the 8220 you can see here. Look at the thing, it’s like an electric Swiss Army Knife, complete with drill and screwdriver bits, sanding bits, polishing bits, metal-cutting discs, grinding stones and engraving tools! Just think about all of the things I can drill, screw, sand, polish, cut, grind and engrave if I had one of those right now.
I bet you there’s a whole host of parents and parental figures out there who are just itching to get a Dremel into their lives. But I bet they, like me, are also that little bit too scared to just go out and buy one since they probably don’t know what they’d use it for. That’s why you, as loving people, should go and buy them a Dremel much in the same way that I hope my kids, when they’re old enough to earn money, go out and buy me a Dremel. And maybe a book that will teach me how to use it.
Apple Watch Series 8
For the majority of people, the Apple Watch is the only smartwatch they need to consider if they have an iPhone. There’s only a handful of watches on the other side that can match Apple’s timepiece for versatility, usefulness and affordability. If you’re worried about your parent’s health and frailty, then the fall detection features alone justify your investment. Not to mention the general health tracking capabilities, and the fact you can keep them healthy with a Fitness+ subscription thrown in. I haven’t even mentioned the built-in ECG, which these days is table stakes for a wearable in this class. And if dad doesn’t have an iPhone, he can get many of the same features from Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5.
Withings Scanwatch Horizon
Of course, there are people who don’t want a smartwatch, or at least not one that looks like a smartwatch. It’s something that plenty of even designer smartwatches suffer from, and I get it, some parents don’t want to look like a neeeeeeeerd in their dotage. It’s for those people that I’d recommend Withings’ ScanWatch Horizon, a hybrid smartwatch in the body of a classic diver’s watch.
The existing ScanWatch was already a best-in-class hybrid, with a digital subdial for notifications and an analog one for step counting. It offers automatic sleep and activity tracking, smartphone assisted GPS and the usual smartwatch bells and whistles. On top of that, it also offers built-in ECG and SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) tests for keeping an eye on your heart health.
But Horizon steps up with its Dad Chic styling, a chunky case, band and choice of blue or green face colors. Put it on and you’ll instantly feel like a rugged outdoors-type ready to indulge in some wood choppin’ or other Bear Grylls-adjacent nonsense. Withings is even smart enough to throw in a whole bunch of tools to help you size your band without needing to trek to a jewelry store. And that’s before I get to the 30-day battery life.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Look, if your dad is anything like me, then they’re probably not a massive gamer, or might just play the odd title. I’m told that there’s a whole genre of Dad Games out there that apparently appeal to the fathers in our lives, which are all about following some sort of process. It’s likely then that they won’t have paid much attention to The Legend of Zelda series, which feels as un-Dad a game as you could imagine. Which is why I’m here to say that, until the start of this year, I felt the same, but I’ve since had my eyes opened to how amazing it really is. Even better, is that there’s a brand new title in the Zelda series, Tears of the Kingdom, which I’d urge all of you to check out.
You play as Link, a little dude who – much like Mario – has to rescue a princess countless times throughout history. That normally involves traversing a beautiful, unspoiled paradise called Hyrule that’s scattered with all sorts of monsters who want to kill you. From the outside, you might think that it’s all just button-mashing and hyperactive combat, which is not a dad-friendly genre. But, in fact, the game puts far more emphasis on puzzle-solving and lateral thinking, and it has the best 3D puzzles this side of the Portal series which alone makes it ideal for dads the world over. Not to mention the freedom to tackle the game any which way you want to, giving you the choice to build your own solution rather than being forced to comply with Nintendo’s.
In the last game, Breath of the Wild, you could harness the game’s physics and chemistry engines to dispatch troublesome enemies by using the environment against them. For instance, you could freeze them and then give them a whack, building up the kinetic energy to such an extent that they’re sent hurtling miles away from you. Or, if you approach them in the middle of a storm, you can get them to raise their metallic swords in anger and get a dose of lightning. In this one, you can find scattered electronic components and assemble them however you want to jury-rig vehicles to help you get around. I mean, what could be more Dad-Game than that?
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom OLED Switch
And if you’re buying them Tears of the Kingdom, you might also want to get the console to go with it. Nintendo’s Switch OLED Edition takes the same portable-home-console hybrid you know and love, and dials it up to 11. That includes a thinner bezel, better kickstand design and a nicer overall look and a feel that’s a little less kiddified than the standard model. If your dad’s a bit of an AV snob, too, then the deeper blacks, better color reproduction and clearer sound will also appeal.
Now, you can get the OLED Switch in the standard monochrome, which is fine but a little bland, so here I’ve recommended the specific Tears of the Kingdom edition. Not only do you get gold Joy Cons with a lovely white-and-green etching design, but you also get a white and gold TV dock. Even nicer is the concentric circle watermark on the underside, which looks significantly classier than the plain option. Especially if they’re going to play the game on the go, when they might want to let the world know that they appreciate the finer things in life.
Audio Technica ATLP120XBT turntable
There are a lot of Bluetooth turntables which are designed for the hip crowd who want to show off their ye olde-fashioned record player. But if you’re looking for something a bit more capital-S serious without shelling out for a high-end Technics unit, Audio Technica’s romantically-named ATLP120XBT might be worth a glance. The fact it could be confused for a Technics SL-1210, right down to the s-shaped tone arm is, I’m sure, just a total coincidence.
The sound is good, and you’ll get adjustable pitch control alongside the belt-driven turntable (sorry, no scratching on this unit). And connectivity-wise, it’s well-stocked, with Dual RCA-out, USB or Bluetooth 5.0, with support for aptX. It’s a unit I’m thinking about getting for my mum, since it’ll enable her to digitize her stack of 78rpm records over that USB connection.
LG C2 OLED TV
LG’s C1 was one of the best TVs of 2021, and so you shouldn’t be surprised that its successor is even better. I could simply say “this is an LG OLED” and you could probably let its reputation walk you over to your TV store of choice. With a skinny body and almost non-existent bezels, the C2 is close to that perfect idea of a magic window for everything you’re watching, or playing.
But let’s drill down into the specifics: The C2 gets a faster processor which LG pledges will improve dynamic tone mapping, as well as improving webOS performance. Similarly, the screen’s brightness is a little higher than the C1, and contrast has been improved overall. LG’s focus this year was also on quality-of-life features beyond the picture quality, including an easier UI, new voice remote and the ability to add user profiles. Let’s also talk gaming, since if your beloved parent likes to play, you’ll find the C2 supports GeForce Now and, uh, Stadia.
(As an aside, the C2 is very much a luxury television for the sort of kids who really appreciate your parental figures. If your budget won’t stretch that far, you should look out for the C1 which is currently massively, almost stupidly discounted and still beats the pants off much of the TV market.)
BenQ HT2050A projector
Projectors are a minefield, aren’t they? It’s a big investment for something you might not be sure you’ll use on a very regular basis unless you’ve got your own cinema room. I’ve always fancied building something in my backyard so I can run an outdoor theater in the warmer months. But I don’t know how much I’d actually use the thing after spending a hefty chunk on the initial investment.
Thankfully, if I ever do, I’ll likely buy BenQ’s HT2050A, which my colleague (and projector nerd) Steve Dent says is one of the best for performance and affordability. Coming in fairly cheap, it’s bright, has a 1.3x zoom and vertical lens shift, making it easy to place in tricky spots and easy to get the best picture quality out of its small body. It’s HD-only, of course, but then I’m not yet sold on the benefits of a 4K projector if you’re mostly watching live sports or old movies, or even your parent’s pictures of their most recent holiday.
Breville Creatista Plus
I suspect a lot of dads fall into the trap of having the ability to buy themselves nice things, but never actually go through with it. (I could easily buy myself a Dremel, for instance, but I still haven’t!) One thing they’ve probably thought about but not followed through on is to upgrade their coffee routine from whatever they bought before you were born. I myself was making at home lattes with instant coffee and a microwave for far longer than I’m prepared to admit. But I was wary about buying a bean-to-cup machine given that they can become a time-consuming hobby in and of themselves.
So, after plenty of research, I bought the Creatista Plus, a Nespresso-compatible machine that makes pretty decent coffee at home. As well as producing standard drinks, you can use the built in steam wand to prepare milk for something that’s close enough to barista-standard. Now, I’ll say that it is a lot pricier than some of the machines in its class, but I chose it as much for how it looked as what it did. Sure, there’s a built-in digital display that’ll give you fine-grain control over every fact of your coffee, but it also looks like a proper grown-up coffee machine. And it’s the sort of thing that should stand proudly on your countertop as it forms a key part of your dad’s morning routine.
Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher
Do you find that it’s harder and harder to relate to your folks as you, and they, get older? Some of this, I’m sure, is down to the media they consume, especially if they’ve become trapped in the echo chambers found in the basement of your cable TV guide. If they’re an avid reader, however, then it might be worth offering them Capitalist Realism by the British philosopher Mark Fisher. It serves as a relatively short, and fairly gentle introduction to Fisher’s viewpoint on the culture at large, especially given what’s going on right now.
At 81 pages, it can hardly be called a weighty tome, and it lacks some of the florid language you often see from philosophy books. Fisher often draws parallels between his points and various pop culture milestones that most folks will be familiar with. A treatise on Office Space’s rules around pieces of flair dovetails into an exploration of how politicians focus on metrics for success will hide the diminished quality of whatever they’re trying to improve. References to lines of dialog from Heat become points to connect the destruction of community and the way mental health has become an individualized issue, rather than a societal one. And it might just help make your Thanksgiving dinner conversations a little more pleasant in future.