Ars Father’s Day Gift Guide: Geek Dad Edition
June 16, 2009
All regular Ars readers are geeks on some level, so there’s a certain sense in which an Ars "Geek Dad" guide is redundant. But there are any number of geeky gifts that don’t fit well into any of our other Father’s Day Gift Guides, so we’ve included this Geek Dad Gift in the mix so that we’ll have a place to put the gadgets, gear, and tchotchkies that don’t fit anywhere else. We’ve also tried to broaden our list to accommodate multiple different flavors of geekdom. Your dad may be the sort of home improvement geek that knows how to tear down walls and reroute the electrical system. He may have a home-brewed file server lurking in a closet. Or his geekiness may just be the product of a passion for a subject, whether it’s science, photography, architecture, or something else that’s a bit off the beaten track.
In the end, there’s no way we could possibly serve every form of geekdom out there, and it seems pointless to try. But what we will deliver is a set of options, from the extremely practical to the amusingly useless, that should give you a reasonable chance to make your dad happy on his day.
Western Digital "Green" 1TB Drive
Price: about $90 (Buy)
I’ve got a basic rule when buying desktop drives: always spend around $100. Below that point, you’re simply not getting enough bang for your buck; above it, and you’re spending too much to get closer to the cutting edge. Right now, 1 TB drives are in the sweet spot (although 1.5TB’s are nearly there), and there are plenty of models to choose from. We’ll go with one from Western Digital’s Green series. These are low-performance, but you get low noise, low power, and very little heat in return and. So for a lot of uses, those can be a big plus. Because a geek dad will always have an extra bay in a tower or an old USB case he can crack open (where heat and power can be concerns), he’ll also always have something worth doing with the drive, even if it’s mirroring the family’s vacation photos.
18-Inch Annihilator Utility and Wrecking Bar
Price: $39.99 (Buy)
The annihilator can be used in just about every situation. Bring this one tool along in you car or while camping and you’ll find uses for it you’d never even considered. This thing has a built-in nail ripper and tile ripper that dad can use in do-it-yourself projects around the house. The hammer portion can be used for—you got it—hammering and general mayhem. And you can also use it for opening beer bottles, as a crowbar, as an axe, for straightening and splitting boards, cutting drywall, and escaping from burning cars or buildings. You name it—this baby will get you out or more tight spots than you can currently imagine. A must have gift for any outdoorsy or DIY Dad.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger
Price: About $20 (Buy)
People who travel with electronics have long ago discovered that bringing a power strip of some kind is almost always a good idea. Often, though, you don’t need an entire power strip—the more compact and efficient, the better. Wandering Ars editor Jacqui Cheng has discovered that the Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger is the answer to all her traveling power prayers—with three 3-pronged AC outlets and two powered USB plugs on the side, this little surge protector is shockingly handy (even at home). Plug your iPhone, iPod, or BlackBerry into the outlets on the side in order to free up the main outlets for things like your laptop and whatever else you have on hand. And let us tell you firsthand: having one of these in your bag at conferences or airports quickly makes you the popular one.
Sony battery charger with 4 AA batteries
Price: $16.22 (Buy)
Every geek dad needs a good set of rechargeable batteries and a charger to go with it; game controllers, remote controls, and digital cameras are hungry beasts.
Our choice is Sony’s basic charger, which is both well-made and dirt cheap—$16.22 on Amazon includes the charger and four 2100mAh AA batteries. The charger handles world voltage conversion, and it can also charged the smaller AAA batteries. It’s basic, but the batteries are good quality and offer terrific life in our wireless video game controllers and cameras.
Kill-a-Watt power meter
Price: $24.99 (Buy)
The Web is full of advice about how to cut your power use, what devices are the big drain, which bulbs make a difference, and what have you. But chances are good that, if your dad falls into the Geek category, he’s an old-school empiricist. Happily, hard data’s only $25 away. The Kill-a-Watt not only provides you the unit of your choice, but enables long-term monitoring of power draws, in case you’re interested in a device that only kicks into high gear now and again. The truly obsessive can take a big step up to the Watt’s Up Pro, which offers extended logging and a USB interface to do serious monitoring of your power use.
Patriot Memory 16GB Xporter USB Flash Drive
Price: $39.99 (Buy)
Networking is so ubiquitous that we seldom notice it. If we have to get a large file, music collection, or video from one computer to another, it’s a trivial matter—most of the time. But sometimes there’s no network (or cloud), or you may need to move a large batch of movies from the HTPC to the laptop for the kids to watch on a summer road trip. That’s where the Xporter USB Flash Drive comes in.
At 16GB, The Xporter is large enough to handle almost anything shy of a disk image. It’s not the most attractive thumb drive in the world, but it came out at the top of the USB heap in our recent USB flash drive roundup. If you don’t need 16GB or want to save a few bucks, go with the $21.99 8GB model.
This post has been written by Ars Staff on June 15, 2009 11:26 PM couresy of arstechnica.com.