Geeky Dad Gift Guide 2016
Making your own wish list or buying for others? Check out these gadgets and gizmos that I think would make great gifts. And, scroll down for a few items that my four year twins enjoy. Jump to the Geeky Gifts for Kids.
Links on this page are Amazon affiliate links. Purchasing through these link do not cost you anything, but you can help support my website and my gadget habit by making purchases after clicking links on this page.
Speaking of Amazon, have you seen this new feature? Customers with an iPhone can use the free Amazon shopping app and try Package X-Ray to see what's in a box that's been delivered, without having to hide unwrapped presents around the house. Simply scan the barcode using the camera icon within the free Amazon shopping app and the items that are inside the box will display on screen.
Great Gifts for Geeks
[$24] Tech geeks don't like to run out of battery. A USB battery can give tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets extra power. The higher the capacity, the larger physical size and weight of the battery. I keep the largest (16,100 mAh) power bank in my backpack. It has enough capacity to give an iPhone 8 full charges, or an iPad two full charges. Though, the smaller and lighter 10,000 mAh version should have plenty of capacity for most people.
[$18] Tech geeks have lots of cables, adapters, and gizmos to keep track of. Grid-it is an innovative way to store all that stuff. It's a board covered with elastic designed to hold items firmly in place. I've used one for years. I simply slip it into my laptop bag, and I know I have everything I might need. It's so much better than using a bag full of tangled wires.
[$15] I use the Nootle to mount my iPad on a tripod for recording videos and for using my iPad as a teleprompter. The Nootle is adjustable and fits iPad, iPad mini, and Android tablets with or without a case. The regular sized Nootle does not fit a 12 inch iPad Pro, but a larger Nootle is available [$15]
[$70] This is the tripod I travel with. It's very compact and literally takes two seconds to set up because it instantly springs open. At 44 inches, this tripod isn't as tall or as adjustable as a full sized tripod, but I love that it fits in my backpack.
[$7] This kit comes with three lens: wide angle, fisheye, and macro. They clip onto a phone, iPad, or tablet to cover the front or rear facing camera. The wide angle lens allows the camera to capture a larger field of view. This is great for interviews because you can fit more people in a shot without having to be far away from the device and its microphone.
[$8 for 12] Zwipes are my favorite touchscreen fingerprint removers! I keep them in drawers around the house and in my travel bag. Seriously, they wipe away smudges on glass screens with just a couple passes. If you wash microfiber clothes, don't use detergent as it breaks down the material. Also, don't cut them into smaller pieces—you'll end up with little fibers everywhere.
[$100] The iRig Mic HD is the microphone I use with my iPhone or iPad when I record instructional videos or broadcast live. It connects to the Lightning port and does a fantastic job of reducing background noise. It really does make a huge difference in sound quality versus the built in microphone. Not only does it come with a cord for connecting to Lightning, it comes with a second cable for connecting to USB so you can use this with a computer. You might also consider getting a tabletop stand [$6]
[$3 for 8] These windscreen foam covers fit over the iRig Mic HD, and they will fit other handheld microphones as well. They are super cheap and it's fun to switch up the colors when the microphone is visible in videos.
[$12 for 3] Sugru is like Play-Doh you use to fix your stuff. I've used Sugru to seal frayed cables. It's great for repairing and reinforcing laptop power supplies, USB cables, and headphone cords (especially ones from Apple). Each 5 gram package can fix 2 or 3 cables.
[$60] As a geek, I like to label my stuff. I also like to pass out stickers. I can do both those things with this USB printer! The QL-700 is a thermal printer, so there is no ink to buy (but it only prints black and gray, which is fine with me). I make lots of stickers as handouts for my presentations, so I buy compatible refills that are $8 a roll. That comes out to about 1.3¢ per sticker.
[$346] The Theta S has dual 180° cameras that take seamless spherical photos and videos. You can view the photos and videos in the Theta iOS or Android app or upload to the Ricoh website. You can also upload (after your Mac or Windows computer processes the video) to YouTube for 360° viewing in a Google Cardboard viewer.
[$35] I like to use a grip with my iPhone when filming videos. This Manfrotto tabletop tripod can be a grip and a stand! Not only can you mount a phone, but you can use the stand with the Theta S or Mevo cameras.
[$17] This bright LED light clips onto a smartphone or tablet. It helps in lighting dark subjects, especially when filming with an iPad that doesn't have a built-in light. This particular light has three brightness settings and can work continuously for 1-3 hours on a full charge. It charges through mini-USB and that cable and clip is included. The clip can slide off, which came in handy when my son used the light for his Ironman costume.
[$400] The Mevo camera is a wide angle 4K camera with iOS software for zooming, panning, and cutting. Mevo works with Facebook Live and is great for live streaming interviews and presentations. When viewers watch, it appears that you have a camera crew working for you, but in reality it's one high-resolution camera image that is being edited live!
[$95] Apple Pencil is an expensive stylus that only works with the 9.7 inch or 12.9 inch iPad Pro. However, it's one of my favorite tools of 2016! Unlike a regular stylus, Apple Pencil has a precise tip and is pressure sensitive, so it's great for drawing. In fact, I drew the pictures at the top and bottom of this page with my Apple Pencil. (Watch my video about how I use the free Adobe Draw app to turn photos into clipart.)
[$248] This year I replaced my front doorbell with the Ring Video Doorbell. Now when someone rings the front door, my phone, watch, and Mac all let me know someone is there. I can see video and talk with the person at the door because the Ring has Wi-Fi. What's even better? My twins use it to "call" me when I'm out of town. They know I'll answer. And while they can't see me, we can carry on a conversation through the doorbell over the internet. 😍
Great Gifts for Kids
Connor and Ellie are four year old twins. They have a geeky dad, and all three of them enjoy digital and non-digital toys and activities. Here are some of our picks...
We love the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems so much, that we own all 25 of them! My twins have loved these books since they were two. Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie convey many emotions in how they are drawn, and each book has a simple lesson told in a humorous way. All the text in these books are in speech bubbles, making most of the action happen in the dialog between two friends. I gave my kids stuffed Gerald and Piggie toys in 2014, and two years later, they continue to be their favorite stuffed animals.
[$80] Osmo was created by young parents and encourages social interaction by expanding interaction with games to the area in front of an iPad. It does this by providing a white stand and a red mirror that works with iPad and iPad mini. The reflector lets the front-facing camera recognize what is placed in front of the iPad. The starter kit comes with Tangrams and Words games.
[$40] This is my four year twins' favorite Osmo game! It required an iPad or iPad mini and the Osmo Stater Kit. With Osmo Pizza Co. kids get to run a restaurant. Funny animal customers come into the restaurant and order pizzas. Kids make pizzas using the game's cardboard pizza and toppings. Osmo's reflector allows the iPad app to see the cardboard pizza creation. The customers react to how the pizza was made. After putting a pizza through the oven, the player makes change. Luckily there is a "junior" mode where the game tells younger players what change to give. Older kids can practice making change by placing cardboard bills and coins in front of Osmo. The camera detects if the proper change was made.
[$48] Osmo Coding introduces young learners to coding skills. It requires an iPad or iPad mini and the Osmo Starter Kit. Osmo Coding comes with a variety of tiles that snap together using magnets. Kids use these to make a sequence of commands to control the onscreen game character. It is challenging for my four year olds, but they do enjoy the game and learn a ton through trial and error.
[$12] Action Movie Kid is one of our favorite books. It's about James and his incredible imagination. The book touts that it has an augmented reality app, but it only works with the cover. The AR isn't that exciting, but it does link to the Action Movie Kid YouTube channel. This is how Action Movie Kid got his start—from a dad who makes amazing short videos starring his son.
[$50] 3Doodle is a pen for making 3D creations. It melts plastic that cools and hardens quickly, so you are literally drawing in the air! We don't yet own a 3Doodle, but we really want one (and will be probably getting one near the end of December *wink*). This 3D pen is child-safe as it has no hot parts and the plastic is nontoxic.
Connor and Ellie are currently geeking out about Hello Kitty and Star Wars. The theme for their fourth birthday party? "Hello, may the fours be with you!"