Geeky Dad Gift Guide 2017
Making your own wish list or buying for others? As technology geek, I've listed gadgets and gizmos that I think would make great gifts. And, scroll down for a few items that my five year twins enjoy. Links on this page are Amazon affiliate links. Purchasing through these links does not cost you anything, but you can help support my website and my gadget habit by making purchases after clicking links on this page.
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Great Gifts for Geeks
[$16] 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.
[$12] The BoostCube is about the same size as an iPad wall charger, however, instead of having only one USB port, the BoostCube has two. I use this when traveling so that I can charge my phone and iPad simultaneously from one power outlet. There’s also a BoostCube with 4 USB ports [$18].
[$30-$50] Echo Dot is a small Wi-Fi device with a speaker and microphone used to talk to Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. Alexa can play music, tell jokes, spell words, and more. Read my post about how Echo Dot can be used in classrooms. Additionally, I can ask Alexa to turn on and off lamps that are plugged into a Wemo Wi-Fi smart plug. There are dozens of skills you can add to Alexa to make it even more useful. I recently got a Google Home Mini, which is a very similar voice assistant. At this point I’m not sure which I like best yet.
[$10 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.
[$13] I’m an iPhone X user, which means I can charge my phone by resting it on a charging pad. Apple sells third-party pads that are $60, however, I’ve found that this much cheaper Pleson charger works just as well. Wirelessly charging is slower than charging through a wire, but I am enjoying the convenience of not having to plug in my phone. I have one on my desk and one next to my bed. The Pleson charger is Qi-enabled, so it will work with iPhone 8 and other phones that support Qi charging.
[$26] I like to have extra power for my devices that charge through USB in case I'm not near a power outlet. The higher the capacity, the larger physical size and weight of the battery. 10000mAh is a good capacity that will charge an iPad to one full charge or a smartphone a few full charges.
[$10] You can send Post-it notes through a regular printer to make your own customized sticky notes. I've created and shared templates that use Google Slides as the design software. It turns out there are many uses for printed sticky notes, including printing colorful Bitmoji cartoons. Printing in color looks best on white notes, however, white sticky notes are surprisingly difficult to find in stores. I've been ordering white Post-it notes from Amazon to print my Bitmoji stickies.
[$105] After years of using the same old clicker as my presentation remote, I've upgraded! The Logitech Spotlight connects through USB or Bluetooth. Its killer feature is that it is an air mouse—I can wave the remote to move the mouse on the screen, and the area around the cursor is highlighted. It's great for pointing out buttons, words, and parts of photos. There's also a button that can black out my screen.
[$85] Before using a ring light, getting the lighting just right for my photos and videos was not easy. Now I place my smartphone in the middle of the light, and I have a perfectly lit face for videos and photos. It turns out that this kind of lighting is quite flattering. To complete your the setup, you'll also want to get an adjustable light stand, hot shoe adapter, and smartphone tripod mount. You could buy all this together in one kit, but it more expensive that way. Read my post Perfect Illumination with a Ring Light.
[$25] 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.
[$12] 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].
[$15] I use the Square Jellyfish to mount my iPhone on a tripod for recording videos and taking photos. The clamp adjusts to fit even large phones, and the mount can be rotated to hold a phone vertically or horizontally. In addition to using the Square Jellyfish on a tripod, I also use it to hold my phone atop a camera grip.
[$10] I like to have my phone in view when biking. The Vintar mount clamps onto my bike’s handlebar. Elastic bands and a clamp hold my phone firmly in place. The mount is fully adjustable and can rotate to hold my phone horizontally or vertically.
[$130] 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.
[$160] Apple’s AirPods are wireless earphones that easily pair with Apple devices and charge while in the case. I’ve had these for a year and have worn them everyday to the gym. They have never fallen out of my ears. I also use them for phone and video calls, as each earbud has a microphone.
[$80] 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-800 is a thermal printer, so there is no ink to buy, so it only prints black and white (and possibily red). 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. If you want to print in red, you’ll have to get the more expensive labels.
[$905] I love this drone! It has a 4K camera, four mile range, 27 minute battery life, and very smooth camera stabilization. It can fold down to the size of a shoe, making it great for travel. The Mavic Pro takes stunning photos and videos, and it can broadcast to Periscope, YouTube Live, or Facebook Live. I suggest getting the Deluxe Bundle to get two extra batteries, multi-charger, and shoulder bag. DJI has a smaller quadcopter called the Spark for $400.
Great Gifts for Kids
Connor and Ellie are five 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 for 2017...
Amazon has a section devoted to science, technology, engineering, and math toys. You can shop by age or topic. Connor, Ellie, and I would love so many things we see here. The STEM Toys section is a great place to make a wish list.
[$79] 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. Connor is especially fond of the Tangrams game at the moment.
[$17] Connor and Ellie know a lot about Star Wars, especially considering they have not seen the movies yet. They do love reading about the characters, and this set of books does a great job of telling about them.
[$6] This is the final Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems. We love the Elephant and Piggie books so much that we own all 26 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. Before reading The Thank You Book, you’ll want to be familiar with some of the other books. You can get An Elephant and Piggie Biggie, which is a book with five stories for $9.
[$11] As a family we are having a blast playing Ultra Dash. The trigger lights up a color and the runner’s job is to place the trigger into the corresponding target. You can place targets anywhere–the farther away, the more movement is required. After the runner has tagged all four targets, the time is displayed on the trigger. Runners can try to beat their previous times or other runners’ times.
[$350] The Nintendo Switch can connect to a television or it can be played as handheld game. The controllers detach for more movement or for accommodating two players. My family has been having a blast playing Mario Odyssey [$59] for Nintendo Switch. My five years old twins aren’t great at controlling Mario, but we all enjoy watching Mario travel to different worlds. The game play is clever, and we love finding power moons.