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Ultimate Gift Guide for Dads & Grads 2005

by

- Episode 40 - June 18th, 2005

I wrote a couple of "gifts for Dads & Grads" columns for the Houston Chronicle earlier this month, but:

  1. Most of you probably don't read the Chron.
  2. At 500 words per column I barely had enough space to mention the products I liked this year, much less describe any of them in full and loving detail.
  3. A couple (2) of columns didn't even come close to letting me cover all the appropriate items I've seen.

And so, here is a TMO exclusive, the enhanced and expanded ultimate gift giving guide for dads & grads, 2005 edition.

NOTE: All prices mentioned are "suggested retail prices" as displayed on the vendor Web sites. Don't forget that you can usually find a better price than the "S.R.P." if you shop around a little.

How do you shop around? You know that little Google search field in Safari? Type the product name into it, click a few links, and you'll almost certainly find it for less.

Last but not least, if you order a product on the Web, use a credit card rather than a debit card, check, or C.O.D. That way if the transaction or product turns out to be unsatisfactory in any way (or the vendor rips you off in any way), your credit card company may offer recourse not available when you pay by check, debit card, cash, or C.O.D.

Moving right along, lets start with some nifty iPod accessories, since everyone who is anyone has at least one iPod by now.

'Pod Protection

If your particular dad or grad doesn't already have a carrying case to protect his or her iPod, here are some excellent gift ideas that won't break the bank.

  • iPod Socks by Apple
    $29 - Apple Store

    This colorful set of six knit socks makes a great gift. Sure $30 is a bit steep for a few of ounces of colored yarn, but they are stylish and nicely packaged and each has a little tag with the Apple logo on one side and "iPod" on the other.


Apple iPod Socks as seen at the Apple Store.

On the other hand, I held up my purple iPod Sock at a recent CapMac user group meeting in Austin, TX, and someone in the crowd gave me an even better idea…

  • Tube Socks for little kids by Gymboree, Gap Kids, etc.
    $2-6 a pair

    Yes, he was talking about socks for little kids' feet and he's right: They have roughly the same dimensions, are equally functional, don't always come in six packs, and are usually cheaper than Apple iPod Socks.

    So if your dad or grad can do without the fancy, schmancy Apple logo tag, a pair or two of tube socks for little kids may be just the ticket.

 

  • SportSuit Convertible iPod case by Marware
    $39.95 ($25.99 - Amazon)

    Marware's SportSuit Convertible iPod case has long been one of my favorite iPod cases. Fabricated from durable wet suit-like neoprene, they feel simply fantastic in your hand and are chock full of convenient features including a removable storage pocket/lid for your remote and/or earphones, a low profile belt clip, and even an armband.

 

  • Protective Case for iPod by XtremeMac
    $29.95

    If your dad or grad tends to be hard on devices, the Protective Case from XtremeMac is sure to be a hit. Unlike the soft SportSuit Convertible, it's a hard-shell protective case made of durable Lexan that also includes a removable clear front cover with an integrated screen protector, a low profile belt clip, and a dash mount for the car.

If your dad/grad happens to use an iPod shuffle, check out some of the new brightly colored cases and caps such as these:


Digital Lifestyle Outfitters colorful Jam Jackets for iPod shuffle.
Photo courtesy Digital Lifestyle Outfitters

 

 

 

'Pod Accessories

Moving right along, should your loved one already have an iPod case, here are some nifty new gadgets that make using an iPod even better.

  • iBoost by Nyko Technologies
    $40 for iPod Mini ($33.79 - Amazon); $99.99 for iPods ($85.49 - Amazon)

    Nyko Technologies is well known as a premier developer of cool add-ons for gaming consoles such as the PlayStation and XBox. What's not well known (yet) is that they now make some very cool iPod accessories including my personal favorite, the slim, stylish iBoost battery packs. These puppies snap onto to your iPod or iPod mini and extends its battery life up to 10 hours (mini) or 16 hours (dockable iPods).

 

  • iTop Button Relocator by Nyko Technologies
    $30

    Nyko also offers the iTop Button Relocator for dockable iPods, a nifty little accessory that relocates your iPod's controls-play/pause, forward, back, volume up/down, and hold-from the front of the 'Pod to its top. If you carry your iPod in your shirt pocket or a pocket in a shoulder bag, it rocks.

Last but not least, Griffin Technology (www.griffintechnology.com) offers many very cool gadgets including:

  • AirClick by Griffin Technology
    $39.99 ($26.59 - Amazon)

    AirClick is a tiny iPod remote control that allows you to control your iPod from up to 60 feet away even through walls. I now stash my car iPod in the glove compartment and use the AirClick (which is velcroed to the sun visor) to pause, play, change the volume, and skip or repeat songs. Sweet!

And if your dad/grad doesn't have an iPod, there's also a USB version of AirClick that can control iTunes on a Mac (and much more).
Insert Figure RR40-03 here


Griffin's AirClick remote control device for iPods.
Photo courtesy Griffin Technology (2-image composite created by Bob LeVitus)

  • iTalk by Griffin Technology
    $39.99 ($26.59 - Amazon)

    iTalk is a tiny voice recorder that pops right onto the top of any 3d or 4th generation iPod. Plug in almost any microphone and you've got an iPod that can record hours of audio.

 

  • Lapel Mic by Griffin Technology
    $14.99

    The Lapel Mic is a perfect and inexpensive companion to iTalk. With an iTalk and Lapel Mic your iPod becomes a pretty decent audio recorder you can use for interviews, lectures, or even live performances. The sound quality ain't that great but the size and price of the two devices more than makes up for it.

 

  • iBeams by Griffin Technology
    $19.99 ($11.99 - Amazon)

    iBeams are a snap-on flashlight and a laser pointer for your iPod. Powered by your iPod's battery, both come with a snap-on protective cap that you can attach to a keychain. Way cool.


iBeams are way cool!
Photo courtesy Griffin Technology

Before we move on to some not-necessarily-for-the-iPod items, I should mention that the Apple Store (www.apple.com/store) and Everything iPod (www.everythingipod.com) are a pair of excellent resources for everything iPod including cases, accessories, gadgets, cables, speakers, and lots more. I daresay I'd be very surprised if you didn't find the perfect gift for your dad or grad at one place or the other.

Music for Their Ears

These days everyone needs a good set of speakers and all of the ones listed below are good. If your particular dad or grad doesn't already have some speakers on their desk, here are some that scored particularly well in rigorous testing at the prestigious DMIAAR (the Doctor Mac Institute of Advanced Audio Research, a.k.a. my home office). While they're designed for use with an iPod, all of them can also be used with your Mac and other audio devices.

On Tour by JBL
$99.95 ($68.39 - Amazon)


Simply put, On Tour rocks. It's tiny-weighing less than a pound, and runs on 4 AAA batteries or an included AC power adapter. It sounds exceptional considering its size and weight, making it near-perfect for a hotel or dorm room.

 

iBoom by Digital Lifestyle Outfitters
$129.99 ($115.89 - Amazon)


iBoom is a portable boom box stereo/FM radio for most iPod models. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't impressed with its sound but my 16-year old daughter is crazy about it. She claims that any kid with even half a brain would absolutely love one.


The DLO iBoom-a stereo boom box for your iPod.
Photo courtesy Digital Lifestyle Outfitters

 

inMotion iM3 by Altec Lansing
$179.99 ($128.24 - Amazon)

Altec Lansing's inMotion iM3 is my travel speaker system of choice these days and it's an excellent portable speaker if I do say so myself. Designed for dockable iPods, it's significantly bigger and heavier than the On Tour, and offers many additional features including the ability to recharge and update your iPod while you listen, and a wireless remote control. It also uses Altec Lansing's MaxxBass technology to provide improved bottom-end response, plus four neodymium micro drivers for sweet crispy highs and mids. The iM3 system sounds amazing for its size and the wireless remote, which snaps into the back of the system so you don't lose it, is the icing on the cake.


Altec Lansing's InMotion iM3 portable speakers rock.
Photo courtesy Altec Lansing

SoundDock by Bose
$299 ($299 - Amazon)

Stepping up in size, price, and performance, the Bose SoundDock is a desktop speaker system with a wireless remote designed specifically for dockable iPods. Unlike the others, it's not portable, doesn't run on batteries, and requires AC power. Like other Bose speaker products, its sound is huge, with tight, crispy highs and deep clean lows.

iFi by Klipsch
$399 ($379.99 - Amazon)

I saved the best-the just-introduced Klipsch iFi system-for last. Each and every person who has visited my office since they showed up pronounced them the best by far. It's an ultra high performance speaker system designed just for dockable iPods and I agree with my testers wholeheartedly: The Klipsch iFi is the best-sounding iPod speaker system I've ever heard, and not just by a small margin, either. That's probably due to its 200-watt class D amplifier, which powers a pair of two-way Klipsch Reference Series satellite speakers and a massive subwoofer. The result is sound that boggles the mind in its clarity even at extremely high levels.

This system sounds so darned great and reproduces audio so danged accurately that I felt obliged to re-rip many of my favorite CDs (Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Steely Dan's Aja, and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours to name just a few) using the Apple Lossless codec. Yes, it generates huge files-4 or 5 times the size of AAC at 160. But I played the Lossless and compressed AAC 160 versions of these songs for friends and relatives, and every single one of them thought the Lossless version sounded "better," "cleaner," and/or "crispier.

To be fair, the Klipsch is the only system with a subwoofer, and it outweighs all of the previous speaker systems combined, weighing in at better than 40 pounds. But so what? If you don't need portability, this is definitely the way to go!


The Klipsch iFi system brings audiophile quality sound to the iPod.
Photo courtesy Klipsch Audio Technologies

So there you have it-more than a dozen killer gift ideas for the dad or grad in your life. What are you waiting for? Get out there and shop 'til you drop.

And that's all he wrote...

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit www.boblevitus.com.

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