Ultimate Gift Guide for Dads & Grads 2005


- 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.

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…



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.


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

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)



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...