Just a few years ago, smartphones were strictly for jet-setting executives and early adopters, tablets were for specialty professions and e-readers weren't for anyone. Two companies, Apple and Amazon, helped change our perceptions about these gadgets with the introduction of the iPhone, iPad and Kindle. Other companies soon followed suit.
But which should you buy? Tablets, smartphones and e-readers share many of the same features. Some, like the Amazon Kindle Fire, are really hybrids. First, you should ask yourself what features are important to your dad. If phone calls aren't a priority, a smartphone is easy to strike off the list. If he enjoys reading but isn't interested in running apps, surfing the Web or sending messages and e-mail, you can eliminate tablets.
Even after you determine which category makes the most sense, you still have to settle on a particular make and model. There are all sorts of tablets, smartphones and e-readers out there. Each operating system and design has something to offer. Knowing what's right for your dad can be tricky. Should you get an Apple iOS device or would he prefer Android? Is Blackberry more your dad's speed or should you get a Windows phone?
Before buying any of these devices for dad, you should keep in mind that some of these gadgets require an ongoing network fee. Your dad might think his new smartphone is amazing -- until he gets that first bill complete with data fees. Then he might consider it the gift that keeps on taking.