It's that time of year again! With the holidays just around the corner, now's a great time to starting thinking of gift ideas for the dad, boyfriend, husband, son or other male in your life. And there's no better way to a man's heart than through technology.
Fortunately, there's never been a better time to be a gadget guy. From smartphones to video game bundles to 3-D TVs, there's something on this list that should suit everyone. Take a look and see our pick of the 10 best gadget gift ideas for men in 2011.
It's not hyperbole to say that the latest iPhone is the best smartphone currently on the market. The latest model builds on the strengths of previous iPhones and adds several new, exciting features to Apple's iOS.
First, there's the much-talked about (and talked-to) Siri, an app that performs Web searches, writes text messages, creates calendar items and can execute many other tasks through voice commands. Siri has been praised in tech blogs and publications for its (her?) ease of use and understanding of human speech; it works best when you speak to it in using normal, conversational words.
The 4S also packs what is arguably the best phone camera on the market, one that puts point-and-shoot and handheld video cameras to shame. It shoots 1080p, 30-frame-per-second HD video and incredibly high-quality still photos. The camera function can now be accessed from the lock screen so it's easier than ever to use [source: Gizmodo].
What else? Well, there's iCloud, which syncs your phone's music and app purchases with other computers wirelessly, making hooking the iPhone up to your Mac or PC a thing of the past. No tech-savvy guy can go wrong with the iPhone 4S as a gift.
Next up, we'll take a look at a great gift for the gamer.
When someone sees the shiny, black PlayStation 3 in your living room, they might ask, "What does it do?" A better question might be, "What doesn't it do?"
The current PS3 doesn't just play video games. It plays Blu-Ray and DVD films, has built-in WiFi, includes a powerful hard drive, streams movies from Netflix in HD, has its own Web browser, and includes the online gaming service called the PlayStation Network [source: CNET].
Right in time for the holidays, there are a variety of new bundles available that package the PS3 with several games or accessories. The PlayStation Move Bundle includes a special controller and camera that tracks your movements in 3-D space and lets you use your body to become part of the game.
Plus, it's great time to invest in a PS3 console with several hot new games that arrived in time for the holiday season, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Arkham City.
Next up: If you're more into reading and watching movies on the go than gaming, check out the hottest new tablet from Amazon.
Amazon Kindle Fire
2011 was the year of the tablet. Following on the success of last year's iPad, scores of competitors have entered the marketplace, all offering thin and compact alternatives to laptops everywhere. While one tablet, the Amazon Kindle, started out as an e-book reader, the latest generation offers much more.
The recently released Kindle Fire does have books -- as well as movies, TV shows, music, games, apps and magazines. If you can get on Amazon.com, you can put it on this tablet. It has a dual-core processor with either 512 MB or 1 GB of space, and while that's not as plentiful as some other tablets, the Fire has free access to Amazon's massive cloud for all your storage needs.
The Android-based tablet also packs an acclaimed "Silk" web browser which uses the Amazon cloud to make web pages load very quickly [source: Amazon].
The best part? It's only $199, making it $50 less than the Barnes and Noble Nook Color and more than half as expensive as the Apple iPad 2.
Next up, let's look at an innovative way to play games on the iPad.
iCade Arcade Cabinet
Maybe the guy in your life isn't a huge fan of modern video games. Here's a great way for the retro gamer to get their fill of classic arcade games on their iPad.
The iCade looks like an arcade cabinet from the 1970s or '80s, complete with a joystick and an array of buttons. Instead of a screen, however, it has a slot where you insert the iPad. Once you download the Atari's Greatest Hits app, you can use it to play over 100 classic games like Asteroids, Missile Command and Centipede -- they way they were meant to be played.
In addition, many iOS game developers are creating new games with support for the iCade, so there's much to more to play than just Atari games. The iCade takes iPad gaming to a whole new level [source: ThinkGeek].
Next up -- you've probably seen a lot of 3-D movies lately. Why not put a 3-D TV in your living room?
Many of us were blown away by the 3-D visual effects of "Avatar" when we saw it in theaters. Now, that same experience is headed to your home theater. Three-D is considered by many to be the "next big thing" in visual entertainment, so a 3-D-capable television is a great gift idea this season.
Three-D TVs can come with either special glasses like you get in the theaters, known as "passive 3-D," or they can include battery-powered liquid crystal shutters that generate the 3-D effect -- this is called "active 3-D." Active 3-D was the most common type when these TVs launched last year, but lately passive 3-D TVs are more common. Passive glasses are less expensive as well, but the quality isn't quite as a good [source: CNET].
It's important to note that 3-D hasn't become mainstream quite yet. Three-D Blu-Ray DVDs are rare and 3-D TV channels are even rarer. However, 3-D video games are catching on quickly, so a TV that can handle those effects might be great for gamers. Right now, it's best to think of 3-D as just one of the many features offered on a modern TV, not as the main reason to purchase a new set. Still, having a 3-D TV means you'll be ready for the exciting new features that might be available in the near future.
Next up, we'll look at one of the most revolutionary cameras ever developed.
Lytro Light-field Camera
The tiny Lytro camera may not look like much, but some people say it's a photography revolution. The small, rectangular device is a digital camera that photographs the entire field of light around an object.
This means two things: First, the Lytro doesn't need to focus before it takes a photo. Second, the image can be edited and focused and refocused over and over again using special software. Almost every pixel of the image is in focus, so the user can choose what part they want to highlight [source: PC Mag].
The Lytro was just recently announced, and it won't be delivered until early 2012. But it's a great idea for the husband, dad, brother or boyfriend who's also a shutterbug. The Lytro's ability to take "living pictures" represents an amazing step forward in the field of photography.
Next: While you may not be able to buy a new car for your favorite fella, you can help him make his car faster.
In the old days of automobiles, adding more horsepower to a car meant hours or even days of work under the hood, carefully installing new parts and making sure everything works right. Not anymore! Now, more power and torque can be added to just about any engine by modifying the engine computer, or ECU, in some way.
Electronic engine tuning often involves adjusting factors like the air/fuel ratio, throttle response, RPM redlines, shifting points on automatic transmissions and even boost pressure from turbochargers.
One of the most popular engine tuning companies is APR, which specializes in Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, particularly ones with turbocharged engines. For example, APR says one of their reflashes can add about 20 horsepower and 50 pound-feet of torque to an Audi A4 sedan with the 2.0-liter engine. A few hundred dollars spent on electronic tuning can give the same power that thousands of dollars in engine parts might buy [source: APR].
Many companies offer electronic tunes for different vehicles, so shop around to see what's offered for your guy's ride. Some of them are done at a dealer, while others work through a device that plugs into the engine directly.
In the next section, we'll look at a great and inexpensive way to add streaming video to your TV.
These days, it seems like the Internet has almost made traditional cable television obsolete. There are so many great streaming shows on sites like Hulu and Netflix that not having cable isn't a big deal anymore as long as you have a solid Internet connection. The Roku presents a great way to bridge the world of TV and Internet.
The Roku is a small, box-like device that fits in the palm of your hand. It plugs into your TV through an HDMI cable and has access to WiFi Internet. From there, you create a Roku account, and then you can access over 200 streaming channels, including HBO, Amazon Instant and Pandora. Some premium channels like HBO and pay-per-view require use of a credit card. The box also does news and sports on demand, and includes the hit mobile game Angry Birds [source: CNET].
The Roku is one of the best digital media receivers available, and it's half as expensive and has more features than Apple TV. This may be the future of television.
Next up, we'll look at a great gadget for the beer lover.
Krups and Heineken BeerTender
Who doesn't love beer? Here's a great gadget gift idea for the man who really, really loves beer.
The BeerTender from Krups is a storage unit and refrigerator for beer with a tap that makes sure the beer tastes the way it is mean to taste. Designed to work with beers that use the Heineken DraughtKeg, the BeerTender keeps the beer at an optimum 37.4 degrees F (3 degrees C) so that it tastes crisp and has just the right amount of head.
But wait, there's more! The BeerTender releases CO2 every time the tap is used to ensure freshness for up to 30 days. It also has an LCD display that keeps track of current beer volume and has three temperature settings [source: Kegerators].
If you're a fan of the Heineken mini-kegs, which also offer Newcastle Brown Ale, then the BeerTender is a must-have item for your home bar.
Next up, we have what may just be the ultimate remote control.
Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control
What do you get when you have a DVD player, a BluRay player, a home theater system, a cable or DVR box, and a flat-screen TV? Besides a great viewing experience, you get a whole bunch of remotes, that's what.
Logitech's Harmony 650 universal remote control seeks to solve that problem. Rather than having scores of different remote controls lying around, a single Logitech remote can control up to five devices. That's more than enough for most folks.
The remote supports more than 5,000 brands of appliances and can be set up using your computer through a USB cable. It even has its own LCD screen to display all available commands. The Logitech has been praised as one of most easy-to-use universal remotes on the market, and comes at a decent price as well [source: Best Buy].
Next time you and dad watch a movie, this will make things much simpler.
If you're looking for even more information about great gadget gifts for men and other similar topics, just follow the links on the next page.
MIT's AlterEgo allows people to control computers without ever uttering one word. HowStuffWorks looks at how this could change the way we communicate.
- Amazon.com. "Kindle Fire." (Nov. 14, 2011) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0051VVOB2/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=8302881517&ref=pd_sl_7gl7b2uwu2_e#silk
- APR. "Audi 2.0 TFSI APR ECU Upgrade." (Nov. 16, 2011) http://www.goapr.com/products/ecu_upgrade_20tsivl_long.html
- BestBuy.com. "Logitech - Harmony 650 5 Device Universal Remote." (Nov. 16, 2011) http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Logitech+-+Harmony+650+5+Device+Universal+Remote/9837565.p?id=1218181914598
- Buchanan, Matt. "iPhone 4S Review." Gizmodo. Oct. 21, 2011. (Nov. 14, 2011) http://gizmodo.com/5852247/iphone-4s-review
- CNET. "2011 Holiday Gift Guide: Sony PlayStation 3 Slim Move Bundle." (Nov. 14, 2011) http://reviews.cnet.com/holiday-gift-guide/top-gifts/?tag=TOCcarouselMain.0
- CNET. "3D TV Buying Guide." (Nov. 15, 2011) http://reviews.cnet.com/3dtv-buying-guide/?tag=centerColumnArea1.0;buyAdvice
- CNET. "Roku LT Review." (Nov. 16, 2011) http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-media-receivers/roku-lt/4505-6739_7-35056746.html?tag=mncol;txt#reviewPage1
- Hachman, Mark. "Hands On: The Lytro 'Living Picture' Digital Camera." PC Magazine. Oct. 20, 2011. (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2395001,00.asp#fbid=YjKGVKa4raF
- Kegerators. "Krups Heineken Beer Tender." (Nov. 16, 2011) http://www.kegerators.com/equipment/krups-heineken-beertender-b95.php
- ThinkGeek. "iCade." (Nov. 15, 2011) http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/retro-gaming/e762/