Dad’s day is nigh. As one of the species, I’m recommending gifts that can make your man happy by appealing to his belly or entrancing him with tech magic.
Open, sez me: Take the automated charms of the ShedRain e-Motion, billed by its designers as “the biggest breakthrough in umbrella technology in 25 years.” With the push of a button, this motorized, rechargeable umbrella opens and closes on its own, so Dad can keep eyes elsewhere and one hand free while opening the car door, tending to the kids, and talking on the phone. A battery charge lasts for months, for up to 150 openings and closings. The Teflon-coated umbrella also works manually. Weighs 18 ounces in compact form, sells for $99.99. Also available in huge golf umbrella size for $179.99.
Mr. Clean: Sometimes the elements don’t cooperate to keep the plants moist and the patio deck clean, so Dad has to wheel out and unsnake a clunky electric power washer and companion garden hose. Now there’s the new Worx Hydroshot. Weighing just 3.7 pounds, this compact, hand-held water gun runs on a rechargeable lithium battery, connects to an outdoor faucet or blasts water from a hose dunked in a bucket, pool or nearby lake, pushing water pressure up to 320 psi. That’s five times the kick from a non-turbo charged garden hose. $119.85 from Worx.
Grill and chill: Flipping meat, fish and veggies on an outdoor grill makes us guys feel useful without much effort. So will cooking on a Philips HD6371 — an indoor electric table top grill ($220 at BestBuy.com ) that works during Dad’s “apartment years.” While not the first of its species, the Philips uses novel technology to achieve (almost) smokeless grilling and BBQ flavor. What’s the secret sauce? Deploying side-wall mounted infrared heating elements that heat the mirrored — and easily cleaned — compartment and cast iron grate to 446 degrees for perfect food searing and crisping on the outside and moisture retaining doneness on the inside. Burgers, chicken and veggie skewers, salmon and swordfish came out perfectly in our tests. Per Philips’ instructions, a steak demands overnight marinating; otherwise, it will look and taste good but be chewy.
Want to accessorize a grill gift? Tickle Dad’s funny bone with a novelty-sloganed Ritz 1892 Barbeque Grill Apron from the West Conshohocken-based John Ritzenthaler Co., a going concern since 1892. Imprint options include “Real Men Wear Aprons,” “Sauce Boss,” and “Grill Sergeant.” $16-$22 each on Amazon.com.
Coffeemate: Does dad demand a rich, strong cup of coffee? Just a dozen or so automatic coffee makers have earned a recommendation from the Specialty Coffee Association of America, which insists the water be heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve full extraction, and demands pre-infusion — wetting the grounds for 45 seconds before brewing. We’ve frothed before about the $299 Behmor Connected Brewer as the smartest of the species.
The compact eight-cup Bonavatia 1900TS, top-rated by Digital Trends, is likewise a fine and less expensive (about $135) SCAA-certified coffee maker with a thermal carafe that keeps the coffee drinkable for hours. Just disregard its “two tablespoons of coffee per 5-ounce cup” recommendation when grinding the beans at home. One tablespoon is perfect. And you’ll need to descale it, regularly.
Sound and vision: Just turned 50 but hardly showing its age, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Apple Corps.) has received a new six-disc box set celebration with fresh stereo, mono and surround sound mixes, a commemorative book and posters, two audio discs of outtakes and isolated backing tracks that underscore the genius of producer/arranger George Martin, plus Blu-ray and DVD music videos in surround sound and an hourlong, previously unseen documentary made “20 years ago today.” $127.99 at Barnes & Noble. Fab Four-lovin’ fathers would also enjoy the Blu-ray video of Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years (UME), Ron Howard’s documentary on the Beatles’ tour life.
Also exuding inspirational chops at a ripe age — Willie Nelson’s new CD of time-passage originals, God’s Problem Child (Legacy) and jazz vibraphonist Terry Gibbs working the mallets on 92 Years Young: Jammin’ at the Gibbs House (Whaling City Sound).
If Dad enjoys mindless action movies, nab him an HD Blu-ray (or even better, 4K UHD) blast of the slam bang xXx: Return of Xander Cage, the Wolverine series finale Logan, that remake of The Magnificent Seven and Will Smith’s wry (and rye-infused) alcoholic super hero Hancock. Got 3-D TV? That’s best for a deep dive into Doctor Strange.
Would Dad rather helm his own adventure? Is he already outfitted with a Sony PlayStation 4, a PS camera and a PS VR headset? Now you can arm him with the new PlayStation VR Aim Controller, a well-designed weapon for blowing up creepy creatures — first in the distant planet VR shooter “Farpoint” bundled with the controller for $79.99. But this is strictly a stand-up mission. No couch slouching allowed, dads!