The car is one of the biggest toys any father owns, which makes it only natural that dads look to accessorize their four-wheeled havens. Here's a range of portable gadgets that fill the needs for communication, entertainment and even a little safety.
BlueAnt Q1 Voice Controlled Bluetooth Headset
- Available at: Best Buy, Future Shop, Tbooth, MyBlueAnt.com
This impressive headset fuses both style and function, which is nice for aesthetics but proves invaluable in keeping communication open. The Q1's core feature of conversing hands-free works well, consistently providing clarity to voices on both ends, though this can be challenging in noisier environments. The Q1 supports up to eight phones, meaning that dad could have both a work and personal phone connected at the same time and answer the one that rings.
And if either one of those phones runs on Google Android, BlueAnt's free app works in tandem with the headset to read text messages to him. The voice prompts built-in to the headset also announce who's calling. If dad is unsure of all the voice commands available to him, he can just ask, "What can I say?" anytime and the Q1 will list them all.
XM XMp3 Radio with Car Kit
- $199.99 ($69.99 for Car Kit)
- Available at: Best Buy, Future Shop, XMRadio.ca
Although the XMp3 satellite radio receiver is primarily a portable device for consumers' pockets rather than their cars, the separately-sold Car Kit effectively changes the scope of the device in giving dad the option to listen in the car as well (a Home Kit also comes with the XMp3).
The included memory card slot also means he can listen to music stored on a microSD card. The XMp3 does a good job of alerting you when your favourite artist, song or sports team is playing on any of the 99 channels. Up to 100 hours of programming can be recorded, and this can be spread out over five channels at once.
The potential pitfall here is that the initial hardware investment is met with residual costs that average out to $13.74 per month on a one or two-year subscription. All told, it does make the XMp3 Radio and Car Kit an expensive gift.
Michelin Smart Jumper Cables
- Available at: Zellers
While there may be many dads out there astute enough to know how to boost a car, this is an item that would offer them peace of mind in case spouses or children take the car out for a spin. For the dads who aren't that car-savvy, this could be equally useful.
These "smart" jumper cables take any guesswork out of connecting batteries from two cars by adjusting the polarity electronically, no matter which clamps are planted on either end. Once the green LED light indicates a successful connection is made, the user knows he's done the job right.
The built-in surge protector is also a key bonus because it ensures that the car's electrical system and fuses are safe from short-circuiting. The cables also work in harsher weather conditions, making it ideal for Canadian winters.