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Spring ties for men (My Yen Trung for The Globe and Mail/Styling by Christina Yan)
Spring ties for men (My Yen Trung for The Globe and Mail/Styling by Christina Yan)

Gift Guide

Stumped for Father’s Day? Here's 3 tech gift ideas Add to ...

Your dad has never wanted a tie for Father’s Day. Ties are no fun: It’s a socially acceptable noose! If you need proof, just look at where men wear them: work, funerals and awkward social engagements. If you care enough about your father to get him a gift, why not get him something he might actually enjoy?

If you want to be more ambitious than just shoving a Futureshop gift card into an envelope, here’s a short list of three high-tech gifts your dad will say you shouldn’t have gotten but will secretly/eventually be thrilled to receive.

Roku

Roku Stick

Sixty bucks won’t buy you and the dad in your life much of a Father’s Day dinner these days, but if you invest that cash in a Roku Streaming Stick, it can provide untold hours of entertainment.

The Roku Streaming Stick has a pretty simple setup: once inserted in an HDMI port on the back of a high definition television set, it can stream content via wireless broadband connection and tap hundreds of different sources. Navigating Roku’s content – including Netflix, Crackle, NHL Game Centre, YouTube, Rdio and CNet as well as apps like Facebook and Weather Underground – is easy, thanks to the stick’s included wireless remote. It’s also possible to control the action with a free app downloaded to your Android or iOS-powered tablet or smartphone. Even if the dad you’re buying it for already has a fancy home-entertainment centre, the Roku Stick’s still a great gift because its portability makes easy to toss it in a carry-on bag or even a jacket pocket to bring along to the cottage or on a business trip.

The Roku Stick costs about $20 more than the Google Chromecast – a piece of hardware we reviewed a while back – and because these two streaming devices preform similar tasks you might believe the Chromecast is the better deal. The key difference? The Chromecast relies on other devices such as a smartphone or laptop to feed it content, while Roku is just fine working all by its lonesome. It’s worth the extra money – especially if father is less than, shall we say, technologically inclined.

Mophie

Mophie Space Pack

iPhone owners, no matter how much they might love their handsets, must eventually come to terms with two universal truths. The first is that their phone will never have enough onboard storage space to hold all of the movies, music, documents, apps and photos they want to carry with them. The second is that frequent use of the apps and media they do manage to jam on to their handset can often leave their iPhone with barely enough power to get through the day. Enter the Mophie Space Pack: it’s a protective snap-on case designed for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s that incorporates a 1700mAh battery and 16GB or 32GB of storage space (available for $149.95 or $179.95 respectively.)

The Space Pack’s battery can provide a full charge for an iPhone without the need for any cables or other external claptrap, which should make any iPhone-packing dad pretty happy. But what’ll wow him is the case’s ability to not only store a significant amount of data, but also, through the use of Mophie’s free Space app, manage it too. Thanks to the app, it’s possible take photos with your phone that save automatically to the Space Pack, open and view ZIP files, view documents, watch a movie or listen to the music stored in the case’s flash-based storage.

I’ve been using one for months, so I should warn you it does come with a few caveats: First, the Space Pack will add a considerable amount of bulk to an iPhone. The handset and case will still fit in your dad’s hip pocket, but it’ll make it look like he’s hiding a juice box in his pants. Second, and perhaps more importantly, while the Space Pack can store any file type, its companion app isn’t compatible with everything. It’s not possible, for example, to store iOS applications in the Space Pack and then use them on your iPhone, or to enjoy DRM-protected video or music via the Space app: so films and television shows downloaded from the iTunes Store can’t be stored in the case’s memory and then watched.

But most music files, home videos or rips of your father’s favourite DVDs will work just fine with the hardware – and moving all of that media off of your handset will clear up a whole lot of space for other apps and other content.

LawnBott

LawnBott LB75DX

Some dads love cutting the grass on the weekend, for others it’s a season in hell. Fortunately, the Robot Uprising has yet to occur, so it’s still safe to buy an automaton filled with whirling blades that’ll slash your grass while dad finds a shady spot in the yard to relax.

The LawnBott LB75DX is designed to cut the grass with a minimal amount of human interference. Programmable and powered by lithium ion batteries, the LB75DX can operate for 45 minutes at a time. After that, it’s smart enough to return to it’s charging station and juice back up before headed out into the wilds of your back yard once again. That it’s capable of tackling yards of up to 1/4 of an acre and inclines up to 25 degrees makes it a good choice for most peoples backyards. Add to this the facts that the LB75DX is smart enough to only trim to the end of your grass (through the use of a buried perimeter wire ringing its owner’s property), and to stop cutting when it senses rain and you’ve got a serious landscaping machine on your hands.

Sadly, the cost of lawn-chomping robot ownership is pretty steep: The LB75DX will set you back close to $1,800. But who can put a price on the opportunity to relax while a mechanical slave performs drudgery for your dad?

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