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Tech gifting for Father’s Day can be a challenge. I like to go beyond the predictable flyers and shop around for technology that either improves dad’s life, surprises him or matches his personality. I have even included two price versions of wearables and photo printers.
Kingston Workflow Station Dock
With more cable media connections to USB, USB C, SD and micro SD to a Windows or Apple desktop, laptop or tablet/iPad the Kingston Workflow Station Dock $170, will rescue dad with a smart design that incorporates neatness, simplicity, flexibity and portability. It comes with a dock base and a USB/ USB C reader that drops in one of the dock’s four slots. Additional dual SD and micro SD readers can be purchased to occupy the remaining three dock slots. Each reader can be taken out for individual use on the go. The beauty of the Kingston Workflow Station Dock is that its supports USB 3.2 speeds as the Dock plugs in for power and a main USB 3X connection to your PC, tablet, laptop or phone. Off course the readers don’t require that additional power when they work on their own away from the Dock. Imagine dad transferring data between his PC among two USB, USB C, SD and micro SD cards (that’s eight media device connections) at full USB 3.2. Whether you’re on a 4K/8K multi-cam shoot with portable audio recorders for each host, or filming B-Roll with drones and GoPros, you can connect up to four readers to the dock simultaneously and transfer footage quickly. The USB C reader even charges phones at 3.0 Amps.
Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro and Video Doorbell Pro 2
Outdoor home security from Ring will put dad at ease. From the company who mainly competes with itself I have been trying out two new products.
- The Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro $325, equipped with 3D Motion Detection across a very wide swath of property powered by radar and Bird’s Eye View (a simulated overhead view showing the path an intruder takes) can be accurately set with your phone app on sensitive areas near your doors to set the alarm in motion. In my case my back deck was set to trigger motion (it can ignore non-humans like pets) two meters away across a sliding back door and side door entrance. I also easily added a smaller dedicated zone further out for intruders taking a different route as well as a private area that ignores motion. When triggered, bright LED lights turn on and a quality HD Video starts recording. An optional loud alarm sound was turned off and off course the ability to have a conversation with the surprised guest is possible too. Ring works with Alexa speakers so a verbal announcement and a video on my Alexa screen devices brightens the family room as well as my phone and other friends and relatives I can share my setup on their phones when away from home.
- The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 $325, 1 Ifor my front entrance on a hill offered a wide enough view to cover all 19 uphill steps to my door as well as my entire front balcony with large windows, an attractive target. The Pro 2 has the same 3D Motion ( I set the alarm to trigger on the last five steps) Bird’s Eye View. “Visitors” can leave a verbal message which can be replayed back in the captured video. The cameras in both models have impressive Colour Night Vison even the best smartphones can’t come close to. At one point though in my backyard with no streetlights the image turned to B&W but just as clear. These models can be used to cover the same part of your home from different angles so the Bird’s Eye View aerial maps, visible on your phones screen, help determine motion events for a greater understanding of what’s happening when viewing individual videos from each device. I felt like I was on my own spy thriller for every Amazon delivery!
- Tip: make sure your older home wiring for your original doorbell is powerful enough to run the new Ring models.
- Subscription prices for online video storage which I found are convenient, reasonable and preferable for single units cost less than most music subscriptions.
Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wide-format and EcoTank Photo ET-8550 All-in-One Wide-format Printers
For the dad who is a photo enthusiast not only with the newest high-definition smartphones but also high-quality interchangeable lens digital cameras, Epson offers two price choices on two unique photo printer models. They feature six ink colours for better than photo lab quality blow-ups up to 13” x 19” borderless. Their ink droplet is as small as 1.5 picoliters, invisible to the eye, at a printing resolution of 5760-1440 dpi, better than consumer photo print labs. They and can handle a large selection of photo papers including cardstock, blank CD and DVD disks and can print panoramas (see details below).
- Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wide-format Printer $350, is a good choice for the budget minded dad, if he isn’t a high volume printer. Unlike standard four-ink printers, the XP-15000 uses six individual Claria Ultra HD cartridges: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Gray and Red for noticeably richer toned color and enhanced black-and-white printing. The large, 50-sheet rear specialty tray makes printing pro-quality projects easier than ever before — even on cardstock paper among the some 20 paper choices. It includes auto 2-sided printing on a 200-sheet front tray and convenient wireless connectivity, printing stacks of documents on demand. That is 4″ x 6″ to 13″ x 19″ printing to suit many needs including customized CD and DVD blank disks. It has a cool user definable feature for printing part of a roll paper from 2.2” to 44” in length. It also features an easy-to-use 2.4″ color LCD. It does not have a flatbed scanner. Search XP-15000 | Epson Canada
- The EcoTank Photo ET-8550 All-in-One Wide-format Supertank Printer $1000, also uses six inks although a slightly different combination of colours on Claria ET Premium ink. Print 4” x 6” album size to borderless 13” x 19” photos. In user definable mode it can print from roll paper up to 78.7” in length. It also has auto 2-sided printing, is mobile-ready and can print, copy and scan at a detailed 4800 x 1200 DPI for reproducing older photos. A large 4.3” colour screen makes navigating a breeze. An SD card slot and USB port for direct printing are also handy. It’s also Voice Activation capable for Siri, Google Assistant, Epson Connect, and Amazon Alexa.
- Which to buy? The biggest differences is price. Although the pricier ET-8550 also features a quality flatbed scanner (the XP-15000 does not) paying almost three times the price for the ET-8550 will actually save you money on the long run – if you are a voracious printer. Thanks to its ECO tank feature, the ET-8550 can start saving you money after the fifth standard cartridge refill purchase for the XP-15000. The ECO Tank ink bottles will last two years and cost a fraction to replace each one as required. On the long run you save 80% on in cost of long term cheap ink with the initially more expensive purchase price of the ET-8550. Search ET-8550 | Epson Canada
Galaxy Buds Live and Buds Pro
Samsung’s Galaxy recent Buds line has been impressive packing a lot of technology in the tiniest bean shaped in-ear headphones. Here is some help choosing for dad between the the Galaxy Buds Pro $220, and Galaxy Buds Live $200. Similarly priced, they both feature four microphones, 28 hours total playtime with a full workday in a single bud charge, gaming mode reducing audio delays, across device compatible, easily switch connections between devices and touchpad controls. They are QI-wireless compatible and work with wireless power sharing phones. Search | Samsung Canada
As a septuagenarian here is my take on which Galaxy Bud dad would appreciate:
- Best if dad is older has some hearing loss. Buds Live have sharper treble with single 12mm speakers
- Best to just manually choose between on/ off Active noise canceling.
- Best for overall comfort with less intrusive in-ear design if dad doesn’t want things in his ear canal
- Best if he has an iPhone 7 or later running iOS 10 or higher and wants the most comfortable fit and lightness.
- Available in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White
- Best if dad has a Galaxy phone
- Best if he does not have hearing problems to take in the better fidelity with 11mm bass and 6.5mm tweeter speakers
- Best if he wants longer play, 105 minutes with just a 10 minute charge.
- Best if dad is socially active and can appreciate intelligent Active noise canceling and Ambient sound and a new Voice Detect Feature detecting nearby conversations while also listening to music.
- Best if dad wears in-ear headphone to watch movies with features 360 audio, for vivid, immersive sound coming from all directions so you feel like you’re right in the scene when you watch videos
- Best if he uses a Galaxy tablet a lot with phone calls switching to the Buds Pro automatically
- Don’t bother if he has an iPhone. Buds Live will work better.
- Best if he spends a lot of time near water or forgets he has them on in the shower taking advantage of the Buds Pro better IPX7 water resistant protected against water immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter
- Available in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Violet
TP-Link Deco X60
If dad wonders why there are so many slow wireless data spots around the house then the TP-Link Deco X60 AX3000 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System network 3-pack kit $500, will impress him in several ways. Mesh networking uses these nodes strategically placed around the home combined under one WiFi name. Especially two-story homes with basement, like mine, it maintains the fastest wirless WiFi connection in the “wireless darkest” corners of your home. The Deco X60 is has the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology. Here are some of the improvements I noticed:
- 2 LAN/WAN Gigabit Ethernet Ports on each node for devices (like Philips HUE lights) that require an Ethernet cable hook up or a first-time Sonos speaker setup)
- 4 internal antennas per Deco unit allowed consistently fast connections from one end of my home to the other, even through closed doors
- 2402 Mbps (5 GHz) 574 Mbps (2.4 GHz) capability for a wide selection of devices
- Simply no more dead zones compared to non-Wi-Fi 6 mesh networks. My pervious mesh network installed from my Internet provider required and additional fourth node to cover all three floors compared to the three X60 units.
- I had a 20% increase in data speed transfers between Wi-Fi 6 capable devices like Intel 11th Gen desktop processors and laptops like the newest Samsung Book ultra light laptop.
- Seamless Roaming with One Wi-Fi name of your choice during easy setup with a phone app.
- WPA3 encryption
- Connect up to 150 Devices with no noticeable loss. In my case I had more than 25 devices seamlessly purring around my home
- Self-Healing means no time-wasting trouble-shooting
- Guest Network & Parental Controls
- 2 Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty
Side Pocket Wireless
Dad will wish he had thought of the Side Pocket Wireless 198 USD, from Ampere Technologies. It’s a small fanny pack that charges your devices hands and cords free, keeps your valuables secure with an internal RFID blocking sleeve, is waterproof, and can be worn in multiple ways. The Side Pocket’s stores a hidden 13,400mAh input/output wireless power bank. When a wirless charge capable phone is dropped in a dedicated pocket it starts wirelessly charging instantly. Comes in
Huawei Band 6
If dad prefers slim health watches with maximum performance and screen size then check out Huawei’s new Huawei Band 6 $99, which has the same DNA of larger and heavier health watches…only smaller with a 1.47 – inch brilliant AMOLED 194 x 368 pixel display with anti-fingerprint coating and 5ATM water resistance. It comes with a delightfully rich watch face assortment and can use third party ones too. Navigating is easy with effective finger sweeps. This little thing has a two-week battery life under normal use including continuous heart-rate monitoring and sleep tracking on, screen checked briefly 200 times, 50 messages, 6 calls and 3 alarm reminders within 24 hours; workout for 30 minutes per week. Under heavy use it will run for 10 days. In a rush? You can get 2 days’ use from just 5 minutes’ charging time with the magnetic charger. More impressively, Huawei tucked in All-Day SpO2 Monitoring, TruRelax Stress Monitoring, a very impressive TruSleep 2.0 Sleep Tracking, Menstrual Cycle Tracking, three daily activity goals with motivational reminders and 11 professional workout modes with workout recognition plus 85 customized modes including ball games and fitness routines. It tracks real-time data like running distance, stroke frequency, swimming distance and more for easy viewing onscreen and sharing. View and control incoming calls and messages, get weather updates, control your music7, plus take photos through your phone’s camera8, all from the comfort of your own wrist. It will not take calls but quickly identify a caller’s identity so you can answer with your phone or end the call. Sorry dad, no GPS. The Band 6 works well with the Huawei Health App on all Android phones and iOS but with fewer features.
Roku Express 4K
Is dad ready for smooth 4K video streaming? Then the Roku Express 4K $50, is the perfect gift. It now has pay-one window streaming rights to movies released by Saban Films for watching titles on the Roku Channel like “Echo Boomers”, “Happily” Under the Stadium Lights” and more. The Roku Channel with free ad-supported service and premium entertainment includes a diverse lineup of more than 40,000 free movies and programs and 190+ free live linear television channels. The Roku Channel is available on Web, iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV and select Samsung TVs and can be accessed internationally in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. It features easily customizable home screen with your channels front and center even allowing you to share photos, videos and more from Apple devices using AirPlay. Stream free TV, live news, sports, movies, and more.