Dads and Grads 2017 – Part I – College Grads


If your newly minted college grad is stepping out into the real world, your pride and joy will want a boatload of stuff to be on their way.  Here are a few ideas that give them credit for their accomplishments, and helps them start their new lives, even if that means moving back into their old bedroom.

LG Tone Free Wireless Earbuds – These cleverly designed wireless earbuds come with a removable neck band that is also the charging station for the buds.  On their own, the earbuds will provide 3 hours of music listening or smartphone talk time.  In the neckband, they will play for just over 7 hours.  Recharging takes 2 hours. While most neckband headphones use wires to connect band and earbuds, this one has none. The earbuds are completely independent. That is until you need to charge them. That’s where the neckband comes in, though that isn’t its only purpose. The neckband also vibrates for notifications, even when the earbuds are charging inside. That way, you won’t miss an important call or message even when you can’t hear them. Price is just about $200.

GoPro Hero 5 Session Action Camera – If adventure is their thing, this GoPro waterproof camera is an easy way to capture it.  It’s tiny but still captures 4K video.  It’s designed to take a beating under almost all conditions and it has voice control.  It’s not a full-featured camera because it doesn’t have a viewfinder or built-in support for an external microphone.  But if your youngster wants an action camera that’s easy-to-use, this may be just the one.  Price is just under $300.  Here’s their snazzy little video

Force 1 Blue Jay Photo Drone – Another way to capture adventures is from the air.  And these days, drones are becoming a popular way for your grad to get into the action at a reasonable price.  It has what’s called First Person View (FPV) and will work with VR headsets. Your grad can watch the video stream on their smartphone.  It’s easy for beginners with automatic stabilization for taking great video (720p HD) and an altitude hold function. They can also set up a route on their mobile app screen and then let the drone fly it unassisted. Price is $139.95.

Danner Mountain 600 Boots – If your new grad is going to take the summer for some outdoor adventures, these boots were made for walking, hiking, and handling rugged terrain.  They have specially designed Vibram mid-soles and outer soles, assuring high comfort to go with the high adventures.  Since the Danner brand was born in the Pacific Northwest, you can be assured that these boots are waterproof and abrasion resistant. They come in both men’s and women’s sizes and a variety of colors and styles. Prices on the low cut version range from $160 to $180.  High cut models go from $180 to $200.

Gerber Knife US-Assist – While we’re on this adventure theme, an essential to some time in the woods is a good camping knife.  This 100% USA made spring assisted knife is outfitted with Gerber’s B.O.S.S. Tech ball bearing system, which provides smooth and consistent blade deployment. It has a 3″ blade made from S30V steel for a high-performance cutting edge. The handle offers an ergonomic grip with a plunge lock for convenient one-hand operation. Price is $119.

Lever Gear Toolcard – This compact multi-tool packs 40 tools into a one ounce, credit card-sized MacGyver style device. It will fit in a wallet, or can be used as a wallet.  The Toolcard is built for people who demand quality tools and like to be prepared to handle everyday tasks as they arise. It’s the perfect gift for gear lovers, designers, makers, hikers, homeowners, and anyone who likes cool tools. It has 40 tools ranging from a screwdriver to a can opener, wrenches, protractor, bit holder, and lots more. It’s made from quality 420 Stainless Steel. It is TSA compliant and slim enough to take anywhere and with the snap-on clip, it can be used as a money clip. Price is $32.

Apple iPad – Your new grad is likely to be more mobile than ever, and the iPad is a great way to do most of the mobile functions an up and comer will need at their fingertips.  We like the new iPad because it has all of iPad’s famous functionality, the iOS ecosystem, and with a $329 starting price for a version that has wi-fi and 32GB of memory, it won’t break the bank.  Your offspring will be able to cruise the Internet, watch movies, even do Facetime to stay in touch with you, or vice versa.  It starts at $329 and heads up if you also want cellular or more memory. 

fēnix® 5S

Garmin fēnix® 5S, 5, and 5X – If your son or daughter made it through a four-year program in four years, you can show your appreciation for all the money they saved you with the latest adventure watch from Garmin.  It comes in three different sized cases so it will fit anyone from a petite wrist to a burly athlete.  It has a huge range of functions but check carefully because not every version has every function.  All have basic activty tracking and GPS functionality, but some have maps, heart rate monitoring, and other features.  Prices run from just about $600 to $850.

Audioengine HD3 mini music system – We’ve been using a number of the audioengine speaker systems, both powered and passive, for several years and have always been impressed with their sound quality and their value proposition. Now the company is introducing the HD3 wireless speakers, which may be the ideal mini music system for your new college grad.  The system will let your grad stream wirelessly, listen to digital downloads, even your old vinyl collection. The HD3 system connects wirelessly or wired, digital or analog. It can stream a music library, TIDAL, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc. to HD3 from just about anywhere in your house without dropouts. Wireless setup is a breeze and only takes about a minute. And if you’re using HD3 on your desktop, connect up with a USB cable.  Price is $399 for the pair.

Thule Subterra Carry-On 40L– Whether across town for a weekend, or across an ocean, chances are your new grad is looking forward to traveling.  Thule has a new line of carry-on luggage that’s both attractive and practical.  The 22″ Subterra satisfies most airline limits for carry-ons.  Your traveler can carry it with a shoulder strap or conveniently concealed backpacking straps.  Laptop and tablet can be carried separately from the bag in a removable sleeve with tablet storage, PowerPocket and accessory organization. A zipper mesh divider in the main compartment keeps belongings organized. It has top, side, and bottom grab handles so they can deal with nasty overhead compartmentS from any angle.  And if they have another piece of rolling luggage, they can use the pass-through panel to set this one on top.  Price is just under $200.

UA Polarizing Sunglasses – If your youngster spends a lot of time in the great outdoors, why not make it easy on their eyes.  The Capture Storm Polarized sunglasses from Under Armour include features including polarization to reduce glare and eye fatigue, distortion free edge to edge viewing, a layer of protection to make them resistant to salt water, mud, and anything else.  The frames are made from high-grade polyamide and their rubber coated temples. Price is $160.

Ninja Coffee Bar System – After four years of college, it might be no surprise that your grad has developed a taste, or perhaps a near-addiction to good coffee.  The Ninja Coffee Bar brewing system is a relatively inexpensive way to get the right amount of coffee and spares you those environmentally unfriendly pods.  Choose from four different sized cups, or just put the coffee into the included thermal carafe.  It has a permanent filter so there are no additional consumables besides coffee.  It can make espresso drinks and has an included milk frother.  It will allow a choice of brewing styles including regular brew, rich brew, over-ice brew, and concentrated specialty brew.  We’ve seen it priced anywhere from about $150 to almost $180.

Moto G5 Plus Smartphone – You know your grad is going to want a new smartphone. That’s pretty much a given these days.  With the Moto G5 Plus you can get an unlocked, very capable phone that won’t break the bank.  CNET calls it the best budget phone you can buy.  It has an innovative fingerprint sensor that can be programmed to work like a mini-trackpad.  It has a 12MP camera that will also shoot 4K HD video.  It runs the Android Nougat operating system.  It also looks really good.  One word of caution, this does not work with the interchangeable Moto Mods that only fit the higher-end Moto Z series.  Starting price is $230.

Homping Portable Charcoal Grill – If your grad likes to go tailgating, car camping, or picnicking, or even do a quick grill on the back deck, this hi-tech portable grill is ideal. For starters, it’s compact and fits into a case that’s easy to carry and store. It uses a fan to help control the fire. That means less charcoal and a fire that’s far less smoky than traditional grills, making it useful in places where you couldn’t take a larger grill. It has an award-winning industrial design and is easy to clean (how many grills can say that?). Available in either black or orange for $199.

Celluon PicoBit Portable Projector – It may be a while before your grad settles into a place where he or she will have an opportunity to setup (or pay for) a big screen television.  In the meantime, this portable projector is an easy way to provide a big screen experience.  The PicoBit will display a 1920X720 HD image.  It advertises a contrast ratio of 80,000 to one.  It will generate a great picture in a moderately well-darkened room – sharp even across a 12-foot wall.  In brighter lighting conditions it will do a decent job of throwing up a smaller image.  It comes with a USB- type C connector and charger.  It has lots of connectivity including wi-fi and has a micro HDMI port and micro SD card slot for easy plug-and-play connection. Price is $429.


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