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, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.
I’ll admit it: I’m a dad — and I’m hard to shop for. I suspect that I’m not the only one. One reason it’s tough to find a great gift for dads is that they’re (relatively) old, which means they may already have many of the things they need. Another reason: They can be too low-key about the things they actually want.
With all of that in mind, we present a selection of truly great gifts, handpicked for this odd moment in history. We’ve covered a lot of bases — from backyard decor to survivalist tools to adult toys, in addition to the usual TVs, speakers and other electronics. Have a look.
Backyard fire pits have been a keystone for social activity during the COVID-19 era — and this is the best of them, hands down. Built from durable stainless steel and with a vented design that promotes air flow, the Solo Stove produces a beautiful and deeply warming fire with very little smoke or airborne ash. (Perhaps best of all, your clothes do not reek of smoke the morning after.)
Though the grandiose, 30-inch Yukon is the king of the lineup, the entry-level model, the 13-inch Ranger, costs about $200. They’re not cheap — but they’re a slam dunk holiday gift for any fire pit enthusiast. Pro tip: buy now; many models are back-ordered until November, but there’s still time to get one before the holidays.
This sleek, waterproof aluminum tube has just about all of the gear a dad could need in a pinch. That includes a 200-lumen LED flood beam flashlight, a compass, a modest first aid kit and everything you need to start a fire — each neatly packed into a modular storage puck. There’s also some rope, a wire saw and a razor blade, some tape, sewing gear, fishing gear and everything you’d need to purify 7.5 liters of water. Weighing in at just under 1 pound, these supplies are the perfect gift for the camping enthusiast or outdoorsy dad — but just as useful to stash in a car, boat or home.
Practical gifts have their place — but how often does Dad get something that’s pure fun? With a top speed in the 30 mph range, this high-performance remote control monster truck can roll over a variety of terrain and, courtesy of its waterproof electronics, through any mud puddle. I laughed and howled like a 10-year-old during my first few test rides.
Though there’s a little bit of a learning curve — you’ll need to bone up on lithium polymer batteries and recharging peripherals — it’s no more complicated than setting up a new smartphone. (An entry-level LiPo battery and charger combo will run you another $60 or so.) And beginners will also benefit from the truck’s “training mode,” which cuts its considerable speed in half to help you cultivate your handling skills. But if you do wreck your rig, it’s OK: Traxxas is known for its reasonable replacement parts and repair fees. This is also available at Amazon for a bit more money.
The Kammock Roo Double hammock is equally well-suited for backwoods camping and a backyard. It’s big enough for Dad plus one — or maybe two other pint-size companions — as long as you keep the total to under 500 pounds. And, crafted from ripstop nylon, it’s lightweight enough to throw in any backpack or day bag.
You’ll need some sturdy straps to rig the hammock to trees. However, if you’re willing to splurge, I’d recommend Kammock’s Swiftlet hammock stand: It’s lightweight, surprisingly simple to assemble and adjust and it comes with a nice carrying case. Though it was back-ordered for much of the spring and summer, it’s now in stock.
In an era of toilet paper shortages, a bidet is a sound investment. It’s also a healthier and potentially more sustainable alternative to paper goods. There’s much to recommend about the Omigo. Importantly, it’s dead simple to install; I’m not much of a plumber and it took me less than 45 minutes to get it up and running, with zero issues.
It has everything one could want in a bidet — rear and front wash nozzles, a seat heater, multiple temperature and position settings and an appealing blue night light. That noted, at $551, the flagship model is far too expensive and the features that are exclusive to it aren’t essential. Instead, I’d recommend the OmigoSL, which includes the most vital bells and whistles, and which will be on sale for $337 from Nov. 21 to 30.
If you’re working with a smaller budget, there is also the much more affordable Tushy, which serves the same underlying purpose but lacks the warmth and high-tech adjustability of the Omigo.
There are plenty of great waterproof Bluetooth speakers on the market but perhaps none quite as distinctive as the Demer Box. The sound quality is top-notch: This thing has audio that’s loud and crisp, with a big-time low end. Built in the USA, the “crush-proof” Pelican case is waterproof and nearly indestructible, and the DB2 model is big enough to carry Dad’s favorite beer and a handful of other valuables. The rechargeable battery lasts for roughly 40 hours.
That noted, if you’re looking for a much more affordable speaker, we recommend the $30 Tribit X Sound Go, which is also a great gift, and it’s waterproof and delivers surprisingly good sound for the price.
After being sold out for months, the Nintendo Switch is now back in stock at most stores (along with the less expensive Switch Lite). But if you can swing it, the full-featured model, which costs $300, is a better deal for family gaming. It has been a consistent source of entertainment for my crew during the epidemic, with well-attended marathons of Just Dance and Mario Kart, as well as individual campaigns in the Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing. Pick up the console and then head over to our roundup of the best Switch multiplayer games for families.
A killer bargain at $160, Jabra’s Elite 75t deliver better sound quality than the AirPods Pro, with superior clarity and tighter bass, and 7.5-hour battery life. And there are physical volume controls right on the buds.
A great TV is the bedrock of every dad’s home entertainment system and this particular model offers the best bang for the buck, straight up. The latest version of the TCL 6-Series has killer image quality and a new THX mode that combines low input lag and high contrast — which will be especially appreciated by gamer dads. You also get great color, well-implemented full-array local dimming and the Roku TV operating system — our hands-down favorite.
With many people working and schooling from home for the foreseeable future, a robust Wi-Fi signal has never been more important. The Google Nest Wifi features speedy performance, pleasing aesthetics and doubles as a Google Assistant smart speaker. It’s easy to set up, easy to use and easy to rely on — and we think it’s the best solution overall for upgrading your home network.
When Dad’s ready to move beyond his TV’s built-in speakers, this is where we suggest you start. A newly updated version of our longtime favorite, the V21 comes with a compact but powerful subwoofer, HDMI connectivity and terrific overall audio quality. Hands down, this is the best soundbar value we’ve come across in 2020.
DJI’s Mavic Air 2 delivers everything you want in a drone: more than 30 minutes of flight time, a 6-mile range and safety features including high-quality obstacle avoidance and air traffic alerts. And the camera hardware is legit: This drone can capture 48-megapixel photos and 4K video at 60 frames per second. If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, the excellent Mavic Mini now costs $399.
This story was published earlier but has been completely updated for the 2020 holiday season.