- - Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ever-restless, technology never sleeps and never ceases to surpass itself. That’s why even for the “man who has everything,” there’s always a new tech gift on the horizon. Here are a few your Dad may not have, but likely would enjoy.

Tale of the tabs

Digital tablets are handy for reading, e-mailing and even video chatting. You know, for when you want to visit but can’t.

Apple Inc.’s iPad (starting at $399 for the iPad 2 and $499 for the “new” model that bowed in March) is the gold standard. A whopping 73 percent of consumers surveyed in April by Bethesda-based ChangeWave Research said they want to buy an iPad, while only 8 percent preferred Amazon.com’s Kindle Fire device.

The differences between the tablets are many, but the chief one is size: The new iPad is sleek and large, with a 9.7-inch “retina display” that delivers incredible photo and video images. The Kindle Fire, no slouch in the optics department, counters with a 7-inch display and a budget-friendly $199 price tag.

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Which one to buy? If you’re looking to give Dad something that could, in many ways, replace his bulky desktop or notebook PC, the iPad wins, hands down. The ocean of applications, the many accessories (see below) and the vast user base assure a great future here.

On the other hand, the more I think about the Kindle Fire, the more I like it as a bedside/chairside “reader” and media device. If Dad is an Amazon Prime customer, he can borrow tons of books free of charge — including Stephen R. Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and the entire “Harry Potter” series — stream videos and movies, and have it all in a rather handy size.

On the case

Protecting that portable tablet is another matter.

Amazon offers its own cases, and some others, for the Kindle Fire, but for variety, the iPad market reigns supreme. Firms such as OtterBox, iLuv and ZAGG are among those offering a wide selection of on-the-go options.

OtterBox is noted for producing rugged cases that can stand some heavy conditions. Nothing is impervious, but the OtterBox line — which also has cases for the Apple iPhone and some other smartphones — is worth investigation, particularly if your Dad is, well, in any way accident-prone.

Those looking for something sleek and snazzy for Dad’s new iPad will want the $99.99 Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (http://bit.ly/MBYdNK). Charge up the keyboard, and its magnetic flap clips on to the iPad’s side. To type, position the tablet, in either portrait or landscape mode, on the keyboard, link the two via Bluetooth, and you’re good to go. I’ve used one for about a week, and it’s magnificent.

Sound investments

For a smartphone with a beat, try the HTC One X, featuring Beats Audio, the high-tech, high-quality sound endorsed by rapper Dr. Dre, along with a wireless speaker system called the Beatbox. AT&T will sell you the phone for $199.99 with a two-year contract, or $549 without the commitment. The Beatbox, sold separately for $399, will handle music from the HTC phone or, ironically, dock an Apple iPhone or iPod.

Keep in mind that the HTC One X is an Android-based phone, based on the Google-created operating system. Apps come from the “Android Store,” so those expecting connections to Apple’s iTunes and associated applications will be disappointed. Then again, the Android platform does have its fans out there, and the addition of high-quality audio is a plus, indeed.

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