- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2014

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and here are some last-minute gift suggestions for the dad who loves gadgets.

Spark Digital (Blue Microphones, $199.99) — For the seriously musical, cinematic or podcasting dad, how about the gift of a professional quality, compact cardioid condenser microphone easily hooked up to an iPad, iPhone or laptop?


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Looking like a medical instrument Dr. McCoy might pull out to treat Capt. Kirk’s raging ear infection, owners screw in this 10-inch-tall recording device into an adjustable desk stand with built-in shock mount.

Once plugged in, it delivers two different sonic options with the flick of a button. One recording setting is a crisp, powerful sound with enhanced low-frequency sensitivity for greater definition and one for greater clarity and detail for a tighter, more focused sound.

It works great with Apple’s GarageBand (even conserving the iPad battery by only turning on when the app engages), and the included cables (Lightning and USB) feature an extended female headphone jack for direct monitoring and zero latency.

The Spark Digital also comes with a double-lined soft cloth case to keep the microphone and cords safe as the big guy captures his musing or musical performances on the road or in his office.


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DOCKr II (inNuevo, $149.95 reduced to $119.96 until Father’s Day with free shipping) — If multitasking dad is not quite getting enough mobile functionality out of his iPad, he’ll appreciate this flexible workstation.

Nearly turning Apple’s famed tablet into a laptop, pop gets a clamshell, high-impact polycarbonate plastic case featuring an onboard battery along with Bluetooth-enabled speakers and a standard sized keyboard.

Owners use the holder clips to attach the iPad either in portrait or landscape position and slide the top part of the case forward to keep the keyboard in place.

The lithium ion battery offers up to 8 extra hours of power through its onboard USB port to not only charge the iPad (perfect for a long plane flight) but other devices. The speakers are bass challenged but deliver up to 82 decibels of sound.

InNuevo throws in two cables (one to charge the battery and the other to plug in an iPad compatible with a 30-pin connector) and two AC charger adapters. The shorter iPad cord can be stowed away in the bottom of the case.

The DOCKr also comes in five colors — absolute black, emerald green, midnight blue, pearl white and ruby red — that takes me back to the hue-enhanced days of Apple’s original iBook.

The Championship Steak Grilling Set (GrillGrate LLC, $74.99) — The historic ritual of dad sweating over the preparation of the perfect piece of barbequed meat just got easier with this collection of high-tech helpers.

Zip open the red carrying case to first find an LT-03 infrared laser temperature gun (requires 9-volt battery, included) to point at grates and check for the optimum grill heat through its backlit LCD screen.

Next, pull out the DT-09 waterproof digital thermometer to stab into the cooking meat and quickly check the proper inner temperature within an LCD readout to never serve an undercooked morsel.

The package also includes the less than high-tech magnetic meat temperature guide to stick on an unheated part of the grill.

Additionally, make life even easier for dad by throwing in a set of grill grates (starting at $39.99). These roughly 14-inch long interlocking aluminum plates with raised rails offer much more controlled conditions when cooking meats on a traditional grill.

They deliver even heat conduction, perfect aligned sear marks and best of all, it really protects a juicy chop from a direct blast of fire during flare ups.

20V MAX Drill Driver (Black and Decker, $79.99) — The evolution of the tool used by homeowners to sink a finicky screw or make a precise hole continues with a drill smart enough to know when to stop.

Unbelievably, Black and Decker’s latest handheld effort, when set to “drive” a screw, uses a microprocessor to analyze the rate of change in its torque profile as the screw enters the material and stops it flush within 3 milliseconds.

Looking more like Flash Gordon’s ray gun than drill, the lightweight design offers a rubber grip to counter hand fatigue for big jobs and an LED light at its bottom to illuminate a work area.

The drill’s 0-to-800-RPM motor gets powered by a 20-volt lithium battery (with a handy recharge indicator on the top of the unit) and holds a charge up to 18 months. “Tool Time” dads will be impressed.