- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The rest of the world (and a good portion of the U.S.) may be preoccupied with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, but for many in this country, another date looms large on the horizon: Father’s Day, which is Sunday.

What tech items can you get Dad or, for that matter, a recent college grad? Here are some suggestions:

My No. 1 choice is Apple’s iPad. And why not? More than 2 million have been sold in the first two months, and with good reason: This is a content-carrying device writ large, but not so large that it can’t be carried easily.

The range of applications for the iPad - both in terms of what it can be used for and in terms of the programs that can be run on it - is immense. It’s not only a great way to carry music and view videos, but it’s also a wonderful electronic reader, both using Amazon.com’s Kindle application (which, as I’ve said before, provides a better experience on the iPad than the stand-alone Kindle does), and using GoodReader to handle Adobe Acrobat PDF documents, Microsoft Word files and so on.

Pair the iPad ($499 to $829 depending on configuration) with the optional $70 keyboard dock and you’ve got something that’s pretty close to a notebook replacement. It’s not the full equivalent of a regular computer, and some users will be disappointed if they envision it as such. But for a lot of word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and photo work, as well as reading and entertainment on the go, the iPad is perhaps the greatest product of 2010, and quite possibly of 2011 and 2012.

Along with the iPad, get some accessories. One of my favorites is a self-adhesive (but also easy-to-remove) cover called a GelaSkin (available online from www.gelaskins .com). It’ll cost you $30, but the stick-on product will protect the cover of your iPad (but not the screen itself) and offer a bit of flair. My personal choice was the camp British poster “Keep Calm and Carry On.” You can select from a raft of designs or upload a picture and create your own - so long as the picture doesn’t violate copyright or the firm’s image upload policies.

GelaSkins offers a very nice alternative not only for iPads, but also for notebook computers, iPhones, BlackBerry devices and tons more. I just wish the firm had “skins” for the Apple iMac: I’d love to put something kicky on the back of my desktop computer.

Another highly useful item is the Kiwi U-Powered solar/plug-in charger. You can charge the unit’s battery in sunlight, or plug it into a wall outlet or auto power socket. Then, connect the device to an iPhone, BlackBerry or other item - I didn’t test it on an iPad - and you can get enough energy to make life bearable again. The charger costs $49.99, and information is available at www.kiwichoice.com.

If Dad (or the grad) is a digital photography buff - and who isn’t these days? - the Eye-Fi Explore X2 8 GB memory card is a must, especially at the $99 list price. The card lets you store hundreds or even thousands of photos and will upload them via Wi-Fi to a predesignated sharing site such as Flickr or Picasa, giving you what is really unlimited storage.

Oh, and did I mention the geotagging, albeit available only when the card can “see” available Wi-Fi networks? What that means is you’re likely to geotag photos taken at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, less likely to tag shots snapped atop Skyline Drive. But if even 50 percent of your photos are automatically geotagged using this card, it’s a valuable plus. Info: www.eye.fi.

So there you go: three accessories and one tech superstar. Happy giving!

- E-mail mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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