- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2020

Amid the coronavirus pandemic turmoil of 2020, one might remember it’s Father’s Day next Sunday. Here’s just a few tech-infused gift ideas to keep the big guy feeling a little less stressed and more organized in his ever-complex life.

Firepit (BioLite, $249.95) — Perfect for a small cookout or campfire with a couple of family members or group of close friends, less than 10 at this time of course, this multifunctional fire pit and hibachi-style grill sports just a pinch of tech wonder as it delivers an efficient burning experience.

Almost 2.5 feet long and roughly 1 foot wide, the rectangular device relies on an old magic trick sealed in a bright yellow pack of technology.

Specifically, the desired fuel source, i.e. wood or charcoal, stays super-heated due to a regulated fan blowing around the flames via a USB-rechargeable powerpack.

Fifty-one air jets actually surround and inject the fire with oxygen at strategic points to offer more uniform temperature and combustion while a fine wire-mesh body offers 360-degree views around the entire fire.

Handles on either side and legs that conveniently fold offer convenient transportation and storage (plastic cover included), while a removable grill grate and trap door at the bottom make for easy cleaning.

An added but unnecessary perk allows fan control using a Bluetooth-enabled app for Android and iOS devices.

It’s also worth noting the high temperature of the fire as when cooking items such as chicken skewers, flank steak or frozen salmon patties. Chefs will need to keep a careful eye on the items as the cooking happens far faster than expected.

Mobius Headphones (Audeze, $399.99) — Dads immersed in virtual worlds such as “Call of Duty” or “Doom Eternal” and in need of a more robust gaming headset will appreciate the enveloping aural assault provided by the Mobius.

Planar magnetic drivers in each cup promise superior sound quality and when combined with its head tracking, three-dimensional sound technology, the package makes for a potent, almost dizzying experience when in the throes of multiplayer battles.

Owners are greeted with headphones covered in a matte black, soft, almost rubbery finish, with replaceable over-the-ear pads composed of memory foam as well as a strip under the headband. It’s an adjustable, snug fit, but those with big heads engaged in long gaming session would have hoped for more padding on that headband.

The left ear cup offers all of the device’s controls with a line of ports, buttons and wheel volume knobs. These include a mic mute switch, mic jack, on button, a 3D orientation button (to initially set the user in the center of the sound source), mic volume and sound volume.

A soothing female voice offers prompts while the control bank also provides further options such as seven EQ settings (from racing to music and combat), three types of 3D settings and a way to change multiple connected audio sources on the fly (USB, analog cable and Bluetooth).

So the magic for the PC gamer plugged in via a USB connection (7.1 channel surround sound support) will be that immersive audio with software all packed into the headphones as it measures head orientation at a thousand times per second to feed the 3D emulation algorithm.

Yes, it’s quite a dynamic and impressive trick and clearly the highlight of the headphones.

The unit also has a Bluetooth wireless option that works as expected when connected to any smartphone source or smart television with equally impressive audio reproductions (live concerts really pop). Cinematic soundtracks and owners should expect roughly 10 hours of battery life.

An included boom microphone plugs into the unit and that’s about the only minor miscue here. Audeze put so much excellent work into the headphone technology that the mic just is not as impressive sound wise. It’s OK and certainly serviceable but a bit on the quiet, less vibrant side even with volume at maximum levels.

The package includes a USB-A-to-USB-C cable, a USB-C-to-USB-C cable, a 3.5mm cable and a cloth bag to store the headphones.

Also worth noting is that PS4 owners will need to plug the unit into either the controller or console and make sure the battery is fully charged for maximum flexibility.

NOTE FROM AUDEZE: Audeze is currently offering Washington Times’ readers a special discount. Use the coupon code “washtimes10” at checkout for 10 percent off on the Mobius headphones.

George Foreman (Spectrum Brands, $69.88) — No, the famed boxing legend is not making personal visits, but the electronically heated grill press that he has promoted for the past 26 years arrives in its latest, silver and black, family-sized format perfect for an indoor barbeque when the weather won’t cooperate.

The roughly 13-inch square, cooking system offers a generously sized, 90-square-inch, nonstick removable grill plates that fits up to a quartet of medium-sized burgers or boneless chicken breasts.

A Cro-Magnon simple setup has the owner plug in the unit and wait for the red pre-heat light to turn green before the cook can begin while a dishwasher safe drip tray and removeable plates makes for an easy cleanup.

Boasting 85 percent less smoke and three times the cooking speed (¼ pound fresh burger in roughly six minutes or a 12-ounce steak in 12 minutes, for example) and best of all, the removal of 50 percent of the fat, the latest Foreman grill makes it a winner for fathers looking to prepare a quick meal with healthier choices in mind.

Virtually Indestructible HC5855 (Remington, $39.99) — Help prepare Dad for a potential grooming crisis due to a second wave of COVID-19 with this efficient, versatile and industrial-strength haircut, moustache and beard trimmer.

High impact polycarbonate casing, a non-slip, rubberized grip, an 8-foot cord, a super torque motor and stainless steel blades combine with Remington’s Powercut blade system tech that keeps blades aligned for a smooth, safe and high-powered cut.

The approximately 5-inch-long by 2-inch-wide clipper comes with nine plastic, varied length guide comb attachments, a full-sized beard brush and styling comb oil for the blades, and a soft storage pouch.

The blade assembly is also easily detachable for cleaning, but the unit is not waterproof. Remington even boasts its “guaranteed to last a lifetime” claim with a full warranty.

Vortex Coffeemaker (Black & Decker, $34.99) — Help patriarchs start their day with an easy-to-produce jolt of caffeine with a simple-to-use, 12-cup coffee creator.

This workhorse for the coffee fiend presents a black stainless steel system with LED control panel, washable brew basket, nonstick warming plate and non-drip pouring reinforced glass carafe.

The vortex showerhead feature evenly saturates coffee grounds with optimally heated water for consistent flavor extraction.

Also includes a programmable brew cycle, warmer countdown timer (options for 30, 60, 90, 120 minutes and off), an automatic cleaning cycle, and even tech to sneak a cup of coffee during the brew without fear of spills or drips.

Gaming Lights (KontrolFreak, $24.99) — A USB-powered, low-heat LED strip kit adds an extra level of illumination to Dad’s entertainment room, making movie nights a more theater-like experience.

The package contains six, 18-inch-long light strips, five connectors, a control bar (about the size of a strip of gum) and 3M-adhesive backing to piggyback and install the set on most flat surface, even with 90-degree angles.

That bar, i.e. control module, sets the mood through three buttons that feature 20 shades of color (red to indigo), 19 patterns, five brightness levels and five speeds.

It’s worth noting that backlighting any display not only offers a cool-looking experience but will actually help with perceived contrast ratios and deliver richer-looking images with less eye strain.

The only bad news is that no electrical outlet option is included, either a plug-in cord or adapter box. Owners will need a smart television or gaming device with an extra USB outlet. That makes simply hanging the lights as a wall decoration a bit more challenging.


• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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