Us kids know how hard it is to buy gifts for parents. It’s either a case of they don’t want anything or they’ve already gone out and bought the product you had your eye on without telling you. Especially tech-savvy dads. But there are some oft-forgotten, cheaper gifts that can do the job without breaking the $50 barrier. From console controllers to tracking tags, smart lights to charging accessories, our ideas will tick the list of even the most hard-to-buy-for father figure in your life.
8BitDo Pro 2 controller
It might look a bit retro, but make no mistake, 8BitDo’s Pro 2 controller is crammed full of tech. The Bluetooth handheld connects to your Switch, PC and mobile device, offering a familiar thumbstick and D-Pad layout, as well as back paddles and a profile switcher. That means dads will be able to use the controller in Switch or Android mode or pair it as an X-input or D-input device. Perfect for gaming while on the move.
Amazon Smart Plug
As appliances become smarter, it’s now a lot easier to automate our homes. Lighting, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and even microwaves can be set using a couple of simple commands. But there’s still a handful of electronics in every home that would undoubtedly benefit from some Alexa integration. Enter Amazon’s Smart Plug. This cheap accessory can connect to a dumb lamp and offer remote timing, automate the power for your air conditioner or dehumdifier or simply start the coffee machine at the same time each morning.
Anker PowerCore Essential 20,000mAh portable battery
These days, most modern smartphones and tablets can last a day without charging, but it always pays to be prepared when it comes to keeping devices juiced and operational. Anker’s PowerCore Essential charging bank is a compact brick rated up to 20,000mAh that comes with two USB ports for dual charging. It’ll juice new iPhone models around four times over and has at least 50 percent more power needed to fully charge an iPad. Both its USB-C and USB-A ports are 18W for high-speed charging, meaning your dad shouldn’t get caught short again.
Wyze Cam v3
From unwanted intruders to porch pirates, security cams are a very useful tool not only as a deterrent, but also to capture irrefutable proof of wrongdoing. Wyze’s home-surveillance cameras have carved a niche for themselves with the offer of impressive features inside a small price tag. Like its predecessors, the Cam V3 is sound- and motion-activated, sending alerts to your dad’s smartphone. It has a IP65 waterproof rating, which means it can be fixed outside, and offers improved low-light detection to brighten up even the darkest of nights.
Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light Therapy Clock
Like screaming children, a shrill alarm clock isn’t the most welcome way to wake up in the morning. Unlike phones or conventional clocks, sunrise alarms are designed to imitate the breaking of dawn, gently waking you by filling the room with light. Philips’ SmartSleep Wake-Up Light Therapy Clock can help reset sleep cycles and wake you up more naturally, which has been shown to improve the overall quality of sleep and boost morning moods.
Samsung Galaxy SmartTag
If your dad has a habit of losing his keys or misplacing his wallet, a tracking tag may be in order. Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag is a small square-shaped dongle that uses built-in Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) connectivity to locate lost or stolen items. Either slip it into a rucksack or attach it to a keyring and it’ll silently wait for a ping via Samsung’s SmartThings Find app.
If the basic SmartTag isn’t quite informative enough, Samsung also offers the SmartTag+, which includes support for ultra-wideband (UWB) frequencies that provide a more accurate estimate of an object's location. It also offers an augmented reality-powered map via the SmartThings app to guide you to your lost item. Right now, the SmartTags only work with Samsung devices, but Tile’s tiny trackers and Apple’s own AirTags will provide similar features on non-Galaxy phones.
Does your dad have at least one password with “123456” in it? Instead of shaming him, consider getting him a password manager instead. While most browsers come with their own built-in password tools, a LastPass Premium subscription operates across a wide variety of devices, browsers and operating systems. It’ll save all of his passwords and suggest stronger ones all day long, but it isn’t limited to just that: Feed it addresses, card details and other important information and it’ll reduce the time and effort it takes to fill in those pesky online forms.
Sony Playstation DualSense charging station
Not everyone has been lucky enough to secure one of Sony’s next-generation consoles, but if your father ranks among the (relative) few then Sony’s official PlayStation DualSense Charging Station is a required buy. The station is capable of charging two controllers at the same time, removing the need for cables and dongles. The only downside is that it’s in stock as often as the console itself, which means getting your hands on one totally depends on Sony’s restock schedule. If you don’t want to wait for the official charger, NexiGo’s Upgraded PS5 Controller Charger will do the same job for around the same price.
Mommy Power Stroller Power hook and power bank
When out with the little one(s), keeping a phone or kid-friendly tablet charged isn’t the highest priority. A lack of pre-planning probably means there won’t be a backup power brick in the changing back. That’s where the Stroller Power comes in — and don’t worry about the name, it’s for dads, too. Put simply, the Stroller Power is a carry hook and power bank in one, which lets moms and dads juice their phones while out with the little one(s). It’s rated for 5,000 mAh, which will keep at least one (but probably two) devices going all day and can hold up to 25 pounds of weight while taking up next to no space.
We’re big fans of ThermoWorks’ Thermapen Mk4, but spending $100 on an instant-read thermometer may not be in your budget. Luckily, you can still upgrade your dad’s cooking toolkit with the $35 ThermoPop, a compact, lollipop-like thermometer that is accurate and easy to use. It has a single button that turns it on and rotates its backlit digital display so you can always read it properly, regardless of how you’re holding it. Temperature readings pop up in about 3-4 seconds, so it won’t take long for dad to figure out if his brisket is cooked to perfection. With a temperature range of -58 to 572°F and a splash-proof design, the ThermoPop could end up being dad’s new favorite kitchen tool.