Father's Day is around the corner and finding a great gift can be daunting. What women hasn't heard, "Oh, honey, anything is fine." While that may be true, you still want to give him something he'll get excited about.
This year, don't default to a tie. Try one of these hi-tech gifts that will fuel a man's creativity -- whether he's the family photographer, grillmaster or expedition leader.
Nook All-Touchscreen E-Reader ($139)
Simple often trumps complex in the gadget world. Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble launched its new Nook, a button-free, all-touchscreen e-reader with a two-month battery life, the longest in the e-reader market.
The Nook has an e-ink screen that reduces glare and can be read outdoors like the Kindle 3. Both devices have six-inch diagonal screens, but because there is no need for a keyboard on the Nook, it's smaller and lighter than its rival.
Dads will also like the fact that they can easily adjust the Nook's font size, font style and line spacing to provide more comfortable reading. Tip: To make an e-reader feel more like a book, add a rigid cover -- it makes a big difference.
OrigAudio Rock-It ($50)
The Rock-It portable vibration speaker system uses the science of sound waves to turn almost any object into a speaker. A demo on ABC's Friday night reality show, "Shark Tank," featuring Mark Cuban and a panel of multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, was enough to win the pair of founders $150,000 in funding.
The Rock-It works with any audio device with a headphone jack. Dad can plug his phone, laptop or iPod into the Rock-It, and in turn stick the Rock-It onto a table, box or most any flat surface. Press play and the area fills with music.
Don't wrap this one. Instead, have the kids do their own product demonstration for dad. It will be the hit of your Father's Day celebration.
Chromebook ($349 and up)
Google has launched the first all-Internet laptop that runs on the company's new Chrome operating system. If dad is what the tech industry calls an early adopter, this innovative computer may be the perfect gift.
Chromebook renders traditional measures of computers -- hard drive and memory -- obsolete. Rather, a Chromebook's utility lies in its speed and simplicity. The unit boots up in eight seconds, resumes instantly and offers a secure, streamlined interface with far fewer parts prone to malfunction or infection.
However, your guy will have to have access to a Wi-Fi connection or spring for a 3G cellular data plan. Chromebook will be available at Best Buy and through Amazon.com beginning Wednesday.
Manufactured by Samsung and Acer, the units are similar. Acer offers the lowest price, starting at $349 for an 11.6-inch screen, Wi-Fi only; while the Samsung Chromebook has a 12.1-inch display and retails for $429 for Wi-Fi only and $499 for Wi-Fi and 3G connections.
Kodak Waterproof Sport Camera ($80)
The Kodak EasyShare Sport Camera is a great little unit that dad can throw in a duffel on the way to the pool, the water park or the beach.
While cellphones are great for capturing the moment, if their water sensors are triggered, no insurance will cover replacements. Palm-sized, the Kodak Sport is waterproof to 10 feet and offers underwater white balance mode that gives accurate color when shooting both photos and HD video.
The camera's 12-megapixel sensor means dad can have his favorite photos enlarged to poster size at 30-by-40-inches, with the same sharpness as a snapshot.
Other family-friendly features include a microphone for audio recording, in-camera editing and Kodak's sharing system that offers streamlined uploading to sites including Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
Weber Q 120 Portable Gas Grill ($167)
If dad holds the coveted title of Grillmaster, he will appreciate Weber's Q 120 portable gas grill with hi-tech improvements for 2011. With 189 square inches of cooking space, there's enough room for two good-sized flank steaks.
The grill is fueled by a standard 14.1- or 16.4-ounce standard propane cylinder, good for around two hours of uninterrupted cooking. Alternately, with the addition of Weber's hose adapter, dad can run it off a full-sized propane tank, which could get the family through an entire summer of grilling.
As a griller's one and only or as a companion to a full-sized backyard grill, the Weber Q 120 offers an economical and efficient cooking option.
Laptop + Free Xbox 360 4GB ($700)
Microsoft is currently running a promotion offering a free Xbox 360 4GB with the purchase of a qualifying computer from the Microsoft Store online or from a participating retailer. The computer must be a Windows 7 PC priced at $700 or higher.
The catch: The computer must be purchased by a student with a valid .edu email address. While it might take a little extra coordination with a college student in the family, it's a great opportunity to get a snazzy new computer for dad and a new home entertainment console for the family, or vice versa!
For instance, Toshiba's PortA(c)gA(c) R835 offers nine hours of battery life, has a 13.3-inch HD LED-backlit display and weighs a portable 3.2 pounds. Built for a guy on-the-go, the laptop also features a tough magnesium alloy case, spill-resistant keyboard, an Intel Core i5 processor and 640GB hard drive.
Earthmate GPS with SPOT Satellite Communicator ($450, plus $100 annual service fee)
Wilderness adventures call for fail-safe communication. A new handheld GPS device can find dad's position, send pre-programmed check-in texts to family members and update his Facebook friends to his latest outdoor conquest, even if he's in a region without a cellphone signal or Wi-Fi access.
Earthmate is a ruggedized handheld GPS built to military standards and bundled with a SPOT satellite device that can be clipped to a backpack or belt. In the case of an emergency, one touch activates an SOS button that signals the GEOS International Emergency Response Center.
Earthmate comes with built-in aerial, topo and nautical maps, integrates with Google Maps and Geocaching.com for real-time tracking.
MakerBot 3-D Printer ($1,200)
If you've got an inventor on your Father's Day list -- a modern-day Edison who spends every free moment in his garage-turned-workshop -- consider the MakerBot 3-D printer.
The 12-inch-by-12-inch-by-16-inch printer uses a USB connection to a computer to capture a 3-D image and then extrudes thermoplastic to create dad's invention.
In the world of 3-D printers that can cost thousands, the MakerBot is affordable. More than 4,000 units have been sold, and inventors have turned out everything from intricate chess sets to simple shower rings. The kit comes with a pound of plastic filament; additional spools are available at around $50.
Sure, he'll have to assemble it, but to him, that makes it even more fun.
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? E-mail Leslie Meredith at email@example.com.