Tech gifts for dads and grads with Marc Saltzman

Marc Saltzman has been writing about technology for 27 years.

That’s long before he was a dad or the 'Dad of grads.'

When he first started to turn "geek speak" into "street speak" (that’s the theme of his tech talk radio show on Newstalk 580 CFRA) innovations weren’t hitting the market at gigahertz speed.

Saltzman is busier by the day, testing and researching technology as it hits the market.

So these suggestions are about the tech that makes a dad’s, or grads, downtime that much more enjoyable and more relaxing. 

With this technology, Saltzman can spend his Father’s Day gaming outside while dinner cooks itself and he can see when his family arrives without moving a muscle.

He’s a motivated guy but it’s nice to have a day off.

Isn’t that what technology is supposed to do?

Marc Saltzman’s dads and grads tech picks and why he likes them:

Nintendo Switch($399)

Versatile gaming system to play at home or on the go, with new titles like Game Builder Garage ($39) and Mario Golf: Super Rush ($79)

"Nintendo’s 'secret sauce' is that their games are easy to pick up, yet impossible to put down. These two are no different. Game Builder Garage is great because it blurs the lines between game player and game creator – even if you have no experience in game programming. Mario Golf: Super Rush is great for dads who wish they were on the fairway," said Saltzman.

LG C1 OLED TV (from $2,099)

Whether Dad is into sports, games, TV shows or movies, this is a super-thin Smart 4K television, ideal for the latest consoles (fast frame rates), clear and loud audio, and sizes go up to 83 inches. 

"In case you haven’t yet laid your eyes on an OLED TV, they’re ridiculously thin because no backlighting is required – each pixel (dot) is self-lit – which can also delivery 'perfect blacks' as the pixel can just turn off its light (exceptional contrast ratio)," said Saltzman.

"Premium televisions like the LG C1 Series OLED TVs are also energy efficient, as they sip rather than gulp electricity (we all know what we pay for hydro in Ontario!)."

HP OMEN 15 laptop: (from $1,699)

For the dad and grad who likes to work hard and play hard, the HP OMEN 15 is the perfect work/life laptop.

"Ideal for dad’s 9 to 5 work life, as well as his 5 to 9 downtime. A versatile laptop like the HP OMEN 15 has enough power to handle the most demanding work-related applications, as well as the umph needed for gaming, streaming 4K video, and more. This laptop also works with the Omen Gaming Hub, which is software that let you customize what the hardware does (like RGB lighting on the keyboard), you can earn rewards, and more," said Saltzman.

D-Link Wi-Fi 6 Solutions

Get the speed you need, as well as support for more simultaneous devices on the network with the D-Link AX3260 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router ($179) and the world’s first Wi-Fi 6 USB Wireless Adapter ($79).

"All of these gadget gift ideas require strong WiFi. The latest standard is WiFi 6, offering up to three times the speed as the previous generation (called 802.11ac). More importantly, perhaps, this router is MESH-compatible, which means you can add 'access points' to various rooms to broaden the range of your WiFi signal (even to the outdoors)," said Saltzman.

"As a world's first, the WiFi 6 USB adaptor can plug into a laptop or desktop, for it to be compatible with the WiFi 6 platform."

Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 ($324.99)

This is Ring’s premium wired video doorbell with advanced features including 3D Motion Detection, Bird’s Eye View, improved HD+ video, Quick Replies and Head to Toe video.

"As with its predecessors, this video doorbell lets you see who’s at your door, and speak with them in realtime – even if you’re not inside – but this premium wired doorbell has features like 'head to toe'  video (see more), HD audio (hear more), support for your Alexa smart speaker (have your assistant talk to the courier, for example, by saying something like, 'Please leave the package behind the railing' and bird’s-eye video, which uses radar to see the person’s movement on your property for extra peace of mind."

Traeger Ironwood Wood Pellet Grills (from $1599)

These high-tech grills are barbeques and smokers in one, powered by wood pellets and proprietary WiFIRE Technology that wirelessly lets you control it all on the Traeger app, smart home devices, and your Apple Watch.

"Both the Traeger Ironwood 650, with its 649-square feet cooking area, or larger Traeger Ironwood 885, with 885 square feet of cooking space, allow you to grill a steak and veggies, smoke a brisket or bake an apple pie – all in the same unit – and using 100 per cent real hardwood pellets as the fuel source," said Saltzman.

"When it comes to its smarts, Traeger’s WiFIRE technology lets you monitor or control the temperature (even from inside your home) through a companion app, which includes access to more than 1,600 recipes, Apple Watch support on your wrist, or by using voice commands through a Google or Amazon smart speaker. With the latter, you can say something like, 'Alexa, set the probe temperature to 200 degrees,' 'OK Google, how hot is the food on the grill?” or, 'Alexa, set a timer for 20 minutes on <grill name>.' Essentially, WiFIRE connects sensors in the grill to the companion app, plus there’s also an included meat probe to monitor the exact temp inside your meal."