Gift Gadgets For Dads And Grads

Stuck on what to buy your dad or the recent grad in your family?

Why not go high-tech?

CBS News science and technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg appeared on The Early Show Monday with some tech gift ideas to wow that special someone on his big day.

And with gadgets getting slimmer, faster and less expensive, Sieberg said, it's a good time to buy one.

Sieberg showed a range of high-tech gifts, from the simple to complex. And the pricetags vary just as much.

His recommendations cover all the difficult people on your list, from gamers to readers.

Sieberg's recommendations:

Nintendo DSi -- $169.99

  • Size wise, the DSi is only about 4 millimeters thinner than the Lite and just 5 millimeters wider.
  • Larger screens
  • Two 0.3 megapixel camera
  • SD card slot
  • New feature, DSi Sound, allows you to play AAC audio tracks on the device
  • But no more Game Boy Advance slot
  • Exclusive access to the DSi Shop for downloadable games and applications.

For more information, CNet's favorite Netbook for less than $500)
  • The ideal companion PC for the highly mobile professional
  • Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive.
  • Boasts a full ExpressCard/54 slot (no other netbook currently offers this)
  • With an aluminum case, the Mini 2140 feels as if it'll stand up to the rigors of the road better than a plastic Netbook.

Where to buy: HP Store, Amazon
For more information, click here.

Roku Digital Video Player -- $100
Editor's Rating: 3.5 stars

  • Streams Netflix Watch Now and Amazon Video On Demand movies and TV shows to your TV. The combination of Netflix's unlimited subscription viewing (as low as $9 per month) and Amazon's pay-per-view offerings delivers a good range of viewing flexibility and choice
  • Simple setup that works with all TVs.
  • A simple, convenient, and affordable alternative to cable or satellite TV.
  • Includes built-in wired and 802.11g Wi-Fi networking
  • Measuring 1.75 inches tall by 5.25 inches wide by 5.25 inches deep, the box is equipped with all manner of audio and video outputs: HDMI, component video, S-Video, and composite video ports, as well as digital optical or the standard red/white analog stereo outputs.
  • You navigate the videos through a series of hundreds of snapshots of frames in the film (the thumbnails correspond to 10 second-intervals in the video).

Where to buy: Amazon.
For more information, click here.

Flip Video MinoHD -- $209.99
Editor's Rating: 4 stars

  • Ultraslim, yet functional design that only weighs 3.3 ounces.
  • One-touch video uploading to YouTube, AOL, and MySpace
  • FlipShare software is compatible with both Macs and Windows machines
  • The HD version is only available in black unless you order it via Flip's Web site, where you can get snazzier custom versions at no extra cost.
  • 4GB memory, capable of storing 60 minutes of 1,280x720 resolution (720p) video.
  • It's very easy it is to get videos off the camera and distribute them: simply flip out the USB connector and plug it into your Windows (Windows 2000/XP or later) or OS X (10.4 or later) machine and up pops FlipShare, the company's newly redesigned software.

Where to buy: The Flip, Amazon
For more information, click here.

Kindle 2 -- $359
The good: Slimmer and sleeker looking than the original Kindle; large library of tens of thousands of e-books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs via Amazon's familiar online store; built-in free wireless "Whispernet" data network -- no PC needed; built-in keyboard for notes and navigation; a faster processor speeds up the device; with 2GB of internal memory, it's capable of storing 1,500 electronic books; font size is adjustable; improved battery life; displays image files and plays MP3 and AAC audio; compatible with Windows and Mac machines; new Text-to-Speech feature allows you to have text read aloud.

The bad: No expansion slot for adding more memory or accessing files; files such as PDFs and Word documents aren't natively supported, and need to be converted at 10 cents a pop by Amazon; no protective carrying case included; battery is sealed into the device and isn't removable; hardware and content is still too expensive.

The bottom line: While it's still short of perfection -- and has a price tag that's too high -- the Amazon Kindle 2 offers a range of improvements that makes it the best overall e-book reader we've seen to date.

Where to buy:

Sony Playstation3 -- $400
Editors Rating: 4 Stars

  • The Sony PS3 is primarily a gaming console that happens to offer online movie and TV viewing on your TV.
  • Movies from most major Hollywood studios and TV networks can be bought or rented for 24 hours from the online Sony PlayStation Store.
  • The PS3 has a built-in Web browser that allows users to find and view Web content on their TV.
  • The console has built-in Wi-Fi.
  • It also plays standard DVD movies and HD Blu-ray movies.

Where to Buy: Amazon or Best Buy
For more information, click here.

Vizio SV421XVT: $1,099
Vizio is known for breaking price barriers, so it should come as no surprise that the company's 240Hz LCD TVs should be among the least expensive of their breed. We say "should" because at CES most other manufacturers don't announce pricing on their new models, but Vizio does.

The two models represent the 42- and 47-inch sizes in the company's step-up XVT series, models SV421XVT ($1,099 list) and SV471XVT ($1,399 list) respectively. Both will be available in the summer of 2009, and replace the current SV470XVT and SV420XVT at the same price points.

Like LG, Vizio uses a "scanning backlight" technology to achieve its 240Hz processing, unlike the MEMC technology used by Sony and Samsung, for example. The MEMC system inserts three interpolated frames for every true frame in a 60Hz source, while the scanning backlight system turns the backlight on and off very rapidly. We doubt the difference will be visible to most viewers, but we'll reserve judgment until we have a chance to test both systems in the lab.

Vizio says it has improved the dejudder processing on these models compared with the SV470XVT we reviewed last year. The company is also touting the XVT sets' antiglare screens and improved viewing angles, along with a variable backlight system that is said to cut power consumption by 15 percent. Both 240Hz XVT sets include four HDMI inputs.

The sets also include a USB input that can play back MPEG-2, H.264 and WMV9 video, along with JPEG photos and MP3 music files, and the company throws in a USB thumb drive with some preloaded 1080p video.

For more information, click here.