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Top 7 electronics gifts for dads and grads

Consumer Reports News: May 21, 2012 11:08 AM

Looking for a fantastic techie gift for your favorite father? Or perhaps a recent grad you're especially fond of deserves a great gadget this year. Consumer Reports' electronics experts picked out some of our recent favorites for your consideration.

Tablets
Who doesn't want a tablet? Our top recommended tablet is the new Apple iPad. It has an excellent screen, 4G access, and the longest battery life of any tablet we've tested. While the iPad is competitively priced, well-performing 10-inch tablets don't come cheap; you'll pay $500 and up (though the older iPad 2 starts at $400).

If you're on a tighter budget, consider the smaller Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, the first Samsung tablet to run on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). In our review, we noted that the display looked bright, the speakers sounded better than those on the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, and the interface Samsung places over Android emphasizes its media-player features. And it's just $250.

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Computers
If your dad or grad needs something with a little more power than a tablet, thin-and-light laptops—such as Ultrabooks—are the cream of the laptop crop these days. The HP Folio 13-1035nr is a 13-inch Ultrabook with excellent performance and a battery life of 8.75 hours. It's nearly identical to the HP Envy 14 Spectre, but it's lighter, smaller, and much less expensive, at $775.

E-book reader
Have readers in the family? They'll appreciate an e-book reader, and the new Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight ($140) has the highest overall score we've ever awarded an e-book reader. That's due in large part to this new Nook's illuminated screen, which improves reading in dim light without compromising readability in other lighting conditions.

electronics_JVC_HA-FX300.jpg

Headphones
Although the in-ear JVC HA-FX300 costs only $50, it delivers very good sound, and it's sensitive enough to work with most portable devices. And while these headphones may lack active noise cancellation, their earplug-like fit can help muffle many outside noises—like requests for money until your grad lands a job.

Camera
Here's a cool gift idea for shutterbugs: The pricey but feature-packed 16-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P510 (about $430) is a basic point-and-shoot camera—with a 42x optical zoom lens that goes from 24mm wide angle to 1,000mm telephoto. It also comes loaded with fun and useful shooting modes, full HD video capability, and a wide range of controls.

electronics_Nokia_Lumia_900-thumb-240xauto-4370.jpg

Smart phone
The Nokia Lumia 900, which runs on AT&T's high-speed 4G LTE network as well as its HSPA+ 4G network, is the best Windows phone we've tried so far. It also has some stunning features: a 4.3-inch AMOLED display and an 8-megapixel camera with a wide-angle (28mm), large-aperture (F2.2) Carl Zeiss optics, for starters. It's $100 with a two-year contract.

Carol Mangis

   

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