We made it to June! Yes, celebrations are hard right now – hard to pull off and sometimes difficult to enjoy – but we don’t want to forget about our amazing dads, equally awesome new grads and all the summer fun the best gadgets around can make even better.
If pandemic times have taught us anything about our gadgets, it’s that we don’t need every new-fangled techy-toy to come along. Just the ones that help us stay healthy, connected, and having a blast, no matter what. Here at the 10 best gadgets you can still get in time to help with all of those goals.
Keep it clean
One of the hottest new gadgets around is a hairbrush-sized, cordless, handheld UVC sterilizer called the Monos CleanPod ($90). Charge it up, then pack it in a backpack, purse, or glove compartment, and you’re good to go. When you need to sterilize something, press a button, wave it over any surface for 30-seconds and it claims to wipe-out viruses, bacteria, and all kinds of nasty little germs.
One dad-friend of mine said it’s at the top of his list this year to save money on wet wipes and other chemical sprays – and he says it makes his (justifiable) germaphobia look so much more stylish than an industrial-sized bottle of hand-sanitizer.
But does it work? According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, there’s a good chance it works as advertised, because “UV light has been shown to destroy other coronaviruses.” But UV light damages human skin, so you can’t use it on your hands, face, or any other part of your body!
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Going for a quick dip in the pool, lake, river, or bay just got a whole lot more interesting and this PoolCandy Tube Runner ($130) is a motorized chair that just might win summer. The inflatable features a safety-housed three-blade propeller and 66-watt motor to move you through the water, with the idea that you can race around, play bumper cars, or just make everyone else jealous. Control it with a joystick, and it can move any direction, including 360-degree donut-spins. It’s on sale for the pre-order price of $130 now, and ships at the end of June.
Drones continue to fly high on gift lists, especially if you have a photo or video junkie in the family. DJI’s brand new Mavic Air 2 ($800) packs a ton of cutting-edge features including more than 30 minutes of flight time, a six-mile range, and a handful of safety upgrades. My favorite upgrade is the improved obstacle avoidance and air traffic alerts — because I’m amazing at crashing drones. The Mavic Air 2 sports a stellar camera too. It captures 48-megapixel photos and 4K video at 60 frames per second.
Now that the whole world has shifted to video calls, the Portal Family From Facebook is back in stock and easily one of the best gadgets to emerge from these past few months as a must-have. The Portal, Portal Mini, and Portal TV (starting at $99 on sale through June 21) pack a slew of next-level, hands-free features starting with the built-in Smart Camera that follows you around the room so you feel like you’re hanging out with your friends and family, even when you’re miles apart. The integrated Amazon Alexa lets you use your voice to do things like check who’s at the front door or listen to music, and while on a Portal call, you can read stories to kids through an augmented reality-powered feature called Story Time or play AI games with your friends. When not on a call, Portal transforms into a digital photo display, and for anyone worried about privacy, just flip one switch and you know when the camera and mic are OFF for added security!
Gaming on the go
Dads and grads alike need distraction as much as anyone right now – and while it’s nearly impossible to find the Nintendo Switch in stock anywhere, the less expensive Switch Lite ($200) is available on Amazon, eBay, and in a few GameStop’s around the country. With its light, sleek design, this hand-held gaming system slips into a back pocket, ready to hit the road whenever you are. If you get the chance, buy it. Your dad – or grad – will be psyched!
Backyard movie night magic
Movie night’s about to get a big upgrade with the soda can-sized Anker Capsule Projector ($300). This little point-and-play streams movies anywhere, with 360-degree sound, four-hour video playtime, and a screen size of up to 8.3 feet. You can take it just about anywhere in the world, including to college, where you can stream movies on dorm ceilings, walls, indoors and out. It runs on the Android operating system, so you can access plenty of streaming options.
Take a seat
For the dad, grad, or just plain rad, this new PARKIT Voyager Recreation Chair (around $150) brings a whole new level of ahhhh to an awesome adventure. This portable outdoor chair includes a cup holder and an insulated cooler that keeps ice cold for more than eight hours. Its sturdy frame puts up with a whole lot of lounging time, too.
How does your garden grow?
Does Dad love to garden or is grad ready to plant the seeds for an abundant future? The custom Seedsheet ($25) lets you blanket your backyard, planter box, or even a tiny terrace food-forager with customized, instant, no-green-thumb-required goodness! Just pick your plants, build your garden, and get ready for homegrown harvests. Choose from over 85 varieties of organic and non-GMO seeds, spanning herbs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers. You design, they build and ship, and hopefully treat you to dinner for their fresh-grown feast!
The VSSL Flask ($95) is part flashlight, part booze container, and a totally unique multifunctional tool for glamping enthusiasts, fishing aficionados, and anyone in between. In addition to holding 10 ounces of your favorite beverage, the tube-shaped gadget includes two collapsible stainless steel shot cups, a bottle opener, a compass, and a powerful LED flood beam flashlight. And, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Throne built for a king or queen
In an era of toilet paper shortages, there’s a newfound appreciation for a luxurious bidet, that doesn’t cost the same as a year of college. For that, take a look at the OmigoSL bidet ($404). It’s a splendid throne upgrade that’s easy to install and has all the fancy features everyone’s talking about like rear and front wash nozzles, a seat heater, multiple temperature and position settings, and a nifty blue nightlight. It also comes with a 90-day free trial, so they can send it back if they’re not, er…totally satisfied.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist. Email her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nintendo Switch, Facebook Portal, bidet: 10 things you need for summer