NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Who knows where 2010 has fled, but somehow mid-June is upon us. And while Father's Day and the graduation present exist now mostly as whims of consumer-electronics heavies like Cisco (CSCO) - Get Report, HP (HPQ) - Get Report and Dell (DELL) - Get Report, late spring really is the only time when shoppers can indulge their lust for all things gadgetish. Think about it. A laptop. For Valentine's Day?! Not going to happen.
And this year, with recession-sparked competition and advances across the gadget-o-sphere in chips, screens and software, the small-business-gizmo-minded can enjoy an unprecedented array of products and services that boast both a full metal techno jacket and are actually useful for keeping one's business in business.
Here, then, are my top tech gift picks for small-business-minded dads and grads:
Cisco's Flip SlideHD ($280): If there's a cooler small-business gadget, I want to see it. The Flip SlideHD is a portable HD video and image-capture device that also happens to pack a decent 3-inch screen. The new SlideHD uses the same video standards found on a top-of-the-line Mac Pro desktop. It matches that to a dead-easy, plug-and-play video-transfer system that can port about four hours of HD video to any computer via a USB connection.
Though sound quality is as terrible as it has always been in Flips, the device can be gussied up with custom company graphics. If your operation is looking for a way to accurately exchange imagery, capture samples or otherwise communicate via video, try the Flip. Hands down, it smokes any cellular-imaging tool, and it's great gift for that great client.
AViiQ Portable Laptop Stand ($80):
Let's be honest: Running a small business is really about running a small portable computer. As much as I hate notebook computers for their cramped keyboards, clavicle-destroying ergonomics and computer-rack design ethic, small firms can't make scratch today without a solid laptop computer.
Costa Mesa, Calif.-based AViiQ has come up with the cleverest solution I've seen to making the notebook more tolerable on the go: an elegant, 5.5-ounce, foldable aluminum alloy stand that keeps your laptop about 12 degrees from a flat service. That small rake keeps your hands at a comfortable angle, your computer cooler and, when used on your lap, your burning hot machine away from your lap. Which, for the man in your life, is a gift that will keep on giving.
Regen ReNu Solar Panel ($150):
As nutty as it sounds considering the agony we manage to invent transitioning away from fossil fuels, solar power is becoming almost a commodity in gadgets. From radios to cameras to batteries, the sun can power it.
So I like what San Francisco-based Regen has done in making its ReNu modular solar panel unique. Basically, an elegant, freestanding solar plate that can power everything from an
iPod to a alarm clock. It can also hang from a window, be propped on a desk in the sunlight or otherwise be charged by solar rays.
The unit is efficient enough to power most portable devices in about the time it takes for a wall charger. Great chat factor on the desk and surprisingly non-bulky at under a pound, which makes the unit well-suited for the car. For not a whole lot of green, you get you a whole lot of, well, green.
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Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on FoxNews and The WB.