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For Dad, smaller is better
Tiny electronics -- from digital cameras to nose hair trimmers -- will cheer him this Father's Day.
June 13, 2003: 10:05 AM EDT
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - It all boils down to a matter of size -- of the gift. For Father's Day this year, small is definitely better.

Sure, Dad will be happy with the tie --again. But if it's useful, tiny and buzzes, that'll be even better.

"What is Father's Day without the necktie gift?," asked Tom Julian, a consumer and fashion trend consultant with the marketing firm Fallon. "But this is the time to reward Dad for all the sacrifices that he's made. You can't go wrong with something electronic."

So what's the hot trend?

According to Lance Binley, director of consumer electronics with (AMZN: Research, Estimates), it's portable and compact electronics products, like digital cameras and MP3 players.

"Basically the latest technology in the smallest available size is the craze right now," Binley said. "One reason for that is families are getting ready to go on vacations. So it's easier and more convenient to carry smaller products."

Some of the online retailer's top sellers leading up to Father's Day are digital cameras, like the Pentax Optio S 3.2MP Digital Camera, which is small enough to fit into an Altoids tin, and carries a pricetag of $399.99.

Another in-demand gizmo is Apple Computer's (AAPL: Research, Estimates) iPod. The portable digital music player is available in 3 sizes, priced between $299 and $499, and can store 2,500 to 7,500 songs.

Fossil/PDA Wristwatch with built-in Palm OS technology. Price:$295  
Fossil/PDA Wristwatch with built-in Palm OS technology. Price:$295

The Apple iPod has also been selling fast at Best Buy stores. "The new version is slimmer, sleeker and definitely very popular for Dad," said Brian Lucas, spokesman for electronics retailer.

"The other item that would make a great gift for Dad in the 'technology as fashion category' is our Fossil/PDA wristwatch,"'s Binley said. It apparently is a first-of-a kind wristwatch PDA (personal digital assistant) with built-in Palm technology. It'll set you back $295.

But don't count on handing it over to Dad this Sunday. For now, shoppers can pre-order the watch on The actually launch date is June 30.

The $3 upgrade will buy the nose hair groomer

Judging by past trends, it appears it cost more to make Mom happy than Dad. Not true this time around.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, consumers for the first time are expected to spend more on Father's Day presents than they did last month on Mother's Day.

The average consumer is expected to dish out about $100, or $3 more for Dad, compared with $97 for Mom.

"Spending on a gift typically is directly related to feeling and emotions," said Pam Danziger, luxury marketing expert and author of "Why People Buy Things They Don't Need."

The Sharper Image Turbo-Groomer 5.0. Price:$59.95  
The Sharper Image Turbo-Groomer 5.0. Price:$59.95

"For months consumer sentiment has been pressed by negative news on the economy and unemployment," she said. "Maybe now there's a change in sentiment that things could get better and consumers are more willing to spend a little bit more on gifts for people closest to them," she said.

"The saying goes that men wounded in the battlefield call out for their mothers. So spending on Mom will generally surpass that for Dad despite the aberration this year, " Danziger said.

Kids, meanwhile, want Dad to be tech-savvy and well-groomed at the same time.

At the Sharper Image (SHRP: Research, Estimates) store in New York City's Rockefeller Center, the top three Father's Day picks for under $100 are the Turbo-Groomer for taming nose hair, a runaway hit for the company last Christmas; the "Now You Can Find It!" wireless RF Electronic Locater for misplaced glasses and keys; and the Quiet Power automatic tie rack.

Pentax Optio S 3.2MP Digital Camera. Price: $399.99.  
Pentax Optio S 3.2MP Digital Camera. Price: $399.99.

Donald Selkin, stock market strategist with Joseph Stevens & Co., doesn't know about the nose hair trimmer. But he'll be happy with something simple from his daughters. Or some stocks.

"I told my daughters that a nice shirt or a tie will do," Selkin said. "They should keep an eye on the price because people can't flaunt their wealth like before."

He added, "The other nice gift would be some of these Internet and biotech stocks that have been shooting up lately. That's what I would really want."  Top of page

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