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Best gifts for dad in 2020

Dads come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. From the practical to the extravagant, these unique gifts will keep all of them happy.

Finding the best gifts for a dad, whether it's for a birthday or other special occasion, can be tricky. It's difficult to come up with great gift ideas that he's never seen before -- even more so if you're in the position of needing last-minute gifts for dad.

Lucky for you, reader, I am a dad and therefore have the inside scoop on unique gifts -- as well as many products purchased for me across a lot of holidays, from Father's Day to birthdays and even Valentine's Day. That said, these are the gifts I really want. (Please, someone tell my kids.) These are also the gifts I want to give to other dads.

With these 11 selections, I've covered the gamut: There are the electronics every dad needs, including a soundbarTV, tablet and headphones. And then there's an utterly practical mess-proof frying pan attachment. Move over, socks. There's no reason you shouldn't be able to procure the perfect gift, cool kit, or even use this list as the jumping-off point for great gift ideas.

We have soap, shampoo, shaving cream and other personal products. There's a cooler and a coffee mug. And then there's gaming gear and a drone. (How cool are drones?!) These cool gifts for dad are just what he needs. Check out my picks below for some great last-minute gift options that are sure to be the perfect fit.

Read more:  Best gifts for grandparents in 2020, from smart tech to sentimental | Best gifts for your girlfriend in 2020 | Best bar gifts for 2020 | Best board games in 2020 | Best TVs in 2020 | Top kid toys 2020: Cool toys for boys and girls | Best gifts for teenage girls for 2020: Apple AirPods, Fuji Instax and more | Best gifts for boyfriends in 2020

Sarah Tew/CNET

One can never buy the Ember mug for oneself -- it must be received as a gift. At $99 (for the 10-ounce mug) , it's simply too expensive to buy for yourself or anyone except especially dear relatives (I'm talking about your dad). The unique porcelain Ember Mug and saucer kit will keep his coffee at the perfect temperature -- technically, 130 degrees, though that's adjustable via the iOS- and Android-compatible app -- for a little more than an hour. It doesn't sound like much, but, trust me: It's life-changing.  Read our take on the Ember Mug.

Amazon

Inexpensive, easy to use and nifty -- those are all things dads like, and all qualities the unique Frywall brings to the table. Whether it's bacon and hash browns or fried chicken and collards, this handy little tool -- a BPA-free silicone cone that fits directly into your pan -- helps minimize the mess. A top choice for smart dads who want breakfast, but don't want to spend ages cleaning up.

Dollar Shave Club

I was skeptical of Dollar Shave Club at first -- I already have too many subscriptions. But the blades in this shaving kit are truly great, and I have come to appreciate a number of the company's other shaving products, including their after-shave balm, and gift sets, which have helped me up my shaving game and always look photo ready. And it's not just me: My 7-year-old son loves the company's Wanderer brand shampoo and soap. Plus, shipping on orders of restock boxes that contain blades is free. All in all, it beats a bottle of aftershave. 

CNET

It's cool-looking, tough as nails and big -- with a bigger-than-advertised 62-quart capacity. In CNET's recent roundup of best coolers, we found that the Lifetime High Performance Cooler was particularly well designed. It's also a perfect gift for dad, who will appreciate the dual-locking lid latches, roped handles and built-in bottle opener (you know, for a glass water bottle... or craft beer). And you can buy it for $130 from Lifetime. Read our review of the Lifetime High Performance Cooler.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If your dad likes to play video games, he will freak, in a good way, when you give him the Switch Lite. Nintendo has a unique pedigree in the video game world, and this sleek and light system is perfect for handheld gaming. The kit comes with all the products one needs to access Nintendo's immense and celebrated library of games. It has a battery life of three to seven hours (so you'll be free from dad jokes for that long) and it's $100 cheaper than the full-sized Switch. Now he'll always have a fun game right in arm's reach! Read our Switch Lite review.

Sure, Plantronics doesn't have the same cache as Beats or Bose -- but the BackBeat Pro 2 are excellent wireless noise-canceling headphones that cost considerably less than comparable models from those other companies and are a huge step up from those earbuds Dad's been using for way too long. They're comfortable to wear, sound great on phone calls and are smart enough to pause whatever you're listening to when you take them off. So yeah, a perfect gift. The more brand-conscious dad may prefer the Beats Studio WirelessBose QuietComfort 35 II, Bose 700 or Sony WH-1000XM3.

Sonos via Amazon

The Sonos Beam looks good, sounds big and integrates more easily with other A/V equipment than any other sound bar. It offers not only the most flexible music system available but has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built in, giving Dad options when it's time to watch TV. Adding a pair of stylish $100 Ikea Symphonisk bookshelves will tie the home theater kit together (and can hold a book or two) and create a man cave that your pops will be proud of. It's a speaker that's more than a speaker. All he'll need is a cold drink, and he can sit back and watch... and listen.  Read our Sonos Beam review.

Best Buy

When your dad was little, he dreamed of having an arcade in his home. You can make his dream come true for $450. This Star Wars arcade game is one of the pricier options -- there are plenty of others that cost less than $300 -- but it's also, arguably, the coolest of them all. Watch your dad spend hours in a galaxy far, far away.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Does your pops read the newspaper on his phone? Not cool. Modern dads need a bigger screen to see their news, to read a book and play around with the latest and greatest apps.

Fortunately, Apple released a new version of its flagship iPad in September, increasing the display size to 10.2 inches, adding a dock connector and... well, that was about it. Otherwise, it's virtually identical to the light 9.7-inch iPad Apple introduced in 2018, which remains the best deal in the lineup when it's on sale. Read our Apple iPad 2018 (9.7-inch) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The best gifts for dad have good value -- and this TV offers the best bang for the buck, straight up (even if Game of Thrones is over). You get excellent image quality, impressive brightness and rich, accurate colors. Seriously, this TV is perfect And if that's not enough, its Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite. What dad doesn't like to watch TV? Read our TCL 6-Series (2019 Roku TV) review.

Read more: Best TVs for 2020

Drones are cool -- and there's still a chance for your dad to be the first on his block to fly one. The unique Mavic Air effectively combines the best aspects of the company's top-end Mavic Pro with the portability of the lower-end Spark, while adding some great new capabilities to the kit, including better obstacle avoidance and an improved 4K video camera. Pro tip: Pick up the white model for $180 less than the black device. Read our DJI Mavic Air review.

Read more: Best gifts for 10-year-old girls in 2020

Originally published last month.