Technology plays an ever increasing role in our lives, as new products are continually being introduced that are designed to make life easier. For the techie, there’s no end to the vast array of smart electronic devices. But for this article, let’s look at some of the more practical, less high-tech, but nevertheless interesting gadgets and products that have come on the scene in the last year or two.
Most of these products are available through numerous outlets. Consequently, if you wish to obtain more details on any item, unless a website is provided, simply do an Internet search using the product’s name.
A USB space saving wall port
Remove an outlet’s cover plate, replace it with this one, and suddenly you have a USB port on the wall that lets you charge without a power block. Its contents capture juice from the terminals, without getting in the way of the receptacles. They also make a wall outlet with a built-in nightlight. About $20 from SnapPower https://www.snappower.com
A spin cycle mop
- Casabella Spin Cycle Mop
It looks like the offspring of a bucket and a salad spinner. But press down the mop handle and the microfiber head spins its dirt into the bucket’s sudsy water. Then move the mop to the stainless-steel wringer basket to spin it nearly dry. Almost makes cleaning fun.
About $60 Eliminate Wi-Fi dead zones
- Sengled LED Bulb with Integrated WiFi Repeater
This strange looking, new “light bulb” will not only eliminate dark spaces, but will boost your Wi-Fi to eliminate dead zones in one fell swoop with the only dimmable LED equipped with a wireless repeater. About $50.
Clearly Better Toaster
- Dash / Clear View Toaster
For folks who can’t stand the suspense – Will my toast be burned or just right? – this oversized picture-window toaster offers much-needed transparency, along with preset controls. Its single slot is more than wide enough to accommodate a sliced bagel. About $50.
The easiest corkscrew ever
- BarWise Corkscrew by Joseph Joseph
Tiny cutters deftly slice off the bottle’s foil capsule, and a few easy turns of the horizontal crank pop the cork. About $15 from Joseph Joseph.
For a bacteria-free shower
- Shower Clear Shower Head
Over time, showerheads can become loaded with bacteria and mold, but who bothers to clean them? This solid-brass head unlatches and swings open like a clamshell to let the interior dry out when not in use—making it simple but effective. About $275 from Shower Clear. https://www-shopshowerclear-com.myshopify.com/
Instant water heater
- Heatworks Tankless Water Heater (Model 3)
This compact, tankless unit warms water by passing current between a submerged array of graphite plates that precisely modulate water temperature to meet demand – an energy saving first. Stash it under a bath sink for nearly instantaneous hot showers. About $470. Newest model available summer of 2017. https://myheatworks.com
Keyed and keyless locks
- Kwikset SmartCode 916
The SmartCode 916’s small size makes it less conspicuous than other locks, and allows you to use your old house keys if you want. Kwikset’s SecureScreen feature – which makes you punch in two random digits before entering your code – helps ensure burglars can’t guess your password by fingerprint smudges alone. And it has an alarm if someone tries to break in. About $200.
The Piper NV is an indoor-only surveillance camera you can watch remotely from an Android or iOS device. Additionally, the security camera systems are the only video monitoring cameras to include home security capabilities like motion control and night vision. It also offers essential functions like a 105-decibel siren, temperature detector, light and sound, and door and window sensor attachments for boosted security. Plus, it boasts an automation function that allows you to switch your lights on and off remotely. You can get it up and running in just a few short minutes. It notifies you when important events are detected in your home, alerting you through push messages, texts, emails and phone calls. About $280.
The Nest Cam Outdoor is essentially the same camera as its popular indoor model, but with a weatherproof enclosure and power cord. Otherwise it’s pretty much identical in features—it uses Wi-Fi to send a full-time video signal (up to 1080p) you can monitor via the Web or mobile apps. It also provides alerts for motion (in zones you set) or audio. A Nest Aware subscription gets you days of video stored online that turn into clips you can watch whenever you like. About $200.
Heating and Cooling:
- Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation)
The Nest Learning Thermostat has built-in Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. This latest generation also has a larger display and a few more sensors than its predecessors, and lights up when you approach. About $250.
A Robot Floor Mopper
- Braava Jet 240
iRobot’s newest entry into this robot floor-cleaning arena is the relatively inexpensive Braava Jet 240. It not only sweeps the floor, it will mop it as well. It’s small, quiet, and perfect for apartment dwellers or homeowners without a lot of floor space or time to clean it when they get home. It sprays a jet of water to clean deep, and can even do damp sweeping, like a Swiffer. About $200.
Smart Lawn Watering
- Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller Generation 2
This device gives you control over eight or 16 zones depending on the unit you get, with a master valve terminal for systems that have one. It won’t water the lawn if it’s raining, and you can turn it on and off remotely with your phone. Plus, it integrates with lots of other services and devices like Amazon’s Alexa, IFTTT, and Nest products. About $200.
Stop Slipping Eye Glasses
If you’ve found yourself getting tired of pushing your eyeglasses back up on your nose, Nerdwax can help. This Shark Tank winning product is a simple beeswax-based stick that will help keep your glasses in place. Rub a little bit on the frame where it touches your nose, and you’ll go a whole day without forever adjusting your frames. About $10.
- 26-inch Dual Tine Poly Leaf Rake
This new rake by Ames keeps the teeth from clogging and lets you rake up to 45 percent faster than with a traditional rake. About $20. For $25, another version includes a small, detachable hand rake for tight spaces.
Super Sonic Toothbrush
- ISSA Electric Toothbrush by Foreo
Even the simple toothbrush goes to new heights of cleaning teeth and gums with this unique silicone body design, which lends itself to a considerably better grip. The ISSA’s silicone bristles channel 11,000 high-intensity pulsations per minute to create microsweeps that effectively and gently clean the teeth and gums. Made of quick-drying, nonporous silicone that resists bacteria buildup, the ISSA is an ultra-hygienic way to brush your teeth as it carries up to 10,000x less bacteria than toothbrushes with bristles. Brush heads last a year before a $20 replacement head is needed. A hybrid model is also available. Approximately $200.
- Earins and Erato Apollo 7S Ear Buds
Wireless earbuds were inevitable, but for years—they’ve been terribly flawed. All that changes with these earbuds. The 7S is not only waterproof, but has a transmitter in each ear, making it practically impossible to drop the signal. Approximately $270-$300.