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    Gadgets or appliances you're impressed with

    With Black Friday deals coming up, I don't follow or spend more on, but recently got me thinking of optional purchases that turned out to be great for convenience. Any particular items you've bought, and have been pleasantly surprised with?

    Most of mine were recommendations from friends and co-workers which I was skeptical about, or initially felt they'd be more of clutter than useful:

    Electrical kettle: I put mine in my room while I work from home. I used to boil water upstairs, but this is so much more convenient being in the same room.
    Rev-a-Shelf sliding dual trash bins: I love the trash bin out of sight in the kitchen, and has become a must-have for prep work.
    Travel carrying case/organizer for wires/chargers, battery pack. No longer digging through a pockets within backpack for traveling.
    Fold-up board - I think it was shown in the Big Bang Theory, and I don't have many shirts to fold but I do like how quick I can go through them and organize in storage.
    Ride-on mower - I bought my friend's when he upgraded. I should have done years ago, for the convenience of mulching and going up against hills, collecting leaves in the fall.
    "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

    #2
    Great question.

    My wife likes to watch the Deals and Steals segment on Good Morning America each week. She's picked up a few items that turned out to be quite useful (and usually at a steep discount when they are featured on the show).

    The first one that comes to mind is Gripstics. They work really well and keep food fresher than any chip clip I've ever had. We use them on bags in the freezer, too.
    https://www.gripstic.com/?gclid=Cj0K...UaAuxFEALw_wcB

    I realize I'm behind the times on this one but my wife and I both got bluetooth earbuds recently and we love them. No, we didn't spend a fortune for Apple ones. We bought these on Amazon after seeing them at Walmart and they work perfectly fine. $30 and worth every penny. https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Blue...NsaWNrPXRydWU=
    Steve

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

    Comment


      #3
      Not a small investment but my wife just got a Cricut Maker. If anyone in the house is into crafting, what a fantastic device. My wife sews and sells all sorts of bags and can now use the Cricut to precisely cut out fabric for her patterns. She's already used it to make some holiday decorations. It makes window clings and car window decals, clothing iron ons, and a lot more. We've only begun to play with it and learn all that it can do but I'm sure it will get a lot of use in our house.
      Steve

      * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
      * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
      * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
        I realize I'm behind the times on this one but my wife and I both got bluetooth earbuds recently and we love them. No, we didn't spend a fortune for Apple ones.
        Great point with bluetooth. While I got older Jabra 65T buds, bluetooth has been pretty invaluable for headsets, and playing audio from phone to car deck for me.
        "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

        Comment


          #5
          Definitely a good topic to discuss -- thanks for starting!

          Trekz bone conduction bluetooth headsets. I have Trekz Air, DW has Trekz Titanium, and there's a newer model out now (unsure the name). They're fantastic. Subtle, but great sound that still allows you to hear what's going on around you. I use mine all the time for running & cycling (I can hear cars & other people around me easily--big for safety), as well as while studying or even at work sometimes if I need to focus in something.... I can have music going as background noise, but I'll still hear if someone walks in to talk to me. Mine is almost 3y/o (DW's ~2y/o), and the battery life is still great. Definitely one of my best purchases in recent history.

          InstantPot. I was initially unimpressed with the idea, and thought it was just a fancy rice cooker. I had never previously used used (or even heard of) a pressure cooker. But when we were given one as a gift, I was shocked by how useful it's been. My first meal in it was a phenomenal pot roast, done in 90min vs. 8hrs. We eat alot of rice, but almost exclusively brown rice. Instant pot cooks it in 25min vs 90min in my now-ignored rice cooker. For a time, we also made our own yogurt in it, which was excellent (I just don't have the time right now). It's not the answer for everything, but it's definitely been very, very useful for us.

          Spicy Shelf & Can Tracker. Very simple plastic organizers for all of my kitchen spices (a couple of small shelves that wrap around the back/sides of our kitchen cabinet), and likewise for all of our canned goods (3 vertical layers of rolling can holders, keeping the oldest cans upfront). They allow me to organize stuff vertically in the cabinet/pantry to keep everything more organized, accessible, and visible. I'm generally not a fan of silly "hack" items, but these ones are legitimately helpful for me.
          "Praestantia per minutus" ... "Acta non verba"

          Comment


            #6
            I've got one that was a disappointment and an alternative that turned out to work much better.

            We're in the process of cutting out cable TV. I bought an antenna on Amazon for about $40. It works great - sometimes. Other times, we can't get some channels at all, or there will be a loud buzz on every channel instead of the regular sound. Moving it around sometimes helps, sometimes not.

            On another website, I learned about an app called Locast that, in certain markets, transmits the local channels online. We live in one of the markets they support (Philadelphia) so we gave it a try. There is a free version so we could test it out. That has an ad that interrupts the show every 15 minutes and throws you back to the menu, so that got super annoying quickly, but at least it let us know that the service works well. A couple of days ago, I subscribed (well, donated, as it's a non-profit company) to get the ad-free service. It's $5/month. I just paid $60 for a year up front. More costly than the antenna, and an ongoing expense, but it works much better and $5/month for all of the local channels is pretty reasonable. (We also got Sling for everything else for $30/month so we're still way ahead of what cable costs.)
            Steve

            * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
            * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
            * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

            Comment


              #7
              I'll second Kork's recommendation for Trekz bone conduction headphones. Great for being able to listen to music or podcasts while running or cycling and yet still being able to hear traffic.

              We fully cut the cord, and have multiple TV's equipped with Amazon Fire Sticks. The newer version of the Fire Stick has a more fully integrated remote with TV power and volume able to be controlled. I'm a fan of not having to keep track of two remotes.

              Comment


                #8
                1) Knipex Pliers, Bought these for $50 and they're the best pliers I've ever even came CLOSE to using. (*Note - I do not typically work for my hands for a living). But if you can damn near, throw away your adjustable crescent wrench, open ended box wrenches, and even your vice grips. I love when one, SUPER well made (German Engineered) tool can just make 10 pounds of other tools obsolete! (*Note - Keep your other tools just incase. Just don't worry if you store them away well, as this can make the others less useful).

                2) A really Good Kitchen Knife - Henkels, Whustoff (German) , Shun, Miyabi (Japanese). If you have a typical "stamped" kitchen knife & consider yourself even 30% interested in cooking. Get a REAL chef knife now, you'll have to spend (on avg) at least $60, expect to spend closer to $90-$120, and you can spend as much as you (or your ego) wishes you to spend. Will make a world of a difference when you always have a sharp, well crafted, instrument that can be involved in 90% of all prep work.

                3) ELECTRICAL CORDLESS LAWN EQUIPMENT - Don't be a baby. Get something Minimum 40volt preferred = 56 Volt - Ego Brand, but any 60V stuff will be pretty good. It's a 100 times lighter, more efficient, less maintenance than gas, 1 Saturn 5 rocket worth of decibels quieter, and if you buy all the same brand, you'll have power for days. I have 1/2 acre, and I mow (2) lawns for a friend during the summer. Do it all w/ the Ego power stuff, Can't stress enough how this Gas --> Electrical lawn care has changed my game (blower, mower, trimmer all electric now). *Chainsaw = Consider keeping gas or corded, unless you have some serious wood to cut and a lot (more than 5) trees.

                4) E-BIKES = Sold my motorcycle after riding an ebike. Because the ebike was more fun, better exercise, fathoms more affordable, I can drive it ANYWHERE, cheaper to maintain, and easier to store. It literally feels like you have lance Armstrong's legs STRAPPED to your legs. For anyone under 150 lbs, I don't think you'll need anything more than a 500w motor. For anyone under 275, you'll be fine w/ at least a 750W motor. Minimum voltage and battery oughta be 48volt and 10 Ah. (36v will be acceptable for your 1st bike). Most important thing, is to find one and ride it. You'll thank me later, they'll obscenely fun. And it really increases your radius of "curiosity" when riding a bike around your neighborhood, city, or favorite park. If you don't have a friend with one (or one close by) do yourself a favor, and buy yourself, even a cheap one. After screwing around on it for 10 minutes or your first 100 miles, you'll likely be hooked (if you even Kinda of like riding bikes or outdoors) and you'll soon know what kinda bike you will need for your next one. (Maybe spend $200-600 on the 1st one, then if you like it, but exactly what you think you need for your area ). I.e. longer range/bigger battery, more power {maybe +/- hilly) , more/less suspension, knobby / more street grippy tires, more/less lights, etc...) .

                5) Xiaomi Fit Band - $25 on amazon. Super simple, keeps my heart rate, steps, pulse, time/date, blue tooth pairable, and it's water proof. My favorite part.... I only have to charge it once every 20-25 days w/ the current settings. So It operates much closer to a real watch. (I think if I used a typical Smart watch, it'd lose out on about 2 days worth of data per month, due to forgetting to charge). Prove me wrong, and find me a higher quality one w/ even close battery life, within 2 to 3 x the price, and I'll gladly upgrade!

                6) DARN TOUGH SOCKS - Just ordered my first weeks worth on black friday (Socks addict .com) . I usually throw out 4-5 pair of socks a year due to holes (usually Puma, adidas, or kirkland brand). Darn Tough are Locally made, lifetime guaranteed, high quality, and merino wool socks. They have tons of cushion and comfort, but are kind of pricey at usually $12-25 PER PAIR. But they offer a lifetime replacement guarantee for wholes in the bottom. Personally, I hate unnecessary waste.... And would gladly pay $200-300 one time (in theory) to have socks for LIFE that are higher quality, and make me that much less wasteful. I have only tried on (2) pair so far, but they're devishly comfortable, cushioned, and seem to fend of smells well! Plus they have like 100000 designs to fit anyone's aesthetic palate. I'm rolling the iron dice of fate, and going ALL IN on this Black Friday season, So far I have 9 pair (7 on route) planning on landing around 14 , so I have (seasonal) coverage for 2 weeks. And hopefully I can spend my golden years still working on my sock stash (and claiming guarantee on any that get holes).

                Anywho.... These are more recent purchases that have "changed my game" and either impressed me or exceeded expectations. I recommend REDDIT "Buy it for life" thread. there is a ton of these kinda vibes in there, and I love seeing thoughtful quality, purposeful design, and perennial functionality in these long lived, high quality, creations. I would GLADLY spend 2x on a lot of Low-Mid Durable goods, to ensure they lasted longer. (I hate replacing things for cheap breaks). It's adding up in our landfills, and our waste column of our ledger of life.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by kork13 View Post
                  Definitely a good topic to discuss -- thanks for starting!

                  Trekz bone conduction bluetooth headsets. I have Trekz Air, DW has Trekz Titanium, and there's a newer model out now (unsure the name). They're fantastic. Subtle, but great sound that still allows you to hear what's going on around you. I use mine all the time for running & cycling (I can hear cars & other people around me easily--big for safety), as well as while studying or even at work sometimes if I need to focus in something.... I can have music going as background noise, but I'll still hear if someone walks in to talk to me. Mine is almost 3y/o (DW's ~2y/o), and the battery life is still great. Definitely one of my best purchases in recent history.
                  We are on the same wavelength. Is the first thing that popped into my mind. What's funny to me is while everyone is going gaga for airpods or whatever, no one has heard of these things. (People's jaws mostly drop to the floor when I wear them and explain that they are headphones). My husband tried a few because he is deaf in one ear. He finally found Trekz, which are *amazing*. I ended up buying one, and am hooked. Do not need to be hearing impaired to enjoy.

                  We upgraded our cars recently and have push button starts. It just seems like an extraordinary PITA to deal with house keys now. We bought a Smart Lock. It automatically unlocks when you arrive home, and automatically locks behind you. Can also unlock/lock remotely. We installed that before the newer cars I am pretty sure, but I just appreciate it even more now. If I am not really using the keys (putting them in my hands), don't want to be digging them out every time to unlock the door to my house.

                  The other thing that comes to mind is an automatic pet feeder that we bought for when we are out of town. We've always just left food out and my cats could handle that, but our latest rescue clearly has some food insecurity (in his past) and he will just eat it all the first day. Problem solved. (I am sure it keeps the food fresher than just leaving it out; could have used for other pets too).

                  Short people problems:
                  One of the best purchases in recent memory is a grabber/reacher. I use that thing *all the time*.
                  I haven't tried it yet, but my co-worker was just telling me about hem tape. It's like a double-sided sticky tape that you iron on for a permanent hem. I am sold.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Almost 10 years ago now we bought a DeWalt 3200psi gas pressure washer. Worth every penny and then some. The money I've saved over the years by having my own is many times the purchase cost. Paint and project prep, driveways, patios, and walkways are always clean, takes moss and algae off the gutters so the house always looks on-point. I use it on the cars all the time too, makes quick work of an exterior detail.

                    Back in 2017 I bought a pickup and wasn't so sure about a big infotainment system. I never had a vehicle with an infotainment screen, just little green LCD displays with the clock and radio station. My phone was too old to support CarPlay at the time so I felt it was all kind of wasted. Shortly thereafter I upgraded my phone and plugged it into the truck. Wowee zowee. Let's face it, we all take calls and communicate from the road. The Apple CarPlay integration is perfect, and increases safety. I can read a map and know the grid system but the Navigation with Apple Maps is just excellent. Plus it supports integration with other apps like Pandora (free) for music. No subscription for CarPlay required in GM vehicles so it was hands-down one of the best things I've ever had in a car and have used the literal hell out of it in the last 3+ years.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      One more appliance I'm impressed with. A GE induction range for cooking.

                      Now, our culinary skills are nowhere near high-end cooking appliance territory, but it sure makes things easy. It felt like we had finally arrived in luxury in our last place with a 25-year old Wolf gas cooktop, which the prior owners had put in. It was nice, as old as it was. When we bought a new house last year, that came with a freestanding gas range which easily rivaled the cooking power of the Wolf, but wasn't quite as high quality. $1500 goes a long way in freestanding range territory these days whereas that Wolf was probably close to $3k back in the 90's for just the cooktop, no oven. Both were a pain to keep clean. The upside? In a power outage they always work, just have to light the burner. We've since moved to a new place and the prior owners just dropped in a GE induction range before selling. It's a Cafe model, more than I would ever spend. I was skeptical at first.

                      This induction stuff....this..is cooking with science. A regular sized pot of water is boiling in about a minute. Our largest pot, full of potatoes for Thanksgiving, maybe 2-3 minutes until a full boil? It's absolutely insane, and so is the heat it can cook with. Clean-up is amazing as the cooktop is solid surface. No grates, burners, none of that mess. The cooktop surface cools quickly after use and has a red light warning for when the surface is still warm. It shuts off automatically when there's nothing on the burner. I want my elderly parents to have one of these, like, I'm thinking about buying them one. One, because my mom loves to cook and has a really old gas range that she has always talked about replacing. Two, because I'll worry less.

                      Induction technology isn't voodoo but I think at the end of the day I prefer cooking with gas. I don't like the slight hum the induction makes at higher temps. I've been shocked by electricity really badly so have irrational fears and phobias around things with high currents, and especially old electric-burner stoves. But I'm getting more comfortable around the induction range. All the other advantages go to induction and solid surface cooktops for cleanup, safety, and speed.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by ua_guy View Post

                        Back in 2017 I bought a pickup and wasn't so sure about a big infotainment system. I never had a vehicle with an infotainment screen, just little green LCD displays with the clock and radio station. My phone was too old to support CarPlay at the time so I felt it was all kind of wasted. Shortly thereafter I upgraded my phone and plugged it into the truck. Wowee zowee. Let's face it, we all take calls and communicate from the road. The Apple CarPlay integration is perfect, and increases safety. I can read a map and know the grid system but the Navigation with Apple Maps is just excellent. Plus it supports integration with other apps like Pandora (free) for music. No subscription for CarPlay required in GM vehicles so it was hands-down one of the best things I've ever had in a car and have used the literal hell out of it in the last 3+ years.
                        I was thinking Android Auto, but thought maybe that was too obvious. I had no idea anyone paid subscriptions for these things.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Many years ago on a trip to Hawaii, we bought a TENS machine from a mall kiosk. I know those are all the rage now and can even be bought at places like Target (maybe those aren't good ones though). But back then we'd never heard of it and bought it completely on impulse after trying it at the kiosk. We were 100% sure it would end up in the trash within a few months. Now, oh, 15 years later, we still use it. The company isn't even in business anymore, but we found replacement pads for it on amazon. If you suffer from any sort of backaches or shoulder aches or if really anything aches or could use a massage without paying a masseuse, I'd highly recommend one.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by ua_guy View Post
                            Let's face it, we all take calls and communicate from the road. The Apple CarPlay integration is perfect, and increases safety.
                            We don't "all" take calls on the road.

                            I really think a lot of these new features that connect your phone to your car create more distractions and make driving way more dangerous. People shouldn't be talking on the phone while they're driving. People shouldn't be staring at GPS while they're driving. There are even features that let you get your email or check Facebook while you're driving. I will very rarely use GPS on my phone but the phone sits in the console and I just get the verbal directions. I never look at the map unless I'm pulled over and parked. I'm appalled by how many people have their phones mounted on their windshields creating both a blind spot and something that draws their focus off of the road. I really wish police would pull people over and ticket them for that.
                            Steve

                            * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                            * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                            * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I forgot to include my 18v dewalt tool 6 piece set I bought new on CL when I bought my house almost 11 years ago. Best $400 I ever spent, which I still use.
                              "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

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