In the consumer tech world, there’s always something new to buy. Want to know a secret? Many upgrades aren’t worth your money and time.
That 8K TV? Not necessary until there’s more supported content. Expensive HDMI cables? The gold plating looks nice, but the cheap ones do the same job.
But there are the tech stand-outs that you’ll genuinely use and appreciate. Here are things I use all the time, and you will, too.
Keep your tea or coffee hot all day
There’s nothing quite like the annoyance of coming back to your morning beverage — tea in my case — and realizing it’s gone cold. I finally pulled the trigger on an Ember smart mug. I know it’s expensive, but hear me out. My tea stays hot, even if I forget about it for an hour.
Choose your preferred temperature between 120 and 135 degrees (I like the default 135), and your drink stays hot for up to 80 minutes on a single charge. It’s smart enough to turn itself off when empty or if you haven’t touched the mug in two hours.
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A DVR for cord-cutters
You’ve joined the streaming revolution, but how can you record your shows without your cable-owned DVR? Buy your own. There are many options, and it comes down to how much storage space you want.
The Amazon Fire Recast is a solid option. This model can record up to two shows simultaneously and stores up to 75 hours of HD programming.
If you’re a TV and sports fan, there’s a more powerful option. Record up to four shows at once and store up to 150 HD hours. Pair it with an Alexa-enabled device and you can also manage your recordings with your voice.
Compressed air that never runs out
Compressed air is great for getting dust and dirt out of all the little crevices in your gadgets. The problem? It’s expensive — not to mention how annoying it is when you run out halfway through cleaning your messy keyboard.
Instead, try a compressed air electric duster. These things are seriously powerful and can blast out debris just as well as canned air.
Let someone else vacuum and mop
It took me a long time to get on the robot vacuum bandwagon. Now that I have, I’m not going back. Sure, sometimes I have to rescue my vacuum from a tight spot, but I can’t complain when it spends all day vacuuming my floors.
There are a lot of brands and price points out there. I went with the iRobot Braava Jet M6. It vacuums and mops, and you can even send it to mop up a spill with a voice command. That’s handy. It maps your home, so it gets smarter the more you use it.
A solar charger for your phone and tablet
Power banks are great to have around, but what if you lose power? Or maybe you’re going on a camping trip without much access to electricity or even a long plane ride. Solar charging stations have come a long way.
One is under $50 and can charge a phone up to 10 times or a tablet three to four times.
A better way to light candles
I don’t like dealing with lighter fluid, and buying lighters only to toss them out later is a waste. I upgraded to an electric lighter that charges via USB.
These lighters use a strong electrical pulse to light, making it easier to light the grill on a windy day. Love that. It charges through a micro USB cable in about an hour.