In a tech world often headlined by 4K TVs, VR headsets, and sophisticated drones, smaller gadgets usually get overlooked. It’s a shame, really, because a lot of them tend to be the most helpful in our daily lives. And many of them are fairly affordable, too.
To give you an idea, here are 16 cool gadgets that can make your life easier in one way or another. You don’t need to break the bank to get your hands on them. Each of the 16 products is priced below $100.
With so many devices that need to be charged via USB connection, wall sockets can quickly get crowded at home. Admit it, at one point you probably had to “accidentally” unplug your younger sibling’s smartphone from the wall socket to charge your own device.
The Anker PowerPort 4 takes care of this problem. The PowerPort 4 is a charging hub that allows you to connect up to four different devices at the same time. Each USB port can provide up to 2.4 amps for faster charging, allowing you to charge even more devices at an efficient rate. Thanks to its foldable plug and compact design, the PowerPort 4 can be easily packed for travel.
It’s especially useful when you’re staying at a hotel for only 24 hours or less and need to juice up multiple devices before you move out. And the 100-240v input means it’s compatible with all wall sockets around the world.
Feeling left out that the Wi-Fi signal in your house doesn’t extend all the way to your attic bedroom? You might need a Wi-Fi range extender to get the signal to reach your little sanctuary. There are numerous Wi-Fi range extenders out in the market. But with its combination of quality and affordability, there’s no better product out there than the Netgear N300.
The N300 is an easy-to-use, plug-and-play device that works with any standard router used at home. Just plug it into a wall socket and watch in awe as the Wi-Fi signal extends to previously hard-to-reach areas. Featuring a pair of external antennas and the ability to extend the Wi-Fi up to 300Mbps, the N300 allows you to connect your device practically from anywhere around the house.
Unless you’re a genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist who has mechanical suits of armor stashed in your basement, the Amazon Echo is probably the closest thing you can get to J.A.R.V.I.S. For those who aren’t really into comic book superhero movies, that’s Tony Stark’s AI system in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Amazon Echo uses Alexa, an intelligent personal assistant similar to Siri on iOS. It is primarily voice-controlled and can be commanded to perform digital tasks. Like playing music or audiobooks, providing daily weather reports, sending messages, and creating checklists. It can also connect to other smart devices such as locks, thermostats, and lights.
The Echo Dot is the less expensive and more portable version of the Echo. Unlike its big brother, the Echo Dot only comes with a small built-in speaker. So you need to connect it to separate wireless (via Bluetooth) or wired (via 3.5mm cable) speakers. You don’t have to worry about missing out on digital features – the Echo Dot does everything the Echo does.
Let’s face it, not everyone’s blessed with an excellent memory. Many of us sometimes immediately forget about something as soon as we shift our focus. How many times have you been late for work or school because you spent almost an hour searching for your car keys or smartphone? For people who have a bad habit of forgetting where they put their things all the time, the Tile Mate is a heaven-sent gadget.
The Tile Mate is a small keychain accessory. You can easily hook it to keychains, bags, and wallet chains, and attach it (using adhesive tape) to other stuff that you definitely don’t want to lose. As long as your lost item is within Bluetooth range, you can use your smartphone to make the Tile Mate ring, leading you to its location. It also works the other way around. In case you misplace your smartphone, you can use the button on the Tile Mate to make your smartphone ring. It doesn’t matter if it’s in silent mode.
The Tile Mate community can also help you locate your missing item if it’s out of your smartphone’s range. When another Tile Mate user enters the range of your missing item, you will be notified via the smartphone app. This gives you the chance to track it down and retrieve it.
Sometimes bags feel like a doorway to another dimension where items get lost less than 10 seconds after you put them in. It can be a hassle to rummage through your bag while searching for a particular item – especially in the dark.
What if your allergy is violently acting up and you need to drink your medicine immediately? It’s even worse when you can’t use your smartphone’s light because either it’s also inside or it has zero percent battery. The Wasserstein Automatic Bag Light can make things a lot easier for you. Like the Tile Mate, it’s a small gadget that looks like a keychain accessory.
You can easily clip it inside your backpack, weekender, gym bag, handbag, or large purse. It contains an intelligent sensor that picks up motion. And once it detects motion, it will automatically light up. This provides you with a bright light to help you easily find whatever it is you’re looking for inside your bag. The light also automatically shuts down after a few seconds, preserving the battery.
Smartphones and tablets quickly run out of battery, especially when using the internet or playing games. It seems like you need to charge them every few hours or so. If you’re at home or in the office, this is a trivial issue. But what if you travel frequently or your work requires you to be constantly out in the field? For that, you need a reliable external battery pack or power bank.
One of the best power banks out in the market is the RAVPower 16750mAh External Battery Pack. It has two USB 2.0 ports for dual charging at the same time. Thanks to its 2A input, charging times will be drastically cut, allowing you to recharge the power again to make sure it always stays full.
For its very friendly price, the 16750mAh capacity is a steal. With this power bank by your side, you will be able to fully recharge an iPhone 7 five times, a Galaxy S7 three times, and an iPad Air one time.
The WeMo Mini Smart Plug is a nifty little gadget that gives you control over lights and fans connected to a wall socket at home. Due to its small size, you can still use the other half of a wall socket while it occupies the top or bottom half. If you want, you can use two of them in one wall socket.
Using the free app, which you need to download, you can switch on the lights and fans in your house before you even step inside. This allows you to immediately relax on your couch upon arrival without needing to plug cables or reach for switches. You can also use the Mini Smart Plug to schedule the activation of lights and fans.
In case you need to travel for an extended period, you can set the gadget to “Away Mode,” which will make it randomly switch lights on and off to make it seem like you’re home. You know, to discourage potential burglars or robbers. The Mini Smart Plug also connects to Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, so don’t forget to pair it if you own one.
If you’re rolling with a non-Apple device, you can skip right ahead to next product. The Aoliplus LED Cable is a lightning-to-USB cable for Apple devices which lights up when connected. As soon as you hook it up, the cable will immediately light up to indicate the charging status. It’s only available in three colors, though: red, blue, and green. You can also transfer data while your device is still charging.
At first, the cable may seem like just a fancy way to charge your device. But it has its advantages. Ever had someone accidentally trip over your device’s charging cable because they couldn’t see it in the dark? How about you inadvertently sweeping your still charging device off a table because you were rummaging through things in the dark?
In both cases, your device probably violently crashed to the floor. The Aoliplus LED Cable helps in minimizing the likelihood of such incidents.
Our daily lives can be so busy sometimes that we can’t even spare 10 minutes to make a good coffee. If you’re living with someone, like a romantic partner or a family member, you can get them to make coffee for you. But what if they’re too busy to cater to your needs as well? Imagine going to work or school without a single cup of coffee. Totally unacceptable.
With the Mr. Coffee Smart Coffeemaker, you won’t ever need to manually make coffee at home. It’s a Wi-Fi enabled, 10-cup coffeemaker that you can easily control using the WeMo app. No need to press any complicated buttons.
You can remotely command it to brew coffee as soon as you wake up in your bedroom or right before you go to the showers. A hot coffee will be waiting for you when you arrive in the kitchen, ready to give you a boost to start your day.
A home bathroom is a sanctuary for many of us. It is a place of peace where the silence can give birth to both brilliant and absurd ideas at any given time. It is where we can easily remember crucial information and important tasks. The problem is that we could never write down things that pop into our minds while taking a shower. People who have terrible memory often forget about their thoughts as soon as they come out of the bathroom.
This is where the Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad comes in. Aside from being the most self-explanatory product in this list, it’s also the simplest to use. It’s a waterproof notepad that you can easily stick on the bathroom wall. Whenever a potentially genius idea comes to mind, you can quickly write it down on the notepad to preserve it for review later.
If you’re not much of a bathroom thinker, you can use the notepad to write down song lyrics instead (for obvious reasons). You might want to buy multiples of this product, though; it only comes with 40 waterproof sheets. You can easily consume that in a week or less.
Don’t have the money to buy an expensive Smart TV? Why not turn your “regular” TV into one for less than 50 bucks? Say hello to the Amazon Fire TV Stick, a USB-sized gadget that you can connect to your TV to turn it into a streaming machine. Basically, it’s the more portable version of the original Amazon Fire TV.
The setup is simple: Connect the Fire TV Stick via HDMI, power it up via the included power adapter, connect to Wi-Fi, and that’s it. You can easily stream content from popular sources like Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, and Amazon Video – as long as you have subscriptions, of course. The Fire TV Stick isn’t exclusive to your TV at home. You can easily bring it anywhere and use it with other TVs, provided that you also have a Wi-Fi connection.
The new version of the Fire TV Stick now comes with an Alexa Voice Remote. You can use the remote to play content without needing to browse the internet. Just give commands like “Launch Netflix” or “Find Harry Potter movies” and it will do the work for you. You can even command it to play music from Spotify and—get this—order pizza for you. How cool is that?
As mentioned, many of us have extremely busy daily schedules that we can’t even brew coffee in the morning. And if you can’t spare time for morning coffee, you probably don’t have time to clean your house or apartment regularly. So should you hire someone to do that for you? If your place is as dirty as an orc’s armpit, you probably need to.
But if you only need to regularly rid your floor of dust, there’s the O-Cedar O-Duster Robotic Floor Cleaner to help you out. It’s a UFO-looking gadget that can do the floor cleaning while you play games or watch movies on your couch. It comes equipped with an electrostatic cloth underneath, which can be easily replaced if necessary. (Additional cloths are bought separately.)
The O-Duster has a built-in sensor that allows it to change directions whenever it hits something. You can set it to clean for 30 minutes or two hours – depends on how big your place it. Take note that the O-Duster is just a floor duster. If you want a robotic vacuum cleaner, get ready to spend at least $150.
Looking for an alternative to the Wasserstein Automatic Bag Light? Try checking out the Pocket Credit Card Wallet Light Bulb instead. This lightweight gadget is an ultra-portable LED light that you can easily fit in your wallet or pocket. It is only slightly thicker than a credit card, so it will blend in easily inside your wallet.
To turn on the light, simply pull up the bulb into an upright position and watch the magic happen. There’s no need to plug it into a wall socket or other sources of power. It has its own battery. And thanks to its extremely cheap price, you can easily buy another set when the batteries of all five units run dry.
Don’t expect the bulb to be as bright as real light bulbs, though. It’s best used in the dark when you’re looking for something in your bag. It can also serve as an emergency light while you look for a much brighter flashlight when the power goes out. Though it may seem like just a novelty item, it has its uses.
If the WeMo Mini Smart Plug isn’t good enough and you also want to control ceiling lights in your house, then look no further than the Philips Hue. This piece of technology allows you to switch on and off lights from anywhere.
The Philips Hue Starter Kit comes with two white LED light bulbs and the so-called “Hue Bridge,” which serves as the bridge between the Philips Hue App installed on your smartphone and all connected Hue lights around the house. The Hue Bridge needs wireless connectivity in order to work and can accommodate up to a whopping 50 Hue lights.
The companion app gives you full control over your lights wherever you are. You can use it to A) switch off lights that you forgot to turn off, B) cut the brightness by half if you want dimmer lights and C) schedule when the lights automatically turn on. You can also connect the Philips Hue to any Alexa device like the Amazon Echo Dot. If having to constantly reach for light switches is too much trouble for you, the Philips Hue has you covered.
The burden with too many remote-controlled appliances at home is having to keep track of which remote control connects to which device. And having too many remote controls on the table or couch is not pretty to look at. The Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote is the answer to both dilemmas.
The Harmony 650 can connect to up to eight different devices at home. For setup, it requires you to connect the remote to a computer and go through an online setup. You need to specify the devices (using their model numbers) that you want the remote to sync with. According to Logitech, the Harmony 650 is compatible with more than 225,000 devices from over 5,000 brands.
It features activity buttons at the top, which allows you to quickly switch to devices with ease. For example, the “Watch TV” button automatically opens the TV, while the “Watch a Movie” buttons connects to a Blu-ray or DVD player. The Harmony 650 contains all the typical buttons seen in regular remote controls. Plus, it comes with a small screen that shows channel icons and commands for easy interaction.
Lastly, we have the Amazon Dash Button, a relatively new piece of technology that comes out more as a novelty product instead of a practical one. Its purpose is to allow you to quickly replenish home supplies. Just press the circle button and an order will be automatically placed on Amazon. The order depends on whatever product your Dash Button corresponds to.
The Dash Button is currently available for dozens of different products, ranging from beverages like Gatorade and Red Bull to household items like Charmin Toilet Paper and Tide Pods and Powder. Each Dash Button can only be paired with a specific product or brand.
It has an indicator that tells you whether your order has been successful placed or not. Once it’s processed, all you need to do is to wait for your order to arrive. Your first order grants you with an Amazon credit that’s the exact price of the Dash Button. So you basically get the gadget for free. The Dash Button only works with the Amazon App, though, and the initial setup can be confusing.
It’s worth noting that these 16 cool products aren’t really strictly necessary in our lives. You can live without them, in other words. They’re just there to give you a helping hand in specific situations. So don’t think that you need to absolutely buy all of them.
More similar products will likely arrive in the future as technology continues to advance. There will inevitably come a time when people will no longer need to get off their couches to do basic things. You know, like the people aboard the ship Axiom in WALL-E. It’s a thought that’s both exciting and scary, actually.
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