10 handy gadgets worth buying that you didn’t know you needed

Apr 17, 2022, 5:00 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

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 standouts that you’ll genuinely use and appreciate. Here are 10 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.

Looking for a more affordable alternative? Here’s a simple mug warmer you can get for about $12.

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. This one blows air up to 67.5 miles per hour. It also has a handy built-in light for those dark, hard-to-reach spots.

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.

On a tight budget? This 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.

Make sure no one is listening

Are Big Tech companies listening to you? That’s a complicated question. Smart speakers and smart assistants are accidentally triggered all the time. Here’s how to stop them altogether. Companies like Facebook don’t need to listen because they gather so much of your data in other ways.

Don’t take chances if you’re worried about someone listening in when you’re having a private conversation or sensitive meeting. Many new devices (like your phone or laptop) have microphones controlled by software, so there’s no physical switch to disable the microphone.

Products like the Mic-Lock microphone blocker are designed to work around this. The Mic-Lock houses a semiconductor circuit that mimics a live microphone. This trick disables your device’s microphone and blocks all audio.

When you left on a light in the car

You’re in a rush, finally make it to the car and it won’t start. Instead of waiting for roadside assistance, take matters into your own hands. This portable jump starter is a must for any driver. You may not need it often, but it’s a total lifesaver when you do.

It can jump-start engines up to a V8. As a nice bonus, it’s also a powerful LED flashlight, power bank with USB data ports, compass, thermometer, reflector strip and emergency alarm.

Robot bartender to make your favorite drink

OK, you may not technically need this one, but I had to include it. The Bartesian Premium Cocktail Machine is like a Keurig for cocktails.

Pop in a pod, choose your preferred strength and hit mix. A few seconds later, you have the perfect margarita, cosmo or whatever you like.

Get the fuzzies off your couch and clothes

This is one of those “Hey, why didn’t anyone tell me that existed?” products. The fuzz that accumulates on couches, chairs and other furniture can make them look ratty. The same goes for blankets, pillows, sweaters, and other clothing prone to pilling.

Fabric shavers make your fabric look new again by gently removing lint. I like this one from Philips. It runs on AA batteries and can buzz through your couch cushions in just a couple of minutes.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Kim Komando

(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

3 tech steps you should have in place before you die

It’s a grim topic, but in today’s digital age, we have to plan for what happens to all our online accounts, data, notes, photos, videos, websites, playlists, blogs, and subscriptions once we’re gone.
5 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

Secret words that tech support pros use to describe you

Tech support is a difficult, frustrating, and often thankless job. Like most professionals, IT folks have their own lingo. Here are 10 insider words that you might hear to describe you.
12 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

Save a little time and use your voice to control the TV

Time-saving principles can be applied to your TV. You can speak to search for movies, control the volume, pause, rewind, skip to the next episode, and more.
19 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

This is how Facebook knows so much about you and how you can stop it

On Facebook, your activity speaks volumes. The social networking website also knows what you do elsewhere because you might have connected apps sharing your data. You can stop that.
26 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Kim Komando

5 dangerous cybersecurity mistakes you’re probably making

Don't think you're too smart to fall for the tricks of cybercrooks. Here are five simple, effective ways to secure your smartphone.
1 month ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

7 time-saving tech gems that make your life easier

Doesn’t saving time feel great? Here are seven nifty ways tech can help you streamline your life.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
By Dr. Richard Carmona

Now’s a great time to receive your COVID-19 vaccine

If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, now’s the time to join many other of your fellow Arizonans who are doing so right now. No one will criticize you; there is no shame. In fact, you’ll be welcomed with smiles and open arms!
10 handy gadgets worth buying that you didn’t know you needed