The Low Tech/High Value Gadgets in My House

I thought I would take a breather from the hectic world of early gadget adopting and reflect on some of the best low tech gear I have and, more importantly USE in my house. I doubt that any of the items discussed here will make anyone's "Top XX" list but sometimes we need to look past the flash and cool-ness of the high profile gadgets and pay attention to the ones that provide value every day.

Auto-Setting, Projector Alarm Clock

alarm clock
When is the last time anyone got excited about a bedside alarm clock? After all, you really only use it for a few minutes every day but if you're a heavy sleeper, there is real value in having a reliable attendant perform the reveille ritual. Two things make this clock special. The first is that it can survive temporary power outages by resetting the correct time all on its own. It does this by receiving radio signals from atomic time transmitters. The second is the projection feature that throws the time (and current room temperature) on the wall or ceiling so you can read it easily without rolling over. I don't remember this clock being expensive but talk about a useful device!

Senseo Pod-based Coffee Maker

Senseo Coffee Maker
If you're not a frequent coffee drinker, then this won't appeal to you but if you enjoy a good cup of coffee at home and are not one of those coffee freaks who has invested in a home espresso contraption, then I strongly suggest you check out these pod-based units. There are number of reasons you might want to replace your drip-based coffee maker but the short answer is that the pod system means less mess (no carafe and no loose grounds) and much less wasted coffee (make one or two cups at a time).

My Senseo was a father's day gift two years ago and is holding up very well (Philips is a solid brand name). You can find a good variety of coffee pods (even Target carries a decent selection) and I prefer the taste of this approach to the drip variety. I don't think there is a better value out there for delivering that delicious warm beverage to your mug in the morning.

Electric Toothbrush

electric toothbrushAgain, I don't think this is the kind of gadget that is going to really impress anyone but when its late in the evening, sometimes you don't have the energy to spend the recommended 30 seconds attending to each of the four corners of your mouth. I find that I achieve better-than-average result by simply turning on the electric toothbrush right after climbing into bed and letting it do its work while I drift off to sleep. Sure there's some mess to deal with in the morning and the rather impressive battery life of this device can really grate on my light-sleeping wife's nerves but that's the price I'm willing to pay for good dental hygiene. Note to parents: a whirring toothbrush is much more compelling to stubborn kids, and can be worth the additional headache of cleaning up far-flung toothpaste from all four walls of the bathroom.

Cordless Phone Headset

cordless headsetMost of you have probably evolved from the rotary corded phones of yesteryear to cordless phones and whether you have a single phone or a complete phone system, I encourage you to invest in a decent headset, especially if you spend any time in long conversations with friends, co-workers, or family members. These are fairly cheap, work very well, and give you much more freedom to roam around the house and surrounding area. I work from home occasionally and having a headset available improves my productivity as I can often multi-task (read: take out trash, weed the garden, or play XBOX Smile) while on an "important business call".

Playstation EyeToy

Another kid-related one. If you worry about how much time your kids spend in front of the TV playing video games - the why the HECK did you buy it?!? But seriously, video game consoles have become a staple in most homes and new household rules are being instituted to help regulate the zombie-forming habits they induce. One great way to embrace this trend is to get your kids the EyeToy, a USB-based camera that plugs into your PlayStation 2 console and gets the kids of the couch.

EyeToyThe EyeToy comes with a myriad of games, all of which are very hard to play while sitting on the couch. The game developers have done a great job of providing a good variety of theme-based games and activities that appeal to girls and boys of all ages.

EyeToyI was blown away with all the cheap thrills you can achieve with a simple camera. If after experiencing the satisfaction of seeing your kids flop down, exhausted after jumping around (yes - real heart-pumping, cardio-vascular workout type stuff) for a half-hour or more, you don't seriously rethink the value of video games, then you are out of touch (read: uncool, square, grown-up) with today's youth culture - and you probably don't love your kids.

So that's a quick round up of some of the things going on in my crib. I hope you found some of it interesting. Of course, I would love to hear more tales from your own household.


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