I love gadgets, but I really love those with a purpose. Whether it be health, lifestyle or productivity there's always a gadget that can improve your life. Here is my top 5 list!
5. The Aeropress
It's like coffee on steroids
Well ok, it's nothing to do with steroids, but I have had some odd looks in the office when I'm making my perfect brew. The Aeropress is an espresso maker from the same genius that invented the Aerobee.
Now to make an espresso you need three things, coffee beans (ground), hot water and pressure. Of course making a decent cup means either having the luxury of a stove top or a rather large and usually complicated espresso maker, some of which can set you back $1500 and needs a bachelor degree in engineering to operate - of course in some offices the dreaded Health and Safety officer often denies you a decent stove and those responsible for keeping the place clean will probably not have cleaning an espresso machine in their job description.
This clever thing however just needs you to have the hot water and coffee and a small bag to carry it in (if you want to have coffee at home too!). The idea is simple, it's a plunger. You put a filter in a screw-cap and screw it to one end of your plunger, put in your coffee and hot water, mix it a little, then put the other half of the plunger in and force the water through the filter straight into your cup.
The entire process takes about a minute. And while you wait for the water to cool a bit (or you froth your milk in one of those mini milk frothers) you can clean it by unscrewing the filter cap, and pushing the plunger a little more so it pops out all the leftovers into the bin (along with the filter). Give it a quick rinse and then take your coffee back to your desk. Ten minutes later your colleagues might walk back in from fetching their overpriced generic blend from the local coffee dealing establishment.
How much for one of these clever little gadgets? $50. And for that you get nearly a year's worth of filters. You can see many demonstrations on youtube, and there are many methods you can try such as the inverted brew.
4. The Humble Blender
You can't beat a cheap eat
Well some things just never go out of fashion. You can do so much with one of these things, and to think most people just make soup with them. Lassis, Cocktails, Salsas, Dips, Ice Cream, Peanut Butter and Mousse to name just a few ways you probably hadn't considered before.
But I don't just want any blender, I won't one that will do stuff for me - I have a Ninja Ultima. True this one is about $250, but its younger sibling is just as good at $160. They are a bit bulkier than some of the more expensive models that compare in terms of functionality and power. Don't bother with any of those models with presets for various things, most recipes tell you what power to use and whether to pulse or not.
The joy of blending is something that will take you if you get one, expect to do two things. One is experiment endlessly with different combinations of things to make the best soups, smoothies and dips. The second is most often done when you upgrade - test what your old blender can smash up without breaking the blades.
How does one change your life? Well breakfast will become a much healthier time in your morning consisting of various fruit and vegetable concoctions, usually much quicker than a fry up and much tastier than cereals. Lunch or Dinner will be much cheaper to make and you will feel better, I mean really feel better, after just two weeks of fresh fruit and veg in your diet.
If you already have one, or are thinking about getting one, you'll find plenty of recipes on the web
3. A foot massager
Treat yourself everyday for the cost of a single massage appointment
There are so many reasons to have one of these. The health benefits of massage are legendary, and whilst a foot massaging machine isn't quite a trained reflexology therapist, stress relief and lower blood pressure are the two main things people look for.
For most people the majority of the day is spent on the feet, and not everyone has a partner or the money to get a human foot massage on a daily basis. But when you get back from work you probably watch TV, sit at a computer or read a book. What a perfect time to stick the foot massager to work and get some relief.
You don't have to buy one for yourself either, sneakily say you are buying it for your partner and you you get instant brownie points. You can still use it yourself from time to time, and you get the added benefit of a more relaxed, happier and stress free loved one.
A decent massage at your local therapist can be anywhere between $40 and $200 depending on the skill level of your practioner. I picked up the Human Touch EQ-400 Equalizer Foot Pro Massager for $200 (I think they are cheaper now!) and if I don't get to sit down with a good book on a daily basis I get withdrawel symptoms!
2. The BOOM Swimmer Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Sound even better in the shower
This product is amazing. I can't begin to describe how much this one changed my daily routine. I loved my morning shower before I had this, but now I really wake up and feel fresh, ready for anything. It was amazing that it took me so long to find something suitable for listening to my favorite tunes in the shower, but even more awesome was when I found what else this bad boy can do.
With the right attachment you can actually take this thing in the pool with you. I kid you not - I dropped mine in the kitchen sink and all it did was remove my greasy finger prints! True it can only take about 30 minutes of it, and it needs to be less than a meter deep in the water during that time, but come on.. most people are just happy it doesn't get damaged when left by the pool itself.
It comes with two attachments, one is a suction cup (perfect for the shower wall, door, or any smooth surface) and the other is the 'tail' which can be twisted and bent into a shape that makes it attachable to almost anything you would consider when wanting to listen to music.
The battery lasts up to 16 hours, and is charged through USB. Connect it to your smart phone through bluetooth and you can control your play list from the device, leaving your phone well out of harms way.
The sound quality is truly incredible for the size of it, I had complaints from my neighbours. If you use the suction cup it actually increases the base as well by taking advantage of the laws of physics!
And even better? It's only $60. They have an awesome warranty service and as long as you follow the instructions and guidelines replace them in cases where they have been water damaged.
Amazon Price: $59.99 $49.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 4, 2015)
1. The Fit-Bit Flex
Live healthily, sleep peacefully
So time for a bit of personal info. I used to be really fit and healthy, then I went to Uni and then travelled. By the end of it I had put on about 20kg and could barely manage a walk to the local shops. I got one of these as a birthday gift and, whilst at first I rejected the idea I might be unfit, I eventually tried it out and found myself addicted to meeting my targets.
The fit bit isn't just a pedometer though. And the clever folk who make it have an entire website full of tools you can use to analyse your activity and keep track of your diet. But most intriguing is the sleep stats one of these can generate for you. During the night it monitors your movements and determines how often you have woken up, effectively telling you how restless you are. We all know that sleep is incredibly important - but I bet you don't know how much sleep you get a week - and going even further I bet you don't know how an hour of running in the morning can affect your sleep that same night. I can, and now I make important choices about my lifestyle based on these stats.
The food tracking is also great for helping those of us with excess belly inches lose them. You can edit all the targets, detail your intake and add activities that your tracker isn't suitable for (eg. Swimming). It's a smart phone app and for me I find it gives me something to do in those odd moments where I'm waiting for others or getting from A to B.
Not got your phone? No worries! The website lets you see all the info and in fact gives you some simple and easy to use interfaces to track your progress (or ensure you are enjoying your healthy lifestyle still).
I was super amazed to find the thing only costs $130 too!
Amazon Price: $99.95 $86.89 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 4, 2015)