16 Cheap But Useful Gadgets That Can Make Life Easier
In a tech world often headlined by 4K TVs, VR headsets, and sophisticated drones, smaller gadgets often go unnoticed despite their usefulness and attractive price-tags.
With so many devices needing a charge via a USB connection, wall sockets can quickly get crowded at home. At some point, you’ve probably had to “accidentally” unplug someone else’s smartphone from the wall socket to charge your 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 so that you can charge more gadgets in less time. Thanks to its foldable plug and compact design, the PowerPort 4 can be easily packed for travel, and the 100-240v input means it’s compatible with all wall sockets around the world.Purchase/ $26
If you’ve experienced the frustration of an underperforming Wi-Fi signal at home, a Wi-Fi range extender may be the gadget for you. While there are numerous Wi-Fi range extenders on the market, the Netgear N300 boasts a competitive combination of quality and affordability, making it an excellent choice for your home.
The N300 is an easy-to-use, plug-and-play device that works with any standard router. 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 boost your internet speed up to 300Mbps, the N300 allows you to stay connected anywhere in your home.Purchase/ $15
Unless you’re Iron Man, the Amazon Echo is probably the closest thing you can get to JARVIS.
The Amazon Echo uses Alexa, an intelligent, voice-controlled personal assistant similar to Siri on iOS. Alexa can play music or audiobooks, provide daily weather reports, send messages, and create 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. You don’t have to worry about missing out on features – the Echo Dot does everything the Echo does.Purchase / $24
Many of us struggle with our memory. We sometimes immediately forget about something as soon as we shift our focus or look away. Searching for your keys or phone can easily delay your morning. For people who have a habit of forgetting where they put their things, the Tile Mate is a heaven-sent gadget.
The Tile Mate is a small keychain accessory. You can hook it to keychains, bags, wallet chains or, attach it (using adhesive tape) to other items. As long as your lost belonging is within Bluetooth range, you can use your smartphone to make the Tile Mate ring, leading you to its location. If you misplace your smartphone, you can use the button on the Tile Mate to make your smartphone ring, even if it is on silent.
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 Bluetooth range of your lost item, you will receive a notification via the smartphone app. This feature gives you the chance to track it down and retrieve it.Purchase / $13
Sometimes bags feel like a doorway to another dimension where items get lost less than 10 seconds after you’ve put them in. It can be a hassle to rummage through your bag, searching for a particular item in the dark.
The Wasserstein Automatic Bag Light can make digging through your backpack or purse a lot easier. 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 a motion sensor that turns on the light once it senses movement, making it easy for you to find your item. The light automatically shuts off after a few seconds, preserving the battery.Purchase / $12
Smartphones and tablets can quickly run out of battery when using the internet or playing games. If you’re at home or in the office, charging devices often is a trivial issue. However, if you travel frequently or if your work requires you to be regularly out in the field, you will need other options. A reliable external battery pack or power bank keeps your devices charged no matter where you are.
One of the best power banks on the market is the RAVPower 16750mAh External Battery Pack. It has two USB 2.0 ports for charging two electronics at the same time.
With this power bank by your side, you will be able to recharge an iPhone 7 five times, a Galaxy S7 three times, and an iPad Air one time.Purchase / $37
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. You can also use two of them in one wall socket.
Using the free app, you can switch on the lights and fans in your house before you even step inside. This feature allows you to immediately relax on your couch upon arrival without needing to plug in cables or reach for switches. You can also use the Mini Smart Plug to schedule the activation of lights and fans.
If 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. A consistent series of lights can discourage potential burglars. The Mini Smart Plug also connects to Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.Purchase / $24
If you have a non-Apple smartphone or device, you can skip ahead to the next product. The Aoliplus LED Cable is a lightning-to-USB cable for Apple devices that lights up when connected. It’s available in three colors: red, blue, and green.
At first, the cable may seem like 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.Purchase / $12
Our daily lives can be so busy sometimes that we can’t even spare 10 minutes to make a good cup of coffee.
With the Mr. Coffee Smart Coffeemaker, you won’t ever need to make coffee at home manually again. It’s a Wi-Fi enabled, 10-cup coffeemaker that you can easily control using the WeMo app—no need to press any buttons.
You can remotely command it to brew coffee as soon as you wake up or right before you get in the shower. A hot pot of coffee will be waiting for you when you arrive in the kitchen, ready to give you a boost to start your day.Purchase / $94
A shower 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 essential tasks. In the past, we could never write down things that pop into our minds while taking a shower. Those with terrible memory often forget about their thoughts as soon as they come out of the bathroom.
This issue is where the Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad shines. Aside from being the most straight-forward 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 to preserve it for review later. You might want to buy multiples of this product, as it only comes with 40 waterproof sheets.Purchase / $9
Don’t have the money to buy an expensive Smart TV? Why not turn your “regular” TV into a Smart TV 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. It is 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.
The newest 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 order pizza for you.Purchase / $40
As mentioned earlier, many of us have hectic daily schedules that we can’t even brew coffee in the morning. If you can’t spare time for morning coffee, you might not have time for thoroughly cleaning your house or apartment regularly.
If you only need to dust your floor regularly, there’s the O-Cedar O-Duster Robotic Floor Cleaner to help you out. It’s a gadget that can do the floor cleaning for you while you play games or watch movies on your couch. It comes equipped with an electrostatic cloth underneath, which is easy to replace if necessary.
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 large of an area that needs cleaning. Take note that the O-Duster is a floor duster. If you want a robotic vacuum cleaner, it will cost you a bit more.Purchase / $60
Are you 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’s barely thicker than a credit card, make it easy to keep 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 as it comes equipped with a battery.
It’s best used in the dark when you’re looking for something in your bag or wallet. It can also serve as an emergency light while you look for a much brighter flashlight if the power goes out.Purchase / $6
If you’re looking for a device to complement the WeMo Mini Smart Plug, ceiling lights in your house, 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 a Hue Bridge, which serves as the bridge between the Philips Hue App installed on your smartphone and all connected Hue lights around your house. The Hue Bridge needs wireless connectivity and can accommodate up to 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 in half if you want dimmer lights or, C) schedule when the lights automatically turn on and off. You can also connect the Philips Hue to any Alexa device like the Amazon Echo Dot. The Philips Hue allows you complete control over lighting in your home.Purchase / $51
One of the burdens of having too many remote-controlled appliances at home is keeping track of which remote control connects to which device. The Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote eliminates your pile of remotes.
The Harmony 650 can connect to up to eight different devices. For setup, simply connect the remote to a computer and follow the installation prompts. To sync your devices with the remote, have the model numbers of each device ready during the installation process. 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 switch between different devices quickly. The Harmony 650 contains all the typical buttons seen in standard remote controls. Plus, it comes with a small screen that shows channel icons and commands for smooth interaction.Purchase / $20
Lastly, we have the Amazon Dash Button, a relatively new piece of technology. Its purpose is to allow you to replenish home supplies quickly. Just press the circle button, and the device places an Amazon order based on the product connected to the Dash Button.
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. Each Dash Button can only pair with a specific product or brand.
The Dash Button has an indicator to tell you if the order has been successfully placed or not. Once processed, all you need to do is to wait for your order to arrive. To sweeten this already convenient deal, Amazon will credit your account with an amount equal in price to the Dash Button when you place your first order.Purchase / $5
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