I’ve been looking around lately trying to find products I could review or plug on this site and I overlooked the items I use every day because they’ve become my norm and have been taken for granted. Then it hit me. Everyone needs to own these things and most likely they don’t.
I’ll try to sort them by least important to most important and only list my top 5. I’ll rack my brain and may do a part 2 soon if I can gather more items that are just important. Of course, everyone has different needs so this list may not in the order that you need them.
I will provide links to the items I use because I do my research before I buy. In general, I’m cheap and “the best bang for my buck” is generally my mantra while I look around. Of course there will always be higher tier everything however I’m pretty confident in my recommendations.
5) Surge protectors
While I always recommend getting the insurance for your devices, whether it be an expensive TV or even a cheap-o tablet; however most of your SquareTrade or factory warranties don’t cover neglect which includes lack of protection against power surges.
A power surge can be anything from an electric company blunder to a lightning bolt hitting your block’s power transformer. Of course it’s rare for you to be struck by lightning but the giant metal box that’s not surrounded by trees has a higher chance to be hit with a storm.
Even if your outlets are grounded, you should take the extra step to protect your investment. You really don’t want to replace that PlayStation 4 because of a thunderstorm do you? Even if it’s covered under your insurance; why would you want to go without it for a week while it gets replace?
A surge protector costs almost nothing and will last nearly forever. Amazon offers surge protectors in their AmazonBasics collection and you can get a 2 pack for around $10. That’s $5 per outlet to protect yourself from the hassle of mailing in your devices and patiently waiting for a return. So why wouldn’t you do it?
I use the AmazonBasics surge protectors to protect my computer and they’ve lived through countless storms and power outages with no issues.
4) WiFi smart-outlets
These are more parents but of course there’s many ways you can use it. I don’t currently own one myself but they’ve been circling my cart for a long time and I plan to pull that trigger that soon. Basically these let you turn off anything plugged into a single outlet with your phone. You can even set timers to turn off devices after a certain time.
While automating your home can be really expensive, a WiFi outlet is not. This is simplest “smart” way to get your lights auto-mated. Or maybe you fall asleep with the fan on, but wake up cold. You can set it turn off in the middle of the night.
After some reading, TP-Link’s smart plug seems to be the best choice (from one of my favorite brands) at $25 per plug. No additional hardware is needed and the app is free. You can connect a ton of outlets to one app and name them as you wish (I can’t find any limitations to connected outlets). Simply connect to your router through their easy process, download the app, and pretend you know a thing about home automation!
3) A good pair of headphones
I can’t stress how much I love a good pair of headphones and they really don’t need to be a $160 pair of Beats, no matter how much your “squad” may say so. For speakers especially, I stand by Sony. I went from a $15 pair of Sony wired headphones that could compete with the original Beats (they were $40 at the time) to a $40 pair of Sony Bluetooth headphones that compete with the Beats 3. That’s nearly $110 you’ll save by not having the Beats brand slapped on the side of your face, and I’ll tell you that there is no difference. I really don’t get why people fall for those Beats.
Don’t believe me? Many big name brick and mortar tech shops such as Best Buy, MicroCenter, or hhGregg have headphone testing sections set up. Go there yourself and compare a pair of Beats to a pair of Sony headphones. Then come back here and tell me that you heard $110 worth of a difference between the two.
Why do you need a pair of good headphones? They’ll make you enjoy music again. I’ve noticed personally that many people listen to music either through their phone’s speaker or through earbuds and seem to missing the opportunity to appreciate music the way it’s meant to be. Sure many people love their FM radios just to sing along with songs they know but when’s the last time you took a moment to appreciate the bass line? A good pair of headphones will change that.
2) External Hard Drive
This goes back to the idea of protecting yourself. Many people don’t know how to get files off of a laptop or phone that won’t turn on. Many places charges $100-200 just to restore these files for your (and really it’s not that hard but we’ll cover that another day). So why wouldn’t you want to keep a back-up of your files to avoid all of that stress?
With everything being digital, peoples lives are literally on their computers. From their favorite movies, music, to pictures of themselves and love ones. Wouldn’t you want this data to be in a safe place in the event of a computer crash?
For the average user (someone who only backs up their files every once in awhile and doesn’t leave an external hard drive plugged in 365 days a year) you can get a relatively cheap external hard drive. I stand by Western Digital who offers external hard drives in 1TB ($56), 2TB ($78), 3TB ($99), and 4 TB ($120).
1) A good portable charger
This. This is something I’m sure you’ve heard by now from someone who owns one. To never have a phone, tablet, or even a laptop never die again is something that you cannot believe was not a thing again. Forgot to charge your phone last night? Now it’s not even a bump in your day to day life.
The important thing here is to buy a good portable charger. Those $5 ones you see at the gas station are barely going to charge your phone once and likely won’t last that long. I recommend the Jackery Giant+ Premium ($25) which can charge your phone 3 or 4 times and charge devices at once. This thing holds enough juice to power a laptop. I can’t get over how great they really are and always keep one in my bag.
Of course Jackery does offer a Titan if you need more power ($35) or a bar if you’re looking for a one-charge-per-use pocket sized charger ($16). I strongly stand by the Jackery series and they’re constantly updating to keep up with the larger battery market. You can use them with anything that has a USB cable. I’ve even used them to power my GoPro while in New York City.