I received the following request from a reader:
Since you’re The Man… Kindly grace us with your Top 5 Consumer Electronic “Must Haves” in the $600 to $1,000 range?
I’ll do you one better! Here are a bunch of my top “must haves” in a variety of price ranges. Not all of these are totally “electronic”, but all of them would definitely fit the description of gadgets. Anyway, here we go:
Less than $100:
- ThinkGeek.com offers the Kill A Watt electric usage monitor. This little $30 device plugs in between electrical devices and the wall socket to tell you exactly how much power they are burning while on, or even at rest. Use it to find your high use appliances and replace them to save $$! Another alternative is the Power Angel from SeaSonic.com which you can do a Google search for.
- The Waring Professional Bar Blender has only two speeds, hi and lo. But the singular purpose of this machine requires nothing else. If you take your entertaining seriously, you owe it to your guests to get one of these.
- Hand crank emergency radio $40-50. During an emergency information can save the lives of those you care about. Get a radio / cell phone charger that isn’t dependant on the public electric grid.
- Air Hogs Aero Ace remote controlled Bi-plane, $30 at Target or Toys r Us; or the Micro Ultrix biplane online. These little remote control planes are for absolute beginners and are crash-proof. After about 30 minutes of practice I was flying like a pro. And I’ve never been a fan of remote controlled airplanes before, but this little sucker is plain addictive! (No pun intended.)
- It being the nuclear age and all, every man needs a CDV-720 Portable Radiation Detector. Even though you’ll most likely be killed in a nuclear event, having one of these around the house is just plain cool. And it’s only $60.
$100 – $250:
- Cuisinart Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker. This soft-serve ice cream maker will have you eating frozen treats in under 30 minutes. Only bad news… you have to pre-freeze the bowl before using. See the Supreme below if you’ve got the money to go pro! $129.95
- The APC Back-UPS XS 1200 Universal Power Supply is not just a backup battery for your computer. It is also a line conditioner, which smooths out surges, spikes, brownouts and other equipment-destroying electrical problems. Every computer and high end A/V system in your home should have one of these connected. They’ll even make your picture and audio look and sound better. ~$125
- Are you still using an inkjet printer? Wow, that’s sooo 2005. I’ll tell you what… do this: 1) unplug your printer. 2) throw it in the trash. 3) Get a Konica Magicolor 2430 Dl. This color laser printer, for $250!! will save you more than it’s price in the cost of ink alone. Plus it’s faster and has better print quality than your old inkjet. I own one.
- Netgear’s RangeMax WNR854T wireless router is the next generation of Wireless Access Point for your home network. This is the first product to actually achieve wired networking speeds wirelessly, and incorporates Gigabit Ethernet switching to ensure the fastest network performance available. This $179 product will speed up your network, web surfing and downloads. It’s also great looking, cool running and highly rated.
- The Cuisinart Supreme ice cream maker has a built in compressor and mixer so all you really need to do is pour in the ingredients and sit back. No messing with rock salt and ice, no pre-freezing of containers, and it only takes about 30 minutes to reap the soft frozen goodness! $249.95 at Williams Sonoma.
- The Braun 360 Shaver is simply the best on the market. I’ve used one for years, and they keep improving it. The best thing about this electric shaver is that it cleans it’s self with an alcohol based solution whenever you put it in the base. This thing just works great. $170 at Target.
$250 – $500
- Bose QuietComfort 2 or QC3 noise cancelling headphones. I’ve owned the first and second generation of these headphones and they are worth every penny of the $300 price tag if you do a lot of traveling. They eliminate the engine noise on airplanes and the sound quality is just impressive.
- If you’ve been waiting to get a home audio system for ANY room of your home, wait no more. Sony has released the HT-7000DH (currently $437 at BestBuy.com) which includes a 5 disc upconverting DVD/CD/MP3 player, 5.1 channel surround receiver, 5 satellite speakers, and subwoofer. It also does HDMI video switching so you can use your new Plasma TV as a monitor and let the stereo switch between your TiVo and DVD players. I’m not going to claim that this is the best system you’ll ever hear, but for the money it sounds very good!
$500 – $1,000
- The PPC-6700 cell phone/pda is the finest all-in-one communication device I’ve ever used. It’s available from many carriers in the US, but my experience has been with Sprint. Read my complete review here: Sprint PPC-6700.
- If you don’t have a GPS system built into your car, you should really consider a portable TomTom GPS unit. It offers touch screen navigation, spoken driving commands, real time traffic, and millions of built in points of interest. Never get lost again!
- You may call it a watch, but Suunto calls it a wristop computer. And with good reason; the Suunto X9i is equipped with GPS, a compass, chronograph, altimeter, and barometer. If you travel, regardless whether you’re hiking, climbing, skiing or heading off for a fishing trip this is an essential piece of gear.