Remember when computers cost a fortune and buying a new TV was only for the very rich? Then the price dropped and dropped and now everyone has multiples of these things. That has happened with a lot of things lately. In the not too distant past, I contemplated installing some home automation and was dismayed at the cost and hassle. But that has changed in the last five years. It’s trivial now. And it’s not just with electronics. Kitchen gadgets, lighting, and smart-home essentials have all dropped to impulse purchase territory. As proof, I present these 47 dope things that seem expensive but are cheap as hell on Amazon.
It seems like just months ago that it was too expensive and nearly impossible to acquire a good web camera. But the vagaries of supply and demand have brought them down to relatively affordable territory now. But the real temptation, I think, is in the opportunity to make a not-connected car or a vintage home stereo capable of modern tricks like playing Spotify playlists or reading from my collection of Audible books. And for that, you need only drop a tiny quantity of folding money on the right tool. There are so many things here that you will be shocked to discover are well within your budget. Watch out, Amazon cart, here we come.
1. A GPS gizmo that lets you put tracking on anything
Want to know if someone rides off on your bike, where your suitcase is, or if your teenager took the car for a spin? Attach this tiny GPS tracker to whatever it is, link it to your phone, and you will know everything. Because it works with satellites and WiFi, the tracker does not have to be in Bluetooth range of your phone.
2. This computer speaker that requires only one cord
Computer speakers are a necessity if you want to hear your Zoom call or that video you clicked on but they usually leave a nasty snarl of cords all over your desk. Not this computer sound bar though. One USB cord handles power and connects it to your computer’s sound system. There’s no need for AUX cables or a separate power cord and the volume controls are right on the speaker.
3. The mount that holds your screen right where you want it
Clamp this clever tablet mount to a desk, bed frame, or counter and direct the long, sturdy gooseneck arm so the screen is precisely where you need it to watch a movie in bed, read music notation as you play, or follow a recipe. The gadget clamp part holds your phone or a large tablet and rotates for landscape or portrait viewing.
4. A simple alarm clock with an on-screen thermometer
This cute, easy-to-read alarm clock is perfect for a child’s room, a desk, or anywhere where you want to be able to glance at the time, easily set an alarm, see the letters at night — it shifts to backlighting when it’s dark — and know what the temperature is. A button on the top lets you snooze the alarm and it comes in five colors.
5. This in-car tablet mount that lets you create your own HUD
No heads-up-display in your car? This tablet mount is the next best thing because it will turn any tablet into a big, easy-to-see navigation and in-car entertainment system. It mounts to the dashboard and holds everything from a phone to a tablet. When it’s not in use, the top lies flat and the mount is hardly noticeable.
6. A neck fan so you can bring a cool breeze with you
When it’s hot out or your workplace is stifling, this portable neck fan is here to rescue you with a cool breeze directed precisely where you need it. There is no blade to smack you or trap your hair, the back is bendy so you can adjust it just the way you want it, and it will blow for three hours on a charge.
7. This soap dispenser that you never have to touch
Fill this soap dispenser with your favorite hand soap and set it down next to the sink and you can scrub up without ever touching a potentially germy pump in the process. It senses you need soap with a precise infrared motion detector, has three settings for how much soap it delivers, and runs on batteries so you can put it anywhere.
8. An inexpensive web camera that’s everything you need
With a flip-up lens cover to protect your privacy, an HD glass lens for a clean image, automatic low-light image correction, a built-in microphone, and two mount options — the included tripod or your own monitor or laptop screen — this web camera is all you need to Zoom, Skype, or join any kind of online meeting or party and it’s so affordable.
9. This digital scale that’s also a measuring cup
Fill the measuring cup and scoop with flour, sugar, water, or whatever you need to measure and lift it with the snap-on handle, which also happens to be a digital scale. You can see the weight of what you scooped right on the handle — in imperial or metric measure. It even converts five preset ingredients from ounces to cups.
10. This little griddle pan for fast snacks
Fry one egg, cook yourself a single pancake, or grill a burger on this simple, easy, tiny electric griddle. It heats up fast, wipes clean, stores in a cupboard, and has a non-stick heating surface on both the top and the bottom so you can cook both sides at the same time.
11. This potato peeler that works so fast
If you love mashed potatoes, this electric potato peeler is about to become your bestie. Mount the spud into the machine, place the peeling arm, and stand back as it takes the peel off in seconds. Try apples, pears, or whatever you have. Reviewers love this thing and give it over 7,500 five-star ratings.
12. These electric salt & pepper grinders for tastier meals
You know what’s cooler than turning the handle on your salt or pepper grinder? Pushing a button and letting a battery do the work for you. These electric salt and pepper grinders look slick on your table, have a cover on the bottom so they don’t leave a trail, and let you adjust for exactly the coarseness you want.
13. A big bag of cable clips to tame all your cords
There are 16 assorted white cable clips here to rein in everything from the power cords to the chargers for your gadgets so everything stays put and out of your way. Create a charging center with the big row of clips or just keep a cord from dangling with the single clips. They peel-and-stick right onto your desk or walls.
14. This machine that makes perfect eggs
However you like your eggs, this little machine will get it done perfectly every time. Just add the right amount of water, some eggs, and push a button; a beep will let you know when breakfast is ready. It’s super easy and there is virtually no cleanup. Almost 19,000 people give it five stars.
15. These cable covers that clean up your snarl of wires
When you are setting up your entertainment center or work-from-home rig, these cable covers create order. Peel the back off, stick it to the wall or floor, gather your cables into it, and snap on the lid. Those cords will be nearly invisible and safely away from pets and kids. It provides 315 feet of cover and 24 connectors to clean up lots of cords.
16. The rechargeable chopper for fast meals anywhere
This powerful little chopper gets an enormous amount of work done in the kitchen. Drop the garlic in and push the button for minced garlic. Pop some herbs in there and chop them up for salad dressing. It’ll make baby food, too. It recharges via USB, is small enough to store in a drawer or take on the road, and is easy to clean.
17. A two-pack of power banks so you always have a charge
When your phone is dying, it’s more than inconvenient. It can mean you can’t navigate home or call for a ride so keeping a back-up battery on hand is important. And this two-pack makes it easy. Each one is small enough to carry in a pocket, charges a phone two or three times, charges fast, has two USB ports, a USB-C plug, and a micro-USB plug. Choose from eight colors.
18. This cabinet lighting strip with a remote control
Light your kitchen with under-cabinet lighting without hiring an electrician or spending much money by sticking these six precut light strips to the underside of your cabinets. It’s so easy and it even comes with cable holders so you can hide the plug and use a remote to control the color and brightness. It’s great for shelves, display cases, and the back of the TV, too.
19. The waterproof speaker that goes anywhere
Take your tunes wherever you go — to the shower, hiking, the pool, on your kayak — by connecting the phone in your pocket to this small, IPX7 waterproof Bluetooth speaker. It hangs from a lanyard, can survive underwater for 30 minutes, and gets 12 hours of playtime from a single charge.
20. This fabric shaver so your duds all look new
There comes a moment in the life of every sweater (jacket, blanket, or couch) when you think, “Does it look shabby?” Reach for this fabric shaver — with three shave heights, two speeds and three shaving hole sizes — and fix that in seconds. It seamlessly removes threads, pills, pet fur, and other shabby-making detritus so you look groomed and your sweaters look new. It fits beautifully in your hand and comes in four colors.
21. An outlet extender that’s also a shelf
This outlet extender has everything you need to instantly transform a single outlet into a charging station and power hub. Plug it in and you have three standard outlets, four USB plugs, a night light that comes on when it’s dark, and a shelf — with cable channels — for your phone and other gadgets.
22. These vanity lights so you can see yourself clearly
Stick this string of lights to the perimeter of any mirror and transform your grooming station from dimly lit to something that would pass muster in a Hollywood set.
23. These two lightbulbs that do what you say
When the overhead lights are harsh but you are too tired to get up off the couch, just say, “Alexa, dim the lights.” And your wish is done with these two bulbs. Just screw them in and connect them to an app and your Amazon Echo, Siri, or Google Home. Now you can use your voice or phone to turn lights on or off, change colors, and more.
24. This headband or eye mask with built-in music
Pull this headband on when you go for a run and it will keep your hair out of your face while playing music or an audio book directly into your ears. Or lie down and pull it over your eyes so you can nap while listening to white noise or tunes. The controls are on the front, it’s washable, it comes in three colors, and it runs for 10 hours on a charge.
25. The charging station for a fast & tidy gadget center
Instead of a drawer full of charging cables and a lot of dead gadgets, get organized by setting this charging station somewhere handy so everyone can plug in. There are four smart charging ports that know how much charge each device needs, clear tabs that hold your devices vertically, and a sturdy base with grippy pads to set your gear on.
26. A slick bedside lamp that goes from night light to bright
This table lamp is minimalist and modern looking but its real beauty is in the light it delivers. It adjusts from the dimmest, warm light for when you want to relax all the way up to a bright white light for reading or getting things done. It also illuminates in a huge range of colors so you can light whatever mood you’re feeling. You can set timers and schedules or just tap the top to get the light you want.
27. The Bluetooth receiver that connects your car or stereo
If your car or home stereo are a bit too vintage to let you listen to the music on your phone through them, this little device is all you need to remedy that. Plug it in to the AUX port, connect it to your phone, and your car speakers or home Hi-Fi system can access your music and audio books. Reviewers love the sound quality and simplicity and give it almost 5,000 five star reviews.
28. A smart power strip for your fancy voice-controlled home
This power strip has three smart outlets that you can connect to Alexa or Google home and three USB ports for charging your devices or plugging in USB-powered gear. Once you get it set up, you can control each outlet separately or create routines to control everything on your desk, in the bedroom, or on the entertainment center with one voice command. It’s a bargain and gets almost 9,500 five-star reviews.
29. This neck light that’s super useful & rechargeable
When the power goes out — or your bed partner wants to sleep — don this neck light so you can see where you are going and keep on reading. Each of the two lights has an adjustable beam, its own power switch, and can be easily directed where you want light. It’s rechargeable and lasts 40 hours on a single charge.
31. This power scrubber that cleans without effort
That pan that won’t come clean, the grout in the shower, the edges of the fixtures that turn gross will no longer make you struggle and sweat to get clean. Just apply the oscillating heads of this power scrubber to the problem and it erases it quickly. Thousands of clean freaks have written glowing five-star reviews of this baby.
32. The cleaning cloth that’s designed for electronics
When your touch screen is smeared and the TV is dusty, reach for this electronics cleaning cloth — and maybe a little water — to get it clear and sparkling again. It’s gentle, antibacterial, and won’t destroy the finish on your expensive electronics.
33. This compact & simple spiralizer for veggie noodles
Turn your zucchini into noodles, your carrots into light salad elements, and onions into thin spirals in just a few minutes by inserting the vegetable into this manual spiralizer, choosing a thickness, and turning the handle. A hand guard keeps you from cutting yourself, the jar can be used for storage, and it all cleans up in the dishwasher.
34. This waterproof phone holder for the shower
Go ahead and jump in the shower. You can keep an eye on the kids, take a phone call, watch a how-to, or even do a video call if that’s how you roll because this waterproof phone holder will keep your phone dry and within reach. It will even let you use the touch screen or turn it from landscape to portrait and back again. It’s handy in the kitchen, too.
35. A decorative phone stand that acts like a speaker
Set this bamboo phone stand on a desk or bedside table and it looks like a simple art object but it’s actually a very useful phone stand. It will hold your phone upright with the speakers facing down and amplify the sound using the beauty of physics rather than electronics. Or turn it around and lie it on it’s side and your phone becomes an appealing alarm clock.
36. This plug-and-play gizmo for better WiFi
Plug this unassuming little device into an outlet near where you want to work and it will grab the WiFi signal and throw it another 1,200 square feet so you can surf far from your router without dropped or weak connections. It creates a stable dual-band signal you can use to connect up to 20 devices.
37. A classy digital scale that will transform the way you cook
Going from measuring cups to using a precise digital scale is a revelation in food prep and this waterproof, battery-operated electronic scale will take you there. Know how big your portions really are, speed up your baking, and — when you aren’t cooking — store it in a drawer. The tare function lets you zero out the weight of your own bowls and it shifts easily from metric to imperial so you can follow any recipe.
38. This ring light & mount for better selfies & video calls
If your photos or Zoom calls are too dim, try better lighting. It’s super easy to do with this selfie ring light with a built-in phone mount. Choose the brightness and color that suits the shot — warm, cool, bright, shadowy — and use the remote to start the camera or video. It all folds up small to store or take with you.
39. This immersion blender with a whisk attachment
An immersion blender makes creating soups and sauces so easy. Just blend up your ingredients right in the pan. Smoothies, too, are super easy since you can blend them in the jar you plan to drink from. This cute red one even has a whisk attachment for whipping cream, making salad dressings, frothing milk, or baking. The attachments go in the dishwasher and the whole thing fits in a drawer.
40. A bedside caddy that keeps everything handy & tidy
Keep your phone, reading material, headphones, glasses, and everything else you need constantly at hand when you are in bed, sitting on the couch, or going about your life with this versatile organizer. The top flap slides under the mattress or couch cushion when you are home, then flips over the organizer to form a cover when you want to take everything with you.
41. The surge protector that’s also a night light
This surge protector superpowers that one outlet that’s always in use. Install it by plugging it in and screwing the center screw into your existing outlet, and you will have six standard outlets, two USB ports, and a night light that comes on automatically when it’s dark. The outlets are spaced so you can use all of them at once, and the brightness is adjustable.
42. This minimalist laptop bag that has thought of everything
Do you really need a giant backpack for those times you want to take your laptop out into the world? This minimalist bag is slender but has just enough storage for your necessary cables, chargers, pens, and planner. It also has a shoulder strap, a strap to keep it safe when riding on your roller board suitcase, and it’s waterproof so you can get caught in the rain without worry. It comes in lots of colors and patterns.
43. A selfie ring light for your phone that looks like a kitty
This cute selfie ring light is so small, you can keep it with you for taking selfies on date night or when it’s friends’ night out and you want to snap a photo or fix your makeup. It’s rechargeable, offers nine lighting effects, rotates and looks like a cute, pink kitty sitting on your phone.
44. These web camera covers so no one can spy on you
Are you sure no one is looking back at you when you surf the web? It is so easy to prevent anyone from hacking that laptop or tablet camera with this five-pack of web camera covers. They stick on easily and slide open so you can use the camera and slide closed again for privacy. They come in black or pink.
45. The fast, easy way to clean your screens
As screens proliferate around your house and in your pockets, it’s more and more necessary to have a convenient way to get them clean without damaging them. Keep this tub of 60 wipes handy and give your TV, laptop, phone, and whatever else you have a frequent wipe with them. Then for a streak-free finish, go over the screen again with the included microfiber cloth.
46. The thermometer that alerts you if things go wrong
If you leave a pet in another room, are waiting for bread to rise, or your kombucha needs a specific temperature range to ferment, this little thermometer is a must-have. It tracks humidity and temperature and connects to your phone so you get alerts if the readings go outside the range you set. It collects historical data, too, so you can see if there were any glitches in your temperature settings.
47. A spray that stops your glasses from fogging
This little bottle of defogging spray is a must-have for your snorkeling mask, swim goggles, and eyeglasses because it stops the fog. And when your eyewear is fogged up, it’s impossible to see, right? Almost 21,000 swimmers, healthcare workers, glasses wearers, and snorkelers give it five stars.
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