Most of us don’t think twice about trading in our smartphone for a newer one, just as soon as we can possibly afford it. I mean, really, buying a brand-spanking new i-anything is basically a promise to ourselves that we’ll be drooling over an even more awesome and amazing new i-something the second the next one comes out.
On the other hand, we have no problem living in the stone ages with a lot of our less sexy household gadgets, even long after they’ve reached their expiration date. Such as that toaster you got in college that cremates your toast. Or that hand-me-down microwave inherited from your parents in 1992. (I’m pretty sure the fireworks display you see every time you use it is not safe.) Sure, it still works — sort of — but some home gadgets may be overdue for an upgrade to save on electricity, time or just your own sanity.
If you’re still sporting a vacuum from the 1960s, its retro charm isn’t doing you any favors in the dust-busting department. Since then, vacuums have not only lost their bags, but they’ve seriously amped up on suction.
Dyson’s Cinetic Big Ball is bagless and filterless, which means less nasty cleanup. It even claims to be the only vacuum to never lose suction because of it’s super innovative cyclone technology, so it’s catching all of those nasty, microscopic particles as small as pollen and mold spores and emitting Hepa-filtered air simultaneously. Prices start at $600 for Dyson’s trademarked Cinetic science.
If you can’t justify spending that much on a vacuum, then Soniclean has a more affordable option that’s still an upgrade from your carpet-brushing dust bags. TheirSoniclean VT Plus is $199 and relies on sonic vibrations to suck up all of the hidden dirt, dust, and other gross stuff from deep inside your rugs and carpets.
Irons can cost you as little as $15, so it may seem hard to justify an investment in a nicer one. I get it. But if wrinkles are your kryptonite and you want the convenience of a once-over rather than having to press — and repress — your wardrobe, the Oliso Smart Iron ($99) with iTouch is worth a look. It’s got way more than just a steam feature. The heating plate is super powerful, and the steam comes in horizontally and vertically, creating a crosshatch effect of double steam action. The real techy part is the iTouch technology. The handle of the iron knows when your hand is on it and when it’s not, three little Scorchguard feet pop out, lifting it from your ironing board. Where was this when I burned an iron-sized hole in my daughter’s first communion dress a few minutes before we had to leave the house?
The function of your average, two-slot, metal toaster is pretty straightforward, but there are toasters that get really innovative when it comes to how and what they cook. TheBreville Die-Cast Smart Toaster ($129) grabs and lowers your food like a tiny elevator, and you can even check on it mid-toast to make sure you don’t wind up with burnt breakfast. There’s even a quirky “A bit more” button that will lower your bread again for a bit more toasting. It comes in two- and four-slice models with slots wide enough for bagels, too.
If you want to get even more techy with your bread, you can watch it while it’s toasting in this glass-encased number from Magimix. It’s called the Vision Toaster ($280) for obvious reasons, and it heats with quartz parts instead of metal ones. If you don’t care to see your toast in action, you can go with the Kitchenaid Proline Toaster ($399), which will take the reigns for you. Toast can get cold really fast, so the Proline keeps it warm until you’re ready to eat it. How considerate.
In college, it was how you cooked all of your meals and now you use to it to defrost, reheat and maybe even cook some Top Ramen in a pinch. I know, your trusty microwave has always been there for you, but maybe it’s time to let it go for something such as the MAID Oven ($449).
The MAID Oven raised more than double it’s $50,000 goal on Kickstarter last year and for good reason. It’s a microwave and convection oven in one, which means it can cook pretty much anything from cakes to your leftover pizza. It’s a super smart gadget that’s connected to an Internet database of recipes, can respond to voice and gesture controls and even adjusts the temperature to prevent overcooking. It may not make you a better cook, but it will at least give you less reasons to burn things.
If you’re using your blender only for margarita happy hour, you deserve better. Blenders can whip up way more than cocktails and with the right one, you’re on your way to feeling like a sous chef. The Cuisinart Blender and Cook Soupmaker ($150) says it all right there in the name. You can make your breakfast smoothie and your lunchtime soup all with one gadget. Other than blending ice and swirling up sauces, this blender has a heating component, so you can bring your soup from a boil to a simmer all without taking it to the stove.
You can’t beat the blending power of a Blendtec ($480). If you’re looking to turn your kitchen into your own personal Jamba Juice, this one will have you blending like the pros with its programmed blend cycles and sliding speed control. The “Will it blend?” trend has taught us it can blend much more than food if you’re into that sort of thing.
It’s almost time to pull out your floor fans. You know, the ones with giant rotating blades that sound like a helicopter is doing circles in your living room? Before you haul out that dust magnet for another scalding summer, you may want to check out Dyson’s Air Multiplier Fans. They look like a really classy version of a floor fan, minus the blades. Air circulates through its ring, giving off a consistent, cool breeze without a ton of noise. They come in tabletop or floor models with prices starting at $300.
Whether it’s to save money and time or just to stop burning your toast, some simple home gadget upgrades could seriously make you wonder how you’ve lived so long without them.
When we did the video that goes with this column, I hit up Nextdoor.com to see what kinds of old appliances my neighbors had lying around. The results were pretty awesome. If you haven’t seen an old leather bellows hand-vacuum from the 1900s, it’s worth taking a look.