I’m not a big shopper, but I do occasionally stumble across something that makes a genuine difference to my day-to-day life. Here are five from this year:
1) Netgear RBK50 Mesh Wifi System (£289)
I have a house with thick walls, so there is no chance the WiFi network from my router can span the whole house. In the past, I used an adapter that plugged into the electric sockets to extend the network. The problem was each plug created its own wifi zone, so I ended up with 5 zones in the house. This prevented me from connecting all my devices via wifi, which was a pain.
Then I bought this Netgear system, which creates a “mesh” wifi network. In essence it generates one wifi zone by bouncing the signals from one pod to another. You can add more pods to extend it further as you see fit. It is more expensive, but definitely worth it. We can now hit print upstairs and the printer downstairs prints away.
2) Funtime PL7690 Instant Table Tennis (£12)
We recently got into table tennis while on holiday and wanted to continue playing it at home. But we don’t have the space for a proper table tennis table. This Funtime retractable net solved the problem. You clear your dining table, easily clip the net across the table and voila you have a table tennis table. The bats are useless, though, so better to buy new ones (I bought these for £10). Let the games begin.
3) Apple AirPods (£159)
I was sceptical to start with, but I now love these. I cannot go back to wired ear-phones. These AirPods work seamlessly with i-Phones, stay in my ears and slot satisfyingly back into its smooth box where it charges. No more getting tangled wires to wrestle.
4) Easy Breezy Bidet (£22)
Anyone who goes to Japan will be super-impressed (or scared) by the Toto toilets that automatically wash your bottom. I looked into buying the toilets in London, but they are very very expensive (£2,300!). But I heard that was a much cheaper, though less flashy solution, the “Easy Breezy Bidet”. It costs just £22! You do need to have an exposed cistern (so no built-in toilets), but aside from that it seems to work with most toilets. It mechanically creates the bidet and washes your bottom!
5) chuanganzhuo External DVD Drive (£10)
This may not be an issue for youngsters but I still have DVDs (and CDs). In fact, some films are still only available in DVD format. But none of my portable gadgets have drives. So this disk drive solved that problem. At £10, it was a fraction of the cost I thought a drive would be.