My Top Technology Purchases of 2017

I’m an incredibly cautious (and somewhat indecisive) shopper.

Our UPS guy knows me by name thanks to all the packages I order and return. I think Nordstrom has me on some sort of blacklist for the same reason. Amazon has resorted to refunding my money and telling me to “just keep” whatever under-$10 item I’ve most recently been disappointed by (most recently: cedar sachets for storing my winter clothes). Bottom line: I’m a difficult lady to impress.

I hold all my purchases to an absurdly high standard, so when I feel confident recommending something, I’ll shout it from the mountaintops. That’s especially true when it comes to gadgets that have made my life significantly easier, safer, or more enjoyable.

In that spirit, here are three of my most recent technology obsessions:

1. BeatsX

For people who: Have experienced excruciating pain of accidentally dropping your phone and having your headphones yanked out of your ears. 

My experience: I can honestly say this was my best purchase in the past 12+ months. As you may have guessed, I consume hours of podcasts and music during the week and I like to multitask while I listen. I hated being tethered to my phone, especially if I was trying to work on a project at home that required me to move between rooms a lot — like when I’m vacuuming, although you’ll learn below that I have discovered a different solution for that. The BeatsX solve all of those issues: they sound great, they’re lightweight, they pair with (and remember) all of my devices automatically, and hold a charge for eight hours. Best of all, I can hit play and wander away without losing my connection or having my headphones unceremoniously ripped out. 

Any downsides? They may negatively impact your relationships: I don’t think I talked to Thomas for the entire first week I had these because I was enjoying them so much. They’re also on the expensive side ($150) — definitely the most I’ve ever spent on headphones — but after having them for a few months, I now believe they were worth every penny.

2. Eufy RoboVac 11

For people who: Have always dreamed of living in the Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House (1999).

My experience: Here’s the thing. Having a clean and tidy home is important to us, but not so important that we’re willing to spend ANY time cleaning. Our solution? A robot vacuum. The future is here. I am an obsessive researcher when it comes big purchases, so I hopped onto The Sweethome (I recommend bookmarking it right now). It’s a website that ranks the best gadgets and gear after weeks or months of exhaustive research and stress testing. Their Best Robot Vacuum ranking, for example, involved enclosing each robot vacuum into an area cluttered with several chairs, stray USB cables, a sock, a medium-lightweight area rug with tassels, and a tall threshold, plus 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/8 cup ground coffee spread across the floor and rug. Eufy was their top pick so we promptly ordered one on Amazon and our floors have never been cleaner, despite the exact same level of effort on our part.

Any downsides? As you’ll see from the Sweethome article, Eufy isn’t the smartest — it doesn’t get every room, every time — but it’s got a great battery life so as long as you keep running it, she (yes, we call it a she) will eventually get there. We also had a little trouble with it getting stuck on ~1″ surfaces like the base of our kitchen table, so we just added some low-profile feet to the table and that solved the problem. Also, Thomas has grown weirdly attached to Eufy, and has been known to follow her from room-to-room — which kind of defeats the purpose of having a robot vacuum.

3. SimpliSafe Home Security System

For people who: Listen to too many true crime podcasts.

My experience: There was a brief crime spree in Nashville that had me convinced we were going to be robbed, assaulted, murdered (or all three) at any moment. That, combined with their incessant advertising on This American Life, led me to invest in a SimpliSafe home security system. Fortunately, we’ve never had an intruder, but we have seen this system in action: Once, when our friends next door were out of town, Thomas went over to their shady front porch to sit in a rocking chair and read (he’s an old soul). Within 10 minutes, a police car had pulled up and officers were questioning Thomas while I watched through our curtains. Apparently, he’d managed to set off their motion sensors through one of the windows. Bad news for him — after a call to the neighbors on vacation, the cops let him go without too much of a fuss — but a great test for the effectiveness of the alarm system!

Any downsides? Our place is small and it’s only one floor, so I’m constantly worried about setting off the alarm when I get up for water in the middle of the night. Luckily, the way we’ve set up the motion sensor means that we can walk from bedroom to bathroom without a problem. (Please don’t tell any would-be murderers about that, though.)

Let me know if you have any of these gadgets yourself or any you would recommend! Also, was anyone else as deeply affected by the movie Smart House as I was? I’ve honestly thought about it at least once a week since 1999.

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