WE GET SO embroiled in the high-tech here at INQ Towers that it's easy to forget that there's a lot of innovative, simpler solutions. Not everything needs a WiFi connection to be a gadget, and nowhere is that truer than in the home.
Here's a few of the misfits from the last few months that were too good not to share.
Hyde & Sleep Cooling Pillow
It's not so much a pillow as a tactical sleep system. The material surface is made from a material designed by NASA which means that it stays cool against your delicate little features, petal.
It comes with a range of piping (not sure why, you're gonna put a pillowcase on it surely?) but they look as good as they feel.
Aimed at people who like sleeping on their front or side, the deep microfibre fill is incredibly supportive and because it keeps you cool, you'll sleep better. And that's science, that is.
American Originals Popcorn Crepe Maker
In a world where we have more gadgets than kitchen worktop space, there's a lot to be said for something that does two things. In this case, the metal hotplate is perfect for making crepes, but (here's the clever bit) if you put a layer of popping corn on, and clip the provided bowl on, you can make popcorn in whatever flavour you fancy.
And when it's ready, flip the whole thing upside down, unclip the bowl and serve. It's great for when you've got mates over.
Salter Nutrivortex 1200
Now that juicing craze has calmed down (a bit) people are starting to look for a bit more from their blender. Enter the Nutrivortex. It comes with a variety of containers - a traditional blender, a juicing container and so on, and so can replace all your other devices. And once again, you can serve straight from the containers.
We tested it with ice, and even pulped some almonds, and it didn't flinch. We wish it was easier to clean, but that's a relatively small niggle considering the amount of blender you get for your money.
Giles & Posner Jelly Sweet Maker
This isn't so much a sweet maker as a sort of diabetes fondue set. The hot in the middle is where you heat up your gelatine, fruit juice and whatever else you want in your brew and then under the moulds, put cold water or ice so your creations set into proper penn sweets. It's probably a bit dangerous for unsupervised kids, but it's great fun for big kids. We can see quite a few vodka sweets doing the rounds this Christmas.
We love the attention to detail too - there's even paper bags included so they're just like the real thing.
Insignia Digital Hand Shower
Gadgets come and gadgets go, but this is one we can honestly say that every home needs. It's brilliant, it's simple and it makes a positive impact.
Quite simply, it's a shower head that measures the temperature of the water. The digital readout is colour-coded to reflect how comfortable you're likely to be, and - here's the really, really clever bit - there's no battery. It's powered by a dynamo which spins when water passes through it. Amazing.
For health and safety purposes alone it's a winner and for houses with kids.
Black & Blum Eau Good and Eau Good Duo
Not all water bottles are created equal, it seems. It may seem weird having a bit of scorched wood in your personal reservoir, but Black and Blum would disagree. Their bottles contain a piece of binchotan charcoal, a traditional Japanese method of filtering water. And yeah, it does taste absolutely lush - the longer you leave it (within reason) the better.
The Eau Good is available now, or if you're a hipster, you might want to preorder (i.e fund) the new version which has a sports cap, rubber grip and a compartment in the lid to put cucumber or fruit or whatever you fancy infusing. Though not at the same time as the charcoal apparently.
Anysharp Knife Sharpener
It's quite hard to argue with a knife sharpener that actually calls itself the "world's best". The trip here is that a vacuum holds the sharpener to the table so you can keep one hand free for playing with your phone. No, we jest, but we don't. The point is, its another simple but effective solution to an old problem. Safe, hands-free but sharp knives. No short cuts. Sorry.
AGL TV Backlight
Modern TVs come with a whole bunch of USB ports that noone ever uses. So why not put one to good use by using it to create an atmosphere. Stick this light strip to the back of your telly and give it an aura (the AGL stands for Auraglow) of soft colours, either static, or a variety of patterns of flash. Sadly, for this price you don't get it to synchronise with the TV picture, and there's no remote control but it's still really, really nice.
AGL Wireless PIR Wardrobe Light
Wardrobes are dark. This is a very bright light. Moreover, it's a very bright light that comes on when it detects movement, so when you open the wardrobe the light comes on, helping you find long-lost pairs of shoes, or that pile of dirty magazines we know you have. You thought only you knew, but oh no, we do too. It sticks up and takes AA batteries and then when you close the wardrobe, it switches off. At least we assume so. Tell you what - you climb in the wardrobe and close the door and see if it does. Give our regards to Narnia.
Brabantia Storage Jars with Measuring Cups
The fact that these are in fact basically storage devices, you'd be hard pushed to find a gadget here. Not so. This comes under the "why did no one do this before" list. Quite simply, the lid is a measuring cup. Duh!
Available in a variety of hues, and in both glass and plastic (though our glass one had a very quick argument with the kitchen floor, so we prefer the plastic) these will not only tidy your cupboard, but also prevent food waste. Double-bubble because every one you buy donates a portion of the profit to The Hunger Project.
Ullo Wine Purifier
As a publication that favours "quantity over quality" when it comes to red wine, it's nice to know that for less than the price of 2 cases of our usual standard, we can get ourselves an Ullo. Now the Ullo is a brilliant bit of kit that aerates the wine as you pour it through, saving all of that faffing about with "breathing".
Basically this is about removing sulphites and sediment. We tested it on some supermarket 'Red Wine' (always suspicious when they don't tell you the grape) and yes, it tasted better. Lots better. Just turn it on, put it on top of the wine glass and enjoy.
So imagine what it can do for connoisseurs and real wine. Comes with a travel bag and 4 filters. And double vision.
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