10 Ridiculous gadgets worth the money. Maybe.

I’ve bought a few ridiculous gadgets over the years. Go ahead and throw me your best side-eye and squint in my direction with a little indignant disdain. I can take it.

But hear me out for a second, ’cause most days I’ll only purchase products with proven value, need, and quality. But sometimes the most absurd gadgets can actually be kinda awesome.

I’ll probably be laughed off the cost-conscious, frugal-minded, and penny-pinching zones of the internet for admitting to these ridiculous spends, and that’s OK. I bet you’ve got a few gimmicky gadgets in your kitchen, bathroom, or closet that make your life awesome too.

Welcome to my list of ten ridiculous gadgets mostly worth the money (or gift ideas for that special someone who has everything. :) )

10 Awesome gadgets worth the money. Maybe.

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10 Awesome gadgets worth the money. Maybe.

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1. Egg Cooker

Which came first: The single-purpose kitchen appliance or the blogger with egg on her face?

Go into any kitchen essentials store and you’ll find a dozen different gadgets devoted to cooking eggs. EGGS? Seriously! I’ve laughed at all of them until now. After visiting Carl’s family in Berlin (yeah, Germany) I’ve come to appreciate the perfection possible by steaming a good egg with a ridiculous gadget — the Egg Cooker. Europeans (well, Carl’s family) are serious about soft boiled eggs. They are delicious when they’re not toooo hard and not toooo soft. Yes, I am now the Goldilocks of eggs.

Sure, I could boil some water (free) and use a timer (got one on my iPod) to cook a soft boiled, medium boiled, or hard boiled egg, but I’d rather use my egg cooker to get it right every dang time.

egg genie

I’m not egging you on, I really did buy this silly kitchen gadget, and I’m eggstatic over it’s awesomeness. Basically, you prick the egg, measure a bit of water, start the unit, and in minutes you’ll have a good egg.

My biggest mistake is I cheaped out and got the EggGenie. I should have spent a few more bucks on the Krups Egg Cooker.

Yes, I will be laughed off the interwebs for owning this gadget. Bite me.

2. GoToob Travel Bottles

I boarded eight freaking planes in October. EIGHT! Each flight had airline liquid restrictions, plastic baggy requirements, and picky security people interested in confiscating cosmetic leaks. Me (and all of my liquids) made it through every security check without fail thanks to my super awesome, and somewhat ridiculous, $19 GoToob Travel Bottles.

gotoob

These airplane carry-on approved squeezable bottles boast a ‘no drip’ valve that keeps the cap clean. The cap also has an ID dial to mark the liquid type. They are food safe and 100% BPA-free. They are also super fun (and cute) to use. I LOVE THESE THINGS.

airline liquid restrictions

Carl bought himself a set before our trip and I had buy one too to contain my moisturizer, conditioner, and shampoo. A great gift for travelers, campers, and those who hate big bottles cluttering their bathroom space.

3. Milk Frother

I told the internets how to Make a Starbucks Frappuccino for $0.32, and that crazy post went viral. So now I’ll share my secret for turning a regular coffee into something special. It’s called a milk frother, and it, well, turns milk (or soy) into a delicious frothy foam.

milk frother

It’s easy. Just heat some milk, and use the milk frother to froth up some foam. The only downside is you’ll need some batteries. But you’ll save some cash on cappuccinos, lattes, coffee frapps, and anything else in dire need of foam. FOAM. I dunno. Guests love it, too.

The Aerolatte Milk Frother has the best foaming reviews in town. I should have bought that one.

4. Vinturi Wine Aerator

Close your eyes, ears, and tastebuds if you’re a wine connoisseur with a palette that’s only pleased with a $100 bottle of something I’d never buy. This gadget ain’t for you.

OK, everyone else pay close attention. You know when you buy that cheap box of wine (gasp) or you pop the plastic cork and the vino tastes less than satisfactory after a good breathing? Relax. There’s a cure.

It’s called a Vinturi wine aerator, and this awesome gadget “conveniently enhances the flavor, bouquet, and finish of any wine”. I’m sold.

venturi wine aerator

Basically, this unnecessary gadget is entirely necessary in my home — all my guests agree! Just hold the Vinturi over your glass of wine and let the vino flow. Apparently, the Venturi mixes the proper amount of air into your drink to make it taste delicious. This thing makes a bit of a rude sound, but after a bad box of wine everyone will think it’s hilarious.

There’s a special Vinturi set for red and white wine lovers. You’re welcome.

5. Ear Thermometer

Regular under the tongue or up the bum (sorry) thermometers are cheap, like ten bucks. But once you stick that temperature gauge in someone’s ear you’re paying around $30 for the awesome convenience.

I mean, what sick little kid wants to sit there holding a thermometer in their mouth? More importantly, what parent wants to stand over their sick child (who’s probably flailing around due to being sick) and convince them to keep that thermometer under their tiny tongue?

Kate, my sister-in-law, loves her ear thermometer. With a five month old baby and a 3-year-old toddler ruling the roost, she uses this gadget frequently to “just check” and make sure that every running nose needs a tissue, not a doctor.

The Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer has some absurd feature called “ExacTemp Technology” and parents (or wives) with sick and squirmy young children (or husbands) say it’s awesome.

6. USB Charger

Why blow $30 on an Apple USB Power Adaptor when spending just $15 on a regular USB charger recharges your iPod, iPhone, iPad, cell phone, or MP3 player for 50% less.

usb charger

Enter the long worded but super awesome Belkin AC Charger with Swivel Plug & Charge Sync Cable for iPod and iPhone.

You won’t need to plug your iThing into your computer ever again. Great for travelers and families with multiple devices in need of a recharge. I love mine.

7. The Epilator

It’s not easy being a female mammal. Enter the epilator — a machine that rips the hair out from under your skin with dozens of cruel tweezing pincher things. It’s hurts like hell, and it works. The money I’ve saved on razors, waxing, and other hair removal methods is astounding. I listen to Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On a Prayer whenever I use it though, ’cause it doesn’t exactly tickle.

epilator

I own an old school Epilady. For a few bucks more you too can enjoy a hair-free existence with the highly rated Emjoi AP-18 Emagine Dual Opposed 72 Tweezer Head Epilator. Awesome and ridiculous at the same time, non?

Warning for the fellas: DO NOT buy this as a gift for your wife or girl friend. Re-read that last sentence. Women don’t want men to imply that they are hairy mammals. Even though WE’RE ALL MAMMALS (hopefully) it’s not a super sentiment to send. “Here honey, go epilator that over the holidays.” Yeah, not awesome.

8. Diva Cup

I get sooooo much email about this bell-shaped thing. I’ve easily saved hundreds of dollars with this absurdly awesome gadget. Women love it, men hate reading about it. I’ll spare everyone the details.

diva cup reviews

The curious can read this insanely popular post: 10 Reasons the Diva Cup Can Change Your Life for more info.

9. ScanGauge

I slapped my forehead and produced an epic stink eye when Carl declared he needed a ScanGauge for his car. Carl, an undisputed technology geek and lover of everything with wheels decided that measuring his fuel consumption could save us money.

scangauge

I’m not going to argue with the man. His words: Yeah, it’s a toy. It gives you instant feedback when your driving is burning through more or less fuel. Many times I’ve thought, ‘$hit, better ease off on the gas.’

Personally, I’m all for slower speeds and better fuel consumption.

10. Canon 5D Mark II

Buyer’s remorse lasted only minutes after I went and bought myself this very pricey DSLR camera. I saved up for over a year with the intention of buying a super nice camera that would last me many years, so when this baby went on sale I pulled the trigger and took a shot. This camera is an obscenely major upgrade from my old beginner digital camera, and that’s OK. This was a planned, and budgeted for, spend.

canon 5d mark ii

The sensible in me says the Canon EOS Rebel T3 (or even the T3i), and perhaps the gorgeous Canon EOS 60D would have more than met my need for thousands less. But no, I went balls out and spent $2,800 on the sexy Canon 5D Mark II ’cause that’s where my want blew past my need. Since I take A LOT of photos for business and pleasure, I’m thrilled with this insanely awesome ‘gadget’.

Oh, and I paid for this baby with cash in hand! :D

10 Awesome gadgets worth the money. Maybe.

Holidays, Shopping

10 Awesome gadgets worth the money. Maybe.

Ten unique gift ideas for that special someone who loves awesome gadgets.

Read More »

Your Thoughts: OK, be honest! What ridiculous gadgets do you love?

Your two cents:

  1. Scott Simpson (@Simpson957) December 1st, 2011

    I *knew* Diva Cup would be on the list!

  2. rob December 1st, 2011

    Being frugal doesn’t mean not buying stuff. It just means not buying pointless crap. You’ll get an easy decade of use out of that camera. I’ve had my 40D for years and love it still. Except the weight, of course.

    That hair plucker amuses me to no end.

    I bet your long-term energy cost using the egg cooker is less than using a pot full of water on the stove.

    I love my scangauge. As a bonus, the speedometer function built into it is *MUCH* more accurate than your car typically displays on its speedometer, so you can comfortably sit exactly on the speed limit and laugh at the cop on your way by.

  3. Nenette December 1st, 2011

    I concur about the GoToob! I have three — one for each kid for post-swim class shampoo, and in-purse hand lotion for me. Don’t know what I would do without ‘em.

  4. Meg December 1st, 2011

    http://www.waterbobble.com

    Especially great for traveling. I can take an empty bottle through airport security and fill up at a water fountain or in my hotel bathroom.. instantly filtered water. No need to buy bottles of water along the way!

  5. Andrew Moizer December 1st, 2011

    #1 Gadget that I use … LED headlamp. I have two Black Diamond ones that have worked great. I prefer the one with a spotlight by a wide margin. Once you get past the “geeky” feel and use it once you’ll never go back. I use rechargeable AAA batteries. I had to get a charger that will charge single cells as it uses 3, so the charge two at a time ones just didn’t work out.

    I don’t know which model mine is, as BD doesn’t seem to write that on one anywhere. It’s similar to the current “Spot” model.

    I use mine daily on the farm.

  6. Dido December 1st, 2011

    Tomato Wiz – http://www.kutzindustries.com/html/tomato%20wiz.htm Sure, you can use a knife to core tomatoes, but this does it quicker and better and, besides, every single time I use it I think of the friend who gave it to me.

  7. Sarah V December 1st, 2011

    I love love love this post. Thank you so much for doing the research on all of these goodies. I have to admit I have been sizing up the Cuisinart Soup Chef but fear that it might just be one of those absurd gadgets!

  8. Jennifer December 1st, 2011

    I totally second the Diva Cup! Love mine too! Also, while my baby hasn’t gotten sick *yet* (knock on wood) he squirms so much that I’m not looking forward to trying to get his temperature with the underarm method.

    One kind of ridiculous gadget we used to have was an olive/pickle picker. It was basically a wire claw in a tube that would pop out when you pressed down the top with your thumb so that you could grab your olive/pickle/cocktail onion without much difficulty. As martini fans it was so handy! But sadly it broke and we haven’t replaced it.

  9. shipcarpenter305 December 2nd, 2011

    While I can appreciate a good Diva Cup, my Edge-Pro knife sharpener, wire shelving units for my apartment kitchen, and Litter Robot for my 2 kitties have been worth every exorbitant penny. Also, separate travel pet carriers assembled and ready to grab n’ go in case of fire to avoid losing ‘em during all the sirens, yelling, & smoke. (Yup, I been there.)

  10. Jody December 2nd, 2011

    Kerry,

    On my wish list of GOTTA HAVE GADGETS…please come up with a post on how to download video content from the web and burn to dvd. I am a paying member of a certain website as an alternative to being hooked up to cable. I want to burn some shows to cds/dvd so I can watch them away from my desktop dinosaur computer. I have a smart phone, but the video screen is too ridiculously small for my old eyes.

    I have researched and researched this, downloaded software that said it could do it, but none of them have been idiot proof for me. Can you please help? I love your blog/posts and know you are smart enough to help this old lady out :)

  11. Linda December 2nd, 2011

    Hi Kerry,

    Great list!

    I am also a big fan of the Diva Cup.

    I also *love* my iRobot Roomba vacuum.
    Yes, it was ridiculously expensive, but we have two shedding dogs. Without the Roomba, the dog hair is like tumble weed drifting across our floor in less than a week.
    Instead I come home from work and spend less than 5 minutes cleaning it out. Love it! :)

  12. Eric December 2nd, 2011

    Hi Kerry,
    good info, quite comprehensive.
    How about the Eggmeister – Hard Boiled Egg Timer App, with Eggselence for your iPod? maybe you’ve tried it? How about a test between the App & the Egg Genie…
    Got a UV filter for your lens yet? Are the pics on this post shot with your 5DMkII? Looking good either way.We use the Home Presence Frother, with rechargeable batteries, works well for lattes, hot chocolate & chai. The only other somewhat ridiculous gadget we use is a mandoline slicer, to make potato cakes.
    Keep the inspiring posts coming!

  13. Susan December 3rd, 2011

    I have a battery operated milk frother, but replaced it with a Cafe Ole press frother that does not need batteries. Looks like a Bodum coffee press, but great when used on milk or soy.

  14. Maggie@SquarePennies December 3rd, 2011

    We are the proud owners of a scangauge because my dh told me it was a “necessary tool” to check the accuracy of our speedometer and to help him learn to keep our mpg low. How did I know it’s a toy?!! He’s pretty good at keeping our cars in good shape, saving us money on them all the time. So I guess I’ll forgive him getting a toy now & then. It does give a more accurate read on our speed.

  15. escher7 December 3rd, 2011

    Don’t tell Cheney (or Newt for that matter) about the hair puller. Sounds better than waterboarding.

  16. Ruth Cooke December 4th, 2011

    I looked at the ad for the Scanguage. It checks codes and can turn of the “Check Engine” light. Even without the fuel economy benefit, or the spedometer, that will help the gadget pay for itself in less than a year.

    I’m also looking at the egg cookers and the camera with lust in my eyes, but will probably go with my current gadgets (a pot for the eggs, and a basic point-and-shoot camera) for a while yet.

    And I’m glad my daughter’s dicovered the Diva Cup all on her own, even if it’s too late for me.

    Great post!

  17. Jen December 5th, 2011

    I just bought the ear thermometer based on your post….thanks for the good suggestions!

  18. Caroline Hanna December 5th, 2011

    Love these tips…i’ve saved a lot of money with my epilator and know just learning about the Diva cup… who says Finance and life don’t go together!

  19. Anat December 5th, 2011

    I do have one single-purpose kitchen appliance; a rice cooker. Put in water, put in rice, press the button, and focus on something else for 20 minutes. Perfect rice every time. This one I got for free from a Chinese friend who had two, but if it broke I’d buy a new one. This allows me to vary it up and eat rice with soy sauce for less than a dollar a meal instead of either the usual pasta or springing for takeout.

    I also have a Keurig, but I use regular tea bags or fill the bottom of the mug with hot chocolate instead of buying the overpriced Kcups. I always overbrew my tea and make it too bitter because I get distracted and forget about my tea bag, but no more! I also used to get impatient brewing water and would pull it off the stove as soon as I saw the slightest hint of boiling which isn’t optimal either. This also heats the water in much less time than it takes in a pot on my stove. I got this Keurig as a present but I would buy a new one if it broke.

    It isn’t so much that I’m lazy as distracted…

  20. Cat December 6th, 2011

    Fantastic posts – I may have to look into a few of these things. The travel bottles seem well worth it. I bought dollar store ones. They’re okay, but it’s darned hard to get stuff out below a certain level. Best “useless” gadget..hmm..a plastic pot that goes in the microwave. So handy and easier than fitting one more thing on the stove!

  21. Hols December 6th, 2011

    I admit to having a great camera, the ear thermometer (awesome for my squirmy 6 month old).

    My favourite gadget is my Blackberry – and the calculator on it.

  22. Wwax December 22nd, 2011

    I love my rice cooker. I know I could use a pan and water and I know all the tricks for cooking rice on the stove. But you can have my rice cooker when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

    As a lover of soft boiled eggs you now have me seriously considering the egg cooker. I could keep it with my egg coddler.

  23. Taraz June 30th, 2012

    Instead of buying a wine aerator, get an immersion blender. Works faster, better, and is most likely cheaper (especially if you buy one second hand).

  24. Reinita August 21st, 2012

    Nothing beats a great camera and saving up for the one you want is even better. But put that cash on the credit card and pay. Then the warranty is doubled and you get points or miles to boot. How is that for frugal?

  25. Connie Solidad August 22nd, 2012

    I got a milk frother for Christmas a few years ago and thought I’d never take it out of the box! How foolish I was, I use it almost every day! There are a few items on your list I’ve got to check out, even being as thrifty as I am. =)

  26. Sue August 27th, 2012

    put cheap wine in an osterizer.
    Anything, really, to get the air infused with it.

  27. Melanie September 9th, 2012

    I have a Vitamix blender. It is the most expensive kitchen gadget I ever bought but, boy was it worth it. Love it. Won’t part with it.

  28. Annette November 3rd, 2012

    Well you know how expensive sewing kits are right? Well try buying a tool box at a car parts store when they go on sale, they cost about $10 to $20 and you can use all those compartments for nuts/bolts/screws for your buttons and needles, etc. Plus they are big and sturdy and usually have a snap lid. My sis-in-law does sewing projects like baby quilts and she got a tool-box/sewing box that fits all her materials plus its on wheels. Best buy!

  29. Freddy November 7th, 2012

    I like the idea of spending money on certain specific things.

    About the ear thermometers….. I’m a pediatric nurse and we don’t use the ear thermometers because it is very hard to use them properly. If they are pointed at the wrong part of the ear then the temperature will be wrong.

    A good digital thermometer under the arm is standard. Or if the temperatures are far outside normal it has to be either a mouth thermometer, or the bum.

  30. anexactinglife December 4th, 2012

    My spouse wants a microwave omelette cooker for Christmas and I want a mandoline!

  31. Nick @ BayCrazy April 14th, 2013

    I initially scoffed at the egg-cooker, just… internally, as I like doing all cooking organically, just so I feel cool like a chef… but when I thought about it for a second and read on, when it comes to boiling an egg – you just plonk it in water and wait anyway, so it really isn’t much different.

    So, as you say, if you can get it absolutely perfect every time… why not.

    All cooking is just timing anyway of course; heat, and timing. As creative and experimental as we can be, it’s all heat and timing… apart from seasoning, ingredients and combinations obviously. Oh darn it, I’ve embarrassed myself again… I’ll get my coat.

    Wait, one more thought – just on the egg boiling situation; when you boil and egg in water, you’re just manually getting the heat up to the required, and then manually timing… so yeah, the egg cooker just does that for you, which is pretty much the point of technology – to eliminate pointlessly repetitive or robotic functions and estimates for us, to allow us to revel in more aimlessly indulgent activities! Such as commenting on blogs :D Nice post!

  32. David McKenna July 17th, 2013

    Don’t be so hard on wine in a box! Wine out of it is as good as what’s out of a bottle if you’re not intending to age the wine, and most of us don’t anyways.

    http://www.findingoptimal.com/2013/07/wine-why-are-you-using-thousand-year.html

    As for the egg cooker, it’s interesting. I’ve tried to be consistent with the timing to boil water and timing to keep the egg in the pot but occasionally my wife or I undercook the eggs and have to throw out 4-6 eggs. It would be nice to have this automated, although unfortunately I’m gun-shy to mix plastic and boiling water these days. I’ll have to take another look at the Krups model.

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