8 tech gadgets that pay for themselves over time


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Nest ThermostatShopping smart isn’t just about buying things on the cheap — it’s about investing in services that’ll prevent you from having to make additional purchases in the future.

This line of thinking is especially difficult to adapt in the consumer tech world, where every company does their best to convince you that this year’s Thing is constantly superior to last year’s Whatever. However, there are certain gadgets out there that can actually pay for themselves in the right hands. Here are a few of them.

An HD antenna


We’ve taken a look at a bunch of HD antennas recently, and this one from Monoprice provides solid reception at a good price. It’s biggest drawback is that it’s not omnidirectional, so for the best results, you’ll need to point it in the direction of a tower to get the best reception.

I’ve never paid for cable, but bought an HDTV antenna recently and am very pleased with the results. You don’t get nearly as many channels as you would with even a basic cable subscription, but on the other hand, you’re not paying for cable every month. This is the perfect investment if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to watch big network TV shows and events, like “The Big Bang Theory” or the Oscars, live.

Monoprice Large Paper Thin HDTV Antenna, $ 13.84, available at Amazon.

Rechargeable batteries and charging dock


Thankfully, a lot of electronics have transitioned away from running on standard batteries. But if you’ve still got a few stragglers that are still running fine, do yourself a favor and buy a set of rechargeable AA’s or AAA’s.

These Eneloop batteries from Panasonic can be recharged up to 2,100 times and can hold a majority of their charge for up to 7 years. They’re likely to outlast whatever you’re using them to power, and a four pack of Eneloop batteries only cost three times as much as a pack of regular batteries that you can only use once. A four pack should suit most people fine, but if you’ve got kids with lots of toys, it might be wise to step it up to an eight pack.

These batteries don’t come with a recharging dock, so I’m also going to recommend an eight-bay dock from EPL here as well. 

Panasonic B Eneloop AA 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries (Pack 4), $ 13.99, available at Amazon.
EBL 8 Bay AA, AAA, Ni-MH, Ni-Cd Rechargeable Battery Charger, $ 9.99, available at Amazon.

An energy conserving outlet


Leaving an appliance running is both unsafe and energy inefficient. There are a few energy saving outlets on the market, but the consensus is that this one from Simple Touch is the best. 

You can set its timer to cut the power to whatever it is plugged into it after one, two, four, or eight hours. For example, if you listen to music to fall asleep, you can plug a speaker, stereo, or radio into the Simple Touch and set it to turn off in an hour or two. The Simple Touch does have a small power draw, but you’ll end up saving on your energy bill every month. One thing to keep in mind is that you can only plug in appliances that draw a maximum of 1,000 watts — so larger appliances like space heaters and washing machines are a no go.

Simple Touch Auto Shut-Off Multi Setting Safety Outlet, $ 11.53, available at Amazon

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