Before we present our list, a word of note: we looked for types of products (e.g. Wifi mesh routers) rather than specific brands (e.g. Google Nest mesh router). For brand reviews, we suggest sources such as:
1. Air Purifier
The average American spends approximately 90 percent of their time indoors (and possibly more since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic), where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2-5 times higher than outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If you spend most of your time indoors, then you may want to consider an air purifier, a machine that filters dust smoke, and pollen from the air.
How much should it cost? Air purifiers range from $180 to $900. The cost of running a purifier 24/7 is around another $40-60 per year. Replacing your filter each year (as per manufacturer recommendations) should set you back another $100 to $150.
2. Robot Vacuum & Robot Mop
These are actually two separate products that complement each other, but you can also get by with one. Robot vacuums have been popular for many years with people who prefer not to have to vacuum themselves. Robot mops are a newer innovation and do exactly what you would expect – as in, mop the floor for you. You can set your robot vacuum and robot mop to clean the floor when you’re out or–if you’re mostly at home–to clean the floor while you’re busy working or kicking back.
How much should it cost? The best robot vacuums go from about $220 to $300. The best robot mops vary a lot more, going from $180 at the low end to around $800 at the premium end.
3. Smart Coffee Maker
If you work from home these days, then it’s time to invest in a home coffee maker or espresso machine. These days, it’s almost as cheap to buy a smart coffee maker as it is to pay for a regular one. What exactly do smart coffee makers do that other coffee makers don’t? For starters, they work with Alexa, let you choose your favorite coffee through a connected mobile app, and let you schedule in times when coffee should be prepared. It’s just like having your own personal barista at home!
How much should it cost? Smart coffee machines have become surprisingly cheap, ranging from as low as $80 to around $200 at the high end.
4. Mesh WiFi Router
When spending more time at home, eliminating WiFi dead zones is critical. If your WiFi doesn’t reach parts of your home where you need it most, then you need a WiFi mesh router (also known as WiFi mesh network system). A mesh network is basically a group of devices that acts as a single WiFi network, blanketing your home with wireless coverage.
How much should it cost? The answer really depends on what you want from your router. If all you want is blanket WiFi coverage, then you can make do for as low as $150. If you want additional features like strict parental controls and strong anti-malware software, then expect to pay as much as $500.
5. Streaming Device
When you want to stream video to your TV, what you need is a streaming device. You could fork out a large sum of cash for a smart TV with built-in apps for services like Netflix or YouTube. Or, you could go for a streaming stick (like Roku or Chromecast) that lets you stream straight from the internet to your TV. Streaming sticks are by far the cheaper of the two options because they let you stream between your existing phone/tablet and TV.
How much should it cost? The best streaming sticks go for around $50.
6. Portable Projector
If you want to go a step farther and stream films on a big screen, then it’s time to get a portable projector. Portable projectors have come a long way in the last few years, and they are now light and compact enough that you can move them from room to room or house to house without any hassles. To stream from the internet to your projector, just hook the projector up to a dedicated mobile app and speakers.
How much should it cost? This is one product that really varies in price. Basic models can be found for as low as $150, while the best ones can set you back more than a grand.
7. Smart Alarm Clock
The alarm clocks of today are much more sophisticated than those old ones that just played an annoying buzzing sound or whatever was on the radio. These newer smart alarm clocks are highly customizable, ensuring your nights end and days begin the way you want. For example, you can choose your own wake-up music, have the alarm gradually get louder for a gradual wake up, and set the brightness of the LED display to be as high or low as you want.
How much should it cost? Smart alarm clocks can cost as much as $100, but these higher-end products don’t do much more than the ones you can buy for $20.
8. Light Therapy Lamps
As the winter months approach, many people find they suffer from a lack of sunlight. In 2020, with travel restrictions still in place in many areas, seasonal affective disorder may become even more common. Fortunately, there’s a solution: light therapy lamps, which simulate natural sunlight inside the home. See our list of the top 10 light therapy lamps here.
How much should it cost? Basic lamps cost as little as $20, while the high-end lamps–which offer stronger light and smarter features–cost as high as $300.
9. Smart Notebook
Everything has a smart version these days, even notebooks. Smart notebooks are the twenty-first century version of those old pen-and-paper notebooks. They let you share and save notes, erase or wipe down the page when you’re done, and they’re a lot better for the environment. Some of the higher-end products out there look really classy, too.
How much should it cost? For the cheapest options, expect to pay as little as $20. For a beautiful, custom-designed notebook with lots of smart features, you might end up paying as much as $200.
10. Charging Station Organizer
Between all those smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other devices, it can be hard keeping track of all your cables. A charging station organizer (or charging station dock) lets you charge all your devices in one place, without cables – reducing clutter. Charging stations spread power evenly between all your devices, ensuring all of them recharge in good time.
How much should it cost? Good home charging stations cost around $50, give or take a few bucks.
Being at Home Doesn’t Have to Feel Like Punishment
Being restricted from traveling outside your home, neighborhood or state isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t have to feel like punishment. It takes only a few small investments to make the most of being at home during lockdown. Craving clean air? An air purifier will help. Missing regular visits to the cinema? A portable projector should satisfy that itch. Whatever you’re missing from your regular life, there’s a chance a version for home already exists.
You may also like: