May 07, 2024

7 unnecessary and amazing tech products we love

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It’s the last gasp of summer. This is a perfect moment to recommend surprisingly great tech(-ish) things you might love.

These product suggestions from me and other Washington Post staff are not the best things for everyone. They are the perfect things for a handful of peculiar people — one of whom might be you.

We adore these products and we’re a little ashamed of our adoration.

I’m trying to capture the oddities of our consumer lives.

We don’t need 99.8 percent of stuff. Somewhere out there, though, is a product that seems pointless to me but gives you zaps of joy by solving a tiny problem.

(And if you’re wondering, we don’t make money if you buy this stuff.)

All it does is prop up my phone on my desk so it’s at a perfect angle to scroll through my email, read a news article, do a Zoom call or watch a video.

I can’t adequately explain why using this stupid slab of pink aluminum — sorry, “rose gold” — is so much better than laying my phone flat on the desk. It is, though.

I have taken my phone stand with me on vacation and business trips.

Amazon sells a zillion nearly identical phone stands. I picked this one mostly at random. I paid $11.99. I have no idea if it’s the best phone stand.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim CEO Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.)

One important feature: My phone stand can tilt to any angle. Other models are fixed in place.

You need to be able to adjust the angle of your phone just so. Trust me. I have thought about this a lot.

This salt-and-pepper mill set was an engagement present for Kyley Schultz, an assignment editor on The Post’s social media team.

Kyley said the mills dose out the perfect amount of ground salt or pepper and then stop automatically.

These make her feel “bougie as hell,” Kyley says. She loves them.

I don’t get this product at all, to be honest. This salt-and-pepper set costs $100! And each mill requires six AAA batteries. SIX!!

(Kyley said she hasn’t needed to replace the batteries in about half a year of use.)

That’s why these electric mills are perfect for this list. I’m baffled and Kyley is besotted.

I bow to my colleague Tatum Hunter, who wrote this:

The days of begging my spouse to stroke my hair are (mostly) over.

I came across this electric head massager while searching TikTok for healthy hair tips. Apparently, stimulating blood flow to your scalp helps hair grow.

It also feels really stupid good.

This bad boy cost about $30 on Amazon. It’s battery powered and waterproof in case you want to use it in the shower — I’m not judging.

While I try not to collect plastic doodads, a device that rubs my cranium with what feels like four tiny monkey paws seemed like a good investment.

This gadget is silly, but for five blissful minutes it makes drama, deadlines and dullness fade away. Would buy again.

Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Post’s technology columnist, said the Yoto audio player is his family’s new favorite.

A kiddo sticks what looks like a playing card into the device’s slot to change audio “channels.” (It’s not a radio. The songs stream over WiFi.)

The cards play tunes like a mixtape of children singing “Shake It Off” and other pop songs. You can make your own cards of family members singing or reading bedtime stories.

Geoff said it’s great to play music your child likes without the distractions and drama of a phone.

Geoff has a mini version of the Yoto player that lists for $69.99. There’s a larger device for $119.99. You pay extra for the song cards.

Becky Krystal, a Post food writer and recipe developer for the Voraciously team, refuses to buy wireless headphones that will wear out or get lost.

You gotta respect spite-based purchase decisions. (Becky is also correct. Bluetooth headphones such as Apple’s AirPods are destined to die.)

Becky purchased this adapter for her phone. One end plugs into her phone’s charging port. Her favorite wired headphones plug into the other end. Voilà.

This adapter is only for Android phones that use the USB-C charging standard.

Apple folks, familiarize yourself with Becky’s adapter. The next iPhone models will probably use USB-C. And they definitely won’t have a headphone jack.

Two Dots has dots. You swipe to draw lines to connect the dots. That’s it.

My Help Desk colleague Heather Kelly called the game “minimalist Candy Crush” that she described like warm milk.

“It’s mindless and peaceful, requires very little of me but slight hand movements and knowing what a square looks like,” Heather said. “I could also just nap.”

Download Two Dots for iPhone and Android phones. (It’s free but the app will bug you to pay for extra features.)

This product sounds as ridiculous as phrenology. Andrew Van Dam, the Department of Data columnist, swears by it.

When you press this “pen” on mosquito bites right after the bloodsuckers strike, the skin area gets painfully hot for a few seconds.

This (supposedly) denatures the proteins that make you itch. Or something.

Andrew and I absolutely cannot vouch for the supposed science behind this product. Please don’t rely on it if you have allergies to insect bites.

But Andrew says in his experience, this pen makes many of his mosquito bites vanish or at least stop itching for a day or so.

“I didn’t know about it until this summer,” Andrew said. “Why didn’t anybody tell me about it sooner?!”

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