Make summer 2019 the summer of gadgets. When you think of that word, you probably think “electronics,” but there’s a lot more gadgetry out there than tablets and smartwatches. Let’s take a look at eight of the most useful, exciting, practical or just plain fun gadgets you can get your hands on this summer.
1. Wireless Headphones: The only thing worse than tangled headphone cords is tangled headphone cords when you’re on the road or in a rush. Thankfully, wireless audio technology has, by the skin of its teeth, become competitive with wired options when it comes to sound quality. So what’s out there? Apple fans have been pleasantly surprised by the sounds-better-than-they-should Airpods, which lead the pack in usability if you’re in Apple’s ecosystem. Sony makes some well-reviewed on-ear wireless headphones and Jabra’s workout-ready assortment packs better sound at their price point than you’d expect.
2. Leatherman: The word “gadget” sounds fun and frivolous. Leatherman products are fun to own, but they’re definitely not frivolous! There are other companies that offer multitools, but some of Leatherman’s latest designs have been really extraordinary, and as much works of art as they are rugged backcountry or everyday tools. The Juice B2 keeps things simple with just a knife and a saw blade, while other entries, like the Free P4, packs 21 tools, including scissors, a bottle opener, screwdrivers and much more. There’s even the Tread lineup, which turns tools into functional jewelry.
Partying and Keeping Cool
3. Smart Speakers: You knew smart speakers were going to make an appearance here. They’re one of the latest crazes in the consumer technology world, and competition is beginning to “heat up” — especially with summer party season upon us. Apple’s Homepod rules the pack in terms of sound quality, but they’re pricy — and the “smart” assistant genie living inside isn’t as helpful as she wants to believe. If you don’t care as much about audio quality, or you’re looking for whole-home audio without destroying your budget, there’s always Amazon Alexa and Google Home products, which you can pair to create discrete audio zones throughout your abode.
4. Polar Ice Tray: This is another low-tech gadget, but it still delivers an extremely impressive and enjoyable experience. The creators of the Polar Ice Tray have a lot to say about the way imperfections in our water, and our ice, influence the taste of our drinks. So they designed an ice tray that produces absolutely spherical, perfectly clear ice spheres. We can’t vouch for how they do, or don’t, impact the taste, but we do know the effect is incredibly beautiful — and bound to be a huge hit next time you throw a party.
5. Sorara Patio Umbrella: If you’re like most of us, you struggle with the paradox of wanting to be outside all summer long — just to be chased back inside by the oppressive heat. To make your stays outside in summer a little lengthier and more enjoyable, check out the Sorara Patio Umbrella, which is designed with rugged materials for go-anywhere performance, plus 64 lights along the inside of the umbrella, solar panels to power it, and charging ports for your mobile devices.
6. Waterproof Drone: If you’re planning to visit your favorite beach, lake or watering hole this summer to keep cool, don’t depart without your SwellPro Spry waterproof drone. There’s nothing cooler than piloting your own drone, but water splashdowns are an even bigger risk in summer than at other times of the year, which means it’s good news the SwellPro Spry can float around until you retrieve it from what would have been a watery grave for a lesser drone. It can even submerge itself underwater for yet more functionality. The remote is waterproof too, and the onboard camera shoots footage in full 4K resolution.
Any Other Time
7. Eco-Drive Watches: We debated putting this one under “travel,” since they’re a wanderer’s best friend, but Eco-Drive watches are useful literally everywhere and all day long. If you’re tired of charging your smartwatch every dozen hours, or you’re ready for something with more personality, or you just want to take a break from monitoring your step count, consider an Eco-Drive watch, which uses solar energy to function. No batteries and no charging. Some of them even “talk” to atomic clocks around the world automatically, so you don’t even have to fuss over setting the time.
8. Tile Trackers: Bluetooth-based tracking for all of your analog stuff has been around for a little while, but the latest versions take the initial concept and make it even more practical. Whether you’re a homebody or a jet-setter, you may be tired of misplacing your keys, wallet, and other everyday carry items. But Bluetooth tracking can be a godsend here, letting you “ping” your lost items using the companion smartphone app. The latest stuff trackers from Tile include the ability to swap the battery, which is huge news for people who were holding out because of the disposability factor of the original.
Did something on this list catch your eye? Clearly, we’re all spoiled silly with cool gadgets to choose from in 2019 — so let’s all make it a summer to remember.