Info & Answers
Cheap and Convenient Home Enhancements
These gadgets are sure to make your day-to-day tasks a whole lot easier.
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February 01, 2008 by Jeff Winston

Life is hard, we all deserve a break. So why would you turn down opportunities to make your life more comfortable? Oh yeah, what it costs. Well, here are a few solid happiness-makers that won’t break your bank.

After hopping out of a long shower, what could be nicer than warm, dry towels. The Wonderbar from Warmrails hangs onto your existing towel rack, plugs into an outlet, and draws no more electricity than two or three CFLs (about $25/year). By constantly warming your towels it improves comfort and eliminates musty smells. For only $45 at Smarthome, it’s a keeper.

You’re in your family room and the phone rings. You could get up, which you need to do even to see a normal tiny Caller-ID display, or you could get a big display from Telnote. Unlike older one-line displays (like the one Radio Shack used to sell), the Telnote device gives you both lines in 1” high LED characters, so you can see who’s calling from across the room. Only $50 from

Is the mail here? Never wonder with the Mail Chime. Stick the transmitter on your mailbox door, and the receiver wherever it can be heard. When the mail comes, you’ll know! If you have a home control system, plug the receiver into an appliance module, and reset it from anywhere in your house by remotely turning it off for a few moments. $44 from Trendyhome, or $49 from Smarthome.

Trouble sleeping? Have you thought about the Marpac 980 Sound Machine? This two-speed device contains a real electric motor and creates a soothing, consistent, but not overwhelming sound. Put it under your bed and plug it into a home control module, or even a lamp timer, so that it runs during your regular sleep hours, and then forget it’s there and enjoy the night. Price: $57.

Here’s another way to know what’s going on outside, the Reporter Wireless Driveway Sensor ($70 at Smarthome) beeps whenever a car comes up your driveway. It detects vehicles or people, but not pets or small animals. Locate additional transmitters near your shed or barn for extra security.

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Jeff Winston - Contributing Writer
Jeff Winston has been writing about home electronics since 1998. An electrical engineer, Jeff has contributed to the development of products in the computer, consumer electronics, and wireless industries. He spends his spare time with his wife, kids, and many PCs, sometimes in that order.

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