Just in time for summer, I gathered a handful of my favorite seasonal gadgets and took them on my favorite morning news show, CBS Mornings. Whenever I’m asked to pick tech products to recommend for a TV audience, I try to cover all the bases — expensive items and budget items, serious products and fun products.
You can watch the full segment above, and if you’re interested in any of the gadgets, I’ve gone into a little detail about each below. I thought the Ninja Creami ice cream maker would be the big hit, but the hosts (and everyone backstage) were surprisingly smitten with the light-up grill tools. My takeaway: You can almost never go wrong sticking a flashlight on something.
Especially during summer trips, everyone should bring a backup power bank along. There are thousands of choices, and frankly they’re mostly all fine. I happen to like this ambitious model that has a solar panel, wireless charging for phones, a flashlight and, most importantly, built-in USB-C, Lightning and Micro-USB cables.
I’ve tried old-fashioned ice cream makers, the kind with the big metal bowl you have to freeze beforehand and clean out after. It’s a pretty time-consuming process. The Ninja Creami flips the concept on its head — you mix your ingredients in little pint-size plastic containers, freeze those overnight (the Creami comes with three pint containers, extras are about $10), then the machine mixes up really excellent ice cream in 90 seconds. I was dubious, but now I’m a believer.
Read our full review of the Ninja Creami here.
This little box beams IR commands to your window unit AC, allowing you to control it via an app. That’s pretty basic, but I like that the Sensibo app can also set up schedules and target temperatures, plus geofencing to turn the AC off and on depending on if you’re in the house or not. For those of us living in apartments with window AC units, it’s a pretty clever upgrade. (Note that you need the AC’s remote to set it up. I couldn’t find mine, so I ordered this $8 knockoff from Amazon that worked fine.)
Read more about the Sensibo Sky here.
We didn’t get to this during the TV segment (but you can see it on the table). Still, my CNET Home colleagues highly recommended the new Ecobee as the smart thermostat to beat, especially because it has an air quality sensor, and it uses radar to detect human activity, instead of old-fashioned IR.
Read more about the Ecobee Smart Thermostat here.
Listen, you don’t actually need a smart thermometer for outdoor grilling. But, it’s kinda fun, and the companion app for this wireless unit offers easy color-coded warning lights — from green to yellow to orange to red — telling you when to take something off the grill.
The surprise hit of this TV segment, and frankly a pretty useful idea. I used to have a tiny patio behind my Manhattan apartment, sandwiched between buildings, and it was usually pretty dark. I definitely could have used something like this (as it was, I had a big clip-on light attached to my grill).