I’ve been writing Dad’s blog since 2016. It was a lot of fun and a pleasant and unexpected bonus for creating this tiny corner of the internet where I can share my thoughts was the product reviews and collaborations. I was lucky enough to work with some of the best brands in the world and get my hands on some pretty amazing products. Without having to boast, over 400 items have now arrived on the doorstep to take a test drive.
I recently ironed some clothes with my Philips Iron one morning while watching the world news in My JBL Link View when I realized how profoundly some of these products affected my everyday life. While some products were spectacular toys that were fun but not much use (look at Tello Drone), some products are now well integrated into my everyday life.
This post recognizes the products that I use really, really often. While all of these products were provided free of charge for the first review or feature, nobody asked me to write this post and I don’t get anything extra. It’s just recognition of great products that make my life easier, more enjoyable, or just better. Some are great for me, some are great for the kids, and some benefit from the whole family! Here (in no particular order) are my top 20 test products that I actually use!
Top 20 review products that I actually use
Synology MR2200ac Wi-Fi Mesh
We use this (almost) all day, every day. The two MR2200ac devices provide reliable network coverage for almost every corner of our double brick townhouse. This is not an easy task – since they are in a townhouse with very close neighbors, they have to compete with a number of other wireless networks. Then there are the baby monitors, cordless phones and who-knows-what-else who are trying to cause interference.
With one access point on the ground floor and the other upstairs, it offers solid coverage. Positioning the two devices took a few tries, but once it’s set up, it’s solid. The only place we don’t get good coverage is the basement, but this is understandable if there are solid concrete floors and fire doors in between. If I wanted I could certainly add and position another MR2200ac to cover this, but we are not using the network down there enough to make it worth it.
Connecting devices to the MR 2200ac has always worked. The user interface is simple enough if I need to delve into the settings, although I’m honest since I wrote the review, it has been pretty good put and forget. I am wrong, but I assume that most parents expect this from their network devices.
JBL Link View / 300 speakers
It’s not a scam to include both because I use them in partnership. They are both amazing on their own, but together they give my entire ground floor a brilliant sound.
I’ve tested several different smart speakers, but the JBL offerings undoubtedly win in the struggle for my living room and everyday use. First, both sound brilliant individually. In combination via the Google Home app, the sound is something different.
I use JBL Link View most mornings to check the news while ironing my clothes, eating my breakfast and brewing my coffee. Hannah loves the Google Assistant features that let her access her favorite songs without outside help. And I often use the speakers to try to indoctrinate my kids to decent music before it’s too late. So far, Hannah likes Cake, The Beatles and The Presidents, while Monty likes the harder stuff – Rage Against The Machine and Metallica (he’s almost one …). The JBL Link speakers are brilliant and something I couldn’t live without.
My first collaboration was with the fantastic Gro Company, and we’ve had a lot since. I am happy to make this known at every opportunity, because these products are brilliant!
My two children slept through the night at a young age. Hannah more than Monty, who sometimes thinks that 5 a.m. is a reasonable time to get up, but he still sleeps through the night until that time. I know that some of it is pure luck, but I honestly believe that the Grobags help with their extremely comfortable sleeping experience.
Hannah slept in grobags until she was almost three. Monty is now happily using her hand-me-downs. As soon as he’s finished with them, I’ll pass them on to someone else, where they’re sure to go through a few more cycles. They are very well made – built to pass the baby / toddler’s torture test.
When I look at some of the winter grobags in particular, I can see why the kids love them so much. Frankly, if you have an adult version of the Pandemonium Grobag I would buy it right away and hibernate all winter.
WÜSTHOF Epicure Santoku knife
The pride and joy of my knife collection. I’m lucky enough to have a range of WÜSTHOF knives to choose from, but the Epicure Santoku is my first choice when I want to cut something into thin and even slices. It is a pleasure to hold – the balance in my hand is fantastic. Even better, it’s a pleasure to cut with.
The ultra-sharp blade makes cutting almost everything child’s play. And I can also be quick with it, faster than with any of my other knives. I’m not saying that I use it to show off or something, but when people are over and need to be hacked, you can be the Epicure Santoku, the knife that finds its way into my hand.
Amazfit Stratos smartwatch
I wear it on my wrist every day. It looks good, it records my fitness and reminds me to let go of my butt when I’m lazy. Each recharge takes days. Bluetooth can be easily connected to my phone and my B & O E8 earphones. The Amazfit Stratos stores downloaded songs in its built-in memory, which means that I can enjoy music even on long distances without having to attach my phone to my arm. The Amazfit Stratos replaced my Fitbit Blaze a few years ago and I didn’t look back
Logitech Harmony Elite remote control
Looking for remote controls on the couch is a thing of the past. Multiple remote controls are a thing of the past. Empty batteries are a thing of the past. Several button presses to switch various devices on and off are a thing of the past.
The Logitech Harmony Elite is one of my favorite devices to simplify an otherwise somewhat annoying part of everyday life – television. With the push of a button, my TV, my Telstra TV box and my Yamaha receiver come to life, adjust to the correct input and wait patiently for my next command. When I switch to Blu-ray, the Blu-ray player turns on and the Yamaha switches the inputs. Everything just happens without me thinking about it.
It gets better. I can use Google Assistant to turn on the TV or use my phone as a remote control. This is useful when Hannah wants to see a bluey while I am entertaining Monty.
Oral-B Genius 9000 electric toothbrush
It goes without saying that I use it every day. In fact twice a day! I still like how clean it leaves my teeth, and the built-in timer function means I don’t have to think about it. I just brush away until the toothbrush buzzes while my thoughts wonder about more important things.
WD My Cloud Home Duo
This is one of those products that I don’t think about every day, but that is only in the background and does its thing. I check in every now and then WD My Cloud Home Duo to make sure my valuable files are still safely copied and safe enough! After experiencing hard drive failures in the past, I know one thing for sure. The My cloud home duo will save my butt one day!
Philips all-in-one cooker
I have to use it at least twice a week. Even if I sit here and write this, I cook a slowly cooked roast beef away. It took about six hours and the smell made me hungry! Slow cooked meat is a breeze in this impressive device, but it’s a multi-talented machine and we use it in all ways. One of our staple foods is rice, and the Philips All-In-One is a legend for making delicious rice without a thought. It took a couple of times to get it perfect, but with our preferred rice brands (white and brown), a 1: 2 rice to water ratio always comes out great! The best thing is that we can turn it on and forget it at any time. The All-In-One keeps it warm and ready for as long as it is required.
Logitech G703 gaming mouse
This is another product that I am currently using. I don’t think about it when I use it, I only benefit from its great feel and smooth and reliable operation. This Logitech mouse is great for gaming, but is also suitable for everyday computer use. I used many, many, many mice in my time. The Logitech G703 is the best I’ve ever had.
Vornado VMH300 all-room heating
Of course, I don’t always use the Vornado heater. But I use it as soon as the temperature starts to drop and don’t pack it away until October. I will soon pull the Vornado out of the box in the garage and enjoy the space-warming comfort it offers!
Shark IONFlex 2X Duo
Yes, I preferred the handheld vacuum to the robot (Barry)! This may come as a surprise to some, but the truth is that the shark is so much better in everyday use. A robot is great fun and gives you the feeling of living in the future, but like many others future Products are not quite where they need to be now.
The Shark, however, is the result of the long and gentle development of the handheld vacuum cleaner and fantastic! It’s light, powerful, and full of small innovations that make vacuuming quick and easy. I still like to use it, which is something because I have never liked vacuuming. The two batteries are just awesome, which means I never run out of power! The attached attachments mean that I can get into every little part of my townhouse where dust may be lurking.
Okay, this is definitely a scam because I went through MANY children’s books. If I have to narrow it down to just one, Go Go and The Silver Shoes is probably the one I like the most. Fortunately, we don’t have to narrow it down to one and Hannah (and now Monty) have access to the most wonderful library of picture books children know! Hannah uses this every day while Monty is just beginning to understand the magic of a good book.
Philips Azur Elite steam iron
The Philips Azur Elite Steam Iron has relieved the ironing. I love wearing cotton shirts, but an ineffective iron can make the task of folding them unbearable. The Philips Azur Elite Steam Iron has to be powered by some kind of dark magic because it effortlessly handles my cotton shirts and everything else I throw at them. Remarkably, all of this works without ever having to make any adjustments. It only knows what it needs and does it.
I wish I was as smart as my iron.
Bang & Olufsen E8 wireless earphones
I’ve checked a lot of headphones, but these are my absolute favorite. They are undoubtedly a luxury item, but I still get a thrill when I take them out of their cases and put them in my ear. They look great, feel great and, above all, sound great! The Bang & Olufsen E8 wireless earphones keep proving to me that it is good to have beautiful things.
Globber Evo 5-in1 scooter
The Globber Evo 5-in-1 scooter is a brilliant product that has evolved over time as Hannah has grown and developed her skills. In the beginning, the sedentary version was great to push around and she loved the feeling. It didn’t take long for Hannah to want more control, so we converted the 5-in1 to scooter format and she never looked back.
One of my favorite things to do as a father is to watch my children grow and develop their skills and self-confidence. No other children’s product has supported this development like the Globber. To see Hannah riding her scooter confidently in the park and enjoying the freedom, control and pure joy that comes with it … It’s pretty hard to beat.
Rechargeable razor ES-SL33 from Panasonic
I still use this razor every few days. It does a good job of keeping me tidy (at least I like to think so). There is nothing special about this electric shaver, it simply does the job it is supposed to do.
BabyBjörn travel cot light
The BabbyBjorn Travel Cot Light was a stroke of luck during our Japan adventures and has been an important part of our absence kit ever since. It’s built for longevity – still looks good after being dragged through Japan and surviving Hannah’s toddler age. Monty has now inherited it and he seems to feel at home in it as well as Hannah. Like the Grobags, I have the feeling that it is a product that will still be used a lot long after my two have grown out of it.
Skip Hop Owl Booster Seat
We have a large selection of Skip Hop toddlers and preschoolers in our house and they are all well and well used! The product I add to this list is actually the only Skip Hop product that is not currently used regularly in our house. However, I added it to this list because when Hannah was a toddler, she used it all the time, and soon Monty will too. The reason I chose the Skip Hop Booster Seat over the other great Skip Hop products is because I think it is the best booster seat on the market.
When Hannah used it to bring her safely to the family table. She adored the owl and loved how it went with all of her other owl products. I look forward to finally removing the high chair from our dining room and bringing Monty to the table with the rest of the family!
Navman MVUE860DC TIRE Dash Cam
Like the WD My Cloud Home Duo, this also falls firmly into the category You only know how useful it can be when you need it. Although I didn’t have to use the WD’s backup features, the Navman saved me from a lot of grief.
Maybe not the way you might think. It was the tire pressure sensor that one day saved me from a possible flat tire on the M5. The Navman unexpectedly warned of low tire pressure in one tire. I drove off at the next exit and luckily found a petrol station nearby. A quick inspection of the tire revealed a screw embedded deep inside. Fortunately, after inflating the tire, the tire held out until I could limp into a tire shop and have it replaced. So yes, I see great value in the Navman MVUE860DC TIRE Dash Cam.
How for the actual dashcam footage? I’ve recorded a few close calls since I installed the dashcam, including the moment a P-Plater ran off the road (no harm) and some interesting road traffic incidents (not directed at me, I’m driving like a normal person). So I won’t be surprised if the day comes when the footage is used.
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