|Anson Belt & Buckle has made belts what they should have been all along: Perfect fitting, stylish, and interchangeable. We're proud to partner with them on this post.|
“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door” is a phrase often – and mistakenly – attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. No matter. Whoever said it was a stone cold genius.
If you can make a better version of something everyone uses, the thinking goes, everyone will want your product. And we just happen to be living in the era of better mousetraps.
When it comes to items we use every day of our lives, it’s easy to overlook the inconveniences built into them. True innovations – and the greatest inventors – reimagine products without their flaws.
So we’ve compiled a few of our favorite everyday products that have been “mouse-trapped:” reimagined or tweaked to make them more functional, efficient and enjoyable.
1. Anson Belt & Buckle
Finally, someone solved the belt no-man’s land.
If you’ve ever gained or lost a bit of weight you know what we’re talking about: suddenly, you’re between two belt holes and S.O.L. for comfortable, properly fitting pants. And if your weight is relatively stable, you definitely have that pair of pants where your normal belt hole is too tight, but going one hole over is so loose the belt doesn’t perform its function.
Imagine shoelaces that could only be tightened in 1” increments – you’d be stuck with the same fit regardless of how thick your socks are, or whether you’re running errands or a marathon.
Anson Belt & Buckle tackled this issue by offering a belt with 30+ waist options a quarter inch apart, making it impossible – unless you change careers to olympic weight lifting – to ever be trapped in the belt no-man’s land again. It’s genius and yet blazingly obvious. Why shouldn’t your belt always fit, no matter what size you are?
The Anson belt works using a ratchet-style track system sewn into the back of a high quality, premium belt strap. The opening to The Six Million Dollar Man comes to mind: “…we have the technology.”
The micro-adjustable system is universal throughout Anson’s suite of casual and dress belt styles and interchangeable buckles, giving you a ton of flexibility when it comes to belting options. With materials ranging from full grain leather to nylon to suede and buckle styles from casual to formal, the investment in two buckles and three or four straps means you have every style of belt you’ll need for the vast majority of style applications.
Add to that free shipping on all U.S. orders and a flexible lifetime guarantee and we have to admit – Anson Belt & Buckle may have built a better mousetrap.
2. Rite Press
Coffee is love. Coffee is life.
Coffee grounds, on the other hand, are the worst.
Picture it: you’ve just finished your precious morning cup and go to clean up and have a squidgy, primordial muck of grounds thoroughly entangled with the mesh of your french press. To clean it you have to apply multiple rinsings or the infamous scoop n’ dump.
It’s tedious. It’s annoying. It’s a buzz kill when you least need it. A french press shouldn’t have the same cleanup as a litter box.
That’s why we’re so excited about the Rite Press. Its creator used fancy physics and engineering to shunt the grounds into a simple, removable chamber at the bottom of the press to make clean-up a cinch.
Not satisfied with his already-improved mousetrap, he added an integrated thermometer so your joe is always brewed at the correct temperature and a spinning hourglass attached to the side for brew time.
The Rite Press is getting its start on Kickstarter, and has already been backed by half a million dollars – far exceeding it's $20k goal. For the next month the Rite Press is still steeply discounted for backers, so consider checking it out. Primer's founder Andrew backed the project and will review it when he receives it.
3. Philips Hue
While there are a ton of “smart” home enhancements out there, none have been integrated into our every day the same way as the Philips Hue. It's a wifi-enabled smart lighting system that allows you to control the brightness (and color) of all the installed Hue bulbs from your phone via the app or with Siri/Google voice integration.
The novelty of turning your living room lighting from blue to red to pistachio to confetti-colored in an instant is probably not worth the price, but being able to adjust the infinitely dimmable 50,000 shades of white to dial in the perfect color temperature for different applications like working, romancing, or cooking has proven to be a game-changer.
The real utility of the system lies in the “recipes” you can create for different rooms, moods, or situations. You can create a custom lighting recipe of different lights for reading, studying, hosting, or watching a movie – all tailored to enhance mood, presentation, and wear-and-tear on your eyes.
For example, we’ve found journaling before bed is enhanced by adjusting to red light – it’s easy to see and doesn’t mess as much with sleep as blue light.
The system’s features are deep: you can set recipes to happen automatically based on certain triggers like your geolocation (turn lights on or off when you come and go) or time of day (have lights turn on like an alarm clock, or automatically dim at 10PM). You can have them turn on automatically if you’re away (and spoof the casual burglar), or have them serve as an ultra-dim nightlight. You can set timers to change colors or brightness that can act as a silent pomodoro timer. The possibilities are wide-ranging.
We like that setup is simple, too. Connect the Hue bridge to your wifi, screw the bulbs in to a socket and you’re ready to go.
4. The Ready Desk
The science is in! If you spend most of your day sitting you’re killing yourself. Literally.
Ok, maybe sitting doesn’t automatically equal death but reducing the amount of time you spend sitting every day has been linked to benefits from reduced risk of obesity and cancer to longer life. We prefer standing for part of the day because it just feels better.
The barriers to implementing a standing desk routine are twofold: first, if you go 100% standing desk it can be fatiguing and even bad for your joints. Second, if you opt for a quality adjustable setup it can get expensive – even a basic table top adjustable surface will set you back hundreds. A fancy free-standing model can run thousands. Third, you can go bargain – but beware. Several cheaper models we’ve tested are unstable, not fit to support more than the weight of a thin laptop, or just a hassle to adjust the thing.
We think Ready Desk addresses most of those issues. Ready Desk is a line of standing desk products that shine for a few reasons: they’re durable, adjustable, and comparatively inexpensive.
And the best thing: you don’t have to commit to a full day of standing to start reaping the benefits: Ready Desk is large enough to support two monitors but slim enough to stow to the side of your workstation or on the floor. The 9-ply birch wood material is pleasing and a huge improvement over the plastic and thin metal of comparably-priced models.
5. Instant Pot
Amazon.comThis 7-plus-in-1 wonder-device has taken the internet and millions of kitchens by storm since it launched in 2010. By 2017 it was one of the top selling products on Prime Day and has been developed a cult following who call themselves Pot Heads.
Hype aside, what is the Instant Pot? It’s a combination pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, egg cooker, sautér, steamer, warmer, sterilizer, and – as the Amazon listing points out – it can make cake.
It’s the multi-functionality that makes the Instant Pot compelling. If you own a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, and steamer than you already know just how much space all those devices take up. Wouldn’t it be nice to combine a few and free up some counter or storage space? Instant Pot adopters we know haven’t trashed their old appliances, either – they’ve given them to friends or donated them to Goodwill and never looked back.
If you don’t already own all those items the Instant Pot is the solution, and if you aren’t using a slow cooker, rice cooker, and (possibly) a pressure cooker to efficiently whip up delicious weekly meals you need to get on that – it saves money, time, and you eat better along the way.
Developed by a computer science PhD with a specialty in AI, the Instant Pot aims to be a little R2D2 helper bot in the kitchen: Select from its menu of preset cooking programs and it will take care of the rest. Dual pressure settings reduce cooking time by up to 70%. Bluetooth connectivity and an app round out its undeniable high tech.
Starting at $129 for the 6-quart model, check out the Instant Pot on Amazon.
What is your “better mousetrap” device?
Share your knowledge in the comments below!