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We live in a world of consumer excess. With hundreds of new products hitting the market every year, it’s hard to believe that every single one of them is necessary — or even useful. In fact, tech is one area where consumers are extremely likely to suffer from buyer’s remorse.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore all gadgets and devices. Even as gimmicks and pointless ideas abound, there are plenty of things you can buy that are tried, true, and proven to be valuable. Here are a few that won’t lead to disappointment.

1. Solid State Drive

When it comes to boosting PC performance, the first thing you should do is swap out your hard disk drive for a solid state drive (SSD). This change alone can turn a one-minute bootup sequence into one that takes 5 seconds or less. SSDs also help with file transfer and app launch times — whereas Photoshop or Word may normally take a while to open, it happens in a flash with an SSD.

The most commonly cited reason not to use an SSD is the fact that they don’t live as long as hard drives. While that’s technically true, modern SSDs are built well enough that they will last several years before wearing out, even with heavy daily use. So don’t worry about it and upgrade to an SSD soon 5 Things You Should Consider When Buying An SSD 5 Things You Should Consider When Buying An SSD The world of home computing is moving towards solid state drives for storage. Should you buy one? Read More !

2. External Data Drive

The importance of data backups 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More cannot be overstated. What makes a drive failure so catastrophic? The fact that you didn’t see it coming. That it happens in the blink of an eye and leaves you devastated before you can even process what happened. And yes, data loss is a catastrophe.

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You can use cloud storage as a backup method, but we don’t recommend it for files that are sensitive or large (i.e., music, videos, photos, game development files, and so on). For these, choose an external data drive instead.

There are a few things to look for in a good drive for data backups 7 Things to Know When Buying a Data Drive for Backups 7 Things to Know When Buying a Data Drive for Backups Thinking about buying a data drive for storing file backups? Here's what you need to know if you want to make an informed decision. Read More , but the most important aspects are total capacity, longevity, reliability, and price. Hard drives tend to make better backup drives than SSDs because they’re cheaper, larger, and last longer.

Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEA1000400) Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEA1000400) System requirements : Windows 8, Windows 7 Operating System Buy Now At Amazon $52.00

3. Mechanical Keyboard

Most keyboards are membrane keyboards, which use rubber or silicone membranes under each key that must be depressed to complete a circuit and register the keypress. The keys on a mechanical keyboard complete the circuit using a spring-based switch system instead of membranes.

The benefits of this are three-fold. Mechanical keyboards have much better tactile feedback, so typing is more comfortable and pleasing. They last much longer, because switches are significantly more durable than membranes. And membrane keyboards are limited in how many keys can be pressed at once, while mechanical keyboards can register many simultaneous keys.

A lot of users think mechanical keyboards are only for gamers, but I believe they are essential for anyone who does extensive typing on a daily basis. I’ve never met someone who regretted upgrading from membrane to mechanical. Check out these mechanical keyboards Which Mechanical Keyboard Should You Buy? 6 Keyboards for Typists and Gamers Which Mechanical Keyboard Should You Buy? 6 Keyboards for Typists and Gamers While CPUs and GPUs remain essential to computer performance, there's an underappreciated peripheral: the keyboard. Everyone uses keyboards, but few people think about them when buying a new PC. Read More to get started.

4. Second Workstation Monitor

As of this writing, I’m stuck with nothing more than an iMac and a Chromebook, but there was a time in my life when I had a double monitor setup — and not a day goes by where I don’t yearn for that setup again. You won’t believe how much it can boost productivity How to Be More Productive with Dual Monitors How to Be More Productive with Dual Monitors You need space for several documents, to get an overview and swiftly shift between tasks. What's true for your desk also applies to your virtual workspace. We show you how it matters. Read More until you try it out yourself.

Prior to buying a separate monitor, you can try using virtual desktops on Windows 10 5 Ways to Improve Virtual Desktops in Windows 10 5 Ways to Improve Virtual Desktops in Windows 10 Virtual Desktops can help you expand and organize your desktop. Here we show you how to improve and productively use Windows 10's Task View feature. Read More or Spaces on Mac — these features allow you to emulate having multiple monitors by allowing you to set up and switch between multiple desktops. You can also use a laptop as an external monitor How to Use Your Laptop Like an External Monitor How to Use Your Laptop Like an External Monitor An extra screen can be an amazing productivity boost. But you don't have to buy an external monitor if you have a spare laptop. We show you how you can link your screens up. Read More .

But nothing beats the actual experience of having a second physical monitor. If you regularly do work on a computer and you’ve never gone beyond a single monitor, you must try this as soon as possible.

5. Convertible Standing Desk

A poor workstation setup can kill your productivity 7 Hacks to Make Your Work Desk More Efficient for Maximum Productivity 7 Hacks to Make Your Work Desk More Efficient for Maximum Productivity Do you feel sore or fatigue? Do your eyes ache or is your neck killing you? An optimized work desk might cure your ailments and boost your productivity. Read More . Sitting too long has been linked with serious health issues 4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long & How To Avoid Them 4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long & How To Avoid Them When you work at any job that requires long hours sitting at a computer - programming, accounting, writing - it is very easy to stay in that one position for eight to nine working hours... Read More , which launched the standing desk movement a few years back. But standing desks can be problematic too! So the recommendation now is to take advantage of both worlds: alternate between sitting and standing every hour or so.

Obviously it’s impractical to have two workstations (though feel free to do that if you can manage it). The solution is to use a convertible standing desk, such as a FlexiSpot Adjustable Standing Desk (UK). You can find cheaper ones, but this one is built well, ergonomic, and spacious. If you decide to go with another one, get one with a keyboard tray to encourage good posture habits.

FlexiSpot 35" Wide Platform Height Adjustable Standing Desk Riser, Removable Keyboard Tray, Black (M2B-M-SIZE) FlexiSpot 35" Wide Platform Height Adjustable Standing Desk Riser, Removable Keyboard Tray, Black (M2B-M-SIZE) 1.Smooth and Stable Movement: Flexi Spot's gas spring hovering system allows the workstation to smoothly adjust for sitting or standing with just a light squeeze of the handles. Buy Now At Amazon $295.00

6. Chromebook

Modern Chromebooks are amazing, especially ones labeled “for Work” which are designed for maximum robustness and performance. But even regular Chromebooks, which rarely cost more than $350,  are well worth their price The Fundamental Advantages Of Using A Chromebook The Fundamental Advantages Of Using A Chromebook Chromebooks are highly divisive and a consensus about the merits of Google's offering is a long way from materialising. Here are the key advantages of using a Chromebook when compared to Windows and Macs. Read More . These days, most users would actually be happier with a Chromebook than with a tablet, laptop, or desktop.

Acer Chromebook for Work, 14" Full HD, Intel Core i3, 8GB Memory, 32GB Storage, Google Chrome, CP5-471-312N Acer Chromebook for Work, 14" Full HD, Intel Core i3, 8GB Memory, 32GB Storage, Google Chrome, CP5-471-312N 6th Generation Intel Core i3-6100U Processor 2.3GHz Buy Now At Amazon $565.19

There are a few caveats, though. First, Chromebooks only support web apps and cloud-based services, so they become useless when you don’t have an internet connection. Second, you need to plug yourself into Google’s ecosystem to get the most out of a Chromebook. Third, you can’t install regular Windows or Mac apps, so Chromebooks aren’t good for professional use.

But if all you do is check email and browse the web, and if you’re happy enough with Google’s online office suite Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing Online solutions are becoming the norm. We decided to see how Microsoft Word stacks up against Google Docs. Which one will do the better research paper? Read More and the apps available on the Chrome Web Store 7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Chromebook 7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Chromebook How do you know if a Chromebook is right for you? In this article, I'm going to explain seven things you need to consider before making a purchase. Read More , then a Chromebook is perfect for you.

7. Streaming Media Device

More people are starting to cut the cord and give up on overpriced cable television packages. Why pay over $100 every month for hundreds of channels you never watch when you can pay anywhere from $10 to $50 for on-demand access to shows you’ll enjoy watching?

We’re talking about services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and others. And here’s the good news: you can actually stream these shows directly to your TV. All you need is one of these streaming media devices to transform your TV into an all-in-one media center.

I personally recommend a Roku; either the streaming stick (UK) or the full-blown media player. They’ll both serve you well. That being said, you can’t go wrong with a Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV. They all work in the same way: plug into your TV, sit back, and enjoy.

Roku 4 Streaming Media Player 4K UHD (4400R) Roku 4 Streaming Media Player 4K UHD (4400R) 2,500+ streaming channels. Choose from the biggest selection of streaming entertainment, including movies, TV shows, music, sports, news, international, kids programming and more. Buy Now At Amazon $94.99

8. Kindle

In retrospect, it’s easy to see how revolutionary the Kindle actually was. Even die-hard book lovers are starting to fall in love with the Kindle’s convenience, and now that there are several different Kindle models available, there’s no excuse to forego it if you like to read.

Obviously, you can skip this if you have no desire to read at all. On the other hand, if you’re an avid reader with a mind for maximum comfort and readability, consider getting a Kindle Oasis. For middle-of-the-road readers, a basic Kindle (UK) or Kindle Paperwhite (UK) will be more than enough.

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers Now available in black or white Buy Now At Amazon $119.99

9. Smart Home Thermostat

Believe it or not, there is a right way to heat and cool your home The Most Energy-Efficient Way to Set Your Thermostat The Most Energy-Efficient Way to Set Your Thermostat In the dead of winter and peak of summer, one question that pops up at least once throughout each season is: how should you set your thermostat so that both comfort and savings are maximized? Read More for maximum savings on energy and money, and most people are doing it wrong. That’s why smart thermostats have exploded in popularity over the last few years: they actually do what they promise!

We previously said that you’ll probably regret smart home gadgets, but this is an exception. A smart thermostat learns your temperature preferences and then adjusts itself to maximize comfort while minimizing waste. (Note that you’ll need to own your home to install one of these. Sorry, apartment dwellers.)

As far as smart thermostats go, you should look into the two main contenders: the Nest Smart Thermostat (UK) and the Ecobee3 Smarter Thermostat. We did a Nest vs. Ecobee3 thermostat comparison Ecobee3 vs. Nest Thermostat: A Head-to-Head Comparison Ecobee3 vs. Nest Thermostat: A Head-to-Head Comparison Did you know that a smart thermostat can boost your home value? It's one of many reasons why a smart thermostat is well worth the initial investment. But which one should you get? Read More in the past, so check that out if you aren’t sure which one to get.

Ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor, Wi-Fi, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor, Wi-Fi, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately) Buy Now At Amazon $10.99

10. Moisture Sensors

If there’s one other smart home device that you buy, let it be a moisture sensor. It goes by different names depending on which smart brand you purchase, but they all operate on the same basic principle: you place the sensor in a leak-prone area and it will alert you when it detects moisture.

Why is this a good buy? Because you can get individual sensors for between $20 to $40, and you can place as many as you want around your house, but most importantly, they can prevent your house from sustaining severe water damage in the case of, say, a broken water pipe.

Water damage can be expensive to repair, so think of these moisture sensors as a form of insurance. Investing just $100 up front for three sensors could save you thousands of dollars in damage later.

Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor Get an immediate alert on your smartphone at the first sign of excess water. Buy Now At Amazon $39.95

11. Light Therapy Lamp

As of this writing, close to 10 percent of the American population suffers from seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called seasonal depression or winter depression. Symptoms may mimic those of depression or burnout; feelings of emptiness or hopelessness, fatigue, restlessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, loss of interest in activities, and more.

If that sounds like you, then you may benefit from regular use of a light therapy lamp 5 Light Therapy Lamps to Beat Winter Depression 5 Light Therapy Lamps to Beat Winter Depression If your depression only sets in during the winter months, then it's likely seasonal -- and in that case, it may be treatable with something as simple as light therapy. Read More . Since winter depression is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight, these lamps aim to restore balance by emulating the effects of sunlight.

But even if you don’t suffer from this, your mental health may still benefit from a particular gadget called the Philips Wake-Up Light (UK). The Wake-Up Light simulates the gradual brightening of a sunrise and combines it with natural sounds to wake you up as naturally as possible. It’s a shining example of how technology can improve day-to-day life Smart Home Technology to Save Money and Improve Your Life Smart Home Technology to Save Money and Improve Your Life The following smart home solutions are practical and relatively inexpensive. Some will even help you save money. Read More . No more sleep-shattering alarms!

Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light With Colored Sunrise Simulation, White Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light With Colored Sunrise Simulation, White Philips' #1 best-selling Wake-up Light; Only Philips Wake-up Lights clinically proven to work Buy Now At Amazon $103.20

Avoiding Disappointment as a Tech Geek

Perhaps the most common source of buyer’s remorse is being an early adopter. We’ve covered several reasons why being an early adopter is a bad idea 5 Reasons Why Being An Early Adopter Is A Bad Idea 5 Reasons Why Being An Early Adopter Is A Bad Idea Are you the type of person who pre-orders the newest tech gadgets as soon as they’re available? Then you’re an early adopter. Is there a downside? Let's find out. Read More , including the fact that early adopters often pay the highest price, don’t have the luxury of hearing other users’ experiences, and tend to be victims of marketing hype.

Want to avoid disappointment? Wait, then buy! You may miss out on the social prestige of participating in hot new trends, but you’ll also avert the associated risks and regrets. You’ll end up saving a lot of money on unnecessary items 7 Tricks That'll Help You Waste Less Money Online 7 Tricks That'll Help You Waste Less Money Online Read More and may even end up happier for it 5 Ways Technology Might Be Feeding Your Depression 5 Ways Technology Might Be Feeding Your Depression Technology can worsen depression. With tech enveloping our lives, we should be more aware of technology's potential impact on us. There are some things you can do to lessen the burden. Read More .

What have you purchased in the last few years that you don’t regret one bit? Or, on the flipside, have you bought anything that you intensely regret? Share with us in a comment below!

Image Credits: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

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  1. MarekM
    March 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Nothing new or useless for me! This is pure advertisement!

  2. twin
    March 7, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    As a developer, I about fell out of my chair after reading this sentence of yours:

    "You can use cloud storage as a backup method, but we don’t recommend it for files that are sensitive or large (i.e., music, videos, photos, game development files, and so on). For these, choose an external data drive instead."

    As a developer, I would never ever ever trust my work to an external hard drive. Any developer in the world will tell you that a source code repository is as essential a tool as a hammer is to a carpenter.

    Two of the most popular cloud tools to choose from are:

    https://bitbucket.org
    https://github.com

    There are many many more listed here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_source_code_hosting_facilities

  3. Maryon Jeane
    March 7, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Yes, got the SSD some time back (although not of course an early adopter!) and love it for the boot speed, even with everything I've got in my startup. I have slight concerns about the longevity factor, but on the other hand that makes me all the more assiduous about my backups(!).

    Thoroughly agree about the external hard drive for mirroring - although I use discrete USBs for my data backup (and swap them over regularly). Never, ever, again will I trust the Cloud for anything after a disastrous time with Evernote.

    Can't get my head round using two monitors, but I think that depends what work you do - for writing I just have lots of windows open and use the good old Alt+Tab combination to flick back and forth - just like flicking over the pages of books in the old days...

    I tried standing up to work but just couldn't get on with it, so I've settled, with great relief, comfortably back into my Herman Miller Aeron Classic (which would be very high on my list of Tech Purchases I've never regretted). However I do set a timer and take regular breaks, and I have some exercisers (including dumbbells) to hand in my office.

    As for the light therapy lamp - yes, yes, yes! Fine if your outside is light and/or sunny (or even remotely warm), but going out is not an option for much of the year here in the UK, certainly as far as light is concerned. And, given that one has to put on layer after layer, plus wellies and things, there are time and practicality constraints. Having a light therapy lamp has made a huge difference in my life and mine is a permanent fixture on my desk.

    Chromebook: not for me. I agree with Glorp that I just don't trust what's behind it - and anyway, as Joel says, it's not a work machine. I have a tablet, though, and I update it with data from my desktop with Send Anywhere so it goes directly across.

    Unfortunately, given that I live in a seventeenth century cottage with incredibly thick walls, the only way I will ever be able to live in a Smart home is if I move (and I hope that's not going to happen!).

    However, as far as my Kindle and my very mechanical Truly Ergonomic keyboard (blue Cherry switches) are concerned - I could barely live without them. I type endlessly, all day and nearly every day, and I want it to stay that way so it's essential that I don't get RSI. When using a membrane keyboard I have to give up after a few hours; with a decent mechanical keyboard (and I think my TE keyboard is the best ever), I can go on and on. I can work through the night if necessary, and when I wake up after finally sleeping my hands, arms and shoulders feel absolutely normal. With my Kindle, what can I say? A voracious reader's dream come true: you carry not only your library with you but also the light to read by!

    Apart from my Aeron chair, the only other thing I would add to this list would be my ScanSnap (Fujitsu scanner). I scan everything into my (household and work) database and my little scanner sits by my side all ready to go. Love it - and it's the key to my having made my life virtually paperless.

    Very thought-provoking article, Joel!

  4. silverlokk
    March 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Joel, if your Chromebook has an HDMI or other video port, you can attach a second monitor. Chrome OS just might support it. I do know that Neverware's CloudReady, a ChromeOS work-alike, does, and have a blog entry in newsbytes.ph

  5. Ken Mitchell
    March 6, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    You don't need a "light therapy lamp"; you just need MORE LIGHT in the MORNING. I have a bank of 4 cheap 40W fluorescent full-spectrum "shop lights" hanging over my computer desk. I get up a half-hour before I "need" to, and click on the lights, and then read my email, surf the web, do whatever for 30 minutes - and I'm good to go for the day.

    Be careful not to turn these lights on in the evening, as you'll have difficulty falling asleep. I also recommend screen-dimming programs like "f.lux" for your PC, "NightShift" for your Mac or iOS gadgets, "Twilight" for your Androids, and "BlueShade" for your Kindle. These reduce the amount of blue light in your environment.

  6. Glorp
    March 6, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Most of this list are good suggestions, but the doubtful and just plain dumb are the:

    1) second workstation monitor - because of the number of virtual desktops one can make which is easier, less expensive and takes up no more space on ones desk

    2) chromebook - yeah, promote a company that wants to take over the world. Nightmares of Microslop all over again and their try at a monopoly anyone?

    3) moisture sensor(s) - yeah, and don't forget to make a nice tinfoil hat. What a waste of money.

    4) light therapy lamp - let's keep enforcing whiny BS 'problems' on people and find more ways for them to spend their money on the 'BS fixerer'.

  7. Doc
    March 2, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Clacky "mechanical" keyboard? No way, my cheap Logitech keyboard makes enough noise as it is.