Less than a week ago, Amazon announced plans to further unify our lives, entertainment, and cultural experiences by boldly going into a medium it hasn’t before: the small screen. Yes, with a recognized and wildly popular platform—the company’s innovative Kindle tablet—already streaming video to millions of faithful denizens, Amazon is seeking to maintain this success while upping the coziness quotient. Through a set-top box that provides widespread television, web, and mobile integration, The “Kindle TV” (as it’s been dubbed by certain press outlets) could revolutionize comfort and convenience.
The company obviously stands to benefit greatly from horizontal expansion. Between their streaming software Amazon Prime gaining rights to hit shows, the production of their own television pilots and a growing market for apps, Amazon could develop a media strong hold. Such a prospect could challenge competing multimedia set-tops Roku and Apple TV, as well as broader devices from Playstation and Xbox. Given their potential market permeation, they may not even have to reach out to competing video streaming services Netflix, Hulu or YouTube to gain any clout.
Is this overstatement? Theoretically, no. With a built-in membership base and Amazon.com (the eighth most popular website) to convince and convert consumers in a trusted environment, momentum and enthusiasm seem inevitable. Imagine finding exactly what you’ve been shopping for, streaming your favorite videos, and organizing your time with convenient apps all from the comfort of your living room couch. Who would say no to that? You could even control it with your Kindle, providing a potent sales double whammy for the home shopping behemoth. Home control through your TV, tablet, or other future mobile developments wouldn’t be that much harder to accomplish, letting you turn on the heater or unlock the doors without needing to get up.
Of course, this is almost all conjecture, and we can’t quite ascertain what Amazon intends from our current vantage—only people working on the set-top project know that. But with participants who have developed impressive systems for Cisco, Apple and TiVo in the past, it seems Amazon could develop another technological game-changer like the Kindle. Only time will tell.
Of course, every appliance is different and there are always a lot of factors to consider. But there are a few that will be relevant whether you’re equipping your kitchen or buying a simple dust-buster.
Budget- Your budget is probably the primary factor in which appliance you’ll end up with. Even a small budget doesn’t have to mean that you will end up with junky appliances; it just means that you will have to prioritize the other factors that we’ll talk about below. Although there may be some compromises, if you plan ahead
Energy Efficiency- This is obviously going to be more relevant for larger machines and things that run continually. Central air conditioners and heaters are some of the major things to look out for because they both cover large spaces and are run fairly consistently during their respective seasons. Dryers are used all year round and use a lot of electricity per hour. There are a number of different rating systems but the most common is Energy Star certification. Products earn this label by meeting certain requirements that take into account functionality and energy consumption among other factors.
Use- There is a wide range of technology for every appliance. These days, there are options for touch-screen controls on every appliance for controlling fancy timers, temperature settings and extra features. There are also still plenty of options if you just want the basics. As cool as some of these extras may sound, they won’t be very helpful if you can’t figure out how to use them. When you’re trying to fit in a load of laundry between millions of other chores, are you really going to spend time sorting the 100% cotton from the 90% to get each one into the perfect temperature? Probably not. Make sure to think realistically about how much you can really handle without too much time and effort so you don’t end up wasting money.
Space- With the exception of heaters and air conditioners, you want most appliances to have a lot of space on the inside while taking up as little floor space as possible. As with all the other factors that go into decision making about appliances, this one takes some planning ahead. Measure your space ahead of time so that you don’t get anything too big. Once you’ve done, it’s just a matter of finding the appliance with the smallest inside volume to outside size ratio.
The more I write about being a smart consumer, the more I believe that the trick is not so much deciding what to buy as what NOT to buy. I was recently in the beautiful, immaculate kitchen of a good friend where she serves up scrumptious and sophisticated three course meals. If I try to make a simple pasta dinner my kitchen ends up being a disaster for the next three days. What is a sophisticated tool in my friend’s kitchen quickly becomes greasy unwashed clutter in mine. Therefore I can’t allow myself all the quirky gadgets and appliances that I’d love to spring for. But I can dream, right? And so today for your reading pleasure: a list of the top 10 unusual appliances that I will never buy. Go through and decide for yourself, which of these would be a savvy shopping choice for your kitchen?
10. Tomato Sauce Maker- This basically looks like a meat grinder with a sieve attached to separate liquid from seeds and other solids. It would be nice to imagine myself making fresh tomato sauce instead of buying the prepared stuff that’s loaded with sugar.
9. Rab Mixer- I’m not sure exactly why you’d want your hand mixer to look like neon green bunny but if you do, it’s out there. You can also get it in white, black, yellow and orange.
8. Smoking Gun- This looks like a garden hose attached to a beer tap, attached to a smoking pipe, attached to a nail gun. You light it, and it lets you smoke meat and other foods by hand, without taking up any major counter space.
7. Food Evaporator- Looking like it came out of the lab of a mad scientist, this one takes the liquid or broth from any food you’ve just made and evaporates it down to a syrup that can be used to flavor other dishes later.
6. Medieval Espresso Machine- This may just be a regular espresso machine in functionality but it’s designed to look like a giant spiky morning star on legs. Necessary? Not so much. Awesome? Oh yeah.
5. Portable Toaster- Imagine a big white butter knife with a button on the handle. Instead of spreading butter, this one spreads heat as you moving it across your bread. As a bonus: the heat setting is demonstrated in how many butterflies are showing on the knife’s surface.
4. Bang Bang Egg Steamer- This one I could almost justify. Instead of boiling a pot of water to cook a hard-boiled egg, you can put up to 4 eggs in egg shaped compartments around a small center dial, set the time and the egg gets cooked using steam. Saves water and looks cool!
3. The Smile Toaster- I know, we already had a toaster. But this one will toast a smiley face into your toast. Plus, it’s made of transparent glass heating elements, which means that you can watch your toasty turning that crispy brown color.
2. Fresh Sensor- Simply hold this handle near your meat, press the button and it will tell you how fresh the meat is (with 3 different levels of freshness). I’m not sure I’d trust it, but it’s a nice idea.
1. Spinning Spaghetti Fork- This is pretty self-explanatory and my personal favorite. Just stick the fork into your spaghetti and press the button for it to twirl itself. Sounds like a lot of messy fun to me.