TIME Gadgets

Buying Guide: Apple’s Holiday Gadgets Lineup

For a company that’s made a lot of money by selling the concept of simplicity, Apple’s holiday lineup features an almost overwhelming number of gadgets. Here’s a look at the main product lines, along with some buying advice for each category.

Computers

MacBook Air Laptops ($899+)

MacBook Air
Apple

When it comes to Apple’s portable computer lineup, you’ve got the less expensive, more portable MacBook Air line or the more expensive, more powerful MacBook Pro line.

There are two base models to choose from in the MacBook Air line: an 11-incher starting at $899 and a 13-incher starting at $999. They were last updated in April of 2014.

The 11-inch model is — surprise — the more portable of the two, weighing in around 2.4 pounds. However, for $100 extra, the 13-inch model gives you a higher-resolution screen, three additional hours of battery life (9 for the 11-inch, 12 for the 13-inch), and an SD memory card slot.

Product Page [Apple.com]

MacBook Pro Laptops ($1299+)

MacBook Pro
Apple

The more potent of Apple’s portables, the MacBook Pro line consists of 13- and 15-inch models with super high-resolution “Retina” screens and a top-of-the-line model with a starting price (before custom configuration) of $2499. The line was last updated in late July of 2014.

They’re still plenty portable: Each model measures less than three quarters of an inch thick, with the 13-incher weighing just shy of 3.5 pounds and the 15-incher weighing just shy of 4.5 pounds.

Making the leap from the base 13-inch model to the base 15-inch model commands a $700 price premium, but nets you a better processor, double the RAM, double the storage, and higher-resolution screen with a better graphics chip. You lose an hour of battery life with the 15-inch model (eight hours versus nine hours for the 13-incher), and there are a couple upgraded 13-inch models to choose from ($1499 and $1799) before you get to the first 15-inch model.

Note that there’s also an aging non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s still for sale with a $1099 starting price. It’s not touted on Apple’s main MacBook Pro page, however, and hasn’t been updated for quite a while. It’s been rumored that it’s being killed off entirely. You can do better with $1099.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iMac All-in-Ones ($1099+)

iMac
Apple

Apple’s all-in-one desktop line comes in 21.5-inch models starting at $1099 and 27-inch models starting at $1799. They were last updated in late September of 2013, with the entry-level model added in mid-June of 2014. The Retina 5K model was added in mid-October 2014 with a $2499 starting price.

The entry-level $1099 jobber tends to steer you into taking a good, hard look at the next step up; a $1299 21.5-inch model which, for $200, gets you a much better processor (2.7GHz quad-core versus a 1.4GHz dual-core), double the storage space, higher-end RAM, and a better graphics chip.

Stepping up to the baseline 27-inch model (starts at $1799), gets you a super high-resolution screen (2560 x 1440), a better processor and a better graphics chip. You’re paying mostly for the enormous 27-inch screen. It’s a really nice screen — I use one for work on occasion — but the rest of the system’s innards aren’t mind-blowing by any means. You can do some custom upgrades to increase the mind-blowingness, of course.

Find another $700 in your couch cushions, and you can step up to the all-new Retina iMac, which starts at $2499 and sports an insanely high-resolution screen (5120 x 2880). Apple blew right past “4K” and is calling this “5K” instead. Aside from the screen technology, this model starts out with a quad-core Intel processor, a faster graphics chip and a faster one-terabyte hybrid (solid-state + standard storage) hard drive.

Product Page (iMac) | Product Page (Retina 5K iMac) [Apple.com]

Mac Mini ($499+)

Mac Mini
Apple

The diminutive Mac Mini desktop is still kicking, with a $499 starting price (d0wn from $599) and the continued understanding that you’ll need to bring your own monitor, keyboard and mouse. There’s a $699 model that gets you almost double the processing speed, double the storage, double the RAM and a better graphics chip. Tough choice, to be honest.

Product Page [Apple.com]

Mac Pro ($2,999+)

Mac Pro
Apple

The Mac Pro comes in quad- and six-core configurations, starting at more than many people’s monthly mortgage payments. If you’re buying this as a gift for someone, you are incredibly generous, well-off or both. Either way: congratulations on all your success!

You should check with this person to see what he or she actually wants out of a Mac Pro. This isn’t a great “surprise” gift, in other words. At the most basic, however, an extra $1000 jumps you from four to six processing cores, and gets you more RAM and a better graphics chip.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPhones

You have four iPhone models to choose from, running the price gamut from free with a two-year contract to $499 with a two-year contract.

iPhones
From left to right: iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C Apple

iPhone 6 Plus ($299+)

Starting on the left-hand side of the above image, the iPhone 6 Plus is Apple’s biggest phone to date. With a 5.5-inch screen, it straddles the tablet-phone chasm with a starting price of $299 with a two-year contract. Going this big (and expensive) gets you a higher-resolution screen than the iPhone 6, optical image stabilization, and longer battery life.

iPhone 6 ($199+)

Apple’s flagship phone until (probably) late 2015, the iPhone 6 attempts to summon Goldilocks with a not-too-big, not-too-small 4.7-inch screen. Apple promises up to 14 hours of 3G talk time or up to 10 hours of web surfing. Like all iPhones, an extra $100 for each trim level gets you more storage, though where previous lines doubled the storage for every $100 you spent, the 6 and 6 Plus jump you from 16 gigabytes to 64 gigabytes this time around. Another $100 pops things up to 128 gigabytes.

iPhone 5S ($99+)

Last year’s flagship model, the iPhone 5S sports a four-inch screen, fingerprint sensor, decent processor and 8-10 hours of continuous-use battery life. It’s still a fine phone, with a good camera and a 32-gigabyte storage option that costs an extra $50.

iPhone 5C (Free)

On the low end, the iPhone 5C is free with a two-year contract, comes in five colors and is available with eight gigabytes of storage. For all intents and purposes, this is a late-2012 iPhone 5 gussied up and re-released in late 2013. An extra $100 gets you more processing power and double the storage in an iPhone 5S, but if you don’t care about that and you don’t care about the fingerprint reader, this one’s a solid choice as a free phone.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPads

You have five iPad models to choose from. Starting prices range from $249 to $499.

iPads
From left to right: iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini Apple

iPad Air 2 ($499+)

The first version of the iPad Air was thinner than a pencil at 0.29 inches. Thanks to a new anti-reflective screen, the iPad Air 2 is thinner than that at 0.24 inches — an 18% reduction — and slightly lighter (like, 0.04 pounds lighter). There’s a souped-up iPhone 6/6 Plus processor onboard, too (the A8X), which Apple says is 40% faster than previous efforts.

Battery life remains 10 hours, as before, and the rear camera has been bumped from five to eight megapixels and can capture time-lapse and slow-motion videos. The front camera has been improved, as well, and wireless connections have been bolstered to provide faster data access.

The newest iPad Air rounds things out by adding the TouchID fingerprint sensor that debuted with the iPhone 5S, so you can unlock the tablet and log into apps and sites without typing passcodes. It’ll be available in gold, silver and gray, and there’s a new 128-gigabyte storage option available starting at $699.

iPad Air

Late November 2013’s iPad Air is sticking around, though this time with a $399 starting price (down from $499). This is still a more-than-fine full-size iPad. Spending the extra $100 on the iPad Air 2 gets you something marginally thinner and marginally lighter, with a better rear-facing camera, the fingerprint sensor and a beefed up processor. If none of these are super important to you, the iPad Air is now a comparatively good deal.

iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini 3 is almost pound-for-pound a shrunken-down iPad Air, all the way down to the $399 starting price. You do get the fingerprint sensor, so there’s that. There’s also a 128-gigabyte option (the iPad Air tops out at 32 gigabytes). It’s smaller and lighter, too, of course (although not thinner) with a starting weight of 0.73 pounds.

iPad Mini 2

If you’re interested in a small iPad, the iPad Mini 2 looks like a really good bet, actually. It’s very similar to the iPad Mini 3, but doesn’t feature the gold color option, the 128-gigabyte storage option or the fingerprint reader. Just about everything else is there, minus $100 off the starting price.

iPad Mini

The iPad Mini is sticking around, with a starting price of $249. If ever you were to try to scrounge up an extra $50, this is the time to do it. Stepping up to the iPad Mini 2 gets you a much better screen and a much better processor. If the price was $199, it’d be a much harder decision. This thing’s already two years old, though.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPods and Apple TV ($49+)

iPod Shuffle ($49)

iPod Shuffle
Apple

This is one of the cheapest Apple gadgets to own. A handful of sawbucks will get you a wearable music player good for 15 hours of playback that can hold hundreds of songs (up to around 500 if you really compress them, but bank on a couple hundred at least). Keep in mind that you’ll need a computer to transfer songs: This little guy has no wireless connection.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPod Nano ($149)

iPod Nano
Apple

The iPod Nano is a good option if you’re looking for a pocketable gadget that can be used for working out, watching video, looking at photos and listening to music. Like the iPod Shuffle, you’ll need to use a computer to load stuff onto it, but it does feature a Bluetooth connection you can use to sync it to your car’s audio system or wireless headphones. And there’s Nike+ integration if you want to track your workouts.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPod Touch ($199+)

iPod Touch
Apple

Buying an iPod Touch is basically like buying a phone-less iPhone 4S, specs-wise. It’s a great option for kids who aren’t ready for a full-fledged cell phone (and the monthly bill it entails), but who want access to apps and a decent camera and fun stuff like that. Best of all, you don’t need a computer to load content onto it; just a Wi-Fi network.

Product Page [Apple.com]

Apple TV ($99)

 TV
Apple

Hooking an Apple TV box up to your TV serves two main purposes. One: You can use it to stream music and video from popular services like Netflix and other providers. Second: You can use its AirPlay feature to sling content from your iPhone, iPad, MacBook and other Apple gadgets, expanding it for viewing on the biggest screen in your house. Your TV is the biggest screen in your house, right? Right?!

Product Page [Apple.com]

TIME How-To

Ask TIME Tech: Good Cheap Tablet for Skype?

We've got a $100 limit and a bunch of real-time video to sling back and forth. Let's go!

Question: My husband and I recently had our first child and we want to be able to Skype with my mom and dad. We (my husband and I) both have iPhones and iPads, so we looked in to FaceTime, but an iPad or iPhone for my parents seemed too expensive. They have a computer, but they don’t like using it all that much, although that could be an option in a pinch. Is there a good, inexpensive tablet we could get them, though? We’d like to keep it around $100 or less if possible.

Short answer: Get Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 6 for $99 or use their existing computer for free.

Long answer: FaceTime is great if everyone has Apple produ–I’m so sorry: Congratulations on your new baby! I just launched right into the answer like a nerdy robot. Rude. I have a child, too. He’s about to turn one. We actually have a similar problem in my family, too, with everyone on different mobile platforms.

Anyway, enough with the small talk. To get Mom and Dad on the FaceTime train, your cheapest option would be to get them an iPod Touch, which is like a phone-less iPhone. Those start at $200; iPads and iPhones go up from there.

Now, if they have a relatively new-ish Mac computer, they’re already able to FaceTime with you guys. They can downloaded FaceTime from the Mac App Store here if they don’t already have it. It’s free. And if they have just about any type of computer with a webcam, they can use Skype for free — download it here.

An easy, cheap, portable option that doesn’t tie Mom and Dad to the computer, though, would be Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 6 tablet. It’s got a powerful enough processor to handle Skype video chats, sports both front- and rear-facing cameras — which is an area where cheap tablets tend to skimp by only including one camera — and has an easy-to-use interface.

The screen measures six inches diagonally, which is small for a tablet. That makes it easy to hold in one hand, but if your parents have poor eyesight or they just want to watch Junior waddle around on as big a screen as possible, this option is almost like giving them an oversized smartphone. The screen itself is sharp, though.

You didn’t mention which kinds of iPhones you and your husband have, but here’s the Amazon tablet sandwiched in between a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader on the left and an iPhone 5S on the right:

Skype Kindle Fire HD
Kindle Paperwhite e-reader (left), Kindle Fire HD 6 tablet (middle), iPhone 5S (right) Doug Aamoth / TIME

The tablet is sized like a thicker, heavier e-reader. Your parents can read books on it, too, along with doing a bunch of other stuff, so that might be a bonus. If they want to use it only for Skype, that’s perfectly fine.

Once they get the tablet, here’s a quick step-by-step for installing Skype. You can either send them to this article and have them watch this quick video or tell them what to do by stepping them through the directions after the video:

Basically, they’ll want to tap “Apps” at the top of the tablet’s main screen, then “Store” in the upper-right corner (there’s a shopping-cart icon), then “Search” in the upper-right corner, then type “Skype” and hit the magnifying glass in the lower-right corner of the keyboard.

Careful: That magnifying glass is right above another magnifying glass that searches the entire tablet. And there are two Skype apps that pop up in the search results. They’ll want to tap the second one. The first one is called “Skype WiFi” and searches for Wi-Fi hotspots. They want the second one: plain old “Skype” with the “S” logo.

They’ll need to create a Skype account, of course. They can create one here or from directly within the app when it first launches.

Good luck!

TIME Paycheck Friday

5 Unique Desk Gadgets for Under $40

Come on, you're making some decent money now. Live a little! Consider blowing your paycheck on these worthy splurges.

Coffee Warmer USB Hub ($16.99)

USB Mug Hub
Vat19

Two questions: Do you like drinking lukewarm coffee? Do you like crawling under your desk to plug in all your gadgets? No, no, a thousand times no to both questions. This is the greatest country in the world: Why shouldn’t you own a device that keeps your coffee warm and lets you plug four USB gadgets into it? It’s called convergence, and you’re the new Convergence Sheriff in this office. Carl Andrews from Biz Dev was the former sheriff but he quit when he bought a B&B up in Kennebunkport in order to make a go of it in the burgeoning hospitality industry. Greatest country in the world, and all: you’ve gotta take advantage of those business opportunities.

[Vat19.com]

Bulletproof Clipboard ($39.99)

Bulletproof Clipboard
ThinkGeek

Look, you could spend a few bucks on a clipboard that doesn’t stop bullets. But why not spend $40 on a clipboard that does stop bullets. For starters, it’s quite a conversation piece. I don’t know about you, but in my line of work, we talk about clipboards on a daily basis. Having a bulletproof clipboard adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to just about any clipboard-related conversation. If you’re in a clipboard-related conversation and the other person isn’t interested in your bulletproof clipboard, walk away. It’s not worth pursuing, personally or professionally.

[ThinkGeek]

Heated Lotion Dispenser ($39.95)

Lotion Heater
Hammacher Schlemmer

Your reputation at work is that of a normal, down-to-earth, model employee. Let’s shake things up a bit. Bring this dispenser into the office and you could be known as the creepy, hot-lotion person. Someone stops by your desk to chat about clipboards? Send them on their way with a handful of hot, greasy lotion. People in a meeting need a little perking up? “Hey, you guys are more than welcome to some of my hot lotion,” you’ll say. Your boss wants to talk about your performance? Make sure that initial handshake is firm and hot, yet baby-skin soft.

[Hammacher Schlemmer]

Zamboni Desk Vacuum ($14.94)

Zamboni
Amazon

It’s come to my attention that some of you didn’t grow up in Minnesota like I did. But where I come from, the Zamboni is more highly-revered than the sportiest of sports cars. All kids want one, but only one kid in your high school grows up to drive one on a daily basis (Hi, Rob!). Thankfully, the mighty Zamboni has been shrunken down and outfitted with some potent suction, perfect for snorting up all those unsightly Cheez-It bits you have a habit of dropping. Just as your body is a temple, so too is your desk a hockey rink of productivity. Keep it clean.

[Amazon]

Mousing-Hand Garage ($38.98)

Hand Garage
Thanko

Other than stepping in a puddle while wearing socks, there’s not much worse than saddling up to a cold desk surface first thing in the morning in the dead of winter. How are you supposed to gracefully tab through those mountainous spreadsheets when your dexterity’s been compromised by sub-optimal hand and wrist temperatures?! This USB-powered hand garage keeps your digits nice and toasty while you’re clicking and scrolling during even the most blustery of nor’easters.

[eBay]

Past Nonsense:

TIME Diversions

404 Forever: 10 of the Web’s Best Error Pages

When you've fat-fingered your way to a page that doesn't exist, the tried and true 404 is there to greet you. In no particular order, here are some of the funniest, most addictive and most creative around.

Sad Server

ACM

Man, this web server is a sad, sad sack. It goes on and on and on, at times blaming itself and at times blaming you for expecting too much of it. Buck up!

Link

404 Pac-Man

Blue Fountain Media

I shouldn’t be saying this, but this is the best 404 page on this list. You could click away to some other site now. It kills our time-on-site stats, but I’m just trying to shoot you straight. This error page lets you play Pac-Man inside a giant 404-shaped level. I found it to be more fun than the standard Pac-Man level, even.

Link

Underground Error

BlueDaniel

This one’s definitely elaborate and artsy. Wait for the subway car to show up, then click on one of the open doorways to climb aboard. Once inside, you’re treated to a sleeping passenger and a girl who likes to take photos of stuff. It feels like a scene in a ’90s-era full-motion adventure game.

Link

Screaming Goat

Bluegg

This goat is upset that it’s reached an error page. It shows its frustration by screaming like a human. Then the whole scene repeats itself. You’ll laugh at the scream more than once, assuming you find it funny the first time. Disclosure: I found it funny the first time.

Link

Lloyd Christmas Can’t Believe What He’s Seeing

Codeo

No! No, no, no, no, no!!!

Link

Bubble Pop

Hot Dot

This error page features a tiltable 404 made of luminescent, bubble-like circles. Click on a section of one of the numbers and watch a bunch of the circles go flying, only to repopulate moments later. You can get trapped here for a while if you’re not careful.

Link

Yes, Exactly

Kvartirakrasivo

Can’t read what this error page says? Who cares?! Something’s gone haywire, and the two stick figure construction dudes respond by dancing. With a page title like “Ooopps… 404″ and its jibbly-yup-yup (new term!) music, this is the most wonderfully weird error page on the list.

Link

Newman!

Nouveller

An homage to Jurassic Park‘s famous hacking scene, here’s Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight in real life — arguably most well-known as Newman on Seinfeld) scolding you for touching his keyboard. Hint: type “reboot system” three times to get things moving.

Link

This Could Go On For Days

Tripomatic

This travel site’s 404 page features a soothing, endlessly watchable sunrise-sunset-moonrise loop that delicately blends background hues together, bringing out the stars at night and blue skies during the day.

Link

Can I Leave Now?

visitsteve

Appropriately titled “The Most Awkward 404 Not Found Page on the Internet,” artist Steve Lambert’s error page features an excruciatingly long video of him explaining that you don’t have to hang around the error page if you don’t feel like it. Bonus points if you watch the whole thing. I did.

Link

Honorable Mentions

More Like Homestar Ruiner

Z - Homestar

Though not technically a 404 page, this Homestar Runner cartoon about the site crashing has aged well after all these years. The site does have an actual 404 page, which you can find here.

Link

“We’ve Got Motion!”

And last but certainly not least, the video embedded in this 404 page for Nosh.com’s site is no longer working (irony!), but the original (embedded above) that used to play there is truly outstanding.

Link

TIME How-To

Gmail Tips: Get Organized with Labels and Filters

Hi, there. I’m going to use an email message from my friend Ben to show you how to organize your Gmail inbox a little better.

First order of business: never delete messages. We’re going to archive them instead. This is the equivalent of taking every piece of physical mail that’s ever been sent to your house and putting it in your basement instead of throwing the mail you don’t need or don’t care about away. If you do this in real life, you’re crazy. If you don’t do this online, you’re crazy.

There are three buttons above every message: one that looks like a box (Archive), then an exclamation point inside a stop sign (Report spam), then a trash can (Delete). Unless you’re running really low on Google storage space (you probably aren’t), always use Archive when you’re done reading a message that you’d like to file away and retrieve later (or never).

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now, I need a place to file this message away. I’m going to create a label for it. Click the label-looking thing up at the top of the message and choose “Create new” to — you guessed it — create a new label.

Gmail Tricks
Google

I’m going to call this label “Emails from Ben” since it will contain emails from Ben.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now that the label has been created, you’ll notice a little link that says “Emails from Ben” next to the subject of the email message. Clicking that label will take me to a list of all the emails I’ve labeled as “Emails from Ben.” There will only be one email on that list right now, though. Oh, and I can add multiple labels to each message if I like. If Ben were a member of my family (he’s not) and he emailed me about some bill that needed paying, I could label that message “Emails from Ben” and “Household” if I wanted to. That’s for the advanced class, though.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now, I could just manually label every email from Ben under “Emails from Ben” but I’m a busy, important, handsome man who doesn’t have time for that nonsense. Let’s automate this process. Under the More button, I’ll choose “Filter messages like these” to create a filter.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Here is where you’ll need to be wearing elastic-leg undergarments if you tend to get too excited by technology. I’ll create a filter that does something (I’ll denote the “something” next) every time I get an email from Ben. This filter will work off of his email address, but I could set different parameters or additional parameters. That’s also for the advanced class. For this go-around, we’ll stick to Ben’s email address. Click “Create filter with this search” to move on.

Gmail Tricks
Google

As you can see, I have a lot of options here. Every time I get an email from Ben, I can archive it immediately, mark it as read, star it, and a bunch of other fun stuff. I’m going to choose to “Apply the label” and choose the “Emails from Ben” label we made a few steps earlier. And since I want all past emails from Ben to get categorized under the “Emails from Ben” label (but I don’t want to label them all by hand), I’m going to choose the “Also apply filter to matching conversations” checkbox at the bottom before clicking the “Create filter” button.

Gmail Tricks
Google

Now every email that Ben has sent me from that particular email address should show up under the “Emails from Ben” label that’s accessible from the left-hand column. And every email I get from him in the future will automatically get the “Emails from Ben” label applied to it automatically. When I’m done reading a message from him, I’ll archive it and know where to quickly find it later.

Gmail Tricks
Google

“Well, that was stupid,” you’re saying. Maybe so, but this sorcery can be applied to a whole bunch of other stuff.

Let’s say, for instance, that I want to sign up for a website that requires an email address but I don’t want to give this website my real address. I can add a “+” to my Gmail username between my name and the “@” to create a Gmail alias. I can then filter messages sent to “doug+spam@gmail.com” to either skip my inbox altogether and/or to get automatic labels applied to them.

Here’s a quick video of the process in action:

In essence, learning how to work with labels and filters allows you to create several automated traffic cops that can sling your email around as you see fit. Once you’ve tweaked everything a bit, you’ll notice a cleaner inbox despite spending less time dealing with email.

TIME Paycheck Friday

5 Unique Junk-Food Gadgets for Under $70

Come on, you're making some decent money now. Live a little! Consider blowing your paycheck on these worthy splurges.

Condiment Gun ($9.99)

condiment_gun
ThinkGeek

Take a moment right now to reexamine your life. Have you lived it to its fullest? Think long and hard about your past condiment dispersals. Have they all been from easy-open packets and plastic containers?

It’s time to live – LIVE! – thanks to this condiment gun. Load it up with your favorite fatty, sugary slatherables (there are two cartridges), pull the trigger and blast your way to satiety – no concealed-carry permit required.

[ThinkGeek]

Hand-Crank Flan Maker ($49)

flan-egg
Japan Trend Shop

For starters, I was not aware that flan was made simply by jumbling an egg around for a couple minutes, boiling it for 30 seconds and then dumping some caramel sauce on top of it. That seems way too easy, but what do I know? I can’t even make toast, which is supposed to be easy.

This adorable hand-crank apparatus promises “custard flan-style desert” by following the aforementioned steps, and as a bonus, offers this must-see video detailing the process. The somber scene of an egg jovially singing the flan-making song before watching one of his friends being spun to death should not be lost on anyone:

[Japan Trend Shop]

Indoor S’mores Maker ($69.95)

smores
Hammacher Schlemmer

Admit it: You bought this thing without even reading about it. What combination of words could I possibly cobble together with my extremely limited vocabulary in order to do this product justice? It’s an indoor S’mores maker.

Again, this is an indoors S’mores maker. It allows you to make S’mores inside.

Blizzard? No problem. Hurricane? Fine with me. Armageddon? Leave me alone, my chocolate has reached the perfect melting point. There’s even a circumferential tray that holds your marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate. Come on, now.

[Hammacher Schlemmer]

Car Grill ($50)

car grill
12 Volts Plus

You’ve heard the sayings: Work smarter, not harder. Time is money. Madge, I soaked in it.

Maybe strike that last one, but the first two are relevant here. Won’t you just look like a genius using your morning commute to fry up some greasy, crackling pig meat on this 12-volt grill. Hey, throw a hash brown on there while you’re at it. Crack an egg or two.

No need to feel guilty, either. The sloped grill drains grease down into a bottom-mounted receptacle that definitely (probably, maybe, who knows) won’t cause any spillage when you sink your front tire into that pothole or bottom out while going over that speed bump.

[12 Volts Plus]

App-Connected Baking Kit ($69.99)

perfect bake
Perfect Bake

You’re not anal; you’re particular. If a recipe calls for a cup of flour, who are you to eyeball it? Quit playing God!

Thankfully, this app-connected baking kit ensures that everything gets measured out perfectly – right down to the ounce.

Put a bowl on the scale, connect the scale to your phone or tablet and pull up one of the hundreds of included recipes. The app will tell you which ingredients to add and will adjust the measurements on the fly if you overpour. Not that you would ever, ever, ever overpour. Can you imagine? What a nightmare! You’re not anal. You’re not anal.

[Brookstone]

Past Nonsense:

TIME How-To

Shop Amazon Smarter with These Quick Tricks

Amazon
Daniel Acker -- Bloomberg / Getty Images

Many of us have shopped Amazon for years without really digging into some of its handier features. Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks.

Get Alerts When Prices Drop

If you’re keeping an eye on a particular product, you can get alerts when its price drops. Head over to CamelCamelCamel.com, create an account and set up an alert. If the item is in stock and dips below the price threshold you set for it, you’ll be notified.

If you’re not sure what you want, you can check out the most highly discounted items in the site’s Top Drops section.

Get Alerts When Out-of-Stock Items Are Available Again

You can set up this trick directly from Amazon’s site. If an item you want is out of stock, click the “Email me” button to the right of the item’s heading.

To check which items you’re tracking, head to the Availability Alert section of your account to get an overview of which items are back in stock or to cancel alerts for items you don’t care about anymore.

Share Two-Day Prime Shipping with Someone

If you pay $100 a year for Amazon Prime — which includes free two-day shipping on many items, free streaming video, free streaming music and free ebooks — you can share the two-day shipping privileges (but not the other goodies) with up to four family members.

Head over to Manage Prime Membership, and click “Invite a Household Member.” Then enter the person’s name, how they’re related to you, their email address and their birthday. Don’t worry: You can remove people later to make space for new additions as your family bonds strengthen and wither.

Get Text Alerts for Shipment Updates

If you want to keep a close eye on that American Girl doll you ordered for yourse—err…daughter, you can sign up to receive text messages while it’s being shipped.

Head to the Shipment Updates via Text section of your account and enter your mobile number to sign up. Thankfully — or unfortunately, depending how closely you want to track the item – you’ll only get texts between 10am and 11pm Eastern time. No middle-of-the-night wakeup dings, in other words.

Fine Tune Your Email Subscriptions

You can subscribe to get emails about specific item categories sent with varying frequency by checking out the E-Mail Subscriptions section of your account. There, you’ll find everything from apps to wine, along with several subsections for each.

Re-Watch Videos You’ve Purchased

Amazon offers many of its digital videos as time-limited rentals, but if you choose to purchase a video outright, you can watch it again and again. All the movies and TV shows you own can be found in the Your Video Library section of Amazon Instant Video.

Find Items You’ve Looked At Recently

You can take a quick walk down memory lane by cruising the Browsing History section of your account. There, you’ll find a list of recently-ogled items, and can delete items you don’t want showing up in your history at all.

If you want to turn off your browsing history altogether, head over to the Manage Your Browsing History section.

Turn Off Ads That Have Been Personalized to You

Amazon uses your shopping behavior to personalize ads for you based on what the company thinks you like. You might see these ads on Amazon itself or on other websites that display Amazon ads. You can turn off this personalization by heading to the Advertising Preferences section of your account. Note that you’ll still see Amazon ads here and there; they just won’t be personalized to your tastes.

Sell Your Stuff to Other Amazon Shoppers

If you own an item that Amazon is selling, you can sell it yourself directly to other buyers. It’s a pretty quick and simple process.

It doesn’t apply to just any item, but if an item’s eligible, you’ll see a “Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon” link below the “Add to Cart” button on the right-hand side of the product page.

Click the “Sell on Amazon” button, select the item’s condition, the quantity you’re selling, and then set the price. You can upload a photo of the item, too, if you like.

If you choose to ship the item yourself, Amazon will reimburse you for shipping charges. If you want to sell a bunch of items, you can ship them all to Amazon and have the company ship items out to buyers as they sell. Regardless of your shipping method, Amazon will take a cut of each sale; the fee depends on the type of product but it usually isn’t too outrageous.

Have 0.5% of Your Order Go to Charity

Instead of going to Amazon.com to buy stuff, simply go to AmazonSmile.com and select a charity first. There are a handful of spotlight charities to choose from, but you can search for other eligible charities as well. Once that’s set up, you’ll be dropped off at Amazon to shop as you normally would.

If you see an item that says “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” below the price on the product page, your charity of choice will get half a percent of the item’s purchase price when you check out.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser