What Gadgets I’ve Been Using: Garmin Vivofit Fitness Tracker, UE Bluetooth Speaker, Clever Coffee Dripper, Babyfood

I’m not a big gadget guy but I realized that I’ve been acquiring several over the past few months and thought I’d share a few that have been working well.

vivofit– Garmin Vivofit. The biggest revolution in football right now is not on the chalkboard or even in the stadium; it’s on the practice field, in the weight room and often even continues once the players have gone home — it’s the rise of so-called “sports science.” I wrote about some of the ways Chip Kelly monitors and tracks his players, and most of the NFL and many of the best college teams are using this technology to monitor and track their players. We’re in a world of data.

The Vivofit fortunately does not cost $25,000, but I’ve found it still generates — and most importantly prominently displays — a great deal of useful data. The Vivofit, along with most of the other leading “fitness trackers,” focuses on tracking your steps, reminding you when you’ve been inactive too long, and even monitors the amount and restfulness of your sleep. I’ve been thrilled with mine and it has definitely served its purpose of motivating me to keep hitting and surpassing my daily goals, which can be set manually or automatically by the software based on my own history. These devices are all very new — just ask most major college football and NFL programs which are experimenting with trackers of varying levels of sophistication (and cost) — and I’m guessing the next generation will render the current crop obsolete. But until then I’ve been very happy. I chose the Vivofit over the Fitbit because I wanted a tracker that displayed the number of steps, miles, calories and so on right on the face of the device. All of these devices sync with an app to track your progress over time, but I like being able to check mine in real time. The Vivofit also displays red lines if you’ve been inactive too long, which gets to the purpose of these devices: It’s not to perfectly track my steps or calories (though I certainly expect it to be close), but instead to keep me moving. At that it’s been very effective.

– UE Mini Boom Wireless Speaker. Bluetooth speakers don’t always give you the best sound quality but it’s hard to beat them for convenience — connecting your phone, iPad or other device to this speaker is a cinch. I liked this one based on its small size — portable means portable even though I typically use it at home — and the sound quality has been excellent (considering it is bluetooth). It sounds good both playing my music, as well as a few baby songs.

Beaba Babycook. As a first time parent I could probably write up a bunch of products we tried and eventually settled on (only for our daughter to quickly grow past them) but the Babycook was a very efficient way to make babyfood at home. There’s nothing this machine does that you can’t do without it — it is basically just a food processor with a built in steamer/boiler — but being able to do it in one device with simple settings made it easy to cook a bunch of babyfood (typically to be frozen for later consumption). If I’ve learned nothing as a parent it’s that anything that saves a little time and makes life a little easier is well worth it, and this was the best way we found to make our own (hopefully healthy) babyfood.

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Headphone. I finally broke down and got some headphones that weren’t in-ear (sorry Beats) and I got these for both the home and office. They aren’t the most stylish headphones but the sound quality is tremendous and the noise canceling is good (maybe too good, as people sometimes sneak up on me while I’m wearing them). They aren’t good for travel or commuting — that’s what the in-ear headphones are for — but they have been as advertised.

Clever Coffee Dripper. There’s lots of ways to make coffee, and there’s nothing wrong with any of them. But the Clever Coffee Dripper, which costs between $15-22, is in my view both the easiest way and makes the best coffee — as evidenced by the fact that if I order a cup at my favorite local coffeeshop made this way it costs like $11. It’s just pour over coffee, but this device makes it easy to make a cup or two in a container and then easily get your coffee into the cup without having to stand there dripping it in slowly. The video below shows how it works.