Price: $199 What it does: 8GB, lightweight tablet for reading, searching, watching and more. Why it’s worth it: If you’re going to go for a tablet, odds are the Nexus 7 can do everything you need it to do. The tablet has a 1280×800 display, and Google claims it’ll run for 10 hours of reading or 8 hours of HD video playback on a single charge.
Running on Jelly Bean, the Nexus 7 gives you access to all the apps you’re going to want, and it fully integrates with Gmail, Google+ and other Google services. The Nexus 7 is smaller and more portable than the iPad, and it’s lighter than the Kindle Fire, which is why it gets our vote.
Price: $3.99 What it does: Gets you in and out of the subway in the most efficient way possible Why it’s worth it: New York City subway stations are huge; there are multiple entrances and exits, and not knowing your way around can add unnecessary minutes to your commute (and if you’re like me, you’re already running late most of the time). ExitStrategy is a commuter guru in your pocket — it’ll tell you what route to take, where to enter the station, what car to get on and what exit to go through in order to get from A to Z in the fastest way possible.
There’s an interactive MTA subway map, a Manhattan street map (with addresses overlayed) and subway entrances/exits, and MTA bus maps for all five boroughs. Best of all, it works underground, where service is lacking.
Price: $849 What it is: The coolest stroller you’ve ever seen Why it’s worth it: Moms can rejoice — the Origami folding stroller means that you can close the stroller with a single command, instead of trying to compress it down while holding a baby, a bag, a bottle, a phone and more. While moms embrace multitasking, we’re guessing that dealing with stroller mishaps is something they’ll gladly forgo. From the outside, the Origami looks like any other stroller, but within it are motors that will quietly flatten the stroller into a compact shape (it’ll unfold automatically, too).
While you push your tot along the street, kinetic energy from the back wheels charge up the stroller’s battery, which means you don’t ever have to plug the stroller in. Better yet, you can charge your cellphone or MP3 player with the energy. Wondering how many miles you’ve pushed? The triptometer and speed gauge will tell you. Now that’s innovation.
Price: $79 a year What it does: Gets you free, two-day shipping on million of items (with no purchase minimums), streaming of movies and television shows and access to thousands of Kindle books. Why it’s worth it: For city dwellers, it can be pretty inconvenient to have to go to Radio Shack and the grocery store and the drug store — first you have to find the time to get there, then you need to drag everything home. Why not order everything you need online and get it delivered to your door — at no extra cost — through Amazon?
And you can probably toss that Netflix subscription you have, and maybe even TiVo or cable, because you can stream movies and TV shows right to your laptop (use an HDMI cable to hook it up to your TV). Just this week, Amazon signed a multi-year movie streaming deal with Epix, an entertainment channel that partners with several major movie studios, that will double the selection of streaming movies for Amazon Prime members.
Though the yearly fee may seem like a large sum, it’s easy to make the service totally worth it — by using it a lot.
Price: $4.99 on iTunes, $2.99 on Android What it does: Lets you save articles and videos to read later (offline or online) Why it’s worth it: You don’t have time to read a 10,000 word Vanity Fair piece during the workday — use the Instapaper bookmarklet to save the article to your Instapaper account, and then you can queue it up when you do have time to read it, like when you’re heading crosstown on a bus, stuck underground on the subway or in the perennially long line at Trader Joe’s. The content is available offline, so it’ll work underground and where reception is shoddy.
The Hot List highlights tech products that are worth splurging on, and it’s presented by the new Acura ILX. With technology centered around your life and a design that pushes all the right buttons, luxury starts here.
Price: $99.95 What it does: Recharge your smartphone, sans outlet Why it’s worth it: When you’re out and about all day — checking email, making calls, navigating on maps and posting tweets, your smartphone battery is bound to dip into the red. The Mophie is a protective case that doubles as a portable charger — just charge the Mophie overnight, and attach it to the phone in the morning. When your phone’s battery gets dangerously low, flip the switch on the Mophie to start replenishing the phone’s battery. That means no more running into Starbucks and being tethered to an outlet while you rejuice.
Mophies are available for iPhone and Android, and there’s also powerstation model that charges smartphones, tablets and MP3 players via USB.
Price: Typically a $60 annual fee, plus an hourly or daily rate for usage What it does: Offers you a car when you need it, eliminating the need for you to have your own car … and pay for a parking spot and insurance. Why it’s worth it: Most cities are walkable, and you can get by without having a car on a daily basis. But for those stockpiling trips to Costco or outings to the big game, it helps to have some wheels. Zipcar has wheels for you in many major cities, and they’re likely not too far from where you live.
Price: Grocery prices are competitive; delivery rate depends on the load and location What it does: Delivers groceries straight to your home or office Why it’s worth it: Without a car and, likely, an elevator, grocery shopping in the big city can be quite the laborious activity. You either have to go frequently and buy small loads, or suck it up and go big, then trudge home or waste money on a cab. Enter FreshDirect, which has 250,000 customers in the New York area (similar concepts exist in other major cities, too). FreshDirect’s typical transaction amount is $120 — a sum that would fill more bags than one could comfortably carry home in Manhattan, and a fact that speaks to the service’s convenience factor.
FreshDirect’s warehouse has seven different climates to keep various products at optimal temperatures, helping the company purvey top-quality food. Want your meat cut a certain width? No problem. Like your apples a certain way? They’ll do it. Plus, FreshDirect’s quality freshness ratings highlight the day’s top produce, and a “featured recipes” function adds a recipe’s ingredients to your shopping cart in one click. Sounds a bit easier than trolling the neon-lit aisles, no?
Price: The iPhone and Android apps are free; fares vary depending on the trip What it is: Premium, on-demand black car service to get you where you need to go — in style. Why it’s worth it: Sometimes a taxi doesn’t do. Maybe you’re trying to make a splash on a date, you need a little more room or you’re in a remote place where cabs aren’t passing. If you’re in one of 14 cities, drop your pin and request a private driver via Uber. You’ll have already synced your credit card with the app, which means all the payment will be taken care of seamlessly and via mobile — so no fussing around with a credit card swipe. Fares are slightly higher than standard cab rates, but we think it’s worth it.