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Ask HN: What under $100 item would you recommend everyone buy?
59 points by stickhandle on Mar 27, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 138 comments

An ebook reader. Both the cheapest version of the Kobo and the Kindle cost around USD60-70.

I've gone from reading ~10 books per year to reading ~80 books per year, just because I always carry that thing with me since it's so small and light.

I also save a ton of money since printed books are so expensive in Australia, and out-of-copyright books are free.

The formatting of technical non-fiction books for e-readers has come a long way, too.

I read a hell of a lot, and I really enjoy walking around charity shops to buy "random" paperbacks (about 50p each, or 15 for £5)

I didn't want a kindle for the longest time, because the process of browsing and choosing books was part of the fun, along with the smell and feel of paper.

That said I've bought one, and acquired a lot of material, and I've grown to like it an awful lot more than I ever expected I would.

Currently I'm planning a holiday to Helsinki, and I know that I'll be taking it with me because it is so very small, and contains a whole bunch of material. But I'll hate myself a little for it.

I do a lot of online reading, plus PDFs and books. How easy is it to transfer something to Kindle for reading at the moment of finding it online on a computer? We can take Wikipedia articles and PDFs as examples. (PS: A non-cloud based transfer solution where they cannot track what I am reading is more preferable to me.)

You can literally email the PDF or other formats to a unique address for you and your Kindle after you set up the account. http://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email

Seconded. I love that I can backup my entire library to S3 as a zip file, and that I can carry my entire collection of books with me in my Kindle (vs the mammoth bookcase full of hundreds of books I used to have).

I agree a ton with this. I liked to read before getting an ereader, but since then my reading has grown exponentially simply because it is so easy to put new books on it. Now I am rereading a lot of books that I used to love but couldn't make it to a library to borrow. I've also started reading new books too, simply because it is less of a commiment to get them now.

You got my attention.

Which reader do you recommend?

I have a third-generation Kindle 3G (edit: [2]), and I'm happy with it - since I never used a cover I got a few broken "pixels" on the display, but these are not very annoying, they look more like ink smudges. I'll probably get the new Paperwhite next (and definitely with a cover!).

For software I use Calibre, I have never used Amazon's own thing. If I buy from Amazon I use the USB cable and Calibre to transfer it, the WLAN/whispernet is always off. That way battery lasts for about a month and I don't get any "unexpected surprises" from Amazon [1]

I have held the Kobo in store and it's pretty much identical in terms of dimensions/clarity/weight. Not sure about the rest.

[1] Like this one: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18ama...

[2] Here's one on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Amazon-Kindle-3rd-Generation-WI-FI-w...

I recommend you an used Sony PRS-350. Smaller than others and best contrast yet I have seen on any ebook reader to date. But no WIFI, if you want that, go with the kindle.

A slidebelt ($28). I recently bought one and it's superior to any belt I've ever owned. It instantly tightens if I want to run, and with only slightly less effort loosens. It's exactly the right tightness, no holes. If you're losing weight and the belt is sticking out too far, just take it out of the buckle, cut, replace it within the buckle. And since the makers don't have to worry about variable belt lengths, they can make it up for it by offering a variety of buckle designs and belt colors.

It is Correctly Designed and a joy to use.


This type of belt is really popular almost the standard in Asia.

I'm Indian, and surprised that this the top suggestion. Slide belts are ubiquitous here.

Wow, this was insanely well timed. I was in the market for a decent belt and just bought one!

Ordered 3! Great suggestion!

and... ordered.

If you cook at all: Infrared thermometer.

How hot is that pan? Is my oven thermometer accurate? I'm proofing yeast, is this water too warm? How cold is my freezer? Is my smoker ready? Is that caramel done?

I got a cheap $15 one and I use it nearly every day.

I get how this could be useful for things, like checking the inside of a steak.

But my only concern is that I've cooked my whole life without worrying about temperature. I have now learned how something "cooked" looks, and how long it should take. So if I were to get a temperature reading I'd have no knowledge of what the correct result should be.

I guess what I'm saying is that it seems like I'd need to retrain my whole cooking experience, which doesn't seem like it would be worth it.

Checking a steak (or most foods) for doneness is something it can't do, though--it can't see inside food. (You could get an "instant read" probe thermometer, like the Thermapen, but I did not recommend this because I don't use it that often for exactly the reason you mention: I usually have a good intuition if something is done or not already.)

Some more examples: If you want to make sure the oil for frying the chicken is at the right temperature, which is something you may already do with a conventional thermometer, this will make that faster and easier.

Wine experts (of which I am NOT one) have a whole "optimum serving temperature" list. The infrared thermometer is an easy way to check that. Beer, too. http://www.bettertastingwine.com/temperature.html

I mentioned checking your oven thermometer (which are notoriously poorly calibrated), but another use is finding hot/cold spots in your oven.

I don't do anything with chocolate, but if I did, I'd check the temperature with this.

When I make coffee or tea, I bring water to boiling... but then you're supposed to let it cool a bit, somewhere in the 180-200 degree range.

For men: A beard trimmer is one of my favorite cheap buys. Never shave again: http://www.amazon.com/Remington-MB4040-Lithium-Rechargeable-...

Beyond that, I'd say the aeropress coffee maker: http://www.amazon.com/Aerobie-AeroPress-Coffee-Espresso-Make...

The aoropress is great, but I do find the price of the paper pretty annoying.

I've now switched to one of the many metal-filters, which makes me happier.

The official filters are $2.99 for 350 on Amazon, so 0.85 cents per filter (for up to 4 cups). $2.99 for a year's supply seems pretty reasonable to me.

Your volume is off a fair bit for us. Assuming you don't reuse them my wife and I will make 8-12 cups a day, which means 350 will last for around 35 days. Or basically a month.

Additionally the filters cost £3.99 as "add ons" at Amazon.co.uk, or £6.99 when purchased alone.

So trade-off is clear one metal filter costs the same as two packets of papers.

(Yeah, tried to persuade my wife to recycle, but she preferred the simplicity of pushing out the puck into the bin, so that was a losing battle.)

I love my Aeropress, but I keep myself to two cups a day and my wife doesn't drink coffee. Sounds like you guys would be better off with something that made a "pot". Like a large Chemex or something.

In terms of volume, yeah. But the per-cup brewing being so fast and easy actually works really well for us. (Large pots tend to get burnt..)

I was going to say AeroPress! The most amazing way to make coffee. So I will add if you have an AeroPress you should get a temperature controlled water warmer and Blue Mountain coffee.

I have that exact trimmer. It plucks almost as many hairs as it cuts. I keep meaning to write a sardonic review of it but never get around to it.

I use a Gillette Fusion Proglide which is a normal (4-blade) razor that also vibrates. It's the best shave I've ever gotten.


A fountain pen.

I grew up using pencils and ballpoint pens. I swore off fountain pens after some frustrating, messy experiences. In hindsight, I think I still lacked the fine motor skills necessary to get the best out of a fountain pen.

I took an interest again when I started working on a website selling fancy $2000 models, but the one I bought was less then $10. In my downtime I retrained my hand, and learned traditional copperplate-style handwriting.

Now, the simple act of signing my name is a completely different experience -- it feels like an act of craftsmanship.

But do buy a CHEAP one first. If you're used to writing with a ballpoint you'll be putting far too much pressure on the paper, and you'll probably ruin a nib or two before you get used to it.

Except signing your name, or other contractual information, is the one thing you shouldn't do with a fountain pen because of the water-based ink it traditionally uses.

Next time you sign a check with your fountain pen, take a damp sponge and see how easy it is to wipe the ink away... ;)

I wrote with a fountain pen throughout secondary school and wouldn't mind giving them another try. Do you find that for quick note taking the ink dries fast enough?

I recommend the Pilot Varsity. They are disposable fountain pens, with one of the best nibs on the market, even when compared to many other sub $100 refillable pens. Good enough that a lot of folks have modded them to become refillable.

They do lay down a lot of ink, though, which will bleed through thin paper. However, with a decent notebook, you won't have any issues. Moleskine, unfortunately, is not a decent notebook in this regard.

Bic has just started to release disposable fountain pens as well, and while the nib isn't as good as the Varsity, it's better than my $60 Schrade fountain pen's nib. It doesn't lay down as much ink as the Varsity.

I have had some issues with drying times, but the ink is typically dry within a minute for my thickest ink blots.

In short, there are some good quality, cheap and disposable fountain pens on the market right now.

I've never had a problem, even when writing a 5-page composition in an A3 notebooks. But it's possible that the nibs and inks at my local stationery shop, here in Japan, are a little different to the ones where you are.

Agree with this- my handwriting has drastically declined in quality since my high school days, where I would still have to hand write all assignments, mostly with fountain pens.

I use one now, but don't write stuff by hand very much on a daily basis. Which is kind of sad, because I agree- it is a an act of craftsmanship.

To start with, I'd recommend buying one of the cheaper Lamy Safari pens with a Fine nib, a plunger (not refills) and some Noodlers black ink.

A LAMY is around 35 bucks, and for me at least it writes better than a 300$ pen that I inherited.

In the Summer of 2011, I was working at Mozilla. My first exposure to an open plan office. I decided (for a poor student) to spend an insane amount of money on a pair of headphones so that I could get more productive: The Shure SE 215 in ear phones for $99. Since then, I have used them everyday. Backpacked across 3 continents. Taken them to the gym. Used them like crap. Yet, they still lasted. I went through 4 different phones in the mean time. Finally, yesterday I broke down and bought new replacement cables; the cable had started fraying from within.

Now, I work for a company which has a lot of music buffs. So I may actually upgrade to something that is a whole new level in music quality. But a part of me will really really cherish these earphones.

(P.S: I don't work for Shure. The only damn product that I have ever written a review for Shure. :|)

I can't rave about my Shure 535 IEMs enough. I'm even about to spend the $2-300 to get custom molded fittings for them Near-reference quality sound (a little too warm, though it hasn't been an issue so far), great isolation (about 25db), and they are hard to have randomly pulled out of your ears.

Granted, this is well out of the $100 ballpark, but they're still fantastic.

If you're looking for reference quality sound at under $100, look into the Etymotic in-ear headphones. Ridiculously good, though they are a bit weak on the low end of the spectrum (not enough that you won't feel bass on real punchy songs, but enough that they don't sound like any other headphone on the market).

So I am really tempted to get the SE 535s (because they seem like the next level up from the 215s which also fit me really well). The only thing that is stopping me is that the idea/hope that the Westones would be better. Did you do any sort of comparison between the two?

No, when I purchased my 535's from Headroom, they didn't have any Westone in stock (that I recall, it was several months ago). I tried out similarly priced Sennheiser in-ear headphones (ie80 and ie800) as well as another higher priced JH Audio IEM model (JH13, iirc), but the 535's sounded the best to my ears.

I do see that the Westone's offer 4 drivers to the 535's two drivers, but unfortunately Headroom doesn't have the frequency response graphs for them yet. Otherwise, they seem very similar for features & specs (they both appear to use the same ear tips, which is good for finding the one that fits the best).

Of course, I'm lucky enough to live in Headroom's home town, so that helps these kinds of purchases immensely.

The 535s have three drivers, and Shure now has the SE846 if you're interested in quad drivers. But I'll caution that triple and quad drivers don't necessarily make for better sound.

I found these Panasonic RP-HTF600 over-the-ear headphones to be pretty amazing:


With 50mm drivers, they're the best sounding headphones I've ever used, and they're a steal at $32.

The ones that are cheap and I have loved a lot are the Sennheiser HD 201. They are over the ear, not very loud and have decent noise cancellation.


I had some Shures, opted for Westone UM2s after awhile - I found the fit and over all sound quality better. I've since moved onto some Westone 4Rs (not in the $100/budget range).

That said, the UM2s and Shures are around in case I misplace a pair or for going on rides/etc. where I am concerned about sweat.

Good Kitchen Knives

Ideally, a whole block of them, but all you really need is one, and that'll run you less than $100.

No more laboriously sawing through an onion with that flimsy dull serrated piece of worthlessness. A good sharp knife should glide right through anything you care to stick between it and the board. Onions, tomatoes (without squishing), probably even your thumb a few times until you learn how to use it right.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels are my choice. Not overly expensive. Overly good at chopping things in half. Sorted.

My 2 cents are a 8" or 10" victornix chef knife


My local butcher uses it so much it turns into a boning knife.


I would also add some personal opinion and say that all you need is a paring knife and chef's knife. Maybe a sharpening block. And Zwilling is my choice too.

along the same lines: one of those diamond sharpening rods. $15 at walmart, 5 strokes on each side before every use, and you've got a 9 inch scalpel that you'll never have to take a real whetstone to. Also, the knife doesn't have to be great, just not junk. I'm using the best knife I could find at the the local dollar store(like $30 marked down to $6), which is great, but my $20 for the entire block ones from walley world just refuse to take a decent edge. Look for a rigid, tapred blade(this ought to be tempered steel), as opposed to a flexible uniform thickness one(junk sheet metal).


MAC knives are also good. But I think the main thing is to keep them sharpened.

Raspberry Pi - seriously fun gadget with a ton of potential. Hacking on one gives me the same kind of joy I had hacking on QBASIC programs as a kid.

A midi keyboard. If you already have a computer, then adding some free software and a midi controller gives you endless possibilities for exploring music creation.

A tournament chess set (vinyl board, plastic weighted pieces). Chess is an amazing game and a portable set will let you play more often and with more people.

I know it says "everyone", but for any male: a top quality shaving cream to try for while. I used to think Edge, Barbasol, etc was good enough and the boutique ones were for snobs and no difference. Then I tried a few. Like night and day difference in closeness and after shaving comfort. You will not go back.

Not even that expensive considering you can use less per shave because of the quality. The two best I have ever used are both fairly affordable and don't even need a bowl/brush:

men-u Shaving Cream: http://www.men-uusa.com/men-ushavingcream33oz.aspx

Kiehl's Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream: http://www.kiehls.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-kiehls_us-Si...

When you're ready to go the next step, a safety razor will go a long ways towards a better, less irritating shave as well. 6¢ blades mean you're not as inclined to use them past getting dull, less plastic waste, and a stupidly close shave.

Also feels awesome to shave with a solid piece of steel rather than some 9-bladed rubber-gripped FlexxxoBlade9000.

1936 Gillette DE FTW.

Found this compilation of links on Reddit, there are actually some good suggestions inbetween the joke suggestions


2 tech things if you don't have them: - An external 24" monitor if you don't have one - An SSD for your workstation

The improvement in productivity is well worth the $100.

Any recommendations monitor-wise?

Just bought this HP 27" 2560x1440 IPS LED one for $450, and it's changed my life! It has much higher contrast than my last monitor, as well as every other monitor I've seen. Note they also have it used for $350.


With that resolution have you had any problems with text being too small and with adjusting DPI settings?

Yes, I hooked it up to my Win7 gaming rig, and had to turn interface scaling to 125% and zoom in on most web pages. It works well, and font rendering is drastically improved.


Yes, I know, not $100. Sorry for breaking the rules. I don't know any "good" $100 monitors.

I know it is a break from the $100 budget but a 4k (3840x2160) monitor is almost a necessity for me right now. I have two Seiki 39" each of which has replaced four 21" monitors.

Thoughts on the 50 inch version as a monitor?



That author has some interesting thoughts on 4k in general as well as the Seiki brand.

If you like larger copy on your workstations 50" may work really well it equates to roughly four 25" monitors in a two by two setup.

I found the 50" version a little too large for my purposes I have my monitor wall mounted about 3ft in front of my face and 50" would create the Wimbledon effect.

I just bought Dell's UP2414Q, a 24" UHD display. Never going back.

This is the one (or two, if you have the desk space).

At least once in your life take the $100 and break it into 5 $20. Then find someone who you appreciate (Police, Fireman, EMT, Preacher, Teacher, etc.) Walk up and give them the $20 and say something simple like "Thanks for what you do, let me buy you lunch". It's an awesome experience to see someone receive unsolicited gratitude.

...or don't break it and use "as is" for someone you appreciate.

A Fitbit Flex. I was a bit overweight when I got mine, and it got me within the normal BMI range within 3 months. It's a very simple product (essentially just a Bluetooth enabled pedometer) but the lifestyle improvements (if you are motivated by the goals) are massive.

I like the idea but I'd want one that keeps the data locally. Is there such thing?

Premium membership with Fitbit ($60/year) allows for export of the data http://www.fitbit.com/premium/export

Withings Pulse has a data export function too: https://withings.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201488977-How...

I want one that keeps the data "only" locally. Is there such a thing? :-)

None that I know of. I don't think the demand is strong enough to outweigh the business model whereby they can sell leads to customers (eg. by exercise frequency, weight, etc.) to health insurance companies and such.

How exactly did it make you lose weight ? What goals/things does it do to promote a healthy lifestyle?

It has functionality where you set up a food plan. You tell it your target weight, current weight, and pick the difficulty. Based on that, it tells you when you should reach your target and how many calories in deficit you need to be each day. You log what you eat and the caloric cost of that food, and it helps you see whether or not you are meeting your target.

Don't get me wrong, there are some downsides. The app can be a bit clunky and buggy on occasion. Some parts of it could be significantly improved. It also requires some dedication to your goals. There have been times where I accidentally ate a bit too much that day and have to go for a walk at 10pm at night.

The main benefit of it overall in my opinion is that it takes (most of) the guesswork out of getting to & maintaining your desired weight.

An instrument - you can actually get perfectly reasonable starter version of most instruments for around that price point if you shop around, which will work fine when it comes to gigging too. Guitars, Basses, Midi Keyboards - you might have to shop around, but it is possible to get within the price limit.

I've been learning bass for the last month and a bit, and it has made a big difference to how I feel about myself and my confidence that I can pick up an entirely new skill from scratch, and that I can make music.

With things like LMMS and Hydrogen available, and lots of royalty-free free sample packs available, it is entirely possible to write and perform music on the cheap.

And if you're still not convinced? The tech industry seems to want us to be 'rockstar' developers, devops, admins, growth hackers, etc... so why not literally become one too? ;)

i would say mechanical keyboard since we spend so much time on the computers.

but the great mechanical keyboards are over $100...should be able to get a second hand one for cheap.

An excellent suggestion.

I have had Zalman ZM-K500 mechanical keyboard since September and I can honestly say that I love it. It is also substantially less than $100 (£37) [0]. The quality is not quite as nice as some of the more expensive mech keyboards out (the labels on my meta keys are rubbing off extraordinarily quickly...) there but it is leagues ahead of any of the membrane based keyboards I have tried.

[0] http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zalman-ZM-K500-USB-Mechanical-Keyboa...

Oddly, I've been using the same keyboard since about the same time. Would have to agree that it's a nice keyboard for the price.

I have a Vortex KBC Poker II with PBT keycaps, probably one of the best purchases I've made in recent years. I blew off buying one for a couple of years because it was "just like any other keyboard" - not true. They switches (I have Cherry MX Reds) make it a joy to type on!

I should have added that I got mine for about $120, including shipping.

The abs/backlit Vortex Poker II is on massdrop, with the lowest level at $94.99. I'm typing on it right now (except I swapped in DSA PBT keys) and it's super nice.

I type this on original IBM mechanical keyboard that I got in 1998 when IBM was cleaning their overstocks (I used to work there).

Works like a charm and make noise few people in my office hate :)

Great comment.

I recommend picking up an IBM Model M. There are plenty out there for around ~ $20 (PS/2, no Windows key). Toss in a PS/2 -> USB adapter and you have an extremely high quality keyboard for next to nothing.

I believe Ducky and Leopold make mechanical keyboards under or near $100.

Das is a little over $100. But, I absolutely love using it.

Chromecast (if technology related, since this is on HN).

Chromecast is quite nice for the price point, but if you use Amazon regularly, a Roku will get you far better mileage.

Any particular reason?

Chromecast is first and foremost, a great product. It is very simple to use and setup is a breeze. Then, it makes use as simple as using the YouTube/Netflix/Play app on your phone/tablet. There isn't any new learning curve associated with it.

Then, the price point is just great. $35 is a steal for what it does.

It is also very thought out. It is very small and was the first product that I can think of that is just an hdmi dongle. Also, if your TV allows it, Chromecast can turn on your TV and switch the input to itself. Way too easy.

A halfway decent burr grinder for coffee.

A Leatherman Multitool

I recommend the New Wave, though I also have a Charge TTi. I find myself using them all the time, and they last a really long time. I still have, and use regularly, the Leatherman Super Tool that I got in the mid 90's. I keep one in my office, one in my care, my girlfriends car, and one in the utility room. Really nice to have a solid multitool nearby whenever you need one.

A "dumb phone," and ditch the smartphone.

Or a dumb smart phone. If your phone plan has expired, unlock the device from the carrier and move to a pre-paid carrier. Yes it will cost more per text, call and MB used but it will give you convenience of smart phone with a $10 or $20 month bill instead of $75 or higher with unlimited data distractions.

It made me think about the bandwidth hog the corporate email was too, even for casually checking. So I removed that account from the phone. When I choose I can listen to internet radio or surf the web and if I use too much the annoying balance notification is a good indicator that I should be doing other things.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm just not getting value out go my smart phone and the only times I seem to want to use it my connection is terrible to non existent. And I live in San Francisco.

To what end?

Some people find that they're able to get more things done when they don't have the distraction of a smartphone in their lives.

Yeah I reverted from an Android to a Nokia 301. A week of batter life in my usage, although the specs claim a month or something silly like that.

But these days it probably doesn't matter what phone I use, as I leave the thing at home as often as I take it with me. Now I'm no longer on-call, via SMS, I just don't need the distraction.

Lacking in discipline/highly distracted, tbh. I have an iPhone 4, which is more than capable. I often go days without checking anything on it.

Then I go into the kitchen at work and see people getting coffee while checking their email. wat.

A vintage road bike.

A lot of secondhand bikes go really cheap and only need a little attention and your on your way to cheap and healthy transportation.

Seconded. Plus, steel frames are super durable, and have a nice amount of give to them.

Considering the benefits of exercise, a pair of running shoes and some resistance bands could go a long way. Those two small purchases helped me get in shape faster than any gym membership that I had in the past. That said, everybody's exercise preferences are different so get whatever you need to become active.

Have you ever dealt with shin splints if so, how?

One thing that has really helped my running has been calf sleeves. Here's an example: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00G6E291W?pc_redir=1395807977...

These aren't the ones I own personally but they seem similar enough. Basically a compression sleve that covers your lower leg.

I was running up to 10 miles when I started having shin pain for even less then a mile. Since getting them I'm comfortably back up to usual distances for 10+ miles. I even ran a marathon wearing them.

Other then that I have support running shoes (some asics) and orange super feet insoles. Unfortunately combined this probably worked out to 200 but I just went to shorts chalet and bought it all, didn't really look out for the best prices. I run on the road so I think it's pretty hard on my knees but with these three things combined I've had no problems over 6 months of a least 20 total miles a week (normally a 10 and two 5s).

I have. Actually, that was the major problem I had with running until recently. This breaks the $100 rule but these shoes really made life easier for me: http://www.zappos.com/asics-gel-kayano-19-neon-green-lightni...

Paired with some Dr. Scholl's sports gel inserts and a very slow rate of increase in distance and I was able to get to the 5K level.

I always denounced expensive shoes as heavily marked up brand mongering, but at least for athletic performance you really get what you pay for. I would recommend hitting up a real shoe store and getting fitted with the right shoes by a pro.

I also agree with spending decent chunks of change in shoes, beds, and anywhere else you spend a large portion of your time.

I'm trying to get into some sort of physical shape, but running is challenging to get into for me.

If you have access to a recumbent bike or elliptical, doing HIIT can be quite effective. It's done wonders for me.

I actually started getting in shape with the basic cardio routine from Power 90. It's really easy to do anywhere and does a pretty good job of working up a sweat. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000VEVVIA

Stick with it and hopefully you'll find something that works for you!

An Mp3 player with radio. Great for listening to music and podcast whilst driving or travelling on the bus.

Yes, I know most smart phones can do that, but not everyone owns a smart phone, and I prefer not to drain the battery on my phone

I got a $20 pay-as-you-go phone with a radio and MP3 player built in. It's used for when my smart phone's dead and I really need to make a call / text, or when I just want to listen to music. I'd recommend that even more strongly.

A digital kitchen scale (something like ) - http://www.amazon.com/EatSmart-Precision-Digital-Kitchen-Sil...

Measuring all of your flour, sugar, etc in grams will improve your baking a 100 fold. (It now assumes your recipes are based in ratios and metric though).

on topic: a wireless headset for your computer/phone. even for watching movies, this has been essential (think cooking while watching videos)

off topic: As a long time lurker, this news item feels too reddity for what was originally a software vc community. I understand that HN is getting more popular, and it's attracting broader content. However, Reddit has subreddits, so I can filter out the banal. Please don't let hacker news become digg.

I can see where you're coming from, but even the off-the-wall suggestions are awfully relevant for hackers/tech.

Infrared thermometer for cooking is a fantastic example of using industrial-aimed tech for culinary perfection...

Floor jack for your car and a battery jumper. You never know when your battery is going to go dead or when you'll need to change a tire.

Trust me... just happen tonight.

I'd add a foot-operated pump and pressure gauge to that. Often more convenient to just top up the air and drive to the nearest garage. Also lets you maintain your tyres at the right pressure, which is good for fuel efficiency.

I'm adding the foot operated pump to my list. I completely forgot to mention a pressure gauge.

I'm lazy. I use my 20 gallon compressor :-)

A good folder knife. I like benchmade.

I love and use bechmade, although looking for harder steel, in particular ZDP-189.

Unfortunately only Spyderco makes these and they are priced right but looks too ugly for my taste. I think i might adjust my taste to shapes as my taste to steels is too rigid :)

An Inka Pen. The older, metal ones, not the new terrible ones that Nite-Ize makes: http://www.amazon.com/Nite-ize-Stylus-Carbon-Fiber-Stainless...

Failing an Inka pen, there's always the Space Pen, or for budget inclined, the Zebra F-301 (and Compact version of the same)

- Paul Mitchell 'The Conditioner'. It's a great substitute for hair gel _and_ shaving foam. I've been using it for 20 years.

- Pilot GTEC-C4 pens (great paired with Moleskine notebooks)

- An external USB battery pack

- A headphone splitter cable

- Hearos earplugs (the blue ones)

A Space Pen + Field Notes notebooks. Pen is great for all those times you need to write; Field Notes notebooks slip into any pocket and are good for any freehand note taking.

A comfortable, well-fitting pair of pants. Pants are the foundation of any outfit. I'm personally searching for the perfect pair, because I only want to own one pair.

Chromecast, its just awesome and you get quite a bit of change.

It's WAY under $100, but I use my "Dorcy 41-4750" flashlight regularly - and it's easily the brightest, and best flashlight I've ever owned.

Rice cooker

Have you tried a slowcooker?

It makes making thick stews out of cheaper cuts of meat or beans really quick and easy. My cooking got a lot healthier after I got one.

Beef stew: Onion 2 leeks Carrots 6 smallish potatos >Slice them all up into inch cubes 1kg stewing beef (cheap) 4 beef stock cubes in a teacup of boiling water *2 cans of guiness (10 min prep)

Put the lot in a slow cooker. Turn it on before you head to work. Take it off when you get home 10 hours later.

You now have 4 dinners worth of healthy stew!

Both are excellent suggestions and can work together well.

A spotify subscription, any song ever at your fingertips, all day. I just hope those guys do the same thing with movies.

Rdio tried with Vdio. Didn't work out and they shut it down.

A 10" Shark prybar. They're under $20, and it's one of the most-used items in my toolbox.

Slow cooker. A few minutes of prep in the morning = at least 5 days worth of food by the evening.

A Raspberry Pi. A tiny computer running on 5v. Many possible uses, something for everyone.

A towel


Two 43 USD notes and for the remaining change some chocolate ;)


A power strip. But everyone here probably has one :p

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