Online streaming with tablet pc

'Smart' Things We Like Better When They're Dumb

View Slideshow
Online streaming with tablet pc

Let's Not Overthink This

There are plenty of smart devices out there that are actually useful. Smart thermostats can mean big utility-bill savings, and who doesn’t love a good smart TV that makes it easy to binge watch the latest Netflix sensation? But lately, it seems like some tech wizards have gotten carried away trying to hook up everything we own to the internet. Here are just a few of the things we much prefer in their simplest forms.

Related: Household Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money



“Gee, I wish my glasses would provide yet another way for me to waste time on social media,” said no one ever. And yet, you can buy $300+ Ray-Ban Stories, manufactured in partnership with Facebook, which have integrated cameras, speakers, and touch controls that make “staying connected” to Mark Zuckerberg’s data-collecting empire that much creepier. We’ll stick to our $10 Target sunglasses $5 drug-store reading glasses, thank you.

Related: Brand Mashups You Never Saw Coming


Water Bottles

Look, no one drinks eight glasses of water a day. But there are smart water bottles to remind you — nay, harass you — into quenching your thirst, over and over. The HidrateSpark will even send notes to your smartphone and light up your bottle like a Christmas tree when it thinks you need a drink. Of course, you need to remember to charge it first. 

Related: Overpriced Workout Gear: 16 Items That Are a Waste of Money

Withings Body


If connecting a scale to the internet is supposed to make weighing ourselves more of a pleasure, we missed that memo. The Withings Body, for instance, will immediately sync up with more than 100 health and fitness apps, making it downright impossible to pretend we didn’t inhale an entire package of Oreos over the weekend. 

Related: Bathroom Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

BSIMB 10.1 Inch Digital Picture Frame

Picture Frames

We won’t deny the appeal of a smart frame that can let users scroll through thousands of photos, but hear us out: There’s something satisfying about committing to one image — the one that tells a particular story the very best, and is special enough to actually make it out of the digital world — and displaying it for posterity. And call us crazy, but it’s also nice not to worry about plugging in our picture frame

For more fun stories like this, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker

Slow Cookers

There’s a reason we still love our slow cookers, even in the age of multifunctional Instant Pots and other gizmos: They’re the very definition of set-it-and-forget-it simplicity. Still, there is a $100 Alexa-enabled Crock-Potthat will let you (read: force you) to tinker with temperature settings and adjust cook times with your phone. “Are we really living in a world where we can’t turn on a Crock-Pot with a button, but we have to use our phones?” asks one bewildered reviewer. “That’s just crazy.”

Related: Kitchen Gadgets That Are a Waste of Money

pile of diapers


Lumi by Pampers diapers have a spot for a sensor that will not only tell you how well your little angel is snoozing, but send an alert to your phone when he or she is feeling, well, a little less than fresh. Of course, anyone who’s ever had a baby is well aware that dirty diapers are rarely a mysterious affair that need any sort of electronic assistance. We’ll pass. 

Jeans jacket isolated on white


Jacquard by Google smartens up garments like a ubiquitous Levi’s denim jacket, connecting it to phones or other Bluetooth devices so that a tap or swipe of the cuff lets the wearer do things like hear the weather, get directions, or play a song. Which … is why smart watches exist, yes? Amusing as it is to watch the likes of James Bond or Secret Service agents talk into their sleeves, it’s not something we ever aspired to.

close up view of smart toilet seating with washing, cleaning, drying functions and ability to use it for child and women


With all due respect to Kohler, which makes the Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet, the last place we want to talk to Alexa is while we’re on the toilet. And yet, our Amazon overlord is ready to assist us with everything, from heating up the seat to setting the exact level of soothing ambient lighting that will help us, er, take care of business. The real kicker: It retailed for $7,000. Talk about a load of ... well, you know.

Related:Things You Never Knew About Toilet Paper

The texture of the teddy bear that is stacked together

Stuffed Animals

Who thought taking the most traditional of toys and hooking it up to the internet was a good idea? One night, your granddaughter is using her teddy to sweetly tell a far-away family member goodnight; the next, she’s an unwitting pawn in a hacker’s plot to destabilize the U.S. government. (We’re not completely off base here: Just read about the downfall of CloudPets and you’ll see why.) 

Shot of an unrecognizable woman squirting hand wash on her hands

Soap Dispensers

Oh, Amazon. “Soap dispenser” has to be high on the list of things that absolutely, positively don’t need to be connected to the internet, but here we are. The dispenser connects with Amazon Echo devices so that you can hear jokes or songs while you wash for the expert-recommended 20 seconds (and yes, this soap dispenser will time you). And all this can be yours for the low, low price of $55.

High sided cat litter tray, bentonite absorbent and scoop on floor background. Sorbent from clay lumps in plastic
Svetlana Sultanaeva/istockphoto

Litter Boxes

We won’t argue that scooping the litter box is the least appealing part of cat ownership, but here’s what we don’t want: Smartphone notifications about Mr. Tinkles’ daily bathroom habits. But that’s exactly what you get with the $549 Litter-Robot 3 Connect, which will also ping your phone when the waste drawer is full (yep). Last time we checked, our nose lets us know that for free.  

Related:The Coolest Pet Tech Devices You Didn’t Know You Needed

Smart refrigerator isolated on white background


Back in the good ol’ days, appliances were relatively simple — and they lasted. Today, most experts say you’re lucky to get a decade from most of them, so we’re not sure why anyone would want to complicate matters by connecting their fridge to Wi-Fi. Sure, fancy-schmancy Samsungs and LGs may have cameras so we can use our phone to peer inside remotely to check how much milk we have, but making a list before leaving the house works pretty well, too. 

Related: How to Make Sure Your Appliances Don’t Fail When You Can’t Get Them Repaired

Electric toothbrush, dental and oral care concept


We’re not the only ones who roll our eyes over smart toothbrushes, which promise to give you way more information on your oral-hygiene habits than even your dentist cares to know. “Modern life presents precious few opportunities to leave your phone behind,” notes the Wirecutter. “For many, toothbrushing provides a twice-daily respite from staring at a screen.” Amen.  

Related: Smart Things to Buy For Staying at Home

time concept

Wall Clocks

Don’t get us wrong: We see the appeal of a smart alarm clock, with timers, tunes, and night lights we can control with our phone. But we’re perplexed by Amazon’s Echo Wall Clock, which syncs with Alexa. It will let you visualize timers, but you still need an Echo device to set them, so that hardly seems like much of a bonus. And then there are reviews like this: “It runs either a few minutes fast, or slow, depending on the day. So it doesn't even do ‘clock’ in a useful way. Overall, it's shocking that this made it to market.” 

Yellow chicken egg in the tray

Egg Trays

We swear we’re not making this one up: A smart egg tray exists, and here’s the proof. The Quirky Egg Minder will connect to your phone and tell you how many eggs you still have and whether they’re fresh. Granted, this strange little gizmo is only $10, but the reviews aren’t exactly stellar. We think we’ll stick with the free carton, which comes with an ultra-convenient, pre-printed expiration date.