The staff members of The Verge are certainly opinionated — and that goes for our opinions of our favorite stuff. As a result, we run an article listing some of our favorite gear every few weeks in a series we have appropriately dubbed, you guessed it, Favorites. They can be items we use to cook, relax, make our pets happy, and more.
Since it’s currently day two of Amazon’s Prime Day sales, we thought we’d take a look and see if any of our favorite gadgets are on offer for Prime members — just in case there may be something you’d like as well.
As a puppy, my Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Gus, was the consummate escape artist. He could leap our five-foot-high fence in a single bound and often would if a dog, squirrel, or leaf happened to catch his eye. The Whistle Go Explore dog location tracker saved his furry butt a few times, first alerting us to his escapade (when the device disconnects from your Wi-Fi, you get an alert), then helping us track him down with its GPS location tool.
As he’s gotten older and lazier, it’s been a helpful tool for making sure he’s getting enough exercise. Essentially a Fitbit for pets, the Whistle Go tells us how many steps he’s taken and how many calories he’s burned. It also has some neat health features on board thanks to an accelerometer that can keep track of how much drinking, licking, scratching, and sleeping he’s doing. This info actually helped us realize that the poor boy has terrible seasonal allergies, and he’s now on a daily Zyrtec regimen — and much happier for it. — Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, reviewer
We have two cats, Pouncey and Oscar, who have always shared a litter box. Oscar, the younger one, is quite messy — jumping out of the box with reckless abandon and spreading litter all over. We initially had a covered box to slightly circumvent this, but last year, we opted for a pricey self-cleaning one to keep things tidier. (It was on sale for a little more than $400 then.) Like much smart home tech, it’s excellent in some ways and not so great in others.
I love that I’m no longer scooping litter every day, and if we ever go on a trip, we don’t have to ask friends or family to handle poop duties in addition to feedings. But it’s a blessing and a curse because, if I don’t empty out the waste bin on time, it piles up too high. Ever try opening a jam-packed kitchen drawer with a ladle sticking up inside it? You know that sense of frustration when it hits the top of the frame and the drawer gets stuck? Picture that but, instead, clumped-up cat pee is smearing across the underside as you pull it out. Yeah, not ideal. So it handles the daily duties, but it keeps me on schedule or I end up wrist-deep in the other doodies. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer
The ChomChom pet hair remover is an extraordinarily simple device — it’s basically a couple of pieces of plastic, fabric, and rubber. But through some dark magic, it’s better at getting cat hair off my couch, cat tree, and other upholstery than even the adhesive-laden lint rollers (though those are still superior if the thing you’re trying to de-pet is yourself). I’d explain more, but honestly, I think the ChomChom can best be explained with this GIF:
I know I’m stretching the definition of “tech” here, but I just had to share the ChomChom because my jaw dropped the first time I saw someone use it. I hope it can change your life like it did mine. (Note: as far as I can tell, the limited-edition cat ChomChom that I paid extra for is zero percent more functional than the regular one. It was still worth it, though.) — Mitchell Clark, news writer
We got the WOPET automatic feeder after our vet informed us that our cat Aslan needed some kitty liposuction. We had been letting him eat whenever he wanted out of a gravity feeder, but he clearly didn’t have enough self-control for that — and I didn’t have the willpower to feed him on a set schedule (or, if I’m honest, to not give him a little extra when he looks up at me with his cute little face). The WOPET solved that issue by dispensing his food four times a day with set amounts, making sure I know exactly how much he’s eating without actually having to wake up to give him his midnight snack. It’s also great when we go on vacation.
Just as importantly, it doesn’t have an app or Wi-Fi or anything that will someday become “unsupported,” rendering my feeder a brick. It just has buttons on the top that I can use to set how often my cat gets fed and how much food gets dispensed with each meal. (That said, if you’re the type that wants your pet feeder to connect to the internet, WOPET does make a version with an app and a built-in camera, though I can’t speak to the quality of those features.) — Mitchell Clark
This is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. It’s a handheld blender that can be used to prepare soups, smoothies, whipped coffee, and more. I often use it in my Indian cooking just to smooth out the sauce a little and bring the dish together. It’s a game-changer, and I honestly just have so much fun using it. We also don’t own an actual blender, so this has come in handy to make smoothies and shakes as well. — Dilpreet Kainth, former Verger
When I was in college, I drove through a literal Maine blizzard to buy an immersion blender because I really wanted soup. — Nicole Wetsman, reporter
We use a lot of garlic in my household, and traditional garlic presses never did it for us — they usually produced a messy, slushy paste. A friend of ours introduced us to the garlic rocker, which is not only fun to play with but also produces beautifully minced pieces of garlic, perfect for sautéing and other uses. — Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor
As a number of my colleagues likely remember, some time ago in our team Slack channel, I vociferously criticized buying a $100-plus coffee mug that did nothing other than keep your coffee (or tea or hot cocoa or whatever liquid you like to drink hot) at the exact temperature you set it to. Perhaps this was a case of a schoolyard bully negging the kid they have a crush on to hide their true feelings because I’ve been coveting one of those fancy Ember mugs for years.
And when Best Buy put its exclusive blue color of the Ember Mug 2 on sale for Black Friday, I finally bit. Reader, this mug is fantastic. It keeps my coffee hot no matter how long I take to consume it — I never have to bother with microwaving a room-temperature mug. And I can even tweak its settings depending on what I’m drinking out of it (coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, usually). I even get the joy of occasionally updating the firmware on my coffee mug, a sentence that would have made no sense to anyone just a few years ago.
To be clear, this is a completely frivolous product that nobody actually needs. It makes a mildly annoying thing slightly less annoying and its drawbacks (cost, can’t put it in the dishwasher, did I mention the cost?) probably outweigh those benefits for most people. It’s a little embarrassing how much I like it, which is why it’s a perfect guilty pleasure. I enjoy it; I feel a little awkward about it; and I’d like to never speak of it again. — Dan Seifert, deputy editor
The Ember Mug 2 is a temperature-controlled smart mug that keeps beverages hot for up to 80 minutes while on battery or all day when sitting on its plug-in coaster. The accompanying iOS and Android apps allow you to dial in a specific temperature, from 120 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Favorite personal tech
Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is a great gadget that lets you read books outside without having to worry about things like lugging around a thousand-page tome or dealing with the potential for wet pages. The Paperwhite’s E Ink screen is very visible outdoors (unlike most phone screens, which can be harder to see in bright sunshine). The Paperwhite is waterproof, meaning it should be able to safely handle a splash or even a brief dip in the pool. And the recent Paperwhite dumps the Micro USB port found on past models in favor of USB-C — finally!! — Jay Peters, news writer
Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite has a 6.8-inch, E Ink display with adjustable color temperature for nighttime reading. It also boasts a faster processor, additional battery life, IPX8 waterproofing, and — finally — a USB-C port.
Maybe someday Apple will realize that it wasn’t the brightest idea to artificially limit the reach of its MagSafe charging ecosystem, and you’ll be able to plop your phone on a magical minimalist disc that charges it at high speeds. In the meantime, a standard Qi charger is about the best you’ll get — and the bulky but practical iOttie Easy One Touch Qi does it with the satisfying snap of springs. When you push your phone into its waiting jaws, it depresses a button that causes those jaws to firmly snap closed on either side of your device. When you want to remove it, you pinch a pair of levers with your finger and thumb to release it as you grab your slab. It’s wide enough to fit practically anything on the market, save an opened Samsung Z Fold. I’ve used one for years with Android and Apple phones alike, including newer MagSafe handsets. — Sean Hollister, senior reports editor