In Jocgeekland, we often receive items for review that may not be “gotta have its” for everyone, but have become essential in satisfying our hunger for “stuff” we can use every day.

Ranging from high-end shredders to leather gloves, all of these products have become an integral part of our daily routine.


The AutoMax 200C Auto Feed Shredder from Fellowes ($549) is used daily to destroy any documents, junk mail or other items that contain information scam artists may dig out of the trash. This includes any document bearing our names and addresses, expired credit cards or other confidential information.

Truthfully, you don’t have to spend that much to get a great Fellowes shredder for your home, but small businesses will discover that its ability to shred a pile of about 200 documents at the push of a button is a valuable asset, well worth the extra money. The process is simple: Open the document bin, pop in the pile of papers, close the top of the bin and push a button. Voila, all of those private information-bearing pieces of paper are now small bits of shredded paper.

We use ours at least once per day – – – which could mean we’re on way too many mailing lists!

Other key features include:

  • It shreds paper clips, staples, credit cards and CDs/DVDs plus paper documents
  • There’s a 10-sheet manual feeder for smaller jobs
  • Auto  reverse stops and reverses the shredding operation if there’s a paper jam
  • It’s one of the quietest shredders on the market
  • There’s a backlit touchscreen
  • There’s an 8.5 gallon pull-out bin

The one drawback is that the AutoMax 200C can only accommodate paper sizes up to so-called “letter-size” documents.  It’s a minor inconvenience, easily handled by tearing larger documents into smaller pieces, but worth mentioning here.

Ever try vacuuming in your sleep? We’ve been using the Neato Botvac 85e ($599) on a daily basis for about a month and it does a great job picking up crumbs, dog hair and other things that may mess up our floors and carpets. We don’t recommend the Botvac for a deep cleaning, but truthfully that is only reserved for when the in-laws are coming to visit, right?

We have programmed the Botvac to begin vacuuming the main level of our house every day at noon and it has yet to fail to do its duty.

The one thing that makes the Neato a bit more advanced than other robot vacuums is its ability to “map” a room. Basically it scans each area it needs to clean, making note of items that may get in its way. Then, instead of repeatedly bumping into these items, it avoids them and finishes its chores for the day. It also has the tendency to move items out of the way and then return them to their places without complaining.

When it’s done, it scurries back to its charging station.

The only complaints we have is that the dirt bin, although larger than found on most robot vacuums, is too small to hold all the debris it picks up if we had it clean the whole house. Also we needed to recharge it at least once before using it in houses larger than five rooms. When this happens, the Botvac returns to its charging base, recharges and goes back to the area where it ran out of juice to finish the job.

Other features include:

  • A collection of brushes. filters and boundary markers
  • A replaceable battery
  • Included boundary markers alert the Botvac to avoid certain areas
  • A small side brush enables it to clean in corners or up against walls
  • A small LCD screen alerts you to a problem.
  • A blindfold is included so you can cat nap as it does its thing

The piles of snow and freezing temperatures this winter have made us reach for our gloves and earmuffs, but these next three items have become our choices when battling the elements.

We’ve been keeping our ears warm and bringing our favorite tunes with us using the Exolite Groove earmuffs with Sony Sports MP3 Player from 180s ($89.99). In warmer weather, we simply slip off the earmuffs and just use the Walkman.

Although the sound from the Walkman is a bit muffled by the fabric of the earmuffs, it’s hardly noticeable, which is good news for those of us that want our music pure as the artists intended it.

In addition:

  • The Sony earbuds are waterproof so they can be worn while swimming in fresh water.
  • The Walkman can hold up four gigabytes of music
  • You can drag and drop tunes from either the Windows Media Player or iTunes to the Walkman
  • The earmuffs are fleece lined
  • The Walkman is collapsible to fit in a pocket, briefcase or purse

The folks at 180s have also designed Torch LED gloves ($70), that not only keep our hands warm, but provide hours of LED light so we can see what we’re texting on those dark, cold wintry nights.

These are polyester-lined knit gloves that offer protection from ice and snow while allowing you to use your smartphone for texting and other tasks that can’t wait until you’re indoors. They are also the only tech gloves we’ve tested that come with a synthetic leather palm, adding a bit of style to functionality.

There are LED lights located into the knuckle are of the gloves that can act as a flashlight due to a replaceable battery stored in the gloves.

If high fashion is your thing, we’ve also been using a set of sheepskin leather gloves from Glove-ly ($89).

These are genuine leather gloves that work with your smartphone using your whole hand for swiping, texting and trolling Facebook. Basically they’ve eliminated the cybernetic metal pads found in other “texting” gloves, replacing it with something they call Invisitouch, which is coated on the whole glove.

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