I have been writing Blog of Dad since 2016. It has been a whole lot of fun, and a pleasant and unexpected bonus of crafting this tiny corner of the internet in which to share my thoughts has been the product reviews and collaborations. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the best brands around, and get my hands on some pretty amazing products. Without trying to boast, we have now had over 400 items arrive at the doorstep to test drive.
Early one morning recently I was ironing some clothes with my Philips Iron while watching the world news on My JBL Link View when it occurred to me just how profound an effect some of these products have had on my day-to-day life. While some products have been spectacular toys that were a lot of fun, but don’t get much use (looking at you, Tello Drone), some products are now thoroughly integrated into my everyday life.
This post recognises those products that I properly, genuinely use often. While all these products were provided for free for the initial review or feature, no one has asked me to write this post and I gain nothing extra from it. It is simply recognition for awesome products that make my life easier, more enjoyable or just plain better. Some are great for me, some are great for the kids, and some the whole family benefit from! Here (in no particular order) are my top 20 review products I actually use!
Top 20 Review Products I Actually Use
We use this (almost) all day, every day. The two MR2200ac devices provide reliable network coverage to almost every corner of our double brick townhouse. This is no mean feat – being in a townhouse with very close neighbours, they have to compete with a range of other wireless networks. Then there are the baby monitors, cordless phones and who-knows-what-else trying to run interference.
With one access point situated downstairs, and the other upstairs, it provides solid coverage. Positioning the two devices took a bit of trial and error, but once established it is solid. The only place we don’t get good coverage is in the basement, but this is understandable with the solid concrete floors and fire doors in between. If I wanted to, I’m sure I could add another MR2200ac and position it to cover this, but we don’t use the network enough down there to make it worthwhile.
Connecting devices to the MR 2200ac has always just worked. The user interface is simple enough whenever I have to dive into the settings, although to be honest, since writing the review it has been pretty well set and forget. I may be wrong, but I assume that is what most parents want in their network equipment.
It’s not cheating to include both of these, because I use them in partnership. They are both amazing on their own, but together they provide my entire downstairs with brilliant sound.
I have reviewed a few different smart speakers, but the JBL offerings win hand-down in the battle for my living room and day-to-day use. Firstly, they both sound brilliant individually. When combined together through the Google Home app, the sound is something else.
I use the JBL Link View most mornings to check up on the news while I iron my clothes, eat my breakfast and brew my coffee. Hannah loves the Google Assistant features that enable her to access her favourite songs without anyone else’s help. And I often use the speakers to attempt to indoctrinate my children into decent music before it is too late. So far Hannah likes Cake, The Beatles and The Presidents, while Monty likes the harder stuff – Rage Against The Machine and Metallica (he’s nearly one…). The JBL Link speakers are brilliant and something I couldn’t imagine living without.
My first ever collaboration was with the fantastic Gro Company, and we have had plenty since. I’m happy to spread the word at any opportunity, because these products are brilliant!
Both of my children have slept through the night from a young age. Hannah more so than Monty, who sometimes thinks that 5am is an appropriate time to get up, but he still sleeps through the night to that time. I know some of that is down to pure luck, but I honestly believe that the Grobags help with their supremely comfortable sleeping experience.
Hannah slept in Grobags until she was nearly three. Monty now happily uses her hand-me-downs. Once he is done with them, I’ll pass them on to someone else where I’m sure they will go through a few more cycles. They are very well made – built to last the torture test of the baby/toddler.
When I look at some of the winter Grobags in particular, I can see why the kids love them so much. Frankly, if they made an adult version of the Panda-Monium Grobag I’d buy it in a heartbeat and hibernate in it throughout the winter.
The pride and joy of my knife collection. While I am fortunate enough to have a range of WÜSTHOF knives to choose from, the Epicure Santoku is my go-to choice when I want something sliced thinly and evenly. It is a pleasure to hold – the balance in my hand is fantastic. Even better, it is a pleasure to cut with.
The ultra sharp blade makes thin, even slicing of just about anything a breeze. And I can be fast with it too, faster than with any of my other knives. I’m not saying that I use it to show off, or anything, but if people are over and there is chopping to be done you can be the Epicure Santoku is the knife that finds its way into my hand.
I wear this on my wrist every day. It looks good, it tracks my fitness and reminds me to get off my behind when I’m being a lazy sod. Each charge lasts for days, Bluetooth connects easily to both my phone and my my B&O E8 earbuds. The Amazfit Stratos holds downloaded songs on its inbuilt memory, meaning I can still enjoy music when out running long distances, without needing to strap my phone to my arm. The Amazfit Stratos replaced my Fitbit Blaze a couple of years ago and I haven’t looked back
Fumbling around the couch for remotes is a thing of the past. Multiple remotes are a thing of the past. Dead batteries are a thing of the past. Multiple button presses to turn on and off different devices is a thing of the past.
The Logitech Harmony Elite is one of my favourite devices for simplifying an otherwise slightly annoying part of every day – watching tv. With the push of a button my television, Telstra tv box and Yamaha receiver all spring to life, set themselves to the correct input and wait patiently for my next command. If I switch to Blu-ray, the Blu-ray player turns on and the Yamaha switches inputs. Everything just happens, without me Thinking about it.
It gets better. I can use Google Assistant to turn on the tv, or use my mobile phone as a remote control. That is handy for when Hannah wants to watch a Bluey while I am busy entertaining Monty.
It goes without saying that I use this every day. Twice a day, in fact! I still love how clean-feeling it leaves my teeth, and the built-in timer function means I don’t need to think about it, I just brush away until the toothbrush buzzes while my mind wonders on to more important things.
This is one of those products that I don’t think about on a daily basis, but that just sits there in the background and does its thing. Every now and then I check in with the WD My Cloud Home Duo to make sure that my precious files are still safely copying over and sure enough, they are! Having experienced disk failures in the past, I know one thing for sure. The My Cloud Home Duo will save my butt someday!
I must use this at least twice a week. Even as I sit here and write this, I have a slow-cooked beef roast cooking away. It has been going for about six hours and the smell is making me hungry! Slow cooked meat is a no-brainer in this impressive device, but it is a machine of many talents and we use it in all manner of ways. One of our staples is rice and the Philips All-In-One is legend at producing delicious, zero-thought rice. It took a couple of goes to perfect, but with our preferred brands of rice (white and brown), a ratio of 1:2 rice to water comes out great each time! The best thing is that we can turn it on at any time and forget about it, the All-In-One keeps it warm and ready for as long as required.
Again, this is another product that I’m using right now. I don’t think about it when I’m using it, I just benefit from its great feel and smooth and reliable operation. While it is outstanding for gaming, this Logitech mouse is also a please to use for day-to-day computer use. I have used many, many, many mice in my time. The Logitech G703 is the best one I’ve ever had.
Obviously I don’t use the Vornado heater all the time. But I do use it as soon as the temperature starts to dip, and don’t pack it away until October. Soon I will be pulling the Vornado out of its box in the garage and enjoying the room-warming comfort it provides!
Yes, I chose the handheld vacuum over the robot (Barry)! That may be surprising for some, but the truth is that in day-to-day use, the Shark is so much better. A robot is great fun and it does make you feel like you are living in the future, but like many future products it is not quite up to where it needs to be now.
The Shark, on the other hand, is the result of the long and gentle evolution of the handheld vacuum cleaner and it is fantastic! It is lightweight, powerful, and packed full of little innovations that make vacuuming fast and easy. I still enjoy using it, which is something because I’ve always disliked vacuuming. The two batteries is simple genius, it means I never find myself short on power! The included attachments mean that I gent get into every little part of my townhouse that dust may be lurking.
Okay, that is definitely cheating because I have reviewed A LOT of children’s books. If I have to narrow them down to just one, Go Go and The Silver Shoes is probably the one that I’m most fond of. Fortunately, we don’t need to narrow it down to one and Hannah (and now Monty) have access to the most wonderous library of picture books known to kid-kind! Hannah takes advantage of that each and every day, while Monty is just beginning to understand the magic of a good book.
The Philips Azur Elite Steam Iron took the pain and frustration out of ironing. I love wearing cotton shirts, but an ineffective iron can make the task of de-wrinkling them unbearable. The Philips Azur Elite Steam Iron must be powered by some kind of dark magic, because it effortlessly deals with my cotton shirts, and anything else I throw at it. Remarkably, it does all this without ever needing to adjust a setting. It just knows what it is needed and does it.
I wish I was as smart as my iron.
I have reviewed a lot of headphones, but these are my absolute favourite. They are a luxury item, no doubt, but I still get a thrill when I pop them out of their case and place them in my ear. They look great, feel great and, above all, they sound amazing! The Bang & Olufsen E8 wireless earbuds prove to me time and time again that it is good to have nice things.
The Globber Evo 5-in-1 scooter is a brilliant product that has evolved over time as Hannah has grown and developed her skills. To begin with, the seated version was great for pushing her around and she loved the feeling. It didn’t take long before Hannah wanted more control, so we converted the 5-in1 into the scooter format and she has never looked back.
One of my favourite things as a father is to watch my children grow and develop their skills and confidence. No other kids product has supported that development more than the Globber. To watch Hannah confidently tearing around on her scooter at the park and enjoying the freedom, control and pure joy that comes with it… It’s pretty hard to beat.
I still use this shaver every couple of days. It does a good job of keeping me neat and tidy (at least I like to think so). There is nothing too fancy about this electric razor, it just does the job that it is supposed to do.
The BabbyBjorn Travel Cot Light was a godsend on our Japan adventures and it has been a key part of our away-from-home kit ever since. It is built to last – still looking good as new after being lugged around Japan and surviving all of Hannah’s toddlerhood. Monty has inherited it now and he seems to feel just as home in it as Hannah did. Like the Grobags, I feel that it is a product that will still have plenty of use left in it long after my two have grown out of it.
We have a wide range of Skip Hop toddler and preschooler products in our house and they are all good and well used! The one that I am adding to this list is actually the one Skip Hop product that is not currently in regular use in our house. HOWEVER, I have included it on this list because when Hannah was a toddler she used it all the time, and soon Monty will too. The reason I have chosen the Skip Hop Booster Seat over the other great Skip Hop products is that it is, in my opinion, the best booster seat on the market.
When Hannah used it, to brought her right up to the family dinner table in a safe and secure way. She adored the owl and loved that it matched all of her other owl products. I’m looking forward to finally removing the high chair from our dining room and brining Monty right up to the table with the rest of the family!
Like the WD My Cloud Home Duo, this one falls firmly into the category of you don’t know how useful it can be until you need it. While I haven’t had to take advantage of the backup capabilities of the WD, I have been saved from a whole lot of grief by the Navman.
Perhaps though, not in a way you might think. It was the tyre pressure sensor that saved me from a potential flat tyre on the M5 one day. Unexpectedly, the Navman flashed up a warning about my tyre pressure being low in one tyre. I pulled off at the next exit and fortunately found a petrol station close by. A quick inspection of the tyre revealed a screw embedded deep inside. Fortunately, after filling up the tyre with air it held out until I was able to limp to a tyre shop and have it replaced. So yes, I see great value in the Navman MVUE860DC TYRE Dash Cam.
As for the actual dashcam footage? I’ve captured a few close calls since I’ve had the dashcam installed, including the moment a P Plater ran me off the road (no damage) and a couple of interesting road rage incidents (not directed at me, I drive like a normal person). So I’m not going to be surprised when the day comes that the footage will be used.