The Iris Smart Kit ($299) does a fantastic job of keeping our home in check, but a quick survey of the complementary products available for the Iris Home Management System, by Lowe’s, had us feeling like a pot-bellied biker with a bone-stock Harley at home. Accordingly, we tested out an Iris Kit army of great add-ons.
What is thy bidding, master
In the past, controlling the various aspects of your home meant micro-managing at individual stations: temperature meant adjustments at the thermometer; lights mean hitting the switch; and setting the alarm, well, that usually gets forgotten (sorry sweetie!). Sure, there are some damn fine products out there to streamline home base operations, but, like your niece’s Christmas choir recital, they lack the cohesion of a singular voice. The Iris Home Management System by Lowe’s puts you in the executive office of macro-management by instantly offering control of your home, from anywhere you please, through a single application.
Portable, with Power to Spare
We tackled a variety of chores, from the simplest deck demolition to re-framing the interior of a house, to help you choose the right path for your cordless cash. Here are our picks for the cordless power tool kits — including a drill/driver of some sort, a circular saw and a reciprocating saw — that do it best, along with notes on each individual tool.
The Start of a Smarter Home
Much of what simplifies our lives has become effortless. Typing with our thumbs in swipes and stabs while our car parks itself in front of the restaurant that serves those Instagram-worthy dishes can be learned and perfected before the next status update hits our social media feeds. It truly is a brave new world — and it doesn’t have to begin outside your doorstep. The same levels of remote control can now just as easily be had for your home thanks to the Iris Home Management System ($179+) from Lowe’s.
Protein shortage, averted
Some people hear the phrase “beef alternatives” and think tofu, seitan and bean burgers. We think local goat, French-style chicken, grass-fed lamb, name-brand pigs, roast duck, double-smoked Danish salmon, whole lobes of foie gras, elk — and then sometimes beef again, because beef from here is technically an alternative to beef from there. Ready to for a feast of all of the above? Here are our 10 favorite online purveyors of high-quality meat.
Because it's too cold to go out alone
Whether it’s a morning stroll through the local park or a multi-day trek down the Pacific Crest Trail, there are plenty of adventures that we want to share with our four-legged buddies. Winter weather presents challenges, but the right gear makes all the difference. We’re not talking about the latest matching sweater set your great aunt and her little Yorkie were sporting at Thanksgiving dinner. No, cold weather gear for your canine buddy is as high-tech as anything you might find for yourself. We round up the best products to keep your furry friend on the trail all winter long.
Pay attention to more than just your man cave
A living space should be comfortable, functional, attractive — in a word, livable. Herein lie a multitude of smaller gifts that’ll come in handy, really tie a room together and/or keep a home’s occupants content. Hell, you might as well not even wrap these stocking stuffers at all; they’ll be put to immediate use, whether…
When his dogs are barking...
Governor Baxter — named after the famous 1920s governor of Maine who purchased Mount Katahdin as a gift for the state — is the retail arm for James Phinney Baxter White, a Maine craftsman dedicated to producing high-quality goods from classic and proven materials. His Mackworth Dog Bed ($395) is the most ambitious project for the brand to date and a dream solution for both dogs and their magnanimous owners.
Though it was a “must-have” item when it hit the market decades ago, the cordless screwdriver’s charms wound down faster than the AA batteries stacked in its tail. To maintain shelf space on impulse item peg-boards, tool manufacturers did what they do best: they added power, shed weight and extended run times. While noble in effort, their improvements just weren’t reason enough for tradesmen to sacrifice space in their tool bags…until now. To see if the DeWalt 8V Max Gyroscopic Screwdriver ($89) delivers the right balance of intuitive tech and commonplace comfort, we took it out for an involved spin.
Nothing facet-ious about it
The current iteration of the Waterford Crystal company has been making exquisite, traditional crystal products for a good portion of history. But now Waterford has decided to reimagine their product; indeed, they’ve decided to revolutionize the way a man might feel about crystal, and as part of that effort heralded designer Jo Sampson fashioned the new decidedly male-centric London Collection. Apropos, then, that we hopped over to foggy London town to meet with Sampson, chat with Waterford CEO Pierre de Villemejane and check out the new collection.
Robotics engineers and industrial designers, rapid prototyping and 3D printing, adroit methodology and open workflow — sounds like a Silicon Valley tech startup, right? But things aren’t always as they seem. In the case of Pittsburgh-based company 4Moms, this business model is being applied to baby products that leave the status quo in the dust. We went to their headquarters to get a behind-the-scenes look at a few products poised to change things up in the baby world once again.
Almost as appreciated as a full night's sleep
Being a new parent carries many worries, but it’s also the perfect entry point into a new world of gear: strollers, car seats, bags and all kinds of other gadgets, apps and convenience products await. You now have a reason to buy that Eames highchair and test drive that stroller bike. Been looking for a reason to get a wipes warmer, bottle steamer or little super hero tights? Perfect. So for the guy who has it all and now has good reason to get some more, may we present: the holiday gift guide for the New Dad.
The right tools for any of his many jobs
Handyman, craftsman, mister-fix-it, Dad. Call him what you like, but the Do-It-Yourselfer on your list gives his all for you, no matter the task. Be honest: that beautiful new deck that causes envy in the eyes of all your friends would’ve been a creaking pile of splinters were it not for him, and you’d probably be sharing space with Fido out in the yard — in the K9 condo he designed and built no less — had he not stepped in to save your recent en suite experiment. Like most men of his ilk, your handyman rarely receives anything more than a hot coffee to start his day and a cold brew to finish it, which is fine by him. Isn’t it about time you gave him something more? Here are a few gift ideas that should ensure your calls for help continue to get answered.
Good Gifts, Whichever Way You Slice 'Em
We get it — everyone is a foodie now. From your buddy excitedly fawning over the new Santoku he just picked up to your dad calling to inform you about the super authentic Ethiopian place he wants to try next time he and mom come to visit, the chances of having a cookie on your holiday shopping list are greater than ever.
But what do you buy them? Your food-focused gift-getter obviously already has the basics — the knives, pans and culinary detritus that make up his obsession — and nothing says, “hey, I’m too lazy to make an effort, but I think I remember you’re into food” like a gift card that ends up only covering half the bill at the restaurant-du-now. Thank Bourdain, we’ve got you covered with a dozen of the best gastronomic gifts for the season.
Gifts He'll Actually Remember in the Morning
What to call a man who obsesses over alcohol? A connoisseur? A fanatic? A drunk? We call him The Mixologist, and you know him well. He’s the man whose cupboards are stocked with more bitters than spices, whose basement is reeking of homebrew, whose glass is always half-full — at least. And yours too, for the Mixologist prides himself in the cocktails he makes and the beer he serves. He’s an enabler of fun, an anti-Scrooge, a Holiday MVP. He’s every character in Billy Joel’s Piano Man — in fact, he does a mean Billy Joel if the night goes late enough. So cheers to The Mixologist. Here are a few gifts he’ll cheers to.
Entry Level, Mid-Range, High-End
During my senior year of college, I went on a health kick and decided I needed a blender. After a good deal of research, I settled on the Vitamix 5200. At $449, the entry-level 5200 was expensive, but I’d seen that baby in action at Whole Foods demonstration, and I was hooked. You can use it to make ice cream, for goodness sake. Ice cream. From a blender. Because I was vocal about my intentions, my grandmother promised to buy me one for graduation. It never happened. Although still Vitamix-less, my travails blessed me with knowledge of the best blenders at the entry level, mid-range, and high-end price ranges.
A Bright Idea
Economically, it’s tough to be an environmentalist, especially when your life starts sounding like an expensive Mastercard commercial: organic strawberries ($4.99), Envirocycle Composter ($179.99), Camry hybrid ($26,140). But LED chip-maker Cree’s excursion into the lightbulb market aims to make living the green life a little easier (priceless). Their 40-watt and 60-watt Cree LED Bulbs ($10) — positioned to offer consumers quality lighting at a low price — last 25,000 hours, or 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Let's Clear the Air
According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately one in every twelve Americans has asthma. Throw airborne allergies into the mix and we’re talking about 20% of the populace suffering from a breathing condition. Though most people turn to aerosols and sprays in an effort to “clean” the air at home, those products only mask the problem, and in some cases, make it worse. Screaming aside, apparently people can hear you sneeze in space, so, lucky for us, NASA went to work. The Airocide Air Purifier ($799) is the beautiful end result of a dozen years of “up there” field testing, and it’s now available for purchase by us mere mortals.
Nest has innovated before — their smart thermostat brought the home heating arena into the modern age — and they’ve gone and done it again, this time to save lives rather than make us a little more comfortable. The Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm ($129) features a two-stage alert process: if levels of smoke or CO are on the rise but not at lethal levels, a verbal warning (e.g. “heads up: there’s smoke in the kids’ bedroom”) is sounded and a yellow light comes on. If levels get truly dangerous you’ll know — a red warning light flashes along with a full-scale alarm. It’s all integrated with the Nest Protect app for ultimate customization and safety.
Burn, baby burn
As your great-grandpa knew (if he was a cattle rancher, a prospector or any other early explorer of the American West), a well-seasoned pan perfectly sears steak and features natural non-stick properties that increase with age. But with the introduction of Teflon-coated aluminum cookware during the 1960s and ’70s, cast-iron skillets fell out of favor. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011, cousins John Truex and Jason Connelly opened a micro-foundry called Borough Furnace in Syracuse, NY in the hopes of bringing cast iron back.
Sit down, stay a while
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby know a thing or two about design — the duo snagged an Order of the British Empire Award (or OBE) for their work on the London 2012 Olympic Torch. So it’s no surprise that their sofa collection turned heads after its unveiling at Salone del Mobile 2013 in Milan. The sofa collection, designed for American brand Knoll, offers an ideal mixture of style and comfort, a balance that’s increasingly elusive amid the sharp angles and stark silhouettes crowding display windows at contemporary design shops today.
Your new resource for all things Braun
Without the radio, there would be no Braun electric razor.
Sounds weird, right? But before Braun started producing cutting-edge electric razors — before they were even Braun — the precursor to the German company made components for radio sets. This was back in 1921, when Max Braun opened up a little shop in Frankfurt. Only eight years later, he began producing the sets himself. Under his vision and commitment to innovation, it wasn’t long before that little shop became Braun, one of Germany’s leading radio manufacturers.
Radios, you say? That’s right. And there’s a lot more about this storied brand, the most recognized name in electric shaving today, that you surely don’t know. In celebration of the new CoolTec razor, we’ve created an entire guide to Braun, including a complete history, a timeline of their most important innovations, a collection of kits for any traveling situation, and even a breakdown of the new CoolTec and its features. You seem to be growing long in the beard already — so click here to see it all.
Better Than Average Joe
For those who believe that little things make good coffee, the Brazen Brewer ($199) offers a mid-range drip machine with technology and temperature accuracy most often found on higher-end models. We put it through its paces as our office brewer for a week.
10 Products for the Well-Appointed Bathroom
Your master bathroom is your sanctuary. It’s where you prepare to present yourself to the world outside. It’s where, somewhere between the toilet and the shower, you will have your most profound thoughts of the day. A space that important deserves more than dust bunnies and the ghosts of your birthday-suited karaoke. Stop underestimating its role and give your bathroom some cojones. Here are a range of amenities — some indispensable, some indulgent — that are all worthy of consideration. Especially if you’re the pampering type
More than just a hammer
You brought your ’69 Camaro back from the dead, and now you’re finally brave enough to wrangle with your wife’s very modern automobile. Of course you’ve got the basic home mechanic’s tool kit: end wrenches, assorted screwdrivers, a hammer or two, various pliers, a roll of duct tape and a beer fridge. But when it comes to getting a dirty job done, you’ll need a bit more than your resolve and the rudimentary stuff. It’s time to modernize and upgrade.
Slow and steady wins the race
If you’re serious about getting or staying healthy, you’d be wise to make juicing a part of you nutritional regimen. Since you probably don’t have the time nor the patience to nosh on two pounds of fruits and fresh veggies a day, it’s smart to expedite the process and simultaneously add variety to your diet. We recently tested the Hurom Slow Juicer to see how it held up during nearly daily use.
Now We're Cooking Without Gas
Though gas claims to be the zenith of direct-heat cooking, outdoor maestros the world over still rely on those little black briquettes. What do they know that we don’t? Well, charcoal has always been lauded for the flavor it imparts and the fact that it doesn’t require replaceable tanks — not to mention that it’s completely portable.
Since we’ve already outlined the grills you should be looking at this summer, it’s about time we throw together some grilling essentials to accompany your coal-filled, sizzle-causin’ steed. The point is to enjoy it as much as (or a little more than) the millions of men have before you.
The perfect hangout
It’s far from news that summer’s here; the dog days, as it were. From grilling on your resealed deck to some mighty fine vacations, your calendar should be packed with great seasonal activities. You’re not one to take it for granted, are you? Of course, there are those tiny slivers of respite between tackling rapids on your SUP board and trucking along some of the best mountain biking single track in the country, and you are feeling mighty pooped, what with all the adventure and bravado. Sounds like it’s time to catch some suspended reprieve: you’re in desperate need of a hammock, partner.
You might regret this
Hot sauce is a strange beast: part condiment, part cult item. Risking the ire of spicy fanatics everywhere, we’ve put together a list of sauces that light a fire under our own specifications: they have to taste good, look good on the table, and lastly, not offend any minorities or people who voted blue in the past ten years (this narrows the search considerably). Grab your antacids and dive in.
Not a buzzkill among them
One of the “luxuries” of being a home owner is having a yard — having the space to grill, garden, and maybe even build a moat (it is your castle, after all). Sadly, that yard is just waiting for you to turn your back so it can start creeping and growing past its carefully manicured boundaries. You need an arsenal to fight back; luckily, the weapons are a lot of fun, one of the many stress-relieving, get-it-done perks of being a man. Below are just the tools to help your yard from turning into a Discovery Channel episode of “Life after People”.