Category Archives: Gadgets

Set Up and Get to Know Your New Tech Gifts

Set Up and Get to Know Your New Tech Gifts

You’ve unwrapped your presents and received everything you’d hoped you’d get. But now what? We’ve got you covered this holiday season with several guides to help you get acquainted with your brand new gadgets.

Got a new smartphone or tablet this year? Check out our guides for Android and iOS.

Got a new computer? Check out our guides for Windows PCs and Macs.

Most Popular Nexus 7 Case: Devicewear Ridge

Most Popular Nexus 7 Case: Devicewear Ridge

The Nexus 7 is arguably the most popular Android tablet, which means it has tons of great case options to keep it safe from bumps and drops. The best add features that make it easier to use. Last week we asked you for your favorites, then we looked at the five best Nexus 7 cases based on your nominations. Now we’re back to highlight the winner of our poll.

Most Popular Nexus 7 Case: Devicewear Ridge

Voting was tight across all of the competitors this week, but the Devicewear Ridge, a flexible, multi-angle folio case with full protection for the back of your tablet, took the top spot with close to 34% of the overall vote.

Behind it in second place with close to 29% of the votes cast was the Poetic Slimline Case, a trim, light folio case that also supports multiple stand angles and only costs a few bucks. In third place with 19% of the overall vote was the MoKo Slim-Fit Multi-Angle Case—another case that falls in with the rest; a folio-style, affordable case that supports multiple landscape mode angles and even has a hand-grip for one-handed use. In fourth place with over 12% of the vote was the Portenzo Book Case, a hand-crafted, premium wooden case with tons of customization options. Bringing up the rear with 6% of the vote was the RooCASE SlimShell with Origami Cover, a creative folio case with a flexible screen protector and stand.

To read more about each of the competitors and see the honorable mentions not listed here, make sure to head back to the full Hive Five feature to read more.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

PowerCurl Mini Neatly Contains an iPhone Power Adapters and Cable

PowerCurl Mini Neatly Contains an iPhone Power Adapters and Cable

Taking power adapters along with you can be a bit of a pain because you have to deal with a tangle-friendly cable. Quirky came up with a handy little cable wrap that holds the power adapter as well, keeping everything neatly wound until you need it.

As you can see from the image above, the power adapter fits nicely in the circular wrapper, holding the cable neatly in place as well. If you push the storage mechanism out, however, you’ll reveal a spool for wrapping the cable. This allows you not only to store the cable safely but shorten it to just the length you need when actually plugging it in. We’ve seen lots of wrapping aids that all have their advantages, but they keep the cable on the outside where it could come undone. The PowerCurl Mini has the nice advantage of keeping things tucked inside where they won’t unravel.

PowerCurl Mini ($7) | Quirky

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

The Nexus 7 is arguably the leading Android tablet, and for good reason. It’s slim, trim, powerful, and affordable. If you want to keep it safe though, you’ll need a decent case or protective sleeve for it—one that’ll protect it from drops, bumps, or other things in your bag. This week we’re looking at five of the best Nexus 7 cases, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week, we asked you which Nexus 7 cases were the best. You responded with tons of great suggestions, but a few stood out above the others, either because of the protection they offered, the price, or the look and feel. Here’s your favorite picks, in no particular order:

MoKo Slim-Fit Multi-Angle Case

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

The MoKo Slim-Fit Multi-Angle Case is actually available for the Nexus 7 (both old and 2013 versions) and the Nexus 10, and features soft polyurethane "leather" outer cover binding and hard plastic backing and side protection to keep your tablet safe from drops and dings. It also features a padded cover and microfiber interior so you don’t scratch or scuff the body of your tablet. The Slim-Fit case is available in dozens of colors to suit your style, a sports a handgrip in the back you can slide your fingers into while you use the tablet with the other hand.

When you want to set it on your desk, the case can be set in two different configurations—a flatter typing angle where you can work with the tablet, and a more upright angle that’s suitable for watching video, reading, or video chatting. Those of you who nominated the MoKo case praised it for being a full cover that protects your tablet on all sides, supporting auto-on and off when you open or close the case cover, and of course, the price. Both Nexus 7 models are available at Amazon for $17.


Poetic Slimline Case

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

Poetic’s Slimline series of cases are available for a variety of tablets, including both old and new iterations of Google’s Nexus 7. All of the Slimline cases offer auto-sleep and wake when you close and open the case, full-body protection for the back and sides of the case (with cutouts for access to ports, like most other cases here), and a soft, padded front that’s also flexible for use in landscape mode, whether you’re typing and working with the tablet or sitting back and watching videos or reading. The cases all feature a hard rubberized outer shell for the back, and the front has a microfiber interior so it doesn’t scratch your screen.

Those of you who praised the Poetic line of cases noted the company’s exceptional customer service if you have problems with their cases, their flexibility, and the strength of the front cover—which unlike a lot of cases, it capable of keeping the tablet firmly in landscape mode while you use it without sliding all over the place. Some of you also noted that the cover magnets are strong and firm, so the case won’t just fall open (which would simultaneously wake your tablet and waste your battery). The price is right too; a Slimline will set you back $15 for the new Nexus 7 and $13 for the original Nexus tablet at Amazon.


Devicewear Ridge

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

Devicewear makes a number of cases for a variety of devices, all of them quality crafted folio designs that are flexible and can keep your tablet safe while simultaneously serving as a multi-angle stand when necessary. All of their cases are remarkably slim and light, and made from a soft-but-authentic-feeling polyurethane leather material (the company specifically markets its leather as animal-friendly, since no animal products are used in manufacturing it). They also sport cover magnets that auto-sleep and wake your Nexus when you close or open the case, and even though the leather actually isn’t leather at all, it has a premium feel. The case backing is a firm plastic shell that your tablet snaps into securely, and the cover can be adjusted to keep the screen right where you want it.

Those of you who nominated the Ridge noted that premium feel at an affordable price, multiple standing positions (up to six different angles!), and the fact that it works with a Qi wireless charger. The sheer fact that it’s so easily adjustable and highly customizable makes it a strong contender. If you’re interested in one, they’re available direct from Devicewear for $40 for the new Nexus 7 and $50 for the original, or you can get a break at Amazon and grab one for $25 for the 2013 Nexus 7 and $15 for the original Nexus 7.


Portenzo Book Case

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

If you’re a fan of book-style cases that keep your tablet safe on all sides but look like a notebook and less like a folio, the Portenzo Book Case for Nexus will definitely pique your interest. Each Portenzo case is handmade from maple wood (with hand-sanded corners to ensure a perfect fit), cover magnets so your Nexus will auto wake or sleep when you open or shut the case and can be configured to order with a simple elastic strap, a camera opening so you can use your tablet’s rear camera without having to take it out of the case, additional magnets to keep your case in place while you use it, and more. The Portenzo even sports a space for your stylus if you use one, and you can order a stylus with the case if you like. Add on the optional "Intellistand" and you’ll get a case that can transform into a landscape mode stand whenever you need to use it that way.

More than a few of you highlighted the Portenza cases as a more affordable, customizable option to other more popular book-style wooden cases, and specifically praised the company’s attention to detail, the the firm wooden cases being particularly good for travel, and the special cutouts for all of your ports that won’t sacrifice side protection. If you’re interested, they’ll set you back $60 direct for the new Nexus 7 or $40 for the original Nexus 7. If you want the Intellicase option, add $10, and if you want the camera opening in the rear, add $5 to whatever configuration you choose. If you want to add tougher magnets to the case closure, that’s another $10. For the price though, you get a highly personal, customized, handmade case with just the features you need.


RooCASE SlimShell with Origami Cover

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

RooCASE actually makes a number of cases for the original Nexus 7 and for the new Nexus 7, but the one that earned the most nominations is the RooCASE SlimShell with the Origami Cover. In short, the SlimShell is RooCASE’s slimmest model (and only available for the new Nexus 7), and the Origami Cover is designed to fold at multiple angles to make for the perfect soft-shelled case design. The specially designed cover can fold up almost like a triangle, which keeps the tablet secure on a work surface both in portrait or landscape mode while you use it, or you sit back and watch video or read. The case body is polycarbonate, and the case cover is a soft polyurethane with a microfiber inner lining. The SlimShell also supports auto-sleep and wake thanks to the magnets on the inside of the case, and it comes in a variety of colors to choose from.

A number of you rallied behind it because of that Origami Cover, specifically because it keeps the tablet upright both in landscape and portrait mode, which is a much overlooked feature in affordable cases. Plus, many of you noted that it’s exceptionally thin and won’t add a ton of bulk to your Nexus while you carry it around, which is a huge plus. Finally, the price is very definitely right—you can snag one for $10 at Amazon.


Now that you’ve seen your top five, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to decide the community favorite.

The honorable mention this week goes out to Google’s Nexus 7 Case. It’s guaranteed to fit, it’s $50, and it looks sharp. It’s available in a number of colors, and function-wise it works as a simple folio, as a typing stand, or as a media stand you can use while you’re watching movies or in a Google Hangout with someone else. If the others here are too fancy for your tastes, go for the simple, basic, made-by-Google-for-Google option. I’m partial to the white one with red trim.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Title photo by upupa4me.

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

The Nexus 7 is arguably the leading Android tablet, and for good reason. It’s slim, trim, powerful, and affordable. If you want to keep it safe though, you’ll need a decent case or protective sleeve for it—one that’ll protect it from drops, bumps, or other things in your bag. This week we’re looking at five of the best Nexus 7 cases, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week, we asked you which Nexus 7 cases were the best. You responded with tons of great suggestions, but a few stood out above the others, either because of the protection they offered, the price, or the look and feel. Here’s your favorite picks, in no particular order:

MoKo Slim-Fit Multi-Angle Case

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

The MoKo Slim-Fit Multi-Angle Case is actually available for the Nexus 7 (both old and 2013 versions) and the Nexus 10, and features soft polyurethane "leather" outer cover binding and hard plastic backing and side protection to keep your tablet safe from drops and dings. It also features a padded cover and microfiber interior so you don’t scratch or scuff the body of your tablet. The Slim-Fit case is available in dozens of colors to suit your style, a sports a handgrip in the back you can slide your fingers into while you use the tablet with the other hand.

When you want to set it on your desk, the case can be set in two different configurations—a flatter typing angle where you can work with the tablet, and a more upright angle that’s suitable for watching video, reading, or video chatting. Those of you who nominated the MoKo case praised it for being a full cover that protects your tablet on all sides, supporting auto-on and off when you open or close the case cover, and of course, the price. Both Nexus 7 models are available at Amazon for $17.


Poetic Slimline Case

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

Poetic’s Slimline series of cases are available for a variety of tablets, including both old and new iterations of Google’s Nexus 7. All of the Slimline cases offer auto-sleep and wake when you close and open the case, full-body protection for the back and sides of the case (with cutouts for access to ports, like most other cases here), and a soft, padded front that’s also flexible for use in landscape mode, whether you’re typing and working with the tablet or sitting back and watching videos or reading. The cases all feature a hard rubberized outer shell for the back, and the front has a microfiber interior so it doesn’t scratch your screen.

Those of you who praised the Poetic line of cases noted the company’s exceptional customer service if you have problems with their cases, their flexibility, and the strength of the front cover—which unlike a lot of cases, it capable of keeping the tablet firmly in landscape mode while you use it without sliding all over the place. Some of you also noted that the cover magnets are strong and firm, so the case won’t just fall open (which would simultaneously wake your tablet and waste your battery). The price is right too; a Slimline will set you back $15 for the new Nexus 7 and $13 for the original Nexus tablet at Amazon.


Devicewear Ridge

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

Devicewear makes a number of cases for a variety of devices, all of them quality crafted folio designs that are flexible and can keep your tablet safe while simultaneously serving as a multi-angle stand when necessary. All of their cases are remarkably slim and light, and made from a soft-but-authentic-feeling polyurethane leather material (the company specifically markets its leather as animal-friendly, since no animal products are used in manufacturing it). They also sport cover magnets that auto-sleep and wake your Nexus when you close or open the case, and even though the leather actually isn’t leather at all, it has a premium feel. The case backing is a firm plastic shell that your tablet snaps into securely, and the cover can be adjusted to keep the screen right where you want it.

Those of you who nominated the Ridge noted that premium feel at an affordable price, multiple standing positions (up to six different angles!), and the fact that it works with a Qi wireless charger. The sheer fact that it’s so easily adjustable and highly customizable makes it a strong contender. If you’re interested in one, they’re available direct from Devicewear for $40 for the new Nexus 7 and $50 for the original, or you can get a break at Amazon and grab one for $25 for the 2013 Nexus 7 and $15 for the original Nexus 7.


Portenzo Book Case

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

If you’re a fan of book-style cases that keep your tablet safe on all sides but look like a notebook and less like a folio, the Portenzo Book Case for Nexus will definitely pique your interest. Each Portenzo case is handmade from maple wood (with hand-sanded corners to ensure a perfect fit), cover magnets so your Nexus will auto wake or sleep when you open or shut the case and can be configured to order with a simple elastic strap, a camera opening so you can use your tablet’s rear camera without having to take it out of the case, additional magnets to keep your case in place while you use it, and more. The Portenzo even sports a space for your stylus if you use one, and you can order a stylus with the case if you like. Add on the optional "Intellistand" and you’ll get a case that can transform into a landscape mode stand whenever you need to use it that way.

More than a few of you highlighted the Portenza cases as a more affordable, customizable option to other more popular book-style wooden cases, and specifically praised the company’s attention to detail, the the firm wooden cases being particularly good for travel, and the special cutouts for all of your ports that won’t sacrifice side protection. If you’re interested, they’ll set you back $60 direct for the new Nexus 7 or $40 for the original Nexus 7. If you want the Intellicase option, add $10, and if you want the camera opening in the rear, add $5 to whatever configuration you choose. If you want to add tougher magnets to the case closure, that’s another $10. For the price though, you get a highly personal, customized, handmade case with just the features you need.


RooCASE SlimShell with Origami Cover

Five Best Nexus 7 Cases

RooCASE actually makes a number of cases for the original Nexus 7 and for the new Nexus 7, but the one that earned the most nominations is the RooCASE SlimShell with the Origami Cover. In short, the SlimShell is RooCASE’s slimmest model (and only available for the new Nexus 7), and the Origami Cover is designed to fold at multiple angles to make for the perfect soft-shelled case design. The specially designed cover can fold up almost like a triangle, which keeps the tablet secure on a work surface both in portrait or landscape mode while you use it, or you sit back and watch video or read. The case body is polycarbonate, and the case cover is a soft polyurethane with a microfiber inner lining. The SlimShell also supports auto-sleep and wake thanks to the magnets on the inside of the case, and it comes in a variety of colors to choose from.

A number of you rallied behind it because of that Origami Cover, specifically because it keeps the tablet upright both in landscape and portrait mode, which is a much overlooked feature in affordable cases. Plus, many of you noted that it’s exceptionally thin and won’t add a ton of bulk to your Nexus while you carry it around, which is a huge plus. Finally, the price is very definitely right—you can snag one for $10 at Amazon.


Now that you’ve seen your top five, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to decide the community favorite.

The honorable mention this week goes out to Google’s Nexus 7 Case. It’s guaranteed to fit, it’s $50, and it looks sharp. It’s available in a number of colors, and function-wise it works as a simple folio, as a typing stand, or as a media stand you can use while you’re watching movies or in a Google Hangout with someone else. If the others here are too fancy for your tastes, go for the simple, basic, made-by-Google-for-Google option. I’m partial to the white one with red trim.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Title photo by upupa4me.

What’s the Best Nexus 7 Case?

What's the Best Nexus 7 Case?

The Nexus 7 is arguably the most popular and powerful Android tablet on the market, but if you want your investment to last, you’ll want a decent sleeve, case, or folio for it. This week, we want to know which ones you think are the best.

We covered the best iPad cases a few weeks ago, but this week it’s your turn, Android tablet owners! Which cases are the best at keeping your Nexus 7 safe from the elements, or just from drops, jostles, or other objects in your bag? Sound off in the discussions below!

Let’s hear your vote in the discussions below! To cast your vote, follow these guidelines:

  1. Follow this format for your vote, including the bold print. If you don’t, it won’t be counted:

    A PHOTO OF YOUR FAVORITE NEXUS 7 CASE
    [preferably at 970x546]

    Vote: [BEST NEXUS 7 CASE]

    Why: Explain why this case stands above all others. What makes it stand out, and why? Make your case! Try to keep it to a single paragraph, maybe two. Let us know how much it costs, if you know.

  2. Don’t duplicate nominations! Instead, if someone’s nominated your pick, star (recommend) it to give it a boost, and reply with your story instead.
  3. Please don’t leave non-entry, direct comments on this post. They’ll just get pushed down. Save your stories for others’ submissions!

If you’re not sure what we mean, just check out the nominations by our writers below. We’ll give you a head start, and they should all be in the proper format, so you can just follow our lead.

The Hive Five is our weekly series where you vote on your favorite apps and tools for any given job. Have a suggestion for a topic? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!

Photo by Ray Bouknight.

Why We’re So Materialistic, Even Though It Doesn’t Make Us Happy

Why We're So Materialistic, Even Though It Doesn't Make Us Happy

No matter who you are, it’s easy to get a little caught up in the idea of getting new stuff. Here’s a look at why your brain is so materialistic and what you can do to keep it from overwhelming you.

Materialism is one of those things that most of us don’t want to think about, especially when it causes trouble in your marriage or stresses you out. As a stereotype, a materialistic person is a high class one-percenter snob whining about getting a Porche instead of a Lamborghini, but it’s something we’re all prone to. Whether it’s a gadget you’re coveting, a game you have to buy, or a brand you have to wear, we all have a bit of a materialistic side. Subsequently, there’s been a lot of research into materialism and researchers consistently come to the same conclusions: objects don’t make us happy. So why do our brains continue to convince us that they do? Here’s what’s going on.

Why We Want to Buy Things

Materialism is one of those ugly words that gets thrown around a lot. It’s best defined as an insatiable desire to own things and the belief that when those desires are fulfilled we’ll achieve happiness. Basically, materialism suggests a yardstick for success: the more you own, the better your life will be. It sounds horrible, but we all do it to some extent, even if we don’t go overboard.

We tend to equate buying things with positive emotions. Subsequently, we think that purchasing new stuff makes us happy. It’s a pretty clear correlation. In a study published in Neuron, researchers looked at what’s going on in the brain when we think about buying stuff. When a product image flashed before people’s eyes, an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens lit up when a subject liked what they saw. Essentially, the brain’s pleasure center kicks into gear and floods the brain with dopamine at the very thought of getting something we want. The weirdest thing about this is that just thinking about buying something is pretty much the same as actually buying it. The Atlantic explains:

"Thinking about acquisition provides momentary happiness boosts to materialistic people, and because they tend to think about acquisition a lot, such thoughts have the potential to provide frequent mood boosts," Richins wrote, "but the positive emotions associated with acquisition are short-lived. Although materialists still experience positive emotions after making a purchase, these emotions are less intense than before they actually acquire a product."

Put plainly, our brains think that acquiring new stuff will make us happy, but we’re not entirely sure why our brains work this way. Psychology Today explains just a couple of the many theories out there trying to figure out the origins of materialism:

Many economists and politicians believe that acquisitiveness—the impulse to buy and possess things—is natural to human beings. This seems to make sense in terms of Darwin’s theory of evolution: since natural resources are limited, human beings have to compete over them, and try to claim as large a part of them as possible…

Another theory is that the restlessness and constant wanting which fuels our materialism is a kind of evolutionary mechanism which keeps us in a state of alertness. (The psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi has suggested this, for example) Dissatisfaction keeps living beings on the look out for ways of improving their chances of survival; if they were satisfied they wouldn’t be alert, and other creatures would take the advantage.

Neither of these theories are perfect, but we do know that regardless of why we’re always wanting new things, getting them rarely has a positive effect on our well-being.

Buying Stuff Doesn’t Make You Happy

Why We're So Materialistic, Even Though It Doesn't Make Us Happy

It’s probably no surprise to most of us, but study after study shows that buying stuff doesn’t make us happy. More importantly, we’re actually unhappy when we put too much value on material objects.

The big problem here isn’t just that we’re a little bummed out when someone else has more stuff than we do. It’s that when we put a lot of emphasis on materialistic value, we’re prone to depression, personality disorders, and more. One study from Tufts University sums these effects pretty simply:

Existing scientific research on the value of materialism yields clear and consistent findings. People who are highly focused on materialistic values have lower personal well-being and psychological health than those who believe that materialistic pursuits are relatively unimportant. These relationships have been documented in sample of people ranging from wealthy to poor, from teenagers to the elderly, and from Australians to South Koreans. Several investigators have reported similar results using a variety of ways of measuring materialism. The studies document that strong materialist values are associated with pervasive undermining of people’s well-being, from low life satisfaction to happiness, to depression and anxiety, to physical problems such as headaches, and to personality disorders, narcissistic, and antisocial behaviors.

As we start to understand more about the correlation between materialism and happiness, we get a better idea of just how deeply it affects us. The Guardian explains some of the nastier effects of materialism:

Another paper, published in Psychological Science, found that people in a controlled experiment who were repeatedly exposed to images of luxury goods, to messages that cast them as consumers rather than citizens and to words associated with materialism (such as buy, status, asset and expensive), experienced immediate but temporary increases in material aspirations, anxiety and depression. They also became more competitive and more selfish, had a reduced sense of social responsibility and were less inclined to join in demanding social activities. The researchers point out that, as we are repeatedly bombarded with such images through advertisements, and constantly described by the media as consumers, these temporary effects could be triggered more or less continuously.

Materialism is tied to shopping pretty closely, so you can try to fight against it by understanding what’s really going on in your brain when you’re out shopping. It’s no secret that your brain does plenty of things to screw with your shopping choices. From misunderstanding numbers to believing deals are better than they are, you can fight against the ways stores manipulate you pretty easily. Likewise, if you get a better understanding of why you feel inclined to upgrade your gadgets all the time you a good idea of what’s going on inside your brain when you want to buy things you probably don’t need. These tricks don’t "beat" materialism, but they can at least keep you mindful of how it’s effecting you.

Experiences Are Better than Objects

Why We're So Materialistic, Even Though It Doesn't Make Us Happy

Think about the last time you really wanted something. Let’s say it’s a shiny new iPad. When you wanted it, you probably couldn’t think of much else. When you eventually get that iPad, you sit and admire it the first few times you interact with. As time goes on, that iPad means less and less to you.

Now, instead of thinking about that iPad, think of your last amazing vacation. Chances are, that vacation makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when that iPad makes you feel nothing at all. The reason is that we tend to value experiences over objects, even if we don’t think we do.

The New York Times has a few explanations for this:

(Researchers) have found that our types of purchases, their size and frequency, and even the timing of the spending all affect long-term happiness. One major finding is that spending money for an experience—concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco—produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.

"It’s better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch’ is basically the idea," says Professor Dunn, summing up research by two fellow psychologists, Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich.

…Thomas DeLeire, an associate professor of public affairs, population, health and economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, recently published research examining nine major categories of consumption. He discovered that the only category to be positively related to happiness was leisure: vacations, entertainment, sports and equipment like golf clubs and fishing poles.

Granted—none of this means that you need to get rid of all your stuff, stop giving gifts, or boycott iPads. It’s just an explanation of why we’re so prone to buying things, even when we don’t really need them. For some people, that iPad offers an experience on par with a vacation. Likewise, sometimes we just need to buy stuff and there’s nothing wrong with that. The difference between need and want is that we rarely expect the things we need to make us happy.

We all make the mistake of believing that the more money and stuff we have, the happier we’ll be. We’re all prone to comparing what we have to what our friends and family have, and then worrying about how those objects might reflect on us as people. Unfortunately, that’s just a recipe for anxiety, depression, and unhappiness. There’s no real trick to preventing yourself from getting caught up in these materialistic values, but it’s always good to keep these ideas in the back of your mind when you’re out shopping.

Photos by: Anna Rassadnikova, S-F, Denphumi, Hibiscus81, FatFreddie, and ginnerobot.

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Tablets seem to be all the rage right now, but some of us are still trying to figure out why we’d even want one. Well wonder no more: here are ten worthwhile, clever uses for tablets, whether it’s an iPad, Android, or Windows device.

10. A Productive Second Screen

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Chances are you probably do a lot of work on your computer, and a tablet can actually make a great second screen to augment it—whether you hook it up to your computer as a second monitor or actually use it as a tablet. With a couple work apps and shortcuts, you can actually use your tablet as a more productive, secondary device for keeping up with email, your notes, or other work-related tasks you need to keep an eye on.

9. A Universal Remote Control

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Your phone can control a lot of things, but a tablet’s size make it a great remote for just about anything. With the right apps, you can use your tablet to control your home theater PC, your computer from afar, or even your actual house.

7. A Note Taking Machine

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

If you’re in school (or need to take a lot of notes at work), a tablet actually makes for a pretty dandy note-taker. You guys had a ton of examples of how you used a tablet in class, from making annotations in books and articles to making handwritten notes and equations or even just downsizing your massive stack of textbooks. And with apps Evernote, Drafts, and OneNote available, you can do more with your notes than you ever could on paper.

6. A Creative Tool

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Traditionalists may scoff at the use of digital tablets for art, but they allow you to do a lot of things you can’t do on paper—especially if you’re short on funds. Whether it’s making music, digital painting, or creative writing, a tablet gives you portability, ease of use, and the ability to easily copy or share your works quickly and easily. It may not be your go-to studio, but it’s a great tool to have at your disposal for creative tasks.

5. An Integrated Car Dashboard

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Ever used the built-in navigation and music players in most cars? A lot of them leave a lot to be desired (okay, let’s be frank, they suck). Why not just integrate your iPad or Android tablet to the mix instead? It’s got music, it’s got navigation, it’s easy to use, and you can even control it with your voice. We’ve seen countless examples of this, from DIY mounts to more serious, built-in setups. Whatever you choose to do, it’s sure to bring your car into the 21st century.

4. A Portable Media and Gaming Center

Imagine the awesomeness of a home theater PC that fits in your backpack. You can bring it over to your friends’ house for the Game of Thrones finale, throw some old school video games on their TV, or stream some Netflix on a whim. All you need is a tablet and the right apps and accessories. Plus, it’s great for when you have those same cravings at the airport or while you’re out with no access to a TV. And if you’re really dedicated to those old school video games, you can turn it into a mini retro cabinet, too.

3. A Do-Everything Family Device

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Having a tablet lying around as a general all-purpose device—for quickly checking email, reading the web, or killing a few minutes with a game—seems to be an ideal use case. It’s faster and easier than grabbing your laptop or heading to your computer, and it isn’t locked to one location. However, most tablets don’t really lend themselves to multi-user experience. Thankfully, we’ve figured out some ways around that problem, so you can use your tablet as a do-everything device for the whole household. And with a few dedicated "tablet stations," it’ll never get lost.

2. A Device Dedicated to Distractions

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

The internet is distracting. Between places like Facebook, Twitter, and even (admittedly) Lifehacker, it’s hard to stay focused when you have so many options for procrastination. blogger Ben Brooks recommends offloading all that distraction to your tablet. Then just schedule in some time for procrastination and switch to your secondary device to keep it separate from your work. Photo by Houang Stephane.

1. A Distraction-Free Work Device

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

On the flip side of the distraction coin, tablets are also great at focusing you on one specific task—mostly since you can’t have multiple apps open at the same time. That makes it great for distraction-free writing, and turns it into a surprisingly legitimate productivity tool. It’s also great (obviously) for distraction-free reading. In fact, when we asked you guys whether you use your tablet for work, a surprising majority of you said yes for these very reasons.

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Tablets seem to be all the rage right now, but some of us are still trying to figure out why we’d even want one. Well wonder no more: here are ten worthwhile, clever uses for tablets, whether it’s an iPad, Android, or Windows device.

10. A Productive Second Screen

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Chances are you probably do a lot of work on your computer, and a tablet can actually make a great second screen to augment it—whether you hook it up to your computer as a second monitor or actually use it as a tablet. With a couple work apps and shortcuts, you can actually use your tablet as a more productive, secondary device for keeping up with email, your notes, or other work-related tasks you need to keep an eye on.

9. A Universal Remote Control

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Your phone can control a lot of things, but a tablet’s size make it a great remote for just about anything. With the right apps, you can use your tablet to control your home theater PC, your computer from afar, or even your actual house.

7. A Note Taking Machine

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

If you’re in school (or need to take a lot of notes at work), a tablet actually makes for a pretty dandy note-taker. You guys had a ton of examples of how you used a tablet in class, from making annotations in books and articles to making handwritten notes and equations or even just downsizing your massive stack of textbooks. And with apps Evernote, Drafts, and OneNote available, you can do more with your notes than you ever could on paper.

6. A Creative Tool

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Traditionalists may scoff at the use of digital tablets for art, but they allow you to do a lot of things you can’t do on paper—especially if you’re short on funds. Whether it’s making music, digital painting, or creative writing, a tablet gives you portability, ease of use, and the ability to easily copy or share your works quickly and easily. It may not be your go-to studio, but it’s a great tool to have at your disposal for creative tasks.

5. An Integrated Car Dashboard

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Ever used the built-in navigation and music players in most cars? A lot of them leave a lot to be desired (okay, let’s be frank, they suck). Why not just integrate your iPad or Android tablet to the mix instead? It’s got music, it’s got navigation, it’s easy to use, and you can even control it with your voice. We’ve seen countless examples of this, from DIY mounts to more serious, built-in setups. Whatever you choose to do, it’s sure to bring your car into the 21st century.

4. A Portable Media and Gaming Center

Imagine the awesomeness of a home theater PC that fits in your backpack. You can bring it over to your friends’ house for the Game of Thrones finale, throw some old school video games on their TV, or stream some Netflix on a whim. All you need is a tablet and the right apps and accessories. Plus, it’s great for when you have those same cravings at the airport or while you’re out with no access to a TV. And if you’re really dedicated to those old school video games, you can turn it into a mini retro cabinet, too.

3. A Do-Everything Family Device

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Having a tablet lying around as a general all-purpose device—for quickly checking email, reading the web, or killing a few minutes with a game—seems to be an ideal use case. It’s faster and easier than grabbing your laptop or heading to your computer, and it isn’t locked to one location. However, most tablets don’t really lend themselves to multi-user experience. Thankfully, we’ve figured out some ways around that problem, so you can use your tablet as a do-everything device for the whole household. And with a few dedicated "tablet stations," it’ll never get lost.

2. A Device Dedicated to Distractions

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

The internet is distracting. Between places like Facebook, Twitter, and even (admittedly) Lifehacker, it’s hard to stay focused when you have so many options for procrastination. blogger Ben Brooks recommends offloading all that distraction to your tablet. Then just schedule in some time for procrastination and switch to your secondary device to keep it separate from your work. Photo by Houang Stephane.

1. A Distraction-Free Work Device

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

On the flip side of the distraction coin, tablets are also great at focusing you on one specific task—mostly since you can’t have multiple apps open at the same time. That makes it great for distraction-free writing, and turns it into a surprisingly legitimate productivity tool. It’s also great (obviously) for distraction-free reading. In fact, when we asked you guys whether you use your tablet for work, a surprising majority of you said yes for these very reasons.

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Tablets seem to be all the rage right now, but some of us are still trying to figure out why we’d even want one. Well wonder no more: here are ten worthwhile, clever uses for tablets, whether it’s an iPad, Android, or Windows device.

10. A Productive Second Screen

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Chances are you probably do a lot of work on your computer, and a tablet can actually make a great second screen to augment it—whether you hook it up to your computer as a second monitor or actually use it as a tablet. With a couple work apps and shortcuts, you can actually use your tablet as a more productive, secondary device for keeping up with email, your notes, or other work-related tasks you need to keep an eye on.

9. A Universal Remote Control

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Your phone can control a lot of things, but a tablet’s size make it a great remote for just about anything. With the right apps, you can use your tablet to control your home theater PC, your computer from afar, or even your actual house.

7. A Note Taking Machine

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

If you’re in school (or need to take a lot of notes at work), a tablet actually makes for a pretty dandy note-taker. You guys had a ton of examples of how you used a tablet in class, from making annotations in books and articles to making handwritten notes and equations or even just downsizing your massive stack of textbooks. And with apps Evernote, Drafts, and OneNote available, you can do more with your notes than you ever could on paper.

6. A Creative Tool

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Traditionalists may scoff at the use of digital tablets for art, but they allow you to do a lot of things you can’t do on paper—especially if you’re short on funds. Whether it’s making music, digital painting, or creative writing, a tablet gives you portability, ease of use, and the ability to easily copy or share your works quickly and easily. It may not be your go-to studio, but it’s a great tool to have at your disposal for creative tasks.

5. An Integrated Car Dashboard

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Ever used the built-in navigation and music players in most cars? A lot of them leave a lot to be desired (okay, let’s be frank, they suck). Why not just integrate your iPad or Android tablet to the mix instead? It’s got music, it’s got navigation, it’s easy to use, and you can even control it with your voice. We’ve seen countless examples of this, from DIY mounts to more serious, built-in setups. Whatever you choose to do, it’s sure to bring your car into the 21st century.

4. A Portable Media and Gaming Center

Imagine the awesomeness of a home theater PC that fits in your backpack. You can bring it over to your friends’ house for the Game of Thrones finale, throw some old school video games on their TV, or stream some Netflix on a whim. All you need is a tablet and the right apps and accessories. Plus, it’s great for when you have those same cravings at the airport or while you’re out with no access to a TV. And if you’re really dedicated to those old school video games, you can turn it into a mini retro cabinet, too.

3. A Do-Everything Family Device

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

Having a tablet lying around as a general all-purpose device—for quickly checking email, reading the web, or killing a few minutes with a game—seems to be an ideal use case. It’s faster and easier than grabbing your laptop or heading to your computer, and it isn’t locked to one location. However, most tablets don’t really lend themselves to multi-user experience. Thankfully, we’ve figured out some ways around that problem, so you can use your tablet as a do-everything device for the whole household. And with a few dedicated "tablet stations," it’ll never get lost.

2. A Device Dedicated to Distractions

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

The internet is distracting. Between places like Facebook, Twitter, and even (admittedly) Lifehacker, it’s hard to stay focused when you have so many options for procrastination. blogger Ben Brooks recommends offloading all that distraction to your tablet. Then just schedule in some time for procrastination and switch to your secondary device to keep it separate from your work. Photo by Houang Stephane.

1. A Distraction-Free Work Device

Top 10 Worthwhile Uses for Tablets

On the flip side of the distraction coin, tablets are also great at focusing you on one specific task—mostly since you can’t have multiple apps open at the same time. That makes it great for distraction-free writing, and turns it into a surprisingly legitimate productivity tool. It’s also great (obviously) for distraction-free reading. In fact, when we asked you guys whether you use your tablet for work, a surprising majority of you said yes for these very reasons.