INTERNET OF THINGS
High-Tech Subscription Services That Make Life Genuinely Better
Want to make every day more fulfilling and less stressful? Start with these worthwhile services sure to free up more spare time.
These days, it seems there's always a new subscription service working its way into our social feeds. From toothbrushes, razors and tampons to athletic wear and even Ikea furniture, there’s no issue some new startup can’t fix with a well-timed monthly delivery.
But let’s be honest, a lot of it isn’t worth your time or money. So how to tell those apart from the ones that will actually make your life better? We give the thumbs up to the following subs that solve a legitimate monthly pain point (plus a couple worth signing onto just for fun).
Hive Smart Home Service, $9.99 per month
While many brands offer individual ways to achieve the famed “connected home,” Hive Smart Home delivers everything in one package. Hive is a comprehensive ecosystem that works with a subscription-based app, enabling you to manage your home--including your thermostats, lightbulbs and window and door motion sensors--whether you’re there or not. Whether you use it to cut heating costs while away, turn on the lights before you arrive home from work in winter, employ the AC judiciously in summer, or naturally dim the lights as bedtime approaches, there’s a number of intuitive ways Hive will make life easier.
By now you’re likely familiar with Nest, the smart-home startup that first made waves with their attractive Learning Thermostat in 2011. Since then, the innovative hardware brand has introduced a handful of other equally disruptive products to enhance domestic life, including connected cameras for indoor and outdoor use—perfect for pet owners, parents, and putting into service as virtual house sitting while you’re away. Nest Aware is the company’s subscription service that allows for continuous recording of all camera feeds, 24/7 for up to 30 days. With functionality like time lapses and intelligent alerts, you can review video history, share full resolution clips and know exactly what happened while you weren’t looking.
Printing + Tech Support
HP Instant Ink, $2.99 for 50 pages per month
Say you need to print financial documents for a rental application, an updated resume, and your daughter’s history paper—all in the next 15 minutes before running out the door. Here, and in just about any other moment, the last thing you want to deal with is running out of printer ink. Thanks to the new HP Tango printer and HP’s Instant Ink subscription plan, you’ll never have to. A first of its kind, the sleek, design-driven Tango is the first ever printer to work with a cloud-based, two-way network connection, making it easy to print, scan and copy from any device, anywhere—even your phone, and even while abroad traveling. Working with the HP Smart App for Android and iOS, you can initiate print jobs remotely, and receive notifications when your documents are ready. And with the HP Instant Ink plan you’ll never get stuck with a half printed document again. Usage is monitored automatically, so new ink cartridges arrive whenever needed, without you having to even think about it. Monthly prices align with the number of pages you expect to print—clean and easy with no confusion or hidden costs. Better yet, subscribers can print unlimited 5” by 7” photos from their mobile device without counting towards their monthly page totals.
Best Buy Total Tech Support, $199.99 per year
Let’s be honest, even the most savvy among us still struggles with new tech or an aging device from time to time. Whether it’s programming your parents’ new TV or trying to recover data from a dying machine, the new Best Buy Total Tech Support service can help. The yearly subscription service offers 24/7 support on all your devices—phones, TVs, Computers, Tablets, etc—regardless of when or where the original purchase was made. Plus, with the subscription, you get 20% off repairs and a discounted in-home service rate. You can even have a Geek Squad member help set up your new HP Tango printer, not that you’d need it.
Art + Music
Meural, $5.95 per month
Forget Grandma’s digital picture frames of the mid 2000s. Meural has reinvented the category with a smart art frame that brings tens of thousands of masterpieces from the world’s most renowned museums and galleries to your home. Using a proprietary blend of hardware, firmware and software, Meural deflects light without distorting hues while rendering images in a textured and lifelike way. Additionally, ambient light sensors automatically adjust its display to a room’s brightness and even puts your artwork to sleep when the room gets dark. At just $5.95 a month, the membership is certainly the least expensive way to put a Picasso in your living room. And yes, you can still upload photos from your recent trip abroad too, if you really want.
Spotify, $9.99 per month
Spotify is certainly nothing new, but simply put, it’s one of the absolute best ways to spend $9.99 a month. Not only does the streaming service offer a rich library of music, a number of lesser known services are the real reason the app landed on this list. In addition to music, Spotify also offers access to a seemingly endless number of niche and well-known podcasts and audiobooks narrated by voices of note (hidden under “word” in the browse genres section). Plus we love the AI-backed “assisted playlisting,” which uses machine learning to help you create new playlists on the go. You can even integrate Spotify with the Google Clock app to wake up to your favorite song. Plus, the app allows songs to be downloaded to your mobile device for offline listening—great for flying—and now offers a “Data Saver Mode” that can reduce data usage by up to 75 percent.
Lyft Personal Plan, from $1.99 to $9.99 per month, depending on the route
The ubiquitous ride-sharing service recently introduced their new Personal Plan subscription, which charges a modest upfront fee for the monthly service, then locks in a fixed rate price for heavily frequented routes, like to and from work, the gym, or a significant other’s place. While a couple dollar savings here or there is nice, the real beauty lies in eliminating the fear of unexpected traffic or a surprise surge price, allowing you to sit back and truly enjoy the ride.