"A bin? You're going to review a bin?" they asked, with a mixture of surprise and despair. Our reply came quickly, perhaps so quickly it seemed rehearsed: "Yes, because this isn't just any bin, it's special."
It's made by a company called simplehuman, and it's been designed for you. We know this, because you're reading a site that's dedicated to high-end stuff that's beautifully made and desirable. As far as bins go, this is as desirable as it gets.
What's so special about it
Well, this bin's party trick is that it has an electric motor that opens the lid. It's triggered by a motion sensor that keeps an electronic eye out for a hand advancing towards it. It's a bit cleverer than that though. To keep accidental openings down to a minimum, the sensor only watches the space directly above the lid, which means walking past it shouldn't be enough to open the bin.
That said, we're a bit short of space in our kitchen, and as a result we have to pass quite close to the bin to leave the room. Often, it will open as we stroll past, but that's probably because our hands end up passing over its sensor. It's a bit annoying, but our last bin from John Lewis took to opening itself anyway, which was even more annoying as it was impossible to shut it again, because the catch was so weak.
The sensor also keeps control of the bin lid when you're doing other tasks. So, if you're putting a lot of things in the bin, it's smart enough - after a few seconds - to keep the lid open for 30 seconds for you. Handy.
To replace the bin bags, you open the lid, then pull up the cover which locks both into place. This is incredibly easy, and you don't have to put the bin lid on the floor to change the bag. Sounds like a minor point, but we found it a worthwhile bonus.
Other sensor bins from simplehuman have included a carbon filter. This helps reduce the odours you get in any bin. The company hasn't included one in this bin, but it does sell them via its website, so you could pick one up. Just attach it to the lid, and it should reduce the nasty whiffs that are common with rubbish.
Although it's quite a big bin, the semi-round sensor bin doesn't eat space in your kitchen. Push it up against a wall, and unlike a square bin, it's quite a space saver. In our small kitchen, it certainly didn't feel too big, despite it's near-50-litre capacity.
Perhaps the best thing about this bin is that it's almost impossible for the bag to slip. When it's placed into the bin, the lid keeps it on very tight. Compared to our previous bin, that's brilliant because it means that you don't arrive at the bin every so often, chuck in a mouldy pasta dish that's been in the fridge for a month, only to watch in horror as it slips down the side, between the bag and the bin. This used to happen loads with our old rubbish receptacle.
You can use normal bin bags in the sensor bin, the only downside being that they'll be visible. If you buy simplehuman's bags - a pack of three is included - then the bags are externally invisible. It might not be hugely important, but it's certainly a sign of just how much effort the company puts into making its hardware "just so".
The bin is powered by six c-cell batteries. This is a decent amount, and will cost a reasonable sum. Presumably you could use rechargeable cells if you felt so inclined, but simplehuman says a set should give 12 months of normal use. That's a pretty decent amount of time.
At £99, the simplehuman semi-round sensor bin is expensive. But that said, look at bins on John Lewis and you'll see you can spend a lot more. And while you can get something From Argos that holds rubbish, it will almost certainly be, well, rubbish by comparison.
Of course, judged on its own merrits the sensor bin is great. We did find that the sensor opened the lid as we walked past, but the other niceties easily make up for that. We love the easy clean surfaces, the fingerprint-free metal and the whole way the bin is styled. The fact that the bin liner never slipped inside is, in itself, quite an achievement.
If you're a gadget lover, then this is almost certainly the bin for you. Its simple design and solid performance mean it will keep you happy for a long time, and your friends will admire it too. Oh, and kids love this thing, Little Miss Pocket-lint - who's two and a bit - thinks it's voice activated, so she spends a lot of time yelling at it to open and close. It's really quite adorable.
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