There’s also a Bluetooth tracker for your keys, wallet or any other item that you can never find when you need it. This is probably a little bit of a luxury, but I’ve seen so many people’s lives improve by using one of these things.
What are the most important tech tools to do your job running The Wirecutter? What could be better about them?
I have an early 2015 MacBook Pro, which we actually still recommend for people who need “legacy” ports (which I often do). As a longtime MacBook Air fan, I’ll always wish for any laptop computer to be lighter and thinner.
On the flip side, battery life seems to be something we can’t quite get comfortable with — Apple’s MacBook Pros enjoyed many years of great battery life, but the latest 2017 versions seem to have taken a major step backward. An older MacBook Pro like mine can actually last a lot longer than a newer MacBook Pro, which is great for me — but, then again, those newer ones are thinner.
Another important tool is the Anker PowerCore 20100. It’s our recommendation for people who need more power. (It will fully charge your smartphone every day for a week before it needs recharging.) The only downside is that this is not a small battery.
If I’m working from home, my Uplift standing desk (one of our recommendations for standing desks over at Wirecutter) has been a lifesaver. Over the last decade and a half, I’ve scraped by with mediocre home office furniture to the detriment of my body and possibly my soul. I honestly regret not getting a standing desk sooner. It’s not really about being able to stand all the time (which research shows isn’t that great for you, either), but that the desk can be so easily adjusted to whatever height you need at a moment’s notice.
Smartphone prices are climbing. The new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will cost nearly $1,000, and a premium version of Apple’s iPhone 8 is set to also cost that much. Do people really need to pay that much for a smartphone?
No. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a huge nerd, so I love this stuff, but those phones are really about being on the bleeding edge of some high-end consumer technology.
For a lot of people, what’s important is going to be ease of use (which includes whether all your purchased apps and media are already on one platform or another — Apple or Android), a screen size that is comfortable for your eyes and your hands, and whether it works where and when you need it. Buy the thing that fits your real-world needs.
Outside work, what gadget are you currently obsessed with using in your daily life?
This is going to sound weird, but my partner and I have been completely obsessed with the Nest Outdoor camera (which Wirecutter recommends). I’m from Illinois, and I originally set one up to help some family keep an eye out for deliveries. But after watching it for a few weeks, I’ve realized its true entertainment value comes in the form of being a live “home” nature cam. I’ve watched internet reality TV involving opossums, raccoons, foxes, rabbits, and other unidentified night creatures for weeks and can’t stop.
I also keep going more down the rabbit hole on recording string duets and ensembles, plus some fiddle and folk music, with myself using a Yamaha SV-200 electric violin, a supersimple USB audio interface (the Apogee Jam 96k — it came with my violin when I bought it) and an iPhone.
I’m just an amateur messing around, but this is a real “we live in the future” moment when I think about how easy it is to do my own recordings and potentially upload them to YouTube or SoundCloud, directly to an open-ended internet audience.
What’s the worst consumer shopping habit that you wish would come to an end?
Buying something you didn’t need or weren’t previously planning to purchase, just because it’s marked as being a deal. Marketing has really made it too seductive for many people to separate what they really need and want in their lives from a shiny deal.
As we’ve said many times at Wirecutter, most alleged “deals” are not good for various reasons. Sometimes the item was marked up just before the sale and then marked back down to its normal price as the “deal,” or sometimes manufacturers pull a fast one with SKUs that fool you into buying something different from what you intended.
When you’re deal hunting, my advice has always been: Know which items you’re looking for and what they generally cost. Then you’re much better prepared to make a quick judgment call on whether the “deal” you’re seeing is actually good or not.
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