Tech Accessories Actually Worth the Money
What is it about a new gadget? Whether it’s in the kitchen, the bathroom, or the office we just find it fun. Maybe it’s the idea of something new, or of taking a shortcut that no one else knows about. Either way, wouldn’t it be nice if the new gadget you bought actually did what it claimed to do? Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, which is why so many gadgets and accessories have the connotation of being “a waste of money” or even a “marketing scam.” This sentiment exists for a good reason, but there does exist the rare accessory that will last on your desk for more than a month, because it actually works.
AT THE OFFICE
Bluetooth mice, mechanical keyboards, laptop stands, are all well and good, but so much of that stuff comes down to personal taste. You might prefer a mousepad over a mouse, or to stand up when working rather than have a huge monitor. All of these are correct. On the other hand, there are some accessories (often ones people think they don’t need) that are not up for discussion. These accessories are necessities.
You need a printer. Get over it. They may be a pain in the ass, but at the end of the day, most are pretty affordable and save you a huge amount of time and money. If you were an employee and could print a whole manuscript at work without batting an eye, that would be one thing. You, are a freelancer, and don’t have that privilege. Get a printer so you don’t have to drive to a Staples or a UPS every time you need to print a copy of your Driver’s License.
Print, scan, copy, or even fax with the Canon Pixma TR4520. It’s an affordable all-in-one that does pretty much everything. It's small enough that it doesn't take up a lot of space, and still has high-end features like two-sided printing and an automatic document feeder for multi-page scanning.
No matter the laptop or monitor you’ve invested in, getting a separate set of computer speakers is always going to be an upgrade. It is a worthy upgrade we believe. Not only will they improve the listening experience of your computer, but all your devices. These speakers will do more than just flank your screen. They will be your new office sound system.
The Mackie CR5-XBT computer speakers are a great option. Voices and instruments sound more natural on these speakers than they do on regular computer speakers, and they are largely distortion free when playing anything with deep bass tones. The CR5-XBT set also offers welcome conveniences: It has built-in Bluetooth and a variety of input options. The volume knob, power switch, and headphone jack are located on the front of one of the speakers, so they're are more convenient to access. At a little over 10 inches high, they are pretty inconspicuous and will fit on most surfaces in your office.
When the only medium in which people see you is through your computer's webcam, it pays to have a good one. So if you expect to be holding any type of video meeting in the foreseeable future, pick up the Logitech C920. This is a 1080p webcam with an excellent stand for laptops, monitors, and tripods. While this is a plug-and-play option, it's also equipped with enhanced controls and filters for frequent webcammers (we don’t mean porn, although, we don’t not mean porn). That's a lot of webcam for just under $50.
ON THE GO
A great gadget shouldn’t only live in your home where others can’t get jealous of it. There are some quality accessories made to travel with. They don’t even need to be flashy. There are plenty of basics many look over.
This one’s a no brainer, and yet too many people still use Apple’s old, wired headphones. American brand Klipsch has been at the top of the audio game for 75 years, so it's surprising that they only decided to move into the headphone and earphone space in 2007. Suffice to say they’ve made up for lost time with a string of acclaimed models, and their most recent release is very impressive indeed. The T5 II True Wireless earphones feature the same advanced acoustic engineering as the brand’s celebrated home speaker range, as well eight hours of battery, six pairs of patented contour ear tips, and a useful transparency mode that allows you to listen to your music while hearing the world around you. Their sleek magnetic case will make sure you don’t lose the $150 earbuds.
This one is the dictionary definition of boring, but essential. A Tile has become necessary even for the most responsible of people. When traveling, you’re outside your natural rhythms and are more prone to losing stuff. A Tile connects to your phone via the Tile app to tell you where each of your Tile-connected items currently are. Each GPS enabled Tile also has a small speaker, so if you’re near your item but still can’t see it, the Tile produces a homing beacon sound to help you locate your lost goods. Their prices range depending on the type of Tile you get (different tiles work with diffident items) but a pack of four goes for $70.
Despite the popularity of cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive, sometimes you need to haul big files from one computer to another. That’s when it’s great to have a flash drive, which are getting smaller, cheaper, and with bigger storage all the time. This SanDisk model is the gold standard and comes in a huge variety of storage sizes. It’s fast, portable (you can hook it on a key chain), and comes with software you can use to protect your files.
Productivity doesn’t only apply to getting work done. Any activity can be done better, faster, and smarter. Fortunately, there are accessories for pretty much anything. You might not think you need to improve in regard to basic things like laundry, but you do.
Ironing boards are so 19th century. Who has the time or the space to get your ironing gear every time you find a crease in your button down. So next time you need to keep up appearances on Zoom, we suggest you invest in a lightweight portable steamer. It'll easily remove creases from clothes and help to get rid of odors too. One of the most important considerations when buying one is the water tank capacity (you don’t want to pop to the sink for a refill every 30 seconds), and this Cirrus No. 2 model from Steamery runs for six minutes at a time, and goes for $130. Not only that, but it comes with a detachable brush for more delicate fabrics like silk and wool, and a stainless-steel plate to smooth creases into nothing.
This one isn’t so much a gadget, but software (which can be a gadget!). Sling TV is for the television and movie-obsessed, but also for the person who misses the old days of flipping through channels. Fortunately, you no longer need a cable box, and a place to put that box to get all your old channels. You can live-stream these channels using an app like Sling TV. This service gets you access to ESPN, TNT, TBS, CNN, Nickelodeon, and way more for only $25 a month ($240 a year). The Sling app works on your phone, your smart TV, your Xbox, and pretty much every other device, so you can get your cable fix in an airplane bathroom if you like.
You brew a cup of coffee but decide to let it cool down as your mouth has been scarred too many times. You then become distracted by a non-coffee related matter, and eventually return to the kitchen to find a lukewarm mug of regret. The solution is the stainless-steel Ember Smart Mug, which keeps your drink temperature controlled for up to three hours (or all-day if it's placed on the charging coaster). You can even control it from your phone! By connecting the Ember mug to your smartphone via the accompanying app, you get a notification when your brew has reached your perfect temperature.
The Ember costs $130, but that is a small price to pay for a sizable cup of perfectly temperate tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cider, or whatever your poison.
Stop buying gadgets because they look cool. Buy them because they actually work.