It’s easy for technology to turn into digital shackles that keep us tied to work by throwing at us a blizzard of popups, chimes, dings and other annoyances. But, with a little bit of thought and planning, it’s possible to get technology to work for us, and allow us to get more done, have more downtime, and feel less stressed.
Here is a small list of my top tech items to kick-off 2020. I have tested everything on this list under real-world conditions, and nothing has found its way ion this list based on a snazzy press release. Everything featured here is tech that I use and rely on daily.
Must read: Best gifts: IT pro toolbox & Tech gadgets for non-techies
#1: A 20-pin USB-C magnetic breakaway connector
Oh, how this has revolutionized my life. I so did the MacBook MagSafe connectors from the days of old. They saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repairs and new MacBooks by preventing me from dragging my expensive yet fragile laptop to the ground thorough my occasional chimp-like clumsiness. But my MagSafe MacBooks became old and I eventually had to upgrade to a newer model featuring USB-C connectors.
Fragile USB-C connectors. USB-C connectors that cling on enough to allow my MacBook to be pulled off a table and placed into Isaac Newton’s cold, indifferent hands.
Then a reader pointed me in the direction of the 20-pin USB-C magnetic breakaway connector. I was skeptical, not only because they were sold under no-name branding, but also because of the price. $25 seemed cheap.
But they are great. Fantastic, in fact. I have accumulated quite a collection, and they are perfect not only for MacBooks, but any gadget with a USB-C port. The magnet is strong enough to keep the two parts of the connector snugly attached, yet will give way if the cable is tugged hard enough to endanger the attached device.
I recently discovered that there is also a version with a USB-C cable attached, if you want a more compact solution.
The adapter supports 100W (20V/5A) charging, which makes it perfect for all MacBooks and other laptops and USB-C devices, and even supports up to 10Gbps data transfer and 4K@60Hz video output.
#2: Zendure SuperTank USB-C portable charger
Not the smallest — it measures 4.7- by 2.9- by 1.6-inches. Not the lightest — it weighs in at a hefty 17.6 ounces. Not the cheapest — the retail price is $191.99. But if you travel with a laptop, or you carry a number of devices around with you, this is the best portable power bank I’ve tested.
Not only does it have a whopping 27,000mAh capacity (99.9Wh, so it is good for most airlines for travel), it has a 100W output that can charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed, adding an amazing 8 hours to the runtime. It can also recharge an iPhone XS seven times before it requires recharging.
The power bank also features a low-power mode for recharging low-power devices such as smart watches, Bluetooth earphones, and fitness bands (many cheaper power banks will switch off if the load is too low).
With two PD-enabled USB-C ports, and two USB-A ports, the Zendure SuperTank is a great charging hub for multiple devices.
There’s also a super-handy LCD display showing the charge levels.
All this is packaged in a tough yet stylish polycarbonate and ABS shell, so it can withstand the rigors and challenges of travel.
#3: Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro
While I’m all for cheaper earbuds for workouts and such, I do enjoy high-quality audio products when I’m relaxing. And over the past few weeks I’ve been busy testing a lot of new stuff and the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro has become my go-to favorites.
Why are they my favorites? Well, not only is the audio quality simply delicious — like ice cream, but for your ears — but they are comfortable, have a long battery life (the buds have 8 hours of battery life, the charging case taking that up to 32 hours, and the case can be recharged using either USB-C or a Qi-certified charger), and they have a fast-charge feature (10 minutes in the case gives them 2 hours of charge).
The carry case is also small and lightweight, and the call quality using these is second to none.
#4: Tile Pro and Tile Slim
It took me a while to become convinced that I needed a bit of tech to help me keep track of my keys and wallet, but a few weeks on the road with the Tile Pro on my keys, Tile Stickers in my backpack and luggage, and Tile Slim in my wallet converted me. It’s the sort of tech that you forget is there until you need it.
Also has the added advantage that I can use a tile for find my lost iPhone!
#5: USB rechargeable AA and AAA batteries
Yes, it’s almost 2020 and we still need AA and AAA batteries!
I love these because they are so convenient to charge up — no need for some separate charger sitting on the desk. Capacity seems good, and they are durable and the perfect solution for those devices that need an AA or AAA battery.