Just in time for the last-minute Christmas rush, I decided to review my Amazon purchases for 2019 and come up with a last-minute gift guide of things that I use and love. I purchased all of these items in 2019 and are still using them all in my day-to-day life. At the time of writing, all of these items are available with Amazon Prime and should arrive before Christmas. I always have problems finding gifts for non-techy people, so it should also be true that non-techy people have questions buying gifts for their techy brothers and sisters.
Why did I buy three pairs of headphones this year? Because I am a stickler for sound and I like having options. I embraced the Bluetooth headphone revolution early, so I think I have had no less than ten different pairs of Bluetooth headphones over the years. These three are my current favorites and have a special place in my EDC (everyday carry).
Excellent, High Quality In Ear Bluetooth Headphones
I love the Anker Soundcore series of Bluetooth headphones. I think I have owned 3 different variants (lost one in Asia 🙁 ) of the Soundcore line. The Spirit Pro was the top version of Anker’s In-Ear Bluetooth line. The standout feature of the Pro’s is the addition of aptX, a Qualcomm technology that increases the quality of the audio over Bluetooth while reducing latency (important for gaming). The last point being important when playing games like Fortnite on my iPad, a long lag in audio could mean a quick end to your round. Also, the Spirit Pro’s are IP 68 water-resistant, so you don’t need to worry about wearing them while commuting in the rain or a hard workout. To round out the features, it has up to 10 hours of battery life and 6mm drivers for deeper base. Right now, I keep these in my little go bag that I keep in my car for when I sneak off to work at Starbucks. Fabulous headphones for a pretty small price.
The most recent addition to my collection, the Jabra Elite 65t are a great (some would say better) alternative to the AirPods or AirPod Pros. I was looking for an AirPod alternative, as I am a long-time Android user, so AirPods would lose many features if I tried to use them with my Samsung Note8. So I found these after doing a lot of review reading. Similar to AirPods, these headphones have sensors in them that detect when you take them out and pause the music. Conversely, when you put them back in, music starts to play. Similar to the new Airpod Pros, Jabra also squeezes in ANC (noise-canceling) into this tiny package, which is excellent for a coffee shop or airport. You can also disable it and use the onboard microphones to hear your surroundings along with your music. All in all a great set of true worries headphones for half the price of Apple’s.
So to round out the headphones picks from this year, we have the Bose QC 30. This past year I’ve done a fair bit of international travel in these have my constant companion. Bose has the best in class noise-canceling, and the sound quality is excellent. I do not like over-the-ear headphones; they are quite uncomfortable to me, so I like these qc30s instead. Plus you get the bonus of being able to adjust the amount of noise cancellation. I also use them quite extensively when working in a server room. They help to cut out about 75% of the fan noise from the servers so I can hear myself think. I know this one’s a bit of a splurge, but if you spend much time traveling, these are a winner. Alternatively, if you can’t stand in-ear headphones, you can go with the Bose QuietComfort 35ii. These are probably the most well-known noise-canceling headphones.
The next section has to do with charging all of the other tech gear I have. I work remotely a few times a week, so I like to carry my entire office with me. A big part of that is power. I seem always to need to charge something, my laptop, headphones, iPad, phone. So here are the items I purchased this year to keep my gear going.
This thing is tiny; I mean REALLY tiny. The picture is no lie; it is about as small as three credit cards stacked. Also, it packs 5000 mAh of charge, which gets most phones back to 100%. This is a must-have for end-of-the-day business dinners; it slips nicely into a jacket pocket.
If you pair this with a Nite Ize S-biner MicroLock to hold the USB cable, you can just throw it in a bag or purse.
Some days I am leaving the office with a fully charged laptop, and right as I shut down for the day, I get the dreaded “Restart and Update” in Windows 10. By the time I get home, my laptop is 1000°, and my battery is dying. So now I just plug the laptop into this and throw it in my passenger seat to let it finish its update; when I get home, no more dead battery. Also handy for keeping your phone or Nintendo Switch topped up during a long road trip.
These are super cool for keeping the Bluetooth headphones above charged. Just pop one of the magnetic USB ports into your device, and whenever you bring it close to the matching cable – SNAP – you are charging. I even use it with my mechanical keyboard, I can just grab it at the end of the day, and the USB cable just comes undone. When I get back the next day, just bring the cable close, and it is connected again! Works for both charging and data transfer. Pretty neat!
For the Apple fans, here are some magnetic Lightning cables:
Earlier this year, I swapped out my laptop for the newer Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which unlike the last model, requires 45W to charge on USB PD. So I had to upgrade my small charger to this one by RAVPower. It includes a standard USB A port for your other devices. This power adapter charges my laptop as fast as the Dell adapter and is tiny, fits right in my cable bag.
So to finish up this post, here are some other items that I purchased this year that I love and use (almost) everyday.
We had a Dell technician come in a few weeks ago to replace a hard drive on one of our new XPS laptops. He breaks out one of these cool powered micro screwdriver sets that have every bit you can imagine. So I had to go out and buy one for my text at work. It comes in real Handy fixing devices with small screws. This particular set comes with a bunch of tips, and it charges via USB, which is super convenient. It also has a low torque motor so that you won’t strip heads off of screws — a must-have for any tinkerer.
One of the things I like to do is occasionally sneak away from work to head to a coffee shop so I can… get actual work done. When I do this, I usually just take my iPad and this keyboard. This thing is so tiny, thinner than about 10 sheets of paper. It is something you can easily slip into a backpack; you will barely know it is there.
What can be said about a mouse? But this is the best mouse I have ever used. It is rechargeable and can switch between three devices (including a USB dongle). You can even use it with your iPad (if you have iPadOS installed). I even carry this around when I work remotely (in a little case I found on Amazon).
Finally, we end with a bit of a splurge. I picked this up to use as my primary camera for recording content for my YouTube channel and work training videos. It is impressive what cool stuff you can record with this pocket-sized 3 axis gimble. I took it with me on my Scotland trip for work and got some great footage of Edinburg. I can’t believe this tiny little thing can shoot 4k @ 60 FPS; it is crazy.
Well, I hope this article helps you find something cool for a friend or a loved one. Please let me know what you think of the list, or if you purchased (or have an item you purchased in the past), please let me know what you think. Either comment here or tweet me @ryanaholland. Thank you, and have a blessed holiday season!