In keeping with my 2023 in review theme, I wanted to touch on the best tech hardware that I tried for the first time in 2023. The things that I really felt made a meaningful difference in my life.
The arrival of my daughter ushered in a new age of security cameras in my house. We bought a nest cam (we already had the thermostat) to use as a baby camera when she was a newborn, and we found it fast and reliable.
As my daughter got more mobile, I added another camera in different rooms of the house so we could keep tabs on her. One day she opened the front door and started heading down the steps… and I wished I’d had the ability to see what was going on at the front door :)
Enter the Google Nest Doorbell. It’s battery operated, and since it's an indoor hallway, the battery life is 2-3 months. The notifications are super fast, and it works with my nest hub to announce visitors and deliveries. I’ve had a love hate relationship with the google / nest eco-system, but this product has been rock solid.
I’ve long been locked in a struggle to decide between DAS and NAS storage for all my video files. I love the idea of a Synology, but I can’t quite wrap my head around having so many hard drives sitting there and not just being able to plug directly into them, I also don’t want to learn a new operating system.
Enter my trusty M1 Mac Mini with my OWC Thunderbay Quad drive enclosure combined with 10gb Ethernet. Now I can use the drives direct attached to my M1 as a video editing station AND i can access them from any of the desks throughout my house with an Ethernet jack (along with the one I hid in the couch).
As dumb as it sounds, the crazy fast speeds I’m getting to the same set of drives from multiple locations in my house has really opened up the possibilities for my main network storage.
This ipad made me fall in love with the form factor all over again. Not only is it fast enough to do all of my media consumption, and web browsing, but it can also do some decent video editing. With the release of Final Cut Pro for (or LumaFusion) you can definitely do quick videos, and even some longer format editing is within reach.
I’m not going to ditch my MacBook anytime soon, but this is a welcome alternative way to get things done if i spent all day on my computer and need a change of form factor. I’m particularly liking the the Smart Cover for it, and more recently I’ve started to love the Magic Keyboard for (not the price).
I have a long and frustrating history with finding the right ergonomic keyboard. To keep things short, the winner for the last 10 years has been the Microsoft Sculpt keyboard because of its good price and really comfortable split layout and keys. But the stupid usb dongle drove me CRAZY. I lost it at least 3 times, and to use it with a MacBook the dongle needed a dongle…
I have yet to find a new daily driver ergonomic keyboard, but the iClever BK06 is very close to being as good as the Sculpt, in a super cheap, super slim, super light weight keyboard with built in bluetooth. What more could you ask for? I can work remotely with moderate typing for a week and not have any issues, and it saves me the burden of lugging a bigger keyboard.
I’ve gone a little bonkers with it, and have designed and printed some tenting solutions, but I don’t feel like I’ve fully nailed those yet.
So I still rent my apartment… yeah, NYC housing prices are nuts. That means I still have problems like getting lights in my closets, and I don’t way to pay someone to wire them. I tried little LED pucks, and I tried magnetizing small camping lanterns… and nothing had the power or battery life that I needed.
One day I stumbled across these little un-assuming lights on amazon and bought one on and impulse… and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The magnet mount holds well (though you can knock them off), the light is bright enough to see whats going on in your closet, and in my unscientific tests… I only seem to recharge them every couple of months. They break easily when they fall, the build quality is cheap, but they light my closets and the motion sensing works. They’ve definitely been a big boost in quality of life without a huge expense.
I don’t know what gave me the idea to put led lights under things… but holy shit does it make your place look better. It sounds crazy, but under counter and under bookshelf led lights are really pleasant, especially at night.
I bought these cheap wifi enable LEDs, and they integrate with Amazon and Google Home. Couldn’t be happier for the price.
I’ve never been one for power banks, unless I’m traveling, because I don’t like carrying all the extra weight and cables. This year I tried the Anker magnetic battery, and I found that it’s the most usable option for when you’re in a pinch and need the juice.
I love that I don’t need to carry a cable, and I love that I can use the battery pack stuck not the back of my phone without having to have a cable run into my pocket or backpack. I also found on rare occasions the stand is useful.
The down side is the charging is slow, and in the sun it tends to overheat and charge even slower. Those down sides don’t ruin the device for me, so i still carry it as my emergency backup.
Electric screw driver
This is going to sound dumb, but up until now I only had a ratcheting screwdriver and a corded drill that I was too lazy to take out for anything but the biggest projects.
Black Friday got the best of me, so i grabbed a $35 electric screwdriver and I was completely floored by how powerful it was and how much faster it was than doing things by hand. Installing the LED lights on closets, or assembling furniture became a breeze.
Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but this was a big win for me this year.
Oil Space Heater
My apartment has lots and lots of cheap windows…. which means in NYC winter, it can get pretty cold in certain parts of the house. The last couple years we used a Dyson heather that doubled as a fan, but it really dried out my sinus passages and made it difficult to sleep on the coldest nights.
Randomly I stumbled across an oil based heater in a review, and the person mentioned that it created a more natural / less dry type of heat… so I had to try one out.
This space heater is now the single biggest quality of life improvement for 2023 :)