- Toaster oven – Quite possibly the simplest gadget to ever make a technology issue Top 10. However, the toaster oven is a magical piece of kitchen machinery, taking the roles of a toaster, oven, and in many cases microwave.
- Decent speakers – While the speakers in today’s laptops have gotten much better, a set of 2.1 channel (left, right and subwoofer) speakers will improve your group listening experience greatly.
- Good headphones (Sony MDR and Klipsch S4) – The first time listening to a pair of good headphones is like putting on glasses for the first time. The Sony MDR V-6 (aka MDR 7506) is a great pair of over-ear headphones, while the Klipsch S4’s are excellent in ear ones. The springy cable of the Sony’s can be annoying if you’re walking around, but a binder clip can remedy that.
- Smartphone (iPhone 5/Nokia Lumia 920/Nexus 4) – Everyone has their preference when it comes to mobile OS, and for the average user, it doesn’t really matter which one you use. Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 will all give you a great user experience. iOS may be a bit easier to use, Android allows all kinds of aftermarket fiddling, and Windows Phone 8 brings Office to the table. The current frontrunners for each OS are the iPhone 5 and the as-yet unreleased Nexus 4 and Nokia Lumia 920.
- Kindle Paperwhite – Books are heavy, your phone is too small, and everyone hates reading on their computer. The Kindle Paperwhite is the answer, with Amazon finally perfecting the formula for an all-environment e-reader.
- Macbook Air 13”/Windows ultrabook – If you need a computer for Office, the internet, managing a few photos and other everyday tasks, a new Macbook Air or Windows Ultrabook is more than enough computing power. While they may be a bit pricier, the savings in weight mean you’ll actually carry it around with you. With the recent launch of Windows 8, it’s worth taking a look at Ultrabooks with interesting form factors, like the Lenovo Yoga.
- 24” LCD monitor – Once you start using a second computer monitor, you’ll never go back. You can put you sources on one and your writing program of choice on another. Music and Skype can be on the first, research on the second. you can watch a video opposite your reading for class. While the last pair might not work so well, expanding your computer workspace is saves you time clicking around, and can be used to watch movies on as a bonus!
- Point and shoot camera – While smartphone cameras are getting better and better, they’re still soundly beaten by a real point and shoot. All of the major manufacturers are constantly releasing new models – the Canon S110 is the newest, shiniest model, but the S100 is nearly as good for $100 less.
- Flashlight – “I’ll just use my phone,” you might say. However, having a dedicated flashlight can be a life (and battery!) saver. A real flashlight, with new LED technology, is also much much brighter than even the most blinding of phone flashes. The Olight T15 or the Quark AA are both good options that take AA batteries and are available on Amazon.
- Belkin Power Strip and USB charger – This little three outlet power strip also has two USB ports, so you can charge your computer, your phone and anything else you can think of from just one outlet. It’s small enough to toss in your bag, and is a lifesaver in airports.
NOVEMBER 15, 2012