Favorite Tech of 2018 — Ara's top picks

Android Central

Android Central
Android Central
There's a lot of technology out there that can help make our lives easier, better, and more productive, and for me, the list of gear that I consider "essential" gets longer and longer every time I go to pack for a trip. This year, however, there are some unsung life hacks in my setup that deserve some attention because they are quite simply life-changing, while each piece of my daily "office" setup has earned its purchase price and then some.

Portable, waterproof Assistant

TicHome Mini


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I'm a huge fan of Google Assistant and I use Google Assistant Routines everyday, so safe to say I've got a lot of Google Assistant speakers in my home. While the larger speakers come and go, the smallest of my speakers aren't Google Home Minis, they're TicHome Minis, which are portable, IPX5 splash proof, and perfect for apartments and trips.

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Stream all the things

NVIDIA Shield TV


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This was a Christmas present years ago, and I use it every single day. I'm not a gamer, but I love the NVIDIA Shield TV because it's just the best damn Android TV experience on the on the planet right now. With integration for Assistant, Alexa, SmartThings, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and so much else, this remains one of the best buys in smart home entertainment today.

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Premium Pixel power

Google Pixelbook


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This was my Christmas present to myself last year and I love it to pieces. I still break out the old Windows machine when I need Photoshop — because god forbid we put regular Photoshop on a Chromebook — but for all my typing browsing, and playing needs, the Pixelbook is my primary computer. I got the lowest spec Pixelbook, because even then

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Hi, hubby!

AUKEY USB-C Hub


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My daily driver is a Pixelbook, and that means that a USB-C hub is a required accessory. There are a lot of USB-C hubs out there — including a
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I have to get my hands on — but I'm quite pleased with the AUKEY travel-friendly hub I have right now. The cable's kinda short, but it fit my needs and my gear bag easily.

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Click it old school

Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse with Scroll Ring


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Yes, I like trackball mice. They work well in cramped quarters and let me rest my wrist. That said, the trackball mice I love put the ball over my middle three fingers, with my thumb on the left-click and my pinky on the right-click. My Pixelbook's included USB-C to USB-A adapter is kept strictly for use with this mouse, should I be using them outside my traditional office setup.

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Playing the keys

AUKEY LED Backlit Mechanical Keyboard


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There are a lot of mechanical keyboards I am dying to get my hands on, but at the end of the day, I am more than happy to come home to the AUKEY mechanical keyboard I snagged on a Lightning deal two years ago. It's clicky, it's loud, and it's pretty, with its aluminum frame and RGB lighting, which shifts through a slow rainbow as I type.

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For official propping

PhoneProp


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This was a gift from my Google+ Secret Santa years ago. The PhoneProp may be outdated, but it's durable, it's dependable, and it's the mount I turn to for video conferences or any phone propping that needs to occur while my phone charges. It also squishes down easily if it gets lost in the bottom of my gear bag.

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Make any mug a phone stand

Book Sox


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Got an extra coffee mug? Then you've got the easiest phone stand on the planet. I shove those stretchable fabric textbook covers in the bottom of the mug — or some old soft rags made out of an old shirt — and then voila, instant phone stand, complete with handle and hidden storage!

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Never leave home without 'em

Bluedio A2 Bluetooth Headphones


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If you see me without headphones, run. It's right there in my bio, and most days, the headphones I tune out the world with are these cute little Bluedio A2s. They charge over USB-C, have an aux port for wired listening, pair easily, and they look really cute. It's hard to ask for more for headphones I got in a Lightning Deal for $29.

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Sitting productively

LapGear Lap Desk


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I'm using a Brookestone e-Pad, but since they don't sell those anymore — and I have to give back the one I stole from my little sister — I'm going to be testing
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quite soon. Lap desks have been a phenomenal help for me, whether I'm working on my couch while I watch TV, in bed sick, or just need an extra few inches when it's sitting on my desk. I prefer models with microbeads to those with foam.

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Get it together, man!

3 Piece Waterproof Travel Makeup Bag Set


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Makeup bags are the best cable organizers ever: you can get sets with multiple sizes so you have the perfect capacity for your gear/trip, they're easy to clean because makeup gets messy, and because they're something women use every day, there are a million styles out there for every price and style under the sun.

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No, I don't have a gun

Phonster X


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Hey, when they make cute jeans that can fit my phone in the pockets again, I'll wear them, and until then, I'm wearing my shoulder holster, because it beats the hell out of a purse and it's more secure. Phone on one side and keys and wallet on the other. It's only weird if it doesn't work, and this works.

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My Phonster is certainly a conversation starter, but the biggest bag surprise for me this year was using makeup and toiletry bags for on-the-go cable management. Elastic-covered cable sorters are bulky and hard to slip in and out of a gear bag, but makeup bags are slim, affordable, and easy to clean. How had I never thought of this before?!?!

b0rO_-9v3S0


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