I’ve watched the explosion in interest in tech over the last 10 years with bemusement. Conversations that were relegated to impassioned exchanges between fellow geeks now seem to bleed into dinner table conversation. It’s now okay to have a detailed POV on the differences between Apple and Android. People do not shy away from telling you what they like and don’t like. The trend towards wearable tech is one I’m not fully okay with, and I lean towards early adopter for sure. It reminds me of a passage from Snow Crash, one of my favourite science-fiction books of all time. Like all good sci-fi, it seems to become true:
Gargoyles represent the embarassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into spearate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider, these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society.
But rather than dwell on the negative traits that tech has today, I thought I’d share my four favourite pieces of consumer kit that I’d recommend to anyone.
1. Sennheiser CX-300 II Headphones
I remember a conversation back in 2009 with a friend about headphones. I didn’t know as much back then and was shopping around for a cost-efficient pair of earbud-style headphones that were easy to carry and had a good ratio of cost-to-sound quality. My friend delighted in telling me about these, and said its his favourite piece of tech – hands down. When I speak to people that know about these, we exchange a knowing smile. Taking solace in the fact that we spent $80 on a set, and got ridiculous value in return.
I’ve ordered three pairs of these over the years, as I lost them, and then accidentally stepped on them while travelling.
2. UE Boom Speaker
Now that’s a hard act to follow. But the UE Boom Speaker pulls it off marvellously. This is the ultimate portable speaker. No, I’m not talking about those shitty USB-powered rattle-tins. This unit packs serious punch and is now my default speaker around the house. 10+ hours battery life, significant bass, micro-USB charging, and super portable and light. I didn’t think such things were possible with a speaker. The Bluetooth works very well and makes setting up some jams from my computer or phone effortless.
Using the Midi Setup function on my Macbook Pro, I combined my Traktor Kontrol S2 with the UE Boom for Outputs. Meaning I can portably bedroom-bang electronic music. It is a glorious set up and makes me happy.
3. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
While I don’t completely agree with the monopoly Amazon tries to weave, or the fact that there are some more exotic books I can’t locate within their ecosystem, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite absolutely rocks my world. The effortless 1-click purchase system is a joy to use, and the way in which I can acquire books to read at a rapid rate is delightful. I usually have 2-3 books on the go at once and have smashed through 50+ in the two or so years I’ve had a Kindle. Not bad for someone who didn’t read for a very long time.
4. Google Nexus 5
This is my phone of choice. It’s reliable, has enough space for my needs, my apps work seamlessly, and the battery life is still pretty good after almost a year of heavy use. I got my as a present from my old employer, but wouldn’t bat an eyelid at its cost either relative to other power smartphones – $400 for something that does everything the iPhone 6 can do.
I was walking home from the train station and had my Sennheisers jacked into my Nexus 5 and listening to a Pan-Pot set. I got home, seamlessly transitioned the Nexus 5 playing from headphones to Bluetooth and my UE Boom, had a shower, and then finished up, turned off the Bluetooth with my headphones still in the Nexus 5, and walked out of my home without missing a single beat of the set. Amazing.
Tech can be a very personal preference these days, but I’m pretty happy with these pieces of kit.