Here at Android Authority, we have a diverse staff. We come from all over the world and we use all kinds of technology. The Staff Picks series shows you what tech we use for work, play, and health.
Hello! I’m Lily Katz, and I’m Audio Editor and Senior Editor for Android Authority and SoundGuys, respectively. Like most of us, I don’t have time for my things to malfunction. When it comes to today’s Staff Picks, reliability is key. Whether my commute takes me from bed to the makeshift desk on my kitchen island or out to an actual coffee shop, there are a handful of trusty items I need in order to have a productive day.
Earbuds: Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd
My go-to earbuds aren’t anything fancy but I love the Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd for their simplicity and unobtrusive form. Although a headphone jack isn’t a make-or-break feature for my next phone, I greatly appreciate the plug-and-play nature of wired audio and think the Soul Byrd wired earbuds are an excellent value. Sound quality and comfort are both superb, and my cat has yet to chew through the cables. What’s more, I try and travel as lightly as possible, regardless of whether I’m running errands or backpacking, so the featherweight design of the ‘buds is much needed.
Coffee brewer: Aeropress
Ok, this may not be the first thing you think of when someone says, “technology,” but this piece of equipment gets used multiple times every single day, including weekends. The Aeropress functions similarly to a French Press in that both are immersion brewers, but the Aeropress is more modern. It includes two concentric cylinders: the smaller one can fit inside the larger one for transport, just make sure to pop the gasket all the way through to avoid compromising the seal.
I enjoy the Aeropress for its ease-of-use and consistency, even a “bad cuppa Joe” with it remains palatable, unlike when I depended on a Mr. Coffee to fuel me. The one drawback is how brewing the standard way — filter down — causes under-extracted liquid to drip into your mug. There’s an easy remedy to this, though: invert your Aeropress. For around $30, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better brewer that requires virtually no maintenance.
Camera: Nikon D750 and Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens
It seems many of my fellow photographers have dropped their bulky camera bodies for svelte mirrorless alternatives. If I cared for my back, I would do the same, but I made the reverse switch from an Olympus OM-D E-M5 II to a Nikon D750 outfitted with a Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I adore this setup as it’s a high-value combination, and since I tend to buy nearly everything used, I’ve gotten my money’s worth and then some.
The full-frame sensor allows me to play with a shallow depth of field, which is needed since I work from a shoebox apartment. The 24-70mm lens is a great workhorse that can do just about anything. Even with the aperture wide open, subjects appear sharp with minimal chromatic aberration.
While the Nikon D750 is primarily used for product photography, I ultimately made the switch from a small body to a big one for concert photography. The 24-70mm focal length is versatile while the camera D750 is forgiving when I bump the ISO. Although I appreciate Sony’s full-frame lineup, I couldn’t quite swing the finances to invest in its system.
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens
Mouse: Logitech MX Anywhere 2 mouse
The Logitech MX Anywhere 2 is an old dog with plenty of tricks, and I rarely go coffee shop-hopping without it. My favorite feature is the ability to immediately cycle through three sources by clicking a button on the mouse’s underbelly. It works on glass which, while not the most practical, is a neat trick, and the hyper-fast scrolling feature is great for when I need to zip through Reddit as my coffee brews.
The only downside is battery life: Logitech claims 70 days of power from a single charge but, even when the mouse was brand new, it was rare that I got a month of daily use out of it. Now that I’ve had it for a few years, it gets charged via micro-USB cable every fortnight or so. Degraded battery capacity aside, this is my favorite mouse whether I’m home or at a cafe.
Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S10e
I traded in my LG G6 for a Samsung Galaxy S10e soon after it was announced, and have yet to regret it. It has a headphone jack, solid camera output, and snappy UI — granted, I use Nova launcher. I dearly miss the LG G6’s rear fingerprint scanner as it was easier for me to use as an ambidextrous phone-holder, but Samsung’s side-scanner works immediately with a low fail rate, even when my hands are dusted with chalk from rock climbing. Admittedly, I’m not on my phone very much and would hardly touch it if not for Spotify. When I do reach for my phone, I know it will work, which couldn’t be said of my LG G6: that phone had a bad habit of sporadically restarting itself.
Battery pack: Belkin
My Samsung Galaxy S10e’s battery life leaves a lot to be desired, hence why I always leave room for the Belkin Pocket Power battery pack. My 10,000mAh model is a perfect compromise between weight and capacity; the company also makes 15,000mAh and 5,000mAh models to suit your needs.
It has two USB Type-A ports that deliver 5V at 2.4A of power, letting me quickly charge my cell phone and true wireless earbuds simultaneously. There’s also a micro-USB input for charging the pack, which takes a few hours. It weighs less than half a pound (222g) and is only slightly larger than my Galaxy S10e.
Bag: Chrome Mazer Ensign rolltop backpack
While I’m no bag expert, the Chrome Mazer Ensign backpack is the best backpack for my urban needs. The side pockets have an elastic mesh divider for quickly storing more precious materials, while the looser outer portion can secure a U-lock or a bunch of Nature Valley bars. Its rucksack build means it’s just one big pocket, but Chrome did us the courtesy of sewing in a really small mesh pouch with a few pencil holders.
I adore this bag for how it allows users to easily add onto it with its Molle-like design. I’ve added what’s intended to be a tactical shoulder strap and a zippered pouch to the outside of the bag. The horizontal reflective strips keep me visible during night bike rides and are easy to hook safety lights or more extreme reflectors to. The sternum strap is adjustable, and the rolltop clips are magnetized, a brilliant mechanism that makes it easy to clip everything together.
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