Stuff I Like: Gadgets


My last review post was well received, so I decided that I would share some other things that I have enjoyed recently. While my last post focused on entertainment I enjoy, like books, games, and music, this one is going to take a look at some of the technological gadgets I’ve picked up lately that have made my life a bit better. I only included a couple things here because they’ve stood out as especially awesome. There are a few other gadgets I’ve picked up lately that I’ve found useful, but I want to give them time to prove themselves.

So let’s go!

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Air, Carbon Black

I got the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for my iPad Air from Natalie as an early Christmas present, and it’s probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten in my life. I travel a lot for Magic tournaments and game conventions and the like, which means that I spend a lot of times sitting on planes. I used to bring my laptop with me when I flew, but the combination of bulkiness, low battery life, and having to turn it off during takeoff and landing made it far from a perfect travel companion. My iPad is much more convenient. Rather than having to bring a whole additional bag for my laptop case, I can just slip my iPad into my shoulder bag for easy access to it at any time.

The biggest drawback of an iPad compared to a laptop, for me at least, was always the lack of a keyboard. I do a lot of writing, and the on-screen keyboard on an iPad is far from ideal. I’ve had a couple of different external iPad keyboard previouslys, but never really liked them. One of them was a kind of case with a groove that you propped the iPad up in when you were typing, and then it served as a protective shield for the screen when not in use. I found that dynamic awkward, and didn’t like the fact that it was a separate piece that I could easily forget somewhere. Another was a folio, like this one, and I liked it a lot better. But I found that I always forgot to turn off the keyboard itself when I was done with it, so every time I took out my iPad the keyboard was dead and I’d have to hunt and peck on the screen.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio solves this by having a magnetic element that locks in your iPad when you open it up to use the keyboard. The keyboard itself is only ever on when the iPad is attached to the magnetic strip, which means that it’ll never be burning its battery while tucked away in your bag. If you’re occasionally absentminded or distracted like I am, this is an absolute lifesaver. I have yet to run out of batteries on the keyboard yet, and because the folio is always attached to my iPad, I just plug them both in at the same time.

The folio itself is thick enough to be protective for the iPad, but not so bulky that it makes the tablet unwieldy. I take my iPad with me to the fitness center at my complex all the time, and even with the keyboard attached, I can just fold it out and prop it up on the cardio machine monitors to play games while I work out. I’ve said only semi-jokingly that I think my new iPad Air is the best investment I’ve made recently in my physical fitness, because I can spend 30-45 minutes on the elliptical without getting bored and getting off. In that same vein, this iPad keyboard is one of the best investments I’ve made (or, rather, Natalie made for me) in my productivity, since I can easily sit on a plane, or at a restaurant, or just on the couch at home and type away. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

This was another present this past Christmas, given to me by my dad, although apparently recommended to him as a gift for me by Natalie. (It’s like that girl really knows me. I should marry her!) I’ve gone through a lot of different pairs of headphones over the years, and these Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Bluetooth Headphones are perhaps my favorite.

First of all, they’re wireless. I’ve actually never used wireless headphones with any regularity before, and I love them. Wired headphone cords constantly get tangled up in my bag, or my pocket, and get in the way of all kinds of things I want to do while I’m wearing them. The wires get in the way of everything from weightlifting at the gym – which can be legitimately dangerous – to taking off my shoulder bag at a tournament when I’m sitting down for my match – which can force me to take my headphones off to get everything settled, and that’s completely unacceptable when I’m in the middle of listening to my pump-up song. When I take off my wired headphones, I have to wrap the cord up carefully so it doesn’t get massively knotted in whatever place I’m storing it. With these, I just take them off, flip the power switch, and tuck them away wherever.

That’s another thing, which you’ll notice is something of a running theme with me and electronics – power. Some of the previous nice over ear headphones I’ve had, like Beats by Dre, used batteries. Much like with my iPad keyboard, I would often forget to turn off the power switch on my headphones, which lead to dead batteries and no music – and that’s pretty much a disaster, especially without an easy way to get my hands on new AAA batteries. The Bose headphones just plug in to charge with a microUSB cord, so even if they do die, I can easily get them charged up again right away. Perhaps more importantly, the fact that there aren’t any cords to deal with means that the entire stowing process is just taking them off my head, turning them off, and tucking them away, so I’m less distracted and far more likely to actually remember powering them down in the first place.

Basically, these headphones are great. The sound quality is excellent, though I’m sure you could find wired headphones that are a bit more faithful. I’m not an audiophile, though – just a music fan. If you’re looking to perfectly reproduce every note you’re listening to, you can probably do better elsewhere. But if you want ultra-convenient headphones that you can wear while gaming, working out, traveling, running, or dancing around like a fool without any cords to trip you up, these are going to do you right.




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