As the year winds down and the decade comes to a close (though I say that won’t happen for another year because I actually understand time), so does the era of gadgets and smartphones being the most exciting tech. In 2010, the most exciting device I owned was the original Motorola Droid, my first smartphone. While a new phone each year has become far less exciting, there’s still a ton of technology that I have enjoyed this year. If I knew how good pretty much every phone would be in 2019 back then, I’d be amazed.
In 2019, my tech focus changed a bit as well. With running still a priority and a commute on the bus and walking rather than in the car, good headphones and entertainment became priorities. 2019 was the year I couldn’t decide on a phone and ended up switching three times before settling on going back to an iPhone. I also updated all of my running tech after three years of using the same devices. We also updated cars as our leases ended, bringing some updates in AutoTech that I can’t live without now. From the living room to the highway to on my person on the run, these are my 10 must have pieces of tech from this year.
For my bus rides: Bose QC35 II Noise Canceling Headphones
I actually got these right at the end of 2018, and had I waited until this year might have sprung for the newer 700s, but 2019 was the year I probably put over 500 hours of listening on these headphones. On the bus, they drown out the people who don’t know not to talk, the phone call takers, and the couple of times someone has decided to listen to music on speaker for over an hour drive. On the street, they block out the taxis honking at me as I jog across the street and aggressive panhandlers from the edibles truck always parked on Broadway to the Mitzvah Tank and overly pushy charity workers. The best part is not having to worry about throwing them into my bag or remembering to charge them frequently thanks to a durable design and long lasting battery. I used my wired Quiet Comforts maybe a dozen times on flights, and I probably exceeded that in my first week commuting into the city with these excellent and durable wireless headphones.
For keeping an eye on the house: Ring alarm and cameras
We’ve had an alarm system in the house since we moved in over a decade ago and never thought much about it. As the cost of owning and maintaining it continued to rise slowly, we finally realized in 2019 that we could upgrade to a security system with an app that actually works, have live cameras, and still pay less per month. Thanks to a bunch of Prime Day and Black Friday deals, we got our house fully connected and switched over to Ring alarm. The best part is we can watch our dog move from couch to bed all day long.
For remembering our favorite memories: Google Nest Hub
We’ve been saving pictures from our phones to Google Photos for years. This year we planned to get a Nest Hub for family so they could keep up with pictures of our kids, but a two for one deal on Black Friday meant we got one for ourselves too. Now we’re rediscovering pictures from years back as well as great memories with the boys. Plus it works as a great monitor for the Nest Camera we have in the boys’ room for keeping an eye on their hijinks at night.
For the living room: Amazon Fire TV
I’m not really sure if these even get new version names each year, but we ended up changing out an older FireTV stick for the more powerful cube one this year and the improvement in speed and quality has been great. With the Ring Cameras and Doorbell, we can also ask Alexa to show any of the cameras on the TV. It’s also the only way we keep up with TV using various apps, especially critical during football season.
In the car: Apple Carplay
When we upgraded cars this year, we ended up with Android Auto and Apple Carplay in a car for the first time. Since I switched to iOS, Carplay has been a great addition for music and maps. It got even better with several updates in iOS 13 allowing maps with music controls. Apple Maps works the best and gets priority over Google and Waze, but actually works pretty well now anyway and the others are fine. I also like using Siri from the built in car controls, pretty much the only time I actually use Siri.
A lightweight laptop replacement: iPad Air
I didn’t actually update our iPad this year, though after a year of using it much more frequently, I’m considering going up to the recent Pro now. The Air is the perfect size and weight for use on the bus and at home. With my Bluetooth keyboard, I actually use it for typing things up fairly often. On the bus, it’s great for watching downloaded Netflix shows. Other days when I feel like reading the Kindle app makes it great for jumping right back into whatever book I’m reading.
My eventual phone choice, finally: iPhone 11
I ended up going from Pixel to OnePlus to in about the span of two weeks this fall because I just couldn’t find something I liked without major compromise. In the end, I decided the big upgrades in the camera on the iPhone and the general improvements to iOS since I’d last used it made it the winner and I’ve been very happy since. The unbelievable battery life makes it perfect for my days with long commutes or when traveling since I don’t have to worry about carrying an extra battery or heading back early. With the wireless charging, I haven’t plugged it in since I got it and can easily keep it topped up at home, work, or in the car. The camera has been incredible and helped me capture tons of great moments with the boys. There are days I miss Android, but they’re growing fewer and further between.
For my runs: Garmin Fenix 6 Watch
Maybe the most understate tech upgrade I made this year, the Garmin Fenix 6 has quickly become a device I rely on daily. Unlike earlier fitness devices that had dorky boxy looks, the Fenix looks enough like a nice watch, especially after changing the band to a metal one, that I can wear it every day and everywhere. With better fitness tracking and training features than my previous watches, it even has me getting out more often and going further to keep pushing my running goals. It’s also great for work to be able to see when and where my next meeting is without having to pull out a laptop.
My favorite truly wireless earbuds: Jaybird Vista
This year I got my first ever air of truly wireless earbuds, some cheap version as swag from an event I went to. They worked for less than five minutes before the right one stopped connecting and refused to charge. I ditched them and got the newly released Jaybird Vistas. For running, it’s hard to overemphasize how much of an improvement running without wires really is. Paired with my watch, I don’t even need to bring my phone for runs now.
The 2019 tech that gets me out of bed each morning: Tesla Model 3
The new tech I got in 2019 that keeps me excited every day and eager to use it isn’t a gadget or phone, it’s my Tesla. Driving it is so much fun I often wish my drive was longer so that I could spend more time in it. Thanks to the great driving power of the electric motor, the huge touch screen, updates to Spotify and other streaming services, and the frequent software updates that bring new features, it’s an experience that keeps getting better every day. Not since a smartphone upgrade in the early years of the decade have I been this excited to use a piece of tech on a daily basis. It’s so good in fact that I’ve even volunteered to do the daycare run with my car a few times just to get some autopilot miles on the highway in.
2019 has been a great year for technology and devices. While we don’t get the same huge leaps year over year in computing and smartphones like we did earlier in the decade, the focus this year on devices meant more usability, better features, and improvements in battery life making them easier to live with on a daily basis. My focus also shifted with changes in commute and what I need from my devices on a daily basis. Thankfully I found great tech to make my longer commute bearable and even enjoyable every day this year. I’m hoping 2020 brings even better personal devices for entertainment and mobile productivity so I can keep up the trend.