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! Iâ€™m Lily Katz, and Iâ€™m the Audio Editor and Senior Editor for Android Authority and SoundGuys, respectively. Like most of us, I donâ€™t have time for my things to malfunction. When it comes to todayâ€™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 arenâ€™t anything fancy but I love the Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd for their simplicity and unobtrusive form. Although a headphone jack isnâ€™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 the microphone sounds good too. Whatâ€™s more, I try and travel as lightly as possible, regardless of whether Iâ€™m running errands or backpacking, so the featherweight design of the â€˜buds is much needed.
Coffee brewer: Aeropress
Ok, this may not be the first thing you think of when someone says â€œtechnology,â€� 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 â€œbad cuppa Joeâ€� with it remains palatable, unlike when I depended on a Mr. Coffee to fuel me. The one drawback is how brewing the standard way â€” filter down â€” causes under-extracted liquid to drip into your mug. Thereâ€™s an easy remedy to this, though: invert your Aeropress. For around $30, youâ€™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 itâ€™s a high-value combination, and since I tend to buy nearly everything used, Iâ€™ve gotten my moneyâ€™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 Sonyâ€™s full-frame lineup, I couldnâ€™t quite swing the finances to invest in its system.
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 mouseâ€™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 Iâ€™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 Iâ€™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 â€” granted, I use Nova launcher. I dearly miss the LG G6â€™s rear fingerprint scanner as it was easier for me to use as an ambidextrous phone-holder, but Samsungâ€™s side-scanner works immediately with a low fail rate, even when my hands are dusted with chalk from rock climbing. Admittedly, Iâ€™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 couldnâ€™t be said of my LG G6: that phone had a bad habit of sporadically restarting itself.
Multitool: Leatherman Wave Plus
Whether Iâ€™m fixing my closet doors for the umpteenth time, filing a metal edge down, or repairing cables that my cat chewed through, the Leatherman Wave Plus is almost always on my person. Its stainless steel construction adds a bit of heft to my bag (241g), but itâ€™s worth it for someone who likes to feel prepared.
Both integrated blades are perfectly fine for daily tasks like cutting open boxes and loose strings from clothes. Sure, the 420HC may not retain an edge well, but itâ€™s easy to maintain with a basic leather strop and compound. Plus, Iâ€™m not fooling myself: if I were to go camping, Iâ€™d just take a straight blade instead; no need for wire strippers and pliers in the wilderness.
No, the Leatherman Wave Plus is for the handy-human who often runs into mundane problems. Rather than tearing my apartment apart for my elusive eyeglasses screwdrivers, I can just reach for the Wave Plus. Anyone interested in getting this handy tool can also pick up the bit kit and extender bundle for an additional $40 to make this the ultimate portable toolkit.
Watch: Casio F108WH Illuminator
Iâ€™ve been wearing some variant of this Casio watch for over a decade, and itâ€™s the only screen I look at more often than my phone. Iâ€™ve tried a handful of smartwatches, and non-smart premium watches, but I always come back to the Casio Illuminator. Iâ€™ve scraped this watch against rocks and walls when climbing, taken it for plenty of dives, and used it to time various cardio workouts. This resin wristwatch can withstand depths of 30 meters and has a battery rated to last 10 years.
The screen layout makes it easy to take in the most important information at a glance (date and time). Users can choose between military or standard time, set an alarm, and use it as a stopwatch. As we continue to normalize the quantification of our regular activities, the utilitarian philosophy of the Casio F108WH is what keeps it on my wrist. For just $14, itâ€™s one of the best investments Iâ€™ve ever made.