Devices and Accessories I couldn’t live without

DAILY DRIVERS

Over the past 2-3 years, while writing for (and running) this site, I’ve had the privilege of testing some of the best accessories on the market. I’ve tried hundreds of cases, and all manner of gadgets. But, in day to day use, very few of them fit my specific and fussy needs. It’s taken some time to find my perfect collection of devices and accessories, but I think I’ve finally got there. Below is all the stuff I use daily to get my work and life done.

Devices:

1. MacBook Air 13″ (2012 model)

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The only computer in the house is my 13-inch MacBook Air, and it’s almost always sat inside a stand and hooked up to an external monitor. I went for the top-spec version with 4GB RAM, 1.7GHz i5 processor and 250GB storage. The main reasoning was that it needed to have enough power and speed to replace my iMac when at home, but offer me the same performance on the move. I didn’t want to have two computers.

It’s perfect for those days I want to get out and work at Starbucks, or take it with me when we’re visiting family. Admittedly there are issues with RAM and processing power consumption, but those will be dealt with once Mavericks arrives. Before Mavericks was announced, I was seriously considering selling it and making do with an iPad for on-the-go work and buying a Mac mini. Not anymore.

2. iPhone 5

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It’s my main device and will be until the next iPhone arrives. I love everything about the phone, especially now that I have iOS 7 beta running on it. iOS has the best selection of apps, the operating system’s UI is more seamless than anything else and features an incredible ecosystem. Granted, some other devices may boast better specs and hardware, but as an all-round phone, I don’t think anything comes close to the iPhone. There are apps on here I couldn’t get by without, and many aren’t even available on Android yet.

3. iPad mini Wi-Fi only

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I wasn’t lying when I declared the iPad mini my favorite Apple product when it came in November. I also wasn’t exaggerating when I said I preferred it to the iPad 3. I was expecting that my honeymoon period would be over by January/February time, but the truth is, I couldn’t go a day without using it. Whether it be for gaming, browsing or social networking, the iPad mini’s form factor is perfect. In fact, I recently sold my 9.7″ Retina iPad because it wasn’t being used at all. All the mini needs now is a Retina display.

4. Second/Work Phone

I generally always use one phone for personal use and one for managing work emails. Over the past few months I’ve bought two, and been loaned a handful of devices which have served well. The list has included the BlackBerry Z10, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S4 and BlackBerry Q10. Of all of those, it’s the Q10 with its physical keyboard that serves its purpose the best. All I know is, I struggle if I don’t have two phones.

Accessories:

1. SETA Smartphone Stand (Now Bracketron NanoTek Stand) – $29.95

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I thought I’d come across the perfect stand when I reviewed the Bluelounge Milo a couple of months back. Then I got sent the SETA to try, and I’ve changed my mind. It’s no surprise that the former KickStarter project was snapped up by well known brand, Bracketron and rebranded the NanoTek stand. It’s sturdy, holds my phone well in portrait or landscape and has a handy cutout for cable management. It’s fantastic. What’s really great is the nano-suction cups used to stick the stand to a surface (or the phone to the stand), there’s no adhesive. It’s really rather clever.

2. õlloclip 3-in-1 clip on lens – $69.99

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Anyone with an interest in iPhoneography simply has to own an õlloclip 3-in-1 lens. Without it, there’s so much you’re missing out on. I use the macro lens mostly for taking close-up photos of insects, flowers and raindrops, but the fish-eye and wide angle lenses also add an extra dimension to your photography. There’s rarely a time I go out and don’t take the õlloclip with me just in case. It’s so easy to snap on and use too.

3. Arkon Desk and Travel Stand – $17.95

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It’s by no means the most portable stand, and neither is it the most beautiful or elegant, but boy is it good. In my experience using both the full size iPad and iPad mini, I’ve not found any other stand that’s as versatile or sturdy as the Arkon. It can be adjusted (noisily) to hold any sized tablet in portrait or landscape and has thin foam padding in the grooves and underneath the feet to ensure it gives adequate protection to your precious device’s edges.

4. Twelve South BookArc for MacBook Air – $39.99

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As I mentioned in my opening paragraphs, my MacBook is almost always in a stand, hooked up to a monitor. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better stand for the job than Twelve South’s awesome BookArc. The Arc-shaped aluminum structure features a slim padded groove which holds my notebook really snugly. “Docking” and removing the MBA is easy and quick and the stand keeps completely out of the way of all the I/O ports. It’s minimal, sturdy and beautiful. Perfect.

5. Incipio Lexington for iPad mini – $34.99

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If you’d have asked me a few months back what kind of case I liked to use for my iPad, I would almost certainly not have chosen a folio style case that doubled up as a stand when necessary. So, if one particular case of that style has won me over, it’s got to be good. Incipio’s Lexington features a stiff and durable rear shell that holds my iPad snugly while getting out the way of all ports and buttons. Inside is lined with micro-fiber and outside has a leather-like material. It’s comfortable to hold when in use, and it works fantastically as a stand. It’s a beautiful, protective and versatile case.

6. Logitech Easy-Switch Keyboard – $99.99

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As you already know, I use two iOS devices day-in-day-out as well as my MacBook (docked). So, I needed a wireless keyboard that I could use with all of them. Logitech’s Easy-Switch Bluetooth keyboard can be paired with 3 different devices thanks to having 3 different channels, which can be switched between using the dedicated buttons on the row of function keys. I can switch between iPhone, iPad and Mac with ease and in seconds. If that wasn’t enough, the design is stunning, using black plastic and silver aluminum to great effect. It’s easy to type on, is charged by Micro USB and has bespoke buttons for iOS/Mac functions. There’s little wrong with it.

7. Twelve South PlugBug World – $44.99

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The final piece of the puzzle, and yet another awesome product from Twelve South. PlugBug World was designed to allow users to have their MacBook plugged in to an outlet and still be able to charge their iPad/iPhone without using up any of the notebook’s (lower power) USB ports. If I travel, I’m safe knowing I have the relevant wall adapter, I just wish it had two USB outputs so I could charge all three of my devices at once. But that’s just me being greedy.

There is one obvious omission: an iPhone case. The truth is that because I test and review so many iPhone cases, whenever I get the chance, I prefer to use it without anything covering it. I love the look and feel of the newest iPhone and I take advantage of that fact whenever I can.

What about you? Which devices do you use on a regular basis, what for, and how do you accessorize? Let me know in the comments or tweet me: @TiP_Cam.

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  • DrewPage

    Cam, I totally love your list. I too can’t do without my iPhone 5, iPad Mini with wi-fi, and Logitech Bluetooth keyboard.

  • WaylonBush

    I’ve never had a case on my iPhone 5 for all the same reasons; I like the way it looks, it’s easy to slide in/out of my handmade leather iPhone wallet (check Etsy “Yard and Sons”…tell Ryan his brother-in-law sent you), and I love that it’s so lightweight. I use Apple’s Smart Case for iPad 3 as I only use it leisurely so I don’t need a physical keyboard (I’m the guy who likes typing on the screen). Last, but not least, earpods. I do a lot of traveling by car and I have Siri read TiP and other news articles as well as listen to music and of course hands-free (sort of) calling.

  • DrewPage

    @WaylonBush I totally agree, but I did have to give in a little, and get a bumper case.  My 3 1/2 year old sometimes plays games on my iPhone 5, and I was too afraid of him dropping it, but I didn’t want to cover it totally.  Elago makes a very high quality bumper, that I got on Amazon.  I have one of those wallets also, but now my iPhone 5 won’t fit in it right :(

  • TiP_Cam

    @DrewPage Ha, thanks man. Great minds, and all that.. ;-)

  • TiP_Cam

    @WaylonBush I have a nice SENA Corsa leather pouch that I use every now and then. But by no means every day.