Here at Android Authority, we have a diverse staff. We come from all over the world and we use all kinds of technology. This staff picks series shows you what tech we use for work, play, and health.
Hello. I’m Oliver Cragg, Senior Editor here at Android Authority who looks after all things U.K. and bombards our highly confidential (not really) Slack channels with a carefully curated selection of GIFs. I also dabble in features, reviews, piping hot takes, and editing great content other, smarter people write.
As an online journalist of seven years and an insufferable video game/film nerd, I’ve accumulated a fair amount of tech and gadgets. I have a feast and famine approach to buying new devices, though. When I do finally take the plunge, I’m happy to spend the extra cash I save during the more barren months, especially when a pricier product better suits my needs.
Below are the essential things I couldn’t do without. If you’ve got any questions about any of my Staff Picks, feel free to ping me on Twitter or hit the comments below.
Google Pixel 3 XL
There are a few products on this list I don’t technically use every day, but the Google Pixel 3 XL is not one of them.
Aside from the mediocre RAM management and painfully average battery life, the third-generation Pixel ticks almost all of my boxes for a perfect phone. The software is clean, clinical, and up-to-date. Twitch streams and YouTube binges look and sound great thanks to the large, crisp display and dual stereo speakers, respectively.
I also like having Google Assistant just a squeeze away with Active Edge. Then there’s the camera which, thanks to Google’s computational magic, transforms quick point-and-shoot snaps into gold every time.
Save for a handful of (regrettable) detours, I’ve been using Google phones ever since the Nexus 4 and while I’ve almost been tempted away in recent months, it’s a safe bet my next phone will be the Pixel 4.
Uncomplicated and uncluttered technology is my crippling weakness. That’s why I’ve always been drawn to Apple computers over typical PCs, even though I know for a fact a Windows alternative would represent much better value for money.
My Apple iMac is a 27-inch model with a 5K retina display, Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M395X GPU, and a 2TB fusion drive. I’m yet to find anything it can’t handle and it’s a dream to work on.
Just for good measure, here are the rest of my desk essentials:
- Logitech MX Master 2S mouse
- Apple Magic Keyboard
- Anker 60W 5-port desktop charger
- Google Pixel Stand
- Overwatch Razer D.Va Goliathus Speed Mat
My (completely unintentional) anti-Windows agenda continues away from home with the Google Pixelbook. Chrome OS is a fantastic platform for handling the basics and the Pixelbook itself is a gorgeous machine with a smart design, tactile keyboard, and a stunning display. I also really like playing Android games from the Play Store on a larger screen.
Read more: Google Pixelbook review
There are equally capable Chrome OS (and Windows) alternatives that will cost you far less and any serious image/video editing isn’t really an option, but the Pixelbook is a great buy for those that want a fuss-free laptop for working on the go.
Bang & Olufsen H9 wireless headphones
Before joining Team AA my daily commute to work involved a fairly grueling train journey. That meant a pair of top-tier noise canceling headphones was an absolute must.
Bang & Olufsen are famous for creating uber-stylish tech and the H9 wireless cans are no different. The leather memory foam pads and ergonomic headband mean I can wear the headphones for hours without feeling any discomfort. The noise cancelling is also spectacular and the removable battery means I can swap in a spare if I run out of charge.
Related: Best wireless headphones of 2019
While the audio quality doesn’t quite rival the best Bose and Sony have to offer, I quite like the bassier approach and the wider soundstage of B&O’s tuning. My only real gripe is the awful touch controls.
The H9s have since been superseded by the Beoplay H9i headphones which have improved battery life, a USB-C port, and a handy feature that pauses playback when you take them off. I should also give a shoutout to the Samsung Galaxy Buds which are my current earbuds of choice for running or when you don’t want to lug around larger headphones.
OnePlus Travel Backpack
Full disclosure: I actually got this bag for free from the nice folk at OnePlus U.K., but after using it solidly for almost a year now I’d happily have spent the incredibly reasonable asking price to buy one myself.
Available in Space Black or Morandi Gray, the OnePlus Travel Backpack is really comfy thanks to the padded back and it’s spacious enough for all my essentials when attending events. The laptop compartment also fits my Pixelbook perfectly which has saved me money on a laptop case.
Google Home/Nest Hub devices
If it’s not become already obvious from my phone and laptop choices, the sheer number of Google Home/Nest smart products I have dotted around the house should make it pretty clear that I’m heavily invested in Google’s product ecosystem.
I love all of these devices for different reasons. The Home Max sounds incredible in our living room, the Home Mini is great for playing music in my daughter’s bedroom, the Nest Hub is a handy office companion, and the original Home is nestled away in the kitchen for setting timers and blasting tunes. Unsurprisingly, I already have my eyes on the Nest Hub Max.
This is the last Google product, I promise. Considering it’s the thing that makes almost all of my other devices tick I couldn’t really ignore it.
Our house is quite old and after we moved in it was quickly apparent that we wouldn’t be getting decent Wi-Fi speeds from our (atrocious) Virgin Media router beyond one or two rooms. This all changed after switching the router into modem mode and rigging up three Google Wifi units. Thanks to the mesh system, I get roughly the same Wi-Fi speeds all over and can tweak settings on the fly via the Google Wifi app.
Read more: Google Wifi review
As Wi-Fi isn’t all that great for online gaming, I also went a little overkill and bought a TP-Link AV2000 powerline kit to reduce PS4 latency issues. It does the job nicely and the passthrough version doesn’t take up a plug socket. Obviously a true ethernet connection would’ve been better, but I didn’t fancy drilling through any walls.
LG OLED TV
While it’s now a couple of generations behind the latest TV tech, the LG B7 is a fantastic 55-inch 4K HDR OLED set with very low input latency for playing games. I barely use any of the WebOS features as I have a Google Chromecast plugged in (okay, I lied, that’s the last Google product) for streaming so I can’t really comment on that, but for my usage — playing 4K movies and HDR gaming — the B7 has been sublime.
The LG B7 has been superseded by the LG B9.
Q Acoustics M3 soundbar
The only weak spot in my entertainment setup is the TV’s mediocre speakers. Thankfully, the Q Acoustics M3 soundbar fixes that problem.
The M3 isn’t the flashiest or most feature-packed soundbar on the market, but it makes up for it with booming, crystal clear audio. According to users, the M4 technically sounds better, but I went for the M3 as the HDMI ARC connection means I don’t have to mess around with multiple remotes.
Related: Best soundbars of 2019
Q Acoustics are a U.K. company that only deliver locally, but their audio range can be bought from third-party sellers on Amazon.
I’ve always been a console guy and my current platform of choice is Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro. In all honesty I’m not all that amazed by the hardware. It doesn’t offer true 4K, there’s no 4K Blu-Ray support, and the fan system is appalling (this is my second unit).
What is does have, though, is a library stacked with some of my all-time favorite games like Persona 5, Bloodborne, Overwatch, The Last Guardian, Red Dead Redemption 2, and What Remains of Edith Finch.
I should also give a shout out to the Nintendo Switch which has saved my sanity on endless train journeys.
Arlo Baby Monitor
As with almost everything related to babies, baby tech is expensive, confusing, and oftentimes completely pointless, but you’ll be guilted into buying it anyway because you want the best for your little person.
Having navigated the “baby things” minefield for almost a year now, the Arlo Baby Monitor stands out as one of our essential purchases. Baby monitors are notoriously unreliable, especially the cheaper ones, but this Wi-Fi enabled HD camera from Arlo has consistently provided the peace of mind you need as a new parent.
Also, while it’s not a tech product exactly, if you are expecting do yourself a favor and get the BabyBjorn Bouncer. You and your baby will thank me later.
More in our Staff Picks series:
August 16, 2019 at 06:52AM