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! Jimmy Westenberg here, AA’s resident Star Wars and fitness nerd. Most of the time, you can find me in the background editing just about anything you see on Android Authority, from news to reviews.
I’m not really your average technology user. I like what I like, and by no means do I need the best on the market. Though, I’m happy to spend more money than I’m comfortable with if it means I’m getting a product that will last me years. I’ll spend over $100 on a keyboard that I’ll use for hours a day, but save money by building my own standing desk. I also refuse to upgrade my technology just because something is new and improved — you’ll find hints of this throughout the article.
Here are some of the things I use on a daily basis.
Google Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3
I use the Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3 almost every day. My Pixel 3 is running Android Pie so it’s more stable than my Pixel 2 XL running Android Q. It also has a better display and louder speakers — two things I’ve come to really appreciate.
Still, there are a lot of things keeping me tied to the Pixel 2 XL. I like that it’s not made entirely of glass; maybe that’s why squeezing it to activate the Google Assistant feels better to me. I also like that its battery has no problem lasting an entire day on a single charge, even though it’s running beta software.
I’ve been using the Pixel 2 XL since day one and couldn’t recommend it enough, especially at a heavily discounted price. Not everyone will want to carry around a two-year-old phone, but I definitely don’t have a problem with it.
Official fabric Google cases
I’ve experimented with a lot of different styles of cases over the years, and I’m extremely happy with Google’s official fabric cases. I own the Fog variant for the Pixel 2 XL and Carbon color for the Pixel 3.
They’re grippy enough (for me), don’t add a ton of bulk, and look a hell of a lot more original than anything plastic you can buy from Amazon.
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Since reviewing the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music in May, I have yet to take it off my wrist. The battery life is awesome, it has just enough smart features to keep me happy, and it’s a really powerful little GPS running watch.
I’ve committed to running my first half marathon at the end of August and I’m using one of the Garmin Coach plans (via the Forerunner 245) to help me train. I’ll let you know how that goes. But for now, you should definitely check out the Forerunner 245 Music if you need a (relatively) inexpensive running watch.
Casio W-218H digital watch
When I’m not keeping track of my activity, I’m usually wearing the Casio W-218H. I love this thing. It’s just the right size for my wrist, it’s durable, and most importantly, it doesn’t give me smartphone notifications. I don’t like my wrist constantly buzzing throughout the day, especially when I’m at my desk (I get all my notifications sent to my computer anyway). So, a simple Casio watch is my favorite smartwatch alternative.
Google Nest Hub
The Google Nest Hub (formerly Google Home Hub) might be the best smart photo frame you can buy. I keep it on my desk, right next to my main monitor, and ask it questions (mostly about the weather) and stare at old pictures cycling through throughout the day. It gets pretty loud too, so it acts as a decent music player in a pinch.
Especially at a discounted price, the Nest Hub is basically an insta-buy.
More posts about smart displays
The North Face Borealis backpack
I think I’m one of the only people on the AA staff that doesn’t carry a Peak Design Everyday Backpack. For me, a good outdoor backpack does the trick, and the North Face Borealis Backpack is one of the best I’ve used.
It’s comfortable to wear around during trade shows and longer hikes, and there are plenty of big pockets to store battery packs, computers, and the like. It’s also relatively inexpensive at under $100.
Note: Wookiee of the Year button not included
Logitech Easy-Switch K811 keyboard
When my old Apple keyboard stopped working, it was the exact excuse I needed to justify buying the Logitech Easy-Switch Keyboard. It offers exactly what I need in a keyboard.
If you’re interested in buying one for yourself, buy from Amazon.
Homemade standing desk
This one’s a little out there. I built myself a standing desk a few years ago and absolutely love it.
Why not just buy one? Because that costs money. If you’ve never looked them up, standing desks aren’t cheap. The models that are cheap still aren’t very cheap (~$250 from Ikea) and are made with cheap particleboard. Screw that. I needed something inexpensive that would last me for years on end.
So, I got to work.
I ended up following Taylor Martin’s instructions from his MOD YouTube channel. I used different measurements because my desktop was a different size, but that tutorial helped me get 90 percent of the way there. I spent about $70 on my desk and I couldn’t be happier.
A few of my desk essentials:
- LG UltraWide 21-inch IPS monitor
- Logitech MX Master
- Logitech Z200 speakers
- Rain Design mStand Laptop Stand
- Google Pixel Stand (our review)
- Pug: Not for sale
Topo by Ergodriven standing desk mat
This standing desk mat is a bit on the pricey side, but to me it’s totally worth it. When you’re spending over nine hours a day at a standing desk, you need something to keep your legs from wearing out.
Many of the inexpensive standing desk mats on Amazon just offer a flat sheet of foam, but the Topo by Ergodriven mat gives you different terrain levels to keep you moving throughout the day.
I couldn’t work without this thing. It’s well worth the $100 price tag in my opinion.
Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
Self explanatory, folks. Keep your lips hydrated.
The Google Pixelbook is a fantastic machine. I love Chrome OS, and I love the design of this laptop. I don’t necessarily love the price tag, though you can pick up a refurbished model for around $699 nowadays.
I’m still not at the point where I can use Chrome OS as my daily laptop OS, but I’m close. Photoshop and Lightroom are just too powerful on macOS for me to be able to switch.
More in our Staff Picks series: