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.
Hi, I’m Ryan-Thomas Shaw and I write articles and produce videos for Android Authority. But this isn’t my only gig — I also produce video for my own YouTube channel and I’m a university student. With all of this in mind, I use an awful lot of tech in my day-to-day life.
I tend to buy a lot of used tech from eBay and Facebook, because, you know, I’m a student and I don’t have a lot of money. That means most of what I own is a bit beaten with dings and scrapes, since I prefer function over form. As long as it gets the job done, it’s fine by me!
Today I’m going to break down eight things that I use everyday and why I recommend them (or don’t) in their own product categories.
I shoot a lot of video, and my only camera at the moment is the Sony a6300. It produces great video and photo results, at the detriment of usability. For example, this thing is capable of taking UHD 24P video and 24MP photos, but its poor SD card slot placement at the bottom next to the tiny battery is a pain in the neck. Not only this, but the lack of in-body image stabilization means that I’m limited to tripod and gimbal work when it comes to video.
For a casual user with an interest in photo and video capture, this is a great hybrid camera with some great functionality and fast auto-focus. However, I’ll be looking at upgrading sometime in the next year or so, due purely to the workflow bottleneck. SD cards break. Micro HDMI cables break. The screen doesn’t flip. And recording audio externally is an extra step that I’d rather not have to take.
Viltrox EF-E II
Since I exclusively use Canon-mount lenses, adapters like the Commlite EF-Nex are really useful. However, speed boosters like the Viltrox EF-E II are like magic adapters that not only let you connect different lenses to different bodies, but give the a6300’s Super35 sensor a Full-Frame field of view, and the lens an extra stop of light.
This way, I’m able to use my Sigma 20mm and 50mm f/1.4s in Full Frame and Super35 modes, allowing for more reach or more viewable area. This Viltrox one is far cheaper than the Metabones version that I’ve used on my previous cameras, and seems to be built better, too!
Sigma ART-series lenses
I’ve had my Sigma ART 18-35mm f/1.8 Super35mm lens for nearly four years now and I recently invested in a couple more primes from the range. These lenses are very sharp and incredibly well made, often times being sharper than Canon L-series lenses on top of being more affordable. My lineup includes the 20mm f/1.4 (full frame), 50mm f/1.4 (full frame), and the 18-35mm f/1.8 (super-35).
Apple iPhone 11
I know, I know. This isn’t Apple Authority! But I’m indifferent to mobile operating systems and I like to take a walk on the other side of the wall every now and then. The iPhone 11 is probably the best deal that Apple has offered for a while now and I was intrigued. I’ve bounced between iOS and Android ever since I got into the smartphone game.
There are bits that I love and hate about the iPhone 11. I love the cameras, the speed, the fluidity, and the battery life. I hate the lightning port, the lack of dual-SIM support (which we’ll talk about later), and charging speed.
This is, by far, the best iPhone that I’ve ever used, personally. Having the ultra-wide camera on an iPhone is really strange, in a good way. Similarly, two-day battery life on a consistent basis is something that I don’t think I could now live without.
Google Pixel 3a XL
I mentioned that I hate the omission of dual SIM support on the iPhone, and to combat that, the Pixel 3a XL carries my second SIM card. This phone is still one of my favorites to have been released this year. Having a second phone is usually a pain — as it’s an extra thing to remember, charge, and carry — but the 3a XL is so good that I can overlook the pain points.
From the top-tier camera, to the excellent battery life, to the brilliant software, to the staggering value — I’m happy to be carrying the 3a XL in my pocket alongside my iPhone.
Huawei Watch GT 2
Let me get this out of the way straight away, I don’t use the smart capabilities of the Watch GT 2 — I haven’t ever since I released my review. I just really like the way this thing looks. From its leather band to its executive design to its gorgeous OLED display, it’s got to be my favorite wearable of all time. Oh, and it gets one to two weeks of battery life.
Behringer Uphoria UM2
I record external audio an awful lot, and because of my two XLR microphones, I need 48v phantom power for them. Instead of buying a fancy-schmancy external recorder, I decided to take the cheap route and have my laptop/computer record everything. I picked up this Uphoria UM2 on eBay for £30, and you can get them on Amazon even cheaper now. It supplies power and signal from my PC to my microphone, and I can even plug it into my Donglebook Pro with the right adapter! It’s been rock solid and reliable for my hundreds of hours of use, and takes up little to no space at all.
Ah yes, my Donglebook Pro. I’ve been known to switch between PC and Mac for a long time, so I decided to go for both. My laptop of choice is the 2018 15-inch Macbook Pro with touch bar. It’s a pretty good laptop for photo/video editing along with typing up articles. I use it for university work, Android Authority work, and my own channel work.
The battery life could be better, as I do have to charge it once or twice a day, but at least charging is quick over USB-C, meaning that I’m usually carrying the right charger anyway. Performance is pretty great, thanks to the big spec, but nothing out of this world. The form factor is pretty great, as it offers a 15-inch screen in a pretty small area, too.
LG 34UC97-S monitor
This is a pretty weird choice for monitor, since it’s old and outdated, but I got it on eBay for a great price. I’ve used 21:9 ultrawide Full HD monitors in the past, but I never realized just how great the aspect ratio would be with a Quad HD resolution.
To be clear, I’ve almost always had two to four monitors on my desk, but I’ve not once thought about needing a secondary monitor since owning this one. This 34-inch monitor covers almost my entire desk and provides a massive amount of screen real estate which is ideal for working on multiple projects at once. It’s like spreading out lots of papers on a large desk when working on something in-depth.
The plethora of ports also means that I can connect my laptop, and any system that I’m working on, to the monitor and switch between them with the superb display interface.