One clear benefit of this year's lockdown is that many of us have spent time working on ourselves through betterment routines. For some, betterment comes through exercise and working out, for others, it comes from putting their smartphones away and picking up a book or having a good conversation.
Regardless of your betterment MO, sometimes it feels impossible to escape the omnipresent notification buzz. In light of that, we decided to step back and look at the tech that claims to enhance your life, without being in the way. From a no-display tracking band to a smartphone that only makes calls or texts, this guide is for those looking to lighten their tech load.
On Your Wrist: Whoop 3.0 Sports Band
You’ve likely heard an advertisement for the Whoop on a podcast show, but we’re here to tell you, this minimal activity tracking band is the real deal for those looking to measure their sleep, workouts, and recovery from your day-to-day. The band is dead simple: put it on, sync it to your phone and just live your life. It’s small and so comfortable that you’ll likely forget you’re wearing it. Open the Whoop app (available for both iOS and Android) to see just how you're doing. Fun tip: join a Whoop club and compete with your friends on being your best self.
In Your Pocket: The Light Phone
We’re all addicted to our phones and the apps that run our lives, so much so that both iOS and Android phones now have app-usage limit controls to curb our appetites. But for some, this is not enough: app controls can be bypassed and changed; it’s just too easy to sneak a peek at your IG feed.
The Light Phone is the answer to that. It’s reminiscent of the idea behind the Punkt minimal phone but goes further by limited usage to actual phone calls and texting. It’s as simple as it get. For fans of the look of the original Apple iPhone will appreciate the design of the Light Phone. Don’t expect to do too much international roaming with it, as there are various models for providers.
For Playing Your Music: Oda Speakers
Oda Speakers can best be described as live speaker boxes that plug you into the world of live music. The selling point is access to a “seasonal performance program of commissions, collaborations and sonic experiments by some of music’s most compelling artists and storytellers,” and they’re flat, square wooden facades that deliver pretty clear sound in a speaker that’s about the size of an LP record.
Oda Speakers let you listen in the way radio used to — as do the headphones below.
For Your Ears: Sennheiser IE80S BT & Sennheiser CX400 BT Wireless Headphones
You either like them or you don’t: wireless earbuds with a cord or neckband. Hifi enthusiasts will argue the neckbands offers some need space to store a good-sized battery to allow for continuous playback, and more space to store components. Others, just dislike being tailed, preferring true in earbuds free of cabling around your neck.
Sennheiser makes two affordable solutions for wireless sound whichever way you like it. The CX400 BT is a true wireless earbud system with storage and charging case that bang hard on bass and highs. At $149 it’s a solid upgrade to the built-in phone pods. The higher-end IE 80S BT are for music fans looking for wireless headphones with no compromise on sound. At $200, they’re a bit more than the latter but they bring that detailed Sennheiser tuning to a neckband-based earbud.
For Storing your Digital Life: OWC Envoy Pro Mini 1TB Flash Drive
For those who still rely on portable flash drives for offline storing their digital photos, music, video, and files, the OWC 1TB Envoy Pro Mini is a game-changer. This is not an ordinary flash drive: the Envoy Pro packs a desktop-class SSD drive into s form factor that’s about the size of a pack of gum. 1TB can hold more than 500 hours of HD video or like a gazillion photos. We like it for it size - you can literally throw it into the bottom of your bag.
For Making Music: Moog Werkstatt-01 Analog DIY Synth
You may be asking how a synthesizer — with all its lights, buttons, and controls — can better a person. Well, for those making music and used to using a synth on their phone or computer, the feel of turning knobs and pushing buttons can become meditative or even a little ASMR.
At $199, the brand new Moog Werkstatt-01 synth and CV expander is an amazing bargain for those looking to have some fun with beats during COVID times. It’s a small simple device that offers hours of fun for budding beat makers in your home.
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