Zoom was probably the biggest app of 2020; but we made it through the year with more tech gear, gadgets, and gizmos than just that one. The Technology Committee shares some of their favorites from the year. See if your list matches or if there’s something new you should check out – and if you have a favorite you don’t see here, please share at email@example.com.
Gear to improve your computer set-up
More and more people are converting to standing desks, and Suzanne Trimble, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter from Sandford, Fla., is one of them. She said: “I love the stand desk by VIVO.”
“I have a convertible standing/sitting desk for my desktop computer at the office. I just found this version for a laptop,” said Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer and agency owner based in Portland, Ore.
Suggested by Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, CLVS, an official in Dallas, Texas, is the Xebec (pronounced zee-bek) Tri-Screen, which allows you to add two screens on a laptop. Visit TheXebec.com.
If you’re in the market for a printer, Lauren Lawrence, RPR, a freelance court reporter based in Kansas City, Mo., suggested one. “We recently purchased a new printer that I’m very pleased with. Both my significant other and I each had printers that were more than five years old, rather bulky, and somewhat unreliable. We went with an HP Envy, which can also connect to any mobile device. Super easy to print from your phone. Big fan so far, but we’ve only had it about a week. And it’s TINY in comparison to the old ones.”
Gadgets that help you make the most of your phone
Despite working from home, we still need our phones to be a reliable way to get everything from timers to podcasts to flashlights – that is, if you can find it. Nodland said: “I am always putting my phone down and misplacing it. I found this smartphone lanyard. Does this now count as wearable tech?”
“How many of you have participated in Zoom meetings/gatherings and feel like you need to take Dramamine because someone can’t hold their iPhone/cellphone straight so it’s giving you motion sickness?” asked Kriegshauser. “I came across these two products today on Facebook. This is a cool idea! One company is SMOVEMOBILE.com and the other is gimbOWL.com. They also sell phone mounts and tripods for cell phones.”
Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, an agency owner from Des Moines, Iowa, says she loves simple, cheap tech items, including several for her smart phone: “I use this on my car dash when I’m using Google Maps to get to my job assignments. It doesn’t slide and keeps the map up where I can easily see it while driving.”
Kreutz also suggested two apps she uses to make her hectic life easier:
- Google Keep Notes: “This allows me to share my grocery shopping list with my family, so they can add things or do the shopping for me. We also use this for our needed office supplies list.”
- myChevrolet: “This warms up my car after a job during the cold winter months.” Check with your car manufacturer about something similar for your vehicle.
Just for fun
“Portland has lots of hipsters wearing beanies. I don’t because, you know, hair,” said Nodland. “But someone in my office has one of these Bluetooth smart beanies. I think it’s the smartest thing ever.”
“I love being able to check in on my pets with PetCube Pet Cam when I’m away, especially when we leave for a weekend,” said Lawrence. “I like to make sure I can see their food and water bowls too, so I know if they are low or empty and I can make sure to remind whoever is feeding them that they need to stop in.
“This new, cheaper version boasts an impressive 1080P HD camera, two-way radio (so you can talk to your pets), and a nice motion sensor that records when your pets are active with time stamps. This has given me peace of mind so many times when I’ve been gone for more than 24 hours and just need to know one of them didn’t somehow get behind a door, close it, and now they’re trapped in a room without food and water. (Pet mom paranoia!) I can just check the app’s live camera stream, and if they’re not there, I can check the motion recordings and know they were in their room with food and water an hour ago,” Lawrence added.
Amy Doman, RMR, CRR, a freelancer in Carmel, Ind., shared, “We recently switched our bedroom lamps to Philips Hue lights. They connect to an app on your phone, and you can adjust the color, brightness, time on and off, home/away. My favorite feature is the routines. You set your wake-up time by day of the week, and you have the option of your lights on full brightness at your selected time, or you can program it to begin at the dimmest setting and gradually get brighter over 10, 20, or 30 minutes. It’s made waking up a much more peaceful experience. We also have ours to turn on at sunset, so that you’re not coming home to a dark house in the winter.
“I also like the Apple Watch wake-up alarm that is a gentle pulse on your wrist,” said Doman. “Can you tell I enjoy my sleep? The reason I got the watch initially was so that I could see my texts when I was on the record. With four kids at home, it was nice to know if there was an actual emergency or someone couldn’t find soccer cleats!”
Speaking of the Apple Watch, Trimble added: “The Apple watch has a hand washing timer with the latest update. It automatically detects you are washing and counts down from 20 seconds. Perfect tech for these crazy times!”
Thanks to NCRA’s Technology Committee for sharing these suggestions. If you have a great technology tip or question and want to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. As an Amazon Associate, NCRA earns from qualifying purchases.