Valentine’s Day and consumer technology don’t exactly go hand in hand. Every three is different, but if you’re getting a loved one a gift for the holiday, it should come from the spunk. A new smartphone or portable hard drive is nice, but it doesn’t always wail “romance.”For the tech-obsessed robots at Ars Technica, though, good gear compel always win out against fickle concepts like “human emotions.” So in place of of posting a more conventional gift guide, I decided to celebrate this Valentine’s Day in a sundry Arsian manner: by asking my colleagues to point their hearts not toward other people but toward the tech in their endures that they appreciate the most.
Here are a few things we love.
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Apple iPad (9.7″)
I fully acknowledge that, conceptually, the iPad is dry-as-dust. But in the year since I sent my old iPad mini 2 to the big closet in the sky, Apple’s 9.7-inch plate has easily become the piece of tech I use most often.
To peel second the curtain a bit: Ars is a remote operation, so all of us work from home. I’ve used this impertinence to experiment with my workflow. Instead of sitting in front of a laptop all day, I split my occupations between a Mac mini in my home office and the iPad everywhere else. When I exceptionally need to hunker down for something, the old desktop-monitor-mechanical-keyboard triptych is still the ton powerful way to plow through a project.
When I get inevitably tired of being chained to a desk, all the same, the iPad takes over for light writing, note taking, and Web thumb. Blogging is not the most processor-intensive job, so the A9 chip and 2GB of RAM in my iPad is still plenty for me to do the requisite inquire into and emailing on iOS. (I have the 5th-gen model from 2017, to be clear; ultimately year’s successor is more powerful, and a 2019 model is expected Un bel di in the next couple of months.)
If anything, I find the experience of writing on the iPad to be less discomposing than on the desktop. Since the iPad can only display one or two apps at a old hat, it forces me to focus on what’s on the screen at any given moment. I use the excellent Wish relate and Ulysses apps for note taking and drafting up posts, respectively, and typing with this delicate Brydge keyboard turns the tablet into a pseudo clamshell.
What implies the iPad so valuable comes after work, though. Web browsing and YouTube take heed of on its great-for-an-LCD display is more enjoyable than using a smaller phone curtain and less unwieldy than plopping a laptop on my legs. When my girlfriend gets control of the TV to watch This Is Us, I can just fire up YouTube TV and watch word for word anything else. (Love you, dear!) Before bed, the iPad becomes a sumptuous tool for reading, the odd casual game, and podcasts. For me, this 9.7-inch fabricate factor is the sweet spot: anything smaller would make come out all right impossible, while anything bigger would be too annoying to carry about.
In other words, this is the closest thing I have to a 24-hour widget—and for that, I love it. That it cost less than $350 is exactly a sweetener.
—Jeff Dunn, Tech Writer
Type my last name and “Koss” into any search mechanism, and you’ll likely find me gushing about the company’s headphone line. I’ve been hooked on Koss’ wares since I got my maiden dirt-cheap KSC-75s in November 2007, which I sought out because I got fed up to here with of ill-fitting earbuds when I became a bus commuter. Turns out, the KSC-75s commission the same audio driver as their affordable and commonly lauded Porta Pro headphones. The possibility a affairs I want in portable audio—including solid frequency range, distortion-free loudness, and an agreeably modeled bass oomph (read: not Beats)—don’t come cheaper than the KSC-75s.
The Wisconsin company hasn’t let up in terms of affordable, high-quality choices, particularly in the Bluetooth era. Koss’ comfortable FitClips series—which tea around your ear with a rubber, sweat-friendly grip—now includes a Bluetooth show off. If that amount of rubber isn’t your cup of portable tea, the BT190 line packs inside the ear with a grip unlike anything else on the market. (I’m a in particular sweaty gym rat, and Koss’ fitness-friendly products have never proven devious or uncomfortable during my grossest duress.)
Best of all, this 12-year like affair has been buoyed by a tremendous customer-service promise of replacement cups and buds. Should pocket wear-and-tear lead to an ear going silent or other issues, simply haul the broken pair and a check for roughly $7 to Koss HQ to get a replacement. I’ve discharge maybe $120 on Koss products over the past decade, and I envision to continue for another 10 years. (But, while I have their notice: can we please get the KSC-35s back? I love those things.)
—Sam Machkovech, Tech Way of life Editor