In no particular order, here are five products/sites/services that I really enjoyed having/using this year. I could have written about more, but I’m lazy.
I am an RSS apex consumer, subscribing to about 500 sites’ RSS feeds. I was in a complete panic earlier this year when Google Reader was going away. NetNewsWire and Reeder, synced with Google Reader, were mainstays of my way of staying informed. I used them every day, and rarely declared RSS bankruptcy. Feedbin saved my ass in 2013.
With Google Reader going away, there were a few choices out there, but most of them were free services. That’s not what I wanted to use though. I wanted something that I could pay an honest fee for, that probably wouldn’t be co-opted by other business motives, and I evaluated the options out there and picked Feedbin.
This service hasn’t disappointed me one bit. It’s been consistently improved throughout the year, and client support for it is fantastic. Best of all, their web app, through one of those updates, supports many of the keyboard commands from the legacy RSS reader I used for so long. I read my feeds on every device I carry using this service, using Reeder on iOS, Press on Android, and the Feedbin Web interface on desktop. (Press is awesome, and probably the best RSS Reader app on any platform in my opinion.)
Cool Hunting T-Tech by Tumi Backpack
I own a lot of gear bags because I carry a lot of gear on a daily basis, and I am always looking for the perfect system for carrying things. At work, we support a lot of devices, and I need to have a few with me wherever I am to make sure that I can cover the support from where I happen to be.
I should probably do a post about what’s in my bag when I head out to CES next week. On top of that, I usually carry a camera system of some kind, and then a myriad of chargers etc. Suffice it say, this bag is really really nice, well made, and can hold a lot of stuff. There are a lot of great bags out there, but this has been my mainstay since the day I got it in the first half of 2013. Since it’s made by Tumi, I know that I can count on it. I have had some Tumi luggage for as long as fifteen years under a lot of travel, and it’s held up remarkably well. If you need to carry a lot of stuff, and like the backpack form factor, I highly recommend this bag.
Unfortunately, it seems to be sold out at this point. I’ll be watching Cool Hunting for future product releases, they have great taste and attention to detail.
Not new to this year, but this small device has really become the center of our living room in 2013. It already had a strong lineup of content, and AirPlay from our various iOS devices (my wife and I both have iPhones and iPads) has become a stock way we listen to music. Having a device at the center of our living room that is synced with our ever growing library of content in iTunes helps a lot. Integration with Flickr means that there’s a scrolling slideshow of my most recent Flickr posts happening while we’re listening to music.
I think, however, that there was a major shift that occurred in our home over the summer. This shift was caused by two things. June 19th, 2013, HBO Go came to Apple TV. We have DirecTV, and this meant it was like someone had bought us the boxed set of every single HBO show. The second event was Orange is the New Black coming to Netflix in July. Long time fans of Weeds, we loved this show produced by the same team, and we binge watched until they were all gone. Can’t wait until there are more, but we’re currently binging through Breaking Bad. We’re not going to be canceling our DirecTV service any time soon, but more and more, we’re watching stuff via this device. When we’re not watching, this device is what’s powering other living room entertainment.
Evernote Smart Notebooks
As evidenced by my post a couple of days ago, Evernote Smart Notebooks, in the linked configuration, have been a staple of my productivity regimen in 2013. They come with a three month extension to your Evernote Pro service. At the rate I use them, this means I won’t be paying discretely for Evernote any time soon. It’s that simple. I don’t really use the stickers, but I do take a picture of every page. Just works. I was already hooked on Evernote long before these appeared.
It’s rare that I trust a site’s advice completely, but The Wirecutter has earned that trust. Their exhaustive work in specific product categories has led to well informed purchases time and again throughout 2013. They are relentless in keeping their site and reviews up to date. I read through their deals very carefully. Some notable example purchases are our WiFi Router, the pens I use, and the cards in my cameras. I highly recommend that you check at The Wirecutter before any consumer electronic or personal technology related purchase. Here’s their guide on how to use their site.