Review – A. D. Coleman's Top Ten Digital Devices & Software of 2014

It's the Holiday Season, so here are my Top Ten Holiday items of digital hardware and software that I either added to my toolkit this year or relied on heavily and will add cheer to your digital holidays!

1. Logitech Wireless Headset H800. Lightweight, comfortable, great sound, wireless. They claim to hold a 6-hour charge, but you can charge them while using them if you need to run longer without a break. Foldable for travel. I use them for my distance-learning seminars. See my longer review here.

2. Logitech HD Pro C920 Webcam. HD 1080p at 30 frames per second. Excellent dual stereo mics on the webcam, so if I want a video of myself making a presentation I use those. For distance learning I usually opt to use the mic built in to the Logitech headset; it eliminates ambient noise, not to mention feedback. See my longer review here.

3. Sabrent High Speed 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub. I don't have a lot of peripherals, but my Mac Mini has just four USB 3.0 ports, all occupied. This Sabrent unit lets me add as many more as I'll need for the foreseeable future (especially useful now that many Bluetooth-enabled devices require a USB wireless nano receiver). It divides its ports into three groups, 3-3-4, each controlled separately by an on-off button. Includes a smart charging port for your device of choice. See my longer review here.

4. Logitech UE Boom Speakers. Bluetooth, 7" high, about the size and weight of a 500ml beer can. Big sound. Water-resistant. Meant for outdoor use, pool parties and such, but I use a pair on my desk and fill the office with music. When I travel, I throw one into the backpack along with my MacBook Pro for better sound quality in my hotel room. See my longer review here.

5. I've come to terms with my Dubyaphone, an LG Rumor Touch deliberately chosen for its limited intelligence. (See story here.) But I need to use earphones with it, and hate plugging anything in and out while trying to answer an incoming call. Enter the BlueAnt Q2 Bluetooth smartphone headset. Comfortable, HD sound, easy on and  off. Has a heap of features I don't need, but you might.

6. ioSafe Solo G3 2TB USB 3.0 3.5" External Hard Drive. I don't worry about losing data, because short of fire and flood combined, this device will preserve everything, even if submerged for hours and blowtorched. Too heavy for any thief to bother with, but has a smallish footprint. Whisper-quiet. When my computer goes on or off, it does too. Time Machine keeps it up to date. Big enough to also hold my expanding iTunes library and other media.

7. Polaroid Cube: Keeping Murphy's Law in mind, I try to add only necessary devices to my toolkit. But Polaroid sent me a review unit of this little rascal, and it's just about irresistible. You can stick it in a purse or pocket, forget about it, but always have with you the means for making decent-quality 720p/1080p video (with sound) and 6MP still images. Takes a micro SD card (not included) up to 32GB. Under 1-3/8" on all sides, with a powerful magnet on one side. Extremely inconspicious -- perfect for either making your latest cat video or filming the police. Various accessories available. Great stocking stuffer.

8. Filemaker Pro. I'm still in FMPro 12. I don't use all of its features. But it handles my CRM data and my email, plus my bibliography, home inventory, and many other tasks. Autosaves it all. Never crashes. Indispensable.

9. Because I plan to start publishing e-books, but don't have a tablet or reader of my own, I looked for an app that would give me the e-book experience on my desktop Mac Mini. Enter Calibre, "a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books." Plus many more features.

10. The Macility Productivity Bundle: Three extremely useful little apps that work in conjunction with all other apps. PopChar X, for easy insertion of special characters into text; Typinator automates the entry of text and graphics you use repeatedly; KeyCue improves the visibility and usability of all the possible shortcut keys for whatever app you're in. I use each of these at least once a day.

These are a few of my favorite things…

A.D. Coleman, Posted 12/18/2014

© Copyright 2014 by A. D. Coleman. All rights reserved. By permission of the author and Image/World Syndication Services,