Julie’s favorite gear


Updated on 04/19/22

Hello friends, here’s my ever-evolving listing of the gear (and other favorite things) that I use on a daily basis. This will be my last update for 2021 and I can’t wait to find out what changes are in store for 2022. The category lists are in no particular order. I also try to post regular gadget diary posts and EDC updates where I talk about the gadgets I’m using and adventures I’m having on any particular day.

Smartphone and related accessories:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max – I’ve been using an iPhone for over a year now which is surprising to me. I had a brief fling with the OnePlus 9 Pro but it didn’t make me want to switch back to an Android phone. I had been using the iPhone 12 Pro Max and in all honesty, the 13 Pro Max isn’t a huge update except for one thing… macro photography. This is a big deal to me since my iPhone is my one and only phone. I use it for all my review product photography, so I’ve been happy with that one particular improvement over last year’s phone.
  • Pitaka MagEZ Case 2 – I love Pitaka’s products and this case is a must-have for my super slippy iPhone. It’s not bulky and the matte texture adds just the right amount of grip.
  • Apple Watch Series 6 – Yes, I’m even wearing an Apple Watch these days and am enjoying it quite a bit. I started wearing the Apple Watch that was included with the Delta Trainer service that I reviewed earlier this year and then when the series 6 watches came out, I bought one mainly for the always-on display. I am really surprised by how much I love this watch!
  • ZIKE MagSafe charger – I was using the Logitech POWERED Pad 10W wireless charger and liked it just fine but after I reviewed the Zike, I liked it more due to the dual charger and adjustable angle so I’ve switched to it. [NEW]
  • Moshi 3-in-1 Universal USB Cable – Since switching to the iPhone from Android, I have been using this braided cable. I like it because it easily transforms from micro USB to USB-C to Lightning.

Computers and accessories:

  • TMobile Home Internet – After paying almost $400/mo. for over 10yrs, I finally found an alternative broadband solution with TMobile Home Internet. I’ve now been using this wireless internet router for over a year now and it’s great. For only $50/mo. I have unlimited internet. I get around 30mbps which might not sound crazy fast, but compared to the T1’s 1.5mbps, it’s a screecher! I can surf and stream, so I’ve been beyond happy.
  • Apple 13″ MacBook Pro M1 (2020) – I finally replaced my little 12″ MacBook with a brand new Apple silicon 13in MacBook Pro and love it. It’s so much faster than my previous laptop that I feel like I’m flying when I work and the battery life is amazing. Zero buyer’s regret.
  • Logitech MX Keys keyboard – This Logitech keyboard is nice and comfortable to type on. I also like that it has a dedicated delete key that works like a delete key on Windows but on my Mac.
  • Logitech MX Master 3– I use this wireless mouse at home with my 12inch MacBook when it’s docked to my BenQ monitor which has a built-in USB-C dock. I like that I can pair it with 3 different devices and I also like that the scroll wheel is super smooth.
  • Dell XPS 13″ laptop – I use this small Windows 10 laptop when I need to use Windows software which hasn’t happened in a very long time.
  • iPad Pro 11in (2021) – Yeah, I did it again. I bought another iPad Pro. I’m obviously insane because I keep buying one, try to find a way to fit it into my workflow, get frustrated, and sell it. This time, I’m just using it for fun stuff. Reading ebooks and comics and not pressuring myself to make it a laptop replacement.

Other office equipment:

    • Dell Ultrasharp curved 49in monitor –  This was one of my recent work from home upgrades. I had been using two BenQ monitors, one for my MacBook Pro and one for my Cummins day job Dell laptop. I decided to simply with this crazy huge monitor that can display both computers in side-by-side windows. It’s pretty awesome!
    • Brother HL-3170CDW laser printer – This is my first laser printer and so far I’m very happy with it. The print quality / speed are both excellent.

Photography gear:

  • Manfrotto tripod (not pictured) – I’m not sure if they still sell the one I have, but I’ve been happy with Manfrotto products.
  • SHOTBOX portable photography light box – This light box is GREAT. I love it and all the backdrops that make my review images look excellent.
  • MeFoto Sidekick360 Smartphone Tripod Adapter – I bought this tripod because I like to use my phone to record video clips demonstrating things for reviews. This small holder works great with my Manfrotto tripod and holds my phone securely.
  • MeFoto Backpacker Air tripod – I really like this tripod because it comes with everything I need to use for my smartphone. It can even be converted into a selfie stick.
  • Joby GorillaPod tripod – I like using this bendable tripod on my desk for Marco Polo sessions with my sister and niece.
  • Canvas Lamp – I kept seeing these ring light lamps advertised on my Facebook feed and ended up buying one. It’s well made and I think it will be useful for top-down review videos where I need to demonstrate how something works. [NEW]
  • A dedicated camera for YouTube videos – Looking for advice? [WANT]

Audio / video / home theater gear:

  • Samsung QN85 TV – I recently upgraded from the VIZIO V705x-H1 4K HDR Smart TV which was having all sorts of weird input problems. I can’t believe how great the Samsung is. The picture is AMAZING and so much better than the Vizio! It was expensive but I have zero buyer’s remorse.
  • ClearStream 2MAX antenna – After I cut the cord with DirecTV in January, I installed this antenna to bring in local stations for weather and news info. It works great.
  • Apple TV 4K – As a recent cord cutter, the Apple TV is a must-have for me. We have been streaming using apps like Apple TV+, Netflix, Hulu, ParamountTV, Philo, and Amazon Prime video.
  • Apple AirPods Pro earbuds – These are my first Apple AirPods and I am really loving them. They aren’t the most comfortable earbuds that I’ve used, but the noise-canceling feature and the fact that they pair perfectly with my iPhone and MacBook Pro make them so convenient to use.

Car gear:

I’ve pared down my car gear/gadgets to pretty much nothing lately but have plans to work on a new smartphone powered media setup as I did a few years ago.

Health gadgets and gear

  • Withings Sleep tracking mat – I’ve tried several sleep tracking devices and this one is the easiest and most comfortable because you don’t have to wear it or even charge it. It fits under your mattress to automatically track your sleep patterns.
  • HidrateSpark Pro water bottle – I’m really bad about drinking fluids during the day so I decided to gamify it with this water bottle that I bought for myself last Christmas. Review coming soon!
  • FreeStyle Libre CGM – I’ve been a pre-diabetic since 2004. I don’t take any medications for it and just use the Keto diet, regular exercise, and the FreeStyle Libre wearable glucose sensor. I am 100% sure that this sensor has helped me go from a 5.9 A1C to a 5.4.

Miscellaneous gear:

  • Midori 5th Anniversary TRAVELER’s Notebook – I reviewed this cover back in 2011 but didn’t continue to use it. Now over 10 years later, I’m using it again and loving it. [NEW]
  • Pilot Juice Up 0.4 gel pens – These are my latest favorite inexpensive gel ink pens. I use the black ones to write and draw in my journal every day.
  • Denik pocket notebooks – I really love these 3.5 x 5 inch pocket notebooks. The paper is bright white, and is available in dot grid (my favorite) and the Pilot Juice Up pens and other gel pen ink pops on the page.
  • Polaroid Hi-Print photo printer – I’m using this portable printer to print peel and stick pics for my journal. I like to take it with me when I travel to help me remember my adventures. The photo paper/stickers are more expensive than the HP Sprocket portable photo printer I was using before (and gave to my sister), but the quality is noticeably better!

Flashlights and other EDC tools:

  • Olight Warrior Mini Seasons flashlight – I was previously using an Olight S2R Baton flashlight and just recently switched over to this new one which I am enjoying because it has 2 switches. one in the tail and one on the grip. I also like that it’s rechargeable.
  • Coast LED Lenser LED Lantern (TT7105CP) – I used to grab this one whenever our power went out at home, but now that we have a whole house generator,  I rarely need it. It’s still using the original batteries which is crazy because I’ve had this lantern since 2007!
  • Gerber MP800 multi-tool – I reviewed this multi-tool back in 2003 and am still using it! I love it because it has spring loaded pliers and easy to extend Philips screwdriver. Those are the 2 most used tools. [NEW]

Gear bags, pouches, cases, wallets, and other items of holding:

  • Bolstr Small Carry 3.0 shoulder bag – This is the small shoulder bag that I like to use when I need more than the Bolstr Aux Pocket can hold. [UPDATE]
  • Bolstr Aux Pocket – I like this super minimal shoulder bag because it doesn’t get in the way while holding my bare essentials. It’s great for using while on vacation.
  • Pakt One Carry On Travel bag – My travel bag for road trips.
  • Open Sea Leather Topsider Mini wallet – I still like the AKEENi XSTO wallet (below), but I’ve switched to the Open Sea Leather wallet for now because I want to see how it wears (patinas) with time. [NEW]
  • AKEENi XSTO wallet – This is my new favorite minimalist wallet because it’s small, lightweight, and it’s easy to remove and reinsert cards. It also can hold several folded bills under the cards.

Outdoor gear:

  • OROS Discovery Jacket – I like this jacket because it’s comfortable and has a special lining that keeps you warm while still remaining lightweight.
  • Mujjo Touchscreen Gloves – I just upgraded to their 2018 gloves and love them because they are lightweight but still keep my hands warm while letting me interact with my phone.
  • RoboReel Power Cord System – Power driven retractable extension cord holder.
  • Litheli 40V leaf blower – I love this thing. It seems to hold a charge forever. [NEW]

Home and kitchen:

  • Roborock S5 Max robot vacuum – I used Neato Botvacs for years until I started reviewing Roborock vacs. Now I’m switching over to Roborocks because they work better. I use this one downstairs and manually run it 3 times a week. I can’t remember the last time I ran one of our other manual vacuums on the carpets and I hope to keep it that way!
  • Roborock S7 Max robot vacuum – I use this one upstairs and like the other Roborock, I run them manually instead of on a schedule because my older cat sometimes barfs on the floor in the middle of the night and I would not want the vac to run into that mess.
  • ChefWave Milkmade – This is my most used kitchen gadget right now. It can quickly and easily make almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, and more with absolutely no mess and only the ingredients that I want in it.
  • Snap Power SnapRays Guidelight – I have one of these outlet covers in my kitchen and one in the bathroom which provides just enough light to see to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to turn on the ceiling light. I like them so much that I kept it and put it back in the bathroom after we completely gutted it and remodeled it last fall.
  • SnapPower ConnectLight – I like these motion detection lights because they are incredibly easy to install and they are connected without using Bluetooth or WiFi. They are great for lighting a path to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • Airdog X5 air purifier – I really liked this air purifier because it’s quiet and it doesn’t require that you buy special filters. You can wash the collecting plates by hand or even in the dishwasher. Unfortunately, it died a week ago. [UPDATED]

My most used Apple apps:

  • Marco Polo – I’ve been using this app every single day to video chat with my sister and niece. It’s an awesome way to stay in touch.
  • Gmail – Duh!
  • Amazon Prime Music – I’ve gotten tired of the ads on Spotify, so I’ve been using Amazon a lot more to listen to music.
  • Netflix – I mainly use Netflix built into my smart TV, but every so often I watch some content on my phone.
  • Google Keep – Great little basic note and list making app that syncs across devices and allows for real-time collaboration. Jeanne and I use to collaborate on grocery lists.
  • LastPass Password Manager – I finally started using a password manager after the whole Equifax hack several weeks ago. I have it installed on all my devices and I’m wondering now what took me so long. I don’t even know my passwords anymore, but LastPass does. 🙂
  • OpenSignal – 4G and WiFi signal finder and speed test app.
  • Google Play Books – This is the app that I use to read all my eBooks.
  • Libby – I use Libby to check out eBooks and audiobooks from my local library.