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Upgrade your tech game

It’s a good idea to update your tech on a regular — though preferably non-obsessive — basis. Here’s why.

Using outdated tech can mean that you potentially work slower or less efficiently, have more limited access to newer apps or have to delete necessary files to keep up with normal work flow. Using an old phone might make your boss think you’re out of touch, or uninterested in moving forward. Not always, but if you work in a tech or trend conscious industry, you probably should start thinking of your next big tech investment.

Here are some ideas of tech toys and tools that will help you work or improve your work/life balance. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point. In no particular order:

An evolved smartphone

Since the iPhone isn’t the only way to go, a great way to decide on new phone would be to consider your specific needs or current trends. I’ve tested out some of the newest launches and these are two of my top picks:

  • We all have a Blackberry lover in our lives (stares meaningfully at my relative who shall remain nameless) who insists on staying loyal to the brand because of what’s said to be a more secure network and an actual keyboard. With the new retro trend in phones, the Blackberry KEYone honors its business intensive past, while still providing a marvel of both design and function. It runs on Android, so there’s no need for a separate plan or network. The KEYone also has a powerhouse, all day battery, both a physical keyboard and touch screen functionality, and a gorgeous, sleek look that won’t make users seem out of touch.
  • If creating video has become a large part of your personal or professional life, a phone that allows you to shoot, edit and share should be part of your toolbox. The LG V30 dazzles with its video and photo capabilities. The camera has an F/1.6 glass lens which allows for more light to seep into each shot, so low-light is less of an issue and colors really pop. There are also 16 video presets which means that instead of using a filter that can distort your work, quality is preserved. There’s also a nifty zoom feature which zeroes in anywhere in the frame, something I haven’t seen often in smartphones.

A more sophisticated laptop

It’s entirely possible that you’ll stick with your workhorse computer for another five years, but if you look at some of the new offerings, you’ll notice upgrades include everything from a speedier experience, to a more comfortable keyboard and overall usage experience. I’ve been testing out the Microsoft Surface Pro laptop for a few months now and it’s fast become my go-to computer for on-the-go/presentations and any place I need a mobile (stylish) workstation. One thing to note though, it can blip out when you put it to sleep, so don’t panic if you think you’re facing the black screen of (computer) death; either shut if off after each use, or press and hold the volume-up button and the power button at the same time for at least 15 seconds and then release both and you’ll be back in business.

 

Affordable VR

What if I told you that the newest and best VR option was also incredibly affordable? Google Daydream View isn’t awkwardly heavy, so you won’t be so distracted by the weight that you lose track of the coolness of ostensibly experiencing what you’re only seeing. It’s designed so that glasses wearers can find a comfortable fit and is dummy proof — even for absolute beginners.

Clean up your act

What once may have seemed like an excessive luxury, can now be a tool to save you time and stress.

  • The LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ is one of the most beautifully designed robot vacuums out there, it’s also one of the priciest, but it does have numerous features and extras. There are several cleaning directions available along with a spot cleaning function. It also remembers your last 20 cleans, so you’ll know if you’ve missed anything. There’s also an app, so if you want, you can set the vac to clean up while you’re still at work. There’s also a mobile security camera, so you can keep an eye on Fido or the nanny.
  • Meanwhile, at the other end of the spendy spectrum, Monoprice has an excellent contender Strata Home Smartvac 2.0 on the market that costs a fraction of the price. There are fewer bells and whistles, and the voice reminders are decidedly robotic, but it’s a great way to treat yourself without breaking the bank.

Better than a screen

Instead of buying a smart TV, consider an investment in a smarter visual presentation and entertainment experience.

  • Epson Home Cinema 1060 1080p 3LCD Projector is fairly portable and extremely easy to connect, set up and use. Use it at home and you have more of a movie theater experience with images that seem more clear and brighter. Connect Blu-Ray, gaming, streaming and pretty much anything else that provides at-home entertainment, but you can also use it for your next meeting. So instead of painfully struggling to set up your laptop and PowerPoint setup, you can create a better experience. Bonus — the speakers are built in, so sound won’t lag, but if you’re screening a movie, you might want to set up your own sound system.
  • A newer kid on the block is PIQS Projector by Butterfly Technology which has a smaller footprint and is easier to travel with. Connect with your mobile phone or tablet while making a presentation.

Shine some light

Working long hours means you can sometimes come home to a pitch-black apartment. I’m not quite sure how I lived before setting up my Philip’s Hue Smarter Lighting which can also act as a dimmer and mood setter. Also notable are Lutron’s Caseta Wireless and Hive home smarter lighting packages which also let you control the A/C and monitor your doors and windows for movement while you’re out burning the midnight oil.

Almost Instant Gratification

While it’s not technically a tech toy, the newest generation of Instant Pot can be operated via app and Wi-Fi. This 6-quart version of the cult speedy pressure cooker and six in one cooker (It makes yogurt! And rice! Even chili!) allows you to become part of the national Instant Pot obsession, eat smarter and healthier, and set things from your phone — so you can walk in to a hot and healthy meal.

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Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.