It's that time of year again, when we perhaps stop thinking about all the cool things that we want, and consider those around us. As each year passes the technology around us continues to grow, become ever more popular, and enrich ever more lives. Perhaps, then, it's little surprise that the recent Black Friday sales saw such scenes of insanity as folks scrambled to grab hot items at low prices.
Of course, we're all big geeks at heart, really. So with that in mind and following on from the rest of the team, here's some of the tech – and the none-tech – I've been enjoying in 2014.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display - 13 inch
Still the same machine I was using last year, and likely the same one I'll carry on using throughout 2015 barring any technical issues. I'm 18 months in with the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and I can't imagine using any other laptop. The package is the best compromise of everything I enjoy about using a laptop. A gorgeous, high resolution display, compact and lightweight form factor and of course, OS X. With Yosemite now on board my MacBook Pro feels better than ever to use. Until Apple launches a Retina MacBook Air, I'll be sticking with this.
- From $1299 - Buy Now
The best iPhone ever. There, I said it. Not the 6 Plus, the regular 6. I've enough massive phones in my life through my work with the Android Central team here at Mobile Nations, but on the whole I'm not a fan. Sure, I like large displays, but since the iPhone is clinging to a physical home button thus adding extra size top and bottom, the 6 Plus was a non-starter for me. The iPhone 6 however is pretty much the perfect size and form factor for me.
I love that I've been able to get it in gold this year, and I love that 64GB is the new 32GB. I love the display, the camera is superb and honestly, the battery life isn't too bad, either. I always carry two phones (professional hazard) and one of them will always be the iPhone 6. At least until next September, anyway...
- From $199 (on contract)/$649 (unlocked) - Buy Now
Software and Services
Adobe Creative Cloud
The reason I never used to use Photoshop is because of the high purchase price. It's an incredible piece of software – capable of retrieving something from even my awful photography – and thanks to Creative Cloud can be had for a reasonable monthly subscription. The photography package to which I subscribe is $9.99 a month with Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 included for that. And as they get updated, I get updated, so long as I keep paying.
And now of course CC subscribers get access to Lightroom Mobile on iPhone and iPad as well as a bunch of other Adobe applications. Not reason enough on their own to subscribe, but a definite added bonus.
- From $9.99 a month - Buy Now
I'm always looking for ways to help be more productive and this year I've jumped right onto the Todoist train and haven't looked back. While the app is free to download and use, you get so much more from it by paying for a Premium subscription. Besides being a particularly powerful task manager, Todoist plugs into other popular platforms such as IFTTT and Sunrise Calendar, and has apps available for virtually every single platform you could want one on. Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Chrome, Firefox, the list goes on.
Spend a little, gain a lot.
- Free (Premium subscription $24.99 a year) - Download Now for iOS
- Free (Premium subscription $24.99 a year) - Download Now for Mac
Product (RED) iPhone 6 leather case
I had the official Apple Product (RED) iPhone case for the iPhone 5s last year and immediately knew that this year would be the same with my new iPhone 6. I picked it up on launch morning and my iPhone 6 has rarely been out of it. I actually enjoy the extra texture and slight extra thickness for added grip all round, and I think it just looks fantastic. Sure, it doesn't age particularly well, but my iPhone is safe and secure while looking good at the same time.
- $45.00 - Buy Now
With the amount of support available for iOS applications, Google Chromecast is a fantastic impulse buy or stocking stuffer. Recent Black Friday madness in the UK dropped it as low as £18, but even at the regular price it's a lot of functionality for not a lot of money. Popular apps such as YouTube and Netflix have support built in, and importantly here in the UK it can be used to watch local TV content – looking squarely at you, Apple TV.
- $32.00 - Buy Now
More commonly discussed by our good buddies over at Windows Central, the Xbox One is the choice I made when I finally jumped into the new generation of consoles. After owning each of the major consoles in the past since the days of the first Playstation, the Xbox had always made way for Sony's offering ultimately. So it'd be accurate to say that I'd surprised myself a little in buying an Xbox One, but I think I made the right choice.
For me, it came down to the games. With the likes of Forza, Halo and Sunset Overdrive available as exclusives to Microsoft's console, what was on offer felt more exciting to me than the titles that are exclusive to the PS4. But that's just me. There are some great deals available on an Xbox One right now, and honestly, if you've been on the fence it's certainly worth consideration.
- From $329.99 - Buy Now
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare special edition Xbox One controller
To go with that Xbox One, how about this awesome looking controller released to tie in with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare? Besides a fancy new paint job there's nothing else to say about it. You get some downloadable content for the multiplayer game, but it's all down to the looks. And it looks so much better than the boring old standard ones.
- $69.99 - Buy Now
Samsung NX3000 camera
I've literally just bought into the Samsung NX ecosystem and already I'm super impressed. My plans for having a DSLR in my life again never quite panned out and honestly, I'm bored of carrying it around at events. The Samsung NX3000 is a mirrorless camera, so you get many features you'd find on a DSLR, including interchangeable lenses, but in a much smaller package.
The NX3000 houses a 20.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor – frankly a little over my head – WiFi connectivity and a whole host of shooting modes for the beginner and more advanced shooters alike. Samsung has a decent range of lenses available, and if early photos are anything to go by, this is a very capable little camera. And it recently got reduced to under £200 in the UK as part of the recent (and rampant) Black Friday time sales which sweetens the deal even further.
- $449 - Buy Now
Lego business card holder
Rene isn't the only fan of Lego on the iMore team, though he probably has a lot more space to play with than I do. But, that hasn't stopped me stumbling across this fantastic item, which truth told, I'm waiting on being delivered right now. I've been looking for a better solution to store my business cards than just tossing them all in my desk drawer. While browsing the Lego online store this just sort of jumped out at me. Not going to be for everyone, but it's going to brighten up my desk for a long time to come!
- $11.98 - Buy Now
There's a time for digital notes and I'm increasingly finding there's plenty of time to write the old fashioned way. I've actually got a reasonably hefty stash of notebooks lying around right now for different purposes, but for pocketability you just can't beat a Field Notes. These little notebooks still have a cult following, and the special editions are still coming every quarter. A Colors subscription would make a great gift for the writer in your life this holiday season, for sure, as would any number of the special editions that are out there.
I'm particularly fond of the limited run of XOXO 2014 edition notebooks that are purposely full of errors. Probably won't use those, but the rest are waiting to be filled up. I mean, a notebook is made for writing in, right?
- $97.00 (1 year subscription)/$9.99 per pack - Buy Now