Best Tech of 2014

2014 was a big year for me. I started writing more. I wrote a few stories and reviews that were noticed, which was awesome. What drives me to write is simple: I love consumer technology. I especially love to find out why people use the devices they use. Looking back at 2014, this is the technology that I loved using the most.

SMARTPHONES

2014 was another year of great smartphones. OnePlus rose out of nowhere and made one of the best phones of the year. Motorola made not one, not two, but three fantastic phones in the Moto G, Moto X, and Nexus 6.

THE ONEPLUS ONE

Goodness gracious. This was easily one of my favorite phones I have ever used. Looking at the hardware, the software, and the camera; it’s clear to see this was a great phone. Then you proceed to look at the price. There is no better phone for the money. The big problem still exists though. The fact that you still cannot buy one conventionally(I get invites often, so be sure to follow me!). Hopefully that gets sorted out a little better with the OnePlus Two.

oneplus-one

PRICE: $349

THE MOTO X

Motorola is the phone company that could. My first phone was a Motorola. The first dual core smartphone was a Motorola. Somehow, someway, they went astray. Once they were aqcuired by Google, everything changed. The Moto X was the best phone of 2013. 2014’s Moto X was so close to being great for almost everyone. In my experiences, the camera and battery tended to be sub-par. But regardless, the Moto X is the Android device for almost everyone. Potential Apple converts take note.

moto x

PRICE: STARTING AT $99

THE NEXUS 6

Even though I’m not finished reviewing the Nexus 6, most of my opinions are solidified about it. It’s a large device, it’s a beautiful device, it’s a confusing device. The Nexus 6 is Google’s official foray into the mainstream smartphone competition. It has great hardware, Lollipop is gorgeous and immensely refined, and the camera is fantastic(almost always). Google has a clear winner here. Now if only they could keep them in stock.

Nexus 6

PRICE: $649.00

TABLETS

Two of my last four smartphones have been considered “phablets”.

Studies have shown that the larger the phone screen, the less use your tablet sees. This has been true in my usage, too. I like my Nexus 9, but I don’t love it. Tablets have essentially plateaued in advancement and adoption. This year, tablets have been quite boring. Apple’s iPad Air 2 is the best iPad ever. Which clearly means it’s the best tablet of the year. The best small tablet is either the 2013 Nexus 7 or last years iPad Mini 2. Not an interesting year for tablets.

SMART ACCESSORIES

Every year that passes is supposed to be the year of the wearables. I can assure you that Apple’s iWatch won’t revolutionize the industry. Android Wear won’t have an update next year to change everything either. Pebble won’t make a gargantuan leap forward. Smartwatches will slowly evolve and adapt to our needs as time goes on. But they will not take the market by storm like smartphones and tablets have. Because as it stands, Smartwatches are still unnecessary.

MOTO 360

This is it. This is king of Android Wear. I planned to buy most of the Android Wear lineup to review. But once I started using my Moto 360. As a consumer, I could not justify it. I did not need to look any further than the Moto 360. It has one to two day battery life, a heart rate monitor, and a gorgeous modern design. If you want an Android Wear Smartwatch, you get a Moto 360.

moto 360

PRICE: $249.00

GAMING

I’m not a huge gamer, but when I do game, I’m very particular about how I spend my time.

NINTENDO 3DSXL

Some say mobile game consoles are dead. I tell them to look at the Nintendo 3DS. The 3DS released in 2011, and much like the DS before it, has had multiple incremental updates and iterations. The Nintendo 3DSXL is one of the best handhelds I’ve ever used. The 3DS library has slowly grown into a stunning catalog. I find it hard to keep just six games with me at a time(all my case will hold). With strong titles like Super Smash Bros and Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire being released this year, Nintendo still has quite the head of steam.

pokemon

PRICE: $196

WII U

Continuing on the love for Nintendo with the Wii U. I thought the Wii U was awful when it first released. Whenever the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were announced, I chose to feasibly weigh all my options. Games I would play being the deciding factor. The Wii U won 8–2–2. It’s easily the best $300 I’ve spent this year. With The Legend of Zelda: The WindWaker HD, Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, and now Super Smash Bros. The Wii U has a catalog that is more fun than any I’ve played in recent memory. Nintendo makes games that are fun for all.

PRICE: $399

ACCESSORIES

I’m a huge fan of accessories. I’m always on the move, so mobile conscious accessories are a must for me. Not all accessories have to be mobile, though.

TIMBUK2 COMMUTE CUSTOM MESSENGER

If you haven’t heard of Timbuk2, you are missing out. The Commute has so many different pockets of different shapes and sizes. Perfect for all my cords, wall warts, and gadgets. I customized mine to set it apart from the rest. The best part about the Commute is that it’s also TSA friendly.

timbuk2

PRICE: $119

COOLER MASTER JAS MINI

I found this awesome stand through LinusTechTips. First off, if you don’t know LinusTechTips and you have any interest in PCs at all. You HAVE to subscribe to them. Absolutely top notch videos and information.

I found this on the fourth episode of their “Handy Tech Under $100” series. It’s a simple, relatively cheap mobile device stand. The legs scissor for different angles of use. The stand is also pretty to look at. I love using mine in the kitchen while I’m cooking. Or in my office to use my tablet as a second(or third) screen.

master-jas

PRICE: $26.74

ANKER 36W 4 PORT TRAVEL CHARGER

When I travel, I usually carry two phones, a tablet, my laptop, my 3DS or Vita, and my camera. So every outlet counts. The Anker 4 Port Travel Charger lets me charge four USB devices off one outlet. The brick is thin enough and not too heavy. It also has designated ports for Android and Apple devices. Anker has long had fantastic products at a great price. If you travel, it’s definitely worth picking up.

anker

PRICE: $19.99

APPS

There have been some great apps in 2014, some paid some free. I tend to keep my devices pretty slim when it comes to apps. But here are the ones I particularly enjoyed.

PAID

GOAT SIMULATOR

Judge me if you want, but I love Goat Simulator on PC. I was a day one buyer of the Android version and have not regretted it one bit.

goat-simulator

PRICE: $4.99

MONUMENT VALLEY

This is such a gorgeous game. Well worth the price for the original game and the DLC. It’s a “get the character from point A to B by manipulating the environment” style game. What sets Monument Valley apart, however, is how every level has the potential to be your next wallpaper.

monument valley

PRICE: $3.99

THREES!

I’ll be honest, I no longer have this game installed on my phone, just my tablet. The reasoning being, I would be incredibly antisocial if the game was in my pocket at all times. Combine blue 1 tiles with red/pink 2 tiles to make Threes. Combine Threes to make Sixes, so on and so forth.

threes

PRICE: $1.99

LINK BUBBLE PRO

Developer Chris Lacy is great at what he does. He took inspiration from Facebook’s Chatheads and created a fantastic bubble browser. It’s regularly updated and he is super receptive and personable to his users. Great app, and an even better dev.

link-bubble-pro

PRICE: $3.99

NOVA LAUNCHER PRIME

I love Nova Launcher because I like to organize folders and tabs to my liking for my apps. With the ability to back up configurations to the cloud, switching devices is so easy with Nova.

nova-launcher-prime

PRICE: $4.00

REDDIT NEWS PRO

This Reddit News app is chock full of Material Design. It’s super gorgeous and fluid. Perfect for any redditor.

reddit-news-pro

PRICE: $1.99

GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC ALL ACCESS

I still buy all of my music through iTunes. But Google Play Music allows me to push my entire iTunes library to their cloud. I snagged the $7.99/mo special on launch day and haven’t looked back.

google-play-all-access

PRICE: $9.99/MO

Free

STRAVA

I’m a runner. I’m connected. Strava lets you connect with other runners, have real time updates on your mileage and pacing, and compete in challenges. It is compatible with Android Wear and Google Glass, too. Having recently added Google Fit integration, it is a mainstay for me above all other running apps.

strava

PRICE: FREE

IFTTT

The service for the internet of things. IFTTT(If This, Then That) can connect to a giant pile of web services and web connected gadgets. The app is polished and lets you create Android-specific recipes, too.

ifttt

PRICE: FREE

CHROME REMOTE DESKTOP

If I ever need to access my desktop from afar, this is the easiest way to do so. It’s free, too.

chrome-remote

PRICE: FREE

OTHER FUN STUFF

There have been some great non-tech related goodies I’ve found this year. Some are within my niche interests such as photography, running, or coffee. Others are just plain awesome.

LOOT CRATE

These curated boxes full of geeky goodness are one of the highlights of my month. Every month, there is a different theme(such as fight, battle, galactic). They then get some great little trinkets that coincide with that theme.

PRICE: $13.37/MO

ABLE BREWING CO.

The guys over at Able Brewing love coffee. They love coffee tech, too. Having created their own brewing system with the Kone, and creating reusable filters for both the AeroPress and Chemex. They are some of the best in the business.

LEARN MORE

Now. Here’s where it gets fun. I have a poll that’s live on Google+ that lists my five favorite items on this list that are under $200. The one with the most votes will be given away at random to one lucky follower of mine! The only catch? You have to vote and reshare the poll. Happy Holidays to everyone!

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