Most useful gadgets of 2019

Usually these end of year gadget listings are dominated by expensive items such as smartphones and monster desktop PCs. This listing is different.

Neither the fanciest nor the cheapest: The most useful gadgets of 2019

I wanted to end 2019 a bit differently. Rather than regurgitate a list of "best smartphones" or "best processors" or whatever happened to be released this year, I wanted to compile a list of things that I found the most useful during 2019. 

Some things are cheap, others not so cheap, but everything here are things I have personally tested and put through their paces and not only found useful, but indispensable.

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20-PIN USB-C MAGNETIC BREAKAWAY CONNECTOR FOR $45

Bring the convenience and safety of the old MagSafe connectors to your new MacBook, or for that matter, any USB-C-equipped device. 

Why I like this:

While I was initially somewhat wary of this gadget, it has saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repairs and new MacBooks by preventing me from dragging my expensive yet fragile laptop to the ground through my occasional chimp-like clumsiness. 

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YUBICO YUBIKEY 5 NFC FOR $45

Hardware-based two-factor authentication is the perfect way to secure your digital life, and authentication keys don't come any better than Yubico hardware.

The YubiKey 5 NFC is FIDO certified and works with Google Chrome and any FIDO-compliant application on Windows, MacOS, or Linux.

Why I like it:

It's allowed me to secure my various online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, LastPass, and such, eliminating the need for clumsy and potentially insecure SMS-based two-factor verification. 

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TILE ESSENTIALS PACK FOR $49

Keep track of everything, from your wallet to your keys, and even your TV remote control with this four-pack of Tile Bluetooth trackers. A great way to eliminate the stress of misplaced items!

Why I like it:

Not only does having a Tile in my bag or wallet offer peace of mind, but it also gives me a quick and easy way to make sure I've not misplaced anything during my travels.

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TRAYVAX ORIGINAL 2.0 METAL WALLET FOR $34

I used to be skeptical of "modern" wallets, but after going through what must have been my twelfth in as many years, I decided to give the Trayvax wallet ago. Not only is the wallet far more robust, and much easier to organize, but I also carry around far less junk and detritus in it.

Why I like it:

I now only carry around the cards and money I need, and no longer randomly throw junk into my wallet.
And the money clip on the back is perfect for banknotes and is far quicker and more convenient to use than a traditional folding wallet.

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ZENDURE SUPERTANK USB-C PORTABLE CHARGER FOR $192

Not the smallest -- it measures 4.7- by 2.9- by 1.6-inches. Not the lightest -- it weighs in at a hefty 17.6 ounces. Not the cheapest -- the retail price is $191.99. But if you travel with a laptop, or you carry several devices around with you, this is the best portable power bank I've tested.

Why I like it:

This single power bank can keep everything else I carry with me - from my MacBook to my earbuds - charged up and ready for work (or play).

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FIBERGLASS SCRATCH BRUSH FOR $7

Gone are the days of using a screwdriver or knife to scrape corrosion off battery terminals. The fiberglass scratch brush makes short work of cleaning electrical terminals that have corroded as a result of leaky batteries.  

Why I like it:

This cheap item has helped me repair thousands - if not tens of thousands - of dollars worth of gadgets. Truly is a brilliant bit of kit. A must for any repair kit!

NOCO GB150

NOCO CAR JUMP STARTERS FOR $300

Like a power bank, but for your car, and with the added benefit that you can use it as a power bank for your devices.

Why I like it:

A handy emergency power bank to keep in the trunk that is handy for getting me - or someone else - out of a jam. 

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SOUNDCORE LIBERTY 2 PRO FOR $150

These are premium earbuds that give other high-end brands a run for their money.

Why I like it: 

Not only is the audio quality simply excellent, but they are comfortable, have a long battery life (the buds have 8 hours of battery life, the charging case taking that up to 32 hours, and the case can be recharged using either USB-C or a Qi-certified charger). They have a fast-charge feature (10 minutes in the case gives them 2 hours of charge).

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PORTAPOW USB DATA BLOCKER FOR $12

If you must use public USB charging points, use a USB condom to protect your device from malware and unauthorized access. Just plug it in, and you're protected!

Why I like it:

It gives me additional peace of mind when using chargers that aren't my own.  

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AMAZON KINDLE PAPERWHITE FOR $90

Amazon's efforts at making an e-reader that looks and feels like a paperback book. 

Why I like it:

Yes, you can read ebooks on smartphones and tablets, but nothing beats the Kindle Paperwhite for a distraction-free experience that comes close to reading words off a page. The newer Kindle Paperwhite devices have fantastic battery life, masses of capacity, and is even waterproof (so you can read in the bath or pool!).