The ZDNet team reveals their essential tech buys, favorite gadgets

What do tech bloggers say when asked what their favorite, essential and most useful gadgets and tech products are? The answers from the team at ZDNet may surprise you.
By Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
1 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Ed Bott: Logitech Harmony remote control


Ed Bott, ZDNet contributor, award-winning technology writer and Microsoft expert said:

This certainly isn't a business tool, but it's an essential gadget for sure.

The Logitech Harmony remote control.

I've owned a couple of these. The current one I have is about five years old and just keeps plugging away.

The easiest way to explain it is that this device saves marriages.

You use a web configuration utility to set up your home theater, XBox, cable box, Apple TV, and other audio/video equipment. And then you put all the individual remote controls in a drawer and you use a single remote that actually controls everything, intelligently. It doesn’t take a lot of tech knowledge to program it, and it takes no tech knowledge to use it. Perfect for mixed marriages (one's a gearhead, the other's not) and for houseguests.

I can't imagine going back to needing two or three separate remotes.

Product: Logitech Harmony remote control

Blog: The Ed Bott Report

2 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Larry Seltzer: Panasonic cordless phones


Larry Seltzer, ZDNet contributor and security expert said:

We got a new set of Panasonic cordless phones recently, and you can pair two cell phones with the base station, so that when a call (or text!) comes in to the cell phones it’s reflected out to the cordless phones. As a result, we can leave our cell phones in one spot near the base station to charge and then pick up calls to them just about anywhere in the house.

We have a landline, but I hear people often use these sets to go all-cellular.

Product: Panasonic cordless phones

Blog: Zero Day

3 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

David Grober: iPod Shuffle


David Grober, senior ZDNet editor said:

My favorite is an eight-year old iPod Shuffle that my kids gave me for Christmas. It's accompanied me on thousands of miles of bicycling, running and gym workouts. 

Product: iPod Shuffle

4 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Chromebook Pixel


Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet contributor said:

When I first heard about the Chromebook Pixel, I thought "$1,399 for a Chrome OS-powered laptop with wifi and 4G!? That's way too much!" Then, Google sent me a review copy. 

Weeks went by. I returned it. I ordered one of my own.  Yes, it's pricey, but oh that gorgeous screen! That blazingly fast zero to up-and-running boot time! After years, decades, of being a hardcore ThinkPad user, my Pixel has now become my every day laptop.

Product: Chromebook Pixel

Blog: Networking | Linux and Open Source

5 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Charlie Osborne: Google Chromecast


Charlie Osborne, ZDNet contributor and freelance photographer said:

The Chromecast is one of my favorite purchases this year. It's a cheap dongle that you plug into the HDMI port at the back of your television — and then you can connect your mobile device to the set in order to stream content, from Netflix to YouTube videos. I like it because of the quick streaming and ease of use, and for £30, you can't really ask for much more. 

Product: Google Chromecast

Blog: Between the Lines | Zero Day | iGeneration

6 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Matt Baxter-Reynolds: GPS-related products


Matt Baxter-Reynolds, ZDNet contributor said:

GPS. It removes stress. If in the car I never have to worry about directions or finding my way. If I'm on foot, I always know where I'm going, and if I need something ad hoc (dinner, etc) I can just find it out.

Blog: Post-PC developments

7 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-1000


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet contributor and published technology author said:

Something different: The Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-1000

I know, I know, it's old-fashioned to wear a watch and I'm supposed to use my iPhone or something, but the Froggie is tougher than any smartphone I've owned — heck, it's way tougher than I am! It takes bumps and bangs and scrapes and serious soakings in its stride. It's solar powered so I never worry about having to wind it or change a battery, and it features radio-signal interception so it's always accurate to the second. On top of that, it's packed with easy to use alarms and timers, not to mention a moon and tide graph that comes in handy when out and about taking photographs.

Product: Casio G-Shock Frogman GWF-1000

Blog: Hardware 2.0

8 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Tammy Cavadias: Logitech Trackman Marble FX


Tammy Cavadias, Marketing and Sales Associate with parent company CBS said:

My Logitech Trackman Marble FX. I bought it back in 1997 when it first came out, 17.5 yrs later, while the lettering has faded from years of use,  it is still going strong. How many devices/gadgets can you say that about nowadays? I love this device as it has saved my wrists from hours per day (10-12) spent on a computer. I also love this device as it has been with me for almost as long as I have been at ZDNet (18.5 yrs), making it my oldest and dearest work partner.

Product: Logitech Trackman Marble FX

9 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

James Kendrick: Citizen Nighthawk


James Kendrick, ZDNet contributor and mobile technology expert said:

For me it's the Citizen Nighthawk watch I got last year. The eco drive system is fully solar — no batteries nor rewinding ever. It can store a full charge in the dark for six months and not run dry. I love that a solar watch is even feasible, much less that it works great in practice.

Product: Citizen Nighthawk

Blog: Mobile News

10 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

David Gewirtz: 2013 Dodge Challenger RT


David Gewirtz, ZDNet government blogger, lecturer and author said:

My 2013 Dodge Challenger RT with go-fast stripes and hood scoop. It's all show and all go, plus you never find one parked outside a therapist’s office. Around town, it's a luxury sedan, but on the open road it is an absolutely untamed beast of a muscle car.

The thing comes equipped with a pile of tech. The windows even open slightly as you close the doors and then close again automatically. In addition to zero-to-oh-my-god-we’re-all-gonna-die acceleration in "normal" mode, the car has a little button that turns on "sport" mode and "race" mode. Sport mode is incredibly fast and turns off the extra computer-controlled handling, while no one other than the Stig should turn on race mode.

Product: 2013 Dodge Challenger RT

Blog: ZDNet Government | DIY-IT

11 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Matthew Miller: Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display


Matthew Miller, ZDNet contributor and mobile expert said:

As a mobile guy, I have a lot of gear with me daily. However, one that serves several purposes and never lets me down is my Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display. I am not an iPhone user, but for a small tablet the iPad Mini with Retina display can't be beat. There are actually thousands of tablet-optimized apps, unlike what you find on Android, and I regularly use my iPad to watch movies and TV shows from Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, watch live Final Four and World Cup sporting events, manage my daily life, write articles for ZDNet, play games, and more.

I bought the Verizon LTE version so I can get data coverage when my T-Mobile phone lets me down. I then share this as my iPad Mini serves as a wifi hotspot with a very long battery life. It is one of the only mobile devices I haven't considered getting rid of and it is nearly perfect for me.

Product: iPad Mini with Retina Display

Blog: The Mobile Gadgeteer | Smartphones and Cell Phones 

12 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Jason Perlow: Nokia Lumia 1520, TiVo Roamio


Jason Perlow, Senior technology editor for ZDNet and food blogger said:

My Nokia Lumia 1520. The Ultimate "Big Phone", for a big dude, with big hands, and with crappy eyesight. Windows Phone 8.1 is already great for making use of smartphone screen real estate and the 6-inch display on the 1520 really makes a tremendous difference, particularly with the large fonts on the big live tiles. No more squinting at tiny fonts and tiny icons! Also, being the foodie that I am, I love the 20MP Pureview camera for taking amazing food photos. And no phone platform on the market beats it for Microsoft Exchange integration when I have to get down to business.

In addition, my TiVo Roamio, with the Winegard Flatwave Amplified HDTV antenna. After I got tired of the cable company charging me exorbitant fees for subscriber television, I decided to "cut the cord". With the TiVo, I barely miss cable TV, as it has built-in support for Hulu+, Amazon Video and Netflix using my broadband internet connection. Winegard's flatwave antenna, which is thin as a place mat and can be hung on the wall discretely behind a picture frame, allows the TiVo to receive dozens of crystal-clear HDTV, over-the-air broadcast channels, so I don't miss my favorite shows.

Products: Nokia Lumia 1520 |  TiVo Roamio, Winegard Amplified HDTV antenna

Blog: Tech Broiler

13 of 13 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Zack Whittaker: MacBook Air


Zack Whittaker, ZDNet editor and criminologist said:

After more than a decade of using Windows, I switched to a MacBook Air in 2011 for no actual good reason. It only became clear after a month of using it that it was the best notebook I've ever used. It's light, durable, and the perfect size to fit in my bag. With the exception of a minor three-day repair job after a year of heavy use, it remains the best notebook I have ever used.

Product: MacBook Air

Blog: Between the Lines

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