My Favorite Products From 2020, Part 2
Here it is! Part two in my series, rounding up all of my favorite products that I discovered in 2020. If you haven’t read it yet, head on over to Part 1 to see how this whole thing got started.
So here we go…seven more products that I fell in love with in 2020! Starting with…home networking gear…wtf?
UniFi Dream Machine Pro
Check it out here: https://store.ui.com/
Who in the world could have imagined I could get excited about a router? It’s…a router. But that’s where I found myself pretty surprised and then later learning to deeply appreciate a great hardware/software combo for home networking. I picked this thing up in the fall of 2020, after nearly a year of struggles in getting my home network to work exactly as I’d wanted (reliably). With so much of my day being online, and with so many internet connected devices, I knew that I wanted reliability to be my north star for networking equipment.
When I put the ask out there about which brand or device I should be looking for there came only one response: Ubiquiti, and their UniFi Dream Machine Pro.
It’s set up for network cables, so you’ll still need to worry about WiFi separately. At home I've attached my Orbi WiFi in AP mode, but am soon swapping those out with the new WiFi 6 UniFi access points for greater reliability. All these years of getting force fed the "mesh networking is great!" rhetoric and all I really want is RJ45 outlets in every room, with access points throughout.
Back to UniFi…The software is perfectly laid out, with far more insight than you ever thought necessary about your home network. That's where Ubiquiti's offering really shines—in its deep, very Apple-like integration of hardware and software. The best thing about it so far for me? It. Just. Works. I have had very little to fuss with over it thus far, and I’ve got pretty fussy home network needs. This is highly recommended for anyone that wants to seriously level up their setup at home.
Fellow Ode Grinder
Check it out here: https://fellowproducts.com/
Like Agent Cooper, it's no secret that I'm a massive coffee nerd, and have been chasing the best cup I could brew at home for a long time. My go-to is a pour over each morning, and sometimes a second one (or iced coffee) in the afternoon. Grinding fresh is a must—anything less would be uncivilized. For years I've been relying on a trusty Baratza Vario to get the job done, but lately I also wanted to start experimenting with espresso a bit. Toggling between grind sizes would have been less-than-ideal. So while the Vario has done a fine job handling my pour over needs, when I saw Fellow launch their Kickstarter campaign for the Ode, I knew I had to give it a shot for my brewing needs.
The Ode is attractive, compact, and grinds with excellent consistency. It's not a particularly expensive grinder, and at $299 bests anything else in its class. The Ode's approach to grinding is no frills—there's no scale, no timer, everything you need and nothing that you don't.
For the things that I care most about—getting a consistent grind, easy to clean up, and capable of a variety of grind sizes for multiple brew methods—the Ode does a stellar job.
Check it out here: https://ember.com/
Continuing with the coffee theme, we have a bluetooth-controlled mug. Yes, you read that right. My mug has a freaking wireless connection and a battery. Why in the world could I possibly need this, let alone put it amongst my favorite products of 2020 you ask? Because it keeps my coffee hot…at exactly the temperature I like it…for as long as I’m sipping on it.
Is it excessive? Absolutely. Is it unnecessary? Most likely. Is it awesome? Yes 😎
For years I searched for the perfect thermal mug that would keep my beverage of choice hot for a long period of time, and I’d gotten pretty dang close to that with the Yeti Rambler 24oz mug. But after 30 or so minutes in the cup, my coffee was still getting cool.
So this year for Christmas, my folks got me this Ember mug and let me tell you, it’s been one hell of a quality-of-life upgrade. It’s the perfect companion for my morning routine of reading a book, some journaling, and catching up on things—and it keeps my coffee hot for the duration of the whole thing. It ain’t cheap, but man I love this thing.
Logitech Ergo K860
Check it out here: https://www.logitech.com/
Aside from my bed and phone, there are very few products that see as much contact by me as a keyboard. For a decade at least I've just stuck by my standard Apple Wireless Keyboard without question. That is, until I began to realize that as I've gotten older, my posture has worstened significantly. This even considers the fact that I stand at my desk most of the time, so while it still isn't as bad as it could be, I knew that it had to improve.
A long while ago I'd had a handful of Logitech keyboards that I'd liked, and they've always been pretty trustworthy. Checking out their new stuff was a logical direction. Their split key ergonomic keyboard seemed like just what the doctor ordered (ok, no actual doctor ordered it for me). Within just a few weeks of use, I noticed that my posture was improving—all because when I'm actively engaged with it, my chest opens up and my shoulders tilt back, vs. all hunching forward as before.
The keyboard layout can take a little bit of getting used to—and if you're not a touch typer, I'm sure it could be quite a challenge. But the little bit of extra effort required to get accustomed to it is well worth it for the sake of your health. Bonus points for all of the extra features it has—like the ability to connect to three different devices with quick-switch buttons.
Apple Magic Keyboard
Check it out here: https://www.apple.com/ipad-keyboards/
I've been a fan of my iPad (most recently 12.9" iPad Pro) ever since they came out. For a while it had been my primary computing device when away from my desk—and when the Magic Keyboard was announced it seemed like the perfect addition to my setup. It immediately elevated the iPad from a consumption-first device to creation-first.
Ever since then, I've used my iPad to write an absolute ton on. The Magic Keyboard feels great to type on, but it also sets up the iPad at a perfect viewing angle…something that was always a struggle with previous keyboards made for the iPad. That's all thanks to its unique hinge design, and magnetic attachment.
If you've got an iPad, but don't have a Magic Keyboard…what in the heck are you waiting for? Trust me…
Check it out here: http://fuser.com
I'll let the video above speak for how crazy this video game is. The premise is pretty simple: you get to put together stems of different songs together in just about any combination you can think of. Want to put together a rendition of "Take On Me" in a minor key with some "Bad Guy" vibes in the background? Well, that can happen.
Fuser is made by the same folks that brought you the original Guitar Hero, and later Rock Band. But they also made a little known interactive card game with Hasbro called Dropmix that was a ton of fun. Check out my little demo of that here. I was stoked when Harmonix demoed Fuser, which seemed like the best parts of Dropmix all put together in an even more extensive video game.
In a world full of stressful shooters and grindy role playing games, Fuser is a breath of fresh air. It takes a little bit to get the hang of it, but once you've given it a go a few times, it's just so hard to have anything short of a really fun time. The game is available on the Xbox, Playstation, and PC in all of the platforms' respective online stores.
Check it out here: https://egopowerplus.com/
Ok whatever, it's hard to get excited about a lawnmower. But here I found myself last year in need of a new one and had to do a bunch of research. All of my digging led me down the path of the Ego brand, and their 56V battery powered lawn care products. Specifically their Select Cut mower seemed to offer just as much as what gas could do—but with none of the nasty stuff that comes with using fossil fuels.
Simply put, mowing with this beast was a breeze all throughought the summer. Sometimes I got a little bit lazy, the grass got a little long, and this thing still powered through like a champ on a single charge. The best part was just how quiet it was—barely registering over 80dB while I drove it around. This meant that for a number of my lawn mowing sessions I actually popped my AirPods in and got to catch up on my podcasts, or even with a friend on the phone. To anyone on the other side it just sounded like a whir and a hum. Wild!
All told I'm excited to see where Ego goes next with their supercharged battery-powered tools—thinking after this two feet of snow we got the other day, I might have done well by their snow blower!
So there we have it…a little over a dozen products that were my favorites from 2020. It's a wide range of categories, and while still not comprehensive for everything that I found and love, does a good job of hitting the highlights.
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