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Staff Picks: 8 things Chris Thomas uses every day

Here at Android Authority, we have a diverse staff. We come from all over the world and we use all kinds of technology. The Staff Picks series shows you what tech we use for work, play, and health.


Hello, I’m Chris Thomas, and I’m the Executive Editor of Android Authority’s, uh, sister site SoundGuys. As I’m a bit older than most of the staff here, I don’t go chasing the latest and greatest gadgets all the time, simply because I take great joy in working with my hands; and while I do spend my fair share of dough on items, it’s usually for something that’ll last. I suspect that more than a few of you are looking to do the same, so I was asked to walk through a few of my daily drivers.

Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM2 and Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet ANC

Sure, they’re a few years old, but the Sony WH-1000XM2 I own still work very well. Battery life is enough to get me from Vancouver to home (Boston) and back, and they perform nearly identically to the newer WH-1000XM3 that we know and love here. While the discounts for this particular model are attractive, you may find the microUSB port annoying. I don’t really mind it so much, but it is a pain to have to search for a suitable cable whenever I need to top off.

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But what if you have kids? Well, in traveling with a young child, I like the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet ANC headphones because they do a really good job at mitigating airplane noise for the smaller techies out there. My daughter loves it because not only do her ears not hurt from the loudness of airplane engines, but also because we can play her bedtime playlist while we’re in the air. She’s flown with us cross-continent a few times so far, and each time she’s been completely cry-free (at least, when she’s not trying to tell us something).

Coffee

Coffee is extremely important to me, and more than a few staff members have been known to receive packages of Chris Thomas-roasted beans on occasion. But you don’t really need a lot of money to get good coffee, hot or cold.

Cold brew

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For good cold brew, you don’t need to get a fancy cold brew maker or even a french press. All you need is a Rubbermaid pitcher, a nut milk bag, and cheap grounds because the cold brewing process doesn’t extract the same compounds as the hot brewing process does. Because it also uses far more coffee to water—and the fact that it’s far more forgiving of crappy beans—you should never spend too much on coffee for cold brew. Coming in at maybe $30-40 for a whole cold brew setup with a 1 gallon capacity, this is the way I fuel my mornings in the summer.

Just put 175 grams (about 2 cups) of coarsely-ground coffee into the bag, put the bag in the pitcher, and fill with water. Make sure the grounds are all wet by moving the bag up and down a few times, stuff it in the fridge, and you’ll have a gallon (just under 4L) of serviceable cold brew in 18-24 hours. Can’t mess it up!

“Good” coffee

The more snobbish among us lift noses at cold brew because it works pretty well with, uh, near garbage quality coffee beans. However, if you want good coffee in the morning, one machine isn’t going to get you there (looking at you, Keurig). You need good beans, and a good grinder. For that reason, when I grind my own roasts, I use a Capresso Infinity conical burr grinder. A lot of people swear by Baratza options, but the one I’ve selected here is easier to clean, cheaper, and still very consistent.

Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

I was really rooting for the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus to win our awards this year, but it got edged out by the most razor-thin of margins (0.02%). Oh well, it still won my dollar.

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Because of my job at SoundGuys, I absolutely cannot afford to have a phone without a headphone jack while headphones are still being made with said connector. It’s a non-negotiable feature of any phone I buy, so when I saw the S10 Plus still had one: I opted to shell out for the 128GB model.

While my needs are fairly niche, if you want to use a phone for FLAC files or other lossless songs, currently the S10 Plus is the best way to go. The fact that it has a microSD card slot is just gravy, and I haven’t yet run into any issues with the phone that are reasonable.

Power: Samsung wireless fast charger

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Part of why I like the S10 Plus so much is because it can be fast charged with a wireless charger. Samsung’s unit is extremely good, and serves as a decent stand if you’re liable to have Netflix or Disney Plus playing at bedtime. I think I’ve gifted this particular item to all my Samsung-owning friends in the past year because it’s cheap and it’s really really good. Not only does it work as advertised, but it doesn’t put any stress on your USB-C port.

Kitchen: Victorinox chef’s knife

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Buying knives is a pain, but for most people, a rock-solid chef’s knife will satisfy the needs of the average kitchen. While I encourage you to learn how to sharpen your knives to make them last longer, I find that my Victorinox chef’s knife is my best friend at the cutting board. Not only is it a fantastically well-made edge, but it’s relatively easy to sharpen and maintain.

This is important because I cook a lot. I’m talking maybe getting a meal out once a month, and cooking a big family dinner every night. Anything I use has to be able to endure twice-daily use, and so far I’ve been very pleased with the Victorinox ever since I got it as a late wedding gift three years ago.

Camera: Panasonic G85

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Long gone are the days of using a full frame setup for my work photos, today I need something that will be flexible, high-tech, and competent. Because of that, I use the Panasonic G85 over my Nikon D600 and Zenit 122 (film) cameras at trade shows like CES. Not only does the Panasonic app enable remote shooting and porting over photos to your smartphone, but it offers weather/dust resistance, an articulating screen, and 4K video. For the real power users, there’s 4K photo shooting modes that allow you to focus your shot after the fact, use a high-speed burst photos, or focus stack a macro shot in-camera. I wish phones had those capabilities—hats off to Panasonic for making a ridiculously good consumer shooter at a not-so-bank-breaking price of $700 with kit lens.


And that’s a wrap! Any personal favorites on this list?

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