It’s taken me a couple of years to achieve what I would call a complete Everyday Carry set up that includes just a little bit of everything to allow me to — potentially — be 100% mobile at a moment’s notice with these best Everyday Carry gifts.
I always try to have my bag ready to go and packed with all my things for whatever reason. That means headphones, laptop, technically my smartphone, my camera, wallet and assorted extras.
Naturally, my bag is focused on being able to create a micro pop-up office in any space with a flat enough surface to work comfortably. It’s not free from the odd improvement that might enhance my workflow — especially for video editing — but for the time being, I can deal with the mobility that this offers me.
I like to keep my camera gear to a minimum, as bulky tripods, lighting and audio equipment can be a pain in the backside. This combination of kit was used at several of the major UK-based product launches this year, which has given me ideas on where I can improve my arsenal.
Awesome Bluetooth Buds – TicPods Free
Android’s alternative to Apple AirPods
After I gave these earbuds a thorough test drive and glowing review, they have quickly become one of my most important bits of tech in my collection. I was initially against Bluetooth headphones as I thought the wireless life would be outweighed by poor battery and audio quality.
I have no problem admitting when I was wrong, because the TicPods Free are a great pair of wireless Bluetooth Earbuds. The sound is great, the battery life again superb and the controls are really intuitive — if sometimes a tiny bit spotty. Either way they offer a great look and feel for what could essentially be considered imitation AirPods.
One thing I didn’t really go into great detail with during my glowing review was the call quality. It’s one thing I don’t actually do a great deal of, but having used them for a couple of extended conference calls (1 hour+) just recently. Not only did the battery barely get affected, but the call quality was also nice and clear to boot.
Where to buy the TicPods Free
Affordable Pocket Power – OnePlus 6T
The best sub-$500 smartphone on the market
I struggled not to include the Huawei Mate 20 Pro as my personal choice for phone of the year. But even so, the OnePlus 6T is a great smartphone without comparison when you factor in the price. That low entry-cost really does mean the 6T is one of the very best options out there at the moment.
The battery is exceptional, the notch is less intrusive and the entire experience is amazing thanks to Oxygen OS. You don’t get a headphone port which is quite sad, but I added a pair of my favorite Bluetooth headphones (TicPods Free) to my setup to fix this.
Personally, I’d say get the Thunder Purple colorway, avoid the Mirror Black and for longevity purposes get the 8GB RAM model. That said, the standard model is still one of the very best smartphones on the market.
Where to buy the OnePlus 6T
Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack
Carry everything and look good doing it
I have literally had this backpack since 2013, well, technically I tore the zipper and Herschel was kind enough to replace it in early 2016, but that aside this is my go-to carry all bag.
The colorway I have is actually officially discontinued, but they have a very similar version (as in indistinguishable) that to the untrained eye looks exactly the same — they swapped out real leather for a longer lasting synthetic. That doesn’t stop the Pop Quiz backpack from being a great everyday bag for carrying tech, heading to class or travelling around.
I do pair this with the Manfrotto Street Backpack, which carries all of my camera gear and related accessories. If I am travelling light, the Herschel Pop Quiz is still my go-to without fail.
Inside there is a nice soft-lined laptop sleeve that has kept multiple laptops safe over the years. Whilst the 20-liter capacity large main cavity provides enough storage for a few days worth of clothes or other assorted crud.
There is a dedicated sunglasses padded pocket up top, a nice small front pocket that can hold pens, cables and other accessories you don’t want in the main internal portion. There are more than enough options to organize your Pop Quiz bag.
Where to buy a Herschel Pop Quiz backpack
Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Slim, stylish and comfortable
This is literally the best sub-$40 fitness tracker on the market. I absolutely love it for a number of reasons and it could be the best stocking filler for your active family members.
I haven’t had a Fitbit for some time, but this reminds me of the older Fitbit models with a few extra added features. Pairing with your phone and the Mi Fit app was a worry at first. That said, you can have all that step, heart rate and calorie-burning data plugged directly into Google Fit too.
The tiny 0.78-inch OLED touchscreen gives you a clear view of key information at a glance. It has exceptional battery life and lasts around 20 days before needing a charge, which is excellent for people who hate having to top-up a smartwatch every single night. It buzzes when you get a notification and keeps track of all your steps and heart rate throughout the day — basic, but good enough for my usage at least.
What I love is that as a fitness band the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is waterproof and only costs $35. That makes it such a superb gift for just about anyone. You can even get extra silicone bands to change up the style if the simple black option is not your thing.
Where to buy a Xiaomi Mi Band 3
The Cut-Price Mobile Workstation – Lenovo Legion Y530
A gaming machine with 4K editing capabilities
Value for money in the laptop space is so much harder to come by when you want anything close to desktop performance. With that said, I found out about the Lenovo Legion Y530 after some extensive research online. It is a gaming laptop, but it doesn’t look like a gaming laptop and it can do some modest gaming when required.
There is more than enough power under the hood to edit videos in 4K with no slowdowns or hiccups, whilst the keyboard and almost bezeless display are another reason this stands out amongst the crowd of gaming laptops on the market. I personally have the i7 8570H, 16GB RAM and GTX 1050Ti model which also has a 144hz display. I am honestly in love with the panel, even if it is only 1080p. It makes returning to my desktop workstation sometimes a little harder than I first anticipated.
E-sports titles such as Counter-Strike run like heaven on earth. Having a portable gaming rig that can run most titles at medium settings — and well — is such an awesome experience. Newer titles will perform well at lower settings, and plugging in a gamepad turns this into my truly portable gaming rig thanks to Steam.
To ensure exceptional performance, I actually upgraded the internal NVMe SSD to a Samsung EVO 970 500GB drive. The process was so simple and after migrating has been exponentially better than the bog standard option that comes pre-installed.
Until Google can convince Adobe to bring After Effects and Premiere Pro to the Chrome OS — hopefully the Pixel Slate — then I’ll be reliant on the Legion Y530 as my mobile mini-workstation. Not that I’m complaining, I absolutely love this thing and I bet most people out there would too.
Where to buy a Lenovo Legion Y530 laptop
Camera: Panasonic GH5
This is the main workhorse and possibly the most important piece of technology I own. Every video you see on the 9to5Google YouTube channel has been created with this camera. As for lenses, I stick to two adapted pieces of glass: the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 ART and Canon 50mm f/1.8 (nifty 50).
Tripod: Benro Aero 2
When packed, my bag does start to weigh me down. In an ideal world, I would try to keep the entire backpack to a maximum of 10kg, including my tripod. It’s much closer to 12 when fully stocked. So this was the obviously small and lightweight choice of tripod. It comes with a basic video head for some simple pans and tilts if needed too which is a nice bonus.
Backup phone: Samsung Galaxy Note 9
I fell in love with the Note line upon the release of the Galaxy Note 8 and where that device had some shortcomings, the Note 9 improves in almost every single way possible. Great battery, amazing display, the jazzed-up stylus, top class camera. It’s even cheaper than at release for one of the most complete smartphone packages. It still desperately needs Android Pie though.