Zek and I had planned on being in Las Vegas to cover CES while Dan held down the fort from home until the coronavirus yet again derailed our best-laid plans. Long story short, Zek and I didn’t travel to Las Vegas. Even so, we wanted to work together, so we traveled, just to the opposite coast. Here is the CES 2022 gear that Zek, Dan, and I used.
Zek’s CES 2022 Gear
The recently marked down to $124.99 Amazfit PowerBuds Pro have been my go-to earbuds ever since I reviewed them. I can’t imagine surviving the day without them, let alone a week at CES! And while we weren’t at CES, the PowerBuds Pro still came in handy many times, from keeping me connected to entertainment on the plane to allowing me to take Zoom calls quietly as we covered news remotely.
The $464.99 13″ Lenovo Flex Chromebook impressed me immensely when I reviewed it, and I knew as soon as I finished the review that this would be my CES computer. It has impressive battery life, a fantastic build quality, and the speediness of Chrome OS, which makes it perfect for a week of non-stop writing. And sure enough, it survived the torture test of being my primary machine for a week with flying colors! I was able to use Zoom, write in WordPress, and keep up with my emails, all with only needing to charge it once a day. I love this computer!
The $69.99 Einova 63W Ultra Fast Power Bank is a beast. It has a 20,000mAh capacity, and it can charge a laptop, all in a device the size of a paperback book! It has two full-size USB slots and a USB-C, and you can use all three slots simultaneously.
Best of all, there’s a small LCD that shows the remaining capacity numerically, so no one has to figure out if one dot means 25% or 10%! Even though we weren’t running around a conference floor all week, it was still very helpful to have a slim and powerful battery handy for topping off devices and keeping the outlets cleared for laptops and other devices.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is my main smartphone, and I’m excited to have it with at CES for both the camera capabilities and the impressive battery life. I have no doubts I’ll need to recharge it at least once throughout the day (hence the Einova!), but the battery life is so much better than its predecessors! My phone held up nicely during our adventures, and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t run completely out of battery life once.
Best of all, I got to test the night-time camera abilities with shots like this one:
I love books, and I consistently have 2-3 books that I’m reading at any given time. Even though I could read on my Kindle books on my smartphone, I never travel without my Kindle Paperwhite! Sure enough, I went through three books during the downtime. Also impressive, I fully charged my Kindle before we left, read several books on it during the week, and in the five days since I’ve been home, I finished another two books, and my Kindle is still at 54%!
Too many cables
I believe in redundancy, so I fully expect to carry two USB-C cables, two microUSB cables, and two lightning cables — at the very least!
These are, hands down, the most comfortable sneakers I have ever worn. I’m in love with them, and I don’t know what black magic they use to make them a hands-free slide on/slide off, but it’s amazing. We did plenty of walking and spent time on our feet, and the Kiziks didn’t cause a single hotspot, twinge, or other discomforts. They are amazing, comfortable, and stylish.
Kizik sent me the $119 Athens in Cobalt Blue, and they look just like any other athletic sneakers. They feature everything you’d expect from a decent sneaker, from a comfortable sole to removable insoles and an attractive style. You’d never know they have a unique heel that allows you to slide in and out without squishing the back.
My feet are extremely narrow, and I was very concerned about the fit, but they fit surprisingly well. And I can’t say this often enough — they are the most comfortable sneakers I have worn in a very long time, if not ever.
Judie’s CES 2022 Gear
Overall, everything that I brought with me performed flawlessly, but there was one thing I forgot and wish I had brought — a massage gun! Sitting at our Airbnb table while writing and editing our CES coverage led to achey shoulders and no relief. Next time, I won’t make that mistake!
After years of traveling with a 14″ laptop, I had grown used to squinting at my screen and never really having enough room to multitask like I wanted and needed to, all in the name of portability. But when I received the 4.1-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 to review, I was more than ready to trade portability for power and screen real estate.
When I’m not working at my 27″ iMac in my home office, the 16″ Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is the next best thing. It even has a spill-resistant keyboard, which is one less worry when I’ve got a water or iced tea next to me while working.
I’ve got the 16GB RAM with a 512GB SSD model that sports an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H processor with the GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card. Sound is excellent when I have time to catch up on Netflix, and it even has a 1080p camera that helps with all the video conferencing we had to do for CES. The $2269.95 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is a beast, and it helps me get more done! You can build one to your specifications on the Lenovo site, or you can order one just like mine, ready to go from Amazon.
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The only real downside to carrying a beast like the 16″ Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is that none of my backpacks could fit it, which is why I am thankful for the $349 WaterField Pro Executive Backpack that I have in for review.
The WaterField Pro Executive Backpack measures 16.5″ tall by 13.5″ wide by 7″ deep, and it weighs 3.1 pounds empty. Its volume is 25.5 liters which is a bit bigger than the backpack I usually carry, but it’s well worth it!
Made of 1050 Denier black ballistic nylon with chocolate, gray, black, or crimson full-grain leather accents, this backpack easily carries my oversized X1 Extreme, its huge power brick, and all of the other gear that I need when traveling. It has intelligently designed compartments with contrasting golden rod nylon so that nothing gets lost.
I had initially meant to use this backpack mainly for travel, but I love it so much that it’s now my daily carry!
With its two organized main compartments and its perfectly placed accessory pockets, the WaterField Pro Executive Backpack looks smart, is surprisingly light for how well it is built, and its wide shoulder straps help comfortably distribute all the weight I’m carrying.
I also like that when I set it down, it stands upright instead of flopping over and that the convenient top leather handle isn’t skimpy enough to hurt my hand when I am lifting it that way. I have a full review coming soon.
When I reviewed the $169.99 Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro, I had no idea that they would quickly become my favorite true wireless earbuds. Incredibly comfortable with fantastic sound, these earbuds stay in place and don’t hurt — even after being worn for hours on end.
Unlike other earbuds that I have tried before, I can comfortably wear the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds for hours on end. Long earbud wear may be the norm for many other people, but after a couple of hours with just about any ANC earbuds inserted in my ears, I will need to remove them as my ears start aching from the pressure; that doesn’t happen with these.
I suspect that the air-filled ear wings have a lot to do with that; they hold the earbuds in place so that I can move, shake my head, walk, play with my pets, or do whatever, and the earbuds always stay in place.
As for how music sounds when I am listening through the earbuds, it is nothing short of phenomenal. I have a lot of different types of music in my Spotify playlists, and everything from rap to rock to indy music sounds so good! There is plenty of bass, the vocals are remarkably clear, and the mid-range never sounds muddy; the result is rich and full sound. In fact, I think that the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro TWE sound better than other true wireless earbuds I own that cost much more!
I haven’t yet written a review for my $899 Sorta Sunny Google Pixel 6 Pro because I’m patiently waiting for an update to see if the minor irritation I’ve had with it (inconsistencies and slowness with the in-screen fingerprint reader that force me to enter my PIN) are fixed. However, the phone has still managed to wow me.
The Pixel 6 Pro rocks a flagship build with a 6.7 “display made with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus; it has LTPO tech that takes the display from 10Hz to 120Hz to give me the smoothest experience when scrolling or playing games without unnecessarily wasting battery life when I’m doing something simple like reading a book in the Kindle app. Even better, I can easily get a full day’s use out of its 5,000mAh battery.
My Pixel came with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128 GB user memory, but it is also available with 256GB or 512GB user memory. The new Google Tensor chip is speedy and responsive, and I have no complaints there.
The Pixel 6 Pro’scameras are excellent (as expected!), and I like using the new 48-megapixel telephoto lens. With the 6 Pro, I was able to take photos like these.
All of my favorite Google Pixel exclusive features like Call Screen, Now Playing, and Hold for Me are here, as well as some new tricks like Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, Real Tone, and Live Translate.
This phone has IP68 dust and water resistance, which came in very handy when Zek and I got caught in a Miami downpour after our rude Lyft driver dropped us off more than a block away from the restaurant we were supposed to meet others at — even after we had told him the drop-off spot wasn’t the correct address, and he vaguely pointed us in the wrong direction (!). We may have looked like drowned rats, but my phone was just fine!
I’ve loved the Google Pixel series since the 3 XL, but the 6 Pro is the best yet!
I reviewed the Oneadaptr Evri Accessories Pouch in 2019, and it quickly became my favorite travel companion. Compact enough to fit in my backpack but also just fine when tossed in my checked or carry-on luggage, the $34.99 Oneadaptr Evri neatly organizes all of the cables and gear that I carry, keeping them neatly together in a grab-and-go bundle that’s always ready for travel.
Measuring approximately 9.5″ long by 6″ wide by 2.25″ thick, the Evri Accessories Pouch is composed of water-resistant 1680D ballistic nylon with water-resistant zippers; all of the zippers have easy to grab nylon cords capped with a plastic pull.
A single zippered pocket on top of the bag measures approximately 9.5″ long by 4.5″ wide. The inside of this pocket is lined with soft fabric; it’s not an ample space, but it is wide enough to hold a phone or a medium-sized battery pack — assuming you haven’t already stuffed too much inside the main compartment. If you tend to overpack the middle, this would be an excellent place to keep spare memory cards and USB drives.
Inside, there are four “pages” made up of two to three mesh pockets; there are nine open mesh pockets total. You can stuff quite a bit into each of these open mesh pockets; elastic at the top helps hold the pocket closed.
In these interior pockets, I keep a 60W Anker PowerPort Atom III PIQ 3.0 and GaN charger, a HyperJuice 100W GaN USB-C charger, a VISTAR 10-in-1 USB-C bub, a JBL Go 2 speaker, spare business cards, and an assortment of charging cables, including the one for my Oral-B iO Series 9 toothbrush.
After years of using an electric toothbrush with a more angular head, I started using the $299.99 Oral-B iO Series 9 about a month ago. It took me a minute to get used to the slightly wider round brush head, but the cleaning I get from this toothbrush is insane!
There are seven brush modes to choose from: daily clean, sensitive, gum care, whitening, intense clean, super sensitive, and tongue clean, and the toothbrush connects to the Oral-B App for live coaching, timing, and feedback. After completing a two-minute brushing session, I get rewarded with a smiley face on the brush’s display and in the app.
If I’m not using the Oral-B app as I brush (because I don’t always think to bring my phone into the bathroom with me), the Oral-B iO Series 9 has a built-in two-minute quadrant timer that pulsates every 30 seconds, so I know when to shift it to another section of my mouth.
An LED ring on the iO9’s neck lets me know when I am applying too much or just enough pressure by showing red or green lights. The smiley face that appears after two minutes on my brush’s LCD screen is confirmation that I haven’t skimped on brushing time.
After a brushing session with the iO9, my teeth really do feel like they have been professionally cleaned, which is fantastic!
Zek got their pair of Kizik shoes a few days before I did, and they made a big point of telling me how I was missing out because they were some of the most comfortable shoes they had ever tried! Well, a few days later, I got the $129 Women’s Kizik Vegas Shoes in time for our trip, and I have to admit that Zek was absolutely correct. Kizik shoes live up to all of the hype!
Kizik shoes are made so that you can tie them once and then slip them on and off when you wear them, never having to deal with tying and untying again or worrying about crushing the heel when you slip them on. I decided that I preferred the cleaner look of not having a tied lace on the top, so I set the laces so the shoes were snug but not tight on my feet and tucked the extra lace ends under the soft, contoured foam insole.
The Kizik Vegas comes with a premium leather upper in several colors and color combinations. I opted for black, figuring it would go with just about anything, and I was impressed with their quality right out of the box. These shoes need no break-in period, and they are so incredibly comfortable. I appreciated that they had solid rubber outsole wear pads because I never felt like I would slide or trip, even on slicker surfaces. I am a klutz, so these things matter!
Kizik women’s shoes are available in five different styles with multiple colors to choose from, and they come in sizes 4.5 to 13 standard and EE widths. Their prices range from $99 to $129 depending upon the style chosen. Zek and I will have a full review of our experience with these shoes posted soon.
The $59.99 AUKEY 20,000mAh Basix Pro Wireless Power Bank is a handy and powerful portable power bank. It not only has an integrated wireless charger (up to 10W) with a kickstand for easy viewing, it also has an LCD on the side that tells you exactly how much battery life is still available.
This 20,000mAh power bank includes one USB Type-A Quick Charge port and one 18W PD 3.0 USB Type-C port; I keep a 6″ long USB-C to USB-C cable on it for both recharging the powerbank and for charging my mobile devices.
Conveniently, one of the side pockets on the WaterField Pro Executive Backpack has a slot that fits this battery perfectly, and keeping it there is very handy for recharging my Google Pixel 6 Pro or the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro TWE when I’m not near an outlet.
On my last trip to Hawaii for the Qualcomm Summit, one of my friends who had driven me to the airport pointed out that the Rimowa Salsa trunk luggage that I’ve been traveling with for the past six years had a huge crack just below the center front handle. My suitcase made it home okay, but now I had to check into getting out of warranty repairs made on a discontinued trunk. Even in the best-case scenario, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to bring it on my next extended trip.
Recalling the excellent experience I had with the 20″ LEVEL8 Gibraltar Full Aluminum Carry-On, I took a look at their site, and I found the $259.99 Level8 28″ Luminous Trunk Luggage, which can hold 99 liters of packed items and is offered with and without a front handle in the center. Suspecting that baggage handlers grabbing that particular handle over the years had put unnecessary stress on my previous trunk’s front surface, I opted to forgo getting another trunk with a handle in that spot. I don’t even miss it.
The interior of the 28″ Level8 Trunk is divided into two compartments; I can pack enough clothing for up to two weeks in the bottom half, with shoes and other items in the slightly smaller top half. I most appreciate using trunk-style luggage versus traditional clamshell luggage because I can set an open trunk against the wall with the top lid up and use the trunk as my dresser.
The Level8 trunk’s interior has two mesh-divided sections with tie-down straps, so I can compress the items on each side and keep everything from shifting. The 360º spinner wheels are easy to navigate over just about any surface, and everything is secured with a TSA-approved lock.
It blows my mind that this trunk sells for about a third of what I paid for the Rimowa, and it appears to be made just as well, if not better! I’ll post a full review of the Level8 28″ Luminous Trunk soon.
I took this photo of the Withings ScanWatch when I first received it last February. At the time, it was unavailable in the US as it was still awaiting FDA approval, but it was already CE medically certified and available in Europe.
Like the Withings Steel HR, the Withings ScanWatch is a 5ATM water-resistant hybrid smartwatch that automatically tracks and gives in-depth reports via the excellent Withings Health Mate app on my steps, workouts (with GPS tracking via your smartphone), sleep, and heart rate.
It has a smart wake-up alarm that will vibrate on my wrist at the best time for easy wake-up if I set the alarm, and it can also deliver smartphone notifications on my wrist, but I generally have my phone with me everywhere, so don’t use that feature. But the ScanWatch is capable of so much more!
Under the ScanWatch’s scratch-resistant sapphire glass face, there is a medical-grade ECG (for detecting signs of atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat rhythms) and a medical-grade oximeter for SpO2 measurements. It even tracks breathing in conjunction with the two to measure any sleep disturbances, which can be a sign of sleep apnea. I don’t appear to have that, though, thank goodness. The fact that these measurement tools are medical-grade is why the FDA approval was necessary.
Some other features that aren’t found on the Steel HR are a raise-to-wake display that shows the time and date (no crown-pressing necessary), the number of floors climbed, a do not disturb feature, and a scrollable, pressable crown that gets you to the different features quickly. There’s even a Breathe mode that helps me consciously slow my breathing down and calm my heart rate when I’m feeling agitated or stressed.
I have the $299.95 42mm black model, which is the only one that has the “Super Luminova” coating, so the hands glow in the dark, but for smaller wrists, they also offer a $279.95 38mm version.
Shortly after receiving it, I ordered a red moc-croc leather band to use instead of the included black silicone band, and it is on my wrist pretty much 24/7. The battery lasts for almost a month, so I don’t even worry about bringing a charger with it on my longer trips; I just make sure that it’s fully charged before I leave.
I absolutely love this watch, and the only thing that would get it off my wrist is the 43mm Withings ScanWatch Horizon with a face in green, my favorite color!
During the four flights that I would ultimately take for this trip, wearing the $269 QuietOn 3 Sleep Earbuds let me peacefully doze when I wasn’t reading or working. Even though they silenced much of the background noise, I could still hear the flight attendants when they came by and asked any questions.
The QuietOn 3 are comfortable to wear and discreet; most importantly, they eliminate or dampen enough of the noise around me so that I can zone out, sleep, or concentrate when working in noisier environments.
In the apartment Zek and I shared with friends (who had also opted to travel to Miami instead of Vegas), the QuietOn 3 Sleep Earbuds came in handy. They made it possible to dial into work without distraction; they cut out much of the noise from four people sharing a workspace, and instead, I could focus on editing and writing.
Although I usually sleep with a fan running at home because the white noise camouflages most of the sounds that would otherwise keep me awake, our Airbnb didn’t have any fans! More than once, I found myself reaching for the QuietOn 3 Sleep Earbuds when voices or other noises from the courtyard outside our apartment would keep me lying in bed and unable to “turn off.” I found the QuietOn 3 surprisingly comfortable, even for a side sleeper like me, and I was grateful for the rest.
Dan’s CES 2022 Gear
Unlike Judie and Zek, I always planned to cover CES from home. Still, having the right gear makes all the difference, even if my “trip” to CES was walking downstairs to my home office. Here’s some of the gear I’ve found helpful.
I recently picked up a new 14″ MacBook Pro. It is by far the best computer I have ever used. The larger screen is gorgeous, and the M1 Pro chip makes it the fastest computer I’ve ever used. Even better, Apple finally fixed the keyboard issues that have plagued the line in recent years.
For me, however, the best feature of the new MacBook Pro is Apple backtracking and adding some ports back into the computer. I’m pleased not to rely upon hubs just to connect a couple of peripherals!
Yes, I’m seeing some of the RAM management issues that seem to be plaguing many of the computers but, even that isn’t enough to dim my enthusiasm. It is thin, relatively light, and a pleasure to use.
I’m currently reviewing the $449 MG20, Master & Dynamic’s first entry into the gaming headphone market. The MG20, which is available in either black or white, is a wireless over-the-ear headphone optimized for gaming.
They are comfortable, get excellent battery life, and there are physical onboard controls that make it easy to adjust your audio without missing a beat. 7.1 surround sounds promise to pull you right into the action, and the included low-latency adapter promises to eliminate audio delays. The headphones have microphones built-in, but Master & Dynamic went a step further and included a detachable boom microphone so you can get even better audio during games.
I’m using the MG20 for Zoom calls, recordings, and listening to music. It has been fantastic. The call quality is clear on both sides, and the headphones are comfortable to wear for hours at a time. Best of all, as you might expect from Master & Dynamic, the headphones sound fantastic.
I’ve been using a dual-monitor setup for the past few years. When I got the new 14″ MacBook Pro, it seemed a shame not to use the screen, so I picked up the widescreen and curved $429.99 Samsung UR59 Series 32″ 4K UHD Computer Monitor. I am using it, along with the laptop, instead of two monitors.
It is a superb monitor, although the “curve” is so subtle as to be non-existent. What I especially love about it is the fact that I can have two windows next to each other, and it is as if I am using a dual monitor setup up. That, in turn, lets me keep my email and Slack open on the laptop.
Over the last two years, we’ve all spent more time than ever seated at our desks. Having a good chair is key to avoiding pain and discomfort, and the X-Chair X2 Sport Management Chair has served me well.
Starting at $849.99, the X2 Sport Management Chair offers an extensive range of adjustments and, after some experimentation, I was able to get things set up “just right.” The mesh seat and back never get too warm, and the mesh headrest has just enough “spring” to make power naps possible.
The review sample I received includes their Elemax heat, cooling, and massage insert. The X-Chair already had excellent lumbar support, but the Elemax insert makes it even more comfortable to extended work periods. I’ll have a full review posted soon.
I’m currently using several products from Anker at my desk. My favorite would have to be the $99.99 Anker 637 Magnetic Charging Station (MagGo). The size of a grapefruit, this desk charger has a magnetic massage charger on the front that holds and charges my iPhone.
There are two AC outlets, two USB-C ports, and two USB-A ports on the back. I especially appreciate that either USB-C port can be used to send your laptop a 65W charge. For just under $100, this charger keeps my desk looking clean and organized but makes charging my mobile devices more effortless than ever.
I didn’t want to be stuck in my office all day during CES, nor did I want to deal with moving my laptop from room to room. Thanks to the Brydge MAX+ for iPad Pro, I also created a good amount of content on my iPad Pro.