I put a lot of thought into the things I use in my daily life, and I thought others might like to see my recommendations rather than have to do all of this trial-and-error for which I apparently have a passion.
I put a lot of thought into the things I use in my daily life – reading reviews on sites like Amazon and Wirecutter, trying out many different products, and getting recommendations from others I trust – and I thought others might like to see my recommendations rather than have to do all of this trial-and-error for which I apparently have a passion.
For each recommendation, I'll give some additional detail about my preferences and use cases so you'll have a better idea if my recommendations make sense for you. I'll continually update this page as my recommendations evolve.
My recommendation: Google Pixel 6.
I've primarily been using Android phones as my personal mobile devices since 2008. I've had a few others in there as well – mainly iPhones and the occasional BlackBerry for work – but I love the flexibility and customizability of Android. Over the years, I've taken less advantage of that flexibility, both because Android has gotten a lot better over time, and I'm less eager to do things like root my phone to run custom ROMs. But even now, I love being able to use a custom homescreen/launcher or replace built-in components with better 3rd-party versions.
I've been exclusively using Google's phones since the Galaxy Nexus debuted in 2011, and I love that they have the vanilla OEM Android experience – no cruft, no add-ons, no pre-installed 3rd-party apps that don't work as well as their OEM counterparts, and no junk. And most importantly, you get OS and security updates as soon as they're available, often months before other manufacturers.
Pros: The Pixel 6 is fast, has a solid camera (plus Google's usual software magic), the battery lasts all day (I'm usually at 60%+ capacity at the end of the day with moderate use), has a sharp, bright screen, supports wireless charging, and has a fingerprint reader. And one minor improvement over previous models: It has the the ability do things like voice recognition and advanced image editing locally thanks to some custom chips that Google created, meaning it doesn't need to send data back to the cloud as much which is great both for performance as well as privacy.
Cons: I don't love how large it is – I think the perfect phone size for me is about 5.5" instead of the 6.4" display on the Pixel 6. Even after having it for months, it still feels too large in my hand, and I have relatively large hands. As an improvement, I use Android 12's new one-handed mode feature which lets you swipe down at the bottom of the phone's screen to give you easier access to the top part of the screen, as well as Gboard's (Google Keyboard) one-handed mode feature to make the keyboard smaller and offset it to one side. And while its camera is technically better than previous-generation Pixel devices, I was disappointed that it has a moderate amount of blurring around the edges of images shot on its wide-angle lens, and it's subject to some odd lens flares that I've never noticed with its predecessors.
E-Reader / E-Books
My recommendation: Kindle Oasis.
I love to read, and over the last decade or so, my reading has shifted dramatically from almost exclusively physical books to now almost exclusively digital books. The main advantages of digital books for me are being able to read in any lighting condition with a built-in light (I mainly read at night in bed), not having to hold a large book or lug them around with me while traveling, being able to purchase a book and have it available immediately, and most of all, being able to quickly look up word definitions and save highlights.
I've had my Kindle Oasis since 2018 and I absolutely love it. It's by far the most (obnoxiously!) expensive Kindle, but I love the form factor: the asymmetrical design is more comfortable to hold and the wider display let's me have more content on the screen and not have to move my eyes as much. I've lost track of how many previous-gen "normal" Kindles I've owned (it's at least 6), and one of the biggest reasons I've held onto this one so long is because it's much more powerful – downloading books, opening books, turning pages, and highlighting content are all super responsive. It's also waterproof, but I've never really used it in a scenario where that would matter; even when I read at the beach or something, I'm never that close the water while reading.
I have mixed feelings about the build materials. They're super duper premium – this thing is all sleek rounded aluminum and feels like a MacBook Pro (I mean that in a good way) – but that also means it's cold, slippery, and kinda heavy. I normally get a case for my Kindles anyway (I like the auto-sleep/wake feature when you open and close the cover), but in this case, a case helps a lot with the minor unpleasantness of holding cold piece of metal when you first start reading.
Compared to my previous Kindles, like the Paperwhite series, I feel like the Oasis needs to be charged more frequently. I've never actually measured it, and even though I feel like I have to charge it more often, I'm talking about charging it like once per month which is still infrequent enough to not be a major disadvantage.
When it comes to purchasing options: I personally buy the cheaper versions with lower storage space – in the case of the Oasis, I bought the 8 GB model instead of the 32 GB. E-books are relatively small, since they're all available in my cloud library and I'm almost always surrounded by wireless internet, I only store a few books at a time on my device and I usually delete the local copy once I'm done reading a book. I instead use the money I saved with smaller storage space to buy the "ad-free" version of the product, because I really dislike ads, even if they're only displayed on the lockscreen while the device is sleeping. (And pro tip: If you bought a Kindle with ads, you can pay to upgrade it later to remove them.)
My recommendation: Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer (HL-L2350DW).
We don't print things very often at our house - maybe a few times a month - and it's mainly for things like printing shipping labels or mailing labels around the holiday season. We had an old inkjet for the last 10+ years, and because of how infrequently we used it, we were constantly having to clean the print heads, and replacement ink was super expensive and always seemed to run out too fast.
I finally made the switch over to a laser printer in 2021. Most cheaper laser printers only print in black-and-white, which was the majority of what we needed it for, and the toner cartridges should last considerably longer than injet ink (and not require constant maintenance).
I'm super happy we switched to a laser printer: it was easy to set up, reliable, can do two-sided printing, supports multiple wireless printing protocols out of the box including printing from mobile phones, and haven't had to do any maintenance so far. The only challenge we had was finding one for its normal price – throughout much of 2021 printers were both in high demand because of work-from-home stuff, and I suspect supply chain shortages were causing issues as well. We ended up waiting for several months and the price eventually dropped down to its normal level.