TechCrunch’s Favorite Things Of 2015

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TechCrunch’s Favorite Things Of 2015

Here at TechCrunch, we see a lot of stuff — gadgets, gizmos, apps, doo-dads, and electro-whatnots. Name a gadget, and someone on staff has probably obsessed over it, torn it apart, or worn it out over the past year.

Some of this stuff is great. A lot of it… not so much.

We take the knowledge that comes with all that tinkering and cram it into our gift guides, where we’ve got recommendations on really, really good gifts for just about everyone in your life.

But people always ask us: what do we like? What do we throw our money at?

This is the stuff that we, the writers/editors/video producers/etc. of TechCrunch, really, really liked in 2015. The stuff that at the end of the year, we look back at and say “Yeah — I’m really glad I owned that.” Some of it came out in 2015. Some of it came out in years prior and still has our hearts. Enjoy!

1/27

Many staffers: Chromecast

The Chromecast came out of nowhere two years ago, and it’s STILL one of our favorite things.

It’s how TVs should work. Plug the $25 dongle into a TV, and bam: you can “cast” video from just about every popular video app on your phone. When the app gets updated, so does your TV.

— Greg Kumparak

2/27

Greg: AcousticSheep Bed Headphones

I need background noise to sleep well; my wife, like most sane humans, prefers it quiet.

Alas, most headphones are terrible to wear in bed. In-ears gouge your ear drums; over-ears make it feel like you’re sleeping on a rock. These headband-like sleep headphones may make me look like a goober (there’s a reason I didn’t use a picture of me wearing them over there) and the sound quality isn’t going to blow anyone away, but I don’t sleep without them anymore.

I use the wired ones, but a Bluetooth version exists if you’re worried about strangling yourself with the cord.

— Greg Kumparak

3/27

Felicia: Blue Mic's Yeti

In the age of modern technology, there is no excuse for bad audio. Great for musicians, singers, podcasters, or just a really silky-sounding Google hang.

— Felicia Williams

4/27

Matt Burns: Krups EA9010

This $2,500 coffee machine costs more than some used cars, but arguably, it will produce a better cup of coffee than some used cars.

With just a touch of a button or two, it will produce the most magnificent cup of coffee or pull of espresso. Want a latte? It can do that, too, and even froths the milk and then sanitizes itself.

It’s like a barista you don’t have to talk to, and it won’t mispell your name because it doesn’t care about your name.

— Matt Burns

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5/27

Romain: Ledger Bitcoin Wallet

I’ve been using the Ledger Wallet to store the fraction of bitcoin that I own. It’s one of the most secure bitcoin wallets out there, and also a neat little gift for bitcoin enthusiasts who are concerned about security.

—Romain Dillet

6/27

Greg: Touchjet Pond Portable Android Projector

A portable projector with a built-in speaker and battery.

It’s Android-powered, and thus can run all the apps Android does. I carry it around my house and project stuff wherever I am. Netflix in the kitchen! Hulu in the garage! HBO while soaking in the bath tub (just, you know, keep it away from the water)! If there’s a blank white surface, it’s a TV.

Added bonus: when you bust out one of their included styluses, it becomes a pseudo-touchscreen, too. 60″ Angry Birds, anyone?
— Greg Kumparak

7/27

Natasha (and, really, most of the team): Macbook Air

A proper keyboard is required if words are your business. It’s lightweight, super silent, reliable, and does not necessitate going to make a cup of tea while you wait for the OS to load. Caveat: my MacBook Air is the older ‘with MicroSD port edition’ — Apple has since airbrushed some slots out (and I would definitely miss if them if they weren’t there).

— Natasha Lomas

8/27

Greg: Jackbox Party Pack

A party game that redefines party games.

Gather round the TV with beverages in hand, whip out your phones (those will be your controllers), and laugh the night away. There are 5 games in the $25 pack, the best of which are probably Fibbage, You Don’t Know Jack, and Drawful. If you like these, also check out the standalone game of the same vein, Quiplash. It’s available on most popular platforms.

There’s also Jackbox Party Pack 2, but I like the first one just a liiiitle bit more. — Greg Kumparak

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9/27

Natasha: My noise-cancelling Sennheisers

This is the one tech item I sometimes leave the house having forgotten to stick in my bag, and invariably feel a pang of regret. Most earbuds are way too big for my teeny ears; these are a perfect fit. And noise canceling to boot.

– Natasha Lomas

10/27

Greg: The 1 Second Everyday App

One second of video, every day.

That’s it. Sounds simple, right? And yet, this silly little app has changed my life for the better.

You shoot one video per day of something that summarizes that day. At the end of the week/month/year (however long you choose to do it for), it’ll combine all your clips into one supercut.

A lot of people do it for the end video, but I love it for two other reasons:

1) My memory is pretty terrible. Being that I work from home, the days tend to blur together a bit. What’d I do last Tuesday? Hell if I know! This lets me remember the most important thing from each day with minimal, passive effort.

2) It encourages me to get out and do one video-worthy thing every day, because I don’t want a video made up of 365 clips of me sitting on the couch watching Netflix.

— Greg Kumparak

11/27

Josh: $12 Anker 9-Foot-Long iPhone Lightning Cable

Free yourself from hunching over the side of the bed, sitting on the ground in airports, and other terrible contortions. This super long and strong Anker iPhone cord might not seem exciting, but it will drastically improve your life. And for $12, you can buy a whole box of them and sprinkle them amongst friends.

12/27

Sarah Perez: My iPhone Credit Card Case

Simple, but wonderful. Don’t feel like carrying around a purse or wallet? Just tuck a couple cards and your ID into this credit card case. One less thing to worry about losing, and GPS in the phone makes losing my wallet tough.

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13/27

Katie Roof: ClassPass

ClassPass is working out on demand.

I love that ClassPass has made it easy to work out anywhere, even when traveling. I’ve discovered great new studios in California and NYC. Because of ClassPass, I’m on track to meet my 200 workouts goal for 2015.

– Katie Roof

14/27

Anna Escher: Fujifilm Instax Camera

A cute, retro point-and-shoot that instantly prints wallet-sized photos for you and your friends. Get this one discounted on Amazon and stock up on film in bulk.

— Anna Escher

15/27

Nitish: The New Raspberry Pi Zero

There’s nothing like automating the most mundane parts of your day. Want to unlock your door with an iPhone? Want to build a giant Rube Goldberg machine, or a neat walking robot?

The Raspberry Pi is a great, super affordable one-box solution to all of this, and is incredibly easy to implement and push code to.

— Nitish Kulkarni

16/27

Natasha: Manduka EKO Lite 4mm Yoga Mat

Yoga mats aren’t exactly high tech, but there’s still a lot of variation in their performance. This mat offers the best balance I’ve found between non-slip grip, weight and impact cushioning. It’s really, *really* grippy and, while not exactly lightweight, is less heavy than some pro alternatives — so can be taken out to class. Great all rounder.

— Natasha Lomas

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17/27

Lucas: My Backup Battery

I’ve probably rolled through a half-dozen battery chargers over the past couple years.

Most of them were crappy $10 models that felt and functioned… well, like a $10 battery. I finally invested in a pretty nice 20,000mAh Anker portable battery that generally fully recharges my phone at least 6 times. It’s a solidly built, high capacity life-saver.

—Lucas Matney

18/27

Travis: Amazon Prime

After getting a new puppy this year, Amazon Prime became even more valuable to my family. Whether it’s 2 day delivery on dog food or great prices on bones and toys, I find myself using it more and more every month.

If you order a lot of stuff online, the $99 annual price of Amazon Prime seems like a steal at this point. Stop going to the store and have everything delivered to your doorstep.

Photo credit: Julie Clopper/Shutterstock 

19/27

Sarah Buhr: Apple Music

For those mourning the loss of Rdio or too stubborn to cave in and go Spotify: Apple Music!

— Sarah Buhr

20/27

Sarah Buhr: My Blendtec blender

It will change your life and you can make soup! Also, acai bowls for days.

— Sarah Buhr

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21/27

Yashad: Jabra Move Bluetooth Headphones

Great bluetooth stereo headphones for under $100, excellent battery life and they are on ear (not over ear) so you can quickly pop them off to chat with coworkers and then get back into work.

— Yashad Kulkarni

22/27

Yashad: Logitech MX Master Mouse

Expensive but really ergonomic and comfortable wireless and bluetooth mouse that allows you to pair with multiple computers and switch between them easily (laptop, desktop, etc). Also has tons of customizeable buttons that work great with OS X.

— Yashad Kulkarni

23/27

Jordan: Amazon Echo

As long as you don’t hate the name Alexa (even if you do), this thing is a powerhouse: it can play that song you want to hear, it can tell you the weather, it’ll let you control your lightbulbs…. all with your voice…  from across the room. Magic.

— Jordan Crook

24/27

Ingrid: Tile's Bluetooth-powered item tracker

Because life is too short to figure out where your last left the house keys

— Ingrid Lunden

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25/27

Romain: Apple Watch

Yeah, yeah. It looks great and I’ve been wearing one every day for months now — notifications, calendar and Apple Maps are my favorite features. My personal favorite is the Hermès version, but there are many bands to make it a personal gift.

—Romain Dillet

26/27

Romain: Twelve South Forté

And if they’ve already got an Apple Watch: the Twelve South Forté watch stand looks stunning. It’s the kind of thing that you might not buy for yourself, which makes it a perfect gift.

—Romain Dillet

27/27

Felicia: One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Great party game. Using this deck of cards and an app on your phone, this hybrid app IRL card game speeds you through three-minute rounds of who-done-it fun.

— Felicia Williams

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