Ryan and Ken

Ryan's Picks

SimpliSafe Security Systems – $100-600 @ Amazon

Security is something we can all appreciate, whether it is about our digital storage or physical. While we could (and do) talk about digital security all the time on our podcast and on this website, a little real-world security can’t hurt either. My dad tipped me off to SimpliSafe, a well packaged and organized smart-device security system with one key advantage over others from Samsung and Lowes: 24/7 monitoring services. SimpliSafe works like your traditional ADT system in that it contacts a 24 hour monitor service if your alarm is set off and it even uses cellular service to do it, relieving you of the requirement to have a land line. All of the devices including entry sensors, motion sensors, 105dB alarms, and keypads are battery powered and wireless, making setup a breeze. A camera integration is coming soon (currently in beta) and for me that would really make this a complete package.
You only pay for the components you want and need, and you pay $20 or $25 per month for monitoring.
Feel free to check SimpliSafe out on Twitter – that's where we initially reached out to them as well!
Sony A7S II 12MP Digital and 4K Video Camera – $2998 @ Amazon
Yes, this is an expensive pick, but I still am in love with this camera. Selected to be both our primary video and photo workhorse, the A7S II hasn’t let me down yet. When paired with a Sony 24-70mm f/4 lens will add another $1200 to the cost, but the result is photos that I have never been able to capture before with my very limited skill set. The 4K video footage is nearly unmatched in cameras of this price range and if you value low light performance, there is no better option that I know of. If you have a photographer on your list (or it’s you) and you have some budget to swing, take a look.

PNY Elite Performance 256GB SD Card – $89 @ Amazon

If you get the camera above, or any high performance 4K camera, you are going to want large SD cards. The PNY Elite Performance 256GB is U3 rated for up to 95 MB/s reads and is fast enough to work with the A7S II at full 4K 100 Mbps record. And damn, for $90…hard to go wrong. 

Infrared Thermometer – $16 @ Amazon

Seems pretty basic, and it is, but the uses for a handheld infrared thermometer are numerous. PC enthusiasts will find them helpful for finding hotspots in their builds, or to the measure the benefits of push/pull airflow. But I have also used them to find drafty areas in the house, check on the status of the heating and cooling systems at the office, etc.

Mobile TV Stand – $259 @ Amazon

At $250 for a TV stand, you might be wondering why you would need this. If have a bigger open area, as we do in our new office, having a TV stand on wheels make TV placement very flexible. Pair that with mobile streaming services like DirecTV Now or Netflix and you have a system that can go nearly anywhere with a single extension cord. The shelf is great for holding a gaming console too.

HTC Vive – $799 @ Amazon

The crazy high markup is gone and the selection of software continues to expand for VR. After getting my hands on the Oculus Touch controllers, I still think the Vive has a slightly better implemenation of the technology with true room-scale support. Don't get me wrong, the Oculus Rift + Touch is a great setup, but if I could only pick one for you to buy for Christmas, it would be the Vive. 

Ken's Pick

Monoprice Maker Select Mini 3D Printer – $209 at Amazon

Those of you who have been paying attention might scoff at the fact that my sole pick for this year is a 3D printer, but hear me out!

Monoprice has turned into a force to be reckoned with in the 3D Printing world. Piggybacking on the massive sucess of it's big brother the Maker Select, the Monoprice Maker Select Mini is a fantastic entry point in the wild world of 3D printing.

For just over $200, the quality of the prints from the Maker Select Mini are quite stunning. The build area is a bit small at just 120 x 120 x 120 mm, but it's more than enough to get you addicted to this rabit hole of a hobby. Just be sure to pick up a few rolls of 1.75mm PLA filament to keep you going!

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