5 Fun Desk Accessories Every Workaholic Needs

As a self-employed content creator, my days can sometimes feel long. Most of my time is spent sitting at a desk and staring at a monitor. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, there are those moments where I could use a pick-me-up. This is often achieved by focusing on a product or two that I choose to place on my desk.

The following are five items that I personally own and use myself. Perhaps you can use them to introduce some creativity into your daily workflow.

Google Home

Currently selling for $129, the Google Home is Google's answer to Amazon's Echo — often referred to as Alexa. The virtual home assistant uses Google to reference all kinds of information, making it quite useful on a whim. If research is your thing, then this definitely gives it the upper hand over the Echo.

Despite its small size, the Google Home puts out some decent audio. The highs and lows all sound great. And the bass? It's surprisingly impressive.

You can even customize the Google Home by purchasing additional bases. They are available in six varieties: Fabric/Mango, Fabric/Marine, Fabric/Violet, Metal/Carbon, Metal/Copper, and Metal/Snow


Divoom Aurabox Smart LED Speaker

If you're looking to add a bit of fun to your desk, then you are going to love the Aurabox Smart LED Speaker from Divoom. Being marketed as the world's first pixel art speaker, I didn't exactly buy this to play music on. Sure, that's great for some users, but I bought it for one reason...

Lights! When paired with an iOS or Android device, the Aurabox can display user-generated patterns and animations — as well as a few that are pre-programmed out of the box. It can also display social media notifications for Twitter and Facebook.

You can buy the Aurabox on Amazon for just $39. For me, it was easily worth the price. But then again, I'm a sucker for anything that uses LEDs.


Fake Plant

What better way to introduce some color into your setup than buy a fake plant? Yes, I'm being serious. This seems to be a trend nowadays, and I can easily see why.

First off, displaying a fake plant creates a nice accent — something that stands out from everything else. It provides balance. Because who doesn't enjoy a bit of color?

And secondly, you don't have to water it! As silly as that may sound, it's my favorite part about owning a fake plant. There's no responsibility involved whatsoever. Set the plant on your desk and just forget about it. I mean, you can water it if you want, but I don't suggest doing that.


Beverage Coasters

If you're like me, then you absolutely need some kind of beverage by your side while you work. For me, it's usually coffee. But of course, I'm not going to risk damaging my desk with spilled liquids. That's why I use a coaster.

Currently, I'm using a set of floppy disk coasters. They're affordable and they do their job. Oh, and they're geeky as hell. If floppy disks aren't your thing, there are so many more options available. Check out a few sets below that might grab your interest:

Vinyl Record Coasters | Super Mario Bros. Coasters | Elements Glowing Coasters


LED Strip Light Kit

If there is one way to ultimately improve the overall look of your desk, it would be to install an LED lighting kit. Typically sold as a reel of LEDs that is waterproof and flexible, you can cut the strip and adjust it to your liking. This is especially useful when working with desks of different sizes.

Having owned several LED kits over the years, my newest one is from OxyLED. I bought it for just $15. It's easily worth every penny. The kit also includes a remote, allowing you to change the colors of the LEDs and set up custom presets.


It's time to get creative! If you have a photo of your desk that you'd like to share with the community, simply comment below with a link. I'm always up for discovering new ideas to add to one of my many setups.

5 Things I Cannot Vlog Without

Having recently wrapped up my longest series yet on YouTube (watch "Seaside Heights 2017" here), it dawned on me that I've never taken the time to explain the gear I use to create my vlogs. While my camera rig doesn't compare to the bigger YouTubers who have millions of subscribers, it has certainly come a long way in recent years.

In other words, gone are the days of using a camcorder to vlog. Going the DSLR route has dramatically improved the overall quality of my videos — in not only video, but audio as well.

To make things easy, I've created a new kit dedicated to my vlogging gear. It's simply called My Vlogging Gear. Click on anything that interests you and Kit will automatically take you to the respective Amazon product page.

So, what makes up my vlogging gear? Just five items. Yep, that's it. Five. Let's go over each of them.

Canon EOS 80D

Simply put, the Canon 80D is the best camera I have ever bought myself. Really, it's that good. The video quality it produces is amazing, it's compatible with hundreds of lenses, and my favorite of all — the autofocus is surprisingly fast. I'm talking camcorder-like speeds.

Of course, some of this comes down to the lens that I am using (more on that in a bit), but the camera in general is just incredible. It's easily worth the $1,100 price tag, and that's only for the body alone. Yeah, it's a little pricey, but I can assure you the investment is more than worth it. I don't see myself upgrading to another DSLR any time soon.


Canon EF-S 10–18mm f/4.5–5.6 IS STM Lens

I'm not one to obsess over lenses, mainly due to the fact that I have only used a few in my time. However, if there is one lens you need to give a try, it's this one. The Canon EF-S 10–18mm IS STM lens puts out stellar wide-angle shots and uses STM (STepping Motor) technology to produce an ultra quick autofocus without creating noise.

And finally, the price isn't bad. Selling for around $270, there is no better lens in this price range. I think you'll be impressed.

Watch an example video of mine here.


RØDE VideoMic Pro

Before I praise this microphone, it's important to note that RØDE has recently released a newer version that I do not yet own. I plan on buying it at some point. Okay, with that out of the way...

The RØDE VideoMic Pro is an excellent mic that plugs directly into the camera's mic-in jack. Powered by a 9V battery, you can typically expect around 70 hours of run time. Because it uses its own battery, this takes some stress away from the camera itself.

Audio quality is exceptional, just as long as you're attempting to capture anything that is directly in front of the mic. Shotgun mics are designed to work this way, so keep that in mind when recording. Also, be sure to properly configure your camera's settings. It likely will not be set up by default.


Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod

I often say this is the best $25 you can spend as a video creator, and I still stand by these words. The Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod is so simple and reliable, you'll end up asking yourself how you never owned one to begin with.

The PIXI Mini is a miniature size tripod that can be easily opened and closed whenever needed. It features a push button ball head, allowing for flexible adjustment in camera angles. And of course, the PIXI Mini comes in a variety of colors — hence why I already own four of them. What can I say? It's an addiction.

Just buy yourself one. You'll be glad you did.


Transcend 64GB SDXC-UHS Memory Card

Don't let all that mumbo jumbo mess with your head. This is simply a high-speed SD card that does its job well. There's really no other way to describe it.

Although, I will say that Transcend is my preferred brand for SD cards. It has been for years now, ever since I started creating YouTube videos.


And that's it! Those are the five items I cannot imagine myself without, at least while vlogging. My other style of videos can sometimes require different gear, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Do you have a question about anything I featured today? Don't forget, you can find all five items on Kit, as well as many other products that are featured in my videos regularly.

My First Impressions of the GoPro HERO Session

Just this week, I had the opportunity to purchase my first ever GoPro HERO Session. As someone who has been a big fan of the GoPro brand since owning the GoPro HERO3, I've always been curious about the small cube-like camera. And did I mention it sells for just $149? Considering this is a GoPro product we're talking about, that's a great price.

Throw in an Amazon Prime Day deal and you've got me convinced. I ordered the bundle and eagerly awaited its arrival on Thursday. You can check out my unboxing video right below.

I have only had the GoPro HERO Session in my possession for about 24 hours, but I've noticed a few things that I think are worth sharing — especially if you're in the market for a more affordable action camera. Believe me, you'll want to go the GoPro route. Having recently used two GoPro knockoffs, the difference in quality is like night and day.

Build quality is exceptional

Like any GoPro camera, the build quality of the Session is simply incredible. Despite its small form factor, the camera feels solid in the hand and the onscreen menu is easy to navigate. The sides of the Session have a rubber texture, making the camera easy to grip. It's also quite light, weighing just 0.16 pounds.

If you are looking for a camera that is both compact and well built, the Session will not disappoint.

For a $149 GoPro, video looks great

Whenever you're buying a less expensive version of something better, you can typically expect to find a few shortcomings along the way. While this certainly applies to the Session, I think you'd be surprised by the results.

My first impressions of the recording quality were very positive. I'm actually amazed at how good the video looks for a camera that costs $149. The wide-angle lens captures plenty of information within frame, colors appear bright and vibrant, and white balance performance seems adequate.

It is worth noting, however, that the Session does not feature video stabilization of any kind. This means that your footage is prone to shakiness, so you might want to invest in an accessory or two that can help stabilize the motion. Either that, or consume less caffeine. But I prefer to not think about the latter.

IMG_3268.JPG

For a $149 GoPro, audio sounds good

Continuing to focus on the low price tag, I'm not going to knock the audio too much. However, I will say it's better than expected — at least when compared to my $299 GoPro HERO4. The audio may not sound as defined as to what I'm used to, but it actually sounds pretty damn good.

For an example of how the microphone performs, check out the video above. I plan on doing a more in-depth comparison at some point in the future.

Waterproof made easy

Using a camera with waterproof capabilities is nothing new. The idea has been around for years now. However, doing so usually requires some kind of waterproof housing — much like what's included with most GoPro cameras. But who wants to worry about carrying around another accessory? That has always been a huge turn-off to me. I simply want a product to work as advertised.

The Session is the first camera from GoPro that is completely waterproof right out of the box. Yes, you read that right. If you want to take the Session underwater, you won't have to worry about bringing along any accessories.

Of course, this kind of convenience has its limitations. Without an external housing, the Session is waterproof up to 33 feet below. If you ask me, that's plenty. I don't see myself going any deeper than 8 feet any time soon.

Seriously, just buy it

You'll be glad you did. I recommend going with the Deluxe Bundle, which includes the following:

  • GoPro HERO Session
  • GoPro Headstrap Mount + QuickClip
  • AmazonBasics Carrying Case
  • Samsung 32GB MicroSD Card

Do you have any videos that were recorded using a GoPro camera? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

7 Things I Like About the iPad Pro 10.5-inch (2017)

Apple recently refreshed the iPad Pro line, which brought all kinds of new features and enhancements — including an all-new 10.5-inch model. While at first glance things may seem similar to what you've been used to for the last year or so, I can assure you that a lot has changed. Some enhancements are more noticeable than others.

The following are seven things that I like most about the iPad Pro 10.5-inch. Of course, it's worth noting that this list also applies to the 12.9-inch model. The only obvious difference between the two is the screen size.

1. ProMotion is a game changer

Immediately disregard everything you enjoy about the displays on your existing iOS devices — unless you happen to own one of the new iPad Pro models, of course. ProMotion, Apple's marketing term for a 120Hz display, is truly a huge leap forward in display technology for tablets. Capable of displaying up to 120 frames per second, the iPad Pro displays everything at twice the normal rate.

Similar to making the transition from a non-Retina display to Retina, witnessing ProMotion for the first time is feeling that I will soon not forget. I just hope Apple continues to implement this technology in all future iOS devices, including the iPhone's upcoming 10th anniversary.

2. Apple knows premium design

Okay, so they're not perfect. You'll quickly realize this when you go to charge the Magic Mouse 2 for the first time. But regardless, Apple is typically very good at designing their products to give off a premium vibe. Thankfully, with the new iPad Pro, things continue in that direction.

From an aluminum body to a glass display, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro simply looks and feels incredible. And thanks to the 50% thinner side bezels, the form factor of the iPad Pro doesn't feel that different than the previous 9.7-inch model.

3. Audio continues to impress

This is one area where not much has changed, but is that such a bad thing? Ever since the original iPad Pro was released, audio has always been phenomenal — at least for a tablet. Thanks to the four onboard speakers, listening to music or watching movies on the iPad Pro far exceeds the experience you get on any traditional tablet.

Using the built-in accelerometer on the iPad Pro, iOS can intelligently route audio through the appropriate channels, depending on which orientation the device is positioned in. Much like ProMotion, experiencing the audio is something you should really do in person.

4. The cameras are better than ever

I think we've reached the point in society where it's okay to take photos (and shoot videos) with our tablets. Right? Well, at least I think so, anyway. I'm not typically the close-minded type. If somebody wants to use their devices in a creative way, who am I to stop them? You just need to be responsible when doing so.

If you are someone who enjoys taking photos with their iPad Pro, then I have good news for you. The latest iPad Pro models both feature everything we love about the iPhone 7 cameras — aside from the Portrait mode, which requires dual lenses. The rear-facing camera shoots in 12-megapixel resolution and 4K video, while the FaceTime HD camera uses a 7-megapixel sensor. Not bad for a tablet!

5. Apple Pencil just got a lot better

That's not to say there was anything wrong with the Apple Pencil to begin with. It's actually incredible. But you know what? It's now even better, and that's thanks primarily to the introduction of the ProMotion display.

Now that the iPad Pro is capable of displaying information 120 times per second, this means it can register inputs from the Apple Pencil twice as fast. The latency has dropped from 40 milliseconds to an impressive 20 milliseconds. And before you ask, yes — you can notice the difference.

6. Creatives should feel at home

When comparing the iPad Pro to other tablets, it's like night and day. Sure, there are some creative apps available no matter which platform you decide to use, but nothing even comes close to the app selection for iOS. From digital art apps to fully fledged photo editors, creatives are going to feel very comfortable when using the iPad Pro.

Between support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, the iPad Pro continues to dominate in the creative space. Now, I'm not saying this is set to replace your actual computer any time soon, but it's certainly moving in that direction. And besides, there's something very satisfying about 'touching' your work and seeing it come to life.

7. iOS 11 is right around the corner

iOS 11 may not be available to the public yet, but I feel like it deserves a place on this list. As of this fall (or earlier if you give the public beta a try), iOS 11 will be giving the iPad Pro experience a major facelift — from not only a creativity perspective, but especially productivity.

Users will soon have access to an actual file browser, multitasking will be reimagined, and drag-and-drop functionality between apps is going to be fully supported. Needless to say, iOS 11 is a massive upgrade for iPad Pro users. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.

Unboxing the All-New 10.5-inch iPad Pro (2017)

It's not very often I get to unbox a shiny new Apple product — at least one on the expensive side of the spending spectrum. Much like the iPhone, opening an all-new iPad can be a little costly. Throw in the iPad Pro, and things get even more expensive. Being an Apple fan isn't cheap. And besides, who needs to eat for the next few weeks?

So, what's the unboxing experience like for this year's iPad Pro refresh? To put simply, it feels new. Despite recently unboxing the 9.7-inch iPad Pro last March, a lot has changed with the all-new 10.5-inch model. The overall form factor is obviously a little larger, but the weight surprisingly feels the same. And the bezel is now 50% thinner, making the design feel more premium than ever.

Where the 10.5-inch iPad Pro really shines is the addition of a 120Hz display, which displays frames twice as fast as last year's iPad Pro models. Apple calls this technology ProMotion, and rightfully so. The moment you witness the new display in person, you'll wonder how you ever got by with anything less.

Seriously, ProMotion is that good. It's the one feature that will continue to have me drool over how smooth everything plays out. Swipe between home screen pages and you'll see what I mean. Oh, and the best part? Both the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models feature ProMotion. So, whether you go big or small, there's no need to worry about missing out.

It's also worth noting that the ProMotion display has cut the response time of the Apple Pencil in half. Rather than a 40ms delay, the Apple Pencil now inputs at just 20ms. If numbers mean anything to you, that is one millisecond faster than the Surface Pen performs on the Surface Pro.

Source: Apple.com

While I haven't had the chance to put too much time into the new iPad Pro, I can say with confidence that upgrading from the 9.7-inch model is worth it. The screen size may be only about 20% larger, but the increase is noticeable to the point where you'll feel the difference. And similar to previous iPad Pro models, the audio is just as impressive. The four onboard speakers really amplify your listening experience, making the use of headphones less relevant.

Of course, I cannot forget to talk about performance. This is the fastest iPad that Apple has ever created, but that should go without saying. The A10X Fusion chip really excels, allowing the iPad Pro to shine when dealing with professional tasks — such as editing 4K video and rendering 3D models. Oh, and 4 GB of RAM doesn't hurt, either.

Needless to say, I am loving the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. It's the most impressive tablet I have used to date, and it's only going to get better with iOS 11. I plan on installing the public beta when it becomes available, so you can expect more coverage in the coming weeks.

Are you an iPad Pro user? If so, let me know how you're using yours.