Welcome to the latest installment of Staff Picks. Every other week, we’ll tell you about the tech we’re currently testing — everything from cameras to hi-fi headphones, extremely large desktop monitors to smart home appliances — as well as the grail items we wish we could buy. To see what we’ve previously been testing, click here.
Shinola The Canfield Pro In-Ear Pro Monitors
High-end in-ear monitors are overkill for my daily workflow, at a desk listening to Spotify and transcribing interviews, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy wearing them. These IEMs by Shinola are starkly beautiful, just like the over-ear headphones I tested a few months back, and sound accurate and produce solid bass — better than more normal AirPods, which you’d expect. The near-$500 price is a little tough to swallow, as you can buy great sounding IEMs by Shure and RHA for less, but these have the heft, looks and sound quality to almost justify it. And its cables are detachable in case you want to upgrade later on. — Tucker Bowe, Staff Writer
Q Acoustics 3020 Bookshelf Speakers
Having just moved a few months ago, I’ve been slowly but surely building out a new home entertainment system — without spending big. I already have a 4K TV and I’ve been trying out these 3020 bookshelf speakers by Q Acoustics, paired with my Yamaha A/V receiver. The setup lets me stream songs and podcasts from Spotify, while also belting out my TV’s audio as I play Xbox and Netflix. It’s versatile and easy to use setup, which is great, and this stereo pair pushes well beyond its $270 price. — Tucker Bowe, Staff Writer
2018 iPad with Apple Pencil
The new $329 iPad is essentially the same device as last year’s $329 iPad, just with a beefed-up processor and Apple Pencil support. The latter opens it up to all different app possibilities. Notes feels like a completely different app when used with an Apple Pencil. Notability is another neat app that allows you to annotate PDFs much the same way as a teacher would edit a paper. It still feels aberrant drawing and notes with a pencil, as I haven’t handwritten anything longer than a few lines in years, but I’m working on it. (If you want to read about more advanced features with the Apple Pencil, check out this interview I did with the co-creator of Trace, an app specifically for architects.) — Tucker Bowe, Staff Writer