My year in Tech - 2020. There will be a different post for culture 2020 as well.

When someone starts writing a post about a tech product, it ends up being one of two things: Either an unbiased review or a very biased piece highlighting how the thing is "the best thing ever" / "the worst thing ever". And I promise you I will try my best not to do any of those in this post.

Most of this post discusses smartphones and what I think of them. Later on, there are a few other accessories discussed as well. Also, I will keep this post clear of the standard ramblings and thoughts of these products as I am sure you can find those on the internet anywhere.

Phone: Pixel 4a

The best phone is the one in your hands. The numbers, the specs, they don't matter. Because the only phone you can use is the one you have. You can fight with other people on which phone is better but if you lose, you aren't going to buy the other's phone, and neither will your opponent.

The question of the best phone is relevant only when you have to buy a new one. When you have to look at your budget, and your priorities to decide what is best for you. The tech culture makes people forget about this. The geeks fight over which phone is better when they haven't used either.

Then it would seem that following trends in tech is stupid. It doesn't seem to have any purpose. You only need to focus when you have to make a new purchase.

For most this assessment is justified. However, there are few, like myself, who take pride in the progress of technology, who are amazed when there's a translucent display, or a foldable screen, or a telescopic lens, or an underscreen camera! All these are marvelous feats of engineering. And we like to follow these developments.

This doesn't mean that we will purchase products with these features. Case in point, I got a Pixel 4a. It doesn't have any of those cool things. It is disappointingly last gen.

It has a single camera, no fast refresh rate, weak processor, no fancy front-facing cameras (just a boring punch-hole), and a plastic build. Yet, I love this phone. It doesn't spark any joy when you talk about it in text, and it shouldn't. It is not meant to crunch numbers or be a productivity powerhouse. It is meant to be a smartphone.

My laptop is my "daily driver". I do most of my work on it. I program, design, browse the web, take notes, watch YouTube, etc. on my laptop. All I ever use my phone is for:

  • Being connected on the go (email, messaging services)
  • Browsing Reddit and Twitter
  • Camera
  • Reading Books
  • Spotify on the move

That's it.

There are power users out there who use their phones for... I don't know what. Gaming is better on PC, Productivity is better on PC, Web is better on PC. I don't know why they need a phone unless they are always on the move and can't bother with their laptops.

So, given the small usecase for a phone, the best phone for me is the one that satisfies them as long as I own it. And this is the reason I avoid budget smartphones. Because they stop getting software updates.

And I rock it naked. Without a cover or a screen protector. I accept the risk involved and enjoy the better ergonomics, lightness, and responsiveness that comes with the trade.

The camera is a joy to use. Here are a few shots I took and edited on the phone itself:

Pixel photo 1 Pixel photo 2 Pixel photo 3 Pixel photo 4

These aren't the photos a normal person would take, but these are the ones I enjoy because of their aesthetic.

On the topic of whether the phones have taken us away from reality, here is a quote from a review of Pixel 3, written 2 years ago:

Look around any city street and there we all are, with our heads down, walking past each other, unaware. I saw you in your car driving with your phone in your hand. I saw you at the playground looking at your phone while your child’s life passed you by. I saw you on your date, alone together.

Overall, Pixel 4a is the perfect phone for me, not everyone. Go find your own best phone, it might be this or something entirely different.

What I like:

  • The size - excellent single-handed usage.
  • The camera - near perfect.
  • Software - clean and minimal, updated regularly.

What I dislike:

  • Battery - but only slightly, esp. because I use it as a hotspot all the time.
  • Any other custom launcher makes the animations a little janky and that is why I stick with the default launcher.

Mouse: Logitech G102 lightsync

A decent mouse so far! I didn't plan on getting a new one but after a few furious sessions of Krunker my old mouse started to show its age. Hence, I had to shell out for yhis one.

What I like:

  • Weight - It's lighter than my previous mouse
  • The lights - RGBeeee
  • Shape - Ergonomic and minimal

What I dislike:

  • Configurability on Linux is a little broken, Pipper detects three LEDs as a single one.

Earphones: KZ ZST

Ah if there was a heaven, it would probably sound like this.

These single-handedly justify a Spotify premium account. They convince me to listen to songs at a higher bitrate on Spotify; rather than the compressed crap on YouTube. (YouTube music has 256kbps bitrate and Spotify has 320kbps. YouTube videos have a bitrate of 192kbps.) And before you say that you don't notice the difference in audio quality, it is because you aren't using a good enough pair of earphones.

Of anything on this post, this is the only one I recommend. It is for everyone, at least for those who haven't yet sacrificed their headphone jacks for a worse and more expensive wireless audio experience.

What I like:

  • Sound Quality - Heavenly
  • Build quality - Very nice
  • Cable

What I dislike:

  • None till now!

Monitor: Dell P Series 24-inch

Because of the pandemic I had to leave this at college and it has been ~6 months since I last used it. And therefore my views of this monitor have dulled with time and I don't seem to value it as much as I did when I used to use it.

What I like:

  • The size is perfect
  • The design is nice

What I dislike:

  • Color accuracy compared to my laptop is bad

I have noticed myself in the past searching the internet on something that I will/have purchased, and only reading reviews that reinforce the views I have already formed. Lately though, I have realized that it won't get me anywhere. I will purchase the product no matter what I watch if I stick with my biases. So, what I do now is only look at the negative reviews for deal-breaking issues. These give me an idea of what to be worried about.

Hopefully I will make more informed decisions in 2021.