There are so many products out there on the market that are vying for your attention during the holiday season. My focus has always been on the ones that will make my life easier. The reality is, finding products that both look good and function well is not always the easiest. Below you’ll find some of my favorite gear that help my day go a little better but also have a great style about them:

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Grado Prestige Series SR80e

It seems everyone has their favorite headphones, from Beats to Bose the market is flooded with companies wanting to get on your ears. It was three Christmases ago that I found out about Grado Heapdhones from my local record store owner. Although I had been eyeing a pair of Sol Republic Tracks for some time (I had no clue then), I decided to give the Grado SR80’s a run. They have completely changed my outlook on music – the basic gist of these Brooklyn-made headphones is that they are built by hand and designed to give you an entirely different music listening experience.

Whatever your favorite song is, you’ll be amazed at how the open-air design allows for every note to enter and exit your ears. The music never sounds muddied, but free flowing as the openness allows the music to escape instead of bouncing around in your ear. The newly minted SR80e’s will run you about $100 over at Amazon, I know that you’ll love the retro styling and the way your music sounds this Christmas.

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This is Ground Cord Tacos

Honestly, the amount of cords that I have to keep track is overwhelming. From Lightning cables to MicroUSB and proprietary connectors, it’s getting pretty out of hand. So lately I’ve turned to the This is Ground cord tacos to keep all of my wires, cords and chargers organized. The cord taco is simple design that is made in Los Angeles and serves a very simple purpose in its life: keep the cords together and have a nice design as well. The story behind them is great and they’ve managed to spring off an entire line of other beautiful accessories for a variety of devices as well.

The cord tacos are available in a wide variety of colors and are a nice complement to the harsh plastic that usually accompanies your devices’ charging needs. They almost make add a human element, which may seem like a minor piece to the puzzle, but ultimately if you care about how your gear looks the cord tacos are a nice way to go. You can pick up a five pack of them on Amazon for about $30. The cord taco makes a great gift for anyone that has electronics gear and its something that has a little more ‘look’ to it than your average organizational tool.

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SONOS Wireless HiFi

When it comes to home audio, I’ve found my sweet spot with SONOS. The reality for me is that AirPlay doesn’t offer enough flexibility and I’m not in to the retro record floor standing speakers scene either. What SONOS allows me to do is easily connect and create a whole home audio system that I can add to whenever I want and move around as I please. With a wide variety of options depending on the needs of your space, you can easily make sure that every corner of your home is pumping Bing Crosby’s Christmas album this holiday season.

Currently, we have four SONOS speakers in our house. We’ve got three PLAY:1’s that have homes in our kitchen, bedroom and bathroom (cool little side note, the PLAY:1 is humidity-resistant for bathrooms). We’ve also got a PLAY:3 in our living room. The beauty of the SONOS system for me is the coverage across audio sources that it supports while doing so in a simple package. Whether it is Pandora, Spotify or Beats, SONOS has you covered. Want to pump your personal collection from a NAS setup you’ve got? Not an issue. They support high-quality audio from your computer or via streaming services and can be paired up for stereo or surround sound as well. Starting at $199 for the PLAY:1 and going up to $700 for the PLAYBAR or SUB, SONOS offers enough to cover all the needs of someone that wants a great sound system without breaking the bank.

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Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus

Recently I was able to get my hands on a Pencil by FiftyThree digital stylus and although I was initially skeptical, I’ve found it to be a great addition to my recently purchased iPad Air 2. The Pencil pairs with FiftyThree’s own Paper app but also works with some other iOS note taking apps as well. It comes in either graphite or walnut and has nice build quality and feel when your are using it. I used to really enjoy drawing and the Pencil by FiftyThree has allowed me to get back into doing this with a technological twist. The Pencil will run you $50-60 depending on the model that you are interested in. If you enjoy creating artwork or know someone who does, I highly recommend this as a fun add-on to a new iPad this Christmas.

My iOS Productivity Pack: Fantastical, Things and Drafts 4

The iOS app store is crowded and full of potential purchases that don’t will just take up space on your device and frankly don’t look very good. As I balance my writing for 9to5Toys with other areas of my life, I’ve found that these three apps have really helped me keep focused on what needs to be done. Not only are they well functioning, they also look pretty good on both an iPhone and iPad.

  • Fantastical – this popular calendar app offers real language text entry that makes creating new events a breeze. Additionally it has a today center widget that makes seeing what is ahead this week easy to do. Fantastical is available for iPhone, iPad and Mac OS X.
  • Things – this ‘Get It Done’ app really hits the sweet spot for me, its capable of doing more than the stock reminders app but doesn’t overwhelm me like OmniFocus. It has a great design and is cross compatible with iOS and Mac OS X. Like Fantastical, the widget for iOS makes it easy to quickly access the your to-do’s for the day.
  • Drafts 4 – simplistic in nature, the beauty of Drafts lies in its ability to quickly capture your thoughts and then share it across a myriad of services. Another app that recently got a re-design, Drafts has a beautifully simple feel that puts the focus on your thoughts and not other visual distractions. It is available for both iPhone and iPad as well.

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