As 2022 comes to a close, we want to share with you the devices, software, and services that have made the Inverse gear team's lives both professionally and personally better throughout the year. Nothing here is sponsored, though our parent company BDG will get a commission if you buy anything through the affiliate links. Mostly, this is just our team's personal favorite tech of the year — all in one place.
Who is Ian?
My name is Ian Carlos Campbell for professional writing purposes, but I’m totally comfortable going by Ian for brevity’s sake. I’m an associate editor with Inverse’s gear team, and before that, you might have read me at Input or The Verge. My niche within our section’s larger technology focus is all things “personal.” I’m interested in the things we wear, put on our faces, and carry in our pockets. So far, that’s included smartphones, smart glasses, smartwatches, and all things virtual reality, but I haven’t excused myself from checking out a cool video game handheld here or there when the urge arose.
I’ll always be a movie and TV kid at heart, but one of the most exciting parts of my short writing career has been seeing how the entertainment and technology industries continue to intersect in ways both good and bad. The arts will always have a role to play in technology, and having any kind of perspective outside the worlds of business and engineering increasingly seems very important if you’re making anything that doesn’t suck, ethically or otherwise.
Or if you want people to pony up for your subscription service.
The least I can do here at Inverse is to try and provide some of that perspective, connect dots you might not have already connected yourself, and hopefully be weird and entertaining along the way. These are some of the things that help me do that.
Meta’s entry-level VR headset is at the end of its life (the company has all but published a press release announcing a release date for the Quest 3), but it remains oh-so reliable. Meta’s store has a wide selection of great apps and games, and even with the Quest 2’s higher starting price (softened till the end of the year by great pack-ins like Beat Saber and Resident Evil 4), it's just a fantastic package. The little headset has picked up some extra sentimental meaning, too. Before I moved in with my partner, we’d go on VR dates together by playing Walkabout Mini Golf. Who could’ve guessed that Quest 2 could make long-distance relationships tolerable?
AirPods Pro (2nd-gen)
I spend far too much time with wireless earbuds in, but if I’m going to screw up my ears anyway, I’m glad it’s with a listening experience as great as the AirPods Pro. Apple’s second-generation wireless earbuds weren’t a dramatic reinvention, but they sound louder, charge easier (over Lightning, MagSafe, or an Apple Watch charger), have Find My capabilities built-in, and come with an all-important lanyard loop. I still have issues getting them to swap between devices as easily as Apple promises, but for a pair of wireless earbuds that cost a fair bit more than the competition, I’m just as happy with these as I was when I bought my first pair.
AMC Stubs A-List
I love a good subscription service, but few have dramatically reshaped my life as AMC Stubs A-List has. AMC Theaters’ answer to MoviePass, A-List is a $25 subscription that gets you three movies a week in any AMC theater, in any format (even IMAX), at no additional cost. Look, I went to film school. I’m committed to the theatrical experience. But what’s exciting about A-List is how it gets me watching films I might not have spent money on otherwise (B-tier action movies, films with “The” in the title), and all I have to do is make a few selections on an iPhone app.
The reMarkable 2 is the ideal notetaking device. E Ink screen, smooth pen input, and flexible software that can connect to all of the important cloud services for moving files back and forth. Unfortunately, to really get your money’s worth, you also have to pay a subscription. Some reMarkable customers are grandfathered in, but all new devices require a Connect subscription to save things in the cloud and access reMarkable’s OCR software for converting handwritten notes into text. I don’t love it, nor do I love the fact that styluses are sold separately, but for the joy the reMarkable 2 gives me taking notes during press briefings, I begrudgingly accept it.
I bought the Steam Deck because I was intent on experiencing the wealth of indie games that never make it off Windows. In reality, I’ve played a strange mix of graphically intensive titles I never got around to, games I already own on PlayStation, and random finds I picked up on sale. Truly the ideal Steam experience. For as intimidating as it seems, the Steam Deck is a small wonder, making games that would have no business running on a Switch portable and offering a level of control customization that’s incomparable. It’s now one of my favorite ways to play games.
Oura Ring (3rd-gen)
Most people who wear a smartwatch could probably get by with an Oura ring. There, I said it. If monitoring your health, tracking your steps, or just getting a better grasp on how you sleep is all you care about, the 3rd-generation Oura Ring is how to do it. Besides looking stylish and lasting several days on a single charge, its companion app provides a ton of interesting insights into how your body functions. It also got me interested in jewelry, which is a side benefit, but no small feat for someone as fussy as me.
Time Timer Mod
I have a hard time focusing. Mainly because using the internet to do my job every day is the ultimate test of my self-control. To combat that, I’ve spent the last year burning through different Pomodoro timer apps, trying to find one that works for me. Does it grow fictional trees? I tried it. Will touching my phone make a chill, illustrated bear mad? I’ve done it. Ultimately, I settled on an actual physical timer because it both looked cool and let me leave my phone in a different room entirely. The Time Timer comes in fun colors and has a toggle if you don’t want to deal with an annoying alarm sound, but I mostly like it because it’s as simple as possible.
iPhone 13 mini
If you’re in the market for a new phone, there’s really no reason not to get an iPhone 14. But I’m a sentimental sap who’ll actually miss Apple’s brief dalliance with “mini” iPhones, so allow me this indulgence. I bought a green iPhone 13 mini in anticipation of Apple “moving in a different direction” with the iPhone 14, and I don’t regret anything. The iPhone 13 mini is fast enough, the camera is good enough, and I get compliments all the time over how small and cute my phone is. That’s how little of an impact the iPhone mini made; people have already forgotten they existed.
Let the record show: I was the first person on our team to use Arc, the hot new Chromium browser taking the world by storm. Besides looking great, Arc has an expansive suite of customization options, and a wonderful philosophy for how tabs, web apps, and all other internet ephemera should coexist together. It’s one of the few new developments from 2022 that I actually feel good evangelizing.
I’ve used Kindles, Kobos, and PocketBooks, but I keep coming back to Amazon’s e-readers mainly for the convenience of a giant collection of books, and account information already on file. Last year’s Kindle Paperwhite is the best version of a Kindle yet, with a larger, crisper display, and the ability to charge over USB-C. Amazon will upsell you at every turn, but it’s hard to be too mad when you’re getting a great E Ink device at such an approachable price.
Anker 511 Charger Nano 3
Anker knows how to make a great charging brick, so it should come as no surprise that its new colorful Nano 3 chargers are some of the best and smallest in the business thanks to their use of Gallium Nitride. I’ve used my 30W Anker charger to top up everything from my phone to my laptop without issue, and it’s able to push that level of charge in a body the size of an old pack-in iPhone charger. It’s fantastic —and there are fun colors to boot.