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 Ray?
My name is Raymond Wong — call me Ray! I'm the deputy editor of reviews and guides here at Inverse. You may know me from Input or Mashable before. I run our gear section where we live and breathe cutting-edge consumer tech. Whether it's new phones, laptops, cameras, drones, EVs, AR/VR, gaming systems, or whatever constitutes a gadget, I have the privilege of trying the latest innovations that are changing (or will change) our lives.
I am as many accurately call: a gadget head. I've been obsessed with technology since my earliest childhood and teenage years, and my appreciation for technology has only grown in the past 12 years of reporting and reviewing devices, software, and services.
My mission throughout my career has been to first, inform, and second, to entertain through my content. If I have helped you make a shopping decision — I've done my job. Or if I have made you feel something — like think about your relationship with technology, for example — then I'm fulfilled.
MacBook Pro (14-inch, M1 Max)
This is without a doubt the best non-gaming laptop that I have ever owned. My specific MacBook Pro is a 14-inch model with M1 Max chip (10-core CPU and 32-core GPU) and 64GB of unified memory. One year after launch, the MacBook Pro continues to impress me. The 120Hz ProMotion display is gorgeous; the controversy on the notch was greatly overblown. It almost never freezes or crashes; I have so much fast RAM I never worry about apps using it up. I think I've only heard the fan once or twice — when I was exporting a one-hour vlog from vacation in Hawaii. The speakers are phenomenal. And, yes: I have used the hell out of the SD card slot and HDMI port. The only two downsides to my specific model are: the battery drains faster than the M1 Pro version (I really wish the M1 Max was more efficient for less intensive apps) and the keycaps finish is pretty cheap.
Mode Designs Sonnet
Every artist has their preferred tool. Jimi Hendrix loved his Fender Stratocaster. Agatha Christie used a Remington No. 2 typewriter. A mechanical keyboard is a must for me. I've bopped between a 65 percent Keychron Q2 and 80 percent Q3 mechanical keyboard, but always returned back to Mode's 75 percent Sonnet. The layout sits perfectly between the two Keychrons and the build quality is the nicest I've ever seen and used on a mechanical keyboard. Mine is a hot-swappable model configured with a silver top, silver mirror bottom and accent, brass wave internal weight, plate foam, and black silicone base — an intentional match to my laptop and monitor setup. The switches are pre-lubed Mode Linear Reflexes and the keycaps are from GMK. It's keyboard heaven — to me.
I take a lot of smartphone photos — 32,912 this year according to the Photos app in iPhone 14 Pro. But nothing beats gripping a camera with an interchangeable lens and flicking the dials to adjust picture settings exactly the way I want them. The X-T3 isn't new (it came out in 2018), but the retro-looking camera has rekindled my love for street photography. Paired with a fast f/2.0 prime lens I picked up midyear, I've tried to bring the X-T3 with me more often. Portrait photos taken with phones are decent, but can't compare to the natural bokeh of a fast lens.
Xiaomi Electric Precision Screwdriver
In my free time, I enjoy opening up my gadgets. Upgrading, repairing, cleaning — it's a therapeutic process for me. I bought a $27 toolkit with 111 screwdriver bits two years ago and pried open all of my old Game Boys and game consoles. With the world back to normal, my time is crunched again, so I picked up this electric screwdriver from Xiaomi. It has 24 bits that snap in with magnets, two rotation modes at up to 200 rpm, and USB-C charging. The whole package is wrapped in a sleek aluminum case. I've used it to open my PC more times than I can count. Maybe the best part is that it's reduced the number of times I've stripped screws.
Out of all the apps that I tried out this year, Arc has been the most transformational. Built by The Browser Company, Arc is Chromium (that's the open-source codebase for which many modern browsers like Chrome are built on) with an all-new twist. Ever since my colleague Ian "gifted" Arc to me (the browser is still in invite beta for Mac and in development for Windows), I have barely touched Chrome. Features like Split View (you'll never shop online the same way again with side-by-side open tabs), tab previews (great for peeking into Gmail and Google Calendar), and fast shortcuts via the Command Bar — they're all so delightful. The last time I gushed this hard about a web browser was when Google introduced Chrome in 2008. It's still early days with new features and tweaks rolling out weekly, but damn it, Arc has already changed how I use the internet. There's no going back to regular Chrome for me.
Samsung T7 Shield SSD
I've been a fan of Samsung's credit card-sized solid-state storage drives ever since the original T1 SSD. The T7 Shield SSD caught my eye earlier this year thanks to its fast data transfer speeds, reasonable pricing, and rugged casing. I picked up a couple of T7 Shield SSDs on sale throughout the year in 1TB and 2TB capacities to back up all of the data I had archived in my old, non-bus-powered external hard drives (my god, the transfer speeds on those are slow). I now have fast access to over 15 years worth of files. Their small size also means they fit in a fireproof bag, unlike my book-shaped Western Digital hard drives.
Belkin Boost Charge Pro
Everyone has their favorite multi-device charging dock — mine is the Belkin BOOST↑CHARGE PRO 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Pad with MagSafe. This is really the full name. The second I get home, I drop my iPhone on the MagSafe pad, AirPods Pro 2 in the center, and my Apple Watch in the fast magnetic charger. No misplacing any of my devices and they're charged up ASAP. The speedy Apple Watch charger has been invaluable, fast charging my smartwatch so it's got enough juice for sleep tracking at night. Mophie released a foldable 3-in-1 charger that I'm fond of for travel, but since the Belkin Boost Charge Pro gets more use, it earns the spotlight.
Apple Studio Display
I'll be frank: Apple's Studio Display has a terrible webcam, and no, the firmware update didn't fix it. It's also ridiculously expensive. Most people should not buy it; it's not a good deal. However, I am a sucker for design and I couldn't resist it. Paired with my MacBook Pro, the Studio Display has been my window into the internet for nearly the entire year. All my accessories connect to its USB-C ports and then a single Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cable into the laptop. While far from perfect — I wish it had a higher refresh rate than 60Hz and the stand was removable in case I want to VESA mount it in the future — the 5K resolution is stunning (I also wish it was OLED or mini-LED for deeper blacks) and the six-speaker system is outstanding. I plan to use this thing until its backlighting burns out.
Spotify's first and last hardware release was deemed utterly pointless… for cars. But a YouTuber found a way to breathe new life into the knob-equipped Spotify controller as a desktop companion, and I've been obsessed. Is the Car Thing super responsive? Not really. Does it duplicate functions that I already have with an app like Soft Player? It sure does. But I love the tactility; I love a satisfying knob for controlling software.
My go-to over-ear wireless headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) have been a three-way swap between the Bose 700, Sony WH-1000XM4, and the Surface Headphones 2. Sony's WH-1000XM5 kicked all three pairs to the curb with superior ANC and comfort. You'll find the WH-1000XM5 on many best tech lists, and for good reason: they're the best ANC wireless headphones money can buy. I'm positive they have protected my ears from early hearing loss to earn their sticker price.
Shout out to Quinn Nelson aka Snazzy on YouTube for highlighting Dropover. In my never-ending mission to find actually good, useful free Mac apps, I came across Dropover, and let me tell you, organizing my files has never been the same. It's not often I like a free version of a Mac app so much that I pay to unlock the whole thing, but this one was an instant buy for $5. With a little shake of your mouse, you can place selected files in a holding space, which you can then move over to an appropriate folder later. As someone who has never taken to Finder's tabs and struggled to manage multiple folder windows, Dropover was exactly the thing to rescue me from daily stress.
iPhone 14 Pro
My longtime followers already know this but I carry two phones: the latest iPhone and whatever latest Android phone I'm testing. I thought I would go for the iPhone 14 Pro Max this year, but I couldn't give up the more pocket-friendly iPhone 14 Pro dimensions. My model is Space Black (long live Jet Black) with 1TB of storage — plenty of room for all the 48-megapixel ProRAW photos I now take. I have Apple's official leather MagSafe wallet slapped to the back. And FYI: there's no case on my iPhone. I like to live dangerously — and without AppleCare.
FlexiSpot Kana Pro
I've yet to invest in an ergonomic chair that will save my spine down the road, but having a standing desk at least helped with improving my posture. Mine is a FlexiSpot Kana Pro with a spacious bamboo top, but there are so many options at so many price points that there's really no excuse not to invest in a standing desk. It's changed my relationship with my desk — making me more conscious of sitting for too long — and the adjustable height has come in handy for shooting product photography at home.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo
Another Fujifilm camera? Yeah, only this one is an instant camera. Never mind that I took the Instax Mini Evo up in a helicopter to capture New York City on a freezing cold day, this camera is pure fun for me and anyone I hand it over to shoot a picture. Everyone loves it; everyone smiles at it. I took it to Hawaii and discovered that giving out an instant photo as a memento was the easiest way to break the ice with strangers. The 4.92-megapixel image quality leaves a lot to be desired, but when you can print better photos taken with your phone or real camera (the X-T3 in my case), the Mini Evo's downsides vanish pretty quickly.