Last week I offered my recommendations for holiday gifts for the lawyer in your life. Today, I’m taking a different tack. I’m going share my favorite tech and gadgets that I’ve discovered over the past year and tell you exactly why I like each one so much and how I use it.
First, there’s Amazon Prime. How I love thee. For just $99 per year you get free 2-day shipping on many Amazon items. For someone like me, who saves times by frequently shopping online, the free shipping alone pays for the sign-up fee.
I also take advantage of Amazon’s “subscribe and save” feature, which allows me to subscribe to items I purchase on a regular basis, determine how often I’d like to receive them, and I receive a 15 percent discount if I subscribe to 5 or more.
You also receive free unlimited online photo storage with your Amazon Prime account and there’s an Amazon Photo app that automatically uploads photos right from your phone as you take them. This is also another feature that more than pays for the membership.
There’s also the Kindle Owners’ Lending library which allows you to download and read certain books to your Kindle for free (but not via the Kindle app when used on other mobile devices). And if that’s not enough books for you, you can join Kindle Unlimited for $9.99 per month and have unlimited access to over 1 million books, which can be read on any device.
Then there’s Amazon Prime’s video and music services. These are included as part of your Amazon Prime membership and provide you with access to an incredible amount of free music and movies, which can be accessed from any device.
Amazon Prime Music becomes all the more useful when used in conjunction with Amazon Echo. I purchased Echo earlier this year when there was a Prime members special price offering of $100. Currently it costs $179.99 on Amazon. My family loves Echo. We keep it in our kitchen and you can stream just about any song or album simply by asking the device (“Alexa”) to play it. The speaker on Echo is surprisingly good. And if you want to know the name of a song, you simply ask her mid-song and she’ll tell you.
Using Alexa you can also listen to your iTunes music library, along with many radio stations. To change the volume you simply ask her to do so.
We also use it for our grocery list, so when anyone in the family uses up an item they simply tell Alexa to add it to the list. Another thing I love to do is have Alexa read the morning news to me as I make my latte. And if I ever need to obtain a piece of information, the answer is just a voice command away. Echo is by far one of my favorite purchases of 2015.
Another device purchased in 2015 that I love is my Apple watch. Although I use it for many things, my favorites include answering calls and texts I would otherwise have missed, using it to navigate when traveling and walking around a strange city, and to pay for coffee at Starbucks without having to reach into my purse for my phone or wallet.
Another favorite purchase is a little gadget that creates white noise. I happen to have a husband who snores, and this little device has made my evening slumbers immeasurably more peaceful. So if you, too, have a mate who snores, definitely consider a white noise machine. Mine cost only $20 and it’s worth its weight in gold!
And, last, but not least, the free meditation app Calm was really useful to me. I started meditating for approximately 10 minutes per day over the summer and discovered this app. It has a 7-day meditation series that helped jump start my meditating and I found it to be really useful. If you’ve been thinking about exploring mindfulness and meditating, this app is a great place to start. You can also watch this video recording of a webinar on mindfulness for lawyers.
So those are a few of my favorite gadgets and gizmos that I used in 2015. Perhaps you might give one of them a try and find that it’s one of your favorite things in 2016. You never know!
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at email@example.com.