As tech writers go, few can match the productivity, curiosity, and insightfulness of tech guy Josh Smith. A few years back, when AOL still had its esteemed WalletPop website, Smith was a lead writer on technology and a host of personal finance subjects.
Since then, Smith has moved on to bigger and better things. He's now one of the key people behind GottaBeMobile, a news and reviews website that covers the fast-paced, ever-changing mobile technology sector. He's also a reviewer at Notebooks.com, which means Smith gets to try out all sorts of great new computer gear before it hits the market. We asked Smith which of his favorite gadgets he presently couldn't do without. Here are his top five picks:
Apple iPhone 5 16GB Smartphone
($189.97 in-store only, a low by $10)
Smith may not be the first tech writer to get an iPhone 5, but he's definitely the first in our Techie Top 5 series to put it on his list. Even with several Android phones at his disposal, "The iPhone 5 is my go-to smartphone," Smith says. "The camera is good enough that I can leave a point-and-shoot at home. I use music apps to stream my favorite songs in the car, and a Satechi Bluetooth Media Remote ($39.99 with free shipping, a low by $7) for hands-free playback." Siri also works much better in noisy environments, he reports, "so it's easier to set reminders, create appointments, check sports scores, or send a message. At CES  the iPhone 5 will be my primary video camera when paired with an ALM mCam. And I use the personal hotspot to keep the rest of my devices connected to Verizon's 4G LTE network."
Apple MacBook Air Intel Core i7 1.8GHz 13" Notebook
bundled with 3 Years of AppleCare
($1,399 with $12.50 s&h, a low by $28)
When a guy who reviews laptops for a living tells you his personal pick, it's time to listen up. "The latest crop of Ultrabooks are impressive, but I still default to the MacBook Air when I need to work on the go," Smith says. "The Air offers a high-resolution screen so I can keep two browsers open side-by-side while editing articles and looking up product details. The MacBook Air is also powerful enough that I can edit short videos ... so I don't need to sacrifice productivity."
Apple New iPad 32GB WiFi Tablet
($559.99 in-store only, a low by $40)
Thanks to its Retina display, the newest iPad is much more visually stunning than its predecessors. "I rely on the iPad to watch most of my favorite TV shows, read books, and play games," Smith says. "I also use the Air Display app ($9.99) to turn my iPad into a second monitor ... when I am stuck in a hotel or working mobile for a full day. The iPad is great for referencing speaking notes, and a works as a digital textbook when I am teach at the local college. The Nexus 7 is a close second, but I'm still drawn to the apps on the iPad. If I want to work, I pair it with the [soon-to-be-released] ZaggKeys Pro Plus Keyboard ($129).
ScotteVest SeV Transformer Jacket
($160 with free shipping)
Some jackets merely keep you warm; the Scottevest does more than that. Its 20 pockets keeps just about every on-the-go gadget handy without unnecessary bulk or tangling. "It's my go-to accessory when I travel," Smith says. "In the past three years I haven't been through an airport without one Scottevest jacket or another." The Transformer Jacket can hold Smith's iPad and iPhone, and has pockets for any other gear he needs to carry. "There's also a special system to route headphones so they aren't always flying out. I really love the magnets that keep the sleeves on. If I get too warm I can just pull the sleeves off, and if the temperature changes I can slide them back on —something I did many times while walking around San Francisco this summer."
($238 with free shipping, a low by $12)
While it may seem strange to adjust an apartment's thermostat from a smartphone or tablet, this device makes it a reality. "I've been using the Nest for about six months and I'm a huge fan of being able to control my heating and air conditioning from my iPhone, iPad, or Android devices," Smith says. "Essentially I can control the temperature of my house from my bed, or from across the country. The Nest also learns my habits to help save energy and keep me comfortable while working at home. The Nest just received a software update that adds features, too. The Nest is incredibly easy to install, and the model I use just dropped in price."
Front page photo credit: Business Computing World