Sustainability has never been more important as the globe teeters on the edge of a climate crisis.
As individuals we can play our part to reduce waste – and the carbon footprint of our purchases – by choosing gadgets that are either repairable or that will continue to function well for years.
1. Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable batteries
Have you ever thought about the number of depleted dry-cell batteries the typical household discards every month? To reduce waste, consider switching to Eneloop rechargeable batteries, which are made from nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH).
Though pricier than single-use batteries, Eneloop batteries are renowned for their quality and low self-discharge characteristics.
It is common to hear of them working well five to seven years after purchase. Standard Eneloop models can be recharged 2,100 times, while the more powerful Eneloop Pro, with its higher energy capacity, can be recharged up to 500 times.
Price: AA and AAA batteries from HK$88 (S$15.25) to HK$128
2. Logitech MX Master 3 mouse
This latest iteration of the popular MX Master series from Logitech keeps the best features such as its ergonomic shape and adds various new features.
The upgraded scroll wheel can now shift automatically from line-by-line scroll to free-spinning mode, while a more precise sensor delivers greater precision than before.
The MX Master 3 comes with a USB-C port that includes a one-minute quick charge for three hours of continuous use.
Though its built-in rechargeable battery is not user-replaceable, Logitech says its advanced power efficiency means users can expect 70 days between charges. That’s probably long enough that some other part will fail before the built-in lithium-ion polymer battery.
3. YuBiKey Bio security dongle
The YubiKey Bio Series adds hardware-based biometric authentication to its family of popular multi-factor security dongles.
With the Bio, users can configure it to unlock offline or online accounts with the tap of a finger instead of keying in a password. Fingerprint templates are stored exclusively in each YubiKey, ensuring complete privacy.
Like the other YubiKey models, the Bio works out-of-the-box with common operating systems such as Windows, MacOS and Linux.
As the Bio is powered entirely by the port it is plugged into, there is no built-in battery to degrade. The YubiKey Bio is available in either USB-A (YubiKey Bio) or USB-C (YubiKey C Bio) form factors.
Price: US$80 (S$108) (YubiKey Bio), US$85 (YubiKey C Bio)
4. Kobo Sage e-reader
The highly anticipated Kobo Sage ups the ante for dedicated e-readers. Improvements to its processor and screen deliver superior responsiveness and improved readability. The position and feel of the physical buttons are also improved, and it adds new features that make for a worthy upgrade.
For a start, you can now listen to Kobo audiobooks through Bluetooth earphones, as well as write (or draw) on the touch screen using a separately bought Kobo Stylus accessory. A new PowerCover case option offers new battery capacity and comes with a holder for the stimulus.
With better readability, support for audiobooks, and the ability to use it as a digital notepad, the Kobo Sage is a device that you will bring everywhere.
5. Intelli ScoutPro Pro power bank
Billed as the world’s Smallest “240W” power bank, the Intelli ScoutPro offers 24,000mAh of backup power and multiple ports to keep your devices charged.
Measuring a mere 15.3 x 8.4cm x 2.9cm, the compact powerhouse can simultaneously charge at 100 watts on each of the two USB-C ports.
Coupled with the single USB-A port and integrated wireless charging, the ScoutPro can output more than 240 watts at a time. An integrated OLED display shows the current charge status.
Intelli says the use of lithium-graphene composites for its battery technology is the reason for the ScoutPro’s high energy density.
At 2,000 battery charge cycles, the ScoutPro offers leaps and bounds more than the average of 500 charge cycles of competitor devices – allowing you to keep using it for far longer.
6. Elgato Stream Deck Mk.2 peripheral
Designed initially for streaming platforms, the Elgato Stream Deck has earned popular acclaim with users looking to improve their productivity. The set of 15 tactile keys with small 72 x 72 pixels colour display on each button offers the barest hint of the sophisticated capabilities under the bonnet.
From toggling the mute button on your Zoom calls, to launching apps or starting a Pomodoro timer, plug-ins are available for practically anything.
For instance, IFTTT support lets you control your smart home: Turn on the lights, adjust the air-conditioning, or raise the motorised blinds, all with the press of a button.
The new MK.2 version adds a USB-C port and a removable stand. Between its rich software ecosystem and the ability to swap in a range of adorable faceplates, expect to use your Stream Deck for a long time.
7. Tack GPS tracker
Ever experienced anxiety about the whereabouts of a beloved pet or elderly parents suffering from dementia? The Tack GPS is a lightweight, stand-alone gadget that can be hooked to a collar or belt to instantly determine its location through a mobile app.
The Tack GPS team overcame the perennial problem of dismal battery life in competing products by offering 30 days of usage between charges.
This was achieved through an advanced design and by leveraging a combination of GPS coordinates, mobile tower locations and Wi-Fi signals.
A monthly subscription of US$2.99 (if paid upfront for 24 months) is required to use the Tack GPS, though an initial 30-day trial is included with each Tack GPS.
The device currently works in more than 30 countries; support for Hong Kong is slated to arrive in March 2022.
8. Ergotron Trace monitor mount
This monitor mount leverages the company’s many decades of experience in creating products for ergonomic workspaces.
While the Trace clamps to the edge of a desk or through a grommet hole desk like a standard monitor mount, its innovative design, with distinct vertical and lateral movements, makes it possible to adjust with one hand. It is also easily returned to its home position.
The flexibility of the Trace makes it easy to collaborate with teammates in the office, or simply to swivel the screen to a more comfortable position. It can be installed on a desk backed against a wall, too, making it ideal for space-constrained homes.
Ergotron says the Trace comes with a 15-year warranty, so don’t expect it to break any time soon.
Price: From US$315 (Single monitor version)
9. ZSA Moonlander wired keyboard
The ZSA Moonlander Mark 1 is touted as a next-generation ergonomic keyboard to help you work comfortably for years to come.
A mechanical keyboard designed specifically for those who spend hours typing away every day, its “split design” eliminates the hunching and awkward wrist angles prevalent with traditional keyboards, although its unorthodox design might take some getting used to.
In addition, the adjustable wrist support module and legs allow each half to be tilted at the correct angle for maximum comfort.
The Moonlander works with any computer with a USB port. Each Moonlander unit is individually assembled depending on colour, keycaps, and a dozen “switches” with distinct typing experience to select from.
Built to last for years, if not decades, its modular design also makes it possible to remove or replace just about any part.
10. Waterfield Bolt Sling bag
The Bolt Sling is the latest sling bag from San Francisco-based Waterfield Designs. It offers three compartments to efficiently organise your gadgets and personal items.
Headphones and a small water bottle will fit easily into the two pleated front pockets, while a laptop and tablet can be accommodated by the padded main compartment.
A newly designed strap delivers better comfort and convenience while still being easy to adjust or to switch to your other shoulder.
The Bolt Sling is available in two sizes: Compact able to house an 11-inch Apple iPad) and full (can hold a Microsoft Surface Laptop 4).
Choose from tough waxed canvas with genuine leather or tear-resistant ballistic nylon in multiple colours for a rugged, tech-centric bag that will stand the test of time.
Price: US$219 (Compact), US$229 (Full)
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.