The holidays have passed, and hopefully all of your gadget wishes where fulfilled. Now comes the period of figuring out how to use all of your new tech toys, how to set them up for peak performance, and figuring out what accessories you need to get the most out of them. You don’t have to scramble around searching for the best tech accessories, because you can find them all right here at Abt. So whether it’s a new TV, digital camera or gaming console, here are some of the accessories that will help you get the most out of your new gear.
Mount—We know the feeling of being so excited about your new TV that you set it up on the floor or a temporary table, just so you can get started enjoying that crisp 4K picture. But eventually you’re going to need to decide where to permanently place it. A TV stand is always an option, but for maximum space-saving and the cleanest look, nothing beats wall mounting a TV. Wall mounts come in three main flavors: fixed, tilting, and fully-articulated. Which type you should choose will depend mostly on your room setup and how many people usually watch TV at once. Click here for more in-depth help with choosing a TV wall mount.
Soundbar—As TV technology has advanced, almost everything about them has improved. Picture quality is better than ever, smart functionality has greatly expanded entertainment options, and, of course, TVs are now thin and light enough to hang with magnets. Unfortunately as they’ve gotten thinner, sound quality has taken a hit, because the integrated speakers have also shrunk, and it’s difficult to make big sound with small speakers. That means that if you want to enjoy a theater-like movie experience, one must for your new TV is a soundbar. Soundbars utilize multiple speakers and high-tech processing to replicate the sound of a full home theater speaker package, but in a single form factor that’s easy to hook up.
Cables—If this is your first foray into UHDTV, or if you’ve added a new component like an UHD Blu-ray player, it’s important to make sure your cables are up to snuff. You should be using HDMI cables to connect all components whenever possible, to make sure you’re passing the best sound and picture possible. If you’re still rocking the yellow-red-white composite video cables, it’s time for you to upgrade.
Camera or GoPro
Memory Cards—A memory card is the one must-have before getting started with your new camera—you literally will not be able to capture photos without one. These days, high-capacity memory cards are quite affordable, so just one 32GB card could be all you need to capture thousands of photos or countless hours of HD video. Learn more at our memory card buying guide.
Filters—Filters provide two main functions for photographers: creatively adjusting the scene and protecting the fragile front element of an expensive lens.
While many of the creative benefits of filters can be replicated in Photoshop, not all can. A filter like a circular polarizer is invaluable for landscape and architectural photographers; it cuts reflections on windows and bodies of water, reduces glare, and deepens the blue of the sky. Meanwhile, UV filters are mostly a holdover from film days, and while they don’t really have significant imaging benefits, they are a cheap version of lens protection, keeping fingerprints and debris off of your lens’ front element, which can be easily damaged.
Tripod—A tripod is an invaluable tool for the serious photographer. Keeping the camera perfectly stable while taking landscape shots or portraits helps ensure there is zero camera movement, which can cause blurriness and diminish image quality. Tripods also open up countless creative options, like timelapses and long-exposure night photography, in which the camera stays perfectly stationary for multiple seconds, or even minutes, at a time. And compact tripods are the perfect travel accessory, allowing you to set up a shot—and then step into it—without trying to flag down a passerby to take your photo.
Bag—Of course, you’re going to need somewhere to keep your camera, lenses, and other accessories. Major things to consider when picking out a camera bag are the overall style of bag—do you go backpack, messenger bag, sling, or something compact that can hang on your belt? Also, think about extra features like waterproofing, which comes in handy if your photographic adventures take you out into nature often.
Stabilized Grip—A GoPro is the ideal companion for the adventure traveler, but the more active your excursions get, the harder it gets to capture smooth, clear video. That’s where the GoPro Karma Grip comes in. Using a series of gyroscopes, this high-tech gimbal stabilizes your video as you run, bike, snowboard, or do whatever extreme thing your travels entail, leading to a smoother, more cinematic chronicle of your adventures.
New Tablet or Laptop
A new tablet or laptop can be a springboard to increased productivity in your new year. Here are some things that will help you be your most efficient with your new device.
Folio Case—Tablets are sleek and portable, but that slimness means they can also be quite fragile. A folio case will protect your tablet’s screen while in transit, and also doubles as a stand, so you can view your tablet at a comfortable angle on a table or your lap. For extra utility, go for a case with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard, and transform your tablet into a laptop-lite.
Wireless Keyboard/Mouse—If you find that the compact keyboard in a tablet case is a little too small, you can always opt for a full-size wireless keyboard. Adding a Bluetooth mouse gives you full desktop functionality to your tablet or laptop.
External Hard Drive—We can never stress enough the need for a storage backup system. In addition to saving locally, on your tablet or laptop’s internal storage, any data that you don’t want to live without should also be saved on an external hard drive. External drives can be made compact and are affordable, so you have few reasons not to add one to your computer setup. It’s worth the peace of mind of knowing your data is safe from a hard drive crash.
Extra Controllers—A must-have for anyone who games with friends. Go for a standard replacement, or a high-end version that includes increased accuracy, assignable buttons and interchangeable thumbsticks and D-pads. And if you’re a racer, a good gaming steering wheel and pedal set is a game changer.
Games—This one’s a no-brainer. Got a new console? You’re going to want some games for it. While downloading digitally-purchased games is more popular than ever, there’s still something satisfying about picking up a physical copy of a popular new video game.
Headset—One of the most enjoyable aspects of online multiplayer games is the ability to communicate with those on your team, and to talk trash to those you’re defeating. Integral to the experience is a good gaming headset. You get to enjoy high-quality audio, while keeping your opponents’ colorful language from disturbing others around you, while the integrated microphone picks up all of your own pleasantries.