It’s early January. You know what that means, don’t you? We’re curing hangovers from New Year’s Eve parties, committing to a new set of resolutions, and trying to remember how to work after multiple long weekends.
For folks in the tech space, it also means that it’s time for the Consumer Electronics Show — better known as CES. CES 2024 is right around the corner, and after covering the event remotely for the past few years, I’m finally going back to cover it in-person — my first time doing so since CES 2017.
To tackle a busy week of press briefings, meetings, and a lot of walking, I’m taking a healthy amount of tech to ensure my coverage goes off without a hitch. There will be a lot of stuff in my bag, but it all has a place and purpose.
Having a reliable smartphone is essential for any work trip, especially one as busy as CES. That’s why the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be my go-to smartphone while tackling CES 2024.
Why the iPhone 15 Pro Max? There are a lot of reasons. I want a big screen to look at Telegram messages and Outlook calendars, but I also don’t want to carry around a brick all day. Apple’s switch to titanium on the iPhone 15 Pro Max has been a game-changer after using the iPhone 14 Pro Max and its stainless steel body last year. I now get a big screen in a body that’s surprisingly lightweight and comfortable to hold. It may seem like a small reason, but it’s an important one.
More importantly, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a reliable smartphone. The cameras are consistently great; I can trust it to get a strong 5G signal, and — of course — there’s the iOS element. As a MacBook and iMessage user, there’s a legitimate benefit of using an iPhone over an Android phone, especially when I’m traveling.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to CES without an Android phone. While the iPhone will be in one pocket, my other pocket will carry the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
The Pixel 8 Pro has been my Android phone of choice since it was released in October. I love the design, the cameras are superb, and Google’s Android 14 software has been a treat to use.
The main reason I’m bringing the Pixel 8 Pro to CES with me, however, is Google’s Recorder app. Much of my time at CES will be spent in briefings, meetings, and visiting various company booths. Whether I’m having a 1:1 interview with someone or want to make sure I remember everything from a larger briefing, Google’s Recorder app is my go-to for those situations. The app interface is easy to use, it automatically detects and organizes different people speaking, and it’s easy to edit/share recordings. It’s the best recorder app you can get on a smartphone in 2024, and I don’t want to be at CES 2024 without it.
As much as I love the iPhone 15 Pro, there’s one problem with it: battery life. It’s good enough to get me through a full day when I’m working from home, but CES will demand a lot more from it. From calling Ubers, frequently checking my calendar for upcoming appointments, and being on the go for basically the entire day, I don’t trust the battery to last. That’s why I’m taking OtterBox’s Wireless Power Bank for MagSafe.
It’s a simple accessory that attaches to the back of any MagSafe-supported iPhone to wirelessly charge your phone wherever you are. The 5,000 mAh battery inside offers plenty of extra juice on top of the iPhone’s battery, and the USB-C port on the bottom means it’s easy to charge with all of my other devices. It’ll stay in my bag when I begin each day, but when I find myself needing more juice, I can slap it on the back of my iPhone and keep on trucking without missing a beat.
While the OtterBox power bank will be helpful for charging my iPhone on the go, I also need a reliable charger for all of my devices. That’s where the Anker 747 comes in.
I’ve been using the Anker 747 since 2022, and it’s remained my favorite charger. Not much larger than Apple’s 30W charging adapter, the Anker 747 has three USB-C ports and one USB-A port and is capable of a total power output of 150W.
With this selection of ports, I can easily charge my iPhone 15 Pro Max, Google Pixel 8 Pro, MacBook Air, and my Apple Watch Ultra 2 — all from the same power adapter. In addition to the huge port and power selection, the Anker 747 is also smart. If you plug in multiple devices, it knows which one(s) have the lowest battery remaining and prioritizes them with the fastest charge speeds possible.
Chargers are a dime a dozen in 2024, but the Anker 747’s mix of power, convenience, and portability kept it in my backpack throughout all of 2023, and I can’t imagine going to CES 2024 without it.
Just like I can’t go to CES without a trusty smartphone, I also can’t imagine going to the trade show without a good smartwatch. For CES 2024, the smartwatch that will be on my wrist is the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
I used a lot of smartwatches throughout last year, but the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the one I keep coming back to. I love the big, bright display, the battery life is great, I receive all of my notifications reliably, and I like the bulky, rugged design. I need a smartwatch that’ll make it through long days, show me important notifications right when I need to see them, and supports travel apps like Flighty and Tripsy. That’s why the Apple Watch Ultra 2 will be on my wrist throughout CES 2024.
With the Apple Watch Ultra 2 on my left wrist, my right wrist will be home to the Whoop 4.0. The Apple Watch’s fitness/health tracking suite is good, but it’s not one I’ve ever been able to stick to for very long. Some people love closing their rings, but I need more out of my fitness tracker.
I started wearing the Whoop 4.0 in early December, and so far, it seems to be everything I’ve been searching for in a dedicated fitness wearable. Over the past month, it’s helped me push myself to achieve my fitness goals, get into better sleeping habits, and identify activities that help/hurt my body’s recovery.
Although I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to visit my hotel’s gym while I’m in Vegas, I am interested in seeing how hours upon hours of walking, meetings, and other work impact my body this week. I have a few trackers that could do this, but I trust the Whoop 4.0 the most to give me the data I want to see.
My flight to Las Vegas from Michigan is a little over four hours. When I’m listening to music/watching movies on the plane ride, I’ll use my trusty pair of AirPods Max.
I’ve been using AirPods Max since 2021, and although they aren’t perfect, they are my favorite pair of airplane headphones. Why? The active noise cancellation is so damn good. They block out talking passengers and engine sounds with ease, and it still amazes me today just how good the effect is. The AirPods Max are also very comfy, and the transparency mode remains the best I’ve used on any pair of headphones. I don’t love that I need to bring a Lightning cable to charge them, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
Last but not least, there’s the computer I’ll be working from while at CES 2024: the M1 MacBook Air.
Is it the newest, flashiest, or most powerful MacBook you can buy today? Absolutely not. But for what I need to do on a laptop — writing in WordPress, chatting on Microsoft Teams, and some light photo editing with Darkroom and Affinity Photo — it powers through it like a champ. It’s also easy to fit into virtually any backpack, the keyboard is comfortable to type on, and it works seamlessly with my iPhone. It’s one of the most boring laptops, but I think it’s still one of the best in its class.
Now that you know what gear I’m taking with me to CES 2024, it’s time for me to start packing all of it and fly off to Vegas to cover the show. CES is always a huge spectacle of what’s to come in the consumer tech world — from TVs, computers, headphones, smartphones, and everything in between.
CES is a busy, hectic, and tiring week, and I cannot wait to dive right back in after a seven-year hiatus. And, hopefully, all the gadgets I’m bringing will make it just a little easier.