Michael Dougherty, director of the comedy-horror film "Trick 'r Treat," has finally found the perfect stylus for drawing crazy-looking monsters. John Rogers, co-creator the TV show "Leverage," can't live without one particular app for keeping up with crime clippings. We asked some of our favorite geeky actors, producers, directors, authors, and musicians to share their favorite tech from 2013. Read on to see which gadget geeks up Grant Imahara's living room, which smartphone has earned raves from sci-fi author John Scalzi, and more. Then be sure to share your own picks of the year in the comments section.
"Pretty excited about everything SpaceX has pulled off this year. I wanna ride that dragon capsule on top of whichever rocket (Grasshopper, Falcon, etc.) is rated for passengers. Looking forward to time on the ISS."
John Scalzi, author of "Redshirts"
"My 2013 object of techno-lust is the Droid Maxx, because it's a good phone tied to an astoundingly massive battery. With the amount I travel these days, the last thing I want to be is one of those lost souls in an airport, phone charge down to 5 percent, preparing to fight someone for an outlet.
There are prettier phones, more power phones, and phones with better individual techno bits, none of which will do you any good when you're out of juice. So, yeah. Give me power, please. Lots of it."
Alison Haislip, actor, former correspondent on G4's "Attack of the Show"
"You can't beat the way Uber has changed public transportation, especially in LA. It's made getting a ride ridiculously easy, I've always had lovely drivers, and I'm hoping we're going to find out that drunk driving has dropped because of the convenience of their service. Plus, it's great to travel to other cities and still be able to use the same app. Huzzah Uber!"
Adrianne Curry, model and TV personality
"The new Samsung Galaxy 4 has blown my mind. Its crystal-clear huge screen and phenomenal camera almost feel like a mini laptop. It's also given me a few malfunctions and needed replacements, but I am in love."
Jane Wiedlin, The Go-Go's guitarist
"I'm in love with the compass on my new iPhone 5S. We used it today to locate an ancient property corner marker in a wild and tangly forest! We were mountaineering, bushwhacking, reconnoitering, and so forth. The adventure was the perfect combination of nature and tech. Fun!
I also adore the slo-mo-video option on the iPhone 5S. It is hysterical to film our dogs playing like mad men! It's totally trippy watching footage like that back in slo-mo.
And last but not least, I love the gold option on the 5S, because everybody knows gold is best. Best. Best. Best."
Kami Garcia, "Beautiful Creatures" co-author "Google Chromecast is my favorite tech gadget of 2013. This ingenious USB-sized device allows you to stream video, music, shows, movies, and more from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone directly to your TV. It's affordable (retails for $35) and easy to use -- just plug Chromecast into any HDTV and connect to your Wi-Fi.
As a novelist, it is the ultimate research and entertainment tool. Writing "Unbreakable," the first novel in my new solo series, 'The Legion,' involved tons of research. Google Chromecast gave me the flexibility to watch documentaries about secret societies, YouTube videos about haunted places, and the latest episode of 'Supernatural,' without leaving my couch. Dean Winchester only gets better looking in HD."
Simon Pegg, actor ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "Shaun of the Dead")
"The gadget I have loved this year is the Armour39 from Under Armour, a real-time fitness monitor module that you attach to a chest strap. It communicates with an app which measures your heart rate, workout intensity, calorie burn, and will power, extrapolating an overview of your general fitness and giving you scientifically calculated goals to work toward. Why is a self-confessed sci-fi fan concerning himself with matters of physical endurance? Well, the module glows green through your T-shirt and makes you look like a cyborg. I had to ship it over from the US, because it's not even available in the the UK yet. As a result I'm am the fittest person in the Kingdom."
"I'm a huge fan of the Nest Thermostat, so it makes sense that Nest would bring that same great design and functionality to their new smoke and carbon monoxide detector, the Nest Protect. Most people wouldn't even think a simple smoke alarm would need improving, until they see the changes Nest has put into it. This is one smoke alarm you'll never have to wave a dish towel at when you over-bake the cookies."
Michael Dougherty, director, "Trick 'r Treat"
"Ever since the iPad came out I've been looking for a stylus that would let me use it for drawing and sketching. Something with pressure sensitivity and a nice sense of weight that would mimic the feel of real pencil and paper. The new Pencil stylus by FiftyThree was the answer to those prayers. With a weighted walnut body, a pointed tip, and even an eraser, it feels more like a carpenter's pencil than an a electronic gadget, and it's the first stylus that has gotten me drawing on an iPad for hours at a time."
John Rogers, co-creator, "Leverage"
"What's in my Evernote? Web clippings of crimes for writing research. Journals of TV show development. PDFs of scripts and outlines. Concept art, notes from phone calls. A phone pic of my eyeglass prescription, my dog's immunization records, location photos from the scout of a TV pilot, which are tagged so I can pull them up while I'm writing the rough draft of the script, each act in a different note. Because Evernote can create internal links, I can create a "Table of Contents" page for a project, share notes publicly, or with other Evernote users with Shared Notebooks to create an ad-hoc wiki.
Evernote's power comes from two things: integration and search. The Chrome webclipper extension allows me to pull full, partial, or simplified Web pages. It can grab Twitter entries, accepts my Gmail forwarding, and with the integrated image editor SKitch, I often upload the art for my Web comic, do the word ballooning in the Evernote app before kicking the panels back to the letterer. They've just added calendar reminders and a presentation mode, too.
Although a good tagging taxonomy helps -- remember, the key is few notebooks and many tags -- the search function is boggling robust with strong OCR. If I type the name of my mother's medication into the search engine, Evernote will find the phone-pic of the handwritten note she gave me in the hospital. This also means my scrawled mind-mapped outlines, scanned with a ScanSnap, can be dropped right into Evernote to live with the typed scripts of the same project.
I ran a TV series for five years, and the only program open on my laptop every single day was Evernote. It will take some experimentation to find your particular style of use, but I personally can't live without it."
"So in 2013, one of my favorite tech gadget is my new Samsung NX300 camera. I like it because it bridges the gap between taking pics on a camera phone and a large dSLR camera. Now I can have some manual-focus-interchangeable-lens-artsy-fun-times without having to lug around a large fanny pack to carry all my goods (though I hear fanny packs are baaaackkk?!).
It's easy to share pics on Instagram and Facebook because I can tap into the camera's built-in Wi-Fi with the Samsung app for my iPhone. I can send pics back and forth between my iPhone and the camera. Yay! No cables! And no having to wait as the spinning rainbow pinwheel of death spins on my laptop as the iPhoto program tries to pry itself open and download all the pics from an SD card! Stupid SD cards! Stupid pinwheel! Now the pictures fly through the air and hit my Instagram account in seconds! Technology!
Since I only play tech geeks onscreen and have no actual tech skills (can you believe I've never played an Xbox?), I was impressed that it was surprisingly easy to set all of this up on the camera without having to read any dreaded fine print. The menus and adjustments for the camera can all be done through the touch screen on the display, which is super easy to use and very intuitive (again, thank god I haven't had to read any directions yet).
Also I have the 3D lens that shoots both 3D stills and video on the NX300. Though I have no idea how I would watch said videos? Do I need to get glasses? Can I see those on my computer? Do I need a 3D television? My brain hurts.
Oh and I like the retro design! Obviously I like things a little oldey-timey!"
"I've been using my Fitbit Force for a couple weeks now. As an engineer, I love all the little data it accumulates on my exercise (and [it] reminds me to get up from the computer), as well as sleep!"
Mark Hoppus, Blink 182 bassist and singer
"For me, the best tech item of 2013 is the iPad Air. It's light and fast enough that I often travel with it and not my laptop. It contains all my music, books, games, apps, video-streaming services, photos, newspapers, magazines, comic books, notes, song ideas, social media, and much more. And it weighs a pound. Access to the entire accumulated knowledge of the world in my hands.
But please, if you ever see me taking a photo with it, rip it from my hands and smash it on the ground. iPad photographers are the worst."
Magda Apanowicz, actor ("Caprica," "Devil's Diary," "The Butterfly Effect")
"I have to say the new slow-motion setting on my 5S has changed the way I capture memories. It's a funny and creative way to capture important moments in my life."
Amy Berg, executive producer, "Eureka" and "Caper"
"My favorite app this year is Voice Record Pro. It calibrates your microphone, then allows you to record and send crystal clear audio. I use it as a quick and easy way to record ADR (loop lines) with actors when they're on location. I can plug their voiceovers and replacement dialogue into cuts without having to bring them onto a sound stage for an expensive studio session."
Javier Grillo-Marxuach, producer, "Lost," "Helix" on Syfy
Although for many, Apple's decision to replace the 30-pin iPhone/iPad connector with the new Lightning connector came as a dread harbinger of an apocalyptic vortex of adapters, replacement cords and wires, for me it was a godsend. As a pathologically awkward left-hander trapped in a right-handed world, I can count on one hand the number of times I have put the 30-pin connector (and the lot of its demonic USB brethren) into its slot correctly on the first try.
Though it occurs to me that my brand new iPhone 5C -- with its lower price and gorgeous OS -- could potentially be my favorite gadget of the year, and that the Lightning standard was, in fact produced in 2012, for me there has been nothing in 2013 that come close to Lightning for removing the annoyance of a simple task that many might find effortless, but I consider absolutely maddening."
Amber Benson, actor ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Supernatural")
"I am obsessed with my Logitech Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard Cover. It turns my iPad into a mini-computer that I can literally take anywhere. Instead of dragging a heavy laptop with me all over hell and high water, I can just slip my iPad into my purse and go through TSA without a hitch. It's awesome!"
Keahu Kahuanui, actor ("Hawaii Five-0," Teen Wolf")
"Though it hasn't officially been distributed yet, the Coin all-in-one credit card has to be my favorite of 2013. Enabling an even more compact wallet, proximity security, and not to mention the leveling of status or stigma of some cards, I dig it. I'm all about practical solutions."