My Tech Top 10: Sonia Zjawinski

Why hello there! I'm Sonia Zjawinski and I'm a freelance writer and editor who pens stories for Wired, the New York Times, and ReadyMade. On the side, I co-run the pet blog Pawesome with my best friend Sarah Han. My gadget lust started as an editor at Wired, where I was nicknamed "gadget girl". Ironically, in my real life I'm much more of a Luddite who happens to love playing with the latest and greatest, but not necessarily owning it all.


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Mac Mini: I will never understand people who still subscribe to cable. It's the equivalent of paying for an expensive all you can eat buffet only to realize all you want is a salad and a slice of chocolate torte. Why pay for all that other grub you're never going to touch? For the past three years, I've been getting my TV and movie fix from the web, and while I know there's a variety of ways tap into online video (Boxee, Apple TV, Roku, Playon, and TVersity) I personally like using a system I'm already familiar with. I work on a Macbook all day, so sticking to the Mac OS for my couch potato needs means I don't have to learn a new user interface. Plus, since the Mac Mini is a full computer, I have access to everything on the web I would normally have access to if I were at my desk.

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Apple Magic Trackpad: While I love my Mac Mini as a media center, using a mouse on the couch can be a bit cumbersome. To alleviate some of our frustrations, my husband bought us this trackpad for our anniversary. It lets us navigate across the screen without having to physically move a mouse across a flat surface. Plus it gives us access to all those wicked multitouch features we've been spoiled with thanks to our Magic Mouse and Macbook trackpads.
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MagicJack: My current apartment has very little cell coverage and since I often have to interview folks for stories I write for Wired or the New York Times, I need a reliable phone. Skipping the traditional landline I use MagicJack, a VoIP service that skips the router, cramming all the tech needed into a USB dongle that plugs directly into my computer. It uses my WiFi network to make and receive calls anywhere in the U.S. and Canada for $40/year the first year, $20/year every year after that. It can accomodate both conventional phones as well as USB phones or headsets.
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Panasonic SD-YD250: Hello, my name is Sonia and I'm addicted to carbs. If there's one thing that I will never refuse, it's a fresh piece (or pieces) of bread. My mother-in-law gave me this for Christmas last year and it's been my best friend ever since. I just throw in my ingredients, add yeast, press start and wait for my fresh loaf of bread to appear. When I feel adventurous, I have the machine prepare the dough and then I take it out and shape it into mini loaves or rolls to bake in the oven myself. This machine is so foolproof, I've yet to screw up a recipe.
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Canon Rebel EOS XSi: After reviewing this dSLR for Unplggd over the summer I knew I had to go out and buy my own. Luckily Jaime Derringer of Design Milk was selling hers so I was able to score her gently used model for a nice price. Now I bring this bad ass everywhere, especially when snapping photos of adorable animals for my pet blog Pawesome.
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Apple iPad: I loathe the day Apple asks for its review unit back. I was skeptical when the iPad first came out since I already have a portable laptop that lets me compute on the go with ease. After reluctantly agreeing to borrow a review unit it took only a few days to become a complete addict. I pull up recipes in the kitchen, load up TV shows to watch while pumping up my heart rate at the gym, and have re-fallen in love with books thanks to both the Kindle app and iBooks. It's also proved quite useful during debates at the dinner table that end with, "Just Google it!"
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Audio Technica QuietPoint ATH-ANC3: As mentioned above, the iPad is one of the main pushes to get me to the gym. Being able to catch up on the latest season of Project Runway makes the burn in my thighs and chest less apparent. Since bulky headphones don't make the best elliptical companion, I always use earphones, but most don't do a great job of blocking out the whirl of the machines around me. These noise-canceling buds drown out the white noise, while still letting me hear if a fellow gym goer needs my attention.
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Logitech Squeezebox Radio: The other day I discovered I have 14,000 songs in my iTunes. Fourteen THOUSAND. Most days, I only have a slight idea of what I'd like to listen to, but opening up my music player and seeing all those songs makes me freeze up. Sometimes you can have too many choices. This is why I've become addicted to my Logitech Squeezebox Radio. Not only does it let me rely on Pandora to create playlists for me, but I can stream NPR stations from across the states, or listen in to local stations friends around the globe suggest. Trouble maker cat with cone not included.
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Casio Databank DB-360: As someone who works from home, I'm incredibly prompt to meetings and appointments, but that's only because they tend to happen over the phone. It's another story if I have to physically get to another location at a specific time. To get myself moving in a timely manner, I've devised a series of alarms on both my phone and this slick digital watch to ensure that I'm moving at the speed necessary to make a good impression. Plus, I find checking the time on my wrist is less likely to interrupt the flow of a face-to-face conversation than say, fumbling around for my cell phone.
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HTC Droid Incredible: I'm not a big fan of chatting on my cell phone. It doesn't matter what mobile I'm using, I just feel like I can never fully understand what's being said on the other end (this is especially true if I'm chatting with another cell phone user). That said, I find my Droid an invaluable tool when I'm out and about for non-voice needs. Having moved to a new town last year (and preparing for yet another move at the end of the week) if it weren't for my GPS enabled Google Maps app I would never learn how to get around. The Droid's built-in camera means I never miss a good photo opp if my Canon dSLR is at home, and having access to the web at all times has ensured I buy all the ingredients needed for a specific recipe when I'm at the store.
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Technology/device I'm most looking forward to in 2011: Am I allowed to say, nothing? So many amazing gadgets have come over the past few years that I'm honestly still playing catch-up. I've yet to discover half of the capabilities hidden away in my iPad, Droid, and Mac Mini, or master all the features on my Canon dSLR. One item I would like a chance to play with, it's a diminutive projector that can beam out a good looking, supersized, picture. That's what I'll be on the hunt for this coming year.

Tech or tech organizational tip: Don't become too dependent on your tech. While it's convenient to pull up recipes online or Google answers to boggling questions, nothing beats getting out there and actually talking to people in real life. You'll be surprised by what you'll discover.

I never leave home without: My Casio watch. It keeps me on schedule, in style.

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Meet the rest of the Unplggd team thus far:

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