Top Black Techies: The Gadgets They Love

Technology gurus share must-have devices that take a pulse or take a picture.

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    Yes, we should all probably spend a little more time unplugging from the matrix. But who doesn’t love a good gadget? For starters, they make life easier. For those who care about that sort of thing, there’s cachet in being the first on the block to sport the latest thingamajig. And if you’re stuck at the DMV, a new electronic toy can make time spent in the ninth circle of hell a lot more bearable. Plus, they’re fun. The Root reached out to some of the most influential black techies to find out what’s their go-to gadget for 2014.

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    Courtesy of Stacy Spikes

    Stacy Spikes, 45

    Co-founder and CEO of Moviepass

    His go-to gadget: “The gadget that I want is more time and more sleep — and if you know anything that produces that, I’d pay a very handsome sum for it. I am learning to go to a restaurant with our daughter and not take my phone out. But if I do, I like the Parrot A.R. Drones. They’re these little remote control drones. They’re very fun to play with, and if you have a decent-sized office, you can fly them around the office.”

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    Courtesy of Shellye Archambeau

    Shellye Archambeau, 51

    CEO of MetricStream

    Her go-to gadget: “My iPhone 4s is my go-to device for everything. Beyond the obvious email, camera, phone and text, I use the GPS, read the news headlines, keep my notes and tasks on it. I scan business cards and in a pinch access my computer files on it. At home I use my iPhone 4s to control my Sonos sound system.”

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    Courtesy of Will Lucas

    Will Lucas, 33

    Founder and CEO of Classana

    His go-to gadget: “My iPhone 5s. I do a lot of business on the go. It’s been said that the best camera there is is the camera you have on you. For me, the same is true for computers. It’s the computer that’s always at my side — and it’s incredibly fast.”

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    Courtesy of Wayne Sutton

    Wayne Sutton, 38

    Founder of PitchTo

    His go-to gadget: “I’m loving the Up bands that you wear on your wrists. It tells you how many steps you do, it measures your sleep. It’s a reminder for me to eat healthy, to be healthy, to focus on my health and fitness. Healthier people are happier people, and they often seem to be more productive. I put a big focus on my health and fitness. This device I wear every day.”

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    Courtesy of Angela Benton

    Angela Benton, 32

    Founder and CEO of NewMe Accelerator

    Her go-to gadget:Google Glass. I’ve tried a pair. It’s like having similar functionality to a phone, and also it’s basically wearable technology. That’s what I’m most interested in. Being able to record, take video, all of that. I think it would be interesting to show the life of an entrepreneur from a different perspective — literally through the eyes of an entrepreneur.”

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    Courtesy of Christen Rochon

    Christen Rochon, 33

    Publisher at Divas and Dorks

    Her go-to gadget: “The new Samsung NX camera. I had its predecessor, which is pretty amazing. It pretty much brings the best of both worlds together for photography. It’s essentially a smartphone attached to the camera. You can post instantly to all your social media. It’s got interchangeable lenses, built-in Wi-Fi. It’s really cutting-edge. Any app you can download from the Google Play store you can download and use in your camera. Right now it’s really pricey, but I’m thinking by 2014 it’ll be significantly reduced in price. Think after-holiday sales.”

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    Courtesy of Tristan Walker

    Tristan Walker, 29

    Entrepreneur and resident at Andreessen Horowitz

    His go-to gadget: “The Jawbone Up. It’s just like a bracelet; it tracks all your steps, your sleep. I just started a new company” — the name is a secret for now — “[and] I have to make sure I don’t gain 50 pounds. I’m stressed out, working all the time, not eating well, all that stuff. It’s going to keep me on my toes. I have it in, like, three colors. It is my best friend, one of the few — a strong, strong friend.”

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    Courtesy of Majora Carter

    Majora Carter, 46

    MacArthur “genius,” green guru and co-founder of the Startup Box: South Bronx

    Her go-to gadget: “Anything that helps you stay engaged with your health, like Fitbit, Nike Fuelband or the Jawbone Up. If it takes a gadget and a little gamification to keep us healthy, it’s worth it. Charting your progress and seeing graphic correlations between your physical exercise and how well you sleep can really help [you] keep up your momentum and break on through to the next level!”

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    Courtesy of Kanyi Maqubela

    Kanyi Maqubela, 28

    Venture partner

    His go-to gadget: “My go-to in 2014 will continue to be my Timex watch. It is reliable, has never broken — unlike many sexy hardware products — and keeps me grounded and focused. That said, if I had to choose a consumer electronic gadget, it would be my Karma Wi-Fi hotspot. It is pay as you go and free to share with those around me, so it is a great way to meet new people, spread karma — and to stay connected when I’m on the go, which is always.”

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    Courtesy of Don Charlton

    Don Charlton, 36

    CEO, the Resumator

    His go-to gadget:GoPro. It’s these mountable cameras. You put them on your body. It’s a new perspective on my world. How often can you relive a physically moving experience in your life? You can’t. This allows us to record some of the most accelerated moments of our lives. Our heart rates are up, our pulses are up and our sense of fun is up. That’s my fun toy to play with. What I love is, I don’t know what to do with it. Yet.”

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Teresa Wiltz is senior staff writer at Stateline, the journalism outlet of the Pew Charitable Trusts.