How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? James Poniewozik, the Times’s chief television critic, discussed the tech he’s using.
As our television critic, do you have a favorite television set, video projector or audio system?
I’m superagnostic about the sort of screen I use. I suppose this might be strange for a TV critic, but it also reflects the way people watch TV now — I’ll watch shows or screeners on anything from the 55-inch TV in my living room to my phone on an exercise bike.
My main work setup (my desk at home) is a laptop, a small LED TV set, and an iPad that I use as a second screen for streaming shows. More important to me than the screen are the peripherals: I have Apple TV and a couple of Rokus around the house, but I’m still most loyal to my TiVo DVR — I’ve had one almost since they went on the market in 1999.
What do you like about it, and what could be better about your setup?
Because I have so many shows to keep up with, it saves time: Any second I spend watching a commercial is time wasted. (This is the respect in which my TV habits are probably least like average viewers — I rarely see ads.) TiVo still has a far better interface than any cable company set-top box I’ve encountered.
What could be better: Cable companies are horrible, but particularly in New York City, where nearly all of us live under a de facto one-provider monopoly. (Supposedly I’ll soon have the choice of Fios, which feels as if it’s been taking longer to complete than the Second Avenue subway.) What maniac likes their cable company?
Beyond your job, what tech product are you currently obsessed with using in your daily life?
I love gadgets, especially in the kitchen. (Don’t get me started on my pressure cooker.) Most recently, I got a Joule sous vide immersion circulator for my birthday. It’s a little wand you stick in a container of water to heat it to a precise temperature and keep it there. Meaning if you want to cook a steak to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, it will cook it to precisely 130 degrees Fahrenheit, edge to edge, and not a degree more. (You seal up the food in vacuum wrap or a Ziploc bag.)
What do you and your family do with it?
Just after I got it, our oven broke, and it’s taken forever to get it fixed. As a result I’ve been using the Joule for everything: meats, poached eggs — you can put sweetened condensed milk in a Mason jar and the Joule will turn it into dulce de leche overnight. As I write this, I’m cooking a whole brisket with it, for the next 72 hours.
How has it blown you away?
Not only is it precise and almost entirely hands-off, it slow-cooks meat in a miraculous way. It can turn a chuck roast into a butter-tender, medium-rare steak. (I read about that in The New York Times!)
What could be better about it?
Unlike some other immersion wands, the Joule has no controls — you operate it entirely through an app. (I could operate it from anywhere with a phone connection.) It makes the machine smaller, and gives it a cool, minimalist Apple-device look, but I don’t love needing to have Wi-Fi to cook a piece of salmon. Plus, I assume the Russians are using it to spy on me.
When you’re not watching TV and just want to read a book, do you use an e-reader or the old-fashioned print version?
I use both. I actually find that having a physical book makes me more likely to focus on and finish what I’m reading, but more and more often I default to the Kindle just because of the ease of downloading the e-book. (Even if it then stays on my device unread.)
I was a late adopter of the device, though, and for years used the Kindle iOS app instead. I read the first four books of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” on my iPhone. My swiping thumb got a workout.