19
Oct
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Well, you've already seen what gear David, Cameron, Eric, and Liam use. I suppose now it's my turn - though, a disclaimer: I like to keep things very streamlined. The less clutter (physical and digital) I have, the better. While I may not have as much stuff as them, the things I do use, I use more.

The Hardware

Desktop

There's no denying that my desktop is dated, but it's capable enough for my needs. It's a self-built PC with an Intel Core i5 750 CPU overclocked to 3.4 GHz, 4GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD, Radeon HD 6850, Sound Blaster X-Fi, and old Creative 5.1 speakers, coupled to two 22" monitors. I now spend most of my time using it for entertainment (movies, music, reddit, Top Gear) and writing, and it's certainly up to snuff for those duties.

Desktop Software

As you might guess, my web browser (Chrome) is the most used program. Of course, I couldn't do without Windows Live Writer, which we use for AP. From there, I have VLC for movies and shows, iTunes (I know, I know) for music, and whatever PC game I'm attempting to play at the moment. Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3, The Witcher 2, Half Life 2 + both episodes, Portal 1 + 2, Black Mesa, and Battlefield 3 all hold permanent spots on my machine, though admittedly, it's rare that I get to play any of them.

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Phone: HTC One X (International)

What it's running: plain Jelly Bean with ClockworkMod Touch Recovery

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Back when the Tegra 3 version of the One X was announced, I thought "Four cores? Beautiful screen? Awesome build? I want that!" So I got it. It's once of those rare times that I treat myself to something nice, and I'm glad I did. It's amazingly well built (I once accidentally forcefully dropped it on the road, and I still say it did more damage to the road), fast, powerful, smooth, and it has fantastic dev support. I've been running vanilla Jelly Bean for the past two months and haven't looked back.

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I've owned it since it was released overseas, and I have only one complaint: WiFi only works if I'm within a few feet of my router, and Bluetooth doesn't really work at all, a known issue. Except, you know, mine worked fine until I power-slammed my phone into the road a good 6 months ago, so I try not to complain about it.

Tablets: Toshiba Excite 7.7

What it's running: Stock, unrooted

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The first of my three primary tablets is the absolutely excellent Excite 7.7. Of course, when I say "my" I mean "my wife and son's," because it has become theirs (and let me tell you, it's a fantastic device for kids). Though I use the Nexus 7 now, the Excite 7.7 remains my favorite. It's got a stunning display (AMOLED) at the perfect size (7.7"), it's thin (.3") and light (13.4oz), covered in grippy aluminum, powered by a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, and runs almost vanilla ICS. What's not to love?

Asus Nexus 7

What it's running: Stock, unrooted

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The Excite 7.7 may be my favorite all around, but at $500, it's not exactly a good value proposition when compared to the $250 (16GB) Nexus 7. And I have to admit, the N7 is 90% as good as the Excite, especially when you factor in the benefits of Jelly Bean. It may be a bit portly, but it's light, feels great in the hand, and performs like a champ. It's also ultra-portable, and gaming and reading books/magazines are a joy whether I'm in bed, in an armchair, or on the go.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity

What it's running: Stock, unrooted

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Between the Infinity and the N7, I use the Nexus 7 about 95% of the time. In a perfect world, the Infinity is for use on my living room couch, and the N7 is for everywhere else. But to be honest, keeping another device charged and handy all the time is a rather daunting task when I have the other two tablets to worry about in addition to my phone and various review devices. Still, the Infinity is fantastic to hold, the user experience is excellent, and it's got a 1920x1200 display powered by a Tegra 3 CPU. I'd be remiss not to include it.

Camera: Canon T3

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A few months ago, I found myself in quite the dilemma. I had been using a family member's very old DSLR to take photos, but I figured it was time to return it to them and get my own. The dilemma was whether or not I should get the Canon T3 or T3i - or, more importantly, whether I could afford the T3i. Ultimately, I decided the basic T3 would suffice, and that's what I'm rocking now. (Of course, today the T3i can be had for about the same price as what I paid for the T3...)

It may not be fancy or have all the bells and whistles, but with 12.2MP, an 18-55mm (stock) lens, and 720p video recording, it's enough for my needs. I recently ordered a tripod for it, so prepare yourself: video + text reviews are coming. (Or the cheap tripod fails and my camera falls and breaks. In which case, prepare yourself: photoless reviews are coming.)

Coupled with a 32GB SD card and high-capacity battery, I can go for weeks at a time without needing to juice up or pull photos off. (Though because I have OCD, I pull the photos off and categorize them regularly...)

Apps

Google Play Music

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Am I allowed to include this, even though it's a stock app? It is by far my most used, since I have a 3.5mm jack in my car. (Protip: if you want a good, high-quality 3.5mm cord for your car, get this one. I had 3 cables wear out in 3 months before I found the Mediabridge - 8 months ago. It still doesn't show a single sign of wear.)

In any case, I've tried a fair number of third-party music players over the past few years. Most didn't stick more than a few minutes. The only other music player I used for an extended period was DoubleTwist, but I did so begrudgingly because it sucked enormously. I've since settled on Google Play Music, though it certainly has its flaws: album covers still don't display properly, the PC-side syncing is still hit-or-miss for me, and every now and then it will randomly pause. Regardless, it offers all of the features I need and the flaws aren't prohibitive.

iSyncr

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Because I've never managed to satisfactorily switch from iTunes, I use iSyncr to easily sync my playlists to my phone. DoubleTwist originally attracted me for this reason, but transfers over USB were stupidly slow, so I purchased the WiFi plugin, and they were still stupidly slow. Plus, even after purchasing the plugin, DT served me ads on the regular. Bad juju.

I've since settled on the much, much sleeker and easy to use iSyncr. And frankly, I haven't looked back since. I've considered snagging the WiFi plugin, but given that WiFi barely works on my phone now, it's probably not worthwhile.

Evernote

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Evernote provides a slick, easy way for my wife and I to make grocery and shopping lists. That's all I use it for and admittedly that probably doesn't sound like much, but between how much food our family eats and how many random little things we need, it makes our lives infinitely easier. We used to try to keep a paper list; now, we can both throw things on the list throughout the day, every day. She can add something via the iPhone app, and it quietly syncs to my phone. It's more convenient and more reliable. Plus, it's free.

Reddit is Fun

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I've used quite a few different reddit apps, but RIF remains my favorite. It's clean, simple, works well, and is well-supported. And the beauty of reddit is that it's just as easy to look for 2 minutes as it is for 30, and whether I want to look at what's new in the Android or automotive world, reddit's got me covered. If I have some time to spare, I'm either using RIF or playing one of my...

Games

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Unlike some people, I'm not a digital hoarder. I play just a few games at a time, and I don't keep games (or any apps, for that matter) installed that I don't use anymore. Currently, I'm working on 5 games:

  • Dead Trigger - funny, fun, and ridiculous since I have the alien ray gun thing. It's installed on every device, and the game's native cloud support means that no matter what device I pick up, I can play exactly where I left off.
  • Asphalt 7 - I casually played Asphalt 6, and I purchased and installed Asphalt 7 while it was on sale a few weeks ago. I haven't played it yet, but I always like to have a racing game around.
  • Cut The Rope - Casual gaming at its finest. Definitely my favorite game for when I have a few minutes of downtime (for now).
  • Granny Smith - basically everyone on the AP team who played Granny Smith told me it was awesome, so I snagged it at the same time I got Asphalt 7 a few weeks ago. Truth be told, I haven't had time to play this yet, either.
  • Air Control - this was the very first Android game I downloaded, and once more, I picked it up on sale and started playing it again. Thanks to its simplicity, it's one of my favorite Android games. And because each individual game can last 5+ minutes, it's a game I find myself playing for longer stretches of time than the others.

Other Apps

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  • Pandora - about 10% of the time, I use Pandora instead of Play Music when in the car or working out.
  • Social: Facebook, Google+, Twitter (duh)
  • Finance: USAA, Fidelity, American Express, Chase - because I want to make sure I know exactly where the money I don't have is.
  • Smart Tools - this app is one the most innovative and amazing uses of a cell phone I've seen in ages. It can do awesome stuff like tell you length, angle, how far away something is, provide a compass and metal detector, and even works as a level. It's amazing.
  • Weather Flow - because it's still the most beautiful weather widget I've ever used, it's designed according to Holo guidelines, and it's functional.

Other Things

Netbook: Acer Aspire One (+ OBDII cable)

It's about 2 years old and rarely sees use anymore. I honestly think the last time I used it for AP was October 2011, but I'm not sure. Since I can't actually write for AP on my Android tablets (Windows Live Writer is Windows-only, obviously), I have to take the Aspire with me if I'm traveling and need to work. Now that the site is more mature and well-staffed, I don't have to write nearly so much as I used to, so I don't need to lug the netbook along as often.

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I also had to dust it off for this photo.

I have an OBDII -> USB cable that I use it with for car diagnostics/ECU tweaks in conjunction with VCDS, but I rarely even use it in that capacity aside from the occasional full scan for any problems.

Headphones: I-MEGO THRONEs

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As I said when I reviewed them: they're unbelievably comfortable (it's like wearing a cloud), well-made, and sound great. I absolutely love them, and they're a huge step up from the budget Sennheiser headphones I had been using since my nice-ish Sennheisers broke. Plus, they're wired, so there's none of that annoying delay you get with BT headphones.

Bag: Powerbag Instant Messenger

I've got the same Powerbag Instant Messenger bag as David, and yes, it is quite awesome. Though I don't use it as much as him (because I'm not a full-time blogger), it's absolutely invaluable when I'm on the go or traveling. With a 6,000mAH battery pack stuffed in there, I have enough juice to charge my phone from 0->100% three times over. With all the compartments, I can easily bring my netbook, tablet, phone, cables, and accessories anywhere I need, and stay organized in the process.

Review Devices

At any given time, chances are very good that I've got at least one device with me that I'm testing (in fact, I just returned five review devices last week). I review a few tablets/phones per month, plus accessories, but it's not uncommon that I'm carrying a new piece of tech that I'm not reviewing. Why? Because the more experience I have with more devices, the better advice and thoughts I can provide to you.

Wrap-Up

It's not a lot of stuff, but like I said: I like to keep things (relatively) simple, and hate clutter. Have any thoughts on any of my gear? Sound off below and let me know.

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/YAYSAVERGN Eric James Salcido

    "There's no denying that my desktop is dated..."
    Made me sad.. I feel worse about my Q6600 and 5770 now.

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      lol i couldn't help but notice the "stock, unrooted" descriptions on each either!

    • Scott

      Up until a month ago, I was running my build from 2007, Core 2 Duo E6600, 4 GB RAM and a Radeon 6770 that I upgraded to from a GeForce 7950GT back in February.

    • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

      Q6600 and 5850 here... Still a great gaming setup!

    • AaronGingrich

      Just the tablets. I root every phone I get but I'm never tempted to root tablets. The first tablet I actually owned I did root (the original Transformer), but I did it out of some sense of obligation. I never actually felt like flashing any ROMs or anything.

      • Deltaechoe

        Unrooted nexus 7, oh god why? Just by purchasing a nexus device you have signed an unofficial contract with the android community that you are going to unlock the device (or at least that's how it should be :B)

  • flippingthecoins

    You not playing Jetpack Joyride and Rayman Origins ???

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      Ski Safari FTW!

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    I love how the ROM You linked to for HTC One X is the one i helped with (banner on the homepage and signatures)

    • AaronGingrich

      It's a fantastic ROM, and I've been loving it since I flashed it. Great work :)

  • ariellabaston

    Your overclocked i5 with two monitors is dated? Good lord! Young people today. :) A 6502 and CRT monitors are dated. A rocking overclock job with an i5 is NEW TECH.

    • Freak4Dell

      Ha, how true. I'm still running a Core 2 Quad, and it's handled everything I've thrown at it. My first gen i5 laptop has also handled everything I've thrown at it.

      • ariellabaston

        I'm on a 2009 C2D iMac. Runs like a champ! I've yet to feel the need for anything else. Media converts well, music recording in Ableton Live is stellar, gaming in bootcamp rocks...it's all good!

      • ssj4Gogeta

        I haven't upgraded my home desktop in a while because I live in the uni campus (where I have to make do with a laptop and a 22" monitor). It's still running a 4.0GHz Wolfdale (stock 2.5GHz) and a 5770. I also have a really old desktop which has a 3GHz Prescott.

        • Freak4Dell

          At least you get a 22" monitor...other than summer and winter break, I only have my 13.3" laptop screen. I love the size of my laptop because it's more portable and takes up less room on a desk, but an external monitor would be nice.

  • Keyan X

    "the more experience I have with more devices, the better advice and thoughts I can provide to you." Best quote, one that I remind my friends/peers with all the time

    • AaronGingrich

      Indeed. For devices I don't review, I request a (used) demo unit once review season is over. The more you know!

  • http://twitter.com/freshairr anthony t

    You've got great taste in music.

    • AaronGingrich

      Hey thanks. That's my workout playlist - mostly dub/complextro/variations of the two.

      Actually, who am I kidding... it's basically all I listen to anymore.

  • jjrudey

    I prefer reddit sync over other reddit apps.

  • asdfjklqwerty

    When I updated isyncr it told me that wifi sync was an included feature now and told me to uninstall the wife plugin, but then again I did already own the wifi plugin.

  • http://ootpapps.com/ Out of the Park Apps

    Yea, my desktop needs an update. Yours is probably my desktops great great grandpa!

  • Nick

    Well maybe your desktop wouldn't feel so dated if you was running a real OS instead of that M$hit Windows. Your running an android blog got dammit :>

  • ruperto17

    Wait, your wife uses an iPhone? Something's wrong here..

    • AaronGingrich

      She's entitled to her preferences :)

  • Southrncomfortjm

    Glad to see the T3. Just snagged it off Daily Steals at $379 as a Christmas present for my wife (got the 32gb class 10 SD card for $20 too). That's one hell of a deal for a really decent camera. I'm in the market for a desktop to use with my tv for movies, Netflix, Onlive and the like. Never built my own computer, but am tempted. Been looking at older model comps on Amazon for for less than $200 that seem to do everything I would need it to do. We'll see if the wife goes for that (maybe I can bribe her with the T3).

  • Ether

    Another option, and one I use myself for interfacing with your car is a bluetooth OBD2 reader (one I use: http://www.amazon.com/Soliport-Bluetooth-OBDII-Diagnostic-Scanner/dp/B004KL0I9I ) and Torque (lite: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.prowl.torquefree paid: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.prowl.torque ). Despite the low cost of both, it interfaces rather quickly and torque is very customization and have little delay for the live data with little to no hiccups.

  • rckrck

    Please give us a link to the phone wallpaper and the name of the weather widget.

    For your gadgets: KID -> I like that

    • AaronGingrich

      The wallpaper is stock Jelly Bean and the widget used is mentioned in the post already :)

  • Guest

    What in the hell do you need FIVE tablets for?!

  • derp

    Haha... now I definitely feel like my AMD x2 5000+ and radion 3850 are outdated.

    • Melissa Peterson

      I mostly know how you feel, I currently have an AMD Athlon x2 5050e processor and used to have a Radeon 3870 until I finally upgraded when the Nvidia Geforce GTX 460 came out.

  • evanote

    Damn, ure Evernote list, includes BJ's...

  • skeeterfood

    Check out OurGroceries (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.headcode.ourgroceries) for multi-user grocery list syncing. It's great and is also available on iPhone.

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