06
Sep
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As Cameron explained in his latest "What We Use" entry, technology can change a lot in just one year. Around this time last year, I was running with a 2012 Nexus 7, a Galaxy Tab 10.1, and an Evo LTE. All of those devices have changed since then, as have my favorite apps and other gadgets. The family of devices I use has grown and evolved significantly since last October, so I thought it may be fun to detail just what I use to get through a normal day.

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Tablets

I use two tablets on a fairly consistent basis. I definitely have a favorite, but my favoritism rotates between the two devices, depending on what I'm trying to get done and where I am.

Nexus 7 (2013)

What it's running: Stock Android 4.3

First is the Nexus 7. This is kind of my go-everywhere tablet. I take it on planes, to meetings, pretty much anywhere I go. I use it for just about everything – games, movies, reading, emailing, and web browsing. As I explained in my review of the new Nexus 7, it's great for all of these things. And as a product, it provides an excellent experience from start to finish.

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That said, there are times when I need to (try to) do some real work while on the go. For that, I have a couple of options. I could either haul out a laptop (which we'll get to momentarily), or I could opt for something a little more sleek.

Nexus 10

What it's running: Stock Android 4.3

That sleeker option would be the Nexus 10. This ten-inch slab has been with me since launch. It can do everything the Nexus 7 can do, but on a bigger screen at a higher resolution. This makes it more suited for, say, manipulating a spreadsheet, writing out those really long emails that I just don't have the patience for on a smaller screen, or just enjoying gigantic, well-designed tablet apps. I still use the Nexus 10 for consumption most of the time, though. Movies just look so good on the display. Magazines are phenomenal.

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The one thing I can't seem to do on it is read a book. Again going back to my Nexus 7 review, this comes down to the size for me. The NN7 is book-sized. The Nexus 10 is phonebook sized. And I don't often find myself sitting around with books that measure 10" diagonally, be they in portrait or landscape orientation.

Phone: LG Nexus 4

What it's running: Stock Android 4.3

If you haven't noticed already, I'm kind of a fan of the Nexus line. I love using stock Android, and I love the hardware design Google and its partners have produced lately. It should be no surprise, then, that my phone is the Nexus 4.

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Like my other Nexus devices, the N4 is still stock. If I had come across a need for a root app, I'd have no problem rooting any of my devices, but I just don't see that need popping up in my day-to-day experience, so everything remains stock for now.

I was kind of a late-comer to the Nexus 4 party, only ditching Sprint (and the Evo) in May 2013. I haven't looked back since. While the N4 doesn't have LTE, HSPA is a night-and-day difference from Sprint's network (at least in my area), and I never had much use for extra SD storage. With those two things out of the way, the N4 made a great fit for me. Now if only it would get a KitKat update.

Apps, Widgets, And Games

There really aren't too many apps, widgets, and games that I actually rely on or use on a day-to-day basis outside the usual stock or Google assortment. That said, here's a list of the apps etc. that I do use constantly, and a brief explanation.

Apps

  • Goggles – This one doesn't really come in handy all the time, but I love getting notifications when Goggles wants to tell me it knows about the thing I've just photographed.
  • Keep – I use Keep for notes, to-do lists, reminders, etc. It's a super simple note tool that requires the minimum amount of involvement from me.
  • Nova Launcher (Prime) – There are some things I don't like about the stock launcher. Nova lets me "fix" them.
  • OfficeSuite Pro 7 – PDF, spreadsheet, and document viewing/editing that's super simple and looks pretty good too. Google's Drive app has gotten a lot better in the recent past, but I keep coming back to OfficeSuite because it's reliable and well-designed.
  • OpenTable – When traveling I love making reservations through OpenTable and racking up points. It's a great way to discover great restaurants in places you're unfamiliar with, and making reservations is helpful for all parties involved.
  • Pushbullet – This app is still amazing. I push things around to all my devices almost every day.
  • Rando – Rando is a ton of fun. Send (moderated) photos to random people all over the world, and receive random photos back!
  • Reddit Sync Pro – Because Reddit. I bounce back and forth between Reddit apps all the time, but I've landed on this one for quite a while.
  • Timely – I'm a sucker for new and interesting design, and Timely has kept my attention.
  • TripIt – TripIt is absolutely amazing if you travel a lot. And the app does everything the website does and more – track your travel reservations, rewards points, and flight status changes. Alerts are automatic and often faster than the airlines themselves.
  • Twitter – I'm just fine with the regular old Twitter app. I used to use Falcon Pro, but Twitter's own app is all I really need.

Widgets

I actually don't use any fancy widgets. I've got the analog clock, calendar, Keep, and Music widgets on three of my homescreens, and haven't found a widget so compelling that I feel the need to add it to that lineup. Even with the widgets listed above, I keep them hidden away from the main homescreen, which I like to keep obsessively clear of junk.

Games

Likewise, I'm not much of a gamer, but there are a few games I just keep coming back to.

  • Bejeweled Blitz – It may be old-school at this point, but I can't stand Candy Crush, so Bejeweled is my go-to match-three game.
  • Dots – I downloaded this shortly after it came out and got hooked. It's basically another matching game but its simplicity and aesthetic won me over.
  • Riptide GP2 – I love the Play Games integration and achievements, and the graphics and controls are great too.

The Other Stuff

There are a few other devices I can't imagine going without besides my collection of Nexuses. Whether for productivity or creative reasons, I've just got to carry around a laptop and a camera most everywhere I go.

Sony Vaio S

This is the only part of the post where I'll talk about something that hasn't changed from last year. I'm still running with the old Vaio S. Is my experience now as good as it was then? Nope.

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I upgraded the S to Windows 8 earlier this year, hopeful that it would bring an awesome new experience to my laptop. Well, the experience is new. The model of Vaio S I own had many issues with upgrading from 7 to 8, mostly driver related. Sony's response to me on this is essentially "good luck." Otherwise I'm fine with Windows 8. Personally I think it's more suited to touch-only devices (read: tablets), but it works fine for my everyday tasks with a non-touch laptop.

Despite the fact that its battery life has gone down the tubes and many shortcut functions no longer work, my laptop still gets work done. I can still use Adobe software on it, and I think it'll get me through till I decide what to upgrade to (any suggestions, by the way?). I'm not at all committed to Sony laptops after this, though the Vaio Pro seems pretty neat.

Chromebook Pixel

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Chromebook Pixel. I simply couldn't resist it. This is, bar none, the most well-made laptop I've ever used from an industrial design perspective, and it's just a pleasure to use in general. It isn't often I can say that about a product.

I believe the Pixel is an experiment for Google. And it's an experiment for me too. I constantly try to see just how much of my must-do work can be done on the Pixel, because overall I like it much better than the Vaio.

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The snag it still has though, of course, is software availability and discoverability. I know that there are vector art programs and photo editors out there (I use Pixlr quite a bit on the Pixel), but by God I want Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Lightroom. I just do.

There's no doubt in my mind that if I could have those three tools (without remote desktop, without saying a chant to the Pixel at midnight under a full moon) the Pixel would be my main laptop. Is it realistic to think these things would even run successfully on the Pixel? That's a good question. All I know is I dream of a Chromebook of this quality that can run those things.

As for discoverability, when I go to the Chrome store I feel pretty lost. Unless I know exactly what I'm looking for, it feels like a game I'm bound to lose, mainly because I'll get distracted by all the other pretty things the store wants to show me. But that's neither here nor there.

Sony Alpha NEX 7

I got the NEX 7 just before MWC this year, because my DSLR doesn't record video. I may have gotten it for a very specific purpose, but in many ways, the NEX 7 is overshadowing my big clunky DSLR and its lenses.

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I definitely still use the DSLR for studio work and more controlled environments, but the NEX 7 has the manual control I want, the sleek hardware design I want, and the sensor and image quality I crave. It's also a pleasure to use, and it hasn't let me down yet.

Sony QX10 Lens Camera

I've just got my hands on the Sony QX10 Lens Camera (yesterday), so it's not exactly part of my daily life yet, but I'll be working with it over the next week or so leading up to my full review for Android Police, and it's a device I'll definitely be paying attention to. Plus, given the timing of my "What We Use" post, I couldn't resist mentioning it.

The whole concept of the QX10 is somewhat odd. The device has a lot of drawbacks, too. That said, it's really interesting and seems to have a great image quality so far. I'll be interested to see how (if at all) it finds its way into my normal routines. If you've got any questions about the lens camera before my full review, go ahead and ask in the comments and I'll try to answer as many as I can!

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Final Thoughts

That concludes our brief tour through the technical gadgetry that keeps me productive and creative day in and day out. Not necessarily a thrilling or intriguing assortment, but an ever-changing group of products that augment (and improve) my workflow. Feel free to drop any questions in the comments.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

    You mentioned the QX10 had a tripod mount. Have you tried it with it yet? The whole concept of the camera using the phone as a viewfinder reminds of something out of a Bond movie

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I haven't tried it with a tripod yet, but I definitely will for the full review!

  • RenatoFontesTapia

    Nex-7 <3

  • Richard

    I share your obsession for keeping the home screen clear! I dont use many widgets either, but I recommend you the 1Weather Widget, its pretty cool. Looking forward to your qx10 review, I'll be getting one of those, i was thinking of changing mi N4 for another one with better camera but that solves the problem, i just love the N4.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I'm a fan of the N4 as well (obviously), but I'm still hoping the next Nexus will have a better camera. In the meantime, any photos I take with the N4 are usually in HDR mode, it produces a much better result.

      • Roh_Mish

        I dont get why people say that N4 camera is bad? Even without HDR, my n4 takes better pictures then note 2 or s3. (My friends and my dad have them and all have said it. If the pictures was not personal, i would have definately shared it)

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          Yeah. I guess quality on any mobile sensor can't be called great, but the N4 definitely isn't bad. Still, hoping for something notable in the next Nexus

    • Qliphah

      The only widget I couldn't live without is the Motoblur circles widget with clock/weather/data usage/battery usage/message notification, honestly I've never seen another widget show so much information is a smooth beautiful almost natural looking widget. Because of that I've been stuck with an unrooted AtrixHD, but just recently it looks like there's a rom called "HoloBlur" that ups the phone to 4.1.2 and keeps the better stock moto software while optimizing and removing all their bloatware.

  • MeCampbell30

    Did you choose the NEX 7 for any particular reason over the other mirrorless cameras out there?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      A lot of it had to do with the dials up top and the overall quality of the device. I know that Sony can produce quality sensors, and this camera is no exception. It has the imaging quality, build, and easily accessible manual controls I want at a price that isn't unreasonable.

  • Jose Torres

    Well SOMEBODY likes Nexus Devices!!!

    Seriously, thanks to you guys for sharing your wares plus some insight about them.
    I also upgraded my HP desktop to Win 8, just to let you know the driver issues (or the lack of compatibility and such) is not purely a Sony thing and I also got the "good luck with that one" message from HP support.

  • Yusuf Suleman

    Hey does the official twitter app keeps your last place, or does it go right to the latest tweet when you refresh or open the app?

  • EH101

    On your laptop dilemma:

    1) I hate Vaio's, mine burned out 3 different motherboards in the same exact way. It fried the sata controllers and then on the 4th motherboard, it fried the hard drive. So basically, I stay away from those.

    2) My new (3 month old or so) Dell Vostro that replaced the Vaio isn't much better. It had 3 pixels burn out shortly after the return period was up and Dell tells me it must have 7 before they'll fix it. It also likes to freeze a lot. Did that on Win7 and now on Win8. Also the wifi was horrible for me. Turned out to be the wifi card itself and it seems to be a widespread issue. So if you get a Dell, get the Intel based wifi/bluetooth card. The drivers for the Dell versions are absolutely terrible. The specific card to avoid is the Dell DW1704.

    Anyway, so during the upgrade to Win8 on the Dell, I had tons of driver issues but I found out by accident you can make the system install Win7 drivers and everything will work. A bit of Google-ing might help you figure out if it works on your specific laptop or you could just download the Win7 versions and try it. After doing so, all the little extra buttons work on my Vostro again.

    Good Luck!

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Hm I'll look into that. And I hadn't really considered a Dell since the Studio I had a few years ago. Thanks for the tips!

      • Kevin Turabian

        If you are looking for a high end laptop I suggest the Samsung Series 7/9, I picked up an older series 9 13" model for my wife and it is stunning. 1600x900 resolution, matte screen, excellent battery life for an ultrabook and decent power from the i5 and 128gb ssd. I can't deal with laptops that don't have matte displays after using it.
        Although my Samsung Series 7 gamer isn't totally matte it's anti-reflective which is enough for my usage and not many gaming laptops provide matte displays.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          Artem has also recommended the Series 9 to me actually, so it's definitely on my list!

          • BetterWithRoot

            I have a Lenovo W520. It's a beast of a machine. Don't know about the newer ones. I am waiting on the Haswell refresh of the W540 line to upgrade. Mine currently has full HD matte screen, spot for mSATA (i am rocking 256GBs), i swapped the dvd drive out for a HDD caddy. Supports up to 32 GBs (4x8) of RAM. Color Calibration from Pantone and fingerprint reader. Plus it's built like a tank. It's a little on the spendy side, but i love my Lenovo.

  • DirkBelig

    I like Bejeweled Blitz and Dots, but they are MURDER on the battery. If I forget to run a task killer or Fast Reboot after a Blitz session, there is an audio wakelock that will bleed your battery out while it idles. Dots is a CPU hog for such a simple game, running full tilt every second the app is open as if it was doing distributed computing for the NSA at the same time. Fun games, but not when you're away from a charger, which kinda defeats their purpose.

    • MyLeftNut

      I use greenify for apps that like to run in the background even after you've closed them, I've found that it is better than self-defeating task killers. Like Sonic jump, which once opened the first time, automatically runs as a background service at start up. Every single time. Like the game but if I couldn't force it to hibernate until opened I would uninstall it.

      • DirkBelig

        I'm not using an automatic task killer; System Panel has a End Running Apps widget that I tap after a session.

      • Krzysztof Jozwik

        I just hold the back button to kill the app.

  • GraveUypo

    "As Cameron explained in his latest "What We Use" entry, technology can change a lot in just one year."
    not to be a jerk but you pretty much got up-to-date versions of what you already had. there's no "a lot" anywhere to be seen.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I'll agree with you on the Nexus 7, but the other categories I would definitely call major changes. Between the Tab 10.1 and the Nexus 10 there's no comparison. The Pixel has no comparison, the two cameras are used for entirely different purposes, and while the Nexus 4 isn't an updated version of the Evo LTE, it's certainly different.

      • GraveUypo

        i'm using the expression a bit loosely (in the contest of this website).
        he replaced a 10 inch tablet with a new 10 inch tablet, replaced his "stardard-sized phone" for another one, his 7 inch tablet for it's direct successor and a camera for another. he's got no "new device" he didn't before. so there no major change, just minor updates.

  • IHATEHIPSTERSSS

    nexus 10 lags so bad

    the GPU is even lower than the ipad 3 OMG LOL

    • r0xp0x

      LIEK OH EM GEE IT SUCKZ LOLZ

      Who cares? It's still a great device.

    • Thomas Gladdines

      Nexus has a a15 dualcore soc and is lots faster then the nexus 7 2012 which is already fast so I don't know about which lag you're talking lol

      And don't you dare posting anything apple related here, we're going to have a few months from hell already when ios7 releases and apple starts to claim they were the first to make modern design and sue everybody based on rounded square design patents

    • Krzysztof Jozwik

      How do you feel about trolls?

  • Confizziled

    Why don't you root for LTE on your Nexus 4? I love my 4G speeds, and I love watching the 4G creep as T-Mobile turns on new towers! A few weeks ago a whole number of towers lit up, and this afternoon at work I suddenly switched to 4G - and the 15-17 Mbps download speed increase (Up to 25 Mbps!! For free!!)

    It's a no brainer.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Unfortunately Tmo's LTE hasn't reached Louisville yet. Once it does I'll definitely be willing to try and get at it with my N4, but by that time the LTE-enabled NN4 might be out!

      • Tim242

        * LTE-enabled Nexus 5

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          I'm hoping they call it Nexus 4.96.

    • Roh_Mish

      Really? N4 supports DC-Hsdpa and if your carrier supports it you get good speeds. I get more than that on vodafone (india) on 3G. Also how is your battery life?

  • JuJurko

    wallpaper from n4, please :)

  • hyperbolic

    Looking forward for your Sony QX10 review.

  • Andy

    ok I get it, you're just a light user and you would probably be equally happy with an iPhone + iPad, you never root, use almost no apps and widgets, and you're happy with whatever stock offers. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have all the necessities right out of the box, but Android powers lay in tinkering and personalization, making your experience unique and crafted just for you, because we're all different, and nothing suits everybody's needs. So your advice means nothing to me. I for one, use tons of apps, select my widgets carefully based on functionality AND the looks, almost always use custom Roms or at least root, switch my system apps and settings, to squeeze the most out of my devices, and I encourage y'all to dive in and explore endless possibilities Android has to offer :-)

    • Joris Griffioen

      Different strokes. I'm with you in terms of use, but I would never blindly advise anyone to do that too. If you're that kind of person, you'll figure it out.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I agree that Android is great for tinkering, and I definitely have in the past, but right now at the time I wrote this piece, I just don't have any need to. I enjoy the products as products, and use them for what I need.

      Why, exactly, do you think I'd be just as happy with an iPad and iPhone? iOS and Android are two completely different systems running on an entirely different set of products (similar only in their sharing the "tablet" or "phone" categorization), and I prefer the products run by Android.

      As for my advice meaning nothing to you, I wasn't actually offering advice.

  • Man of Persia

    Where are you Artem? :D

  • Elias

    LIAM is MAIL reversed. Cannot unsee.

  • Dan

    You say, "I love using stock Android" and then you slap Nova Launcher on it. I use Nova Launcher and like almost everything about it, but you can't pretend that you're using stock Android if you have a custom launcher on it. That means you're using the stock Android settings menu and notification shade, not much else.

    • MyLeftNut

      Don't be so pedantic. He says he loves using stock not that he's a stock android purist. And stock android is more than just the launcher or the things you listed. I know many so called "android purists" that use action launcher on top of stock. Doesn't mean they love stock any less than you. Man, people always looking for a reason to be exclusionary.

    • Ryan O’Neill

      In my mind, Nova Launcher is "stock". It looks and feels just like AOSP Launcher, but with more customizability. Compare it with Go Launcher or Chameleon launcher and it's definitely close enough to be called "stock".

    • Roh_Mish

      You can get stock look on nova. I use it specifically for transparent background in launcher menu and multiple dock.

  • narctic

    Rando + Pushbullet. Just tried them out and have to agree, two very amazing apps. I've received pictures from almost every corner of the globe in the past few hours and pushbullet.. sharing made simple.

  • Roh_Mish

    I still have my old sony vaio ns series as secondary laptop from 2007 and it runs very well till now. I have windows vista (yes!) And ubuntu installed as my os. I mostly use ubuntu but vista is not as bad as people say and after the SP2 UPDATE it has improved much. I have windows 8 on my other laptop (vaio sonic) and although it is not confusing having to jump from one place to other to get things done that previously was at one place in not good. It feels still an alpha build. I tried have many laptops in the same price range but havent got anything that i like other than sony. (For some reason, i just love their products)

  • beomagi

    With pushbullet, if you push a file, does it go over their servers?

  • Armus

    How can Anyone love nexus when Samsung has so much more, especially an SD card

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