11
Sep
tg

In 2009, I was an iPhone user. I had been watching Android intently, but none of the hardware really appealed to me. As the end of the year grew near, I felt the itch to get out of Apple's walled garden. I didn't hate my iPhone, but I knew it wasn't the right platform for me. I bought an HTC Hero, and I still pride myself on having the commonsense to return it a few weeks later and buy the Motorola Droid. Since then, I've continued buying Android devices, as well as other bits of technology that help me do my job.

I'm going to go over the basics, of course – I'll tell you what devices and software I use, but I also want to tell you about the little things that help me get by. Maybe a few things that I just kind of like too. Basically, I want to show you around my office.

Mobile Devices

Phone: LG Nexus 4

What it's running: Stock rooted Android 4.3 with TWRP recovery, T-Mobile

I was using the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon a year ago, and I was not satisfied with the experience. See, Verizon's service is actually pretty awful where I live, which I understand is a bit of an unusual situation. So when the Nexus 4 was announced with HSPA+ only, I was not terribly concerned. Indeed, T-Mobile's HSPA+ is faster than Verizon's LTE most of the time in my area. I'm still totally in love with this phone. I tried to use an HTC One as my daily driver for a time earlier this year, but it just didn't feel right. I ended up back on the N4.

N4 Wood

I recently added a snazzy dbrand mahogany skin to the back, because why not? This phone does everything I need it to do. It's fast, looks nice, has a solid screen, and gets me through a day on a charge.

Tablet: 2013 Nexus 7 (16GB)

What it's running: Stock rooted Android 4.3 with TWRP recovery

The instant we got word the new Nexus 7 had gone on sale early at Best Buy stores, I was out the door. My first-gen N7 was one of the ones affected by the performance degradation caused by poor storage management. I was anxious to upgrade, and the new N7 was exactly what I needed. It's speedy, looks really nice, and it feels great in the hand. That screen – goodness, I love that screen.

m1

The Nexus 7 is the device I go for first when testing a new app or game. I prefer the experience on a 7-inch slate to a phone for pure interface exploration and gaming. I suppose you could say I'm still in the honeymoon period with this device. Over time I'll probably find things I don't like about it, and we'll have to get divorced. By which I mean I will list it on Craigslist and buy a new tablet.

Other tablet: iPad Mini

What it's running: iOS 6, unmodified

m2

Okay, hear me out. I like the way Android works – it makes sense to my brain. I don't particularly care for iOS, but a lot of people do. Apple owns a huge segment of the market and has a robust developer ecosystem. There are apps and games on iOS that we don't yet have on Android. I write about technology, and that's not limited to Android. I feel like I need to know what's happening on iOS to understand where mobile technology is, and where it's heading. I use the iPad regularly, but I prefer my Nexus 7.

Apps

DeskSMS – I have my tablet in my hands all the time, and DeskSMS lets me manage text messages from it. Until the day I can force everyone to use Hangouts, I'll use DeskSMS.

Dropbox – My favorite cloud storage service. I even pay money for a premium account. I know people are up in arms about the cloud, but this service is too useful for me to abandon based on a theoretical threat.

Helium – App backup done right—finally.

Keep – I use Keep for making short notes and keeping track of projects with checklists.

Reddit Is Fun – I have to relax sometime.

Falcon Pro – I still use this app despite it leaving Google Play. I can't imagine it will be updated often now that it's banished. I might try switching once the updated official client rolls out.

Shush – Shush makes sure I never forget to turn my ringer back on after the movie.

Solid explorer – My favorite way to manage files. Has support for local storage, cloud services and FTP/SFTP, among others.

Widgets

Elixir 2 – I like to know everything that's going on in my system. I don't know why, I just do. Elixir 2 lets me do that.

Beautiful Widgets – Yeah, I still use Beautiful Widgets, but mostly for the insanely configurable weather forecast widget. It's great. 

Battery Widget Reborn – The most elegant way to track your battery life, and it has a great notification tray option.

Power Toggles – Great for having weird settings right at your fingertips. 

Games

rymdkapsel – An unexpectedly amazing strategy game. 

Riptide GP2 – Absolutely one of the best racing titles to ever grace a mobile device. Well-balanced, great graphics, and fun tracks. 

Reaper – A hack-and-slash RPG. I'm just getting into it, but it seems amazing.

Kingdom Rush – The best tower defense game on Android.

Punch Quest – It's an infinite runner, and it's a little retro, but it's still great. This game is the best way to kill 5 minutes. 

Computers

Desktop PC: Custom-built by me

What it's running: Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 8.1 in October-ish.

m3

I do most of my work at my desktop PC. I have a dual-monitor setup with a pair of 24-inch panels. I just feel more productive when I don't have to move windows around to see what's happening. This system was built about a year ago, so most of the hardware is still new-ish. It's running an Intel Core i5-3570K, 8GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX670, a 128GB Crucial SSD, and a 3TB Western Digital Green hard drive. All this is stuffed inside a Lian-Li case, which I love. I'm currently waiting on a good time to take this PC apart and put in a new MSI motherboard I have sitting in the corner. My current Gigabyte board is misbehaving… I don't want to talk about it.

Laptop: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31

What it's running: Windows 8

m4

While I prefer desktop computing, I still need to be mobile sometimes. I finally replaced my aging Samsung laptop recently with an Asus Zenbook. This computer is running Windows 8, which I'm kind of ambivalent on. The Zenbook has a touch screen, which makes Windows 8 a little more usable. It's running an Ivy Bridge CPU, not Haswell, but it's still a nice system with a killer 1080p screen.

Other Stuff

Camera: Nikon D3100

m5

Taking a picture of a camera is weird

I cannot claim to be an expert photographer. I've picked up enough to get by, but having a good camera helps. I bought the D3100 about 18 months ago, and it's served me well. It has since been replaced by the D3200 as Nikon's entry-level DSLR, but this one still serves my purposes, even with fewer megapixels. Almost all the images I take have to be scaled down for the web anyway. The next time I buy, I'll probably go mirrorless.

Bag: Powerbag Backpack

m6

Like several other members of the team, I took advantage of the deal we posted a few months ago for the red Powerbag backpack. It was only $15! I love this thing. It has a ton of pockets, a well-protected laptop sleeve, and a battery to charge my devices. What's not to like?

Das Keyboard

This thing has measurably improved my quality of life. I type a lot, as you can probably imagine. It can really be murder on your hands spending all day with your fingers stabbing mushy, stiff, or loose keys. A mechanical keyboard, like the Das Keyboard, provides a much more consistent typing experience. The mechanical switches are tactile and move smoothly up and down. You don't even have to depress the keys all the way – simply feel for the actuation click and move on to the next key. My hands feel much less jacked up after a lot of typing. Mechanical switches are also very durable – the keys feel exactly the same as when I bought the keyboard two years ago.

m7

Mechanical keyboards are a little loud if you get the Cherry MX Blue (or comparable) switches. I have the Das Keyboard Silent, which uses Cherry MX Brown switches. It's still louder than a regular keyboard, but the Browns are better for gaming. A mechanical keyboard probably isn't worth it if you don't pound away on the keys for 8 hours a day. The Das Keyboard is $125. For me, this was a reasonable purchase.

Odds And Ends

Tools

m8

I like to be prepared for every tech eventuality, so I need tools. I got tired of hunting down janky screwdrivers every time I needed to get into something, so I bought these a few years ago. With some custom additions, I feel prepared for the inevitable. I don't have any specific recommendation, except make sure you have a good tool kit that suits the stuff you tinker on. Whatever you think you'll need – have it.

Kimwipes

m9

More than likely you have no idea what a Kimwipe is. These are small single-use paper sheets often used in scientific laboratories to clean glass slides, microscope objectives, and densitometer plates. They are used because they leave no residue and there are no rough fibers to scratch things. That makes them perfect for cleaning touchscreens. Being paper, you just throw them away when you're done. Sanitary and super-effective. They're not essential, but I love these things. You can buy them for about $5 per 280-sheet box on Amazon. Besides, how else am I supposed to clean my screen? My shirt? What am I? An animal... with clothing?

Grabber

m10

If this contraption has a more official name, I don't know it and don't want to know it. This is the grabber, because that's what it does. I dig it. If I drop something behind my desk (which I do embarrassingly often), I don't want to crawl around on my hands and knees looking for it. That's what the grabber is for. It's also great for running cables behind bookshelves and other furniture. Yes, I know this is a strange thing to have around, but it's crazy-useful.

What Have I Become?

So that's all the stuff I have around my office. Some of it is clearly essential – I couldn't do my job without my mobile devices or computers. Some of it is just comforting to have, like the grabber. I suppose the Das Keyboard falls somewhere in between for me. I can get by without it, but I really don't want to.

So now I bid you good day with a view of the air above my desk. Every day for the last decade this mobile made from an Intel 486-based computer has hung above me. I just like having it there.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    Kimwipes: bought.

    • Phil Oakley

      Don't forget a grabber too. That could be handy.

      • kimberly537

        what Joshua responded I am startled that some people able to profit $9055 in 4 weeks on the computer. Full Article w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • Rubin

    Awesome last part!

  • Andrew

    Nice book collection is hiding behind Nexus 7!

    • PamelaLibrarian

      Agreed. I noticed this on another post a while back.

  • http://j.mp/scottbeamer Scott Beamer

    Added Kimwipes and "The Grabber" to my Amazon wish list!

  • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

    As a former chemist, I approve of the Kimwipes!

  • andyr354

    What OS on the desktop, just curious.

    • Nicolas Leotier

      He say windows 8

      • RyanWhitwam

        Er... no. It says Windows 7 now, probably Windows 8.1 in October.

    • Sean Cummins

      You may have missed it, but right above the picture of the desktop it reads:

      >What it's running: Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 8.1 in October-ish.

  • AkhilSood

    Damn that powerbag is really awesome. Wish i could have grabbed it when it was $15! Nice score.
    And Shush! Now that will be of real help to. Thanks man.

  • EH101

    Kimwipes are also good for cleaning shades. Which are the only things I get all OCD about. Just make sure there aren't any grains of sand/dust before you start wiping or the scratches will come. Now off to buy more lenses...

    Also, I feel you on that Gigabyte board. Mine is giving me issues as well with an i5-3550. ASUS to the rescue! (got a great deal, otherwise, I wouldn't have picked ASUS probably)

  • lordmerovingian

    Booo!!! Every manly geek worth his salt (musk) would broom "Hangouts" and replace it with the good ol' "Talk" like i did on my Nexus 7 2012. :)

  • D. Sharer

    I also took advantage of that Power Bag Backpack deal you guys posted, I absolutely love it. I had previously got in on a deal for their hipster shoulder/laptop bag but I couldn't pass up the red backpack, which I now use all the time. The hipster bag will soon be gifted.

  • René Simonsen

    Reaper and Kingdom Rush are also two of my favorite games!

    • Qliphah

      Installing Reaper right now, hexage is a great game studio!

  • Hans Gruber

    He has a copy of Red Mars...
    I'll let him off being a nikon user and planning to install windows 8 :p

  • Floflo

    You should try to manage the cables in your PC case better! It will make the airflow in it a bit better.

    Pay a visit to http://www.reddit.com/r/CableManagement/ sometime.

    • RyanWhitwam

      Don't tell me how to live my life!

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Yeah, I'm with you when it comes to cable management on my PC. Never could get them to be really set and proper.

      • Floflo

        Okay... T_T

  • Magneira

    Nice, really nice setup. Its great to see that other people still use the nexus 4, there is no better phone than it right now, overall the combination is fast clean and the battery gets trough the day. Also after letting google now enter my life i cant go back to a capacitve button phone, the swipe from bottom to open google now is the one feature a use the most, to see my next apoint i dont go to callendar, i go to google now, the weather, google now, my next reminder in keep, google now and etc

  • Brad

    kimwipes are the bomb...i use them at work all the time

  • Taylor LaBrier

    I'd like to know where that tool kit came from...

    • Sqube

      Cosigned.

    • RyanWhitwam

      I got it from Newegg a while back. Don't know if they still sell it. I believe it was made by Rosewill.

      • Sootie

        I'd like to know what sort of IT/Office jobs require the hammer

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          You never nail anything to put up on a wall? I guess, most of the time you can use screws, but a good old hammer is always handy.

        • RyanWhitwam

          I refer to that as the "electronics hammer." It's small and has a rubber cover on the smash-y part. It's actually useful for forcing stubborn things to connect like they're supposed to. I just used it recently to pound the back panel for my motherboard into the case opening.

      • Aaron

        Looks like this is the kit, or the updated version at least.

        http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16899261020

  • Niels

    I really like the looks of your laptop! That'd be my next one (or one from the same family) when the time comes to replace my current one. D'you care to elaborate about how it is to use? And how long do you have this one? Is it powerful enough to do some light development?

  • Andrew Kachaniwsky

    If you're still in the honeymoon period with the Nexus 7 2013.. does that mean you haven't tried a bluetooth keyboard with it yet? I want to throw that thing against the wall so often it's not funny.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Mine locks up pretty often and isn't snappy at all, with a fraction of the apps compared to the Note II. Definitely over the honeymoon. Still behaves better than most other Android tablets, but it's not 100%.

    • MrWareWolf

      so plug in a regular keyboard via otg cable..??

      OR

      wifi-keyboard app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.volosyukivan

      not too hard..

  • Rol

    Nice collection!

  • stevee

    "Falcon Pro
    – I still use this app despite it leaving Google Play. I can't imagine
    it will be updated often now that it's banished. I might try switching
    once the updated official client rolls out."

    Perhaps you could add some words about what it is or does, because I'm still none the wiser.

    • Qliphah

      Twitter client, but if someone could explain the draw of Twitter... I'm a bit fuzzy on that still.

  • DeadSOL

    You lost me at the iPad. Sorry, mate, but after owning the new Nexus 7, you should have trashed the iPad for good (if you hadn't done it ages ago).

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      There are reasons to own one, such as access to games and apps that aren't on Android, for example.

  • marriedman624

    Just a question, what do you guys do with your 'old' devices. It seems you get a lot of devices to test/try out. What do you do with them when you are done? Is it illegal to gift them to people {hint, hint}?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Most of the test devices go back to whoever loaned them. They're review units. The devices you see people have are mostly what they bought, with very rare exceptions.

  • Reikz

    I have the exact gaming rig build that you do, down right to the 3tb hdd and ssd. Did you built it last year aswell?

  • Albert H

    You root your Nexus 7 but don't jailbreak your iPad Mini. Shame on you for not being ambitious! Cydia is your friend!

  • andrew__des_moines

    My must-have apps: Simple Sound Profile, Droid48 (even better with Helium, no more losing programs!), Umano (I'm addicted to this app), Go Contacts EX, Widget Locker, Nova Prime, Android Pro Widgets, Dolphin (with Dolphin sync to Chrome bookmarks), Google Voice, Roku, Pocket (the password one).

  • Mark S

    Great list - love the grabber. I've found myself in situations where I could have used one of those...I just never thought to actually buy one!

  • Robert Castles

    Ryan, if you are paying for Dropbox, and want, instead, to own your cloud, try looking into owning your own synology NAS. I have a 2T personal storage server which runs from my house, supports ios, Windows, android, Mac, Linux, etc. I love Dropbox, but use it less and less by the day for my own personal cloud storage, and it offers much more than just serving files.

    • RyanWhitwam

      That actually does not sound like something I want to do. I don't really have time to mess around with something like that, and part of the appeal with Dropbox is that it's not in my house. It's off-site storage.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Precisely. I do use a Synology as a backup, but most everything goes to the cloud, especially because of the Pixel's 1TB for 3 years.

  • David Margolin

    High five, powerbag buddy!

  • ElfirBFG

    I bought a Das Keyboard(clicky) for my mum, she loves it. I got it for $5 at Goodwill though.

  • jamesfuston

    I'm curious what made you pick Desk SMS over alternatives like MightyText?