- 1 The Hardware
- 2 Apps
- 3 Other Things
- 4 Wrap-Up
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.
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.
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.
Phone: HTC One X (International)
What it's running: plain Jelly Bean with ClockworkMod Touch Recovery
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.
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
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
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
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
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...)
Google Play Music
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.
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 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
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...
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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.