This page serves as a frequently updated list of hardware gear (like e-readers, phones and cameras) that’s not tethered quite so closely to a computer. It’s stuff we’re using in and around the house, stuff we rely on and (for the most part) trust. It replaces a page I used to maintain over at aaronpressman.com. You can also see computer systems, computer peripherals, software and web services as well as stuff I’m just messing with.
(Last updated April 13, 2013)
Mandatory Knowledge Worker Blackberry
In October, 2009, when I switched jobs, the new gig supplied me with what was at the time a fairly modern and spiffy Blackberry Tour 9630 running on the Verizon wireless network. It’s pretty much a standard-issue old school Blackberry with all the strengths and weaknesses of the platform.
In March, 2013, I got fed up with Verizon’s pricey service and locked down phones. I’d had the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon for over a year but Verizon blocked Google from really treating it like a Nexus — software updates ran from late to never. So I made the switch to the gorgeous and well-rounded Nexus 4 running on a T-Mobile SIM and the carrier’s insanely cheap $30-a-month plan. While the phone is mostly awesome, it has a glass back, a fully symmetrical shape and lacks LTE, the very fastest type of mobile broadband. I think I once dinged the iPhone 4S for these three issues (see below). Oops.
Speaking of which, I tried out a white iPhone 4S for about two months at the end of 2011 but ended up surrendering it to our teenager. I’ve expressed my disdain for several key aspects of the iPhone’s current incarnation in various places, but here’s a quick summary: I don’t like the uncomfortable and cold feel in the hand or the no-orientation, overly symmetric shape coming out of the pocket. But more importantly, I hate the endless, messy sea of same-shaped icons (with a truly horrid system for moving them around). And there are just too many setting you just can’t touch (try and change the name of the wifi hotspot). iTunes. Need I say more? My daughter blogged about why she prefers the iPhone over Android phones on March 13, 2012.
Traveling with phones and tablets and various other energy-sucking gadgets, I’ve found myself searching desperately for an electrical outlet on more than one occasion. So I picked up the TYLT Powerplant, a portable recharger, in early 2013. It has a built in plug for charging mini USB devices, including my Nexus 4 phone. You can also buy it with either of the two current Apple connectors built in. Which ever you elect, the charger also has an ordinary USB slot to plug in any kind of cable. Best of all, it holds its own charge for a year so I can safely leave it at the bottom of my bag for months until I actually need it.
I’ve been an unabashed fan of Amazon’s electronic book reader, the Kindle, since it came out in November 2007. I owned the original until June, 2009, when I upgraded to the larger screen of the Kindle DX. In September, 2010, I added a second Kindle, the gray third-generation model. We also have the 2012 “Paperwhite” with a touch display and backlighting, but I still prefer the old school, button models. Amazon also seems to work the hardest to provide the biggest and best selection of ebooks at reasonable prices. Ignore the whiners and get one. I’ve blogged about it incessantly, as you can see under the “Kindle” category. I posted a review of the Kindle DX (2nd generation) on September 5, 2009 and the basic third-gen model on September 22, 2010.
Seeking a camera that took great pictures with ease instead of a complex, computerized and feature-laden beast, in March, 2013, I dumped some better spec-ed cameras for the Fujifilm X-E1. It has fantastic, old-school analog controls and a great set of lens. Still, it is heavier than some of its competitors and auto-focus is slower. But I’m most concerned with getting great pictures and having fun doing it and in that regard, the X-E1 is unmatched. I blogged a little about why I bought the X-E1 on March 19, 2013.
Coffee is not an option
Coffee is not optional to the writer on deadline — it’s a necessity. For such “emergencies,” we have on hand a somewhat fiddly but necessary Cuisinart DGB-700BC Grind & Brew coffee maker. The built-in burr grinder is key as the coffee tastes uber fresh every time. It can be a pain to clean, though. I’m a fan of that crazy $11,000 coffee maker that Starbucks uses called the Clover s1. But barring a lottery victory, the Cuisinart will remain the home caffeinator for the foreseeable future.