How I roll: The gear I use everyday

How I roll: The gear I use everyday

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I’ve started to get questions on Twitter, Facebook, around the halls of building 37, and over email to the effect of “So, you get all of this new, shiny gear to test and try out…what stuff do you actually *use* every day?”

Here’s what I have humming in my office, in my bag and in my pockets on a daily basis:

Workhorse laptops: I’m currently splitting time between a Dell Studio XPS 16 and The Muse, my custom-built Dell Studio 15 (see below). Both are big laptops with great screen resolution (1600 x 900 on the XPS, full 1080p-capable 1900 x 1080 on The Muse) and plenty of horsepower – each has a 256GB SSD and 6 gigs of RAM. When I’m hunkered down in my office, I like two things – raw speed and display real estate. These PCs deliver both in spades.


Travel machines: If I’m on the road and need a full-power machine in a smaller package, I use the HP ENVY 13 and the Lenovo x301. The x301 is the lighter and less powerful of the two, and generally the one I use if I’m going to be doing a lot of writing as I’m a sucker for the Lenovo trackpoint (the “eraserhead” pointer) and the sturdiness of the standard-issue ThinkPad keyboard. If I’m demoing, the ENVY 13 is my machine of choice because it has one of the best displays in the business.

Netbook: Recently, I’ve been partial to the Sony W mini notebook that I reviewed a few weeks ago. It’s lightweight, gets killer battery life and puts out 1366 x 768 resolution, so I get a “real” screen in a pint size package.

Phone: Most days I use an HTC Imagio running on Verizon Wireless. It’s a Windows Phone 6.5 device with HTC’s finger-friendly TouchFlo3D interface. The screen is huge and great for email and browsing. And you just can’t beat Windows Phone’s Exchange support.

Camera: The photos I take for the blog I shoot with a Nikon CoolPix s8000. It’s a bright red 14 megapixel point-and-shoot with an excellent macro function that works with Windows 7 Device Stage.

MP3 Player: I currently rock a 32GB ZuneHD that my wife got me for my birthday. In my opinion, it’s the slickest, most modern music player available – and the built in HD radio is indispensible at the gym when I’m trying to watch SportsCenter during my 6am workouts. I thought I’d hate the subscription model vs. buying songs one-at-a-time, but now that I have it, I don’t know how I ever lived without it. My music collect ion is broader and deeper now than it ever has been. Full disclosure: I do have an old 60GB iPod classic and an iPod shuffle as well, but neither sees much play time these days.

Peripherals: Always with me are my Ray-Ban sunglasses, a phone charger, ZuneHD transfer cable, Microsoft Arc Mouse, Western Digital 250GB MyPassport, various flash drives, and a retractable Ethernet cable.


I don’t have an eBook reader as I like the feel of paper and the sense of satisfaction I get when I close a book after the last page. Consider that my one Luddite persuasion. (Note: I am currently reading “The Girl Who Played With Fire” by Stieg Larrson, and a new translation of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”)

That being said, I do periodically use the Kindle for PC app on my travel machines and I will admit that its sometimes nice not having to lug around a few pounds of paper with me.

To keep up with what’s going on outside of Redmond, I often tinker with the “other guys’” stuff. My non-Windows test gear includes:

- A Motorola DROID running Android 2.1

- A 15” unibody MacBook Pro running Mac OS X Snow Leopard

- Various Linux distributions running in virtual machines

I schlep all of my gear around in an OGIO Mastermind backpack. Its side-entry laptop sleeve makes it easy to get even big guys like The Muse and the XPS in and out and there are a million pockets for peripherals, notebooks, folders, books and snacks. If I’m carrying more than one laptop, which I often do, I go with the Swiss Gear Synergy backpack. It’s built like Fort Knox and I’ve fit 7 laptops in it at one time, which made for a REALLY fun day in the SeaTac TSA line…

Now that I’ve shown you my gear list, I want you to show me yours! Leave a comment or hit me on Twitter @BenThePCGuy.

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  • @Thomas:  That's not a bad box if you're just using it for everyday stuff!  Acquiring a good collection just takes time. :)

  • That's a great list a gear, enviable!  I only have my Acer Aspire 5520 laptop with a 15.4" screen, AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-58 1.9 Ghz processor, 160 GB HDD, and 3GB DDR2 of RAM, running Win7 Home Premium 32-bit.  The list you provided is something along the lines of what I'd like to own one day, but money constraints stop that.

  • @adir - wow...that sounds like something i'd want myself!! it'd be really fun if i coudl try to make somethign like that. Given the resources, i'd try it in a heartbeat. ;-)

  • @ Ben oh i know its worth it. However, there's a slight problem: money. ;-)  i'm probably going to wait, seeing as i can run most of my web design and programming stuff fine on 3 gigs... however, when i'm debugging CPU intensive virtual server type stuff... it gets a little tough. so RAM will definitely be my next upgrade. its the 64 bit thing thats nagging me...because i can't use Anytime upgrade... i'll probably wait a few years, and just buy Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit since its looking like the virtual machine and multiple languages will also come in handy. Also why i can't wait to turn 16 so i can enter a lot of microsoft contests. (btw about the age thing...  i didn't find any rules about age on this site... so hopefully i'm not breaking any rules... but please tell me if i am and i'll delete the account. thnx)

  • @Thomas  Do it.  I run 64-bit Windows 7 on all of my machines and love it!

  • @Brandon - whoops, that should read "3 gigs," not 4. I'm running Win7 32 Bit... but thinking about upgrading my RAM and moving to 64 bit.

  • adir1
    9 Posts

    This is great overview of gear. Most would be my first choices if I were buying today.

    However, here's a challenge for everyone -- my wife is asking for Laptop with "reversible" screen. Sort of like Tablet with keyboard, but where you can disconnect or "put under" the keyboard, when just browsing web or watching videos.

    I didn't find anything reasonably priced and high performing in that category... Ideas welcome!

  • @Thomas Shields - are you running Windows 7 64-bit? (Assuming you are)

  • ..and i'm with you all the way on the 'paper' and 'real book's thing. ;-)

  • Wow! must be nice to have all that to play around with! Currently i've got an HP G60, Dual Core Turion 2.2, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 320 HD. Not all that portable, and a short battery life, but great all around. Hoping to get a Windows Phone 7 as phone and zune ;-). i'd like to see a tablet some time, too, with a windows os that combines the power of Windows 7 with the slick touch interface of Windows Phone 7.