Sunday Tech Talk — My two new favorite devices

I got tired of all apple gear so shipped it off to my friend in in Salem, Oregon. Gone are the iPhone 7, two iPads, a Macbook Air 2015, and a gaggle of cables. There is something about the gear which bothers me, dumbs me down, makes me less able to fumble around and change things. No custom launchers or icon packs on the phone or changing the default apps for the browser, calendar, email yet you can do it easily on the Macbook. Why? Or better yet Why not? I like futzing with things. Android is better for me because I can do futzing.

Two devices now become new favorites for some period of time.

Acer Chromebook R13

acerr13

This device is big for a convertible tablet and I like it. It folds over to tent and tablet and the build quality is stellar. Change it to the Beta channel and you get the Android apps and can install the office apps, games, android things you like. I like Flipboard better on Android. I like MS Office apps or the choice to use the real apps and not the shadowy online ones. I like a few games. I can install another browser if I want.

This laptop comes with 64gb of storage and 4gb of memory. It seems very quick on the uptake and its quiet folks. No fan running and the Mediatek processor seems very capable at powering the things I like doing. This wins a spot on the desk in my room.

Surface Pro 4

surfacepro4

Now the second device. I bought this thing from Swappa so its gently used and I got the keyboard case, the pen, the charger and the version of the Surface which has the i7, 256gb of storage, and 16gb of memory. This thing is quick folks and does not stutter on the office apps like the earlier Surface Pro 3 I had. It also has less battery life and runs about 5 hours compared to the 12 hours on the first choice.

What it does do that I like is have a really portable environment that folds up on itself and runs the group of regular old Windows applications I have managed to collect. I like mostly free or open source applications and I have an Office 365 personal subscription so I can install on up to 5 devices.

Using it at a Starbucks yesterday convinced me that this device really performs well at regular tasks and multitasking applications for me is excellent. Copying data, sharing information to my journal or splitting the screen is nice on this.

Be sure to bring along the power connector when you venture out.

My final device is not a favorite but I use it because the company gave it to me. My Samsung Galaxy S7 is free and the mobile plan is free and I use it but I don’t particularly like it or recommend it. I don’t like it enough to recommend it but it works with the Airwatch MDM and Boxer mail good enough. If you want an android phone that’s capable get yourself a Pixel. If you want a consumer device check out the new LG phones or perhaps the Huawei as an up and comer.

The Galaxy S7 is just another Samsung phone with no real thing to recommend or desire or cherish with it. Its paid for each month so I use it.

Then I come to the farther out thing. Which device if either would I choose to take on the road? Neither. I would not take the Acer Chromebook R13 or the Surface Pro 4. I definitely would not take a phone. You can get something smaller, more portable, with enough wifi phone functions (think Skype or Hangouts or VOIP) to make things work remarkably well. It would be a chromebook though because of its nature and how I could completely redo the laptop or powerwash it in minutes. If I lost the device, a replacement is only a few hundred dollars. When I think of how the Surface Pro 4 runs with all those DLLs and INI files and registry things, its scary. One false move and the thing could be a multiple hundred dollar paperweight. On the road you don’t need that.

To me, you need a device at about the 11 or 12 inch form factor with up to 12 hours of battery life. Something like the Acer R11 or Asus Flip. You don’t want something to kick butt. You want something to save your butt.