My Gear 2019

You can take a look back at last year’s gear here:

My Gear 2018

there were/are some major changes happening with my assortment.

Pixel XL phone – still using this as a ‘secondary’ phone. It has all the Microsoft apps installed on it and is connected to my Office 365 demo account. Most importantly, it has the Microsoft Authenticator app for MFA access to my demo accounts in Office 365. Anther major app I use on this phone is OneNote for accessing all my notes.

I connect this phone in my car for navigation (Waze), Podcast (Podcast Addict) and have recently discovered I can also get Amazon Music there as well via the phone. An upcoming post will detail all the mobile apps I use on my devices for you.

This phone continues to perform all the tasks it needs to well and I have no plans to replace it in the near future.

Summary – No change, still in use every day.

Lumia 950 XL – This Windows Phone continues to work but is beginning to show it’s age and lack of support. My main use of this device is simply to make and receive calls, but of late I’m starting to get issues where this isn’t always happening for some reason. Now that may not be the phone, it may be the sim or the network, however I’m also getting more lock ups and random reboots. Nothing major, but painful when it happens. Would it continue to work as an acceptable phone only device? Sure, but is that really serving my purpose and providing the best benefit? I’m beginning to think not.

Thus, I think one of the changes I’ll need to make in 2019 is to finally retire this device and look at a replacement. Given that I already have a functioning Android phone my choice is probably going to be an iPhone. However, given the outrageous prices of iPhones I’m not looking forward to that day and am waiting for some sort of sale or discount offer to eventuate. I have also read that there will be new iPhones coming soon with better support for e-sims so maybe I’ll hold off until then. It is really just my aversion to paying THAT MUCH for a phone.

So sometime this year it will be bye, bye Windows phone and hello iPhone (as well as bye, bye many dollars unfortunately at the same time).

Summary – will probably be replaced by iPhone sometime in 2019 once I can bear the cost of doing it.

Surface 3 and 4 – Are both working well. I use the Surface Pro 3 as a travelling device and the Surface Pro 4 as my desktop. I am considering getting a new travelling device or maybe a new desktop device, say a Surface Pro 6, and using the Surface Pro 4 for travel. I considered maybe a Surface Go as a new travelling device but decided it would not be powerful for what I need.

Looking a Surface Pro 6 brings into question what specs? I certainly don’t need a lot of local storage any more so a 256 GB SSD is fine. That storage capacity then limits me to 8GB of RAM, which I think is also fine. The final choice is an i5 or i7 processor. Since I’m going for a cheaper device here I’d look at the i5 processor as it does everything I need.

Some things to remember about buying a Surface. You’ll also need to add a keyboard and a pen. Doing so brings the price of such a device up to around AU$2,000! However, the biggest drawback is that these current generation of Surface Pro devices only come with Windows Home! On a Pro device? So, I’d now have also factor in an upgrade to Windows Pro as well. Now, that isn’t a huge issue but all up that is lot to pay for a desktop that I kinda really don’t need given the other two are working fine.

If you also couple that with the desire to get a new iPhone, the costs of hardware for both of those devices combined is approaching AU$5,000 which is madness for things I don’t really need urgently. Thus, I am putting both of these on hold until there is a more burning need for them. If a I see a good deal appear for either of these devices I might jump in, but man, that’s a lotta dollars for computers eh?

Summary – considering a Surface Pro 6 to replace Surface Pro 3 but need a practical and rational reason to make immediate change.

iPad – One of the other reasons I was considering a Surface Go was as a pure writing device to totally replace the pen and notebooks that I have. I have wanted to go totally paperless for years but never found the right device. The Surface Go was a contender but once you added all the bits, it became too expensive and somewhat bulky.

I then decided to go with the bottom of the range iPad (WiFi only) and an Apple pencil which brought the total to around AU$500. The Apple pencil is a tad cumbersome and I would prefer something about half the size. I like that it is re-chargable, which the Surface pens aren’t, but that isn’t a huge issue. The Apple pencil does write well but I see no real difference to a Surface pen in that respect but the Surface pen wins on form factor if I was to make an ergonomic choice.

Another reason for the new iPad was my original iPad 2 is now no longer able to be upgraded to new versions of iOS and has become quite slow. So my thinking was to get a new personal iPad device and repurpose the older iPad for testing. The last thing I need to do before I can fully repurpose the older iPad is move the Google Authenticator app off it to another device. That is going to be a major pain that I have so far put off but will need to be done sooner rather than later.

I’m now using this new iPad for anything to do with writing, business and personal. This new device has probably had the biggest impact on the way I do things in the last 12 months.

Summary – new basic iPad is now a central part of my daily routine. Old iPad 2 soon to be repurposed for testing.

Ubiquiti – After having a consumer grade WiFi setup for ages, and after some connectivity issues (which turned out not to be the WiFi after all) I decided that my whole setup needed upgrading. My greatest concern was that the consumer gear firmware was not being upgraded and that would potentially increase my risk, so it was therefore time to upgrade.

After reading Troy Hunt’s post on Ubiquiti and watching his free online course as well, I decided that I wanted something similar. I thus invested in:

Security Gateway

UniFi Switch 8 (150W)

UniFi nanoHD WiFi access point

Cloud Key Gen2 Plus

I left my old router in place but disabled the WiFi access point and simply use it as a pass through now. I then connected it to the Security Gateway, connected everything else up behind the gateway and then configured it all from a web interface. Very, very impressed with the results. Super simple install. Easy to update the devices and great metrics on usage, devices and so on. Highly recommended.

One of the items that I am considering for 2019 will be a Ubiquiti camera like this:

G3 micro

Again, not really a must have but I can see benefits of having one of these device to monitor things when I’m not there.

In theory, the Australian high speed National Broadband Network (NBN) was supposed to be rolled out to my location in December 2018. I hope that it isn’t too far away so I can complete the final part of the upgrade of my infrastructure and finally get some real high speed connectivity in place. I can’t wait.

Summary – very happy with major upgrade of my networking systems to Ubiquiti gear, with potentially a camera to be added. Awaiting roll out of NBN to complete project.

Docking station – Initially, I though that the cause of my connectivity issues was my old consumer grade WiFi but it turns out that the network port in the my existing Kensington USB 3.0 Docking Station SD3500v was becoming flaky. Problem was the docking station drives a lot of things besides my wired networking, like multiple monitors. The temporary solution was to just unplug the wired connection and go wireless with the Surface Pro 4. The longer term solution is going to be buying a new docking station.

The replacement is going to be:

Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to any here in Australia at the moment, so I’ve also added that to the 2019 wish list as a priority.

Summary – Kensington SD3500v has flaky network port and will thus probably be replaced with Kensington SD7000.

WD Sentinel DX4000 – I’d also like to upgrade this device as the installed Windows Server 2008 R2 is going into end of life. I’d like to be install Azure File sync on any device and that means Windows Server 2012 R2 or better. I don’t think that it would be a good idea to do an in place upgrade of the equipment, so new infrastructure seems to be required.

Now if I go for a new on prem server, do I get something a bit bigger that can actually function like a ‘normal’ server so I can do more testing? Like I said, I’d really like the ability to install additional software on there but all these wants increase the price. Maybe, I just leave the existing server in place but get a new ‘front end’ box to do what I want?

I still rather undecided on what to do here. Again, the existing server is doing its job well and suits my needs, however having some additional flexibility would be nice, especially for testing hybrid configurations. For the time being I’ve decided to put this on the back burner but would like to do something in 2019.

Summary – on the back burner to upgrade or replace.

Fitbit – The old Fitbit recharging port on the unit has become so broken that the charging cable will no longer attach to it. The cost of replacement items is too high in my books and I really don’t want another watch as I like my analogue one. Having used a Fitbit for many years, I have a lot of accumulated data that I’d be forgoing if I went to another device. However, on the other hand, how often do I look at that data? Rarely, if I’m honest.

The most likely replacement is probably going to be the Oura ring, which I really like all the metrics around it. Now the challenge is I need to get my finger measured to find the right size. Oura does ship a sizing kit that allows you to check the size using plastic mock ups before you confirm but you still need to purchase the whole unit first.

Being a few hundred US$ doesn’t make this item cheap. Being that I also REALLY don’t need this item I’ve still in the due diligence phase, making sure that it is the best investment for my money as I know there are other devices out there. So again, probably something I’ll get in 2019 but no real rush as yet and as yet I’m not 100% sold given the cost.

Summary – Fitbit has died after a long and productive life and it looks like the Oura ring will be the replacement.

Amazon Kindle – In use every day, no change. One of the best devices I have ever invested in.

Xbox One S – Twelve months old now and use it mostly to watch videos on Amazon Prime or YouTube. Play the occasional game when the mood takes me. Makes for a good distraction when the need arises.

Summary – mainly used as a consumption device with some gaming. No change or updates expected in 2019.

My major hardware investments in 2018 where new Ubiquiti networking and a new basic iPad to replace all paper notebooks. On the cards for 2019 are probably a new iPhone, Oura ring and docking station. What also will probably eventuate is a G3 micro video camera, new on prem server and maybe a new Surface Pro.

Let’s see what 2019 brings.

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