My Gear 2020

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

My Gear 2019

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

Pixel XL phone – In the last few months of the year, this phone died. Basically it would no longer charge no matter what I attempted to do to it. I managed to do a factory reset before it totally died and now won’t even power on. Purchased May 2017, died November 2019

Pixel 4 XL phone – My new ‘Google’ phone. This as a ‘secondary’ or backup phone. It has all the Microsoft apps installed on it and is connected to my Microsoft 365 production account. Most importantly, it has the Microsoft Authenticator app for MFA access. I was pretty much able to restore everything from the dead Pixel XL to here, without too much trouble.

I have shifted my major day to day on a device to being an iPhone XS Max now for no other real reason than wanting to experience the iPhone ecosystem for a period. I don’t use the Pixel 4 XL much but I think that has more options that I have found on the iPhone.

Summary – Old Pixel died, new 4XL model replacement

Lumia 950 XL –  To quote last year’s blog post

“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 – Retired. Replaced by iPhone X Pro.

iPhone XS Max – I decided to replace the Lumia 950XL with a iPhone 10 XS Max to get the iPhone ecosystem experience. I have this phone on a plan that includes unlimited data in Australia as well as some every generous overseas data limits as well. In all honest, I bought the unlimited data plan more than the phone.

The iPhone X has done the job for me so far. The main trick I learned is that to directly tether to a PC using a USB cable, you need the right (read Apple) cable. On the plus side, I will say that the batter life is really good in my experience. I don’t like the Apple podcasts app at all. Not nearly as good as Podcast Addict on Android, which you can’t get on the iPhone. If someone has a good podcasting app for iOS, I’m ALL ears! Apps like Waze aren’t as full featured on iOS as on Android in my experience and I gotta say that iOS has had lots of and lots of updates since I got this device. See, it isn’t just Windows PC’s people!

The iPhone again, runs all the Microsoft apps for business as well as a few key personal apps.

Summary – Using but not loving the experience. It is all becoming a bit ‘meh?’ now. It is a device that does a job. No more, no less in my opinion. If I really had to choose, I think I prefer the Pixel 4 XL overall but for now I’m sticking with the iPhone X as my primary phone

Surface Pro 3 – This device was ‘retired’ from the job of travelling PC in favour of the Surface 4, which in turn was replaced by a Surface Pro 6. Basically, the hand me down process if you follow. The Surface Pro 3 continues to work fine and functions as a Microsoft Teams ‘phone’ tablet on my desktop. Basically, it is now a device I use for making and receiving calls.

Surface Pro 4 – After deciding on a new Surface Pro 6 as my main machine, I ‘downgrade’ the existing main desktop, which was the Surface Pro 4, to the role the Surface Pro 3 played. That being a travelling machine for demos and remote work. Basically, the hand me down process as I said.

Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 4 has now started to fall apart as you can see below:

image

Yes that is the front of the screen pulling away from the back case. The case has also started to bulge at the rear, which I believe is an issue with the battery. The screen also has some ‘burn’ style markings on it that also indicates something is wrong there. In short, it is still working, but no longer fit for travel. Thus, it will need to be thrown out and replaced with something else.As I don’t want to go back to the Surface Pro 3 as a travelling PC. I think a Surface Pro 7 may be in my immediate future??

Summary – Had a hard and productive life but is now dying. Considering a Surface Pro 7 as a replacement. Purchased December 2016. Died December 2019.

iPad – Bottom of the range iPad (WiFi only) and an Apple pencil. 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.

I’m now using this new iPad for anything to do with writing, business and personal. It travels with me, and I use it for both business and personal Tasks (such as watching movies).

I am considering maybe an iPad mini to see if the smaller form factor is a benefit. It is also handy that the iPad mini supports the Apple Pencil which I do use regularly. Starting at AU$599, it is still somewhat expensive to justify in light of the fact that I am more than happy with the current iPad I have. Maybe a bargain will come my way in 2020?

Summary – Basic iPad is now a central part of my daily routine. Considering an iPad mini if a bargain arises.

Ubiquiti – I left my old consumer 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 2020 (still) 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 and (unsurprisingly, it wasn’t). Thus, I’m stull stuck on ADSL at the moment. The NBN roll out is planned for my address in June 2020 (yeah right). So, I currently have no other option but to wait. I get so frustrated with upload speeds (thanks to ADSL 2) that I now use my iPhone unlimited data plan to do my large upload, which are infinitely faster. The biggest limitation I face in my business today is the lack of a decent, fast Internet connection. It makes Australia the laughing stock of the developed world in my opinion. Let’s see what 2020 brings on the broadband front but I ain’t holding my breath!

I also now have a Site to Site VPN between my Ubiquiti Security Gateway and Azure, which took a little setting up due to my double NAT configuration, but all working well now!

Summary – Very happy with  Ubiquiti gear, with potentially a camera to be added. Awaiting roll out of NBN to complete project.

Docking station – 2019 also saw me upgrade my desktop docking station to:

Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station

It is a really neat device, that suits most modern Surface Pro devices. It is slim, compact and now all me to have 3 external monitors off the one Surface devices (as you can never have enough screen now can you eh?). I can plug in all my devices, microphones, phones, etc to it and all the cables are hidden at the back. I also like that you can adjust the screen up and down, a bit like a Surface Studio.

The original Kensington SD3500v has now moved to work with the travelling PC when it is running in my office and that is also working well, making it a truly ‘plug and play’ experience when I get back from road trips.

Summary – Loving the new Kensington DV7000 and the old Kensington SD3500v is still in service and performing well.

WD Sentinel DX4000 – The plan was, with the NBN roll out I could all the data on this device to Azure and retain the same functionality. Unfortunately, high speed broadband is yet to some my way so this upgrade has been put on hold for now. I have set up a Site to Site VPN from my on premises environment to Azure and started shifting some of the data there, and I will do more in 2020. I’ll also be shifting some of the data into Microsoft 365 as well.

I really want to maintain some form of hybrid configuration just for experiences sake. That is , so I know how it needs to be configured and managed. However, over 202 I’m going to ensure that I have nothing of production value on this box so that it cane be retired at any point. Just frustrating that without enough bandwidth, it can’t happen sooner.

Summary – on the back burner to upgrade or replace. Awaiting broadband upgrade to move to Azure.

Personal fitness device – After the FitBit died last year, I was considering the the Oura ring, which I really like all the metrics around it. 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 – Still deciding on suitable replacement and whether it is worth the investment.

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

Xbox One S – Still use it to watch YouTube, Netflix and Amazon video but now playing more games thanks to the release of the latest Call of Duty game.

Summary – Now mainly used for Call of Duty.

My major hardware investments in 2019 where a new iPhone, Surface Pro 6 and Pixel 4XL. I’ll definitely be needing a new travelling PC (looking like a Surface Pro 7) and maybe a few other ‘nice to have’s’ in 2020 depending on how things go. Let’s see.

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