You can take a look back at last year’s gear here:
there were/are some major changes happening with my assortment.
Surface Duo 2 – My ‘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 for certain apps. I’ll need to spend more time with this device as it is quite different from a ‘normal’’ phone. I also have the latest Microsoft Surface pen which I really like. It is probably the best ‘electronic scribing’ device I have used.
I have relegated my Pixel 4XL phone now to the testing bench.
iPhone 12 Pro Max – Is now my main mobile device having replaced the old iPhone XS Max last year. I traded the XS Max in for the full amount on offer (around $600 from memory) and used this as a credit on the newer 12 Pro Max, which I decided to buy outright. With the contract expiring and a re-evaluation of how I use my phone I downgraded my calling plan and purchased the new phone outright. it ended up being much cheaper that way.
After a few years of living the ‘iPhone lifestyle’ I gotta admit I still don’t get people’s fanaticism about it. Yes, it is well engineered, better than most I’ll readily admit, but at the end of the day it is just a phone for me. I have a few common apps I use on it, apart from all the Microsoft ones, but honestly, I just use it as a phone not as a surrogate friend.
Surface Pro 7 – This is my main desktop machine. Being the same form factor, it just slotted directly into my Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station I already have in place. This meant that my Surface Pro 6 device has been relegated to my backup or travelling device (which kinda didn’t happen at all in 2021 now did it!).
The only real noticeable difference with the Surface Pro 7 is that it is a little faster, however it is the machine that I use most day to day and has performed flawlessly.
Surface Pro 6 – Moved from being my primary desktop to being my backup and travelling machine. I use it pretty much every day as an adjunct to my main machine. It lives on my secondary Kensington SD3500v docking station connected to a full screen and acts as my onsite backup in case my main machine fails or is unavailable for some reason. It is also a handy way to test things from outside my environment by hot spotting to my phones.
Surface Pro X – I use this machine as a ‘lite’ travelling desktop as well as a whiteboarding machine for demos and training. Give that it comes with the Surface Pen and has a nice large screen and will lie flat it makes the prefect device for scribing. I also use this device for writing note into places like OneNote. Perhaps not the most effective use of the device but it beats the iPad when it comes to scribing hands down in my books.
Surface Pro 3 – Continues to work fine and function as a test machine in my production environment. This allows me to apply policies via Microsoft Endpoint Manager before applying them to my main production machines.
Surface – I have had an original Surface version 1 for many years now. The keyboard has long since broken by the system still works fine, although somewhat under powered with only 4GB of RAM. This machine is now a dedicated device on a separate test tenant. This allows me to test Autopilot and other settings on it regularly. This machine is not suitable for Windows 11.
iPad mini 5th Gen – I decided I wanted a smaller ‘notebook’ size table to use like a paper diary, amoungst other things, so I went out and bought an iPad mini.
I also now use this iPad mini with the Apple pencil, which generally works well. The secret is to get a good case for both the iPad mini and the pencil. My choice was:
Finite Case with Pencil holder
which I’d certainly recommend as it is flexible, tough and cheap.
The only major downside of the iPad mini is that battery life is a lot less than the full size iPad, which is understandable. I have however never run out of juice but you do notice the power levels fall away quickly when compared to the full size version. I like that the iPad mini comfortable fits on my desk, works will with the Apple pencil and is much more transportable than the larger version. I was a little concerned that the screen size would be too small to enjoy movies and read web pages, etc but that hasn’t proved to be the case. I happy use it lying back on the couch to watch a variety of programs and read web sites.
All in all I’m very happy with this devices as a replacement for a paper diary or notebook, although I hope that Duo 2 can take over this role soon.. When you add in everything else it can provide as well I’m happy to say that apart from my desktop PC, this is probably the device I use most.
D-Link Wireless N300 Model Router DSLG225 – to allow connect to the NBN broadband network.
Ubiquiti – I have a variety of Ubiquiti equipment in place including a Security Gateway. All these have worked flawlessly and I can’t recommend this gear highly enough.
Docking station – I still love my 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.
Occasionally, one of my monitors goes dark and a few seconds later comes back, kinda like it is doing a reset or refresh. Maybe I need to update some drivers? Apart from that it continues to perform flawlessly.
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.
WD Sentinel DX4000 – Thanks to the cloud and a decent broadband connection, I have now pretty much eliminated this device, although I still maintain it in a very minor capacity. Unless it completely fails, i doubt I will ever get rid of it and it does make a good place to store back ups of things like photos.
Amazon Kindle – Still have this but it has now largely been superseded by the iPad mini for reading books. I still love my Kindle but if I can have one less device then I’m going to take that option. so for now, the Kindle has been relegated as a backup.
Xbox One S – Still use it to watch YouTube, Netflix and Amazon video but now playing more games thanks to Minecraft Dungeons and Call of Duty game.
My major hardware investments in 2021 where:
1. iPhone 12 Pro Max
2. Surface Duo 2
The items that I retired from front line operations last year where:
1. iPhone XS Max
2. Pixel 4XL
2021 didn’t see too many changes overall. I will admit that I have my eye on a Surface Pro 8 replacement for the Surface Pro 7 depending on how things pan out this year. I doubt I’ll be upgrading to the new iPhone 13 as I don’t see any major benefits for the costs. I want to focus on getting the most from my Surface Duo 2 given its price. I also hear rumours of a Duo 3, so hopefully I’ll be able to trade in Duo 2 in if I decide to.
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