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 also have the latest Microsoft Surface pen which I really like. It is probably the best ‘electronic scribing’ device I have used.
i have to admit that I haven’t used this device that much since I bought it. Some of the reasons for that were that I planned to use it as a writing device (i.e. notepad) but storing the pen with the device has proved problematic. yes, it does have a magnetic area to hold the pen but you can’t just throw the device in a bag and expect the pen to be still connected. The pen really needs some form of pouch in which the pen lives so it can always be with the device. The other thing is the large camera bump prevents the device from laying completely flat. This makes it very hard to use as a replacement notebook on a desk. One of my resolutions this year will be to try and use this device much more to get full benefits from the investment made as I do really like the device and feel it can serve a real purpose for me. I just have to work out how to reduce the friction of using it everyday..
iPhone 12 Pro Max – Is my main mobile device. Unfortunately, there is a growing crack on the screen that I believe was initiated by the Surface Duo 2 camera bump, when the devices where in my laptop bag together. The phone still works and the crack is off to one side of the screen but I can see the crack growing and full expect one day to have to replace the device. I want to delay this as long as possible since I have invested in a Quad Lock case and multiple holders (car, desktop, etc) for this case. A new phone will mean a new case, which isn’t the end of the world, just additional hassle.
One thing that I have configured my iPhone for is default grey scale display. I do this for two major reasons, firstly to prevent the phone from grabbing and holding my attention and secondly to save power. With the colours disabled on your phone it is amazing at how les tempting it is to play with it and use it as a crux when you are bored.
The great thing I will say about about iDevices is their battery life. My experience is that this allows them to work for years and years, providing great value.
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 machine runs Windows 11.
I am considering a potential Surface Pro 9 purchase, however as of yet I can’t really justify it. The other downside of going to a Surface Pro 9 is that it won’t fit in my Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station which I really love.
Surface Pro 6 – 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 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. This machine run Windows 10 but could run Windows 11. I haven’t upgraded as yet because I want to maintain at least one production machine on Windows 10.
This is the machine I am considering replacing with a Surface Pro 9, given that it will plug directly into the existing Kensington SD3500v docking station. The question then is, what do I do with the Surface Pro 6? It still works. How can I make best use of this device if I no longer use it as my travelling device and backup? That, I haven’t figured out yet.
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. This machine runs Windows 11.
This is another machine that I haven’t used as much as I want to. I am considering converting it to a full time desk notepad for writing (given it has a Surface Pen which I love). Last year saw the keyboard fail and I agonised over whether to replace it because it ain’t cheap. In the end I did buy a replacement keyboard to main the most functionality with the device. The problem is that if I use it as a dedicated desktop notebook device (i.e. flat on the desk with the cover removed) then it tends to get in way. I think I just need to spend some more time with the ergonomics on my desk to get the most productivity and use from this device going forward.
Surface Pro 3 – Continues to work fine and function as a test machine in my production environment. This machine has now been removed from my production network and operates stand alone. It does this so it can run my IoT project work. I found that with the security I have on my production network that I could not easily operate the IoT software I needed so the simple solution was to remove it from the production network and use it stand alone. This machine is slow and clunky, but for now it is doing the job it needs to. This machine is not suitable for Windows 11.
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:
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.
After a number of years the Apple Pencil doesn’t really hold a charge any more. That is disappointing, although I appreciate it doesn’t have a huge battery. This has again increased the friction with me finding a suitable replacement for a paper notebook because every time I want to write something down, I need to charge the pencil up which takes ages. I may look at getting a new and updated Apple pencil but unsure as to whether I can really justify that in line with the plan to use the Surface Duo more.
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.
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.
I didn’t make any major hardware investments in 2021.
The items that I retired from front line operations last year where:
I will admit that I have my eye on a Surface Pro 9 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, that is unless the screen fractures. 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.