Mac or Windows -- What's in my Office?

Summary:Having worked in a home office for almost a decade, the computing equipment plays a big role in getting the work done. The gear changes frequently, but here's the current collection.

Having worked in a home office for almost a decade, the computing equipment plays a big role in getting the work done. The gear changes all the time as my work allows me to play with lots of gadgets, but the core equipment I use daily stands the test of time. I firmly believe in using the best equipment for the task at hand, and that is reflected in the current inventory in my office, aka Mobile Manor. I only use mobile computers as they are fully capable systems with the ability to carry them around; I haven't owned a desktop system in over 5 years.

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Main Desk

I often spend 8-10 hours each day sitting at my desk working on various writing projects, so it is essentially my command center. The gear on my desk is designed to facilitate my work by providing lots of screen real estate and sufficient computing power. Here is a breakdown of the gadgets on my desk.

iPad. I got the iPad when they were made available, and it is a solid contributor to my desktop. I chose a Wi-Fi model as I determined that would be sufficient for my needs, given all of the 3G/4G gear I already have available. I use the iPad in a Skadoosh stand, and usually have Pocket Informant running to keep me on schedule and on top of my task list. Occasionally a third monitor is useful, and I fire up Air Display on the iPad that turns it into a Wi-Fi-connected monitor for my MacBook.

Cinema Display. Working online most of the time means lots of screen real estate is essential, and the 24-inch Cinema Display serves that purpose. I use it as the primary display in OS X, and it sits in the middle of the desktop at the perfect height.

Samsung Galaxy Tab. This 7-inch slate is one of the most useful gadgets I've bought in years, and I use it constantly when away from my desk. While working at the desktop, it sits in a business card holder that serves as a good stand, putting the Tab front and center just below the Cinema Display. I usually have it running the Gmail Android app, which makes it easy to catch important email that arrives no matter what I am doing on the big screen.

Apple Wireless Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad. My desk is fitted with a sliding keyboard tray adjusted to a good height for maintaining good ergonomics. The Apple keyboard connects to the MacBook via Bluetooth, as do both the Magic Mouse and the Magic Trackpad. I alternate between those two depending on need; I like the Magic Trackpad for normal work but switch to the mouse when precision is important (like playing games).

MacBook. This 13-inch unibody MacBook is my primary working system with the peripherals. It is not a Pro version, it is the first unibody MacBook that predates those. I have upgraded the memory to 4GB, and the MacBook sits to the right of the external display on a notebook stand that keeps the screen level with the bottom of the Cinema Display. It is the secondary display in the multiple monitor configuration. Given this unit predates the Pro series currently available, the battery is user replaceable and I have a second one for business trips.

HTC EVO 4G. Sitting to the right of the MacBook is my current smartphone of choice, the EVO 4G. The big 4.3-inch screen is marvelous, as is the ability to tap into Sprint's 4G (WiMAX) network when out and about. Unfortunately, my home office lacks 4G coverage which would come in handy when the home Internet service is disrupted.

Sprint Overdrive. Next to the EVO is the Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G pocket hotspot. This lets me connect up to 5 devices to Sprint's 3G or 4G networks depending on coverage, and is a great connectivity option for trips. I can also use the EVO as a mobile hotspot, so I am waffling on continuing paying for the Overdrive service. Those nasty Early Termination Fees (ETF) have kept me from canceling this service so far.

Side Desk

I use OS X in my daily work system, but I like Windows 7 too. I have a current collection of Windows systems that live on the side desk in Mobile Tech Manor, ready to grab and go when I head out the door for a remote work session. These systems cover a wide range of screen sizes and capabilities.

Viliv S10 Blade. This convertible netbook is very thin and light and with the 10-inch swivel screen becomes a multi-touch tablet when needed. It's nice to have a full keyboard when a tablet is not enough.

Viliv N5. This 5-inch handheld (or palmtop) is a full Windows 7 system that fits in a pocket. It uses a small trackpad for cursor control and two mouse buttons on the keyboard, as it lacks a touchscreen. This is a good solution when portability is the call of the day, but not much good for real work.

Acer Aspire 8940G. This 18.4-inch notebook is affectionately referred to as the "Behemoth", and it is the most powerful system in my office. I use the Behemoth for compute intensive tasks such as video encoding and playing games. The Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory and BluRay disk drive make it great for viewing HD movies on the big screen too. This monster is not very portable, although I did take it to the coffee shop once just to see the crowd reaction, which was hilarious.

Lenovo IdeaPad U260. Sitting on top of the Behemoth (hey, space is tight) is the U260 which has quickly become my favorite Windows notebook since Lenovo sent it over for evaluation. The orange case is almost as thin as the MacBook, and the U260 is much lighter than same. The unusual 12.5-inch display is as good as it gets on notebook screens, and I find this system a joy to use. I will be doing a full review of the U260 soon.

Lenovo ThinkPad x200. This convertible notebook has served me well for a few years, and is a great mobile system. The multitouch display is as good as newer systems, and the full Tablet PC capability (pen input) is second to none. If I am not traveling with the MacBook on extended trips, odds are the x200 is in my travel bag.

Acer Ferrari One. For mobile work sessions around town the Ferrari can't be beat. The 11.6-inch size is a good compromise for performance and portability, and the AMD processor is a good performer. This system is fun to use and I like carrying it around.

TEGA v2. Most of the gear in my office has been around for a while, but the TEGA v2 is a recent arrival from Australia. This 10.1-inch Windows 7 touch tablet is as thin as and almost as light as the iPad, and shows how good Windows can run such a tablet. It has the distinction of being able to boot into Android, although that capability is not fully implemented yet.

This is the gear that is currently in my office, and it covers a range of sizes, platforms and types of gadgets. I use iOS (1), Android (2), OS X (1) and Windows 7 (7) on a daily basis, and like them all. I am a big sucker for touch tablets and thin notebooks. I like my gear bag to be as light as possible, and have a great collection of gear to choose from for any occasion.

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Tablets, Wi-Fi, Windows

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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