Weekend rave: My Star Wars home office is centered around the Surface Pro 3

Weekend rave: My Star Wars home office is centered around the Surface Pro 3

Summary: Matt recently moved and his new house has a dedicated office space. How would a Star Wars and mobile device user outfit his new office? Check out all that powers his new space.

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People are generally curious to see what others carry in their gear bag and since I just moved into a new house I thought I would take this casual Sunday time to share what is powering my new home office. I found some great gear over the years and think some items may help some readers outfit their offices as well.

I work a day job as a professional engineer in Seattle and while I have many books at home, my primary usage of my home office is for writing at ZDNet and recording the MobileTechRoundup podcast.

Weekend rave: My Star Wars home office is centered around the Surface Pro 3

Office theme

Regular readers likely know I am a huge Star Wars fan. I was born in 1969 and thus was 8 years old when the first movie was released, seeing it three times in the theater. I still have original Star Wars cards from the late 70s and have collected lots of Star Wars items over the years.

My online moniker is 'palmsolo' and was created way back in the late 90s when I was a huge Palm pilot and Han Solo fan looking for a name to use in various Palm online forums. It has stuck with me and many people actually know me first as palmsolo rather than Matt Miller.

It was through this moniker, my writing about Star Wars, and my engineering degree in naval architecture that the folks at Acme found me a few years ago. They asked me to review their idea for a specplate art piece they were developing as they wanted it to look like a real drawing that a naval architect would create for a ship. I had the office Nerd Club assist and I provided two pages of feedback. It was awesome to see they used most of that feedback to update their idea and then about six months later a massive package arrived at my house. They sent me number 1 of the series of the Imperial Star Destroyer as a thanks for the help and I couldn't wait to get my new home office with it serving as the central art piece of the office. I since added a smaller specplate of the Millennium Falcon since I am a Han Solo fan.

There are several other pieces of Star Wars decor in my office, including a metal and neon light saber, metal lunch box, die-cast Millennium Falcon, and much more.

Computer

We have an iMac in the upstairs craft and hobby room (spare bedroom), but that is used by my wife and daughters. I prefer to have a computer in my office that I can take around the house and also commute with daily during my two hour Sounder train commute. I used to have a MacBook Pro, then moved to the original Surface. I just recently picked up the Surface Pro 3 and now that Microsoft has issued some updates it is performing flawlessly for me.

I love that the Surface Pro 3 has a larger display, longer battery life, and better keyboard. I use it at my desk in laptop mode, but then take it around the house and use it as my tablet as well with no need to have an iPad. I use it for writing, photo and video editing, research, and all of my engineering and office tasks when I am working from home or on the road.

While I do have an external keyboard, I really like the new Surface Pro 3 Type Cover and use that 95% of the time. The trackpad is also much improved, but I still use the new Microsoft Arc Touch mouse that Kevin recommended I try out. There is no external monitor in my office as the 12 inch display works just fine for all that I do in my home office.

Networking

My house has two levels with a movie room far away from my home office. Thus, I looked for the best router I could find for speed and range. Kevin again gave me a great recommendation and the Asus RT-AC66U has been performing amazingly well for a few months.

Unfortunately, when I moved across town I lost my awesome full T-Mobile signal. Thankfully, most T-Mobile branded phones have WiFi Calling support so that helps out. However, the iPhone still doesn't have that support and I still find cellular connections to be more reliable. T-Mobile sent along their Cel-Fi signal booster and my wife no longer complains of dropped calls. When we first moved she was seeing 5-8 dropped calls per day and I almost made the move to another carrier after being with T-Mobile for more than 10 years.

Power

Since I own and test a lot of gear, I need plenty of power outlets. Most power strips limit my connections due to funky adapters that come with some of my gear and even standard large plug-ins. A couple of years ago I found the Pivot Power surge protection strip from Quirky. I get six plugs that rotate so I can actually use all six of them for charging up my gear. I have the strip hidden in a lower cabinet of my Costco desk and think it was one of the best purchases I ever made.

Another piece of power gear that my friend Andy Abramson told me about a few years ago is the Outlets To Go power strip that provides you with three plugs and a USB port with the ability to fold into a compact manner. This is the power piece I take when I travel and I highly recommend road warriors take this along to keep their gear charged up.

Audio

Many people have recommended I try out a Sonos unit for enjoying audio in my house, but I have not yet taken that step. My buddy, Buzz Bruggeman, from ActiveWords, recently gave me a JBL PowerUp wireless charging speaker that I use to keep my Qi-enabled devices topped off by just setting them down on the speaker.

In addition to power though, the JBL PowerUp is a perfect speaker for playing music from my devices in the home office. Music and podcasts sound great and connecting devices is easy with NFC and Bluetooth. I need to find a Qi back for my LG G3 and then will be all set with that device as well.

Printing

I do not print a ton of documents, but I do print a lot of shipping forms from my Surface Pro 3. I have been using wireless printers for a few years and just replaced my old Canon Pixma with a new Pixma MX922 I found on Amazon for $100.

So far it has performed just fine and connects easily with all of my devices. I like that this model prints on both sides too, since that was a limitation on my last model and that is a great way to save on paper usage.

Mobile gear

If you read my ZDNet articles you know that I jump around quite a bit when it comes to mobile gear so this area of my home office collection changes all the time.

I have a primary T-Mobile account with five lines and also a $30 prepaid SIM I activate when testing phones. My primary SIM currently resides in my new T-Mobile LG G3, but just came from the Nokia Lumia 1520. The Moto X still gets used sometimes since nothing beats that form factor and useful software.

My Surface Pro 3 serves most of my tablet needs, but I do still have a Verizon LTE iPad Mini with Retina display that I use as a hotspot when I am in a weak T-Mobile coverage area. I also use it for some services that are not on other platforms and when I want to test out iOS software.

My Kindle Paperwhite is awesome for sitting down and reading books and I do try to get through a book a month even though I am very busy working, running, and hanging with my family.

Do you have any other recommendations for a home office?

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface

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7 comments
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  • Blue scarf?

    Not one of the first things I'd expect in Seattle.
    I'm Red half of that city, so forgive my immediate notice. ;)
    Boothy_p
    • Big football fan, picked Everton to start following BPL

      I wanted to start following a team from the Premier League this year and selected Everton after doing some research. MoTR podcast cohost Kevin Tofel is a Liverpool fan so the rivalry will be fun on the show too.

      I will see how this year goes as I learn even more about the teams, but plan to stick with Everton for now.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Kevin Tofel is a Liverpool fan

        Good man.

        Well, I wish you luck (in 36 games of the season............) ;)
        Boothy_p
  • And I always thought

    that "palm solo" was a reference to your marital status. Oh well ;-)
    honeymonster
  • Nice setup

    Definitely a good choice and no downside with the Surface Pro. Also should be upgradable to Win 9 when ready. I would also buy the surface dock and a 26 inch monitor. Send ZDNet the bill.
    Sean Foley
    • Definitely: Get a Docking Station

      One of my clients is a civil engineering firm, and they tested some Surface Pro 2's with docking stations and 23" touchscreens loaded with Autodesk Civil 3D. They've been so successful that they're seriously replacing retiring workstations with Surface Pro 3's.
      OButterball
  • It's incredible how you get all your blogging done on a tablet

    Given it is indeed the best laptop hybrid. Cheers!
    Truffol