What's in my platform agnostic gear bag?

What's in my platform agnostic gear bag?

Summary: I get asked almost every day what gear I am carrying in my bag. I work remotely most days and this is the kit I carry and the bags I carry it in.

JK Mobile Kit

I often joke about working in a home office that I rarely see. Most days I head out to work at one public venue or another to give me the opportunity to have different scenery and to observe how others use mobile technology. I am fortunate to have several gadgets to choose from for this remote work and each has its own strengths. Here's what I usually take on my daily work trips.

Daily work systems

Each day I grab one system for my writing depending on how I feel. Lately that has been the ThinkPad Tablet 2 more often than not as it has the benefits of being a light tablet for doing online research but becomes a near laptop with the keyboard accessory.

JK gear
L-R: iPad mini, iPad, ThinkPad Tablet 2, MacBook Air -- Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Some days I throw the MacBook Air (MBA) in the bag when the mood strikes me. Like the Tablet 2 the Air provides all-day battery life so I don't ever take a power adapter with me. The MBA is a nice laptop and serves my needs nicely.

When the Tablet 2 or MacBook Air goes in the bag I also slide the iPad mini in a zippered pocket on the bag. This is primarily for the integrated LTE that lets me work anywhere in the central city without having to find a wi-fi hotspot. I also use it for reading books with the Kindle app.

Other days I bring my iPad nestled in the ZAGG Profolio+ keyboard case. I can do anything I do with the other systems so there are no compromises. If I plan on writing a long article I like using the iPad as the single app display minimizes the distractions the other systems make too easy with multiple windows. The iPad also has LTE so when I bring it I leave the iPad mini at home.

It's in the bag

JK bags
L-R: Flight Jacket, Indy Bag, Indy Bag (small) -- Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The Tablet 2 and iPad both fit in the Indy Bag from sfbags.com. This bag is as small as can be while still carrying each tablet with keyboard. There's a slim pocket on the back of the bag for the iPad mini as required.

The MacBook Air is a little too long to fit in the Indy Bag so I carry it in the Flight Jacket by MacCases. I wear it as a thin backpack with the optional straps; I get more comments on this bag than any other I've used.

Other outings

When I head out the door for outings where work is not expected, I carry the iPad mini in the ZAGGkeys Cover. I can use the iPad mini for reading books or casual online stuff yet with the keyboard in the ZAGGkeys Cover if the urge strikes to write something substantial I can easily do it. Again, the LTE in the iPad mini comes in handy all the time, especially on these outings as wi-fi is often not available.

I carry this little gear in the smaller Indy Bag I have that is even smaller than the one for the bigger tablets. I like to use the smallest bag possible for whatever kit I bring with me and this little Indy Bag is perfect.

The phone

I use the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and have for months. I like everything about the phone, the big screen, the Android OS, and the pen. I take quick notes with the pen and find myself getting online with the phone throughout the day. I do not use a case on the Note 2.


Some folks seem to believe differently but my kit proves I am platform agnostic. These gadgets might not work for everyone but they all work well for me. I don't ever wish I brought another device with me as they all let me get down and get stuff done.

In anticipation of the inevitable question, I don't have a favorite gadget in this lot. Each has its own strengths and they all let me do whatever I need to do. I enjoy each of them for different reasons and I love that I can do my work no matter what it is in the bag.

No one device is better than the others, each is just different. I am lucky that my work can be done with any one of these gadgets. That might not be the case for everyone but it is for me.

I buy so many devices because I love mobile tech and can't pass it up. That's why the loadout in my gear bag changes so frequently. I am addicted to mobile tech and that's not going to change.

See the reviews:

ThinkPad Tablet 2: Best Windows tablet

New MacBook Air: Haswell ups the game

How I use the iPad as a serious writing system

Hit the road like Harrison Ford with the Indy Bag

Flight Jacket by MacCase: Perfect MacBook/Ultrabook bag

Galaxy Note 2: Changing the way I use mobile tech

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • Thank you!

    Thanks for the detail and not subjecting us to a gallery layout for it!
  • Huh

    Have the chromebooks gone now?
    • Sadly yes

      Have a friend who desperately wanted a Chromebook and I let him have it. I really miss it and seriously thinking of buying another at $249.
      • You should

        Still love mine.
        Any genuinely nice to see an OS improving every few weeks as updates are just pushed out.

        Enjoy the others though
  • What an embarrassment of riches you have, James.

    With that fedora hat completing your travel kit, have you ever worked as an archeologist?
  • Token Microsoft Gadget

    Given all the Apple gear, it's clear that Thinkpad is there just for affirmative-action purposes.
  • "I get asked almost every day what gear I am carrying in my bag"

    Perhaps you shouldn't be walking around 'those areas' after dark then?
    Little Old Man
  • "platform agnostic gear bag"

    Wow... I can't quite figure out how much kool aid someone needs to drink to use a phrase like that.
  • James the Tech Gear Horder

    OK - BIG question - what do you use to keep all this writing and information (calendar, contacts, notes) "in sync" between all these different devices? Dropbox, Evernote, Skydrive - what? How would you envision doing this without a cloud service? For some of us, the cloud is not an answer for confidentiality purposes.
  • point of reference

    Would you call this a long article?
  • Feces Occur

    So I always have, at least in car, chargers for all my things, plus 350 w. inverter and C.B. radio.
    (I like having spare tire + a gas can also). Because of malware possibilities, sync. is not used, nor file sharing. E-mail from one to another if needed. Keeping it simple, Acer 5050 /Ubuntu, Trac-fone, Mio hand-held GPS.
    I am seldom far from the car, so this set-up works fine, plus if stolen, is a minimal replace cost.
    Old Dog V
  • You betray yourself with 1 sentence

    Here is where your self proclaimed platform agnosticism claim loses its veracity:
    "Other days I bring my iPad nestled in the ZAGG Profolio+ keyboard case. I can do anything I do with the other systems so there are no compromises."

    No compromises? You can do ANYTHING with the ipad that you do with the other systems? Then why do you keep the other systems? Why do you ever carry any of your other systems around? Why not take your ipad with you 100% of the time? Surely it is the lightest, thinnest, most portable device of the bunch (excluding the mini).

    Why is it SO hard for you to admit that, no, the ipad CAN'T do as much as a Windows 8 tablet? Why is it SO hard for you to admit that the ipad IS compromise?

    We all know the answer. It is because you aren't platform agnostic. You hate the fact that the Windows tablet is the best of the bunch, that it is the no compromise device.

    BTW I do have to laugh at the fact that your Chromebook is gone. You went on and on about how THAT was the perfect, no compromise device. Some people believed you. Then it turned out that you misspoke. Your review was false. You were so anxious to "prove" the post-pc meme that you were forced to make statements that you couldn't back up. In your post-pc world, you went out and bought a laptop, then another laptop, then a full Windows 8 tablet. This is yet another reason why you have very little credibility with the ZDNet community. We can't take your reviews seriously because within weeks, it turns out that your reviews are false.
    • I would imagine you've been told this before, but....

      ....try not being such a fatuous twat!
    • you are clearly a MS fanboy

      and james is not a fanboy. You just can't accept that he likes the iPad more than windows tablets and so you over-analyze. He may change his mind or be inconsistant, but so what. He's just using at the moment what's best for him. Although his usage is a bit unusual compared the average person, because his job is to write about devices on the devices themselves. But I trust him for that reason.

      I don't believe that most commenters here end up buying and using daily for a long periods of time the full range of devices from apple, android, windows, blackberry, etc. to have an educated opinion. James does.
    • So still no explanation then? Only insults?

      Got it. No one can explain why the ipad is a no compromise solution, why it can do ANYTHING his 2 macbooks and his Windows 8 tablet can do yet is substantially lighter and thinner than the macbooks and a bit lighter and thinner than the Windows 8 tablet (I'm guessing, hard to tell once you add a thick heavy keyboard case to the ipad but James refuses to disclose how much thickness and weight these things add) yet he purchased ALL these devices after his ipad and he doesn't take his ipad with him 100% of the time.

      So James, if the ipad can do ANYTHING all the others can do, are you:
      1. silly for buying THREE laptops / tablets after this "perfect" ipad
      2. lying that the ipad can do ANYTHING your macbooks and Windows 8 tablet can do

      BTW I already know of 1 thing you have been bragging about your macbooks that your ipad can't do, I just want to give you a chance to confess before I bring it up.

      Remember, this is the statement in question:
      "I can do anything I do with the other systems so there are no compromises."

      Either stand by it or retract it.
  • Unless you're reviewing them . . .

    Unless you're reviewing them . . .

    . . . do you really need more than one laptop?
    • RIF

      Need doesnt enter into it. Its want and the ability to have and utilize each.
  • I can do anything I do with the other systems so there are no compromises.

    Subject line is copied and pasted from James' article just as you apparently did in your second comment. However in your opening salvo you said: "Why is it SO hard for you to admit that, no, the ipad CAN'T do as much as a Windows 8 tablet?" Don't you see the subtle difference between the two statements? James statement refers to what HE does with his particular choice of tools. Your statement refers to what can be done with one of those devices, the Win8 tablet.
    Well, yes, the iPad can't run legacy Windows apps, but apparently James doesn't need to do that.
    As for his multiple devices and why he is not silly for buying so many, the answer is more obvious than the horns on your head. It's what he does! There buy for my relative poverty go I.