Best tech on my desk: Smartphones, tablets, and laptops

I have an addiction for gadgets and it's led to a collection of them in my office. Here's the best of the smartphones, tablets, and laptops on my desk.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
JK desk

My desk is not big yet it has a good collection of gadetry that I use for both work and play. There are nine mobile devices sharing space on my desk leaving very little of the workspace exposed. I am constantly asked what gear I own and what I like best so this article addresses those questions.

These gadgets are from different vendors and represent all major platforms. I do not have a favorite platform and do not base purchase decisions on which OS a device runs.

Top smartphone


There are two smartphones sharing duty and both have been out for a long time. The iPhone 4s is positively ancient as there is one later model out and two new models hitting the shelves currently. I use it sparingly, as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has been my main phone for a while.

I like the size of the display of the Note 2 and the phone has served me well. It's the phone I usually have with me, so the Note 2 is my top smartphone. That may not be the case much longer as I am leaning to buy an iPhone 5s when it's available shortly.

See related: Galaxy Note 2: Changing the way I use mobile tech

Favorite smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Top small tablet


I have two small tablets, the iPad mini and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. The iPad mini is a solid performer and I like it a lot. I have even used it for work with an external keyboard; I've written over 30,000 words with the iPad mini and keyboard.

For most tasks I actually prefer the Note 8.0. There's nothing I don't like about the Note 8.0 and I like the pen support. I don't use the pen a lot but it's nice to have when it makes sense to use.

The only thing missing with the Note 8.0 compared to the iPad mini was the lack of a good keyboard, but the recent release of the ZAGG Folio keyboard (same as the iPad mini) has leveled the playing field. I've been using the Note 8.0 with the keyboard since getting the latter and I don't miss the iPad mini.

See also: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review

Favorite small tablet: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Top Windows tablet

Tablet 2

I have used a lot of Windows tablets and own two of them. The HP Envy x2 is a good hybrid with a keyboard dock that turns it into a good laptop. It's a solid purchase that will appeal to many.

Not too long ago I purchased a Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, and it's a fantastic tablet. I recently detailed 10 reasons why it's such a good tablet and I've heard from many owners who agree with me.

See related: ThinkPad Tablet 2: Best Windows tablet

Favorite Windows tablet: ThinkPad Tablet 2

Top 10-inch tablet (non-Windows)


I've tried a lot of tablets with a screen of around 10 inches and currently I only own one, the iPad. It's the number one tablet for a reason and I find it to be good for both work and play. 

The number of apps available for the iPad is huge and most of those apps are very well done. They make the iPad useful for all tasks that tablets are good at. 

While I use the iPad by itself, I frequently use it with a keyboard for my writing work. The duo serves me well and I must have written 100,000 words with it.

The next version of iOS, iOS7, will be released in just a few days and the iPad should be even better once that's installed.

See also: 9 best iPad keyboards

Favorite 10-inch tablet (non-Windows): iPad

Top laptop


I test a lot of laptops and own two of them. When my aging laptop needed replacement early this year I bought what I considered the best laptop available at the time, a MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Retina Display is a great laptop and it quickly became my main work device.

When Apple introduced the MacBook Air with the Haswell processor, I bought one to experience the latest Intel Core system. I got the 11-inch Air for the mobility, and I take it with me regularly for work outings. 

The MacBook Air with the Haswell performs as well as the MacBook Pro without, even though the latter has a faster Core processor. The battery life of the Air is better than the Pro, too.

If I could only keep one of the MacBooks, I would keep the Air for the reasons stated.

See related: New MacBook Air: Haswell ups the game (review)

Favorite laptop: 11-inch MacBook Air


I am platform agnostic, and my purchases are based strictly on the gadget and not what it's running. I like iOS, Android, Windows, and OS X, so I look at the hardware on the device and make my purchase decisions based strictly on that.

I like the Note 2 and the implementation of Android that Samsung has on the phone. The Note 3 is expected later this month and it would likely knock the Note 2 off my desk, if I only had an upgrade coming from the carrier.

My old iPhone 4s is no longer a good phone and I rarely use it. I am interested in the new iPhone 5s and since I'm due an upgrade with my carrier I may replace the 4s with the 5s. I haven't decided yet but I'm leaning that way to have the iPhone alongside my Note 2.

I'm happy with all my tablets, both iOS, Android, and Windows so I don't see a change in this area. I use all four of my tablets regularly and I like them all.

Thanks to my work I test more laptops each year than most people and for my money Apple makes the best hardware. Platform preferences aside, the MacBooks are great hardware and I much prefer them over any other brand. 

Once Apple updates the MacBook Pro with Haswell, and that should happen later this year, the Pros will be fantastic laptops. Until then I am very happy with the MacBook Air with Haswell and will not be getting rid of it any time soon.

Not everyone will agree with my choice in tech but when it comes to my purchase dollars I go with what I like and what works for me.

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