The Gear of ZDNet: How Jason Perlow goes mobile

My conversations with ZDNet bloggers about their mobile tool kits continues as I focus on the Gear of ZDNet. Today ZDNet Tech Broiler blogger Jason Perlow opens his gear bag.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

This installment of The Gear of ZDNet has Jason Perlow sharing what's in his mobile gear bag and why they work well for him.

Previous installments:

The Gear of ZDNet: Featuring Christopher Dawson

The Gear of ZDNet: How David Gewirtz stays mobile

The Gear of ZDNet: How Zack Whittaker goes mobile

Jason is as big a gadget geek as I am, in fact once the two of us had a video call using Playbook tablets on both ends. That may be the only Playbook to Playbook video chat ever, given the abysmal sales numbers for them. When Jason is not working full-time, he is sharing his technical information on the ZDNet Tech Broiler blog.

JK: Nice to speak with you again Jason. How would you describe who you are and what you do to the Mobile News audience?

I'm a practicing technologist and systems integration expert. I've been working in the field for over 20 years, starting with the first PCs that ever came out. My current area of specialization is in datacenter consolidation and server optimization, with a concentration in virtualization technologies and Open Source.

JK: That's why you're so smart, obviously. What is your current smartphone and why? How do you use it daily, and how is it working out for you?

I use the Verizon Motorola Droid Bionic, which I upgraded to only a few months ago, from an original Motorola Droid which I bought in November of 2009. At the time of the purchase I debated getting the unannounced "iPhone 5" but I strongly suspected the device was not going to be LTE capable, so I decided to go with another Droid. I like Motorola hardware because it has excellent build quality, and I need a device that can handle heavy travel and business use. The Verizon 4G LTE network is key because I need it to tether with when I am in a hotel or an airport and I want a fast, dedicated mobile broadband connection.

It's a great phone, with excellent technology, but when used in 4G it will deplete the standard battery in virtually no time at all, so I only use it in LTE mode when I have it plugged in and am doing Wi-Fi tethering from my laptop or one of my tablets. I've also found that it chews up a ton of battery if you leave the GPS on, so I tend to turn that off unless I am using GPS services.

I currently have it enclosed in an OtterBox case but that prevents it from being used with the extended battery, and I frequently find myself running short of juice on heavy usage days, so I am considering doing some sort of Dremel-inspired casemod to the OtterBox. I'll let you know how that goes.

See also: Droid Bionic: Most expensive Droid yet (review)

JK: Ooh, DIY case modding, I like it. Is there a particular phone you are jonesing for?

Well, my wife's upgrade is actually due this week and I'm thinking I should give her the Bionic with wife-proof ("Throw it on the Patio") OtterBox and I should order or buy a Galaxy Nexus when it becomes available just so that I have some additional vendor variety to test Android stuff on. But I want the Verizon LTE model, obviously. I would have already gotten a Motorola Droid Razr if it wasn't for the fact that the battery can't be swapped out. How dumb is that?

See also: Motorola Droid RAZR: Not quite thin enough to cut metal (review)

JK: I had the same concern about the RAZR battery. Do you have a tablet? Which one and why? How do you like it? Does it fit in your work/lifestyle well?

Well, as I write about and observe the industry like you do, I also have several tablets. I have a Motorola XOOM, an iPad 2, A BlackBerry PlayBook, an HP TouchPad and a Kindle Fire. I can't say I have a particular favorite, I tend to rotate them around and test various apps and such. But I am always travelling with at least one of them. The iPad 2 I have IBM Lotus Notes Traveller installed on so I can use my corporate email and calendar on it. I find the integration with iOS's native email app to be excellent.

See also: Kindle Fire: Non-techie perspectiveTypical day in the life of the iPad 2

JK: Take a handful of tablets and call me in the morning. Is there another tablet you have your eyes on?

I really would love to play with the new quad-core Transformer Prime that's coming out. But I think I'd only get one after Ice Cream Sandwich is released for it. More so than the tablet hardware itself, its the Android 4.0 OS that I'm most interested in. Hopefully it comes out for the XOOM soon.

See also: ASUS Transformer Prime: The Android tablet to rule them all

JK: The Transformer Prime has my eye too, to try out that powerful engine. How has mobile technology impacted your work/life?

I've been a heavy mobile technology user since the mid-1990s. Fellow ZDNet author David Gewirtz used to run a publication called PalmPower, which was all about PalmPilots, and I was his Sr. Technical Editor way back then. I was a total Palm freak in those days and even developed databases for it.  I was just discussing this with David over the weekend -- there's never been a personal information management device as good or as easy to use and responsive as the original Palm devices. Those black and white displays had such good contrast and had amazing battery life. For the limited things it could do, it was a fantastic product.

I then was into Windows CE for a while and eventually became a developer liaison for Sharp for their ill-fated Zaurus back in 2002.  It was the first commercially marketed color Linux PDA and even included a lot of technology that we see in things like Android today, such as Java.

JK: Ah, the Palm Pilots. You're making me tear up a little. I may have run into you and David back in those heady days of Palm. But that's the distant past, sadly. How does the mobile gear you are using today play a significant role in your work?

Like a lot of mobile professionals and IT workers I eventually got tied into BlackBerries, like in 2005. Ever since I've had mobile data and been able to get my email on a handheld device, I've been addicted to smartphones and tablets. Maybe not so much as addicted but they are an essential part of my technology toolset and it allows my work schedule to be a bit more flexible.

Because I am home based and classified as a "Mobile" worker at my firm, I am expected to be pretty responsive to emails and I need to be reachable pretty much all the time. I don't want to have to be tied down the house all day, if I need to go out for a few hours I drag the mobile devices along and can still be productive.

The apps and the web have essentially been a huge bonus.

JK: What mobile accessory do you recommend to readers?

Extended charge batteries and a good, protective case. You can never have enough battery power and you can never protect a device enough, especially as a road warrior. It's not a question of "if" you drop your $500 toy, it's "When". It may add a bit of extra bulk, but you'll be happy you did it. They definitely don't make equipment like they used to and the huge pieces of Gorilla Glass, as torsion and impact resistant as they are, don't like being tossed On The Patio.

JK: The famous iPad patio incident. If readers haven't seen the video of the patio affair, go right now and watch it. We'll wait for you to return before wrapping this up.

OK the readers are back. Jason, as always it's great to speak with you. Thanks for sharing your current mobile gear with the Mobile News audience. Take care, and keep your gadgets off the patio, okay?

This wraps up a great conversation with Jason Perlow in the continuing series, the Gear of ZDNet. Be sure and check out Jason's great work on theZDNet Tech Broiler blog.

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