This is the hardware that makes up my portable office. These items are all I need to run my business from wherever I am around the world. This year I am doing less traveling however I have still kept a minimal set up. The only non-portable addition was a Dell UltraSharp U2715H 27 inch monitor which I have found very useful when I’m at my home base. An Ikea Bekant table and Markus chair complete my low-cost home office setup.
There are several important changes and additions from last year’s setup.
The biggest change was my move away from Android to iOS. In last year’s setup review I had mentioned that I was already thinking of making the move after having played around with my wife’s iPhone. One of my goals this year is to become proficient in iOS programming, hence I needed to get myself an Apple phone to be able to test my apps on and get more familiar with the app ecosystem in general.
One of my pet peeves with phones is the small keyboards they have, so when I tried the iPhone 6s Plus I immediately fell in love with the device. Of course, the keyboard size is just one of its advantages, especially when compared to my previous humble Nexus 5. The battery life and photo quality are incomparable. I’m very happy with this purchase and definitely can’t see myself going back to Android in the future.
Another important change was the move from the Macbook Air to a 15″ Macbook Pro. The reasons for the switch were the following:
- more processing power,
- a dedicated graphics card (I use it for light gaming)
- much better display (Retina)
- bigger display (15″ vs 13″, I found it better for productivity)
The Macbook Pro is of course slightly less portable as it is heavier and bigger, but in practical terms this did not make much of a difference to me. Since I am traveling less this was a lesser concern this year. For working in cafes the Macbook Air was much handier, however I am now using the iPad combined with a bluetooth keyboard in cafes rather than the Macbook. I mostly do writing in cafes and libraries, and iOS can handle that work just as good as OS X. I have in fact been tempted to upgrade to the iPad Air Pro but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Maybe later this year.
Without further ado, here’s this year’s setup. New items are in bold. Wherever I replaced an item from last year’s setup, the replaced item appears crossed out. That way you can easily see what upgrades I made.
- Macbook Pro 15 inch (MJLT2B/A, mid-2015) |
Macbook Air (13 inch, mid-2012)
- iPhone 6s Plus |
LG Google Nexus 5 smartphone
- iPad Air
- Kindle Paperwhite
- Logitech MX Master |
Logitech MX Revolution
- Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones
- Beoplay H6 over ear headphones
- Monster iSport Bluetooth Wireless in-ear headphones
- Aftershokz Bluez2 Wireless Bone Conducting headphones
- Klipsch S4 in-ear headphones
- GoPro Hero 3+ action camera
- Transcend 2TB External USB drive
- Sony DSC-RX100M III camera |
Sony DSC-RX100 camera
- Dell UltraSharp U2715H 27 inch monitor
- Apple Time Capsule 2TB
- Apple Wireless Keyboard
- Apple Magic Trackpad
- Griffin Elevator Laptop stand
- Audio-Technica ATR2100 microphone
- Rode Smartlav+ lavalier microphone
- UE Megaboom bluetooth speaker
- Joby Gorillapod (with Griptight Mount XL)
- Ikea Bekant table
- Ikea Markus office chair
UrbanEars plattan on-ear headphones
The Macbook is where all the serious work gets done. I also use it for entertainment purposes, hooked up to the TV for gaming (FIFA mostly) or for watching movies and series.
The iPad is part of my morning routine. While having breakfast I briefly check some sports news and spend the rest of the time either reading a book (via the Kindle app) or watching padel matches on YouTube.
During metro commutes I usually go through the saved articles on Pocket or listen to a podcast. Both of these activities are done on the iPhone of course.
I use the Kindle exclusively for books, since all articles are consumed on the iPhone or the iPad.
As you’ve probably deduced from the number of headphones I own, audio (in the form of music, podcasts or audiobooks) is my constant companion. During my workouts I tend to listen to podcasts by hooking up the
UrbanEars Monster iSport bluetooth headphones to the Nexus iPhone. If I want to push particularly hard I will listen to music downloaded via Spotify Premium instead.
While working it’s usually the
Klipsch S4 Bose QuietComfort plugged into my Mac (streaming music from Spotify Premium or Focusatwill). The Bose noise canceling headphones were one of my best purchases this year. I hesitated on this one as they are very expensive compared to other headphones on the market. The high price is due to their noise cancellation feature more than anything else, as there is no other serious competitor on the market at this point in time. Clearly a lot of research (and money) has gone into developing this feature. Once I got them however I was blown away with the results.
I really enjoy working in my own bubble so to speak, and hate distracting noises, whatever the source, with a passion. These headphones have allowed me to create this cocoon in which I can really immerse myself in my work with almost zero sound distractions. They work very well with just the noise cancellation feature switched on, but they really shine when you combine them with Focusatwill or electronic, instrumental playlist from Spotify. If you work in a noisy office environment or in cafes don’t hesitate on going for these headphones, they are the absolute best your money can buy.
If I’m watching movies or want a high quality sound experience I’ll use the Beoplays instead, they really sound wonderful and are also very comfortable for long stretches of time.
While cycling I use the Aftershokz Bluez2 as they use Bone Conduction technology which means I can keep my ears open for any important sounds such as traffic, which is a safety concern.
Whenever I need good quality photos I use the RX100M III which is a really amazing camera, especially considering its size. I previously had the first generation model of this camera, but this newer model has a tilt screen which is great for selfies. On the other hand it is slightly bulkier, but that doesn’t really affect its excellent portability.
I use it in conjunction with the Joby Gorillapod especially when filming short movie clips for my wife’s travel blog outdoors. The Gorillapod also doubles up as an iPhone holder (I use it as a clock on my desk) when combined with the Griptight Mount XL.
The GoPro is used when I need to film movies in adventurous environments. Mostly it is used at the seaside where I don’t risk the Sony RX100M III. I might sell the GoPro at some point this year as it is not getting much use. I have a bunch of accessories for it so it was quite an investment. I might just sell this one off and upgrade to a newer model. Hopefully this year we will get Alyona Travels (my wife’s travel blog) back on track, as it got a bit sidelined during the past year and a half. We’ve got lots of material for blog posts from past travels, and some very interesting places to visit this year, so I have high hopes for it.
Now that I have a lightweight home office in place, I am using the excellent Griffin laptop stand to place the Macbook on.
To complete the setup I have the Apple wireless keyboard and Apple bluetooth trackpad together with the excellent Logitech MX Master.
My main monitor is the Dell Ultrasharp which provides good value for money. The Macbook Pro is used as a secondary monitor while at my desk.
I’ve also got myself a UE Megaboom speaker which I’m very happy with. It packs a lot of punch for its size and can also be paired up with other Megabooms. I use it mainly when I want to take a break from headphones or for ambient music during meals and relaxation time.
This year I’ve also decided to make a foray into podcasting, so I’ve got myself a good microphone, the ATR2100. This one is quite the bargain considering the sound quality it can produce, so I’m going to be sticking with it for the foreseeable future. Many more experienced podcasters use the Heil PR-40 but it’s more than triple the price of the Audio-Technica, and frankly not worth buying for a podcasting beginner.
You will also notice that I bought a Rode Smartlav+ lapel mic, which I plan to use for videos related to Alyona Travels. It really hasn’t gotten much use so far so I can’t say much about it.
The Transcend external USB drive is used for storing all my photos and movies as well as other big files. Backups are taken onto the Apple Time Capsule and also online via Backblaze.
So there you have it, my mobile office for 2016. Anything else you feel I should try out in the coming months?