A look inside one independent consultant's mobile arsenal

Scott Lowe shares what he likes and dislikes about the devices in his mobile arsenal, and he lists three possible purchases to add to his collection in 2012.

One day last week, I started really looking at the arsenal of mobile devices that I've accumulated through various means. Of course, given the fact that I do a lot of writing about smartphones and tablets, it makes sense that I would have the gear to back it up. Further, I'm an independent consultant and I travel quite a bit, so mobility is a good attribute in the devices that I own.

I thought I'd share with TechRepublic readers a bit about the various devices I have and what I think about each one. I'll also share my acquisition plans for 2012.


Between my wife and I, we have three smartphones. My wife has an iPhone 4, and I have both an iPhone 4S and an HTC device running Android. I've previously had a bunch of other devices, including each successive iPhone and, prior to that, a series of Palm devices running both Palm OS and Windows Mobile, the precursor to Windows Phone 7.

Of everything I've had thus far, the iPhone 4S beats them all. Although I wish it could do more, I actually use Siri for some things. I don't find Siri to be a great personal assistant, but it's definitely the beginning of what could be a revolution in human/computer interaction. I regularly ask Siri to provide me with weather information, to help me locate hotels and restaurants, and to discover basic facts of interest. In these tasks, Siri is fantastic. For the business user, I don't see Siri being revolutionary yet, but I'm certain that this is a major focus for Apple and that we'll see massive improvements as times goes on.

Even without Siri, the iPhone 4S is an excellent device. It's very fast, runs all of the apps I want, and doubles as my turn-by-turn GPS through the use of the Navigon GPS app. I have a tethered data plan, so I can turn my 4S into a hot spot, which means I don't need data plans on some of my other mobile devices, such as my iPad. I also had a truly incredible buying experience when I purchased the iPhone 4S.

My HTC Android device travels with me as well, but I use it infrequently. I tried to use it as my primary device for a while, but it's simply not as polished as the iPhone and, good or bad, I'm locked into the Apple ecosystem from an apps perspective. I didn't relish the thought of rebuying all of the apps I use. That said, I do use the device enough to remain familiar enough to write about it.


I have three tablets: an iPad, an iPad 2, and a Kindle Fire, which I received as a Christmas gift. The original iPad is a 3G device, but I've discontinued the data plan. On all three devices, if I need Internet access while I'm mobile, I connect them to my iPhone 4S and use its data plan.

The iPad 1 stays mostly at home and has somehow become the property of my children. They have all kinds of fun with it, from playing Angry Birds to watching Annoying Orange videos to helping with their homework.

The iPad 2 is mine and goes everywhere with me. I've become a huge fan of Kindle books and have a bunch of them on the device. I also use it for storing technical documentation (again, using the Kindle apps PDF to e-book capability). Of course, since I travel quite a bit, it's nice to have some entertainment along, too. As such, at present, my iPad 2 is the home of a few seasons of Breaking Bad (I just recently discovered this show), some music, and some books. I also use it to write short posts and respond to comments. The iPad truly is a great device and well worth the cost.

Now, on to the Kindle Fire. I like it overall, but I don't see it as a major threat to the iPad. I see it serving a different market — those who want a tablet but don't want to pay the higher price for an iPad. My wife has actually been using it a lot for reading. Previously, she was reading Kindle books on her iPhone 4 and enjoying it. Her comments on the Fire: It's nice but kind of heavy. Since she was used to holding her iPhone to read, the added weight wasn't really a surprise.

My own thoughts: Amazon has done a good job "hiding" Android with the Fire. The screen is a good size and the device is responsive enough for how we use it. I won't call it an iPad killer, but as I mentioned, I believe it has a great niche in the market and will be much more successful than any of the other Android tablets.

What's coming in 2012?

I try to keep as current as I can afford with technology. First of all, I enjoy writing about it, but I also just like new stuff  I always get excited trying something new and seeing how it works or what's changed since the previous version. In 2012, I see the following three possible purchases:

  • Windows Phone 7 device: More than likely, I'm going to pick up a Nokia Lumia 900 when the device starts shipping in March. I had a Windows Phone 7 device previously but wasn't able to keep it. This time, I'm going to add the Lumia 900 to my AT&T plan and may even see if I can transfer my tethering to that device since it will support 4G and my current iPhone 4S doesn't. I don't live in an area served by 4G service, but I travel frequently to 4G areas.
  • iPhone 5: Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll bite yet. If the device is a revolutionary upgrade as opposed to the 4 to 4S type upgrade, I might. The iPhone 5 is rumored to have a much larger screen, 4G service, and a faster processor, so it might be worth checking out.
  • iPad 3: This is a low-likelihood buy, due to the cost of the device, but I will at least have to look at the iPad 3 as a potential additional to my mobile arsenal. More than likely, if I go with the iPad 3, I'll sell the iPad 2. I don't need to add another device right now.

Now, dear TechRepublic readers, share why you like/dislike each device that you currently have. Also, let us know your inventory and acquisition plans for 2012.


Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

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