iPad optimize

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.

Smartphones

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.

Tablets

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.

About

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...

7 comments
Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

TMobile MyTouch 4G Slide Kindle Fire Dell E6520 Dynex Gigabit Ethernet Switch Generic Power Strip Surge Protector Motorola S9HD Bluetooth Optoma PK301 Pico Projector Mini and Micro USB chargers and cables Samsonite rolling laptop bag Running on the phone and the Fire: DropBox and DropSync, Evernote and Skitch, QuickOffice Pro, Neudesic Pulse, Lync for Android, NewsRob. I can synch files, get my email, contacts, calendar and RSS feeds, communicate within my company and have every technical manual available in electronic form (PDF, EPUB, MOBI) at my fingertips. The MotoRokr is great for connecting to my cell and my laptop (using a Dynex USB Bluetooth adapter). Great for Lync and standard concalls. Getting the Rokr to switch from phone to laptop usually requires turning BlueTooth off on everything, turning off the Rokr; then turning Bluetooth on for the device I want to connect to, then turning the Rokr on. Inconvenient, but it works. The switch comes in handy when in a conference room with only a single connection. Especially in companies without a guest Wifi network. Use with caution: some companies set their switches to wrap if you connect an unrecognized hub. The network guys don't mind being asked, but get really cranky if you wrap one of their ports and they have to clean up the mess. The pico projector works well in a reasonably lit (but not bright) room. If the customer doesn't have a projector handy (or it's going to be a hassle), it's great to be able to whip one out. The Samsonite rolling laptop bag is great. Everything fits in it and it doesn't kill my back (it sucks getting old). Rolls down airline and train aisles. Fits in the overhead compartment (except on Embraer and Bombadier regional jets and turboprops), fits under the seat in front of me. Does a good job at protecting my equipment. Ties to my rolling garment back for a convenient geek train. What I dream of: Samsung Series 7 tablet running Windows 8. They are currently for sale running Windows 7 for about $1000... but I'm waiting. Let's see what happens once Windows 8 ships.

PLANEBC
PLANEBC

Just over a year ago, I replaced my Palm 755 when my plan ended with an LG Windows phone. I used a Palm PDA then Palm phone from day one. Palm was the first smart phone and I was really choked that they didn't do anything to promote themselves as a great mobile office device. Palm was miles ahead of the other phones for a long time. I bought the Windows phone because it easily provided the business tools that I needed; calendar with reminders, e-mail with multiple accounts, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, easy internet access with multiple tabs, maps, GPS, calculator, text messaging, phone history, address book, camera. It suggests words and has auto-correct as I am typing to speed up the process. It is my portable office. I don't need anything else. All these things came with the phone. I did not have to buy any apps.

mark.cooper
mark.cooper

I have the original Focus. Recently installed a 32 GB micro SD card for a total of 40 GB. I have my 25 GB music collection loaded on it and still have 11 GB free. Mango installed flawlessly. I have 6 email accounts set up including AOL, an in-house Exchange account, 2 GoDaddy accounts, a Time-Warner account, and a 1and1 account. All accounts were painless to set up. I use SkyDrive. My camera phone is set up upload all my pics to SkyDrive. I use a 3+ year old laptop running W7 Pro. One of my clients has an Acer Iconia Tab W500. I installed the W8 Developer Preview on the W500. Live Mesh is installed on both the W8 tablet and my W7 laptop. I have the full Office 2010 suite installed on both the laptop and the tablet. WP7 has Office built-in. I'm a heavy OneNote user. The whole Windows ecosystem just works. All my clients are Windows based. Server 2003 through 2008 R2. XP, Vista, W7 workstations with 2 virtual W98SE machines. Battery life could be better on the W500, but as I travel to my various clients by car, I keep my various devices charged via inverter if needed. My very first computer was an Apple II+ with two of the just-released (144K?) disk drives. Apple really turned me off with their walled garden approach when they introduced the Mac. In the early days I sold Franklin Computers (Apple II clones) and Eagle Computers (CP/M, then PC clones). I evolved to Windows because it worked better for me and my business clients.

dennis.m.jackson
dennis.m.jackson

What mobile arsenal? The title implies that you're using your mobile devices (of whatever stripe) as business or business-support tools. What I read in the article is mostly entertainment-oriented. Is this an admission that the mobile devices that you have really don't have much to do with running and supporting your business, and that they are really not that useful for such purposes? Or did you just fail to adequately describe how your mobile devices really support your business in this article?

sgreenup
sgreenup

Just curious Scott, do you carry phone plans for both your iPhone and your Android or do you switch back and forth, and how would you do that efficiently?

jfuller05
jfuller05

I use the Mango powered samsung focus. I like Mango a lot. What do I use it for related to business? Well, I have all of my excel spreadsheets synced to my phone, so I when I'm on my way to service a client, I have basic information for that computer on my phone, which is handy to have instead of lugging around my hard copies neatly organized in my folder. Syncing is a snap. When I'm creating the content on my computer, I save the a copy to my hdd of course, then save a copy to skydrive then my phone syncs within a certain amount of time automatically (I think I have it set to every 30 minutes - but if I'm in a hurry I perform a manual sync). I love the metro interface as well. I have my tiles organized much neater than I could have on previous devices. Those previous devices were: a blackberry curve 8300x which I used regularly for about two years and I didn't use that for business outside of emails; test drove a iPhone and didn't like it that much - I also service them at work, never have understood how people like the OS (i understand we have different subjective preferences like ice cream, shows, etc.), since I didn't like the OS on the iphone, I figured I wouldn't care that much for the Android OS either since it's similar. In comparison to the bberry curve and iPhone, the mango is such a good smartphone for me. The metro interface is not only pleasing to my eyes which is nice, the organization is also well done. I like the back button, the home button, the search button, and the handy "..." at the lower right screen for additional information on the menu/app you're currently in. Skydrive syncs so well also, not to mention zune synchronization is a charm. At work, I have clients ask me every now and then to help out with their iTunes to iDevice synchronization, which is usually user error I'll grant you, but it shouldn't be as difficult as it is for the users. Anyway, to the land the plane: my Focus has helped me with business in the following areas: Calendar events, the Office app, linked email accounts, skydrive, and not to mention the voice quality of the calls (the whole point of having a phone right?).

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

I do carry both phones, but use the iPhone almost exclusively. I've used the Android when I was having problems with my iPhone. I use the Android device more for testing/R&D kind of stuff. I did try to use it as my primary device for a while, too, but found that I didn't like it as much as my iPhone. I am looking forward to putting newer Windows Phone 7 devices to the test. No, it's not efficient ;-) Scott