Andrew's gear bag

Phones, tablets, computers and cameras - see what I'm using right now.

As Jerry has reminded us, it's been a while since we've taken the time to show what devices and gear we're using on a daily basis to keep the content coming to the site and when we have some down time as well. Working for Android Central has the awesome benefit of getting to use some of the latest and greatest devices, but when we find things we love — Android-powered or otherwise — we spend our own hard-earned cash on them and hold them close.

I try to keep my gear as efficient as possible to cut down on clutter and weight (nobody likes back problems), while still having everything I need to get work done and stay connected. So over the months I've whittled down my technology and accessories to just the essentials with very few frills.

This by no means should be taken as an ultimate compendium of the best devices and best way to do things — even I'm constantly questioning my setup — but it surely works for me right now and I'm happy to share how it all fits together. Read along after the break and see what's in my gear bag today.

Nexus 4 and Xperia ZL

Nexus 4 and Xperia ZL

Quite the variety of phones come across our desks, but when it comes down to the devices that I use every day I don't stray far from the Nexus 4. Since (finally) picking one up in January, the Nexus 4 is the one device I am guaranteed to keep charged and carry with me 95-percent of the time I leave the house. When you have the extremely fortunate opportunity of using so many different devices, you find yourself going back to the one that feels most intuitive — and after using the GSM Galaxy Nexus for a full year the natural progression for me was to the Nexus 4. I have the 8GB model (with a flashy yellow bumper case) and it does everything I need on the software front, with the added bonus of being a solid performer in terms of battery life and camera.

As a "backup" phone of sorts, I carry the Sony Xperia ZL. Since I almost always carry a messenger bag with me wherever I go with all of my gear, there's usually a free pocket for a second phone. The ZL has turned into Swiss Army knife for me because its unlocked with radio support for every band (including LTE) on both AT&T and T-Mobile, has a great camera and solid battery life to boot. And from a usability standpoint, its software is very similar to the Nexus 4 which means I can quickly transition between devices without re-learning the UI.

I have both a prepaid T-Mobile SIM with 5GB of data as well as a prepaid AT&T SIM with 2GB of data, and while the T-Mo SIM stays in my Nexus 4 primarily, I swap between the two as I see fit. It's rare that I don't have one phone in my pocket as a primary device and the other in my bag with either hotspot or Bluetooth tethering turned on for my laptop and tablet (which we'll get to next).

Nexus 7 (2013)

Nexus 7 (2013)

If it wasn't clear in my full review of the device, I'm absolutely blown away by the new Nexus 7. After making a concerted effort to use the original Nexus 7 on a daily basis leading up to the expected refresh of the tablet, I've locked into the 7-inch form factor as a great way to consume content without pulling out a full laptop. The new Nexus 7 seals the deal for me, and with the newly trimmed size and weight I'm getting to the point where it leaves the house more often than the original as well.

Keeping it tethered to a phone, I'll often bring the Nexus 7 as a sort of ginormous phone, carrying on Google Voice, Hangouts and Skype conversations just as I would on my Nexus 4. It's not quite small enough to carry around without having a bag to stuff it in when you're not using it, but it's such a joy to use I make it work. When I'm back at home, it's a great size for relaxing on the couch or in bed to catch up on some casual games or reading articles that I've bookmarked throughout the day.

I can't wait for the LTE model to be released, as I can easily see the larger screen (and battery) making it a perfect backup device instead of a second phone for tethering and occasional use while out of the house.

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2012)

MacBook Air 2012

I rely on a single computer for everything work and play, so earlier this year when I had an unexpected and catastrophic issue with my ASUS Ultrabook, I picked up a 13-inch MacBook Air. I know it's rather cliché for a 20-something guy that writes for a tech website and spends far too many hours at Starbucks to have a MacBook Air, but it really fits the bill for everything I need to do. It's extremely light, powerful, stable and after using a MacBook through four years of college I'm far more versed in OS X than I am in Windows.

I miss the amount of video processing power my previous laptop had, but after getting used to Final Cut Pro I'm completely fine waiting a little longer for that HD video to process. It certainly isn't the best laptop in some categories (the Air desperately needs a screen resolution bump) but for a laptop that's able to handle my daily workflow on a desk hooked up to a mouse and monitor as well as sit in my bag and offer 5+ hours of battery life while out of the house, it's fantastic.

The only thing I regret at this point is wishing I had the freedom to wait until the 2013 model was released — Phil reminds us how great the Haswell processor is on a weekly basis.

Olympus E-PL1

Olympus E-PL1

It may not be the newest or the flashiest out there, but my trusty Olympus E-PL1 Micro Four Thirds camera has done me well for the past couple of years for both personal and work duties. Being a few years old it doesn't offer features like live HDMI out, Wifi or high ISO capabilities, but for great 720p video and some high-quality 12MP stills (using the 14-42mm kit lens) I've been impressed with what this camera can do.

While I have a full-sized camera strap on it in the picture above, I often use it with a small leather hand strap so that I don't have so much extra material getting in the way. When I'm heading out for a long day of shooting I'll bring along an extra battery, SDcard (the class 10 Amazon Basics cards hold up well) and my camera bag, but more often than not my Olympus gets stuffed into a pouch in my messenger bag on its own.

Battery pack, cables and headphones

Battery pack and headphones

I rarely leave the house without my messenger bag and a handful of devices, which means I'm also carrying a good group of cables and accessories so that I can work and stay connected out of the house. What you see above is just a portion of what I have at the ready, but it highlights what's most important — power and headphones.

I picked up a 5000mAh battery pack (shown above) off of a daily deals site for about $25 several months back, and I always have it charged up and ready to go when I leave. With two USB ports — one of which being 2.1A output — it is a great companion to a phone that often sits in my bag with tethering turned on through the day, offering over two full charge cycles on most phones. One of the biggest bonuses of a separate battery pack is that it saves my laptop battery from having to charge up devices. On the headphone side, I have a pair of Ultimate Ears 350vm headphones, which work well as a noise-cancelling headset and as a mic when I need to take calls on my laptop or phone.

Alongside my headphones and battery pack, I keep at least two USB cables, a Bluetooth travel mouse (with a second battery), a SIM tray tool, a standard USB wall charger, backup pair of cheap earbuds, a SanDisk flash drive and a good 'ol fashioned ballpoint pen.

That's a lot of gear ...

Remember at the start of this post where I said this collection of gear was a whittled-down set of technology and accessories? Well, it's true. Although it is a lot to carry around, I hate the feeling of not having everything I need much more than the feeling of a few extra cables in my bag. (And if you think this is a lot to carry around every time I leave the house, you'll have to see what our bags look like when we head out for trade shows... but that's a topic for another article.)

I enjoy talking about what technology works for me and my workflow, and you can bet we'll all be checking back in as things change over time.

 

Reader comments

AC on the road: What's in Andrew's gear bag

69 Comments

It's unfortunate that Alex got rid of the Asus ultrabook.

=(((

I have the Zenbook and it's amazing! I'm ready to upgrade but don't want to get a MAC :/

Well there are other great machines. My Asus unfortunately had a serious failure that made me have to send it back inoperable on super short notice. I was generally happy with it before that.

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Yeh, i hope it will be mines as well. The 4 is a strong performer , and I was about to pick up one, but I think at this stage it's worth the wait. I usually buy to be used for two years.

Assuming there will even be a Nexus 5... why the constant assumption that it's going to be called "Nexus 5"? It may just be a new Nexus 4 - it's screen size remember, not a sequential number.

There were 3 Nexus phones before Nexus 4, but there weren't 6 Nexus tablets before Nexus 7 or 9 before Nexus 10. So, I think the 4 is a sequantial number wheras 7 and 10 aren't. So, I think the next nexus phone's name will be Nexus 5 and in 2014, 2015 they will continue calling it Nexus 5.

At least it's the one Apple device worth getting. Even if it is still stupidly overpriced.

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MacBook Airs are overpriced? Nowadays they're competitive and even cheaper at some points than the competition. That old point just doesn't stand anymore.

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Stupidly overpriced compared to...? For the quality you get and compared to other laptops in its class (Dell XPS 13, ASUS Zenbook, etc.) it's fairly priced.

Wow...that almost looks like the gear I would carry...all except that macbook. I own a N4, want an N7 and xperia z, am a big fan of olympus, and that battery pack is now going on my list!!

Nice list of swag, man :)

I read reviews on Amazon, apparently it's not actually 5000mAh,more like less than 4000. Still 25 bucks is pretty good for something like that.

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Glad I read this article. I saw Andrew had a battery pack so I went looking for one for myself. I ended up getting the New Trent IMP120D pack along with the dual port high speed USB wall charger.

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Might seem like a daft question but, what kind of bag do you guys use when carrying this stuff around?

There's loads on the market and it would be nice to see what AC thinks is the most versatile/value for money etc....

Just a thought. :O)

I have a canvas fossil messenger bag, nothing fancy. Been eyeing a Timbuktu bag for a long time now though.

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I was thinking the same thing...

It would be nice if they included the actual bag they are using as well.

Not being a PC elite or anything, but I don't think I could ever use a laptop properly now, its just the mouse man. Its so counter-productive on every laptop I've tried. I had to do some work in college on a laptop and got so frustrated. Wouldn't be able to survive without an external mouse or touchscreen

I agree on any laptop but Apple laptops, they have it dialed in. The trackpad is just as easy to use as a mouse for me.

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I use a wireless mouse by logitech, sinks to a laptop and PC

I also use a Canon F-1 1971 with lens attachments for variable zoom. I still say they can get better pictures that are clearer than most digital photography. You can scan negatives with film scanners to upload to computers which is pretty cool.

Where did you get the wallpaper on your macbook air? I really like it and it would be great if i could get it!

My messenger bag holds almost the exact same items, save for the MBA. I have an upgraded Zenbook ux32vd instead, and a tf700, with 2 SD cards.

Love the recharge pack, and the ultimate ears are a great bang for your buck headset with built in mic.

I too would love to see the bags that everyone uses, as I've yet to find the ideal carry bag, and currently switch between 2 or 3 depending on what in taking with me.

Alex handled our Z review. I took care of the ZL. Not sure I'd choose the Z if given the choice even. The ZL feels better in the hand.

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How are you liking the tablet so far ? Love mine. No issues to speak of.

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Great gear, even the Macbook, scary how the Chromebook I have looks just like it, LOL.

I'm a fan of messenger bags, and really lucked out with a messenger bag with built in battery for charging up 2 devices. I don't have to worry about carrying lots of cables, because they're built into the bag too.

I'm so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel between 3 different nations here on our continent, I see things many may never see. This leads me to seriously thinking about a regular camera, I notice almost every person that writes on of these "what I carry" posts has one too.

love a tech blogger who is not afraid to use different gadgets from a wide range of makers if it gets the job done. I know that I when I read a review, it's not some sort of biased review

I'm a devout Android fan but I have no problem using a Mac Mini as my main computer and an Asus laptop with Ubuntu on it for portability. Windows, in my opinion, is awful now and gets seriously bogged down after a few months. It's much easier to buy a Mac with an operating system worth having and then partitioning 100gbs for Windows so you can do things that require Windows if you need to. That's what I'm doing and it's working quite well.

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Where's your One? And Dempsey jersey? I think the other Andrew has a One.

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I've got a One, but its European bands so no LTE on either carrier, so the ZL wins there. I am enjoying some of the camera features though.

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Curious if I may ask Andy. I hear very.good things about the Macbooks. I am in the market to replace my laptop.
Do your Android devices sync ok with your Macbook? Thanks :)

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1) I prefer Andrew to Andy, but that's your call.

2) I don't really "sync" to my macbook... The Android File Transfer app makes connecting MTP Android devices work just fine though. And you can use ADB and Fastboot without drivers, which is nice.

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Thank you Andrew, I will look into those apps. There are so many laptops to choose from, so I am still not sure.

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Nice write up, thanks. Some good stuff to leverage and a lot looks similar. Hopefully our bags won't get overstuffed over time.

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Wow,that is pretty similar to what I run with every day.

Here is my list:
Nexus 4 (T-Mo) - finally got one
LG Lucid (Vzn) - primary, until I leave big red
iPod Classic 80GB - for tunes in the car
iPod Touch 4G 32GB - for random amusement
Nexus 7 (2012) - primary consumer of information
Acer S3i ultrabook 500GB varient
Klipsh S3 headphones
Maxell Peanutz - good headphones for $12

I've never understood carrying two phones. The expense, especially, and the unneeded weight, ugh. And I don't understand why you need one as a tethering device. I can talk, browse, etc and use mobile hotspot on my VZW Galaxy Note II all at the same time, without lagging or hitches. And because it has a removable battery, I always have a spare if the power drain proves too much.

Well with both of my lines being prepaid, I'm getting more data at a cheaper price than a single postpaid line, and having data from two different providers gives me redundancy when I need it. It also means that all of my tethering (can be multiple hours a day if I need it) hits the second device's battery so I never have to bother recharging my main device, which already drains quickly with heavy use.

For occasional tethering I can just bring one device and turn it on, but as I said if I'm carrying my bag already its no difference in weight to just have the other phone there.

Andrew, what would you pick between the Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S4?
I know SGS4's specs are superior, but I'm more interested in the overall user experience.