Android stuff

It's been a while since any of us here at AC talked about what's in our bag and on our desks, so I decided to have a frosty beverage or two and do a little sharing. We're in a great situation for an Android fan to be in around these parts, and with all the review units, loaners, stuff Phil send to us to learn and try and the stuff we swap amongst ourselves we pretty much have our choice of selection of smartphones and accessories. It's one of the best perks of one of the best jobs I've ever had, and trust me — I know how lucky we all are because of it.

For now, let's ignore the fact that working for Android Central means we have a pile of great Android devices that we go to frequently, and discuss the ones we use by choice — the ones we gladly paid full price for if we had to. Think of this as our personal best list, and the stuff we would choose if we were forced to choose. I'm kicking this round off, but you'll hear from each of us in turn.

A few quick words of wisdom before anyone clicks through. This is what I like. There is no right and wrong here, and my list probably won't match anyone else's. That's a good thing. The world would be a pretty boring (and scary as hell) place if everyone thought like me. 

OK, ready? Let's go.

The Nexus 4

Nexus 4

The white Nexus 4 to be exact. It's my baby. I'm not one who is concerned with storage space (I've got nine of the original 13GB free, and currently have a system dump or two stored on board) or flashy features. I want my phone to be well built, look and feel good, and do exactly what I want and need it to do every time I ask it to do something. Having 4.3 for a week or so before any other phone got it wasn't that big of a deal, but I do want timely updates when security issues get discovered — my personal and business life is on the thing.

I had a long stint with the HTC One, which I think was a wonderful phone and the Zoe and Highlight features in the camera are really amazing. If Google had never made the Nexus 4, it's the phone I'd be using. I also have a Galaxy S4 I use often, and I think I'll love it a lot more once Samsung and T-Mobile get Wifi calling sorted and send me the update that takes the crazy lag away. I'm not really into all of TouchWiz's features, but the S4 has the means to be a real powerhouse, and that's always good to have around. I still want to play with the Xperia Z and the LG Optimus G Pro, and will get around to it eventually. The S4 Active is also on my short list, because I think it'd be a blast to take some underwater fishing videos with it.

The phone apps I'm using the most are SwiftKey, Press and some social apps like Google+ and Hangouts. Not really into games on a smaller screen, but I'm still loving Super Monsters Ate My Condo because it's absolutely irreverent and insane. When I'm away from my desk, I use the AC app a lot, too. I'm not just saying it because i work for Mobile Nations, but because it gives me easy access to our news and other great content on the blog, as well as quick access to the forums. That's important for me, and having one app that does both kicks ass. Of course, Google Play Music is always ready to go, as I can't do much without some background music and love having access to all of my library anywhere i go.

The Nexus 7 (2013)

Nexus 7

I almost didn't buy one of these just yet. I told myself I was going to wait on the LTE model, because I've got an extra SIM card here I could drop in it and get some use out of. I pay for it every month instead of letting it go, so I might as well use it, right? But in the end, Phil and Andrew (mostly Andrew and his praise while using it after his trip to San Francisco) talked me into it and I'm really glad they did. It's a nice update to the original; it feels better, looks better and mostly runs better.

I miss my Tegra games, though. Playing Riptide GP 2 on the new N7 is freaking awesome, but those extra touches you get with a Tegra device are something i miss. Same goes for other big, immersive Tegra optimized titles. I'm really thinking I'll buy myself an NVIDIA Shield just to play games on. That thing was surprisingly great, and the expectations I had about it being a bit awkward were mostly unfounded. It's an incredible gaming machine. 

Some other stuff I'm doing on my N7 is probably a lot like the stuff you're doing on your N7. I surf the web a lot, spend a lot of time in the Amazon app spending money I shouldn't be spending, watching videos (though I've been using the Chromecast for a lot of that lately) and reading. The games I've been playing are Riptide GP 2, Bloons TD 5, and I'm still playing Plague, Inc. On the reading side, I've started Phillip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series back up for the umpteenth time. I never get tired of those. 

The Chromebook Pixel

Chromebook pixel

Dat screen. I could try to explain it to you, but it won't work. You'll only ever appreciate just how damn good the screen is on the Pixel when you actually use one. When I'm not at my desk, and need to do more than just look at the Internet, I'm using the Pixel to do it. 

It's lacking in some areas, namely on the content creation side, but it's a fair trade. The Pixel is probably the nicest laptop I've ever used, and it kills me that it has to be so damned expensive that most people won't get a chance to try one. 

When I am at my desk, I'm currently using a run-of-the-mill Windows 7 desktop I built from parts ordered from Newegg about a year ago. It works, but I'm looking to replace it. Currently thinking of getting a Mac Mini of all things. Since Mobile Nations picked me up a MacBook Air, I've found that Final Cut Pro really is as good as people say it is. I'm not really feeling the newer OSX, but it's as good as Windows I reckon. Neither feel as comfortable to me as Linux and KDE, but the programs I need to do my job just aren't there. One day someone will build a really nice "prosumer grade" nonlinear video editor and RAW image manipulation tool for Linux and I won't have to worry about it. For now, I think an always-on Mac Mini I could use and connect to when I need to edit something and only have my Pixel in front of me is how I'm gonna roll. It will only burn for a little while, I hope.

Motorola S11-Flex HD Bluetooth headset

Motorola S-11 Flex HD

I needed a new Bluetooth headset to test some things with Bluetooth 4.0 support, and told the folks at ShopAndroid to send me something that needed reviewed while i was at it. I'm not a big Bluetooth guy, so i wasn't really concerned with which one I got — only that it was a newer model so I could use it for phone reviews.

But I have fallen in love with the S11-Flex set. It's not a big dorky box hanging from one ear so I don't mind wearing it, and it makes music sound really nice. At home I'm still rocking those Motorheadphone Motorizers because they sound absolutely incredible, but when I don't want a cord in the way these fit the bill perfectly. I keep them charged and ready for anything. if you're looking for a new BT set, you ought to give them a try.

So that's it. I'm playing with the Chromecast, of course, and I've always got something new here that I am trying or reviewing, but this is what I call "my" stuff. Add in a few extras like a 60Wh HyperJuice battery, a couple USB cables, some bubble gum and a flash drive with a portable copy of the Android SDK for Windows on it and it's also what I pack in my backpack for a day away from home. I'm predictable, and will probably always be.