One of the most common questions that I get asked, both here on the site, as well as by friends and family has to do with the hardware and software I use every day. It is a fair question and one that people ask out of both curiosity as well as doing a “stare and compare” with their own tech.
I’ve always said that you need to use the right technology that works for you. That may be an Android Phone or an iPhone. That may be a Windows PC or a MacBook Pro. Whatever the technology, it has to get the job done for you and for me, this list of hardware and software, works for me. I encourage readers to look into what I use to see if it fits their needs but at the end of the day, it is a personal use case as to whether it will or will not.
I’ve broken this article into two parts. The first is the primary hardware that I use each day with the second focused on the apps that I use on them. The apps could be on my phone, my tablet or my Chromebook and I’ll note that as I go along. As for hardware, I’ll cover what I use every day as well as other devices I use from time-to-time. You’ll note that very little of what I have is new and that’s on purpose. I tend not to buy the latest and greatest because I, like most of you reading this, are looking for value in my purchases or I use things for a long time before replacing them.
Acer Chromebook 14
My primary computer is an Acer Chromebook 14. It is the 2016 model of the Chromebook and has served me well. As the name suggest, it runs Chrome OS and I reviewed it shortly after I purchased it. It has been a solid performer for me both from battery life perspective as well as general performance. As it supports Android apps, I tend to run a mix of both web-based apps as well as Android apps depending on the needs. Since this Chromebook doesn’t have a touchscreen, I don’t get the full benefit of the Android apps but I get enough functionality to make them worth my while.
Because I like the flexibility of working in various rooms of my house outside of my office, or heading down to my local coffee shop, I don’t use a monitor, external keyboard or mouse. The trackpad on the Chromebook 14 gets the job done for me and I like being able to unplug and move around without disconnecting several things.
If all works out, I will be upgrading this Chromebook with another device. I’m not sure what that device will be but I feel like I want a touchscreen now given the Android support in Chrome OS and I could use a bit of performance increase given I’m on this device 8-12 hours a day at times.
My secondary computer is the Huawei Matebook. It is another device that I reviewed in 2017 and generally, I’ve been very happy with it. The performance is rock solid although the battery life isn’t fantastic. Design wise, it’s wonderful and looks very sharp when you are in a meeting with it.
My biggest challenge on why this isn’t my day-to-day is that I just get frustrated with Windows 10 sometimes. It has come a long way in the past few years but it still feels clunky at times. I like the smoothness and ease of Chrome OS, especially given I leverage so many other Google technologies.
Google Pixel XL
My every day phone is the 2016 Google Pixel XL. I love this phone. The display is fantastic, the performance fantastic and the camera is fantastic. I don’t think there is much more you can ask for from a phone. It easily makes it through a day of activities from a battery perspective and with the additions that Android Oreo brought to it in October, it has really made it a complete device for me. I also like the fact that I get monthly security patches within a day or two of their release.
Much like my Chromebook, I suspect that I’ll upgrade my phone come October when the Pixel 3 (or whatever it will be called) is released. I’ll keep the Pixel XL as a beta phone at that point.
Lenovo Yoga Book
My tablet of choice is the Lenovo Yoga Book. It runs Android Nougat, has a unique keyboard, and performs solidly for what I need a tablet for these days. Namely, content consumption. The Yoga Book is my primary reading tablet and streaming of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. I answer the occasional email with it but mostly it is about consumption of content for me.
This 2-in-1 tablet got a big boost this year when Nougat was released and it certainly improved the overall performance and functionality of the tablet. It also can serve as a primary computing device if you need it to do so. It has the horsepower to get the job done.
Alas, this will probably be my last tablet. I can’t see using the form factor much any more if I get a new Chromebook with a touchscreen. It’ll run the apps I want in the Android universe and it will truly be a 2-in-1 device for me.
I will fully admit that when I got my first Google Home, I doubted if it would be used much beyond a music source. At first, that is exactly what it was but as Google Assistant has grown up, I find myself using Home more each day. I ask it for basic information like the weather and so forth but my morning rundown where I get caught up on news and other information is something that, when I’m not home, I miss.
My original Google Home has expanded to two additional Home Mini’s throughout the house and I have several WeMo smart plugs to control lights in my office. I still think that Google Assistant has some growing up to do but overall, I can’t see not having it via Home around.
Apps I Use Daily (or nearly daily)
Turning over to apps, I’m going to bypass the normal slate of apps that you would expect and Android & Chrome OS user to use. Those being the likes of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs and so forth. Instead, I’m going to focus on the apps that I use beyond the Google apps.
Earlier this year when Evernote had their policy change about looking into the content of my notes, I immediately downloaded all of my notes and migrated them to Microsoft OneNote. I was furious and given that I plenty of sensitive information in the app & service, I did not want anyone to have access to it. Evernote retracted and clarified their stance and I, admittedly, overreacted a bit. Given that I have 2-factor authentication enabled, it would have been impossible for anyone to look at the notes, even on the cloud side.
So I returned to Evernote, a service that I have used for everything from my daily to-do list to business notes since 2010. For me, Evernote just works. It is easy to navigate, to tag notes and to leverage the apps on phone and tablet when I need them. If there is one knock on Evernote it is the price. It is $7.99 per month but with that, you can sync your notes on to multiple device and can have your notes offline.
I’ve been an on-again-off-again Google Fit user for the past couple of years but with me wearing an Android Wear watch now, I find that I use it daily. I use it to track my exercising, both in the gym and as I ski, and because it ties in nicely with MyFitnessPal, I can see my nutrition and weight information all in one app.
Google Fit is an app that has grown up a lot and with the introduction of Wear 2.0 in 2017, it is so much more capable with things like heart rate monitoring and elevation changes (assuming you have a watch or phone that supports those things).
Related to Google Fit, I track my diet information in MyFitnessPal. I have logged every day in the app for over four years and it has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle. Seriously. When you go to put in that double cheeseburger and realize it is 900 calories, you think about your food choices a bit more.
MyFitnessPal has a solid amount of information in the food database and you’ll find a lot of restaurants have their information in the app too. Plus, you can always scan a barcode on an item and it will give you the nutritional information and automatically enter it for you.
The app is free and if you want to have more granular nutritional information, you can go premium for $9.99 per month.
It’s no secret that ClintonFitch.com runs on WordPress and the app for the site management platform has come a long way in the past few years. Using the app on my tablet or my phone, I can check statistics and other analytics while also being able to edit and publish articles while I’m on the go. I can also manage media as well as article content.
As I said in my opening statements, these devices and apps work great for me but may not be the best for you. I still encourage you to try new technology and see if it is a fit. If it is, great, you’ve found a new way to be productive. But if not, no worries. There are plenty of phones, laptops and apps out there to help you with your day-to-day.