Mobile Tech Update, March 2013

Droid 4Here’s a quick look at my mobile arsenal these days. It’s not state of the art, but it’s what gets me through the day.

Mobile Phone: I’ve been carrying a Motorola Droid 4 since February of last year. I started out with a Droid 3 the previous October, but when the specs for the D4 started surfacing, I decided to juggle some upgrade dates and pull the trigger. It started out running the version of Android called Gingerbread, and was eventually upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich and then, just a week or two ago, to Jelly Bean.

I’ve been a big fan of the slide-out QWERTY keyboard on the D3 and D4, and both phones have served me well. I haven’t decided which route I’m going to go when I’m ready to upgrade again; the Android landscape has matured immensely since I first picked up the D3.

MP3 Player: This is the role that my Droid 3 inherited once I upgraded my phone to the D4. I also managed to drop the D3 from my plan with Verizon at the same time. Since I work in a factory with no Wi-Fi coverage, I loaded a 32 GB microSD card with a good portion of my music library and crank it up during the workday.

Without a cell or data plan for the D3, I keep it in airplane mode when on and turn it off when I’m not using it. When I need to charge it, I let it access my home Wi-Fi to check for app updates and whatnot. It may be overkill for what I’m using it for, but at least it’s not going to waste.

Tablet: 2012 was a breakout year for the 7-inch tablet. At CES last January, Asus announced the small tablet that morphed into the Nexus 7 design that Google introduced at its I/O Developer’s Conference in June. The buzz was intense; everyone wanted this tablet when it went on sale that July, including me.

Instead, I picked up a refurbished Acer A100 7-inch tablet in April. I fell in love with the form factor in spite of several issues I had with the Acer hardware. It was the perfect size for watching videos, playing games, and reading e-books, and it also had a port for microSD cards to make it a cinch to load up all kinds of content.

I finally picked up a Nexus 7 once the 32 GB models were announced late last year. The increased storage was important since the Nexus 7 doesn’t provide a microSD slot, and it’s so much better in so many ways when compared to the Acer tablet. I’ve been having a great time using it and heartily recommend it to everyone who is looking for a small tablet.

EBook Reader: I’ve officially owned my Nook Simple Touch longer than I did my original Barnes & Noble Nook, and I still use it all the time. It’s a great little device and hasn’t failed me yet. Barnes & Noble, however, seems to be going through some difficult times these days, and its Nook business seems a little precarious. Just in case things go badly for Barnes & Noble, I’ve made it a habit to download and backup all of my e-books to my computer. I’ve also made sure that I’ll be able to transfer my books to any other device if I have to.

External Battery: With all these gadgets, I always try to keep an external battery with me, charged and ready, just in case. The one I use is a NewTrent iCarrier IMP120D. It’s a 12000 mAh charger with two USB ports, and I was lucky enough to grab it on sale for about $55. In normal use, I can charge my phone about 5 times before I need to recharge the unit. It’s a lifesaver!

That’s all the mobile tech I’m using these days. I hope to write another update on the rest of my gadget collection sometime soon. Until then!