4 Gadgets to increase your productivity – guaranteed!

When you work, you want to have highest acceptable level of comfort possible. Making that time enjoyable is something that will get you back to your workplace. Idea of workplace changed dramatically in past 100 years. We moved from industrial society to information society. And of course computers and gadgets became our working environment. I want to give you the idea how I am using my devices, so you can develop your own productivity ecosystem and see what works for you best. So here goes:

Tablet, Laptop and Smartphone

1. Samsung Galaxy S on Android 2.3.3 jvh rooted (Price: approximately 450$)

SGS Battery Life

Example of Galaxy S Battery Life

 

Benefits: Why I favor android over iOS/iPhone? Widgets, ease of access to vital daily information. Freedom to do everything, opportunity to tether 3g internet. Great integration with Google cloud, a lot of custom browsers like Dolphin HD. It’s really easy to root it and reflash it to some custom ROM (operating system). Biggest advantage of Android is that you can use it the same way as you use your computer. You can download and read / edit pretty much any file. Google doesn’t limit you to their application store, so if you want to venture outside of the Google Market and get pretty much any custom made app, unlike on iPhone, where you are pretty much limited on App Store. My personal favorite is Google Vocal recognition in the keyboard itself, which puts this phone on number 1 place for me.

Flaws: There are certan things on Android that require some tuneing in order to work properly. When you have unoptimized OS (operating system), it can lead to occasional battery drains, which can be frustrating. On some devices, you will encounter smoothness problems, but usually on lower end phones. There is an issue of non optimized applications for certain devices. Because Android is such a huge platform, with so many

Recommendation: It’s still young system, so if you choose to go this route, be prepared, that not everything is perfect, but it’s smooth enough to be highly productive gadget. Especially on hardware producers such as HTC and Google branded phones. Samsung falls back a little bit, but they are catching up.  If you love freedom of setting up your environment, the way it suits you best, than this is the phone for you. If you want higher reliability and you are iTuns fan, than you should go iPhone. Those are main differences, so in my opinion, it’s a matter of personal preference.

How I use it: Primary role of my phone is communication, so I am not going to go in details about it, but other things that I cover with it are as go. Top used application on my phone is Google Reader, which I mentioned many times in the past. All of my headlines are delivered on the phone, so from a time to time, as my articles pile up I go through the headlines to skim the articles that I want to read peacefully and quitely on my Instapaper and recently Flipboard (iPad application). Beside that I check email on the go and use it for chatting with some of my closest friends, while using gtalk. Numerous times it helped me out as GPS device and news information when I needed to see some important data. Also it’s my audio device for podcasts that I am listening to while I am commuting. When I am away from the house it’s my access point to my desktop with Team Viewer application.

2. iPad2 WiFi 16 gigs (Price: 500$+)

iPad 2 Pip Boy

Benefits: iPad works flawlessly, sliding your screen and graphics works just the way they should be. iTunes home sharing is a huge plus if you have videos on your computers, that you can watch without eating up space on your small 16 (up to 64) gigs. It’s very very mobile device, that can achieve majority of my computing needs. It has internet access and if I need it badly, I can always tether internet from my phone, as I previously mentioned. It feels as my personal notebook, with all the data that I want to consume, available at my fingertips. It looks nice and feels nice. Intuitive user experience, that even kids can understand. Monstrous battery life, is number one strength of this device. It can survive for 3 days of regular usage before running out of battery. It’s holding way much longer than phone, which makes it highly reliable and mobile.

Flaws: Closed system is a mind killer for someone who loves freedom, such as myself. I miss my Android widgets on this device, badly! But I am getting used to it and threat it accordingly. It’s not perfect with being “in sync” with all my other devices, but it’s keeping up. Main thing that’s holding it back is Safari browser, that doesn’t allow any sort of add-on or plugin, that will enhance your browsing experience. But you can sync your bookmarks from Safari on your computer. This makes it kinda a hassle, because you need to use USB. It lacks WiFi sync support, but it’s on it’s way. iOS can be pain for many people who love openness (including me).

Recommendation: In this case my vote goes to Apple. This device, although closed system, without USB and HDMI (costs additional 40$) is superb device compared to any Android tablet at that price. It’s highly competitive and grants way smoother user experience. I have high hopes in tablet devices and I am expecting that they will make Laptops obsolete. Android is not yet a worthy advisory to this beast of a device. If you don’t need tablet just yet or you can wait, I certainly advise you to wait. Tablets didn’t take up the full swing of their capabilities and can’t substitute laptops. They are limited in terms of increased productivity. If you really need to buy tablet now, than go iPad. By watching various different tests, not a single one matches the price and quality that you get in this case.

How I use it: iPad is my mobile device when I only have light work or lots of reading. It’s primary purpose is exactly reading. It’s environment where I can go through the daily news while having my coffee. Also I localized Skype on it. I don’t like having Skype on my working devices, because it’s too much of a distraction with all the notification popping out. It’s my “play device”. I am not doing any work while I am on it. It’s good for social media and HootSuite looks gorgeous on it, better than it does on your computer. Responding to social media, listening to music while attempting to substitute the laptop. Playing on it made my battery life of phone extended. I mostly carry it with myself during the day if I have some things to respond to and for some light typing. I am contemplating on getting keyboard for it, but would love to hear about it from some of you guys first. You are welcome to share your experience in the comment. Also, it can be helpful when I am doing research for my articles as a device where I am looking for additional information. One of my programmer friends is using it to check out the lines of codes and as a reminder of things that he needs to get done.

3. Mac Book Pro 13 inch, i7 processor on Mac OS Snow Leopard (Price: 1400$)

There is no spoon ;)

Benefits: Battery life of 7 hours on WiFi is reliable enough for days work. And those are real 6-7 hours, depending on what you are doing on your computer, not to mention that PC competition is no where near close, regarding battery life. Mac OS X is also a huge benefit. I used to be a Windows user for past 15 years, and I can’t hide my excitement about new operating system. It’s wicked fast and Spaces and Expose left me speechless. I instantly became a fan and got used to it after right about 30 minutes. For those of you who are concerned about new OS, they really shouldn’t, there is a program Parallels and it boots up Windows and Mac OS simultaneously. If you still prefer Windows, than you can use Boot Camp and choose which one you want, the moment you turn on the computer. Design is also a huge plus, plus you’ve got a brand that’s showing off the status of the person using it.

Flaws: Only one, high price.

Recommendation: If you got the money, get it. Works good, looks good, feels good too.

How I use it: This is my main working platform, when I am on my Mac Book Pro, only thing I do is work. It’s awesome for creating podcasts with Garage band (one is coming up soon!). It’s my main information storage, where I keep all my music and multimedia libary. I use it to sync my iPad with it. I linked my productivity mindset to it, so where it’s down to this book, it’s all about work. It is reliable when you work remotely (and you know how much I love remote work). It’s simple workplace, with four spaces. First one has Chrome, Second Space contains Evernote and iTunes, third one has Mozilla Firefox and fourth one is reserved for team viewer. Main thing with it, is that I don’t keep any of the instant messaging platforms on it. It’s pure focus on getting things done and eventually listening to some stimulating music to help me achieve my writing or editing tasks.

4. Desktop AMD Phenom Quad with Windows 7 (Price: 300$ for equivalent, because those components aren’t on the market anymore)

Two Monitors on Same table

Benefits: Dirt cheap, stable machine, that works long hours. Windows 7 doesn’t crash and it’s one stable system. Awesome for gaming, good enough for work. It’s great media center for your house! There are numerous applications and the fact that 90% of people are running Windows it makes it compatible with nearly all other devices out there. You won’t have to think about compatibility issues.

Flaws: Just one, it can’t run Mac OS.

Recommendation: If you are a gamer, PC is the perfect choice! For the rest of the money (compared to Intel and Apple), you can get great audio and gaming gear. These machines are pulling out insane graphical capacity and are suitable for 3d graphics, image editing and audio.

How I use it: Desktop is my playground and procrastination place. I hold all my instant messaging there and when I am in front of it I watch TV shows, movies, play games and chat with people. When I am away from home it’s my communication center with all instant messaging turned on and within the reach of my team viewer. It’s my comfortable environment that and completely substitutes television. It’s help with productivity comes with localizing the distractions. I know where distractions are and I don’t avoid them. My monitor is set up to turn off automatically after 30 minutes, but computer never goes to sleep. To many appears as if I am connected 24/7, while it’s not far away from the truth, because I am two clicks away from it.

Support gadgets:

5. Logitech dark field mx wireless mouse (Price: 100$) This is big mouse, which is crucial for the people who spend countless hours in front of the computer. Some people aren’t used to the idea of having big mouse, but it does wonders to my hand. It’s ergonomic design puts a lot of ease to it. It’s gaming mouse so it’s perfect for those who are still playing, and has all the crucial additional functions on it. It’s simple, but powerful. It’s totally worth the price! Plus Logitech warranty and assurance of quality rightfully puts it at the top of the peripherals food chain.

6. Dual monitor setup samsung Sync Master 19 inch and Samsung 22 inch led screen hdmi (Price range: 300-500$)

Samsung is the brand that I love when it comes down to big high quality displays! Dual monitor setup is great for fun. When it comes down to productivity, it didn’t make me more productive, but it certainly made my home entertainment center more useful. I can multitask and enjoy my time off more efficiently. I definitively get more fun stuff done, when in front of my desktop. Is it worth it? If you are a big technology hedonist as me, it’s definitively worth it! Is it good for productivity per se? It isn’t because you will have to force yourself to concentrate on single monitor, while you will have second as a distraction.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my working environment and hopefully I gave you some great ideas on how to use your gadgets. If you have tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments. I would love to know more about your work setup.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m a big fan of my MacBook — love it!  The battery life is awesome.  Thanks for sharing the pros/cons on these others.  I’ve been wondering about the different tablets so this is helpful.

  2. Sensiblehuman says

    Good review.   I never use OSX on my mac book pro.   I’ve found no need for it at this point when all of my apps work in Win7, some better than on OSX due to Apple/AMD’s horrible support for OpenGL.   These are 3D and compositing apps.  This keeps all of my workstations running the same OS, with same versions of software.  It’s quite easy to sync at that point.    I’m not concerned about battery life as wherever I end up at, there’s usually a power source.   Regarding the battery on a MBP, I’ve had to replace 2 within 3 years as well as the power adapter.  I know others who have had the same issues with Mac batteries.  I’d rather not have to keep replacing $80 batteries every year thanks to Apple.  My second laptop is an HP.  I couldn’t be happier.   I don’t feel any loyalty to any brand, in fact, I feel some brands make people feel superior, like complete douchebags.  They have an unprofessional attitude.  Something I chose not to deal with.  I’d rather create cool stuff on my laptop instead of constantly looking around to see who is noticing which brand I’m using.  My work is more important than the brand of laptop I’m using to create it.  In the end, when my stuff is on the screen, no one cares what brand I used to create it.  They’re focused on the work too.   This is about productivity and not about a status symbol.  🙂

    I build my own workstations as I’ve been doing this for years.  I know the parts and I put it together myself.  I’m my own system integrator, which doesn’t really take as much time as people think.  Set a system up in an hour from scratch, install the OS/patches and you’re ready to go.   It takes the same amount of time running down to an Apple store and going through the “Geniuses” there.  I’ve saved THOUSANDS of dollars doing this.  Obviously you can’t do that with a laptop.  For media, I use a combination of Winamp on the PC/Droid, Pandora, Dropbox and Amazon Cloud Player.   I can’t stand iTunes. It’s extremely bloated now.   I’m forced to use it with my ipad2 since Apple doesn’t know how to allowing syncing over the air right now.   I’ll be happy when that goes away in iOS5.     I use Dropbox for some videos and books (training and other) so if I’m out somewhere and decide to view one, I can do it on my phone, ipad2, laptop or workstation.Overall my favorite productivity apps are Evernote, Google Docs and Dropbox.  

    • says

      You have to realize that different people have different needs when it’s about their computer needs. Sure, yea, I look good with Apple products, but I also like to use them!

      iTunes for instance, rocks my world! It keeps everything organized, plus it’s going to have iCloud, first legit cloud for safekeeping your videos and music. It’s more intuitive than other products out there. 

      Different people have different needs. And to some people it’s important how you “brand” yourself. Your productivity might be determined by how you sell, and thrust me, Apple products help me sell my services and they paid back every dollar invested.

  3. says

    Wow, great reviews Bojan…  I am so not up on the latest gadgets and I certainly don’t own any.  Yeah I know, that’s just sad.  When I finally do go to a lap top, don’t think I would go with a Mac only because none of my programs would be compatible.  At least they’ve never been in the past.  But what do I know right!

    I think when I do decide to upgrade and finally venture out, I’ll have to come back to you and ask your opinion before I jump in head first.

    Thanks for such detail with describing the pros and cons for each of these.  That’s how you do a review my friend and great job!

    Adrienne