Welcome to the “What’s In My Backpack” page, a section of the website that I will update constantly with a list of the gear that I carry around in my backpack on a daily basis. It goes without saying, I am a huge fan of oversized backpacks. Surprisingly, I do not suffer from any back pain.
Before I begin to list the items that I carry in my backpack, I figure it would be best to start with the backpack itself. In my case, I use a backpack from a company called Everki. As I carry A LOT of items in my backpack, including an oversized primary laptop, I had to shop around and buy several backpacks before I was satisfied. The Everki Titan seems to handle almost anything I can throw into it and has a large number of zippered and padded pockets. It even seems to have a pocket that perfectly fits the Google Glass hard case. It was a bit pricy at $199.99 but when you factor in the stellar build quality and the lifetime warranty, it easily justifies the cost.
I spend a great part of my day bouncing between my desk and various meetings with no time to charge up my laptop. Tablets have quickly become one of my go-to devices for general computing. I do most of my email, reading and web browsing on tablets. Here is a list of the current assortment of Tablets that are found in my backpack.
Google Pixel C (64 GB) + Keyboard Cover
I often refer to myself as a bit of a road warrior who always a wide selection powerful technology on my person at all times so I could not resist the urge to add the first Google manufactured tablet to my collection. The Pixel C seems to be the ideal size to accomplish most tasks that are impracticable to boot up a traditional computer/laptop to accomplish. The unit is powered by Nvidia’s latest X1 SoC with a whopping 3 GB of RAM. The 10.2 inch screen is perfect for consuming and producing a lot of content.
As I plan to use this machine for both work and play, I decided to upgrade to the 64GB version of the tablet and throw in the official keyboard accessory. The keyboard case is by far one of the best tablet keyboards I have ever used and I do not mind using it to type up long emails and documents. As this tablet uses the new USB Type-C standard, I purchased a USB Type-C OTG cable and a few USB Type-C to Type A cables to I can use my existing accessories with this tablet until I get a chance to upgrade the accessories.
NVIDIA Shield LTE (32 GB) + Smart Cover
The Google Nexus 7 LTE was a great tablet however due to infrequent updates from Google, I have decided to replace it with the Nvidia Shield LTE. Although the Nvidia Shield was designed for Gamers, it is a very solid general purpose tablet and is an amazing Media Consumption device thanks to the 128 GB MicroSD Card that I popped in it. The front facing speakers make this tablet one of the best sounding devices I have ever used. The Tegra K9 that powers this unit is a beast and it easily handles everything I throw at it would any lag or stuttering. I do wish that the battery was a bit better and the tablet seems to be missing NFC support but aside from that, I have no regrets on the purchase.
You can purchase this tablet for $399 on Amazon, this tablet is sold “Unlocked” so you can remove the pre-installed AT&T SIM card and pop in your own. I did also buy the Smart Cover which you can buy for $39.99 on Amazon. Although I am not a gamer, I did purchase the game pad for some casual gameplay, the Game Pad runs $59.99 on Amazon.
Dell Venue 8 Pro (64 GB) + Active Stylus
In order to run a few Windows Specific applications for work, I purchased the inexpensive and lightweight Dell Venue 8 Pro with 64GB of Built In Storage. This 8 inch Atom Powered tablet with 2 GB of RAM is great for some lightweight Windows Specific Applications. You can pick these up at Amazon for around $300.00, the price will vary based on capacity which ranges from 16 – 64 GB. Many versions will also allow the use of a 128 GB MicroSD card. I have added the optional Folio Cover and Active Stylus to mine as well to offer better protection and to take advantage of some features that are hard for my chubby fingers to hit on the smaller screen.
I love to read in my spare time but I don’t want to throw out my back and fill up my backpack with a large collection of paperback books. I tend to use e-books. I am also a Amazon Prime Kindle Unlimited which allows me to access a vast collection of books at a flat monthly price.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (32 GB)
The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX is a tablet that I primarily use for media consumption. As an Amazon Prime Member, I get access to an impressive amount of videos for free with their Video On Demand service as well as the ability to download them for offline viewing. This tablet is perfect for long plane rides and makes a great gift for the tech enthusiast in your life… thats how I got this one. The screen in this tablet is one of the best I have ever seen on a 7 inch tablet with a full 1920×1200 display. You can pick one of these up at Amazon for around $200.00.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (3G)
I don’t often have a lot of spare time with my busy schedule but when I do, I love to read. The Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 9 I wrote about above are simply too bright to read without a bit of eye strain and the battery life of those devices can be an issue. I invested in a Kindle Paperwhite as the E-Paper display is easy to read and the backlight makes the text readable in almost any situation, including direct sunlight. I opted for the 3G version of this reader as it allows me to download books when I am not in the range of a WiFi connection, there are no monthly fees for the 3G connection as Amazon subsidizes this. The best part about this device is that the battery lasts around 2 MONTHS between charges. You can pick this up at Amazon for around $200.00 and makes a great addition to any readers collection.
Although in most cases, I can do a lot of work on a tablet, there are tasks that must be done by some powerhouse machines. I normally carry at least two laptops with me at any given time.
System 76 Kudu Professional
As a Software Engineer, I have some pretty demanding computer needs from any device worthy of being called my primary laptop. After years of bouncing between HP, Dell, Toshiba, ACER and others, I have finally found the best laptop for a power user, the Kudu Professional from System76.com. This powerhouse comes pre-installed with Ubuntu however I quickly removed this and replaced it with Ubuntu GNOME. You will not find laptops that ship with Windows at System76 however you are free to remove Ubuntu and install any operating system you choose. The behemoth of a laptop was custom built to my specifications which include;
- a Quad Core Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU at 2.4 GHz (with Hyperthreading)
- Intel Haswell Mobile GPU
- 16 GB RAM
- Crucial 480 GB mSATA SSD
- 1 TB 7200 RPM Backup Disk
- CD/DVD-RW Optical Drive
- Full Sized Backlit Keyboard
- 1080p Display
You can order these directly from System76.com and the price starts at $850.00 and quickly climbs based on your additions. As I view this laptop more as a desktop replacement, I did not mind spending the extra money.
Dell XPS 13 2014
I am normally one that prefers to use Ubuntu GNOME on my devices, I do have to carry a few Windows devices due to the work I do. This Dell XPS is running Windows 8.1 and was upgraded to have 8 GB of RAM, an i7 processor and a 250 GB SSD to round it out. The battery life on this is amazing and the 1080p touchscreen is a pleasure to look at. The backlit keyboard is well designed with better then expected key travel.
This unit can be purchased on Amazon for around $1,200.
HP Chromebook 11
The HP Chromebook 11 was not the fastest Chromebook on the market, its small footprint, great battery life and the fact that it uses a standard MicroUSB charger makes it a great addition to my backpack. I use the HP Chromebook 11 for lightweight tasks on the go. I use the HP Chromebook for writing content on the go using Google Docs. You can purchase a HP Chromebook 11 for around $250 on Amazon . I do have to say that even though the unit does suffer from several performance issues, it has one of the best keyboards I have ever used on a mobile device.
Portable Storage Devices
Although I am an avid user of Cloud Storage, I also keep plenty of portable storage devices in my backpack for transferring large files between devices and to keep some backups.
Western Digital MyPassport Wireless (2TB USB 3.0)
Sometimes I have to store some massive ISO images full of various Linux Distributions. I keep this Western Digital MyPassport Wireless Drive in my backpack at all times. The Self Powered USB 3.0 drive works well for storing large files in its 2TB 2.5 inch disk. It is a bit bulky however this is due to the fact that with a press of a button, it activates a WiFi hotspot to allow up to 8 users to access the contents of the hard disk as well as acting as a WiFi Bridge. You can often pick these up on Amazon for around $200 and like several of the products above, it does tend to go on sale on occasion.
Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile Wireless SSD
Aside from loving portable storage, I also love items that serve multiple services. The Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile Wireless SSD is not only an USB 3.0 Ultra Fast SSD but is also a small Full Sized SD Card Reader AND Wireless Access Point Bridge. This device is amazing when traveling as you can access all content Wirelessly via its Web Interface and even use it as a bridge to connect to another Wireless Access Point. The battery lasts around 5 hours and is charged via the same USB 3.0 cable used to exchange data. You can pick this up from Amazon for around $200.00.
Various USB Flash Drives
I normally carry a small assortment of USB flash drives in my backpack for transferring files, creating recovery disks and creating bootable USB drives with various linux distributions for testing. The drives range between 2 GB and 32 GB.
Portable Battery Packs
It is safe to say that I have an obsession with USB Battery Packs and other forms of Portable Energy. I carry multiple battery packs in my backpack and this allows me to power several of my devices for almost a whole week without visiting a power source. I also reside in South Florida where power outages due to hurricanes are not uncommon, these often last several days and having an ample supply of power banked up allows me to keep my phone and other critical devices online.
ChargeAll 18,000 mAh Battery Pack with A/C
I am convinced that this is the mother of all portable battery packs as it is one of the only ones that have a full 110v A/C Power Plug on it allowing you to plug in almost anything including a laptop for some emergency power. This device is powerful enough to charge my ASUS T300LA from a dead battery to 80% in about 90 minutes before it needs a re-charge. This battery also has two 2.2 amp USB ports for charging tablets and smartphones. This hefty unit does however come with a hefty pricetag of $229.99 on Amazon or the ChargeAll Website. Unlike the ChargeAll Website, Amazon does throw in free 2 day shipping for Amazon Prime Members.
LimeFuel 18,000 mAh JuicePack
This is the Portable Battery Pack that started it all as it was my first high capacity USB Battery Pack. The LimeFuel 18,000 battery pack contained at least two times the power of any other product of the time and the construction quality was top notch. This battery pack can charge my mobile phone at least 8 times before it needs a charge however this does come at a cost as this battery needs to be plugged in for nearly 12 hours to top it up from a nearly dead battery. The battery pack also includes a super bright LED lightbulb which lets it double as a long lasting flashlight for emergencies. You can pick one of these up from Amazon for around $150 however this product does go on sale quite a bit. The latest hardware revision now includes four USB ports while my version only has two. Fun Fact : When I go to Disney or other Theme Parks – This battery pack can always be found in my pocket.
EC Tech 22,400 mAh Battery Pack
This battery pack has the highest capacity out of any of the ones I own at a whopping 22,400 mAh. This inexpensive battery back retails for around $80.00 on Amazon but often goes on sale for as low as $40.00 depending on the time of the year. The build quality is not up to the same level as the LimeFuel but I do not find this off putting as it seems sturdy. Like the LimeFuel above, it has a super bright LED flashlight and takes A LONG time to charge.
Anker LipStick 3,200 mAh Battery
Although I can’t say that I use this battery pack as a daily driver, I do keep it in my backpack as it is one of the few that will charge my bluetooth headset which has such little power draw that it fails to activate any of the larger battery packs. This 3,200 mAh battery is easy to stash in a pocket for times that I need to pack light. You can pick these up for less than $20.00 on Amazon and most retail outlets. This battery pack also comes in several colors to suit your personal tastes.
I carry a small selection of tools in my backpack to allow me to do some lightweight electronic repairs. I normally do not carry around any dedicated flashlights as several of the USB Battery Packs from the previous section double up as a powerful light source when needed.
iFixit Pro Mobile Phone Repair Kit
Although the iFixit Pro Mobile Phone Repair Kit was designed to repair mobile phones, I have personally found it to be one of the best toolkits anyone who works with electronics can purchase. This kit includes a variety of precision screwdriver tips, spatchulas, spudgers, case opener tools and some of the best fine tipped tweezers I have ever used. The Kit also includes a metal slide ruler, anti-static strap, suction cup screen remover and one of the best box knives that I have seen in a while. This kit can be purchased from Amazon and the price varies between $79.99 and $99.99 depending when purchased.
This final section will list all items that I carry in my backpack that don’t fit into any of the categories above. This does not mean that any of the devices below are any less important.
Adonit Jot Stylus
I have tried a massive amount of Capacitive Stylus and hated just about every single one. The Adonit Jot was an impulse purchase I made almost 4 years ago and it continues to remain in my backpack. This is not something I use daily as it serves a few specific needs on my tables. You can purchase one of these at Amazon for around $30.00. The Stylus is quite heavy and the construction makes it feel like it would survive being driven over with a car. The plastic tips can be replaced if yours ever gets damaged.
Anker 40W 5 Port High Speed USB Charger
I hate nothing more than walking into a hotel room only to find that there are not enough plugs near the bed to charge my mobile phone, tablet and a few USB battery packs. This solves my problems by allowing me to charge up to 5 USB devices on a single outlet. This charger is not a trickle charger, rater a high speed charger that can charge my Nexus 9 equally as fast as if I was using the wall-wart plug that shipped with it. Although the list price is $49.99 on Amazon, it goes on sale A LOT. I ended up paying $29.99 for mine and ordered two (one for my nightstand at home and another for my backpack).
I hate using touch pads and touch screens are far from ideal for use on a laptop, especially for productivity tasks. I carry at lease one Bluetooth Mouse in my backpack at all times and often carry two. There are nothing special about these and I have picked them up from a local retailer for around $30.00 per mouse.
I often carry a Bluetooth Keyboard around with me for the Dell Venue 8 Pro as Windows 8’s selection of on screen keyboards tends to be lacking and often painful to use. Again, nothing special about this keyboard, I purchased it from a local retailer for around $30.00.
Bag of Cables
I would not be able to call myself a computer geek without carrying enough cables with me to circumnavigate the planet at least 8 times. I carry various HDMI, DVI, USB, MicroUSB, Power Cables, Chargers and a small USB Hub in the accessory bag that comes with the Everki Titan Backpack. There are too many cables to list.