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Show and Tell, or: I have way too many computers

Sean Ellis, @neko_2k
06.23.15
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...and that's only a fraction of my portable computers!

While at last count I have 16 portable computers and game consoles, most of those are just for show and don't really do anything useful, unless I need my fix of some classic games or need to play the original Quake over the Internet. That's not to say that all of my portable things are useless, as there are four I use quite regularly when on the go. They are: a Surface Pro 2, HP Stream 11, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and a Nintendo 3DS.

As much as I would have liked to have bought a Surface Pro 3, I couldn't afford the $1,000 price tag. Through the magic of Swappa, I instead bought a Surface Pro 2 with the Type Cover. Yes, it's used and yes, there are scratches that prove it's used but it doesn't matter to me. It's an excellent device, even if the kickstand is a bit annoying at times.

Why I Bought It
To make a long story short, my previous laptop fell off my desk and landed directly onto the power plug which crushed the power jack. Using this as my excuse, I bought a replacement power board to repair it but also went and bought the Surface since I had wanted one since they first came out. I got a nice bonus when not only did I get the original box for the Surface and the keyboard, but also all of the original protective materials and even a handwritten note from the seller. It's these little things that make it all worth it.

What I Use it For
The big draw for me is the pen. I do a lot of graphics work and having a pen makes the job so much nicer. It's no replacement for a standard mouse or a trackball but it does the job well enough. In addition, the pen makes a great precision pointer for when you need to tap small objects at a fast rate which I also do a lot when I'm presenting game shows at the local library. But as much as Microsoft would have us believe, the Surface is not the tablet that can replace your laptop. It can do a lot of things, but the Type Cover is an expensive accessory that for long typing, isn't that great. That leads us into portable #2:

The HP Stream 11 (or as I like to call it, the Barney Laptop) is a nice, low-budget Windows laptop. For being as inexpensive as it is, it's a very nice laptop. Sure, you can't run Photoshop or Sony Vegas but you can do a lot of typing on the very nice keyboard. As an added bonus, it's sturdy enough it probably won't shatter the first time you drop it on the ground.

Why I Bought It
Me and a friend were working on a Linux project that would require a modern Windows-based laptop with the Secure Boot feature. I still can't give you many details but let's just say it works just fine for the project we were working on. I also got it simply because I wanted a fairly recent computer that I could take with me and do light tasks on and also not feel bad about if something were to break it.

What I Use it For
Word processing and web browsing. Simple as that. It does get booted into Linux on occasion so we can test a few things but it mostly just stays in Windows and runs WordPad. The two-day battery life is a nice plus too.

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is my current phone. It's a nice, reasonably-sized flagship phone from Sony that's full of pretty glass and waterproofing awesomeness. Currently running Android 5.0, it has more than enough power to keep up with how little I use the "smart" features of my phone.

Why I Bought It
My last phone was a Nokia Lumia 521 and it was starting to show its age. After a few updates, it got to a point where I would have to wait for the lock screen to load before I could unlock it, then wait some more before the Start Screen would show up. I got tired of this, so I decided to get a new phone. I'd seen articles about the Xperia Z3 and decided I would like to give it a try, but all that I had heard up to that point was for the 5" model, not the Compact. But then it was pointed out to me that there was a compact variant of the Z3 and it was factory unlocked! I bought one from Swappa and have been rocking it ever since.

What I Use it For
Honestly? The same tasks I used my Lumia 521 for. A little bit of web browsing, email checking, texting and the occasional jaunt into SSH territory to do some IRC. This phone is more than capable of handling all of that and plenty more. The 20-megapixel camera is a nice thing to have, as well as integrated SteadyShot and 4k video capture. It's no professional video camera but it suits my needs well enough.

The majority of my gaming is done on my PC, but sometimes I just want to do something other than taking down Combine soldiers or abusing mods in Skyrim. That's where the 3DS comes in. Pokemon and Smash Bros are what I play most often and I have Fire Emblem: Awakening if I'm feeling like doing level grinding.

Why I Bought It
I'd been pressured into buying one, actually. A friend had been pushing me towards getting one for Pokemon, so I bought one. Then Smash Bros. for 3DS came out and we both started playing that. I don't really use my 3DS that often to be honest, but it's there when I need to play something different that doesn't take place in a first-person environment.

What I Use it For
Playing Pokemon? This one is fairly straightforward, as are you really going to use a 3DS to play your MP3 collection or to take pictures on the go? I know I don't; that's what my phone is for. And no, I'm not upgrading to a New 3DS until the regular-sized New 3DS comes over here.

There you have it. My four most-used portable gadgets.

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