My Hardware

* Updated on 06/26/2016 *

Being a known technology enthusiast, I am often asked for my recommendations on different products and services based on my own experiences. Though I’m always glad to share, I thought it would be helpful to take a page from Paul Thurrot’s book (www.thurrot.com) and create my own set of “What I Use” pages.

The following is a glimpse of my hardware infrastructure that I use on a daily basis.

Computer(s)

MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display

To say that this machine is a beast is probably an understatement.  It has a Quad-Core 2.7 Ghz processor Intel i7, 16gb DDR2 RAM, 512GB Flash Storage, 1GB Nvidia GeForce 650M GT Graphics Card and more than enough additional extras to make any techie salivate. The 15″ Retina Display is clearly the star of the show with a ridiculous 2880 x 1800 widescreen resolution.  It’s currently running OS X El Capitan, but I’ve also been able to create virtual machines running Windows 10, Windows 7 and Linux Fedora, Suse and Ubuntu distributions.  No question about it, this has been my main machine for years and will remain that way until I decide to get another MacBook in the future.

iMac 5K 27 with Retina Display

Purchased as the family computer, I wanted to get something we could all enjoy for years to come.  Running a Quad-Core 3.5 Ghz processor Intel i5, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 1TB Fusion SSD/SATA Storage and a 2GB AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB Graphics Card, this machine has plenty of power and then some.  It’s currently running OS X El Capitan, where that 5K Retina Display really shines.  EVERYTHING looks better on this screen hands down, and we all take full advantage of that whether it is to edit family photos and videos or stream content off the web. The hidden star, however, has to be the 1TB Fusion HDD which actually does make a difference in the core setup of the machine.  More to come on Fusion drives and my detailed thoughts in a future post.

HP MediaSmart EX495 Windows Home Server

Even though I made the decision to migrate to a Mac environment in 2013, I still rely heavily on my MediaSmart to serve as the hub of my infrastructure.  The specs aren’t anything to marvel at, 64-bit Intel Pentium Dual-Core with 2GB RAM, but the real treasure lies behind the storage capacity of this micro-desktop masterpiece.  I recently upgraded to a 10TB setup, network ready partitioned space that serves as my primary backup for music, movies and more.  It’s an integral part of my own internal process and remains connected and active.

Peripherals

HP All-In-One Photosmart 7520 Wireless Printer

The unsung hero of my technical world, my printer is all sorts of cool. It does it all wirelessly, which is a huge benefit when I have a tendency of running multiple machines which might need to print statistics, hardware settings, etc. The printer runs on my wireless network and the integrated scanner/copier can be managed remotely through any of my machines. It has a multitype memory card reader, abilities to print via e-mail, crisp 4.3″ touch screen navigation display and prints an average 34 color pages per minute.  Being PC/Mac agnostic is also a huge reason why it was a no-brainer to upgrade to this printer once our previous HP model died after 8+ years of steady use.

HP LaserJet 1020 (Networked)

Attached to my Windows Home Server, this HP was once the perfect solution for network printing at a moderate 14 pages per minute. However, technology and tie are playing against this HP, so even though it’s still a part of my infrastructure, I have to admit it isn’t used nearly as much as it once was.  I’ve mostly retained it to print from my work laptop, which is also an HP and seems to connect to this printer without any issues.

Portable Devices

Apple iPhone 6

My personal favorite of all my gadgets, my 64GB iPhone is a multifunctional dream. I check my e-mails on multiple platforms (Google, SMTP, etc), surf the interwebs, listen to music, watch videos, browse pictures, play games and make phone calls all from the same device.  Picture and Video quality is superb and there really is an app for most needs. And Retina … oh the Retina! Everything about this device is top-notch and I would highly recommend it again and again.

Apple iPad Air 2

It has a Retina display.  It has 64GB of goodness.  Need I say more?   Well no, but I’m going to anyway because I can’t help but notice the explosion of tablets on the market that really don’t come close to the iPad.  The design is sleek, the internals are solid, the functionality is truly multipurpose and the total package is simply the best.

Video Game Systems

Microsoft Xbox One

Having to manage 500GB of space effectively is something I’ve worked really hard on, so I’ve focused my XB1 games on First Person Shooter, Decision/Choice based games (TellTale) and EA Sports Games.  Hard to imagine that 500GB needs to be managed to an extent, but I’m already 65% allocated at the time of this update. Since the Xbox One is a Microsoft product, I also took advantage of some of the integration options, like streaming videos directly from my MediaSmart Home Server.

Sony Playstation 3

My PS4 is really my baby at this point. It does everything that the Xbox does, but I find that some of the action games tend to look cleaner and more defined on the PS4. I’m starting to stream more video from my Home Server to the PS4 as well, taking advantage of the 1TB HDD that I recently installed myself earlier this year.

Nintendo Wii U

I bought the Wii U for the sole purpose of playing Super Mario Brothers in High-Definition.  Replacing my original Wii, I’m really enjoying this system a lot more than I thought I would.  The Wii U gamepad gives me the flexibility to play on the big screen and easily switch when I’m ready to watch television, but don’t want to interrupt my gameplay.  My library of Nintendo specific games continues to increase, though I’m more focused trying to find games that use the GamePad creatively, and not just as an option to play on a smaller screen.

Sony Playstation Vita

I don’t know why Sony hasn’t invested more time and development on this device, but I can honestly say I’m a proud owner of a Vita.  My game collection consists mostly Lego type games, but the real reason I love this system is the fact that it has a remarkable feature called Remote Play.  What does this mean?  It means I can play PS4 games on the Vita. The screen is crisp enough to translate the games effectively, though I still struggle at times identifying the controls.  My biggest challenge, however, is the fact that the library seems to be dwindling, so unless that changes, this device won’t get much more usage in my home.

New Nintendo 3DS XL

Portable Mario.  What more could you ask for?  I first bought into the original version, but I had to admit my attention was turned away by the literal pain of playing games on a small screen with small controls.  The XL version fixes that and then some. Larger screen, longer battery life … it’s a welcomed change that allows me play Mario everything the way it was meant to be played. With the New 3DS, I can also integrate Amiibos into the mix, which is used more frequently than I’d like to admit.