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The Hardware I Use (Rod Trent): January 18, 2015

The Hardware I Use (Rod Trent): January 18, 2015

During his long tenure here on SuperSite, Paul set a popular precedent by building a tradition of periodically sharing the computers, devices, and services he used. And honestly, what a person uses tells you a lot about them – at least I like to think so. It might not be socially apropos, but when I'm in a public situation I'll scan the crowd to make a mental list of devices in use and then assign a particular personality profile. In most cases, I can accurately profile a person by the smartphone or tablet they use and how they use it.

I attended an out-of-town wedding this weekend and had a field day doing this at the wedding reception. I'm not an overly social person by nature, so I use games like this to keep myself entertained while my wife (the family socialite) provides the discussions. I'm truly blessed to have married a woman with such a gift for gab.

With so many new voices coming on board here at SuperSite, I think it would be great to hear from each of them on the computers, devices, and services they use. It will help us all get to know them a little better and also help to continue Paul's tradition.

I've elected myself to take the first stab at it. Lead by example, I guess. In this first check-in, I'll cover the computing hardware I currently rely on daily. In another post coming up, I'll detail the software I use and the smartphone I carry. Over time, I think you'll find that Paul and I share a lot of similarities in the platforms we use and the reasons we use them. And, what better way to start than to let you all take a stab a profiling me based on my current computing environment. Be gentle.


In September of last year I began a quest to replace my normal daily setup with a Surface Pro 3. I covered each step in the process in my Surface Pro 3 Diary series, giving honest opinion of what I uncovered (good and bad) during my trek. Today, through my trials and triumphs, my computing environment consists solely of the Surface Pro 3, the Surface Pro 3 docking station, and a multitude of USB-powered add-ons. Here's my current list:

  1. Surface Pro 3 i7 256GB (driving everything)
  2. Surface Pro 3 docking station
  3. Stereo audio system (full surround sound)
  4. 1 HP monitor, 1 Dell monitor, and 1 Samsung monitor connected using three Plugable USB 3.0 multi-display adapters
  5. Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 (keyboard and mouse running over 2.4 Ghz wireless -USB)
  6. Wired network (cable plugged directly into the docking station)
  7. Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 (USB)
  8. Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone with the Dragonpad Studio Microphone Mic Wind Screen Pop Filter – for podcasting and video production
  9. Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 Headset (USB), primarily for Skype/Lync

One of the first things you might notice from my list is that I'm using USB to drive my monitor setup. With a mini Display port (miniDP) available, most think I should opt for that method to drive my video. I started out that way, but, through my experiences I've found that driving all of the graphics using the exact same driver makes a huge performance difference. When I had the video split between USB and miniDP, screen refreshes were slow and inconsistent. That latest round of fixes in Microsoft's recent firmware release is supposed to address that, but I've yet to test it. I will soon, though, so in my next check-in, my video configuration may be different.

You also might have noted my choice in webcam and microphone. I do a lot of video production and editing. When I started my journey to replace everything with the Surface Pro 3, this area was the one that most concerned me. But, I was pleasantly surprised just how well the Surface Pro 3 kept up with my video production needs. Of course, I went in with very nominal expectations, but the Surface Pro 3 blew those away. Microsoft's tablet is an amazing device. The company's marketing teams sort of missed the mark on it's "the tablet that can replace your laptop" promotion. The Surface Pro 3 replaces everything. It was a sad day when I dismantled my beefy desktop computer, but I've experienced no remorse.

If you do a lot of video production and editing, or might be interested in getting started, I've detailed my entire setup here: Surface Pro 3 Diary Entry 7: Video/Audio Recording and Editing.

I should note that I have a lot of experience with other platforms, too. Android phones and tablets (was an avid Android user for years and I'll explain the reasons for that switch in an upcoming post), iPhones and iPads, Chromebooks, and others. I've actually used each extensively, but what I use today is what I've decided is the best fit for me. And, really it boils down to my specific, personal needs. In part, it's about mobility, but also combining the best hardware with the best software and services. The Microsoft ecosystem is rich enough to supply everything I need in a way that is valuable and complete. To get a better understanding of where I'm coming from, check out Surface Pro 3 Diary Entry 5: Its Mobility, Stupid.

P.S. Feel free to share what you use right now in the comments and include "why" if you can. I'm always interested to hear what others find as a good fit for their needs. Who knows? You might tempt me to try out one of your favorites.


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