What I Use: January 2018

January 01, 2018

A few years back I started posting a summary of what hardware and other gadgets were being used around the house.  It served two different purposes.  One, people asked all the time about what devices I actually used vs stuff that might have been given to me to test.  Second, it’s fun to see how things have changed along the way.  So lets jump right in!


So this is by far the biggest change of the year for me.  I had been sporting an old Surface Pro 2 and it was getting LONG in the tooth.  So I finally broke down and got a new computer and it is amazing!

The HP Spectre x360 – 13 Inch – 4K is an absolutely gorgeous machine!  Obviously stepping up from a Surface Pro 2 to this is a night-and-day difference in terms of performance but the screen is absolutely a killer.  Having used it now for nearly 5 months the only thing I would ever complain about is the trackpad.  I wish it was bigger and supported more gestures.  But with Windows Hello support, a great camera in the right position and awesome sound it’s a great device with or without a headset.

I have paired my HP with a new Plugable USB-C Docking Station.  The HP Spectre has a Thunderbolt port and with the USB-C Pluggable it’s a single cable to charge and power the new Dual Dell 24 Inch monitors.


So I’m sure I wasn’t the last Windows Mobile hold-out but I have to be close.  So over Thanksgiving I migrated from the Lumia 950 to the Essential PH-1.  For those curious, I use AT&T service and I was able to simply remove the SIM from one device and slide it into the other and everything worked – mobile hotspot, Wifi Calling, etc.  I’ve seen a ton of people who had problems and they all were related to the fact that they went into an AT&T store to set it up.  Since the PH-1 was never tested on the AT&T network and they have no profile for it, you get a pretty terrible service is what I’ve been told, so the key is to avoid them.  Which honestly – is the key always (or any mobile phone company)!

The migration wasn’t painless and I still find myself wanting for Live Tiles.  Thankfully, updates to the Camera have made it a photo shooter on-par with my Lumia 950 which had a great camera.  Using GCam makes it even better.  I’m not going to outshoot the latest Samsung or iPhone but at $449 I shouldn’t be able to.  It’s a great phone with a premium feel for under $1000.  (What world do we live in and I need to actually type that.)

Desk Phone

Honestly, I don’t really use a desk phone.  It’s there in case I leave my laptop somewhere else and need to made a quick phone.  But the phone I have gone to is the AudioCodes 450HD.

What I like about this phone is it simply works!  When using BToE with my previous device I always felt like there was some sort of magical combination that would break it and I couldn’t figure out why exactly.  Support is wonderful and the color screen is big, bright and has just the right amount of information on it.

I actually have turned off Exchange / Outlook reminders on my computer and have the phone set in a place that I can see it as my office Clock and Calendar reminder tool.  Pretty handy actually.


I currently use two different headsets depending on the scenario.  My in-home wireless headset is the Plantations Focus UC.  I’m not a huge walk around the house and often times have the door closed in my office so I don’t need to go miles in distance.  I feel like headset types are nearly as controversial as talking about politics at times.

My on the go headset is still my Evolve 80.  Thankfully I was blessed with a normal size head (some people think it squeezes too much) and I love using it as the full ear keeps out any potential noise.  I use them on the plane all the time with my laptop.  Although, my new phone does not have a 3.5mm port so I may need to rethink my on-the-plane device.

Home Gadgets

I have a few new random home gadgets I’m really liking.  I did pick up a Harman Kardon Invoke during the cyber-Monday deals.  I’ve never really used any of the home speaker systems and primarily it’s used to play music.  I’m sure if I ever used an Echo or Google Home device I would be jealous of all of the random skills they have but most likely wouldn’t use that many after the first week.  So Cortana exists as a way for me to play music on Spotify and set reminders.  Beyond that, she is pretty lonely.

We have also invested and moved to some Nest Thermostats this year.  If you don’t have a Nest or Ecobee you are missing out.  I only opted for the Nest because our existing furnace wiring didn’t have the right power lines so I went with the Nest so I didn’t have to install any extra equipment at the furnace for power.


I think that pretty much covers everything.  If I think of anything else I’ll add it to the post.


Written by Richard Richard is an Office Apps & Services MVP (Teams / Skype) who lives in Minneapolis, MN. Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) and MCSM Instructor - when those were a thing long ago. When not writing code, breaking teams - debate coach and avid golfer.
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