What's in My Bag? (2019 Edition)

2019-01-30

1. Kobo Mini e-Reader

This absolutely brilliant little device is probably the best $50 I’ve ever spent. A 5-inch square of e-ink, it has a form factor that’s perfect for fitting in your back pocket. Living in Toronto, I use public transport 99% of the time, so the ability able to fit this in a pocket while trying to grab a support rail on a winding streetcar route is invaluable.

I love how indestructible it feels. It’s the Prism DuroSport of E-readers. It hasn’t exactly been treated well since I got it in 2013, and yet it putters on without any complaints.

kobo Mini image showing body of Pocket article
Kobo mini showing thumbnails of Pocket articles

Best of all, a 2016 firmware update gave it the ability to download articles synced to my Pocket account. This has extended its shelf life much longer than I would have thought, given that when I first purchased it, I had already begun buying physical books in an attempt to dress up my embarrassingly bare shelves at home. But a lot of my reading still happens through long-form online analyses and thought pieces. I can’t imagine a better use case for the e-reader than that. I can sit back with the e-reader and read for hours without worrying about incoming notifications and draining the battery life of my phone.

The page lag is abysmally slow unfortunately. but since my mobile and ebook reading habits are different, I’m less likely to want torapidly scan through scanning paragraphs, as I’m not trying to figure out if this browser tab is worthy my time.

2. MacBook Pro 13-inch, mid-2014

My daily driver ever since I purchased a refurbished version in 2015. Not having much money at the time, I sprung for the base model with 128GB storage and 8GB RAM. I've managed to scrape by with those specs for years until I tried my hand at video editing on Davinci Resolve and realized what a difference 16GB RAM would have made. I'm still running on the original battery, so hopefully this machine will have some years left in it.

Macbook Pro next to Huawei phone

3. Huawei Mediapad 8.4 tablet

Having used everything from a 7-inch POS from Acer, an 8.9-incher from Google and a 12-inch behemoth Surface Pro 3, I've come to realize that there will never be a perfectly sized tablet. What works great when reading magazine-size PDFs, is too large and unwieldy on a train. Correspondingly, what works great for couch surfing and ebooks shows its limitations when you try to use it for 'real work'.

Seeing as how web developers have pretty much given up on building tablet-optimized layouts, the Huawei M3 is the best compromise. It's got a hi-res screen. While it doesn't have my favoured 4:3 aspect ratio, but in the same token, it's also not hideous for the price (like Samsung's Tab S2 8.0) or plagued with an ancient version of Android (Asus ZenPad S).

Huawei MediaPad M3 8.4

4. Portable Power Bank, 20,000mAH

Don't let the small-ish size fool you, this thing is heavy. If you're close to 0%, it's not going to charge particularly quickly either. But otherwise it's been pretty reliable, and is a huge step up from the cheap 2,000mAH (that's one less zero) Anker version I initially picked up, before realizing how meager that capacity really is.

Huawei MediaPad M3 8.4

Hand Sanitizer and Portable disinfectant wipes

Good for traveling on buses and sitting down at coffee shops for writing sessions

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