Creative Tools 2011: Hardware

January 19, 2011

I started this blog three years ago this month, and it’s been an annual tradition to write about my current workflow tools, both hardware and software. It’s been helpful to link to this series as a response to the regular inquiries about what I’m using. I took a shortcut last year, only writing an update to the previous year, but I’m back with a full series this year. We’ll start today with hardware, followed by two or three more posts on software.

11” Macbook Air (Amazon)

I wrote about the Air last month, and I don’t have much to add. But I will reiterate that I still have a serious crush on it. If Apple were to call me in for usability testing and ask me what to change to make it better, I don’t know what answer I could give. I suppose 24 hour battery life would be nice.

21.5” iMac (Amazon)

I haven’t talked as much about the iMac, which is the first desktop I’ve had in about five years. The 27” iMac would have been nice, but it wasn’t in the budget. Previously, I was connecting my 13” MacBook Pro to a 23” monitor running the same resolution as the iMac, so the difference is negligible. It is nice to sit down at my desk and get right to work without hassling with plugging in several cables strewn across my desk. The iMac also serves as a butler when I’m away from home, with mail rules and Hazel rules running on my inbox and Dropbox throughout the day.

32gb wifi iPad (Amazon)

My iPad use has shifted in the last month since I got an Air. I was using the iPad as a distraction free device for capturing ideas and words. I’ve kept the Air stripped down enough that it is my primary machine for capturing words or obliterating my inbox. I still carry the iPad alonsgside the Air most days. It is unobtrusive in meetings, makes a great second display with DisplayPad, and it’s my primary ebook reader. It’s also great for entertaining the kids with a movie on long car rides or games on the weekends.

16gb iPhone 4

When it comes to a smartphone, I don’t want to spend much time tweaking or tuning. I want it to be responsive to what I need with minimal fuss. That’s what the iPhone does. I’ve spent a few minutes with my friends’ Android phones, and they hold no appeal for me. Looks good on you though.

Case Logic XNTM-4 Messenger eSling (Amazon)

I like bags, but I don’t like to spend money on bags. That made this Case Logic bag a good match for me. I got it as a Christmas present from my wife after a subtle email with a direct link and “Really Want This” in the title. She knows me well. It has plenty of room for the Air and the iPad in the padded area, with a larger pocket for a moleskine, power adapter, and an analog book or two. My only grip is that it doesn’t have a handle.

Momma’s Own Felt Sleeve

air_sleeve.jpgSometimes, I only want to carry the Air and not the whole bag. There are lots of great sleeves on Etsy. I thought this one was was nifty, but $50 wasn’t in my budget for a sometimes sleeve. I sent the link to my crafty mom, and a week later I had a $5 felt sleeve and a smile on my face.

Moleskine Plain Notebook

I think people who fill the pages of sexy moleskine notebooks are cool. I amo not so cool. I capture almost everything digitally. But I carry this blank moleskine in my bag and use it for one thing. If a concept is taking shape for a site design, I will sketch out an extremely rudimentary wireframe to capture the idea and get a feel for how it will work. That makes me a tiny bit cool, right?

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