What you carry around in your bag says a lot about you as an IT Guy.. That fine balance between enough and not too much is a hard one to make.
What do I currently carry in my Laptop bag?
The tomtoc 16-inch Laptop Sleeve, Hardshell Shoulder Case on Amazon
This is a really nice over-the-shoulder Hard Shell case. I bought the 16″ version mainly to give a little extra space for a power pack and other odds and sods.
As you’ll see by some of the things I carry around in this bag it’s more than capable yet small enough to restrict me from what I might carry around in a Backpack.
It’s been through a few rainstorms and survived, it’s water-resistant (splash-proof) more than anything else. It seems pretty durable and opens up 90 degrees initially which stops things from falling out when on the train.
The strap is also pretty hardy and more than able to hold the weight of the items in the bag and it’s also something you can change out as well which I eventually did for something just a little more comfortable on my shoulder.
The last observation is that the zip if a good solid zip on the bag, none of this dodgy splits at a butterfly moving stuff..
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 in its i7 beast is just what I was looking for in a daily driver device having used several Chromebooks previously.
Having decided to go full Chromebook a few years back, I’ve never looked back. Some will tell you the Chromebook is purely a consumption device, its “not ready” for the big leagues yet or “you can’t do anything on a Chromebook”
As someone who has been using only ChromeOS as a daily driver Laptop for nearly 2 years I can state from experience this is not the case for 90% of users. Sure there will always be those who need a meaty Adobe package or some bit of software that isn’t supported. Experience tells me that’s the same on any platform including moving between versions of Windows.
You will possibly need to change your workflow if you are coming from another OS, the reality is however if you’re an Android, Web Browser or Linux CLI user this device will be running for you in minutes.
Still a couple of years after purchase the 713 takes everything I throw at it, multiple screens? I have 3 Display port screens hanging off it and it does that out of the box, no software is needed. Email, chat apps, VSCode, and Terminus it’s all there. VPN’s to home or third parties and as with Apple each 4-week cycle little changes are made which only improve the experience overall.
I’ve owned and sold a MacBook Pro M1 since having this laptop.. ChromeOS works, OSX doesn’t for me.
The 2nd Screen
An absolute folly of First world geekiness, the cdisplay 15.6 Inch External Monitor, 1080 Full HD IPS Screen sits nicely in the laptop bag above and provides me a true, clear 2nd screen when out and about.
I wasn’t sure how often I’d use this, turns out often is the answer.
I didn’t go for a touchscreen monitor specifically because of fingerprints and it didn’t seem necessary as the Chromebook is a laptop (albeit with a touchscreen) I tend to use it as such rather than a tablet.
Specs wise t he cdisplay 15.6inch portable display is equipped with a Mini-HDMI interface and USB-C Full Function interface, which can support all mainstream devices on the market.
Type-C only needs one cable to transmit video signals and power at the same time, or you can use The mainstream HDMI interface to connect your device.
The Wifi Setup
I wrote about this little beast the GL-AR750S a few months back following a week away in the Lake District. It’s a great bit of kit if you don’t trust the security of anyone’s Wifi other than your own.
Acting like a man in the middle between the external wifi and your own, and connecting back to base using a Wireguard (or OpenVPN) connection this box provides a level of security now needed while travelling. As a side effect, it also provides you with access over that VPN to your home network should it be set up that way.
Usually, I’d tether this device to a hotel or Airbnb wifi. Sometimes however I tether it off my Mobilephone as a hotspot especially if I’m out with multiple devices as they are all then provided with a level of security and as my provider only allows 2 devices to be tethered. This box acts as a single device on the mobile hotspot.
The 4G Router
OK, so I don’t carry this in my bag all the time, I do however carry it when i’m travelling. It’s a 4G router, unlocked.
The TP-Link Archer MR200 AC750 733Mbps Dual Band 4G LTE Mobile Wi-Fi Router has a sim slot for a $G Sim card and when activated will route traffic out from wifi over the 4G.
It’s a useful device again like the slate above there are situations when WiFi isn’t available or just plain terrible in a location and I have a selection of PayG Sim cards which I can insert and depend on the location usually one of them gives reasonable speed.
I’ve also used this device in the past as the failover for my home LAN if the fibre went out I could always use this pretty long term as the UK has some reasonable e all you can eat PAYG data Sim deals.
The USB Hub
This isn’t something I usually have much use for, however its one of those things that I know if I don’t have in my bag I’ll need it for something.
The simple named HUB-M20 11 In 1 USB Type C Hub Adapter Macbook Pro USB-C Docking Station from Choetech has all the ports you need. Ever turned up on a site to find the projector has VGA connector? Covered, USB c- USB-3, 100W PD Ports, HDMI, Ethernet (if there is an ethernet adaptor in a hotel the speed will usually be quicker than the Wifi) its all there and I’ve had this fully loaded with disks, projectors and displays and ok it gets a bit hot, the speed stayed good through that whole experience.
It’s also pretty slimline so I have velcro on the bottom of the laptop and this USB Hub and it doubles up as a low stand as well.
The Power Adaptor
As well as removing the need for multiple dongles by having a USB Hub that supports everything. I’ve also started using a single power brick which can power and charge multiple devices.
This Ugreen USBC power adaptor will happily provide power for the Chromebook and the Display and/or charge phones, batteries etc.
It’s based on a 65W GaN Tech USB Type C PD QC 3.0 Charger and will happily change the Chromebook in around an hour. It comes with 3 USB C ports and a standard USB-A port
These power Adaptors are really handy and I’ve got a few of them about for changing watches phones and the like.
The Laptop Stand
This is a no named Chinese portable laptop stand which I’ll use daily. No need to find a couple of books to raise the laptop up and having something which tilts the keyboard helps with the RSI which comes with 35 years of typing.
It doesn’t weigh much, it makes using the laptop comfortable and even has people start conversations in coffee shops because they have not seen one before.
I also made use of it one pre-Covid Times on a plane as the economy class tray wasn’t big enough for the laptop however putting it on this worked really well.
There’s not much new here, I carry at least two powerbanks in the bag, i tend to favour Anker and will have one smaller, and one larger.
These things are a godsend, batteries die. Always get a PD charging device with as many PD ports as you can as these will get you to juice quickly. Sure they are a little “heavy” however the fact you might lose all power without one especially when travelling is well worth it.
Is there a lot here? Sure, do I need it all? Probably not… Do I use it, hell yes…
When you’ve been going about places, and visiting family you start to learn quickly what comforts you need and what tools are important. It used to be adaptors and cables now it’s power and security for me.