One of the major advantages of having almost no possessions is that I can spend time to make sure that each thing I own really is the best possible product. I spend hours researching alternatives for just about everything major that I own, hoping to find something good enough to warrant the hassle and expense of replacing an existing piece of gear.
I got pretty lucky this time-- I have three new pieces of gear; two replaced more than one item, and all three cost less than I sold the old ones for.
I've written about my Epson R-D1s rangefinder a few times, and it's responsible for all of the pictures on my Flickr. I thought that I'd never give it up, but there's finally a new camera that is tempting enough to wrestle it out of my hands.
The Panasonic GF1 is a tiny camera with a decent sensor and some great lenses. It's 60% of the size of my already small camera and half the weight. That alone isn't enough for me to give up my beloved rangefinder.
What pushes me over the edge is the video capability. The GF1 shoots 720p video, which also lets me get rid of my Sanyo VPC-WH1. I had high hopes for that camcorder, but the quality was pretty laughable. I loved that it was waterproof, but the video came out poorly.
Shooting video through a big lens makes a huge difference, too. I estimate that my photo quality will be about 80% what it used to be, but my video quality will be 500% better. Plus I'll be able to get rid of an extra camera, charger, and memory card. Perfect!
I love my 64gb SLC SSD (for non nerds, it's a very fast and quiet hard drive), but that's just not enough space for general use, let alone storing video. After a week of slowly deleting Mozart MP3s to make room to install programs I finally caved and bought a new drive.
What's so great about this one? The whole disk uses government strength encryption with only a very minor performance hit. Having my laptop stolen is always a concern, because even if I have a bootup password/fingerprint, the thief could always put my hard drive into another computer and read the data on it. I don't have anything super secretive, but I don't necessarily want someone to root through my e-mail or somehow steal my passwords.
This drive makes that a non-issue. Without my password or fingerprint none of the data on the drive is readable.
It's also surprisingly quiet, and I'm happy to have so much capacity for video editing, photo storage, and maybe even an MP3 collection. I currently have no MP3s except for Jay-Z's new album and a couple Mozart CDs.
My perfect phone finally exists! I like Sprint, and don't want to leave them because I have a VERY cheap plan. For a phone with virtually unlimited everything AND a data card with unlimited data, I pay $68/month. The problem is that until now no Sprint phones (except for a BlackBerry) could be used in foreign countries. As a result I had a crappy US phone (Treo 700p) and an awesome international phone (Sony X1). It was a huge pain to deal with two contact lists, multiple chargers, and multiple memory cards.
If I were to specify exactly what I want in a phone, the HTC Touch Pro 2 would be it. It has a HUGE screen (slightly bigger than an iPhone) with a fantastic 800x480 resolution (2.5 times the iPhone), the best mobile keyboard I've ever used, and a stylus (using your finger is great, but I like being able to write on the screen too). It has all the bells and whistles like wifi, real GPS, tilt sensor, autofocus camera, etc.
Best of all, the phone has SIX bands. It works on the Sprint / Verizon network (I get free roaming on Verizon), and all of the major international GSM bands. That means that I can get prepaid SIM cards when I travel, but use the same phone in the US. Perfect!
(By the way, if this turns into a "but the iPhone is so great!" comment thread, I'm going to make a dedicated post about why I hate Apple so much. Don't say I didn't warn you)
Now it's time for the one post that everyone's been waiting for. The 2010 Gear Post.
For a quick background: my method is to have very few items, all of which are as small as possible and as awesome as possible. The goal is to have a tiny bag but be prepared for absolutely everything. This year I've gotten closer to that ideal than ever before. You can see my 2009 packing list here to compare.
The Bag: Ortlieb Flight 22
Last night I met Ray, the CEO of Blue Octopus Matrix at a Silicon Vikings event where I spoke on a panel about the impact mobile is having on social as we know it.
We were chatting before the event started, and Ray whipped out two Android phones running a network sniffer app created by his company, which showed in a very striking visual manner the latency and speed differences between AT&T and Sprint LTE 4G networks.
The verdict: Sprint -- at least in Palo Alto CA that day -- was horrible. But it's not in just one location that I've noticed this -- a friend with a Sprint iPhone5 and I did a SpeedTest when we were in the DC area last week. I was getting 31mbps on my AT&T iPhone 5 and he was getting 0.3mbps on his Sprint iPhone5.
Sprint might be offering unlimited data. But the pipe that serves that data appears to be about the size of a straw.