Dec 2021 Gadget Update

Every 6 months I do an update on the state of my gadgets and what I use.

Computers

Asus Zenbook UX482EG (2021) – replaces 2020 HP Dragonfly Elite, 2017 Porsche Design Book One

The Asus replaces two convertible laptops even though it’s not convertible itself – this is because I decided to keep the Google Pixelbook which was a lightweight convertible. The Zenbook Duo compared to my Dragonfly Elite isn’t as lightweight (it weights 1lb more than the Dragonfly) and the keyboard isn’t quite as good, but it has a very unique dual screen form factor, it’s got the same MIL-STD-810H spec, and it has a dedicated graphics card (the MX450) which is an entry level graphics card to do some lightweight gaming (which the Dragonfly Elite couldn’t do at all). The Zenbook Duo has all the ports the Dragonfly had plus adds another USBA port. They both have touch screens so no loss there, but the Zenbook’s display is color calibrated out of the box. So all around I’m trading the portability of the Dragonfly for something a bit more powerful and arguably a bit more cool. 

Google Pixelbook (2020) – replaces 2017 iPad Pro 10.5

Yes I decided to finally replace my aging iPad Pro.. with another device from 2017. Lmao. Anyways, the Chromebook I find has a somewhat similar use case to iPad anyways, used for lightweight webpage reading and media consumption. Plus it’s just as light and convertible. Display ratio is 3:2 instead of 4:3 on the iPad but it’s still good. And its clearly bigger at 12.5 inches instead of 10.5 inches. 


Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen (2021) – replaces 2020 Alienware m15 R2, 2016 Alienware 15 R3

I’ve decided to go back to Alienware once again for my main gaming laptop – this time I got the slightly cheaper Ryzen edition with a better processor, RTX 3060 GPU (which should be fairly futureproof), the return of RAM sockets (yay) and a mechanical keyboard (co-designed with Cherry) which is probably the best I’ve ever used on a laptop. 

Custom Lian Li case gaming PC – replaces 2019 Cyberpower Syber C Xtreme, 2015 Asus ROG G751, 2016 ThinkPad P70

Parts: 
Case: Cyberpower Syber C case -> Lian Li TU150 case
Mobo: ASrock Z390M -> Asus ROG Strix B550-i
CPU: Intel Core i5 9600k -> AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
GPU: 8GB Nvidia RTX 2070
RAM: 32GB Corsair Vengeance
Storage: 1TB Intel 660P PCIE + 1TB Samsung 970 Evo PCIE + 3TB Seagate Barracuda Hybrid HDD
PSU: Corsair 600 80 PLUS Gold SFW
CPU Cooler: Zalmann CNPS8900 -> Noctua U12A
Fans: -> Cooler Master Sickle Flow x3

Decided to move to the AMD AM4 chipset to upgrade my performance, going from 6 cores with no hyperthreading on the Intel to a massive 8 cores 16 threads on the Ryzen 7 3800X. This is mainly to speed up things like video editing which I do a lot of. I also added some more storage, changed the CPU cooler to something a bit more high end and changed out the case to be the Lian Li TU150 as I think it’s the perfect balance between portability (aluminum so it only weighs 3.6kg), size (its not the smallest case but it supports a lot of configurations and has good thermals), affordability (only $100 USD), and appearance (very minimalistic). Also looked at ITX cases by FormD, NCase, Cooler Master, NZXT, Fractal Design, BeQuiet, Razer, Corsair, Thermaltake etc but Lian Li had the best balance for me. 

Tablets/Phones

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 (2021) – replaces 2020 MS Surface Duo

The Fold 2 is just an amazing phone. It just enhances the user experience using any app. Whether it be maps, or video, or reading a webpage or looking at pictures, the bigger sized display is just a godsend and you can’t go back to a regular phone after using it. The specs are good although not flagship, it’s still good enough, and it easily replaces the MS Surface Duo which I barely even used last year. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (2021) – replaces 2020 iPhone 12 Mini, 2020 Google Pixel 4

The Z Flip 3 was a phone I never intended to get (since I already had a vertical folding phone in the Moto Razr) but once I saw the Project Fi compatibility, I had to get it. And just like that it replaced my Pixel 4 (which was getting very buggy) and my iPhone 12 mini (which I liked for the small form factor, but the Z Flip 3 folds into an even smaller footprint). The iPhone 12 Mini still has the better camera, and I would still use it as my main camera phone, but in all other ways my Z Flip 3, which has decent specs and camera, has replaced my main two phones just like that.

Music

Astell&Kern / Campfire Audio Solaris X (2021) – Replaces 2021 TSMR LANDs, 2019 Sony WF-1000XM3, 2018 AK Michelle

A new pair of IEMs that I got while I was researching various other IEMs, these ones were newly released as a collaboration between Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio and was the perfect match for my AK SE100 DAP. In addition, I found it at a 20% discount online mere months after it was released. It’s a very laid back and smooth presentation which I very much prefer to my previous IEMs the TSMRs and the Michelles.

Sony WH-1000XM3 (2018) – Replaces 2017 Sony MDR-1000X
These are my main closed back wireless/noise cancelling headphones which replaces my Denon MM400 (which were stolen at work) and my Bose Quietcomfort 25s (which broke) and Sony MDR-1000X (my previous NC cans). Compared to the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless and Bose Quietcomfort 35s, The sound quality is comparable to the Sennheisers but the noise cancellation is better. The noise cancellation is on par with the Bose and the sound quality is better, and its a lot more comfortable than the 1st gen MDR-1000X. It’s simply put one of the best wireless NC cans on the market right now.

Astell&Kern SE100 (2018) – replaces 2020 Motorola Razr Fold, 2017 Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, 2018 Astell&Kern A&Norma SR15

Yes I came back to a dedicated DAP and a premium one no less.. I found the SE100 which was already a few years old at a hefty discount – and it’s the limited edition Gundam version which I thought was pretty cool too. It runs an ESS9038PRO DAC and even though it’s a few years old, the sound quality is still easily better than my old AK SR15 and even better than the Shanling UA2 which my friend praised before. I use these with my AK Solaris X IEMs.

 

Bose Soundlink Revolve (2017) – Replaces 2015 Creative Soundblaster Roar 2

This is my portable bluetooth speaker, replacing my Creative Soundblaster Roar 2. It is smaller than the Roar 2, although it lacks alot of the Soundblaster features it makes up for it by looking and being very simple, playing 360 degree audio and being quite loud for its size.

PMC DB1 Gold + Rotel A12 Integrated Amp + REL Tzero Mk3 – replaces 2019 Klipsch R-41PM, 2017 Creative SoundblasterX Katana, 2017 Klipsch the Three, Cambridge Audio Solo Preamp

After much research, I’ve decided to go with the PMC DB1 Golds as my main desktop speaker as they are light, portable and produce very detailed sound for the size. The other choices I considered were the Monitor Audio Gold 100s, KEF R3s, Dynaudio Evoke 20s, Harbeth P3ESRs, B&W 706 S2, Focal Aria 906s, but the PMCs I got at a discount and won out in the end. Combined with the power of the Rotel A12s (also considered PeachTree Nova150, NAD C658, Marantz PM8006 and Cambridge Audio CXA81s) and the REL Tzero MkIIIs, this is definitely a killer desktop system.

MartinLogan 15i / MartinLogan 8i / MartinLogan 2i / MartinLogan Dynamo 400 + Marantz NR1510 – replaces 2019 LG SL10YG + SPK8, MartinLogan Motion 2i, MartinLogan Motion 6i

I decided to turn in my soundbar for a dedicated 5.1 + receiver setup, and yes the audio does sound better! It’s a tradeoff though. The setup is more expensive, takes up more space, and more wires of course. In return for better sound quality.

Google Home Hub (2018) – replaces 2017 Yamaha Clock Radio

The Google Home Hub replaces my Yamaha Clock Radio as a smart alarm clock + digital photo frame.

Cameras

DJI Pocket 2 (2021) – replaces 2016 Sony HDR-AS300

Yes! I finally replaced my 5 year old Sony action camera with something! It’s not quite a direct replacement since it isn’t as small, but it’s got better picture quality and it’s a gimbal so it’s more stable than the OIS on the AS300. Essentially it’s a miniaturized DJI Osmo – which is pretty cool.

Sony ZV-1 (2020) – replaces Sony A6000, DJI Osmo+

The best camera for Youtube videos and Vlogs, it’s such a good value for the quality as it comes with a lens very similar to the 24mm Zeiss 1.8 prime I had before except this one is a 24-70mm zoom, making this one a great all around camera for everything, especially paired with a Zhiyun M2 for moving stability, plus 4K and HLG (HDR) capability so it’s a strict upgrade over my old Sony and DJI Osmo (with the Zhiyun). Also, the microphone is great, so I don’t need to use a dedicated Sony X/Y mic or my Shures anymore. 

Main Computer collection
Lian Li Custom Desktop (2021) – AMD Ryzen 5800X, 32GB RAM, 5TB SSD+HDD, Geforce RTX 2070, 20lbs – main gaming pc
14.0″ 1920×1080 + 12.65″ 1920×515 – Asus Zenbook Duo UX482EG (2021) – Intel Core i7 1165G7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Geforce MX450, 3.6lbs – secondary gaming / multitasking laptop
13.3″ 2560×1440 – Apple Macbook Air M1 (2020) – Apple M1, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 2.8lbs – secondary portable laptop
15.6″ 1920×1080 165hz – Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen (2021) – AMD Ryzen 5800H, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Geforce RTX 3060, 5.6lbs – main gaming laptop
12.3″ 2400×1600 – Google Pixelbook (2017) – Core i5 7Y57, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 2.4lbs – secondary portable laptop/tablet

Main Phone collection
5.4″ 1808×2340 OLED – iPhone 12 mini (2020) – Apple A14 Bionic, 4GB RAM, 64GB Flash, iOS 14, 12MP F/1.6, Lightning – secondary phone
7.6″ 1768×2208 OLED – Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 (2021) – Snapdragon 865, 12GB RAM, 256GB Flash, Android 11, 12MP F/1.8, USBC – main tablet / secondary phone
6.7″ 1080×2640 OLED – Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 (2021) – Snapdragon 888, 8GB RAM, 128GB Flash, Android 11, 12MP F/1.8, USBC – main phone

Other devices

Video game systems: PS3, PS4 Pro, PSTV, Nvidia Shield Pro, Cybiko Xtreme, Nokia Ngage, PS Vita, New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch OLED, GPD Win 2, Nvidia Shield Portable, PSP Go, Razer Phone 2, GPD Win 3

UMPCs: Onemix Yoga 3, GPD Micro, OneNetbook A1, Toshiba Libretto W100, Vulcan Flipstart, Sony Vaio UX280, Sharp Netwalker, OpenPandora, Fujitsu UH900, Fujitsu U820, OQO Model 2, Samsung Q1, King Jim Portabook, Cosmo Communicator

Backup Laptops:  HP Dragonfly Elite (travel laptop), ThinkPad TP25 (business laptop), Onkyo DX (dual screen netbook), ThinkPad X240 (Win 7), Thinkpad X61 (Win XP), Dell Latitude D600 (Win 98), Google Pixelbook (ChromeOS)

Watches: Seiko Kinetic, Nomos Tetra 406, Junghans Meister Calendar, Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase, Oris GMT, Hamilton Ventura Elvis80, Pebble Time Steel, Fossil Abacus, Casio DBC32 DataBank, Motorola Moto 360 3rd gen, Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, Sugess Tourbillion Master

Tablets: iPad Pro 10.5, Sony Tablet P, iPad Air, Lenovo Flex 20

PMPs: Philips PMC, iPod Nano, MS Zune, Creative Zen vision m, Archos 7, Cowon V5W, Astell&Kern A&Futura SE100

Flip Phones: Samsung Galaxy Folder 2, Samsung Alias 2, Motorola Razr Fold

Vertical Sliders: Sony Ericsson W995, Nokia N95, Samsung Exclaim, Blackberry Priv

Horizontal Sliders: HTC Dream (Tmobile G1), Nokia N900, Sony Xperia Play, Samsung Exclaim, TMobile Sidekick 3, TMobile Sidekick Slide

Unique form factor: HTC Universal, Motorola Flipout, Nokia E70, HTC Advantage X7500, Nokia E90, LG EnvTouch, Unihertz Jelly 2, Palm phone, Nokia XpressMusic 3250, Nokia N-gage, Nokia E72, Motorola V70, Sony Ericsson P990, Toshiba G910, Nokia N93i, Neptune Pine, Blackberry Key2, Unihertz Titan Pocket

PDAs: Palm TX, Sharp Zaurus, Sony UX50, Zipit Z2, Casio BE300, HP iPAQ 210, Psion 5MX, HP Jornada 720, MS Kin 2, Sony Mylo 2

Unique OS: Amazon Fire Phone (FireOS), ZTE Open C (FirefoxOS), Samsung Z1 (TizenOS), HP Pre 3 (WebOS), Blackberry Porsche 9981 (BB 7 OS), Blackberry Passport (BB 10 OS), Nokia N810 (Maemo), Nokia E7 (Symbian 3), HP Elite X3 (Win 10), Palm Treo 700p (PalmOS), Sony Xperia XA2 (Sailfish X), LG Nexus 5 (Ubuntu Touch), PinePhone (Manjaro Linux), Essential Phone (LineageOS)

Displays: LG C9 OLED TV (main TV), Acer Predator XB271HU  (gaming monitor), LG 29WK600 (ultrawide work monitor), MMT FHD Monitor2Go (portable monitor), Royole Moon (HMD), Oculus Quest 2 (VR)

Cameras: DJI Pocket 2, Sony ZV-1

Headphones: Master and Dynamic ME03 (earphone), Monster Gratitude (earphone), AK Solaris X (IEM), Nura Buds (wireless earbuds), Sony WH-1000XM3 (wireless/NC/closed)

Speakers: PMC DB1 Gold + REL Tzero Mk3 (desktop + turntable), MartinLogan Motion 15i + MartinLogan Motion 8i + MartinLogan Motion 2i + MartinLogan Dynamo 400 (home theater), Ruark Audio R1 mk4 (alarm), Google Home Hub (picture frame/assistant), PreSonus Eris (monitors), Bose Soundlink Revolve (portable)

Misc Audio Electronics: Rotel A12 (integrated amp/dac), Creative X3 (PC amp/dac), Behringer Xenyx Q502 (Mixer), Fluance RT85 w/Ortofon Blue cartridge (turntable), Marantz NR1510 (receiver), Shanling UA2 (phone DAC)

Microphones: Shure SM58 (dynamic), MXL50 (condenser), Razer Seiren Mini (USB), Blue Yeti Nano (USB)

Storage: 1x Synology DS412+, 2x Synology DS416j, 1x Synology DS418j, 2x Synology DS416slim, 1x Synology DS419slim, 3x Patriot Memory USB sticks, 1x Porsche Design LaCIE external HDD

Keyboards: Roccat Vulcan 121 (desktop), Corsair K63 wireless (backup), Cooler Master SK622 (work Macbook), Logitech G610 (backup), Lenovo Wireless Keyboard (Lenovo Flex), Mini Keyboard (Nvidia Shield)

Mice: Logitech MX Master 3 (work MacBook), Corsair Dark Core (backup), Logitech G502 (desktop), Logitech MX Anywhere 2S (travel), Lenovo Wireless Mouse (Lenovo Flex)

Guitar Amps: Milkman 1W+ (main), Vox Mini5 (travel/busking)

Guitars: Fender Stratocaster w/Rumpelstiltskin pickups (secondary electric), Martin OMJM (main acoustic), Gretsch G502 (travel acoustic), Duesenberg Alliance Joe Walsh (main electric), G&L ASAT Special (secondary electric)

Pedals: Boss TU3W (tuner), Catalinbread Belle Epoch (Delay/Preamp), BBE Wah (Wah), Maxon TOD9 (TS type OD), Wampler Euphoria (D type OD), Xotic Compressor (Compressor), Keeley Omni Reverb (Reverb), Wampler Tumnus (K type OD), Boss RC5 (Looper), BBE Windowpane (Fuzz)