My Setup – Late 2016 Dorm Edition

As a geek, I need many gadgets to get through a day. Here is a list of things, I could not live without (probably):

Apple Mac mini (Late 2012)

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There is this myth going around the internet, that the Mac mini can barely handle Excel spreadsheets. Well, I use my Mac mini as the main video editing machine for creating YouTube and home videos, majority of them in 4K, so take that as “myth busted”.

To be honest, it isn’t absolutely perfect (the 2012 model year starts to show), but I haven’t found anything better so far. My entire photos library is in the Photos app and I use Final Cut Pro X for video work.

You might be asking: Why don’t you go for an iMac, if it has more power and an impressive 5K display? My answer is simple: Look at the next item on the list.

LG Ultrawide Monitor (34UM95)

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This thing is amazing. When I first moved into my dorm, I had to rely purely on my Surface Pro 4 for all types of work. Ironically enough, it was the tiny screen, not the lack of performance, which proved to be the biggest problem. Having to constantly switch between windows and desktops is tedious.

In the 2 years I have owned the Ultrawide, I haven’t needed to use multiple virtual desktops once. Just for scale, you can fit 4 full-sized A4s side by side. Perfect for long video timelines or referencing to notes on one half of the screen, with PowerPoint on the other.

The newer version is curved, making the monitor look even more unique than the current one, but I cannot comment on whether the curve really improves the viewing experience.

There is one thing, which definitely would though. Even more pixels. The current resolution is 3440×1440. If it was to possible to double each side, making the total resolution 6880×2880 to create a “Retina Ultrawide”, I would upgrade in a heartbeat.

Custom Windows Desktop PC

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Do I like Apple? Absolutely. Do I think Macs are perfect? No way.

A trusty big old PC comes in handy from time to time. This one has a quad-core Core i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, Nvidia GTX760 GPU, Samsung SSD and WD Green HDD.

The operating system is Windows 10. It brings some positives over macOS, but that’s for another blogpost. Not to mention, it’s much better for gaming (which I don’t really have time for).

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

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If you are a student, you probably cannot get a better device than the Surface Pro 4. It ticks all the usual boxes, like good display, performance, etc. and adds a few essential goodies for students. Namely the full-sized regular USB 3.0 port, Surface Pen (stylus which is actually good and usable), and a microSD card slot.

Need to run Word? Photoshop? CAD? No problem.

The battery life could be better, especially given you can’t use a powerbank to recharge the Surface, but it should get you through a day of lectures on a full charge.

Apple iPhone 6S Plus

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Probably the most underrated tech piece of each setup. The phone. Phones are not longer phones. They are pocketable supercomputers. I will not even try to list all the things I use my phone for, because it would take a while…

Apple Watch Nike+

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I have grown to love the original Apple Watch. It was very useful (and cool), but the lack of 2 specific features meant I couldn’t make the most use out of this wearable.

Given I do triathlon, water-resistance is very important for me. The original Apple Watch was “splash-proof”, but not yet ready for the pool. The second issue was speed. I ended up jamming all the relevant info onto the “Modular” watch face as a method of not having to open individual apps, which would usually take ages to load.

Luckily, both of these issues are now solved with the Series 2 Apple Watch, meaning I probably won’t be in the need to upgrade anytime soon. (At least I hope so.)

Headphones: Beats Studio (2nd gen.), JBL Reflect Bluetooth

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When it comes to music listening, headphones are essential for the thin dorm walls.

I appreciate the comfort, active noise cancellation, and design of the Beats Studio. I also like the sound. It gives emphasis on base, without completely destroying the rest of the music spectrum, like some older Beats. They are starting to show their age and I will probably be forced to buy a new pair of headphones. I will definitely go for wireless this time.

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Speaking of wireless, the JBL Reflects are great for listening to music while commuting or going for a jog.

PC Input: Logitech Keyboard & Performance MX Mouse

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As you might have noticed, my setup includes 2 computers connected to the same LG monitor. To keep my workspace clutter-free, I decided to invest in Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, which can pair to multiple devices. This means, that when I switch computers, all I need to do is click a button on the keyboard and mouse to switch to a different Bluetooth profile. Unbelievably handy.

USB-C Accessories: LaCie Porsche Design USB-C HDD, Kingston Dual Thumb Drive

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Even though I do not own a single device equipped with the brand new USB Type C connector, I do not want to buy accessories using the older (and much clunkier) micro USB. Therefore, when I needed an external drive, I went for the incredibly beautiful LaCie, which comes with both, USB-C to USB-C cables for the future, and USB-C to “regular” USB-A for the present. It’s also very silent.

Have I mentioned it looks beautiful?

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Despite its portable design, the drive usually stays in a drawer. For quick on the go file transfers I use a thumb-drive by Kingston, which also features 2 connectors. USB-C on one side, and USB-A on the other.

Charging: Anker – Premium 5 Port Charger with USB-C

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Looking above, I have mentioned many devices which need at least sort of regular charging. I could easily charge them all from my Mac mini, which runs almost 24/7, but to keep the desktop nice and organized, I placed an Anker charger into a corner, right behind my PC. It’s out of sight, but keeps my portable devices ticking…

Dyson V6

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Let’s admit. Vacuuming probably isn’t your favorite activity. With that said, you also probably don’t like having crumbs all over the floor.

At first, I was thinking about buying a robotic vacuum cleaner, but those are still not as flexible as “ordinary” vacuums. Cordless vacs on the other hand have gotten much cheaper in the recent years, are compact, and not having to manage the cable saves a ton of time and energy. I always keep it in MAX mode, because even only 6 minutes of run time in this mode is enough to clean the entire room. (The battery lasts around 20 minutes in regular mode.)

So, the Dyson V6 doesn’t clean on its own, but at least it makes the job a bit less painful.

Is there anything tech-related you couldn’t live without? Let me know in the comments…

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