Hardware Reflections – USB C and Wireless Charging

I’ve been debating about what new phone I want to get and I’ve had a hard time coming up with one. I know – first world problems, right? I’ve always prided myself to be someone who wouldn’t buy technology for the sake of technology. So here I am in 2015, phones for the most part are more or less commodotized. The difference between one phone to the next is going to be CPU, RAM and screen size. All of which really aren’t interesting from a consumer perspective. Sure – phones are faster. But for the general consumer, most phones are fast enough; for me, phones are fast enough. Sure, you can get bigger screen size but at some point screens are just getting too big. For me, after having an OnePlus One, I have to say that the largest size phone I want is going to be around 5”. Anything bigger is just too uncomfortable. I swiftly debated about getting a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge because it was different – the curved edge could pose to be an interesting UX paradigm. However, that’s really pushing it. If I have a hard time justifying buying a new phone, it’s even harder to justify buying a personal computing device if it’s not broken and let’s face it, MacBooks for the most part last 4 years which is forever in terms of technology.
So this led me down a different path of reflection – what would I consider interesting tech that I would invest in? If hardware is starting to become commoditized, then what would I look for in new hardware. After a long period of reflection (primarily through writing this blog), it made sense for me that consolidation of portable technology would likely be a large theme for me in terms of next technology purchases. For context, I carry a phone, tablet, lightweight computer whenever I am not at home and I find myself carrying a lot of different accessories to support these devices on the road.

One of the more exciting technology advances this year is USB-C. People love it or hate it in the new MacBook but it is going to potentially open the consumer to a whole new world of options. I remember when USB was first introduced. All of a sudden, you could use one cable to connect your printer, mouse and keyboard into one plug. All of a sudden instead of having 3 different plugs to do 3 different things, you could have one to do everything. USB-C adds the additional power of powering devices and is small enough to fit into phones as well. Manufacturers will no longer need to hedge between the Apple and non-Apple ecosystems. We could finally have one cable to potentially power and connect them all whether it be laptop, phone or tablet
The other interesting news was the consolidation of some wireless standards. Wireless charging with the updated standard should allow you to wirelessly charge your devices more easily. This means that when companies like Starbucks make wireless charging a convenience in their stores or Ikea creating furniture that support wireless charging, it will support a larger variety of devices. However, that isn’t even the most exciting part for me. I think the part that excites me most is that combined with USB C, you now have the ability to potentially also be charging your laptop on one of these devices. My dream is to have a desk with a wireless charging tabletop that I can place any device on it and with the appropriate wireless charging sleeve or case, it would also automatically charge my device.
After a lot of reflection, here is the list of potential candidates for hardware purchases in the next 12 months:
Phone
I’m primarily upgrading my phone because it feels long in the tooth. My HTC One M8 is almost 2 years old now and I really didn’t love the OnePlus One because the phone was too unwieldy. Given that I’m looking for a smaller phone this time around, the Nexus 5X is at the top of my candidate list. It represents the newest in Google’s OS, USB C and native fingerprint scanning
Tablet
The Nvidia Shield tablet just isn’t working out for me despite it having decent specs and supposedly the spiritual successor to the Nexus 7 which I absolutely loved. The networking issues ultimately drove me nuts. Top of my candidate list for my tablet is the Asus ZenPad S 8.0. It’s a relatively high end 8 inch tablet with USB C and potentially an LTE antenna as well which makes it extremely useful
Laptop
This one is a bit harder for a number of reasons. The first is that my current Macbook Air works well enough. It has it’s share of issues but given that it’s a Macbook, it isn’t a drastic issue. Realistically, my use of a Macbook is primarily using a lot of web apps and the only native apps I’ve been using is for my personal Rails development. Ideally, my replacement would have been the new Apple Macbook but it’s actually quite expensive. So I’m opting instead for Lenovo Yoga 900 with the assumption that I can dual boot it to Ubuntu or another Debian based desktop distribution. The plus sides for me are USB C and with the tablet mode, I am able to do things like listen to music and do some reading on the train without carrying my smaller tablet around with me. It does reduce one device I’d have to carry