S07E09 - Our 'good kit' guide

The team are back together this week and updating their 'good kit' guide - the equipment we use and love daily. It's not the best and it may not be the newest, but it's the gear that keeps us productive when mobile. In this season's update we focus a lot on power supplies  and batteries,  as keeping devices charged stays at the top of our worry list.

In other news Ewan's bought a new family car (it's nice) and Rafe has joined the library. We're a rock 'n roll podcast. 

Ben: Hello, and welcome to the 361 Degrees Podcast, season seven, episode nine. My name is Ben Smith, from Wireless Worker.

Rafe: I'm Rafe, from the All About sites.

Ewan: I'm Ewan, from Mobile Industry Review.

Ben: All right, gents, welcome back.

Rafe: Yay.

Ewan: Excellent.

Rafe: Hello.

Ben: Now, a special episode this week ...

Rafe: Yes.

Ben: ... but before we talk about why, any news from you guys?

Ewan: Well, I've got a new vehicle.

Ben: A new vehicle?

Ewan: Uh‑huh. Yeah, and it's ... I think it's pretty cool.

Ben: Brilliant. Well, I'm glad we discussed that thoroughly.

Ewan: Well, I shouldn't be mentioning brands. We don't mention brands, do we?

Ben: We could talk about brands.

Ewan: Well, you started it off. You said that you have a German car. You didn't mention the brand, for whatever strange reason.

Ben: I just ... well, I think at that point I thought it would just detract, distract, from the discussion, because somebody was bound to go, "Oh, well, you picked the wrong brand. If you'd bought the brand I prefer, then all of the things that you said that were valid points..."

Ewan: I see. Okay, so the new car... I'm really pleased with it.

Ben: You say you bought a new vehicle? Congratulations.

Ewan: Yeah, it's great. It goes very well.

Ben: It goes forwards and backwards?

Ewan: Uh‑huh, but you know what ...

Ben: Both of the directions.

Ewan: ... actually, the accountant was trying to get me to buy a Tesla.

Ben: Really?

Ewan: Yeah. Yeah, because you get corporation tax discounts quite dramatically.

Ben: Right. I just want one because they're cool, and they're quite rare in the UK. I actually think they're a bit more premium vehicles than they are in the States or Germany.

Rafe: You could well have a Falcon 9 rocket.

Ewan: A what?

Ben: Blimey, I don't know. What is that?

Rafe: That's Elon Musk's space ventures, and Tesla cars.

Ewan: They are not very good, again, to work.

Ben: No. They are much harder to park.

Ewan: Yes.

Rafe: Yeah, and the carbon offset is a little problematic.

Ben: Yes. The man in Tesco's is really not going to offer to wash that for you whilst you're in buying your ...

Rafe: After you've melted the ‘asphalt’ that as we’re talking in American, you know, it can cause serious problems.

Ewan: Why are we talking American? Apart from the very nice American audience. Hi, how are you?

Ben: Hi, how are you?

Rafe: Thank you.

Ben: Have a nice day.

Ewan: Don't respond.

Ben: Anyways, welcome. Welcome to the 361 Degrees Podcast. If you are just joining us, you've arrived a bit late, because this is episode ...

Rafe: I haven't got any news.

Ben: ... episode nine in season seven. This is our opportunity for the three of us to meet every week and talk about mobile technology. We don't do the news, but what we do do is talk about the things that interest us and the things behind the news. This week, Ewan MacLeod, it's a bit of a special episode.

Ewan: Yes, we're talking hardware.

Ben: We are talking hardware, and we trailed this earlier in the season and now it's time to deliver. We've done it a few times but it's time to recap, and this is our season seven good kit guide.

Ewan: Yes, and this is genuine. There's no nonsense. There's been a little bit of preparation to make sure we get it in the right way, but this is how we use and what type of hardware we use on a daily basis.

Rafe: Yeah, absolutely. It's about how you too can be just like the 361 Degree podcasters.

Ewan: What?

Ben: Yeah. Maybe not such a compelling pitch there.

Ewan: He's having a problem because we didn't ask him about his news.

Ben: Oh. did you have any news, Rafe?

Ewan: No. Move on.

Rafe: I did have some news, but it's all right.

Ben: What was your news?

Rafe: I went to a library, which was very exciting in this digital age. I had to get a library card, but I did it because ...

Ben: What were you doing?

Rafe: ... my local library has a Zinio subscription, which is a way you can get magazines on your iPad or on your computer or whatever, and by joining up with the library, they had subscribed on behalf of everybody to about 40 magazines, so I can now download any of those magazines rather than having to pay for them myself. I thought this was quite a forward‑thinking local library.

Ewan: How much did it cost you to join the library?

Rafe: It was free.

Ben: Okay. That's my favorite price. I like that price.

Ewan: There we go. You go to your local library.

Rafe: Well, I had to go to the library to pick up the card. Everything else was all done online, where I can load the magazines and say, of those magazines ... Only about five I would subscribe to, but it included "The Economist," "New Scientist," "National Geographic," things that I would actually go out and buy.

Ben: They're the things that I normally leave on my coffee table in the hope that people think I read them.

Rafe: Well, I actually do read them.

Ewan: Obviously. Obviously, Blandford.

Ben: This week is our good kit guide, and the rules for the good kit guide are that these are things that we use daily, and we recommend them because we have paid for them with our own money, we have adopted them as our own, and we use them and we recommend them. This is not always the best in class. It's not always a definitive review of the market, but these are the things that we use and love, and an opportunity to talk about why.

Ewan: A great opportunity to discover more. What I really value is when the listeners say, "Oh, have you not followed the X or Y?"

Ben: You should immediately go to 361Podcast.com, where you will be able to leave your own recommendations and suggestions for good kit, both in the categories that we're going to talk about and any others that you think we should cover in the future.

Ewan: That would be gratefully received.

Ben: Absolutely. Please go there now, on the beautifully responsive mobile website, that you can fill in whilst listening to me finish this very sentence.

Ewan: As long as you are not driving.

Ben: Don't do it if you're driving, but I know certainly ...

Ewan: Unless it's a Google car.

Ben: Well, certainly this wouldn't trouble Rafe, because he's a driver.

Ewan: If you are listening to this in a Google car, and you can prove through video means that you are listening to this in a Google self‑driving car, we will give you a prize.

Rafe: Or you pay for the $10K Audi kit.

Ben: I think the self‑driving car still requires you to be in charge, doesn't it?

Ewan: Okay, we will pay for what? A £50 Amazon voucher if you can send us a video of you using ... listening to this podcast in a Google self‑drive car.

Ben: I don't think ...

Rafe: I think the bar is getting rather high here.

Ewan: Fifty pounds. I'll pay it. Fifty pounds.

Ben: I was thinking more the other way round, which is if you have the financial wherewithal to find yourself in an autonomous‑driving car that's probably worth millions, a 50‑quid incentive won't be of interest.

Ewan: A fair point.

Ben: Anyways, we are tight for time, so enough of this messing about. Let's crack on. Ewan MacLeod, you are first up.

Ewan: Yes. I'm going to talk about batteries. Right, so batteries. Batteries is what I would like to talk about. That's my most important topic, given I am typically using a mobile phone but it has a rubbish, rubbish battery. An iPhone, if you're wondering. I'm not talking about chargers, and I'm not talking about the solar chargers that I have and a lot of really cool things. What I want to focus on are batteries that you have to charge up overnight, and I religiously do this every night. I charge up, make sure that my Mophie Powerstation Duo is fully charged.

Ben: Good name check. Good name check.

Ewan: Well, we're talking about the actual device, so that is £79.90, or $99, and that will charge an iPad and an iPhone simultaneously, very useful. It's got lots and lots of ... how many ... I was hoping to try and look and see how many milliamps or whatever, but it will charge an iPad and an iPhone completely, and I use that daily because it gives me the ability to charge any device. It can be the iPad, it can be the iPhone, it can be anyone else's device who's not got any battery left.

Ben: Okay, rapid‑fire questions. Why did you choose Mophie?

Ewan: Okay. I'm embarrassed to say it's because it was the one in the Apple Store. Apple made the choice for me. It's working very nicely, but the big difference here is Mophie do a lot of cases, where you can ... yeah, that you put your iPhone into, that gives you extra power. I didn't want that. I wanted ...

Ben: The Juice Pack range?

Ewan: That's right. I wanted the standalone battery, and that has been a godsend for me. I will routinely use this daily, sometimes just to make sure my Android phone's charged up, sometimes to make sure that my iPhone gets charged up, but often it's actually someone else who's using a phone that doesn't have a live battery. I always carry that. It's in the bottom of my bag, charge it every night.

Ben: I did the smart thing. I went on Amazon and I bought an Anker battery.

Ewan: How are you spelling that?

Ben: A‑n‑k‑e‑r. They're a new ...

Ewan: Is that what I should have done?

Ben: Well, they're a new brand who are ... certainly in the UK they're selling through Amazon, and I've seen them in a lot of places. I know they're definitely available in the U.S. They do a whole bunch of accessories. I got the really big‑capacity, 10000mAh battery, which it should recharge an iPad in a bit or a bunch of phones, and it's got three or four outputs on it. It doesn't ... they've got a massive range. It doesn't matter really which one you get. I think you should just buy it, depending on what devices you've got, but I think if the Mophie is the luxury, premium end of the range, the Anker is the good, solid middle tier. It was super‑affordable. I think it was about 40 or 50 pounds and massive, massive capacity.

Ewan: It's $25.99 there.

Ben: Well, it depends which one you want.

Ewan: 10000mA.

Ben: I've got a slightly newer one than that. That's a slightly chunkier one. Yeah, they are 25, 30 pounds. I thoroughly recommend them. The nice thing for me is the Anker brand is that just‑correct match of good quality but a good price as well, so it's not some of the really lower‑end, no‑name brands that tend to be imports.

Ewan: Or blow up.

Ben: Yeah, and then trusted, really good customer care. It ships in ... amazingly, for really cheap stuff ... ships in the kind of packaging that you would credit to Apple or someone like that. Really good, a nice brand.

Ewan: That Mophie, by the way, was 6000mA.

Ben: There we go, so definitely get the one I recommended instead.

Rafe: I do exactly the same thing. I actually have the Nokia DC‑19, but Anker do an equivalent product.

Ben: Yeah. Let me just time‑check that. That was less than ten minutes into the podcast, Rafe mentioned Nokia.

Rafe: Yep, but for the same reason.

Ben: Microsoft? What do Microsoft do, Rafe?

Rafe: For the same reason that you two have one, I need it to be able to top up my battery on the go. Actually this is a small one. It's a kind of columnar shape, but it's about 3500mA.

Ewan: A column?

Rafe: Columnar.

Ewan: What?

Rafe: A column. Columnar.

Ewan: Is that a word, columnar?

Rafe: Yes.

Ewan: I'll have to check that.

Rafe: You do that. 3500mAh, but Anker do a model. I think the point that Ben made about buying one that's medium or above is important, because I've had a couple of cheap Chinese ones.

Ewan: "Having the shape of a column."

Rafe: There are various companies that use ... Pro Port is another one. Long‑term made in the UK. They do good products as well. The things to look out for are both the capacity but also the output, so just as applies to chargers, you can have things that are coming out at 850mA, or you can have 1.5mA and that kind of thing. To do something like an iPad, you will need towards the upper end, 1.8 or 2.0 and above, I would say ideally. There's a lot of technology that can go into these in terms of the intelligence of when to turn off the charger and when to turn it on, and also actually recharging it right.

                        When you're talking about batteries that have a 10000mA capacity, they can actually take quite a long time to charge. We're just starting to see the Quick Charge and equivalent technologies come into this space, and this is the ability to top up 80 percent of the battery more quickly and then they'll trickle‑charge the last 20 percent. Quick Charge 2.0 is actually the technology to watch out for, because that's going to enable you to theoretically recharge some of these bigger‑capacity things in a matter of hours, whereas most of these big 10,000 ones will take six hours or overnight to recharge.

Ben: Yeah. My top tip could be actually I have two. I have the big one that sits in the bottom of my bag, but it does need an overnight recharge and I don't always remember to do that. I always have the Native Union JUMP, as I mentioned earlier in the season, which is a battery that lives in the middle of a cable.

Ewan: Very smart.

Ben: It only tops a third of the phone, so it's not going to sort you out. It's more of an emergency one, but the thing is, because that's a usable iPhone sync‑and‑charge cable, I use it every day and I'm charging it just by using it. I really like that sort of combination. Well, I bought it through the Kickstarter campaign so it was a kind of early price, but I think when it gets into the shops it's going to be about £50 or £60, which is unfortunately a little bit premium, but actually I think you can achieve a similar effect with some of the other smaller chargers that you can plug into a computer whilst you're working or something like that. In fact, actually quite oftentimes, Anker or Amazon or these big retailers build these up as bundles, so there's a big one and a small one. I recommend you buy it that way.

Rafe: My category that I want to talk about is wearables, and I'm aware this is a big one, so I want to talk about a couple of products and start with the Pebble smartwatch, and this could actually be read into any smartwatch. Now, I wouldn't necessarily recommend one or the other because I think it's still very early days, but I would recommend the idea of notifications on your wrist. It's something that wasn't really completely bought into until quite recently, but sitting in meetings or actually sitting at a desk or commuting into London, you find that you're needing to check something that's come in at a glance, rather than having to get your phone out of your pocket, and it can be when you're walking along.

                        Just the ability to have glanceability without picking up your phone is important to me, but my recommendation is think not just about the watch itself. You can get bands that do the equivalent. Think about how you integrate that into your workflow, so set it to only alert you for certain notifications. It may be a certain email account, it may be certain events on your phone, and that's really important because that will dictate how useful it is to you. Now, I've got the orange Pebble watch, which looks like a prototype and feels a bit like one. Pebble have since produced the Pebble Steel, which would probably be my choice and recommendation at the moment.

Ben: I notice people wearing the Pebble in the world, real people wearing Pebbles now, so I think so far, as you say, Rafe, it's early days, but for my taste, the Pebble is the one that's got the general share of the market.

Rafe: Why is that, because you don't actually have to recharge it every other day. It will do three or four days on a single charge. I still find it irritating that it's a proprietary cable to recharge it. I'd like it to go to wireless charging when you put it next to your bed or something, and there's plenty I'd improve about it. They've concentrated on a few key functions, so notifications about incoming calls and text messages and events.

Ben: It's multiplatform, so when you change your phone ...

Rafe: Exactly.

Ben: ... you don't have to change your watch, because that would be the thing that would put me off some of the, for example, Samsung products, although I'm not just picking on them.

Rafe: Yeah, and we've got so many doing the same thing. They are Android‑agnostic. Apple, we assume, looks like it's going to produce a wearable watch at some point. All the rumors are pointing that way in terms of the production now.

Ben: Yeah, but I just might just buy the Apple watch just because I irrationally love them and buy all their products regardless.

Rafe: Well, of course, but that idea of lock‑in, just as applies elsewhere in wearables ... you think about the fitness trackers and things like that ... but there is definitely a fashion problem in that they don't look very attractive at the moment, except Withings recently announced a product that really caught my attention in this space, which is the Activity, or ...

Ben: I think it's Activité.

Rafe: Activité. I'm not quite sure, yes.

Ben: It does sound like a diet soft drink.

Ewan: There's the little thing above the "E."

Rafe: Yeah, and the acute accent.

Ben: Yeah. It's very attractive.

Rafe: They produce a whole range of these wearable products, including scales and the Aura, which is a really interesting way of tracking your sleep, getting off the topic a bit.

Ben: It looks like a nice watch.

Rafe: It does. It looks like a nice watch, and actually this isn't ...

Ben: I like nice watches.

Rafe: It isn't a smartwatch, it's an activity tracker, but this idea of actually making something that you would choose to wear anyway, and the wearable or smart component is just kind of a happenstance, is something I think we need more of, because that's the way it's going to get to general adoption. The same applies to the wearable smartphones, the fit that isn't terribly attractive. Sony's done some interesting things with their SmartBand in terms of partnering with fashion designers to make containers for just a little widget. It's actually going in the same direction, but all of this, it feels like quite early days so it's quite difficult to make good gear recommendations, but I have used the Pebble watch. I enjoy using it. It's become part of my daily activity, and I do use a Fitbit tracker as well.

Ben: It comes with the Rafe seal of approval.

Rafe: It does, but it's interesting that this space has changed so quickly, because the Fitbit tracker has almost become irrelevant for me because my phone has a motion chip in it. In fact, several of my phones have a motion chip in them, and they're not quite as accurate as a standalone tracker but it's good enough to give me a rough idea. I think this is always going to be a danger for some of these things, that when they can go into the phone, the sensors do interesting things. At the moment, it feels like a lot of the software and the services around them are a little bit messy. Social sharing isn’t very good, there's no standard, so I get locked into a particular ecosystem. I don't want to do that. Do either of you wear a wearable device?

Ewan: I have a Fitbit.

Ben: I have a Fitbit as well, but I've got out of the habit of using it.

Ewan: I lost mine, unfortunately.

Ben: Fitbit do have great customer service. I lost mine, and you email customer services and they sent me a free one to replace it.

Ewan: Can you actually say, "Hi, I hear that you send people free ones when you've lost it, can I ... "

Ben: Yeah. Somebody else recommended it to me, that they'd lost theirs, and I just said, "You did it for them, can I have another one?" They said, "Fine, there you go."

Ewan: That's a very smart move, I imagine, for Fitbit, because I’ve not been using mine since November when I lost it.

Ben: Yeah. I was super‑grateful, and I was actually just saying ... actually the reason I did it, I was hoping that they'd say they'd send me a free one, but actually I was just saying to make the kit better, so that it doesn't ping off your damn belt when you're running. Although I don't use it, my wife is addicted to her Jawbone UP band, but again I don't think because it's any better than the other one. Just because a couple of her friends and family use the UP, and they compete. They have a friendly competition going.

Rafe: That kind of social thing is a big thing in that Quantified Self space. It feels to me like that's the easiest thing to do. There's a lot more, where you're tying into insurance premiums and all that kind of thing, but I want to see. If you want a gear recommendation at the moment, I would go with Fitbit, just because it feels like it's the bigger ecosystem at the moment. On the smartwatch side, Pebble, but look out for some of the fashionable stuff that's coming down the road.

Ben: My gear category ...

Ewan: Tell us.

Ben: Brace yourselves, guys, because this is super‑exciting. Because I'm on the list, I picked out the best category for myself, plugs.

Ewan: Okay.

Ben: Charging plugs.

Ewan: Yes, excellent.

Ben: Right. Now, I love my PlugBug. Do you know what a PlugBug is?

Rafe: Probably you have to tell me about PlugBug. It sounds a little uncomfortable.

Ben: Rafe Blandford, doing the risque jokes on the podcast. I'm so proud. Our little boy has grown up. The PlugBug is, I think, a product which ... I think it's by a company called Twelve South, and Ewan is busy Googling this as we talk, but it's a red addition which you plug onto your Macbook charger, and the whole benefit of that device is that it gives you a USB port on your Macbook charger.

Ewan: This is actually quite smart.

Ben: Well, maybe if you don't travel as much as perhaps we do, then you're thinking, "Well, why would I be bothered about that?" Now, I just chuck that unit into my bag, and I've got a USB charger and I've got the charging unit for my laptop. The great thing is that I don't have to use the laptop bit if I just want to charge my phone overnight, and also that kit, by chance, comes with a full international set of plugs so you can, much more affordably than buying the Apple kit of plugs, have a full set of heads for international travel.

Ewan: £39.95 from the Apple Store.

Ben: It's very affordable, and I also love it because it does the faster charging for iPhone, so it puts out the slightly higher power rating and charges your iPhones nice and quickly. It is super‑convenient, and it's just that sort of thing that just feels common sense. When you're sat in a hotel, as I often am, working away, it's fantastic when you're running out of ways to charge up all these various USB‑powered devices. It's really handy to have one off a power-socket on the wall.

Ewan: If you order from Amazon, you'll save nine pence.

Ben: What about you guys?

Rafe: Well, I think this is an interesting one, because a lot of it turns around convenience and travel, and to that extent I really like my Mu plug, which is something that I think was a design project a couple of years back that's since come to fruition.

Ben: Yeah. I love mine too.

Rafe: It's particularly relevant to the UK market, because we have plugs that are bigger than everyone else because we have three‑pin plugs rather than two‑pin, and it folds flat and you can slip it inside a pocket in a case very easily. You can put a micro USB cable in it, and you can then charge up most of your devices. Again, it has good output, but it's just a really great piece of design and I wouldn't be traveling without it.

Ewan: That's a really good present, for someone who's got everything.

Ben: Now, unfortunately, Mu haven't put out their higher‑output version yet, so it's still only giving standard output. It's doing slow charging via the USB, but it's actually excellent. Yeah, if you're not in the UK, you won't be able to ... you won't appreciate the pain of UK‑design plugs. This three‑pin triangle design is so chunky. It means that all the neat North American two‑pin, super‑super‑small charging solutions just don't work, so it's an absolute godsend. The way it works is by twisting the bottom two pins so they're in a straight line, and the whole unit folds down into a really compact design.

Rafe: You're talking about the Mu Tablet there.

Ben: Oh, it's out now, is it?

Rafe: No, it's coming through still, but it's the M‑u, Mu, Tablet.

Ben: There we go, so I absolutely love that.

Ewan: The current one's only suitable really for smartphones and Kindles.

Ben: Now, in the previous one about batteries, you and I talked about Anker. I'm going to plug them again. Anker do a five‑way USB charging device. It comes with a mains charger and offers you up to five USB sockets. At least one or two of those are the high‑power outputs that you need to charge iPads. Get one of those, stick it on your desk. It is brilliant, because if you're anything like me, nearly every device that you own charges off USB. You're always short of cables, and more importantly, I'm always taking the cables and putting them in my bag to bring them away for work or travel or whatever, so I want to have those USB ports up on my desk and not attached to my computer.

Ewan: That's very smart.

Ben: I want to have them on, at times when my computer's off.

Ewan: Absolutely.

Rafe: It's got five ports, so it's efficient to do a couple of tablets and a phone and a couple of others, headset accessories. In a similar vein, to the whole port girth issue, there are various short cables that you can get that you can put on your keyring, and the one I've been using is the NOMAD series of cables, which are just a little thing you attach to your keyring and then you can get various models off it ... micro USB, Lightning connector ... and just having that cable always with you that you can use to recharge your phone and stick it into any USB port, be it on your own computer or someone else's, that's really handy.

Ben: Yeah. I know you're an avid user of wireless charging.

Rafe: I am. I love my wireless charging, and it's a real pain when your device doesn't support it. I've been using multiple devices, and the one that stays charged is the one with that wireless charger. I've actually gone and bought a case just to support that on an Android device. The Nokia devices that I use have it built in, and it's not about one particular technology. It's actually the way it changes. I charge the devices when I get home, just put it on a plate. It charges, rather than having to plug it in, and also it's that continuous top‑up charge when you're sitting at a desk. If there's a technology I'd like to see in every phone, it would be the Qi wireless charging standard.

Ben: Yeah, can't wait for that to arrive. I can send it to the console of my car, so I can just chuck it in the center console and not plug it in. Okay, Ewan MacLeod, topic number two from you.

Ewan: All right, that's MiFis. I have long been a fan of MiFi devices.

Ben: Are we still banging on about this? Are these still good?

Ewan: They're still a thing, yes. I also carry a really big, beefy ... I won't bother giving you the actual model numbers, but a really big, beefy, Three ... they're going to hit me for this ... an EE. I might have got the brand wrong there. An EE‑branded Huawei 4G MiFi.

Ben: We do like the Huawei. They are not just the pioneers, but I think they set the standards in MiFis.

Ewan: Yes. The model I've got will go more or less a whole business day, so six or seven hours, depending on how much usage.

Ben: You're really slacking off, with your six‑hour business day.

Ewan: Well, because you go for lunch, and you might be in a meeting without actually using it.

Rafe: Or recording a podcast.

Ewan: Exactly. If you hammer these things, then they're going to last a couple hours, but for just good general usage across a day, I can get a full day out of my Huawei. The EE service, by the way, has been excellent, and now that 4G is coming to different areas, it's been really cool as well. The reason MiFi is still a problem, and I want a separate‑powered MiFi unit, is because I don't want ... my batteries are already rubbish on my devices. I don't want to have to put on the Wi‑Fi and then have it using up its battery even more unnecessarily.

Ben: For me it's about reliability, because I use hotspots on my phone and my iPad quite a lot. Actually when I want it reliable, when I want it trustworthy, the reception, the battery life, the performance of the MiFi units, even though they're actually quite cheap units, is much better. Like you say, it insulates your battery on your devices, so you're not suffering from that, but also just the throughput. I spent a year pretty much living off a MiFi device as our primary source of Internet, and I can absolutely confirm that nearly all the MiFis I used outperformed the phones. Also, you didn't spend all this time cooking your phone, because they tend to heat up a great deal when they're going with Wi‑Fi and 3G performance at the same time.

Rafe: My tip here would be to actually buy one that's unlocked, if you can, rather than getting one through an operator, because then if you go traveling overseas, you can then put a local SIMM in it and use that overseas, because there are some countries where mobile roaming data is still too expensive. Particularly if you're traveling in a group with people who are maybe not as mobile tech‑savvy as you, the fact that you can turn on a Wi‑Fi hotspot that then doesn't cost them anything to use, they're not having to use their mobile roaming data, will make you the most popular person on the holiday.

Ben: Yeah. A top tip as well, I, like you, travel around, working on different sites. I'm oftentimes working in places with dodgy phone signal, where people are struggling to use perhaps the dongles that have been provided by work or whatever. Great tip. Also the great thing about the MiFi is that you can go and clip it up to the window or prop it up somewhere where there's good reception, and then rebroadcast that signal. Oftentimes if I'm working off the phone, I'll use the wired cable connection for reliability, but the MiFi is a fantastic device and also often offers up a better signal in terms of Wi‑Fi reception and performance.

Ewan: If you're looking for something that isn't operator‑locked, I suggest you take a look at the Uros. The Goodspeed, and rather interesting. It's a MiFi unit, but it's got the ... let me take the battery off. I'm waving one around here in the studio. That's great for radio, right?

Ben: I love the look of that. I've never seen one bright pink before.

Ewan: Come on. I don't quite know how to open it. I'll work on it, but basically this gives you the option to put a whole lot of different SIMMs within it. The Goodspeed service, you can actually buy a day pass from them almost anywhere in the world. Try me. Name a country, and I'll tell you how much a thousand meg costs you. Name a country.

Rafe: Iceland.

Ewan: Okay, apart from Iceland. Go on.

Ben: Poland.

Ewan: Poland is in the Pro section. That will cost you five euro 90 for the day.

Ben: Bargain.

Ewan: Up to a thousand, or one gig.

Ben: Just while we're talking, we love Huawei. ZTE units are also very good, a very similar feature set, but there are some bargains to be had out there as well. TP‑Link makes some as well, so jump onto Amazon, but definitely recommend buying a name‑brand unit. There's lots of cheap muck out there.

Rafe: Other features to consider are the battery capacity. If you want to have a shared‑memory USB port, can you can get that. Actually the most important feature for me to look for is to have an external‑aerial port, because if you're going to use it in a home or business environment where there is poor signal, being able to plug in that external aerial can make all the difference.

Ben: Oh, I have never done that, but that sounds def handy. I'm going to give that a try. Rafe Blandford, you're up next.

Rafe: The second thing I wanted to talk about was cases, which is again quite a broad topic and a little bit boring, but the first thing I want to ask here is does everyone use a case? I'll have to put up my hand and say I started using them for a very specific reason.

Ewan: I don't enjoy using cases.

Ben: I dislike cases. I have dropped my phone so many times recently that it's gone in one, and it's saved me a number of times.

Rafe: Yeah, and that's it for me. It's a significant investment when you've got a phone. You don't want it to break, but it does often spoil the design for me. The first one I want to mention is something you mentioned in an earlier episode of this series, which is HTC, with their M8, which is the latest version of their one smartphone, came out with a Dot View case, and this actually ... not only does it offer the usual protection, but it offers something extra. In the front of the case, it's a basic flip case. It's then got lots of little holes, so you can't actually see the screen through it, but it detects when this case is on it and then comes up with a different UI.

                        You tap on it once and it'll show you the time, tap on it twice and you'll see the weather. It's also possible to get notifications to come up on this screen as well as answer the phone, all without having to take the case. It answers part of that pain point of flip cases of having to open it to do anything, and it gives you that advantage of a glanceable screen. I really like that as an implementation.

Ben: Ewan, you and I are both, I notice, using Apple's own brand.

Ewan: I know. I was embarrassed.

Ben: Actually I didn't want to use a case, but I had to because I smashed a few too many phones and I needed to just eat some humble pie for a while and get one on there, because I was doing lots of traveling and I had a few accidents. I tested loads, and actually in the end decided that Apple's iPhone case, own‑brand case, is actually the best one out there, and it's really stood up to a whole bunch of wear and tear. My top tip, get the black one, because if you don't buy the black one, all the other colors turn black in about 30 seconds and look really grotty. The black one is ... it's not glamorous, it's not exciting, but if you want it to look reasonably smart ... and more importantly, I've dropped my iPhone onto concrete several times, face down, and it has survived.

Ewan: Yeah. I have a wife and young children, and I just thought I'd better get something. I much prefer using these things without a case.

Ben: Yep.

Rafe: The other element I wanted to talk about in terms of cases was with a tablet, getting a keyboard built in, and it's actually one of the times when it really makes sense. I've seen various iPad implementations, quite like what Logitech has done.

Ben: I own the Logitech, the case for the iPad 3, the first Retina one. Tested a whole load, and would recommend that as the best one.

Rafe: I do think, if you're going to put a case on it, having the extra bit of thickness that puts the keyboard on there really does change what you can do with the device. I had a similar experience with the Lumia 2520. That has an option case. It also has an extra‑capacity battery built into it and a couple of USB ports, but it transformed it from a tablet which felt, frankly, not terribly useful in day‑to‑day life, into something that was replacing my laptop on a regular basis. I like that element, of a case that's adding real value and actually making you use the device in a different way.

Ben: Guys, at the end of our good kit guide, as ever, not necessarily all the best things on the market, but the things that we use and love. The best thing about this, though, is when the listeners let us know what they use and love, because frankly, most of the stuff I own is based from recommendations from people I trust.

Ewan: Exactly.

Ben: Jump onto 361Podcast.com or tweet us at 361Podcast. Let us know what you use. Fill out the three‑question survey at the bottom of this and in fact every single post, and leave us a comment telling us the stuff you love. Interested in product types, categories, things you've discovered, and even specific product recommendations, so don't hold back. Let us know what you think. All right, gents. I will see you next week for our last episode in season seven.

Rafe: Oh, my. Season seven?

Ben: Well, yeah.

Rafe: Geez, so it's season eight.

Ewan: All good things.

Ben: Season eight coming up, and not too far away, our hundredth‑ever episode.

Rafe: That means that we can get syndicated.

Ben: Does it? You promise?

Rafe: Well, that's what they say in TV, isn't it?

Ben: Excellent. While you and MacLeod go and sign us the big‑bucks deal, we're going to go away for another week, get ready for our final episode of the season. Thank you for listening, as ever. Please leave us a comment whenever you hear this. If you can do us a nice review on iTunes, that would be joyous too. We'll be back next week. Bye‑bye.