Family Computers, 2017 Edition

A quick update on my family’s computers, as we start the 2017-2018 school year

My family’s current setup

  • Google WiFi
  • iPhones
  • Macbooks
  • Windows Gaming PC
  • School-provided Windows convertible tablets
  • iPads
  • AppleTV
  • Wii
  • Chromecast Audio
  • Laserprinter All-in-One.
  • High speed document scanner
  • Nest thermostats
  • Google Home

Changes since last year

Home Network

I bought a set of Google WiFi routers. I love them. They have worked flawlessly since the day I plugged them in. Best Google hardware product ever!


I upgraded my kids to refurbished iPhone 6s+s in Incipio cases. They are happy campers. We kept their old iPhone 5s’s as backup phones for science projects and vacation trips.

No more Beats headphones

I’ve been having problems with my kids’ Beats headphones. I had two sets of headphones, and they both needed to be repaired twice while under warrantee. When they broke again after the warrantee had expired, I just threw them away.

I now buy my kids $15 Panasonic earbuds. They don’t necessarily last much longer than the Beats did, but they are much cheaper to replace.

Return of Windows

After a 10 year absence, Windows-based computers have returned to my home. My kids’ school district provides Windows convertible laptops to every middle school and high school student. The laptops are locked down, but have WiFi Internet access. I think Chromebooks would be better, but given that so many students’ parents work for Microsoft, I’m sure the school district felt they had to go with Windows.

Besides the school laptops, I have a teenage son who is a huge game player. Last year I helped him build a low-end gaming PC. He loves it. It’s also useful for his schoolwork, especially for Computer Science. Interestingly enough, it is not possible to install Eclipse on his locked-down school laptop. As a result, computer science students are required to supply their own home computers.

Other gadgets

I bought two Nest thermostats. They work fine, and look great, but I’m not sure I’m getting much benefit over a traditional thermostat.

Google Home. It was fun for a few weeks, but then we forgot about it. I guess for us it’s more natural to search using our phones or laptops.

No more Apple Time Capsule

I noticed that I wasn’t using my Apple Time Capsule, so I sold it. I’m now using Google Drive and Google Photos for backup.

No more Scooter Computer

I had a fanless mini-PC for experimenting, but I noticed I wasn’t using it. (And unfortunately it was not powerful enough to be useful to my son as a gaming PC.) I gave it away.

Possible future purchases

Depending on how things go, in the next year I’m thinking of getting

  • New high-end iPhone
  • Homepod speaker
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Bluetooth door lock.

And that’s about it. At the moment I’m pretty happy with my family’s tech stack.