Behind the Screens: Greg Barbosa’s MacBook-powered mobile workstation

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MacBook Pro on Roost stand, with Bose QC 35 II, Kanex Keyboard, and Microsoft Arc Mouse

Behind the Screens is a weekly 9to5Toys series that takes you through our writers’ setups, be it mobile, desktop, gaming or home theater. Next up is Greg Barbosa, Product Manager across the entire 9to5 network.

Over the last year, I have grown to obsess over a minimal, mobile, MacBook Pro workstation. My love for travel and working outside the home has pushed me to make sure I have whatever I need to keep going throughout the day.

15-inch MacBook Pro (2016) |

The star of my mobile workstation is the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Like Ben Lovejoy, I keep my Apple computers for five years at a time. I maxed out the MacBook Pro, and it easily handles everything I throw at it. From development work, 4K video editing, and yes, even writing, this machine has been the perfect workhorse.

I never leave the house without carrying Apple’s Type-C Power Adapter and cable. I often contemplate whether it would be better to get a large battery that can charge the MacBook Pro though. Luckily, I plan my days accordingly, so I’m never far from a power outlet.

Weeks after starting my mobile work adventures, I knew that ergonomics would be crucial for comfort. After a bit of research, I settled on the Roost Laptop Stand. The Roost’s ability to quickly fold and unfold into a compact size made it a no-brainer. Its adjustable height allows for various comfortable positions depending on what surface height I’m working on that day.

I have complaints about Apple’s newer keyboard switch designs, but I continue to use it begrudgingly. On the off-chance I need a different typing experience, I pull out the Kanex foldable keyboard. I don’t use it often, but the foldable design makes it a daily carry.

Out of my entire workstation, the most significant area of struggle has to be the portable mice options. I use the Microsoft Arc Mouse sporadically but still look for a better solution. I’d like to use the Magic Mouse, but after hours of continuous use my wrists cramp up. The pointer also isn’t the best when used with various surface types. The Arc Mouse’s ergonomic body takes a lot of strain off my wrists, and for that, it works in a pinch. Being able to fold flat is the most prominent selling point it has.

AirPods + Bose QC 35 II |

Working in new environments nearly every day means learning to isolate myself without leaving where I’m at. Good audio takes that experience over the top. I’ve been an AirPods user since day one and held nothing but love for them. The quick pairing and portable size are perfect.

When I want something more, I reach for the Bose QC 35 II headphones. I’ve worn them for 12 hour days and never felt discomfort. They perform well through music, podcasts, watching and editing videos. I found that plugging in its included AUX cord can also take the sound experience up a notch. Its foldable design is also the reason it quickly became a favorite.

Sony RX100 V + iPhone X + Pixel 2 |

Writing for our sites sometimes means taking great pictures for a review. My daily driver is now the Sony RX100 V, and I have loved every second of it. From the in-depth shooting options to 4K videos, it’s the perfect portable camera.

When I’m not using the RX100 V, I fall back to the iPhone X or Pixel 2. Both phones take incredible pictures in good lighting and work beautifully in a pinch. I reach out to either of them when looking to take a quick shot on Instagram. For the iPhone X, I’ll also attach the Moment Wide or Tele Lens onto the Walnut Photo Case.

I usually work at coffee shops with reliable Wi-Fi, but when that fails, I pull out my Pixel 2 and enable the hotspot. Thanks to Project Fi, I have reliable service and speeds nearly everywhere I go.

Nomad PowerPack + Cables + Incase ICON |

Battery tech has both simultaneously been moving fast and slow over the past few years. Battery storage capacities have remained relatively the same, but manufacturers are increasing what battery packs can simultaneously do. Looking for a multi-purpose battery, I picked up Nomad’s PowerPack with built-in Tile. By getting a pack with Tile, I can now charge my devices and track where my backpack is.

Starting with the iPhone X lightning cable, I’ve made it a priority to change all my cables over to USB-C. This has made charging devices and carrying cables significantly easier. I hate carrying adapters for cables around unless absolutely necessary so I have the Satechi Type-C Pro Hub in my bag. Including an SD card reader, two USB-A, and two USB-C ports make it ideal for my mobile setup.

Carrying all this around has been made possible thanks to Incase’s ICON backpack. When I upgraded to it from Incase’s City Backpack, my back thanked me. The ICON’s design allows me to fill it with everything I need and not feel the neck or shoulder strain.

Boosted Board + Miscellanea |

The second most important part of the mobile workstation has to be how I get around. The 2nd Generation Dual+ Boosted Board with the Extended Range Battery has gotten me just about everywhere I need to go. A full review of it will be hitting 9to5Toys soon.

For surprise headaches and allergy attacks, I always carry some ibuprofen and generic allergy pills. My wallet is usually tucked away in the ICON backpack thanks to Apple Pay’s increasing availability.

For mobile workers, I’d recommend checking out Workfrom. It quickly became a necessary tool when living in NYC to help me find places with strong Wi-Fi and a high number of power outlets.

What’s Next? |

I’m always hunting for the next best mouse and keyboard combo. I like Apple’s Magic Keyboard, but it’s just not compact enough for me to throw into my bag and not worry about it breaking.

I’ll also probably pick up a high quality mobile podcasting microphone. The QC 35 II has a built-in mic, but it picks up too much ambient noise making the audio on my end of a meeting noisy.

Since I’m always moving about, I’m sure I’ll find a way to minimize my setup even further.

If you’ve got any tips on what I should add or take away, please let me know in the comments below or @gregbarbosa on Twitter. I’d love to hear about what you’re doing to keep yourself productive on-the-go.

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