There is a lot of preparation leading up to harvest, but one area that is often overlooked is connectivity in the combine. This year I am especially excited with the release of the iPad. In the past I have been connected with my MacBook Air and my cell phone, but this year my iPad and (if I can ever get my hands on) an iPhone 4 will be my tools of choice. Being connected while in the combine has been crucial to running my real estate business, and I have tried just about every gadget, Bluetooth device and tool on the market. This blog is about some of my must-haves for the 2010 harvest.
Every harvest I am looking at new ways to improve my communication devices while spending long hours in the combine. Being connected to both my grain buyers, implement service departments and, of course, my real estate clients just as though I am sitting in my office, is imperative.
Fortunately, all of the equipment manufacturers have made drastic improvements to cab sound proofing and design to allow for all of the technologies that the modern farmer would want. I have made a list of my must-have products for the 2010 harvest. Is my list biased? Yes – I have opinions and my blog is my spot to voice them. You are, however, welcome to endorse additional products that you use and I would be happy to post them (or just put it in the comments section of this page).
Top 3 Harvest Tech Tools
Of course the iPhone tops my list; not only does it do just about everything that my iPad can do (with the exception of hold a charge), but of course it is my primary voice and text communication.
A couple of “don't forgets” for the combine cab to accompany the iPhone:
- Kensington iPhone Holder – By far the best one I have found for hands-free use. The suction is good and allows for mounting and flexible positioning just about anywhere in the cab with me.
- Extra Charger –I don't care if the iPhone 4 has better battery life; it will still not outlast my John Deere STS fuel tank.
- Bluetooth wireless headset – I have used many of these and they have all gotten so good I am not even going to endorse one over the rest. As far as all day comfort, I have found the over-the-ear models with a boom mike work for me. I currently use a Planetronics Voyager PRO. Also, don't forget a charger for this device also (typically micro USB).
- OtterBox Defender for iPhone – Always a great product. It keeps you from destroying your device in your pocket when you’re cramped inside the machine fixing that almost impossible to reach bearing that went at 2am!
In my opinion, the iPad will become one of the most valuable tools to the modern farmer.
The iPad has so many great features – without even going into the cool apps – just in its design:
- No keyboard –The problem with laptops in machinery is that, even if the cab is super clean (like mine), you still need to occasionally get in and out while the machine is running (save me the safety lecture please). Going “sans keyboard” means that dust will not fill your keys and alleviates the need for a silicone keyboard cover.
- Size – The iPad is the perfect size to fit on the buddy seat or field office option of any combine. It will also typically fit comfortably under the seat in the storage drawer under such seats.
- Battery Life – Hands down, this is the most amazing part of the iPad. This will easily handle the 14 to 18-hour days in the field. Under constant use I can usually get 8 to10 hours out of mine.
- Durability – I just purchased an OtterBox Defender for my iPad at harvest, which is really an amazing product. It essentially makes the iPad a farm-proof computer that is fully protected, even in the roughest of conditions. I now wish more farm repairs were documented on YouTube.
- Apps – Yes, I know I said this was going to be about design. But, when discussing any Apple product, it really does come down to the apps. Some of my favourites right now while working include iThoughts, Soundpaper, Dragon Dictation, CalenGoo, DocsToGo, WeatherChannel TWCMax, and Evernote. With endless hours to think, many of these apps allow you to record, translate, or document while in the field.
3) Two Way Radio
Go "old school," as two ways are still one of the cheapest and best means for communication between the combine and the trucks. I am a big fan of Cobra products – they hold a good charge and have a weather channel. Plus, these save a bundle on short cell calls. Not to mention it is fun to surf the other channels when you’re bored at night.
I know this blog was pretty simple, but I will be going into further detail in future blogs detailing the apps and software used in managing my operation. For now, keep it simple, keep connected, and happy harvesting!
Update: August 29, 2010
This blog post along with the You Tube Otter Box iPad review where posted in an article for PadGadget.com pretty funny really!