After Skatter Tech wrapped up at CES 2011 earlier this year, many asked about the gadgets and gear that I pack for covering press conferences, media events, and the show floor. So I decided to write-up a detailed list of the gadgets I’m taking to CTIA Wireless 2011.
Unlike traditional feature phones, smart phones run out of batteries in under a day. Especially with heavy usage during busy conferences, batteries run dry in a matter of hours. I generally need a smart phone for calling companies, text messaging other co-workers, checking my schedule, confirmation emails, and maps for getting around. If I have some down time to write an article or decide to live blog an event, I generally start-up the mobile hotspot for internet access which is an even larger battery drain. This time around, I am carrying the HTC EVO and HTC Thunderbolt for access to Sprint’s and Verizon Wireless’s 4G networks, respectively.
Even with two smart phones on hand, having to be tied down to a power outlet for recharging is a major time killer. I usually have to wish battery life goodbye when I live stream a video to Skatter Tech LIVE. To replenish my devices while on the move, I carry a Zagg Sparq which features nearly 4000 mAh of battery. It is compatible with just about any USB device and can restore full power to my smart phone at least two times. On that note, I also carry plenty of cables to recharge anytime I find an outlet.
While I have seen some reporters use a Bluetooth keyboard to liveblog with tablets, the limitations simply do not cut it for me just yet. The Apple MacBook Air also appears to be a popular choice due to its compact size and lightweight body, but the price is too far out of my budget. I usually bring my Dell XPS M1530 laptop for backing up images, editing photos, writing articles, and publishing videos. Since the bulk of a full size laptop is too much for carrying all day, I usually bring a netbook for the show floor and leave the larger one back in my hotel. This time around, I was going to bring the Google Chrome Notebook, but had a slight last-minute change in plans.
I managed to borrow a Dell Alienware M11x laptop which essentially kills two birds with one stone. It packs a punch with an Intel i7 quad-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, plenty of storage, over 6 hours of battery life, in a compact 11 inch package. It is a bit heavy, but the benefits outweigh the downsides.
One camera is simply not enough for getting things done, so I have three. I use a Canon T2i DSLR for quality photography along with two lenses. I have a Sennheiser shotgun microphone which mounts onto the camera for capturing audio during HD video recordings for interviews and product demos.
For backup, I also carry a Sony point and shoot camera in case my battery runs out or another unforeseen issue arises. Last but not least, my smart phone acts as the final camera. With an integrated mobile broadband connection, it is by far the easiest tool for getting photos onto Skatter Tech LIVE nearly instantly. This makes it possible to snap images and publish live updates to the website on the go. It is a lot easier than having to pop a SD card into my laptop, find a network connection, and upload images through a web browser.
I always have a pair of sound isolating ear buds in my bag. This lets me tune out of the loud conference noises which are nearly impossible to escape. They also are a godsend during long flights. They are absolutely necessary for ensuring that audio sounds right while exporting video too.
After CES 2011, I had about 20 GB of captured photos and videos. That number only continues to rise each year. A few SDHC memory cards for my camera lets me swap out filled ones on the fly. I try to copy them to my laptop’s HDD every chance I get. I also bring a portable HDD with me in case I run out of space. Packing a flash drive is also a must for sharing files with others.
I also store important information on Dropbox for easy access from my smart phone or laptop. It especially comes in handy when trying to transfer a small files between coworkers while on the move.
Other Things I Do Or Don’t Take
I still see people bring pens and notebooks, but I almost never do so. There are usually a never-ending supply of these at every booth and press conference. I carry a Square card reader for splitting bills with others easily. I hate carrying cash, but I carry a few bucks for cab fare or small restaurants that do not accept cards. Reporters often bring dedicated camcorders to complement their cameras, but the latest generation of DSLR cameras offer impressive video capture quality.
Links: Skatter Tech (LIVE)