I’m on my way to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, and I thought I’d take a moment to share what’s in my gear bag. I write about mobile technology, so clearly my goal is to travel light and just take the items that I really need with me. On the other hand, this is one of the biggest events of the year for a tech journalist. While a number of products have already been introduced, this will be my first chance to check out many of the laptops I’ve been writing about for the last few months, as well as all those goodies that have yet to be introduced to the world.
My travel kit is a little heavier than I’d like, because unfortunately I dropped my Asus UL20A recently and the display backlight has been on the fritz. The laptop is under warranty and I plan to send it in for repairs soon, but for some reason today it’s been working quite reliably, so I’m hopeful that I can use this 12.1 inch laptop as my primary work machine. It’s thin, light, gets about 6 hours of battery life, and fits beautifully into my backpack.
On the other hand, I’m going to bring a backup machines with me in case my UL20A dies on me again. So I’ll be taking my wife’s Asus UL30A, which is similar in most respects, but it has a larger 13.3 inch display, twice the RAM, and twice the hard drive space. If all goes well, this laptop will spend most of the time in my hotel room and not in the bag I carry with me. Last year I covered the show using an Asus Eee PC 1000H with a 10 inch screen and Intel Atom processor. While I could certainly use a little more horsepower for processing videos this year, I’m still hoping to keep my gear bag light.
Here are a few other things I’m packing:
- Targus 15.4″ Groove Laptop Backpack – It’s not the most compact backpack, but you can easily fit a couple of netbooks, plus an umbrella, camera, water bottle, and other goodies in this backpack. And at $35 or less, it’s reasonably cheap. I’ve been carrying one around for the last couple of years. There’s also a pretty good chance that CEA will shove a messenger bag into my hands when I arrive, but I generally prefer a backpack because it distributes weight more evenly.
- CLEAR WiMAX modem – While CLEAR’s 4G service isn’t available nationwide yet, it is available both in Philadelphia and Vegas. This will be my first time testing the network outside of my home city. Wish me luck. Otherwise, I’ll be spending a lot of time in the CES blogger’s lounge and at my hotel room.
- Samsung USB DVD-RW drive – Most CES press kits come on old fashioned paper or on USB flash drives. But every now and again, you run across a disc. I’m taking this disc drive along just in case I need it.
- Canon PowerShot A590 8.0MP digital camera – If you’ve ever wondered what I use to capture pictures and videos for Liliputing, this is it. The PowerShot A590 isn’t the smallest digital camera, but it was a good deal for the price, and as an added bonus it does a respectable job of shooting audio and video as well. You know, if your standards are low.
- Sanyo Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries – These AAs power my camera, and they’re by far the best rechargeable batteries I’ve ever purchased. While most AAs lose a significant amount of juice after just a few charges, these little guys take a volt and keep on… volting.
- Dell Axim X50v PDA – For the most part, I just use my PDA for the calendar and contact applications at an event like CES. It has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities and a web browser, but the browser is too slow and limited to be useful. I am packing an extra large battery so I can use the PDA to watch movies on the plane though, TSA rules permitting.
- Cheap Nokia cellphone – Sometimes people wonder why I don’t talk more about my cellphone. It’s because I don’t have a smartphone. I rely heavily on netbooks, laptops, and cloud services for most of the functions of smartphones. This helps keep my monthly bill low. As an added bonus, you’d be amazed at how infrequently I need to charge this 3 year old phone.
- Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Voice, Zoho Sheet – Those cloud services I just mentioned? Google Voice will help me manage a number of meetings and press calls, Google Calendar (which syncs with Outlook and my Dell Axim PDA) will help me keep my schedule straight, Google Maps will help me get from place to place, and Zoho Sheet will help me create charts comparing new products which I can then access no matter which laptop I’m using at the moment.
Hmm… so much for traveling light, eh? At least I decided to leave my all-in-one printer, scanner, copier, fax behind.