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The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show is just about to begin, and I’ll be spending the better part of a week wandering from hotel to hotel to convention center space to convention center space. As someone who writes about mobile devices that help you work on the go, this is probably the one week out of the year that I put my money where my mouth is more than any other.
So what’s in my gear bag for CES this year?
Honestly… almost exactly the same stuff that was in my bag last year. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I picked up this ultrabook with a 13.3 inch, 1600 x 900 pixel display and an Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor in 2012 and it’s been my mobile workhorse ever since.
While there are faster devices that have been released over the past few years, this model still packs enough power for writing, researching, image editing, and some light video production tasks. It’s also super-light, weighing just 2.4 pounds.
My only real complaint is that the battery’s only good for around 3-4 hours these days.
Energizer XP1800A external battery
That’s where this external battery pack comes in. While it adds an extra pound of gear to my bag, it lets me more than double the amount of time I can use the laptop without plugging in to recharge.
This battery also has a USB connector so I can use it to keep my phone charged on the go.
FreedomPop MiFi 500 mobile hotspot
In the past I’ve relied on a Clear USB modem for internet access in locations where I don’t have WiFi access. But Clear has pretty much shut up shop, and the WiMAX network it relied on is shutting down later this year.
So I recently swapped out my FreedomPop WiMAX modem for a new 4G LTE model.
FreedomPop provides 500MB of free data each month, but you can also pay for extra data. As I get ready to board my flight to Las Vegas I haven’t upgraded my account yet — but if the WiFi at my hotel is lousy I’ll probably upgrade to a plan that gives me 4GB or 5GB so I can do a bit of work from the hotel. That should be enough to get by if I upload videos and other large files from the convention center press room.
Incidentally, FreedomPop gives away a little extra free data when you add friends to your contacts… so if you feel like adding me as a friend, you can use this link.
What can I say? I prefer a mouse to a touchpad… and this one’s small, cheap, and wireless.
I recently had to replace the Spigen Neo Hybrid case that I’ve been using with this phone after it cracked, but the phone is still going strong more than a year after I bought it.
This’ll be my primary device for keeping track of my schedule, navigating from place to place, listening to podcasts while I walk from place to place, and possibly for providing emergency internet access via WiFi tethering if and when the FreedomPop hotspot doesn’t work.
It may also serve as a backup camera — particularly if I have time to snap a quick photo to upload to Twitter, Facebook or Google+ but which I don’t plan to post on Liliputing.
I picked up this camera shortly before CES 2011, and I’ve been using it to snap photos and shoot videos for Liliputing ever since.
It has a wide-angle lens, optical image stabilization, and a 12x optical zoom. As a non-professional photographer, I appreciate that it’s simpler to use than a DSLR, but one of these days I might update to a newer model with an even higher zoom level and/or the ability to to shoot 1080p video (this model goes no higher than 720p).
But just like the 2012-era laptop, it ain’t broke so I ain’t fixing it… yet.
That said, sometimes things do break. So here’s what I’m taking along just in case anything stops working.
I’m currently in the process of reviewing an Asus EeeBook X205 laptop. This $200 Windows notebook has an Intel Atom processor and just 32GB of storage, so it’s not the most powerful machine. It also lacks a full-sized SD card slot and has only 2 USB ports.
But the notebook gets around 10 hours of battery life and it’s fast enough for basic work. If my Samsung ultrabook dies on me, I’ll use the EeeBook X205 to get work done… it’ll just take a little more time to shrink videos before uploading them to YouTube, and I’ll have to transfer photos from my camera either using a microSD card instead of a full-sized card, or by connecting a USB cable.
Other odds and ends
For the flight, I’ve got a Kindle Touch for reading, and a pair of noise-canceling headphones for listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks.
The Nexus 7 I took last year has been wonky since I upgraded it to Android 5.0, so I’ve decided to leave it at home and focus on reading/listening rather than watching movies during my 5 hour flight this year.
For the hotel room, I’ve got a portable humidifer from CVS — the Satechi model I bought last year died shortly after I took it to Vegas and the new CVS model seems to pump out more moisture anyway. The air is dry in Las Vegas and I’m tired of waking up with a bloody nose. Hopefully this will be the year I don’t.
While this year’s gear bag is packed a lot like last year’s, things have certainly changed since I started traveling to CES. Check out my mobile reporting kits from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.
Canon’s PowerShot SX series are good cameras. I’ve got the original SX100. I got it originally for its USB tethering function, but ended up never using that feature. The optical zoom range is great on these and ended up being the thing I like best about it. These cameras support full manual modes so you can get creative if you want. But honestly, I just leave mine in full auto most of the time.
Really enjoy your site. I try to visit daily. What software do you use to compress videos?
You should post up what kind of tools and non tech items you use also. Like stands for the camera. Screw driver for the stand. Who knows?!?!?
I. cannot. wait! Love CES week and I love Liliputing! Just wish I was able to be there, tech geek nirvana! but I do hate Vegas
Cool to see you stick with what works as opposed to churning through new gear. I’m still using my Toshiba R600 that I picked up used, since at 2.2 lbs it still gets the jobs done for basic use. Planned obsolescence is frustrating- like my Razr dying due to a fading battery and bloat. It is one reason why I prefer cheap tech over bleeding edge kit.
If you get a chance, check out American Megatrends and their AmiDuos (if they have a CES booth.) For those of us who are windows tablet users, it seems like the best Android option out there currently, as ConsoleOS is suspiciously looking like a hoax. AmiDuos runs much more fluidly than Bluestacks, although it is a bit iffy when it comes to 3D gaming and waking out of sleep.
Go Brad Go!
You might consider just hitting whatever Walmart, Target or Pharmacy is near by and buying a cheap humidifier once you get into town. Then just leaving it there. A bit wasteful but I don’t think waking up for the week with a non-bleeding nose is too much of an extravagance.
Look forward to reading your coverage at any rate. You’re one of the guys who talks about the the smaller interesting stuff quite often – rather than just repeating the same handful of stories every other tech blog is covering.
I’d prefer a re-usable solution, so hopefully this model lasts longer than a week. I’m encouraged by the fact that it doesn’t rely on one of those little wicks that most tiny humidifers use. It basically has the guts of a full-sized unit, but it uses a water bottle as the tank.
Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll do my best to uncover little gems, but disappointingly a growing number of exhibitors are choosing not to actually show their stuff on the main show floor, and I won’t have time to visit every hotel suite I’d like in the coming week.
So far so good… woke up without a bloody nose!
At full power, the humidifier drains a 16 ounce water bottle pretty quickly though, so I might turn it down a little tonight and try a 20 ounce bottle.
Oh yeah, and I’ll probably have some work to do as well… CES Unveiled is a pre-show event taking place this afternoon, and it’s followed by the NVIDIA press conference. I’ll be attending both.
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