Monday, 26 September 2011

There's No Monkey on My Back

As I was asked about the electronics I carried with me in my backpack while on a month’s tour of the world, I thought I’d share and concisely review the gadgets I relied upon to serve and protect.
Without further ado:
  1. Pentax K-7 DSLR camera: My camera proved yet again that my love for it is entirely justified; from high definition videos to handheld stills in the dark, nothing encumbers it.
    Being lazy and frankly afraid of having to change lenses in the field, I stuck with one lens that proved very adequate for the job at hand: A Sigma 18-250. In the camera I had an 8gb Sandisk Extreme card but I also carried a couple of extra memory cards.
    What I didn’t carry with me this time around is a backup camera: I decided our phones’ cameras are good enough for me to avoid the extra bulk.
  2. NetComm MyZone wifi hotspot: With 3G data SIMs at hand almost everywhere we went, the MyZone allowed me to have the Internet with me wherever I was. In these days where online check-ins are a necessity there are valid reasons for having the Internet available on me regardless of addictions. Giving us Skype access also meant I never had to resort to expensive global roaming.
    Lest I forget, thanks to those who worked hard to get me the SIMs!
  3. Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook: Old in the tooth, this three year old netbook is still more than capable when it’s running modified Ubuntu Linux. It did everything I wanted it to do and more, and unlike a tablet it had a keyboard, a proper browser, and no inhibitions on what I could do with it.
  4. Kogan Agora 7” tablet: There can be no doubt this tablet is cheap crap. It even partly broke down during our travels, requiring me to go through special efforts to charge it. However, it proved very effective in keeping our four year old entertained with his favorite videos.
  5. Amazon Kindles: Carrying north of 40 books between us on a couple of lightweight devices and easily buying a couple more books as we travelled makes me say this – a Kindle is the international traveller’s best friend. Hard to believe people are still reading paper books. Those poor souls!
  6. iPhone 3GS: I may badmouth Apple on every available opportunity, but I also give them credit for generating this wonderful device. Aside of normal duties (Skype, email, Twitter, quick browsing) we used NavFree for extensive navigation around the UK (and I do mean around the UK). It never failed us (other than during this massive storm with clouds so black we lost GPS satellite signal!).
    It was also interesting to compare our regular Tomtom GPS to the iPhone: given the iPhone’s superior processing power, it calculates new routes in a blink – whereas the Tomtom can take a long while, often missing us some crucial turns as you continue driving.
  7. Google Nexus S Android phone: My backup camera and our alternative navigation device, utilizing Google Maps’ turn by turn instructions through our wifi hotspot’s Internet connection. We used NavFree on it, too (its GPS reception proved stronger than my iPhone’s), but at the moment the only NavFree maps available for Android are the UK’s.
  8. Chargers and adapters  To cater for differing international standards as well as the need to charge multiple devices overnight I carried a power board with me.
  9. Lowepro Fastpack 250 camera and laptop bag: The backpack itself, ideally compartmentalized for the gadget freak. It comfortably fits into airlines' hand luggage allowance.
All in all, if you were to ask me what I would take along with me next time around I would probably pick the exact same items. I do suspect that by our next international tour the netbook will be replaced by an ultra notebook, though (ala the MacBook Air, but running Linux). Not because the netbook is incapable, but rather because the ultra notebook promises to be significantly more capable, lighter and offer 12” screen sizes – a size I consider the ideal compromise between the pain of carrying and usability.

Image: Lowepro


wile.e.coyote said...

Do you need to remove all of them before getting scanned at the airport?

Moshe Reuveni said...

I only remove the netbook.
The exception was Singapore, where I was asked whether I have an iPad. I answered "no", as I don't have an iPad (I have a cheap crap tablet but not an iPad) and continued through.

Uri said...

Did they let you read during takeoff and landing? I had to turn off my Kindle.

Moshe Reuveni said...

As far as I remember, other than one flight none of the crew explicitly told me to switch the Kindle off for take offs. It was the four year old sitting next to me that would force me to turn it off, and given we didn't want him to do silly stuff I complied.
As for landings - with getting ready and everything I didn't even think of reading during the landing. Besides, landing is fun - you arrive at new places.