What’s in your pack: Scott Carmichael

whats in your pack

It has been several years since we last visited our “What’s in your pack” segment here on Gadling. As times (and gadgets) have changed, it is time to breath some fresh air into the feature, and we’ll start with yours truly.

Lets get something out in the open – I’m a total gadget freak. My gadget needs go way, way beyond the usual “laptop, camera, charger”, and it isn’t uncommon for my gadgets to take up more than half the weight of the crap I carry on a trip. Of course, what I carry does vary for each trip, so I’ve collected the kind of stuff I’ll carry on an average trip.
The basics

I tend to swap out my luggage every couple of months – but I always stick with the same style – one roller and one checkpoint friendly laptop bag. My current pick of the month is the Pelican 1510LOC laptop overnight case. This thing is total overkill for anything I do, but I love the fact that I have a piece of luggage the airlines won’t be able to kill. The case weighs a ton, but that is the price you pay for rugged.

My laptop and other smaller items go in a Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer – the one piece of luggage I have used for more than 6 months.

To me, laptops are like my luggage – I buy something cool, and by the time the next new cool laptop is out, I’ll swap things out and upgrade. At the moment, I travel with an HP DM1 or a Google CR48 Chrome notebook. The HP DM1 has been upgraded with 8GB of memory and a 500GB Seagate Momentus XT hybrid SSD. Picking which one to use depends on the trip, and what I need to get done. To get some basic work done, I also carry a Barnes & Noble Nook Color, but I have hacked it to run Android Froyo. The tablet is perfect for my email, web and of course, Angry Birds.

For overnight trips, I’ll obviously pack clothes, toiletries and some spare clothes for the inevitable delay or cancellation. I hate checking bags, so my packing ritual always means I have to stuff everything I need into my 2 carry-on bags.

All my gadgetry is split into categories – and packed in Tom Bihn packing cubes. Laptop, chargers, flightbag and a bag with basics fits in my laptop bag, the rest (along with my clothes) goes in the rolling case.

The goodies

Despite the risk of making a total fool of myself, here are the products I currently carry (in no particular order):

  • Aaxa Technologies M2 Micro projector (in its own hard shell case)
  • Barnes and Noble Nook Color (running Android Froyo with a 32GB MicroSD card)
  • Nikon P7000 digital camera
  • Canon S95 digital camera
  • HP DM1
  • Google Chrome CR48
  • Tekkeon MyPower All laptop battery pack + cable pack
  • Clear 4G/3G adapter
  • Zagg Sparq 2 battery pack
  • Verizon MiFi
  • Motorola W233 unlocked mobile phone
  • Unlocked 3G European MiFi + assortment of sim cards for Europe and Asia
  • Livescribe Echo 8GB smartpen + notepads
  • T-Mobile MyTouch 4G (primary phone)
  • Sprint Palm Pre
  • HTC HD2 (with Android)
  • HTC Inspire (AT&T)
  • Blackberry Storm 2
  • Motorola Roadster Bluetooth handsfree car kit
  • Trendnet 802.11n travel router
  • Callpod Chargepod + assorted power tips
  • 2 500GB drives (1 with restore image and 1 with apps/media)
  • Assortment of USB drives and SD cards
  • Assortment of cables, chargers and plugs
  • Audio Technica ATC ANC-3 noise canceling headphones
  • Monster Beats Tour in-ear headphones
  • 64GB iPod touch + video cables/dock/remote
  • Moshi voice recognition travel alarm clock
  • Sandisk Sansa Clip+ MP3 player + 16GB MicroSD card
  • Assortment of Eye-Fi wireless SD memory cards

The what/where/why?

I’ll try and explain some of the logic behind my choices for gear – part of the reason is that I’m always reviewing stuff, and some of the items in the collection may be undergoing a real on-the-road review. Other products are just things I’d rather carry than leave at home. I hate arriving somewhere and realizing I forgot to carry something.

Lets start with the various mobile phones – I always try and travel with more than one phone, and mix things around on various operators. Ideally, I’ll have one phone on each major US operator, which is a perfect way to prevent arriving somewhere and having a hard time getting a signal. Thanks to Google Voice, I can mix and match operators, sims and phone numbers.

My primary phone is a T-Mobile MyTouch 4G. I love that phone more than anything else, and its QIK videocalling and T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling feature make it the best travel phone on the market (in my opinion). The final phone in my assortment is a really cheap Motorola W233. I carry this when I need to head out for the night and don’t want to risk losing my smartphone.

Photography is something I never mastered (as you can see from these photos), so I stay away from the neat dslr rigs and rely on a decent point and shoot. The Canon S95 and Nikon P7000 fit the bill perfectly. The Canon is small enough for in my pocket, and the Nikon works nicely on the Manfrotto Modosteady 3-in-1 tripod. If I know I’ll be shooting hotel rooms or airline cabins, I’ll carry a Sima LED light as well as a better microphone for the Nikon if I plan to do video. Any camera I carry will have an Eye-Fi Connect X2 card in it.

Cables and networking gear all go in their own bag. I’ll usually carry at least one or two network cables, as well as a Trendnet 802.11n travel router and an assortment of USB and video cables.

As for headphones – I’m not an audiophile, and my only requirements are good noise isolation/cancellation along with good comfort. In a hotel room or airport, I’ll wear the Monster Beats Tour in-ear headphones, and on the plane I’ll swap them out for the Audio Technica ATH-ANC3 headphones. Music comes from an iPod Touch, my MyTouch 4G or the compact Sandisk Sansa Clip+. I love the Clip+ because it is small, sounds great and is easy to operate.

Power is always on my mind – I travel with a Tekkeon MyPower ALL battery pack which can double my laptop battery power. For my smaller gadgets, I’ll use a variety of battery packs like the Zagg Sparq 2 or the Technocel Battery Boost. Once I get to my room, I use the Callpod Chargepod to charge up to six devices at the same time. For the usual hotel room with just one outlet, I’ll use a Monster Outlets To Go powerstrip. To power my laptop, I usually swap out the included charger for a Kensington charger with DC and Empower plugs which allow me to charge and power on an airplane.

Entertainment in my room comes from a variety of sources – I always carry an HDMI cable for my laptop, along with Apple iPod/iPhone video cables with a dock and remote. With this, I can plug my player(s) into the hotel room TV. If the room lacks a decent TV, I can use the AAXA M2 Micro Projector, but I tend to only carry that if the trip is for business. In-room music comes from a Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker paired to my laptop or music player.

For the rare events I actually need to get some work done, I use a Dell Bluetooth travel mouse. I make VOIP phone calls with a Plantronics .audio 480 headset or conference calls using the Polycom C100S communicator and Skype. If I’m on the road without my family, I carry a Microsoft Lifecam Studio HD webcam.

My flightbag is what carries all my short cables, Bluetooth headset(s), memory, Secure keys for my remote access and anything else I think I need if I become separated from my main bag. I also carry a small flashlight and SwissTool screwdriver set. My flightbag also holds gift cards, iTunes cards, Gogo Inflight access cards and sim cards.

Weight?

There is no denying it – this setup weighs a ton – but I’ve mastered the art of making my bags look light. They always fit in the overhead, and I’m usually lucky enough to make it to the first boarding group on my flight, ensuring some space for the chunky rolling case.

Any logic to so much gear?

No.

That said, when I travel with others, I’m always the one that has a spare charger, or a USB drive with a full Windows 7 recovery image. Or fresh music. Or a screwdriver. And while this may not be a good enough reason, I try and use it to justify my addiction.

Ask Gadling – how can I reduce the number of chargers I carry on a trip?

This week’s “Ask Gadling” question comes from Tim, who reached out on Twitter for some help on how to reduce the number of chargers he carries when he travels. Thankfully, I’m a bit of a charger nut, so I’ve been on a similar quest for many years.

Of course, the increase in the number of chargers we carry is related to the number of gadgets we travel with. Ten years ago, most people probably carried a mobile phone and a portable CD player. Nowadays, it isn’t unthinkable to travel with a mobile phone, game console, Bluetooth headset, portable DVD player, MP3 player, digital camera and more. And thanks to the efforts of consumer electronics producers, almost every gadget comes with its own specific charger plug.

Thankfully, there are products out there that can lighten your load and turn you into a single charger traveler.Step 1 – Identify your needs

View more Ask Gadling: Travel Advice from an Expert or send your question to ask [at] gadling [dot] com.

Check all your chargers for duplicates – as more gadgets switch to similar connectors, you may be able to reduce the number you carry just by sharing between products. In some cases, your mobile phone may use the same charger as your headset.

When you go over your chargers, pay close attention to more than just the plug – the voltage settings are also important, and some devices may have special requirements, so be sure your replacement charger matches the requirements of both devices.

Make the move to USB

Most gadgets are relatively lower power devices – making them perfect for charging using USB cables. Everything from your Nintendo DS to your mobile phone can be charged using a simple (and lightweight) USB cable. When searching for a USB cable, find one as short as possible – just keep in mind that your gadget may have to hang from a charger in the wall.

Your final objective is to have a USB charging cable for each of your gadgets – and be able to leave dedicated chargers at home. Every charger that can only charge one product is something you don’t want to carry.

A good example of a simple short cable set is the Griffin kit pictured above, and mentioned here on Gadling earlier this month.

Replace your laptop charger with a lighter version that offers USB charging

When identifying your chargers, don’t forget to find a better alternative for your laptop charger. Many of these chargers are bulky, and can be replaced by much smaller versions. Best of all, some of these new lighter laptop chargers also offer USB charger ports – with this, you can turn two chargers into just one. In addition to be being much lighter, these chargers also work with interchangeable tips – so if you switch laptop brand in a few years, you just swap out the tip and it’ll be good to go on your new machine.

Some reliable smaller laptop chargers come from Innergie, Targus, Kensington and Igo. Another important feature of these chargers is that some come delivered with car/air plugs as well as AC/wall.

Find a 4-in-1 USB charger

OK – so not everyone travels with four mobile phones, but a 4-in-1 USB charger can of course charge more than just phones. When I travel, I carry a Kensington 4-port USB charger. Each port is capable of charging up to 500mAh, so my devices charge in about the same speed as their original. If I need a speedier charge, I’ll plug two devices in at the same time, instead of four.

When four ports is not enough…

Alright, so you already know you are a bit of a freak – you need to charge six devices at the same time, and would prefer to do so without carrying six different chargers? For you my friend, there is the Chargepod by Callpod.

The Chargepod is a single charge capable of charging six devices at the same time. Best of all, the Chargepod offers charging tips for almost every mobile gadget every designed – and it starts at just $39.95 for a kit.

To make the kit even better, the power tips that fit the Chargepod also fit the Callpod Fueltank battery packs – which means you only need to invest in power adapters once to get yourself a power system that works with or without outlets.

If you already know that your power needs will continue to grow, the investment in a Chargepod and Fueltank won’t cost more than $100, and will have you set for years to come.

Mobile phone safety tips – protect your data and your phone bill

As the mobile phone becomes more mobile computer than phone, the amount (and type) of information we carry with is has expanded. Pick up your phone right now and take a look at all the stuff you have stored on it – then picture what kind of hell you’ll go through if you lose it.

A lost phone will often contain access to your email, account information, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking accounts and of course a variety of music and video clips.

So – what can you do to protect your mobile life? We’ve collected ten tips that can help keep you safe, and safeguard your data if disaster strikes.
Password protection is not just another feature

Ever seen the “enable password protection” option on your phone? It is there for a reason – at least, a reason beyond being really annoying. Yes – having to enter your PIN every time you turn your phone on sucks. But don’t turn it off just because it annoys you! The pin or password protection is the first level of defense against thieves.

Alternatively, pick a SIM pin change feature, which will require a pin code when the sim card in your phone is changed (only for GSM phones).

Restrict international calls

Often, one of the first things a thief will do when they find a phone, is hand it over to a calling store – where people can make international calls using your phone. Thieves work fast – if you have lost your phone for two hours, you may have two hours of international calls on your next bill.

With some international calls costing as much as $5/minute, you’ll understand that your next phone bill may drain your bank account.

Always notify the operator as soon as your phone is stolen or lost

Even if your phone doesn’t contain anything really sensitive, always notify your mobile operator as soon as you can. The sooner you call them, the sooner they can disable your account and make a note of the loss/theft. This can help reduce your liability. This is especially important when you are abroad, as the international charges could run in the thousands if your phone is misused.

Also, be sure to call your local police department to ask whether it makes sense to file a report – especially in the case of theft, it may be wise to have a record of the theft. This can help return your phone should the thief get caught.

Be careful what you store on your phone

When you log into a web site on your phone, you’ll often be promoted whether you want to save the password you entered.

Think very carefully about this – if this is for Ebay, Paypal or something else of vital importance, you’ll always want to decline saving the password. The same applies to social networking sites, or anything else that can use your name to order products or leave comments.

Yes – having to log in each time is a hassle, but so is dealing with thousands of dollars in stuff you didn’t order if someone starts screwing around in your Ebay account.

And finally, if you are a little kinky, you may have some photos on your phone of your husband or wife that you may not want to share. Don’t become the next Paris Hilton – if you really have the need to store kinky photos or videos, be sure to protect them with some form of password safety. If you lose your phone, nothing is stopping people from uploading that stuff to the Internet. Good luck explaining that one to your neighbors or parents.

Add a mobile protection application – iPhone

The Apple MobileMe service extends your iPhone onto your desktop – it offers push email, file and media sharing and a host of security features. In the MobileMe control panel, you can track, wipe and lock your iPhone. There are several real life stories out there of how MobileMe helped track down an iPhone thief.

The service costs $99/year, but that obviously includes all the other cool features of MobileMe.

Product page: MobileMe

Add a mobile protection application – Windows Mobile

Windows Mobile users can install Sprite Terminator – this $14.95 application does remote wipe, remote lock and GPS tracking of your device. Once installed, you can remotely monitor your phone using the Web or another mobile device.

Sprite Terminator even lets you pull the most recent call records, which can be great if you need some more evidence to help track down a thief. In GSM phones, Sprite Terminator will even alert you to SIM card changes.

Product page: Sprite Terminator

Add a mobile protection application – Android

On Android devices, WaveSecure is the leading protection application – like most others, it supports remote lock and wipe, as well as SIM card change alerts (on GSM devices). WaveSecure uses SMS messages to trigger its alerts, which means a thief won’t even need a data plan to get caught.

WaveSecure adds more than most programs by offering remote backup of your media, contacts and other vital information. The application costs $19.95 per year.

As of this week, WaveSecure even added a product removal watchdog, which makes it almost impossible to remove the application without the alarm being triggered.

Product page: WaveSecure

Add a mobile protection application – Blackberry

SmrtGuard is the best data protection suite for Blackberry users – not only will this app lock your Blackberry, it can even be set to uninstall all key applications like password keeper and messaging – which adds an even greater level of protection.

Inside SmrtGuard, you can even listen in on the surroundings (how very James Bond). Better still – SmrtGuard can trigger an audio ping if you have lost your phone and need help locating it.

SmartGuard in its basic form is free, but a more advanced version with remote data backup is available starting at $2.99/month. The firm behind SmrtGuard also sells a similar version for Android users.

Product page: SmrtGuard

On Android – when your phone is lost, change your Google password immediately

Google Android phones rely on your Google account for everything they do – email, contacts, application downloads and more. If you lose your phone, find a computer and immediately change your Google password – this will lock the phone and require the finder to use your new Google password to restore it. No password = no risk of them breaking into your data.

Never store private information on your device (without encrypting it)

That note called “important stuff” that holds your social security number and the code for your garage may be really handy, but can you imagine the trouble you’ll be in if someone gets their hands on it?

Thankfully, there are ways to store this kind of stuff on your device, without having to worry about the bad guys.

Keeper, by Callpod is a good example of how to do this. The Keeper application is a two-part package – a free app for Android, Blackberry or iPhone, and a $29.95 desktop application for PC, Mac and Linux.

With the package, you can enter all your important stuff on your computer, then sync it with your phone – where it will be stored in a heavy encryption format.

Best of all, if someone tries to break into it, all the data can self destruct.

Product page: Callpod Keeper

Callpod announces the Fueltank Uno emergency device charger

This morning, Callpod announced the newest addition to their product lineup. If you haven’t been paying attention to my product reviews, you’ll have missed that Callpod make some of the best portable charging gear on the market.

Their Chargepod can charge six of your devices at the same time. The Chargepod V2 takes that to the next level by adding laptop charging. And back in November of last year, they announced the Fueltank, a portable battery pack that can charge 2 devices simultaneously.

Today, they are adding the Fueltank Uno to that lineup. The Uno is an emergency device charger with more than 4 times the battery capacity of your mobile phone battery. The device supports the power adapter tips used on the other Callpod products, which means it supports over 3,000 different phones, game consoles, PDA’s and more.

It’ll be on shelves starting this Sunday at Best Buy stores nationwide and retails for $39.95. Included with your purchase is a voucher for a free device tip, which can be ordered on the Callpod site. Click here to learn more about this handy product.

Sun, sand, surf and awesome beach gadgets!

In the “old days”, a trip to the beach involved bringing a folding chair and plenty of sunscreen. Nowadays, that same trip means you’ll need even more sunscreen, but also ways to stay in touch with Twitter, Facebook, Email and the latest news in the Gadling RSS feed.

In this lineup, you’ll find 5 gadgets that can make your beach trip a little more fun, and help keep your gadgets safe from the elements.

Otterbox cases

Lets face it, even though the beach is one of the more relaxing places you’ll find yourself, there are plenty of us that insist on taking the Blackberry, iPhone or other email device along with us. And if there is one thing gadgets hate, it is sun, sand and water. Otterbox is here to protect those gadgets with a full lineup of awesome cases.

Their protection varies from basic, to full body armor with waterproof gaskets. Their mid-range lineup of cases will allow you to take your Blackberry or iPhone to the beach, without worrying about sand clogging your ports.

Price: from $19.95
Where: www.otterbox.com


TriSpecs Bluetooth stereo sunglasses

Look cool and listen to music – the TriSpecs do both. These high quality (Carl Zeiss optics) sunglasses house a pair of Bluetooth headphones, a microphone and music controls. Simply pair the headphones to a compatible Bluetooth device. For a full review of the TriSpecs, click here.

Price: From $199.95
Where: www.trispecs.com


Freestyle MP3 player

If you want music on the beach, but also want to be able to take your player for a dip in the ocean, then check out the Freestyle Audio MP3 player. We took a closer look at this fully submersible device last year.

Not only is the player itself waterproof, the headphones can come swimming with you as well! Included in the package is an arm strap, so you can attach the player to your arm and go our surfing while listening to your favorite tunes!

Price: $89.95
Where: www.freestyleaudio.com

Loksak element-proof transport bags

Last year, Tynan wrote about the Loksak product lineup. Their basic bag is called the aLOKSAK and provides a watertight barrier for your most cherished items.

These are not your household Ziplok bag style container – the aLOKSAK is waterproof up to 200 feet, and is perfect for protecting items like the Amazon Kindle or your iPhone when you enjoy the beach.

Price: from $6.39
Where: www.loksak.com

Callpod Fueltank

What’s a beach lover to do when halfway through the day, all your gadgets run out of power? The Callpod Fueltank may be able to help you out – its large internal battery and 2 charging ports can fully charge your gadget(s), and keep them running for the rest of the day. Power tips are available for almost every portable gadget out there, and the unit can be recharged using the included AC adapter or the awesome Chargepod.

Price: $69.95
Where: www.callpod.com