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.

Tekkeon myPower for iPhone 4 offers swappable batteries – up to 50 hours extra usage

Tekkeon just unveiled their newest iPhone power solution. Their myPower for iPhone 4 combines a slim rechargeable battery pack inside a case – offering power and protection in a single product.

Now, iPhone charge cases are not really a new innovation, but the Tekkeon case is unlike anything else on the market – its battery pack is swappable, thanks to their eSwap technology. eSwap allows you to exchange the battery pack in the case for a fresh module. Packs are available in 1200mAh and 2200mAh.

These high capacity batteries can provide between 7 and 12 hours of extra video playback, up to 50 hours of audio or up 18 hours of talk time. The battery packs don’t actually charge the iPhone – they merely power it, which reduces wear on the internal iPhone battery pack. When plugged in, the charger cord charges your iPhone and the myPower at the same time.

The MyPower for the iPhone 4G retails for $79.95, and additional battery packs are $39.95 (1200mAh) and $49.95 (2200 mAh). The new myPower is available directly from Tekkeon.

Gadling gear review – Tekkeon myPower ALL MP3750 portable battery pack

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of any gadget that can keep my other gadgets powered. Last month, I wrote about my “power anything anywhere kit“, and in it, I described the equipment I recommend in order to keep your gadgets going, even when you are away from a power outlet.

One thing I mentioned in that article, is that my current universal notebook battery pack (from APC) was a discontinued item. Because of this, I started on a quest to find a replacement product, and boy did I find one!

My search for a better notebook battery pack took me to Tekkeon – manufacturer of portable power products. Their myPower ALL MP3750 is a universal notebook battery pack that is better than my previous notebook battery in every possible way.

The MP3750 weighs just under 16 ounces and houses a 50Wh Lithium-Polymer battery pack. The unit can charge a laptop or any device with USB charging capability. The MP3750 comes complete with a charging cord and a variety of input and output power tips.

To charge the unit, you find the correct input tip for your current laptop charger, then plug a tip onto its output cable. This sounds more complicated than it is, and unless you are swapping laptop computers on a daily basis, you’ll only have to find the correct power tips once.

If you only use the USB power outlet, you’ll be provided with enough juice to keep an iPhone or other low power device going for over a week.

The unit can auto-detect the input power being provided by your charger, so the entire setup is pretty much plug and play. Alternatively, you can switch the unit to “manual” and select the required output power using the power button on the top.

The biggest advantage of a universal battery pack over a second battery for your laptop is that the universal pack is future-proof. If you buy a new laptop, you’ll be able to use the same battery pack for the new machine. Another huge advantage is that you can keep the battery pack in your bag until you need it. Once you find the need for some more juice, you can plug the Tekkeon MP3750 into your laptop, without having to shut down or potentially lose work.

The extra usage time you get out of your laptop with the MP3750 depends on the kind of laptop you are using. A large 15″ laptop will gain about anywhere between one and two hours. My small 10″ netbook was able to run about 3 hours longer off a fully charged MP3750.

If the capacity of the MP3750 is insufficient, you can double its power by adding a second battery pack. The MP3450 second battery pack includes a bracket for connecting to the MP3750, providing twice the power ( an additional $99.95).

The Tekkeon myPower ALL MP3750 costs $189.95 and is available directly from Tekkeon, or one of their online retailers. If you already know that you’ll be needing more power, you can purchase a bundle of the MP3750 and its second battery pack for $259.95.

Included with the MP3750 is a laptop charging cord, assorted power input/output tips in a carrying bag and a carrying pouch for the battery pack.

Seriously, there is nothing negative I can find about the Tekkeon MP3750 – it is lightweight, supports virtually every popular laptop computer on the market, and has a bonus USB port. Anyone who needs to keep their machine going, should consider the investment. The price is on the high end, but the quality more than makes up for that.

10 gadgets to make summer travel more enjoyable – The Gadling Gear Review

Now summer is finally on its way, you are probably looking closely at the travel deals out there, waiting to pick an affordable destination (hint: check out our hot travel deals!).

Before you spend all your hard earned cash on your plane tickets, why not invest in some gadgetry to make your trip more enjoyable? Here are 10 gadgets that can help you carry more, get online (in the air), capture your fun, keep your photos safe and help power all that stuff.


Tom Bihn Tri-Star bag

Wouldn’t travel be easier if you could pack everything you need for a short trip, in one bag? Would life become perfect if that bag could be a shoulder bag, backpack and duffel bag? Then check out the new Tri-Star from Tom Bihn bags.

This 3-in-1 bag makes smart use of its space, and has room for clothes, a laptop and any other small items you want to carry along with you.

Price: $240
Where: Tombihn.com (ships late June)


EyeFi Video card

EyeFi was featured in our top 25 best travel products of 2008.

The EyeFi card is an SD memory card with a twist – built inside this tiny card is a WiFi adapter, and any time your camera is in range of a wireless access point, it sends its photos to a variety of sources. The card supports uploads to your home PC, but also to most online photo hosting sites.

For 2009, EyeFi took their excellent product, upped the storage space to 4GB, and added support for video files.

Now your camera can upload photos, as well as videos. Imaging making a funny video, and arriving home with all that content already published on Youtube!

Price: $79.95 (EyeFi 4GB Explore Video) or $99.95 (Share Video)
Where: eye.fi store


Verizon MiFi

The new Verizon MiFi promises to make mobile broadband easier than ever. In the past, getting online with mobile broadband involved using a USB adapter or modem card.

The MyFi combines a wireless hotspot and mobile broadband adapter in one small battery powered device. When turned on, you can get online using your WiFi enabled laptop, netbook or PDA, without having to deal with complicated software.

Price: $99.95 (after a $50 mail in rebate, and with a 2 year contract, $59.95/month for service)
Where: verizonwireless.com


Pocket HD Camcorder

Still carrying a bulky tape camcorder? Dump it and invest in a new digital HD camcorder like the Creative VadoHD or the Flip UltraHD. At just over $200, these cameras make surprisingly high quality clips, and they are small enough to fit in your pocket. With no moving parts, battery life is often enough for a days worth of clips.

Once you get home, you simply pop out the built in USB plug, and copy all the clips onto your computer, ready to upload to your favorite video sharing site.

Price: from $199
Where: Flip by Pure Digital, Creative Vado HD, Kodak ZX1, ZI6


Tekkeon TekCharge MP1800

The Tekkeon TekCharge MP1800 is, despite the long name, remarkably simple. This small Lithium-Ion battery pack can charge almost any portable device. The unit comes with a variety of charging tips for mobile phones, PDA’s and smartphones.

With a whopping 4000mAh capacity, this battery pack carries enough portable juice to recharge most gadgets at least twice. When connected to an iPod or Zune, you’ll get over 100 hours extra music playback time!

Price: $44.95
Where: Tekkeon reseller page

>>>> Go to part 2 of 10 gadgets to make your summer travel more enjoyable

The Gadling power anything anywhere kit

It is no secret – I love my gadgets, and I love traveling with them. But even the most advanced gadget becomes useless when it runs out of power.

In the past, I’d occasionally arrive at my destination with a dead mobile phone or an iPod that only made it halfway through the flight.

It’s a pretty frustrating experience, so for the past years, I’ve been putting together the perfect kit for powering any of my gadgets on the road.
When it comes to powering gadgets, there are several things I am looking for:

  • Powering and charging my laptop and gadgets on the plane
  • Powering and charging my laptop and gadgets when I am abroad
  • Emergency power for my gadgets and laptop

Here is the kit I put together, with some of the reasoning behind each device:

Callpod Chargepod

The Callpod Chargepod passed through Gadling last year, and it has quickly become of the most important gadgets I carry with me. The device charges 6 things at the same time, which means I can charge 2 phones, my Bluetooth headset, a backup battery pack, a game console and an MP3 player off a single outlet.

The Chargepod itself can be powered off AC or DC (car) sources, and the company has power tips for almost every portable device on the market.

Price: $79.95 for a Chargepod bundle (AC and DC chargers and a selection of power tips)
From: www.callpod.com

APC External laptop battery pack



The APC universal notebook battery pack comes with a large selection of power plugs, for most brands of laptop computers. To charge the pack itself, you simply use your existing laptop charger. I’ve always preferred the APC battery packs over the “official” spare battery from laptop makers because I tend to change my laptop quite regularly, and by having a single battery that covers multiple brands, I don’t have to waste an investment in batteries every couple of months. The long cord on the battery means I can leave it in my bag and still have it hooked up to my laptop.

There is one annoying issue with the APC battery pack – APC stopped making them, and the only ones out there are the remaining inventory at local retailers. A good alternative would be a power pack from Tekkeon, who actually produce an external battery pack with more power than any of the APC units.

Price: From $70 (discontinued product)
From: www.apc.com


Proporta emergency battery pack

The Proporta emergency battery pack is a compact Lithium-Polymer power source that can be charged using your computer, an AC adapter or DC (car) charger. The battery pack houses a 2500mAh battery, which provides enough juice to fully recharge most gadgets at least two or three times.

The battery pack has a standard USB out plug for charging your device and a handy button for checking the remaining power.

Included with the charger is an assortment of power tips for most mobile phones and the iPod, as well as a retractable USB cord and an AC adapter. Since it has a regular USB port, you can also use any existing power cable with it.

Price: $56.95
From: www.proporta.com

Kensington ultra slim universal laptop adapter



As I mentioned in the description of the APC battery pack, I change my machine quite a bit, so this Kensington ultra slim universal laptop adapter is another wise investment – it comes with power tips for most brands of laptop computers. In addition to being able to charge/power my laptop off AC, it can also be plugged into the Empower power jacks on many airlines. The charger is smaller and lighter than most original laptop power supplies. One oversight with the product is that they did not include a DC (car) plug with the AIR cable, so I had to invest $10 to get one from a different vendor.

As an extra bonus, the charger features a USB charging power port on the side, plus it operates off 100-240V, making it perfect for taking abroad. Along with the slim charger, I also carry the Kensington travel plug adapter with USB so I can plug my stuff in when I am abroad.

Price: $140
From: www.Kensington.com

The total kit weighs just under 3 pounds, which is not too bad when you consider that it replaces every charger I used to carry, and that I can keep my laptop going for almost 8 hours (longer when I carry the 6 cell battery for my machine).

Every part of the kit fits inside 2 Tom Bihn packing organizers. The whole setup may seem quite extreme, but to someone who carries (too many) gadgets, it’s the perfect way to carry all that crap, and keep it all working. Total price for the kit is a bit over $300.

Do you have a favorite power product, or something you think is better than what I carry? Let me know in the comments!