Mobile Reporting Kit V7 Aims for Sub-2lb (1kg) Flexibility.

Posted on 11 February 2010 by

Lightweigh Media Blogging KitMobile World Congress is going to call for a significant refinement of my ultra mobile reporting kit (see below for previous versions) which means leaving the netbook in the hotel safe and traveling as light as possible. I aim to be roaming with only a man-bag and with about 1KG/2.2lb of equipment which is quite a challenge. Quality and speed of reporting during the day may suffer but I’m prepared to take the hit in order to be mobile and quick. Here’s a detailed look at my MWC setup as it stands just a few days from travelling.

The initial kit list looks something like this:

Hardware (825gm / 1.8lb)

  • UMID BZ as PC and USB power source. Including mains charger cable.
  • Nokia N82 as camera and backup 3G tether.  Including spare battery.
  • Mifi 2352 as primary 3G hotspot
  • USB cables for charging and connecting

Optional (about 500gm due to heavy aluminum mic.)

The bag

Oh the stress of choosing a bag. Right now I’m leaning towards the Jack Wolfskin one because it can be worn in on the back or front of the body and it looks, well, less man-baggy!

MWC Man-Bag Choice

IMG_4720 IMG_4714

Capabilities

  • Text blogging
  • Photo Blogging to blog, twitter etc.
  • Video Blogging
  • Live video streaming (as per V6 of the reporting kit – See sample video at base of article)
  • Normal PC activities.

Live one-take Video demonstration (15 mins)

Here’s how I would use the kit to post images and videos with text.

UMID BZ Video  Demo Test

Yup, problems occur but in previous and recent tests it  looks like it will take about 5 minutes to do a 2-paragraph blog post around a photo. Video really depends on Internet bandwidth but with the mobile reporting kit I can close the lid of the UMID and leave it to continue posting to YouTube. You have to be careful of time-outs in this case because re-starting the uploads usually requires a full upload again.  Here’s the image I took during the video. As you can see, quality is excellent (click to enlarge.)

Other notes

Weight including adapter cables: 829gm (1.8lb)

Cost

  • UMID BZ: $549
  • Photo camera: Around $300 but get one with BT and Xenon flash.
  • Mifi: $250

Improvements and optimisations.

Could a Motorola Droid/Milestone do all this? Yes. Photo’s to Flickr and editing and re-posting from Flickr is easily possible. Video also possible. Live video using QIK also possible. Text entry with Droid keyboard also possible. Cost: Around $500 including an extra battery (or two!) It’s a great single-device option and way, way lighter than what I’ll be carrying.

The issue with using a Droid is that you don’t have a PC with you for ‘everything else.’ That includes basic video editing, 100% full web access, USB accessories support (printing, usb sticks, usb cam for example) high quality audio recording using USB mic/audacity, audio/video streaming using UStream, connectivity to LCD screen and full size keyboard and use of all the normal desktop client software such as Firefox, Tweetdeck, Paint Shop, LiveWriter, Skype and anything else that a PC would be flexible for. It’s basically a trade-off. Using the UMID is way more expensive but it gives that flexibility to use to a full desktop tool-set if required and that, to me, is worth it’s weight in gold. If either the N82 or UMID die, I’m left with one working device which is a nice backup strategy.

The N82 video quality (test video here) could be improved a lot. I’d love to see a photo camera with high-compression, 720p video recording and checking across the range of smartphones available today, the Omnia i8910 would make a better choice for video with it’s 720p capability. File sizes could be a problem though so HQ VGA at about 2mbps H.264 would be perfect. Anyone out there done extensive phone-cam testing?

Battery life is an issue and will require careful management. Fortunately the UMID BZ is proving excellent in that respect and just by closing the lid I can make it go into standby or hibernation. Returning for these standby modes is 5 and 20 seconds respectively. The UMID is returngin a regular 4.5-5hr in-use battery life. Despite that, I’ll carry a mains charger with me because I may have to charge the Mifi or the N82. Both can be charged via USB which is a huge bonus. The Mifi can even be used while it charges.

Update: In a 34 minute test I saw 17% battery drain indicating 200 minutes of battery life. About 3 hours! (Device closed with screen/touchscreen off)

Embedded 3G in the UMID. Yes, this would be great. No question. There’s no need for a Mifi if you’re only using one 3G-capable device but even in that scenario, i’d probably have the Mifi with me as a backup. The antenna on it is superb and it comes in really handy for a table of five net-less bloggers!

Your suggestions welcome.

Please feed-back in the comment section below. I love to hear how people are using their mobile kit. Are you mobile blogging at MWC? If so, lets meet and have a chat about the kit on video.

I’ll post a follow-up after MWC.

Previous versions of the ultra mobile reporting kit.

V6 (Jun 2009) is here.

V5 (March 2009) is here.

V4 (Sept 2009) is here.

V3 (Feb 2008) is here.

V2 (Sept 2007) is here

V1 (March 2007) is here.

Hat-tip to Jenn at Pocketables who successfully used the flickr-to-blog method at CES 2008.

Thanks to UMID for the loan of the BZ. If I didn’t have the UMID here, I would have replaced it with the Fujitsu U820 as a second choice. The BZ really is the best choice out there right now.

Update:

Live test recording: Video/Audio stream recorded by Ustream

  • Mobile Reporting Kit V7 Aims for Sub-2lb (1kg) Flexibility. #mwc #moblogging http://bit.ly/aQRFPi

  • RT @umpcportal: Mobile Reporting Kit V7 Aims for Sub-2lb (1kg) Flexibility. #mwc #moblogging http://bit.ly/aQRFPi

  • RT @chippy @umpcportal: Mobile Reporting Kit V7 Aims for Sub-2lb (1kg) Flexibility. #mwc #moblogging http://bit.ly/aQRFPi : great evolution

  • RT @umpcportal: Mobile Reporting Kit V7 Aims for Sub-2lb (1kg) http://bit.ly/aQRFPi Me: Now this is what I call Mobile Computing *o*

  • scrootch

    Nice choice,

    I go with:

    1. Vaio P Windows 7 + tiny el. supply about 700G
    2. Panasonic Tz10 (Leica and 720p)- 218g with SD XDHC
    3. Iphone bluetooth tethering turned on when used +tiny usb cable to charge via Vaio P

    around 1000gr all together

    Bag: Hama Track Pack II

  • Casper

    Hi Chippy,

    Any news on when the BZ 3G will be available in Europe?

    Casper

  • I think posting from the con floor is overrated. I prefer to wait until evening to post.

    My gear bag shrank during CES 2010 as I realized how much of it was a waste to carry around. I ended up carrying:

    spiral notebook ($.10)
    digital camera (sub $100)
    GorillaPod tripod ($30)
    Wimax dongle (loaner)
    SD card reader dongle
    Timbuk2 messenger bag, medium
    Dell Inspiron 710m laptop

    I would estimate the total weight as about 3kg. I didn’t use the tripod as a tripod, but I did use it to steady the camera. The Timbuk2 bag is a lot bigger than I need, but it also doubles as my 1 carry-on allowed by airlines.

    I’m planning to replace the the Dell with a smaller laptop, but until then it does the job. I just replaced the battery, so I’m getting 5+ hours use (which is not bad for a 4 year old laptop).

  • mary

    Love how you added man to bag to make man-bag. Add another strap to it and it’ll be a girl’s backpack. Put it on your shoulder and have it hang only on one side of your body and it’s a purse. Now have it cross your body and it’s a MAN-BAG.

  • No Camera?? That should be considered part of the kit!! Its how you make the magic happen!

  • No Camera?? That should be considered part of the kit!! Its how you make the magic happen!

    P.S. I love the term Man-Bag!

    • I heard that someone from Netbooknews has a camera. I’ll just hang around them and get them to edit my videos ;-)

      But seriously, you’re the second persone to seriously question my sanity over the camera issue. I am re-thinking it.

      • I won’t be at MWC :( So you won’t have a dedicated camera person! ;)

        I can see you point for not bringing one if you are trying to make your kit as light as possible. But your camera takes great pics and decent video, we are a visual people!

  • Thomas

    This is a good chance to test out the umid in a real life situation. Some reviews only show “lab tests” of these products. Please write a post telling us how the umid rates in real life scenarios.

  • bb

    Chippy:

    I noticed in one of your previous posts that you were looking for a good, compact USB keyboard with a built-in mouse.

    If this is still the case I really recommend a Lenovo “Thinkpad Ultimate Compact keyboard with Trackpoint”. Very light and compact, and that wonderful Lenovo feel (though not quite as good as a Thinkpad laptop.)

    bb

  • Benny

    Hey Chippy or whoever reads these. This slightly unrelated but I want to get one of these UMPC’s and use it as a PMP and I am wondering if they make any kind of headphone/USB remote that I can use to change songs without opening the device.

    • There might be apps that respond to Bluetooth remote control but that’s not something i’ve looked into.

      • Adrienspawn

        Most Bluetooth earphones/headphones have controls on them, and volume always works, although depending on the program the other controls may not work. I’m sure with WMP I can use my Sony DRBT101’s with it and change songs, but I can’t right now using VLC. Trying though.

      • JonnyN

        I use the Motorola S9 headset via Bluetooth with BlueSoleil 6 and the controls work for iTunes ok (pause, vol, prev, next).

  • hi chippy…

    why don´t us use a tablet with usb or bt keyboard. i got my viliv… i never blogged with it but i think it will be a perfect device for this. (3G capability)

    i bought a casio EX Z-90 with 12MPix and HD 720 video function for around 100€ is an amazing camera for this small money… SD-card so you can exchange it with the viliv.

    for the upload problems with your vids i got a solution. try to get a blog or a hoster where you can upload files over ftp protokol. i personally use the flash ftp client for uploading files… this program can reconnect and complete crashed uploads at the last sent byte… would be perfect if the 3g line is not stable enough.

    greetz kirkdis

    • Good point about FTP. I think the TubeMogul service offers this. Great tip!
      As for tablet, I need to be imputing when standing and i’m not so happy with on screen keyboards on Windows.

      • Adrienspawn

        There’s always those thumb-button keyboards. I’m still in love with my Q1U. Got around to watching Avatar on it in 720P and its soooooo sexy.

  • Minions

    Jack Wolfskin one for sure. I have a similar one I got from Cooler Master, and I use it ALL the time. It is hardly a manbag.

  • Nomax

    Hi Chippy,
    my setup:

    1. jailbroken iPhone
    2. BT Stack (EUR 5,00 via Cydia)
    3. Freedom Universal Bluetooth Keyboard
    (4. optional: Battery pack for iPhone)

    I guess this can’t be beaten in terms of size and weigth.

    Nomax

  • Video blogginging is an exciting way to share your daily experiences with your family and friends. I have just started video blogging;.:

  • While I like a bodily keyboard, after coping with the Samsung Captivate for approximately 15 minutes, it’s exhausting to go back. At this time I’m debating whether or not to go to Verizon for the Droid X, move to Dash for the EVO, or stay with AT&T for the Captivate…decisions, decisions.

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