The No-Bag Pro-Blogging Challenge

Updated on 26 August 2011 by

Ramfrancisuk called it The Holy Grail of mobile computing – doing your job with pocketable devices – the No-Bag challenge.

I know many of you have achieved this in the past so I won’t embarrass myself by claiming this is any sort of breakthrough but I will say that after 5 years of testing mobile computing equipment, this is the most confident I’ve ever felt about a set of pocketable equipment that allows me to do my job a pro-blogger, videographer, podcaster and system administrator.

You won’t be surprised that it consists of the Nokia N8 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, a few cables and a headset.


You might, however, claim that everything can be done on a superphone. You’re right of course. The Samsung Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4 make it possible but there are good reasons to split the equipment into two parts.

Redundancy, parallel working, battery life and text input.

You should never have a single point of failure in your business process. We all know that, but what about parallel working? I love this part.

The N8 produces superb photos and videos and as of last week, the 720p videos are done with continuous auto focus. It’s possible to sequence a few clips, add a title and push the video to YouTube without leaving the device. What do you do while the video upload though? You get right on to the Galaxy Tab and start typing the text. In portrait mode with the text correction and prediction features turned on along with a small amount of haptic feedback I can fly through paragraphs of text input with ease. It’s better than any hardware keyboard I’ve tried. The size and software fit together perfectly.

Once that video is uploaded I use the Galaxy Tab 7 to go to the YouTube app, share the uploaded video via the WordPress app and save the draft. I then grab the pre-written text and copy it into the WordPress article above the video embed code. If I need to, I transfer an image over from the N8 via Bluetooth and pull it into the post. If I’m feeling brave at this point I’m firing up Audioboo on the N8 and get ready to record something for twitter as a tease before the article goes up.

One last check on the text is required before the article is sent and boom! Podcast, video and blog post complete.

It’s not perfect though. If i need to record something in 720p, I’m left with a huge file that could take 30-60 minutes to upload over 3g. It means I have to stick to 3mbps 480p which is enough to trigger the HQ quality in YouTube.

I also want to touch on battery life. No smartphone in the world would last more than 4-6hrs when put under the strain of video blogging. The last thing you want to happen is that you’re out of battery when someone sends you an SMS about a potential scoop. Splitting the jobs across two device gives you plenty of battery life for the day. If my N8 dies, the Galaxy Tab 7 takes over automatically. (A Multi SIM contract is a must-have if it’s available in your country.)

Finally,  there’s the issue of system management. I have to put my hands up and say that this bit isn’t easy at all. Command-line work on a tablet is a frustrating experience but it’s possible. I’ll be taking a risk but it’s worth the risk. If everything goes pear-shaped, ill have to borrow a laptop or run the the press office.

So that’s the plan for IFA next week. One Nokia N8, one Galaxy Tab 7, a couple of cables and a few large pockets. Funny enough, that’s something I’m going to have to look at over the weekend. I might have to buy a classic photo-journalists jacket!

This article was written without a problem on the Galaxy Tab, I’ve done multiple tests with the N8, my apps seems stable (enough) and I’m happy with the quality. Stay tuned to see what happens at IFA next week.

Oh, and just to prove I can throw a video into the mix, here’s a 720p video taken, edited and uploaded via the Nokia N8.

11 Comments For This Post

  1. wonky73 says:

    Hey Chippy,
    When you said “It’s better than any hardware keyboard I’ve tried.” did you mean any keyboard ever or just keyboards on phone/tablets?

  2. Chippy says:

    Good point. I’m talking in terms of handheld equipment.

  3. aftermath says:

    I wonder about your keyboard comment. I know you’ve already refined it from “all hardware keyboards” to “just handheld devices”, but I’ve touched the Galaxy Tab and there is no way that on-screen nonsense if better than what the OQO Model 02 offered in hardware. That keyboard was and still is the high water mark, for me. I know the Vaio P is pocketable only in a comical stretch, but I think that there’s some sort of analogy out there like “the ability to pocket the Galaxy Tab is to the quality of its keyboard as the quality of the Vaio P keyboard is to the ability to pocket it”. Even in terms of tiny embedded products, the single best hardware keyboard that I’ve ever touched was on the IBM Workpad Z50. That was a GREAT device. Speaking of which, even the original Toshiba Librettos had amazing keyboard, and they were also quasi-pocketable. Beyond that, there’s no shortage of compact bluetooth and USB keyboards out there, and even though there are a nuisance, they are better to type on than the on screen nonsense. And since somebody has to say it, did you really never touch a Psion Series 5? Beyond that, I’m only left to wonder if your plan is either to die young or grow old with servants, because there’s nothing that I’ve seen that indicates that you’re not destroying your fingers’ joints by tapping away on your sheet of glass and drag your digits around it. No hardware keyboard option is a feature for the OEM/ODM and a bug for the user.

    In terms of “no bag” pro-blogging, I have to say that my old Motion Computing J3500 stomps your setup into the ground, or most other mobile computing setups. I know that by “no bag” you mean “carry in the pocket”, but because my J3500 was ruggedized, I didn’t have to play with kid gloves. I rarely carried it in a bag, and never really had to think very hard (which is good for a dumb guy like me) about what to do. No digging something out of a bag or pocket. No pairing of devices or dialing in. Just computing. On top of that I had near perfect sunlight viewability, near endless battery life (dual hot swapping), rain resistance, etc. I could get anything done anywhere, and it must have been amazing because it caused me to use Windows (and sorry fools, but Windows is still the BEST operating system out there for tablets or slates without hardware keyboard. You’re just interested in running cheap, trashy hardware, and to get away with that you need cheap, trashy software like Android and iOS).

  4. npgames says:

    impressive accomplishment. One of my goals is to do most of my work out of pocket.

  5. chippy says:

    Interestingly, the image is poor on this article. It was taken with my older bridge camera. I would have used the N8, if I could have!

  6. oryoki says:

    Even more impressive when you consider this is accomplished using 2010 technology, plus a software update for the phone.

  7. Chippy says:

    Never thought of that. Both devices are 1 year old. It shows the value of working-with and getting to know mature tools.

  8. zeo says:

    What do you think of the cost/benefit of adding a pocket power pack to the mix to give your devices a few more hours of power on the go?

  9. Chippy says:

    I’m thinking about that but I also think I’ve got enough to last from 8 til 8pm based on my experiences with the devices. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t feel confident. IFA is an important trade show for me.

  10. Loren says:

    As for a photojournalist jacket I’m happy with my scottevest vest. I did cut the collar off of mine though.

  11. Er Lern says:

    Hey Chippy,

    Just heard that the Tab has recently enabled USB host (via XDA hackery)… would you consider adding a USB keyboard into the mix? I wonder whether that would enable long hours of typing instead of relying solely on the virtual keyboard.

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