Review: The 700gm Mobile Reporting and Blogging Kit

Updated on 04 January 2012 by

image

 

700gm turned into about 1.2kg last week as I tested a smartphone and tablet combination for content creation. I used the Samsung Galaxy Tab for writing the text, staying connected on social networks and I also used it as the ‘business grade’ 3G connection via a T-Mobile true day-flat option.
The Nokia N8 performed camera, video and video editing duties as well as back-up Twitter client and of course, mobile phone.

The extra weight came from two changes to the kit. Firstly, a bag. Yes, I’m sorry bit I’m not the sort of person that wears cargo pants and it was way too warm for a jacket. The 200gm The Variotek power pack details are here. (aff.)

image

When I look back at my content I see that YouTube and Twitter became my main delivery channel with some posts being made around the 30 videos that i took. It’s a similar story for most bloggers – getting videos on to YouTube is critical for revenue generation. Without it many of us product bloggers wouldn’t exist. Recording in a relatively low bitrate at 480p was a major advantage and I would do it again although there’s something  in my head that tells me I really could record in 720p and use an Intel Sandy Bridge based device to do super quick conversion to 480p. The Samsung Series 7 tablet has got me excited to test that possibility. Maybe I’ll look into that soon. Hardware image stabilization is also something I need to look into. I suspect I won’t be using the N8 for much longer despite it being connected. Having said that, the quality of the videos was, I think, acceptable to most YouTube viewers. Product hands-on at press events is normally a chaotic experience anyway so while it didn’t please me to be posting wobbly videos that weren’t always in focus, YouTube viewing stats show that it worked from a business perspective. Your recommendations for an ultralight compact with good low-light performance, 720p video with hard and software stabilization are gratefully received.

I struggled to post many images despite being very happy with the quality and that was due to a silly process at our blogs that I’m going to have to change. We use Gallery2 which doesn’t have much support through Android apps! Writing was kept to a lower level than would have been if I had been using a laptop. I had some help from Ben on press day and was grateful for that.

I want to have a little moan about sharing on the Nokia N8 because its near-useless. Why Nokia don’t have a way to share videos to YouTube is something I don’t understand for such a video-focused camera. The YouTube site link is difficult and annoying to use. Sharing is such a second-thought on Symbian.

As for the Galaxy Tab, everything went well, as long as I remembered to reboot once per day. I’m noticing that the Tab slows down excessively when pushed hard. Google Maps is especially problematic although I was grateful for cached maps when traveling the underground train system.

Screen brightness in the Galaxy Tab 7 could be a lot better in daylight. After getting hands-on with the gorgeous Galaxy Tab 7.7 I see how much better it can be. Bonus points go to the YouTube app for being very robust for uploads. It handled switches from WiFi to 3g without dropping the upload. Minus points go to the built in gallery. I used Fishbowl as a replacement gallery. Battery life under full use is about 6hrs so I was nearly out of juice a few times on long days. You need to keep an eye on settings and apps to get the best it of it but I don’t want to complain because most phones would only last half the time given the same scenarios. All in all it was a great performance from the Galaxy Tab. If only it had a decent camera and a video editing app. That’s something that might be interesting to look at on the Tab 7.7 although I know already that it doesn’t have continuous auto focus.

image

One area where I had a problem was system admin. Both command-line and web back-end work was next-to impossible. There really is only one way to fix that – a notebook. It doesn’t requires processing power but it does need a keyboard and a quality browser. How do you fix that? I don’t think you can without adding a netbook. That’s 1kg added! Oh, and remote desktop was not an option either. . .

The connectivity at IFA was the worst I’ve ever experienced at a European trade show. The press room WiFi and wired connections were overloaded when needed and the 3G from both Telefonica’s O2 and a €5 per day T-Mobile connection were useless for any image or video uploading. This was a major issue and highlights the growing problem of overcrowding on 3G. How to fix? Jump to WiMax where possible. It’s on my list now.

There’s one other thing to mention – respect. I simply looked like an amateur. It’s a bigger problem than you think because PR people tend to have an eye-out for big cameras, lights and 2-men recording teams. My week was successful though so I guess I managed to ignore or work-around that issue.

Would I do it again? I’m going to IDF next week where there will also be a lot of news. It will be detailed though and could require more than just a quick video. I know how huge the keynote hall is too so a camera with a big lens can be helpful. I also know, however, that there are PCs available for use. I feel good about this week so I’ve decided to go for the 1kg again next week. Being at an Intel conferences with an ARM-based reporting kit could be fun too. In the meantime, I’m going to do more research on using a real camera with a Sandy-Bridge based editing device because it’s only the video quality of the N8 that worries me.

It can be done. There’s no need for huge devices and heavy, battery-eating equipment when reporting. Whether it works for you depends on a number of things. Do you need a keyboard? Is the quality good enough? Do you need a full browser or large screen?

[ Posted via the Galaxy Tab. Ultra-Mobile at IFA 2011. For more IFA coverage, follow me on Twitter. @Chippy ]

7 Comments For This Post

  1. Mike says:

    Was the Internet worse than at MWC this year? That was absolutely useless in my book .

    I like you mobile reporting kit but I for one woudl rather replace the Galaxy with a decent notebook, an 11 incher of some-kind. You got the power, the keyboard and you can stick in a 3G dongle if needed (or go for something with 3G by default).

    I’ve also considering using a phone for videos at shows but video quality seems too poor. I’ve tested these days the galaxy s2 and the xperia arc, which should be some of the best and.. not really satisfied.

    I’m still wondering what should I get for CES. Definitely a combo of laptop, video camera and DSLR camera ain’t a winner, by back is screaming after carrying those around everyday.

  2. Al Sutton says:

    How about replacing the Galaxy Tab with an Asus Transformer? That way you have the optional keyboard when you need it, but you still have a reasonably portable tablet as well when you don’t.

  3. Aron says:

    Hello,
    Great stuff again!
    The tab has fantastic quality 480p video. Did you compare that to N8?
    The Hackers keyboard app gives you full, and I mean FULL keyboard for terminal like access. It is also opensource so relatively safe. It is also fantastic in landscape mode when set up 5 row…
    I am now a Tab owner, not in small parts thanks to you and jkk.
    Thanks for that!
    Fantastic device!
    B.R.: Aron

  4. Connie says:

    RE: camcorder

    How about the Sanyo Xacti dual camera? I have the CS1 which is really small but the screen hinge and battery door are quite fragile. Battery last 40-45 min continuous video. You may find it difficult to hold if you have big hands. You can see my videos taken in extremely low light in the LV show

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY2ZQFiVpe4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM0qS8-hTjE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PapBRDnFnco

    I dunno what models you have in Europe but I search amazon uk and found the CG20

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sanyo-VPC-CG20EX-B-Xacti-Camcorder-Photos/dp/B0038WATGW/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1316025780&sr=8-4

    It has everything the CS1 has – electronic stabiliser, optical zoom lens. It is larger and easier to grip. You can google to find CG20 video reviews. Word of advise: manually set ISO to 400 or higher instead of Auto if you are shooting low light, test the ISO setting in the exhibition hall first. Setting Auto may cause ghosting of the video because the camera does not want to raise ISO and the shutter speed goes too slow.

  5. CC says:

    RE: camcorder

    How about the Sanyo Xacti dual camera? I have the CS1 which is really small, but the LCD screen hinge and battery door are a bit flimsy. If you have large hands you may find it difficult to hold because it is so thin. I get 40-45 min of battery recording video. I have videos of LV show inside a very dark theater.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY2ZQFiVpe4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PapBRDnFnco
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM0qS8-hTjE

    I dunno what model you have in Europe but I search amazon UK and see the CG20 model

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sanyo-VPC-CG20EXBK-B-Xacti-Camcorder-Photos/dp/B0038WATL2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316097572&sr=8-1

    It has all the functions of CS1 – electronic stabiliser, optical zoom lens, full HD. It is small and the price is excellent for the money. Video is excellent and pictures are not bad. You can google to find reviews and sample videos.

  6. hmm says:

    how can you dree with crapy and slugish system in N8 ? You must be very patient guy.

  7. hmm says:

    I used to have DSLR cam’s for events, meetings and press conf. but that was to much and too havy with netbook and other stuff in my bag. I realized that I need compact, light and useful equipment. What is realy efficient for enents and shows ? – wide angle and bright lens. My choice was/is lumix lx3 and lx5 and I’m very satisfied with.

Recommended Reading

Top Ultra Mobile PCs

Dell Latitude E7440
14.0" Intel Core i5-4200U
Viliv S5
4.8" Intel Atom (Silverthorne)
GPD Win 2
6.0" Intel m3 7Y30
GPD Pocket 2
7.0" Intel Core m3-8100Y
Lenovo Ideapad Flex 10
10.1" Intel Celeron N2806
Acer Aspire E11 ES1
11.6" Intel Celeron N2840
Acer Aspire Switch 10
10.1" Intel Atom Z3745
LG G8X THINQ Dual Screen
6.4" Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Microsoft Surface Go
10.0" Intel Pentium 4415Y
HP Elitebook 820 G2
12.5" Intel Core i5 5300U