Remember back to IFA last September and my interview with Ben Saunders of the Scott Expedition? They’ve been walking for 102 days now and in 2 days they will have completed the 1800 miles that Sir Robert Falcon Scott failed to complete in 1912. This is an amazing accomplishment, not only for the two expedition members on the journey but for two Sony Vaio Pro Ultrabooks, solar panels, Li-Ion battery packs and a satellite internet link that has provided, for the first time, amazing photos, blogs and videos during such an expedition.
Join me in counting-down the hours, the last 85 kilometers to the finish line and an amazing job well done.
Next month, Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere will be setting out on an 1800 mile round-journey to the South Pole covering the same route as the failed 1911/1912 journey by Captain Scott. As part of that journey they will be taking part in a media challenge that no-one has attempted before. 110 days of blogging, video editing, photo posting, Facebook updating and Tweeting using two Sony Vaio Pro 13 Ultrabooks, a few solar panels and a set of Li-Ion battery packs.
I had a chance to sit down with Ben to talk about the Ultrabooks, the extremes of the South Pole and how to make a chess board with Paint and Shortcut icons. This audio recording was made at IFA 2013.
Starting in October The Scott Expedition is aiming to re-trace the route taken by Robert Scott on his 1911/12 journey to the South Pole. He made it, but never quite made it back and so the 1800 mile round trip remains unfinished.
Ben Saunders and team-mate Tarka L’Herpiniere will clearly have some challenges and I won’t attempt to detail the obvious ones but less obvious is the need for non-safety-related communication. Sponsors need pictures, videos, webcasts, social network feedback and tracking so the requirements for electronic equipment are challenging. Intel are sponsoring the team with a Sony Vaio Pro Ultrabook based on Haswell (the latest Core processor) and everything will be charged via sunlight.
I’m very interested in Solar-powered computing (to the point where I did my own 500km journey in 2007 and run a separate blog on solar mobile computing) and ultra mobile computing so as this project also combines the use of Ultrabooks, I’ll be following it closely. More detail on the kit and method below.
In an article over at Forbes we learn that the team will use a single 62W foldable panel and two 51Wh Li-Ion battery packs (from Ape Technology – probably the same as these.) In my opinion, that’s tight, possibly too tight.
I’ve been messing around with Solar energy again todayâ€¦
It turns out that the Viliv S10 has a 9.5v input. Having an input voltage below 12V is always an advantage for solar work and it’s even better when the X70 car adaptor works on the S10. I’ve connected the S10 up to a 24W solar panel and it’s charging the device even when it’s in-use. Given pure sun (2hrs either side of peak sun) it should charge the S10 in about 5 hours. That’s 10 hours usage in 5 hours charging. Unfortunately the S10, like all other PCs, doesn’t fast-charge so this solution would probably work exactly the same with a 12W panel as only about 7W-10W is needed in charging.
The S10 has 3G built-in, a fast SSD and a great keyboard. It’s turning out to be a great solution for working completely off the power and wired networking grids.
I learnt a huge amount when I did the Solar-ultra mobile PC tour back in 2007. Not only about solar energy (and it’s terrible efficiency rate) but also about using a mobile computer while on the go. I learnt about form factors, screens, ergonomics and productive processes. I’d love to do another tour this year so over at Solar-UMPC.com, the journal I used for the tour, I’ve taken another look at the ultra mobile PC sector to see what devices I could choose from. I’ve also given some thought to transflective screens which really help in this scenario. So much so that I’d take a weight hit just to get that Pixel Qi screen. The Viliv S7 would be the sensible all-round lightweight choice but if netbooks get Pixel Qi screen first, I’d probably use one of those despite the weight advantages of a UMPC.
I talk a little about the advances in smartphones and sadly, also see that some things haven’t changed at all.
Would you consider a PC an essential item in times of emergency? A growing number of people rely on their laptops for important documents, photo storage and communications but even the latest efficient laptops are big and power-hungry. MID’s on the other hand, take about one quarter of the power of a modern laptop, run a complete Linux operating system, a rugged storage module and cram in all the comms required to connect with public and private networks or device. Its one of the few classes of PC device you could run easily with solar or wind power.
If you unexpectedly had to go mobile, would you rely on a mobile phone, would you grab the laptop or would you rather take a MID?
I’m going camping over the next four days. Here’s the kit that’s going to keep me productive.
[The Wife and little-one have planned a last-minute camping trip together and I was due to stay home and work but I’ve decided to go along and make a working holiday of it. Dads – this is the beauty of Ultra Mobile PC’s!!!]