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Ultra Mobile Reporting Kit CES 2012 – V11

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CES is just days away and I’ve just finalised the kit-list for my Ultra Mobile Reporting Kit V11. I’ll be there for the week and focusing on Tablets, Netbooks, Ultrabooks and, if I find anything, UMPCs.

2011 was a year of change in the way I did reporting for my websites Carrypad, UMPCPortal and Ultrabooknews. The Samsung Galaxy Tab gave me more mobility than I had ever had and the Nokia N8 gave me less reason to use a dedicated camera for photos and videos. My last test relied on just those two items for everything.

Towards the middle of 2011 the realisation that YouTube was one of my most important revenue channels led me towards a better quality 720p editing set-up. A series of tests and articles posted here on UMPCPortal gave me an indication that Core i5 Sandy Bridge processors could bring some major advantages for 720p video work. Intel Quick-Sync video hardware and some excellent software from Cyberlink in Media Espresso and PowerDirector sent me on the search for a new camera and in  October I settled on the Panasonic Lumix FZ150, a bridge camera that gives impressive low-light camera and HD video results along with relatively lightweight hardware for a camera with a long-zoom lens and a rotating display. After testing some Ultrabooks I actually took the Samsung NP350, a 1.4KG 12.5 inch laptop that runs a 2.2Ghz Core i3 and holds a 60Wh battery. Compared to my previous netbook (Gigabyte Touchnote) it’s the same weight but a gigantic step forward in processing power. Even battery life is better so I’m happy that it will work well when on the road.

Here’s the detail on the kit-list:

NP350Samsung NP350 Notebook

A 1.4KG (3lb) notebook running a Core i3 CPU at 800Mhz-2.2Ghz with battery life ranging from over 8hrs (typing) to 1hr (gaming.) It has a 12.5 inch 1366×768 matt screen, 600GB hard drive, good keyboard, Intel Centrino Wifi module with Wi-Di, SSD, fast-start, HDMI, VGA, full-size SDHC and 2 USB2.0 ports with sleep ‘n charge. There’s no backlit keyboard, SSD or USB3.0. Cost – €430 before taxes.

I’ll use the NP350 for 720p video conversion and editing and sit-down article composition, data storage, mass photo upload.

panasonic-lumix-fz150-3_thumbPanasonic Lumix FZ150 Camera

12MP, 24x Zoom, hot-shoe, rotating display, full HD (plus 720p) in MPEG4 or AVCHD, external mic port, HDMI-out and some impressive low-light performance for a compact-size sensor. Weight is just over 500gm. Price around €500

The FZ150 will be used as a 720p video device and camera. I won’t be using 1080p quality as it’s overkill for the quick hands-on videos I post to YouTube, especially as YouTube compresses the hell out of 1080p!

Nokia-N8-photosNokia N8 CameraPhone

A Symbian-based phone with high quality camera, Xenon flash and 720 video capability. Long battery life.

The N8 will be used as phone, SMS, calendar reminder and for quick photos (including evening/people/party) that I’ll put up on Twitter, Facebook and other channels. It will remain on my European SIM card with no data capability while at CES. Images will be transferred to the Galaxy Tab via Bluetooth for sending to various social channels when needed.

Samsung-Galaxy-Tab-7-inch-Android-2.2-OS-Based-Tablet-540x383Samsung Galaxy Tab Android Tablet

At over one year old, you’d think that there are many better 7 inch tablet solutions out there by now but the Galaxy Tab 7 is still up there as one of the most usable 7 inch tablets on the market. I’m looking to upgrade when ICS is available but the original Galaxy Tab 7 will be fine for CES work. There won’t be a SIM card in it for data or voice but it will be connected to my Clear MiFi unit as my ‘always-on, always connected’ component. I suspect i’ll have some mini blogs going out through this as well as Tweets, Facebook posts and Google Plus posts.

Clear MiFi + Power Pack

Not shown on the picture are a Clear 4G MiFi unit (rented from Event Radio) and a small USB power-pack that I hope will sit in my bag and provide me with a moving cloud.

 

The kit weight is going to be well over 2KG once the tripod, cables and spares are added and it’s more than I would like to be carrying but for a 720p recording and editing suite and always-connected mobile and social set-up, it’s not far from optimal.

Mobile Reporting Kit V10 – ‘No-Bag Blogging’ at IFA

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Update: I’ve refined the kit down to 700gm (1.5lb) but I’m struggling to find a no-bag carrying solution. Cargo pants are out for me (not my style) and it’s going to be too warm for a jacket. I may go with a 200gm Jack Wolfskin Body Bag.

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At 1040gms including wallet and glasses, not a single X86 processor in sight and a cost of around €750 this is one of the most radical, lightweight and low-cost set-ups I’ve ever had to rely on for reporting. There isn’t even a hardware keyboard in there.

I’m using the Nokia N8 for photography, video, audio podcasting (via Audioboo – exclusive to my twitter channel) and phone. It might serve some twitter duties too.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the main blogging and sharing tool, chat and photo editing tool.

There’s an emergency AA battery adaptor that will top-up the N8, a mic clamp and tripod that also works as a ‘steadycam’ for the N8 and a headset that works well to improve the clarity of audio in noisy situations.

Total storage is 48GB, both devices have HSPA (operating on two different networks) and there’s enough battery life for about 7 hours solid working. That should be enough for a 12 hour time-span but if not, I’ve got the high-power mains adaptor for the Galaxy Tab which will give me a good 30% charge in 60 minutes.

Business cards, my wallet, glasses and the essential screen wipe are also included. Total weight of what you see there is 1040gm

More background on the kit can be found here.

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I want to take the chance to pre-empt a few questions.

How will you edit videos?
I will be using the video editor on the N8. Its allows edits to be top and tailed and to be sequence. Cross-fades are terrible so title will be basic. Ill try and make up short intro and outro clips too.

Why don’t you take a Bluetooth keyboard?
I’m not a fan of BT keyboards. I’ve experienced batteries running out! A USB keyboard could work for bum-on-seat work with the Galaxy Tab but I don’t feel it will bring me much. I’m happy thumb typing on the Galaxy Tab.

Surely you’re just showing off?
I won’t deny that I’m enjoying this but my job is not just to bring you news about mobile equipment, I need to be authoritative too. How can you be authoritative on ultra mobile computing subject if you don’t test and experience the limits?

Can you do live video broadcasts?
Yes although my tool of choice, doesn’t work on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7. Having said that, I’m unlikely to do any ad-hoc live broadcasts unless something huge happens in one of the press events. I will be using Audioboo for ad-hoc podcasts and you’ll find them on my personal twitter account.

How would you improve the equipment?
The N8 doesn’t have any hardware stabilization so videos are a little shaky. There’s a lag and slight uncertainty with the auto-focus on close-ups too. Because of upload restrictions (3G only) I will only be recording in 480p but that’s a networking restriction that can’t be easily solved yet.
More battery life, more CPU power is a no-brainer.

How will you carry everything?
I’m off to the shops tomorrow to buy a suitable pair of pants/trousers!

I’m traveling up to Berlin for IFA on Wednesday this week. Reporting will be done on Carrypad, UMPCportal, Meegonews and Ultrabooknews. Press events start on Thursday. The aim is to bring you some quality content and, if possible, a scoop or two. Not only Is this kit light, it’s fast too!

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

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