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With IFA just around the corner, see what I'll be packing to get me through the days

Just as Jerry, Andrew and Alex have done before, now it's my turn to open up the zip on my gear bag and show you what I use on a daily basis. IFA is just around the corner, and in just over a week I'll be packing up and heading out to Berlin with Phil Nickinson and Alex Dobie, so here's some of the gear I'll be taking to get me through the days there. 

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro

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Unlike many other members of the Android Central, and indeed Mobile Nations teams, I don't use a MacBook Air on a day-to-day basis. I used to, but I'm now using the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. Why? Two main reasons. The first is that screen. As anyone who has used or even looked at a Retina MacBook display, or even that on something like the Chromebook Pixel, once you've looked at it, everything else looks terrible in comparison. It's such a glorious display that looking at it all day is a pleasure. 

The second reason is a compromise of performance and portability. For such a sleek machine, it's got a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM and a honkin' great 512GB SSD drive. It handles everything I throw at it with relative ease, is compact enough to throw in a backpack and not have to worry about lugging it around all day, and can get easily 5 hours real-world battery life. And to keep it looking its best, it never leaves the house without wearing a Speck Smartshell in black. 

Phones - iPhone 5, LG Optimus Black and any one from a selection of others

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Since I'm more often found over on iMore these days, my daily driver is of course the iPhone 5. Say what you will about it, but I enjoy a smaller form factor, and I enjoy that it's still a high-end smartphone in that smaller form factor. A trip like IFA is not the time to be loading my pockets with giant phones either. So, it goes where I go. 

The other I'll definitely be taking is the good old LG Optimus Black. Why? Because I use it primarily as a music player. Paired with a 32GB microSD card, the Black is a pocketable media machine that can store offline music from my Google Music account and Spotify, my two main sources of music these days. Just for kicks, it's got CM10 on it, and while I'd never describe it as a good performer, it's more than capable for the tasks I expect of it. And using this won't drain the battery on something I might need for, well you know, work. 

Besides these, I could also take a Nexus 4, a BlackBerry Z10, or even another iPhone 5. I'm leaning towards carrying the Z10 as well, primarily because it has a removable battery. Something which can come in handy at these shows. 

OG Nexus 7

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I have a full sized iPad, but for travelling I still like the smaller form factor of my OG Nexus 7. I haven't upgraded because you can't yet really buy them in the UK, and even when you can, I don't think I will. It still serves perfectly well for what I use it for, with the bonus that it just about fits in a pocket, or doesn't take up much room in my bag. 

Camera - Panasonic Lumix G2

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I've been a fan of the Panasonic Lumix range of cameras for some time, and made the switch to their Micro 4/3 range after last year's IFA show where I'd lugged around a DSLR all week. The reason I'm now using a G2 is because you still have some of the creative control and flexibility a DSLR offers you but in a smaller frame, and because of its external microphone input. At trade shows, everyone in the world is talking at once, so being able to attach a boom mic to the camera is pretty important. 

It's paired up with a Manfrotto Monopod (though a tripod will probably go along in the suitcase) which is a great, and highly portable monopod. It packs up into such a small package it can be thrown in a backpack with everything else, and will hopefully help reduce somewhat the shakycam videos. 

Powering stuff

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Two important items that go with me everywhere; the Moshi Rewind and the Mophie Powerstation Duo. The Rewind allows me to plug two USB charging cables into one outlet, which is excellent for travelling as it's one less adaptor to take. The Powerstation goes everywhere with me, because its 6000mAh battery is enough to charge my iPhone four times, and it has the added beauty of being able to juice two things at once. 

The Bag

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I forget the full name of this thing, but it's made by Wenger (better known for Swiss Army Knives) and it is the best backpack I have ever come across for packing all your gear. There are so many pockets on this thing, even one sized and labelled for a 7-inch tablet, that everything I need to pack is usually in its own protective pocket. The large compartment is split in two, so it keeps my MacBook Pro safe and secure while still leaving enough room for my camera and associated bits and pieces. It also has two water bottle pockets on the outside, and even a loop to attach your sunglasses, though they're possibly not going to be needed in the halls of the Messe Berlin. 

So, that's what I'll be carrying around with me in Berlin, and the next time I'm out on the road there's a good chance some of this equipment will have changed again. There'll be a bevy of cables and memory cards stuffed in there too, but those are pretty boring to talk about. 

And, if you missed them, be sure to head back and check out Alex, Jerry and Andrew's picks from previous weeks. 


Reader comments

AC on the road: What's in Richard's gear bag


Nice! Still lusting after the Mamba Daypack by BooqBag. I can't find a reason to spend $100 on a book bag yet though unfortunately. Where did you happen to get yours?

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I actually picked it up on a whim from a UK retailer reduced to £25 from about £60. Was just in the right place at the right time!

Wait, did you ever figure out what make your book bag was? I googled the one listed above and it looked absolutely nothing like yours.

The guy last week at least did not brag about the number of phones. He had two, and in reply to someone said "one was supplied by work" Fair enough. You mentioned the two on screen then listed most other top end phones you were considering taking.No biggie but it comes across as a kid boasting. Can you honestly say you have NEVER accepted a phone "as a gift"off a company?
BTW as you have a lot of hands on experience
Which Android set would you say is equal to the Apple? Not spec. wise but in day to day use?

It's not meant to come across as bragging at all, it's what I have and use on a daily basis in both my personal and professional life. As with Alex, some of my equipment is supplied by the company, others I have bought with my own hard earned money. I like and use all of the platforms and I write about it across the different sites here at Mobile Nations. 

In terms of your question, I like the smaller form factor, so I'm looking forward to trying out the HTC One Mini in the future. Maybe. 

I for one dont think your comments came across as bragging either.

And I think in terms performance and even size, I'd go with the Moto X whenever its available. But you're in the UK so I suppose that's not an option.

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In the other categories, you concentrated on a device and explained its use on your trip. In the phone category, you did this with the two phones you will carry, but then digressed by mentioning other phones without any reason to the reader. The removable battery argument for the Z10... Well, most people know the Optimus Black to also have a removable battery :)

Lighten up Francis

It happens to be his job to do this kinda thing. I would say that I am a bit shocked that they are not carrying 4 each.

I would call this an occupational hazard. I am sure that they all have quite a few hanging around, and no they do not have to be gifts, they are review units. You know, marketing.

I love my retina Mac pro I also take it everywhere with me and it will certainly be in my backpack at IFA. I have TYLTs new backpack with all the built in battery's its simply amazing

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I would really like to know the model of your backpack. It looks to be something that would be beneficial for me as a photographer who needs to carry a lot of gadgets while still having space for a camera. I have about 6 bags already, but none of them give me the flexibility that this backpack seems to give.

I am sure others would be interested also.

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I thought for sure the backpack would of been one of the types that allow you to plug in devices to for a charge on the go.

I just posted this on somebody else's comment, but i see them at Walmart and best buy all the time. SwissGear backpacks. Pretty sure they make photo bags as well, but not 100% sure on that.

Hi ac
I know im off topic but im wondering about something
How rare are ingress invites?
And I heard if u get invited u can invite two others...
Also do u need net all the time for it to work. ..
Also does any one use it plz help

Posted via Samsung Mega 5.8

There are help sections in the forums.

As for your question, I'm not an Ingress player, but I don't see any invites going around in the comments sections for articles. For that, I would check out the Ingress forum.

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I would love an invite. I've been dying to play ever since I heard about ingress.

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It's fascinating to see how different people approach tech and how they use it on the road! What you carry, and why, is edifying.

I get the two phones (or more) since your work certainly would lead to do that. It's the price of contributing. Although, it's bit strange that your main phone is an iPhone (I hope it's at least jailbroken :-) .

Still, all that seems a bit much to carry inside the event. Do you take all that (MBP, IP5, LG Optimus, NEXUS7, CAMERA, 2X POWER) with you everywhere during the work event?

It seems logical to only carry a phone (pocket) and camera (neck) into the event -unless you're live streaming info out to us.

Anyway, thanks for sharing this -and your other nice reviews and helpful perspectives.

I wouldn't ever leave my gear unattended in a press room put it that way ;-) 

Thing is, these events are quite taxing on battery power in particular. Roaming in Europe isn't the best way of prolonging how long your phone lasts, so I always find it's necessary for a full day on the show floor to have at least two phones and a way of charging them. Will probably leave the N7 in the hotel room, but I do find having music available (the Black) sometimes helps me drown out the noise and concentrate on my own business.

We bring the stuff to you guys as quickly as we can. Whether that's liveblogging from a press conference, or setting up somewhere after filming a hands on at a booth, we'll take all the gear we need to do that wherever we go. Maybe, once in a while we get to sit down in the press room and use a table ;-)

Oh, and my main phone is an iPhone because my full time home is over on iMore at the moment :)

Yep, I use an old phone as my media player old BB9310 w/ a 32gb card

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I'm surprised that a number of mobile nations writers are toting around micro four thirds cameras, pleasantly surprised at that (even if most are older models, they're also often the best values). M43 doesn't get as much mainstream press as something like Sony's NEX system (which itself doesn't get nearly as much as your average DSLR line) but it's very versatile and a far better choice than a bulkier DSLR for a lot of average consumers (the kind that picks one up at Costco and never end up taking the kit lens off...).

I'm also surprised a lot of you seem to favor the multi port AC adapters... When I travel I end up charging my smaller devices in a variety of situations (that includes phone, Bluetooth headset, BT receiver for headphones, USB battery pack, Nexus 7, etc); and very few of those situations involve me setting down two or more devices in the same place, even when I'm turning in for the night.

I'll often wanna charge my phone next to my bed where there may not be enough space to leave other devices charging, so I'll charge those at another location; or my battery pack might be out (or I just happen to be sitting next to an outlet) so I'll pull out a charger with a retractable USB cord for a quick charge... The point is I'd rather pack two or three USB/AC chargers, if you grab small ones they'll hardly take up any more space than some of those rather large multi-port chargers (and it frees you up to carry one or two higher amp adapters for that Nexus 7 or that Note that will charge quicker with those).

I do use the chargers during the day a lot less now that I have a USB battery pack... A lot of the writers seem to have Mophie packs or some of the other more publicized brands... Slightly less popular ones are often much cheaper and just as good or better.

I've had really good luck with Anker's line, available on Amazon. They've got a large variety of models from smaller ones you can slip into a pocket alongside a phone (the 3500 & 5600mAh ones easily fit into the average guy's pant pocket along with a large phone) to the larger dual port ones. I think they even make one that will supply 1A to both Android and iOS devices on both ports, which is quite a rarity. AC should consider getting some in for review tbh...

Honest truth; I bought the Mophie on eBay for about 75% less than its usual retail price :P 

I do also have an Anker battery pack, a smaller one, but honestly I'm not that impressed with it. Seems to run empty far quicker than it should, but it was excellent value for money. The Mophie is just for on-the-go juicing during the day though. 

The Moshi Rewind is a perfect travel power adaptor, because you can plug two things into one wall outlet, so one less plug to carry. Highly recommended item :)

What's the boom mic make/model? How does it work for interviews and such? Looking to pick up one myself.

It's Panasonic's own Lumix model with a 2.5mm jack input. Works well enough to make a difference, particularly in a noisy environment

As a ex Linux user of 5 years, who had to make a difficult decision when I got into a post grad program, there comes a time when Linux may not be enough for some people. Not enough mainstream support I say.

I agree with you to a extent. I just completed some post grad work and primarily used Linux to get through it. But I did have to find some work arounds. However, it would be nice to see some guys using something a bit more interesting than an iphone and a Macbook.

I wouldn't begrudge anyone for choosing a retina MBP (those displays...) or even a regular MBP, I do find it a bit puzzling that so many writers would opt for the Air when they're not otherwise tied to Apple's ecosystem tho... Not that it's a terrible choice mind you, but over the last year or two there's been several ultrabooks that were a better value.

Some ASUS Zenbook models and various others often give you more RAM/SSD for the price while also including higher res/quality IPS displays than the Air's dated display. The Air's lower res TN display is tantamount to going with a qHD Android phone at this point IMO, where even 720p is viewed as midrange by some.

I haven't even read the article yet. Just wanted to say I love these posts! I have absolutely no clue why. Thanks for showing us your bag too! (Everyone has been asking for that.) Now, off to read the article with a strange excited felling and a devilish grin on my face.

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FYI Wenger makes the crappy imitation Swiss Army knives. Victorinox makes the real ones, as you'll notice from the cross and shield vs the cross and circle on Wenger. Both make great bags, though Victorinox edges the Wenger out. I've had mine since 2003 and it literally hasn't even had a stitch come out!! Nice article. LOVE the diversity!

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G2 has a mic input? What gets me is that the forthcoming GX7 (the pen-ultimate camera?) doesn't have a mic input, and yet is a way more powerful and versatile camera than the G2. What were Panasonic thinking? Hence, 'pen' ultimate! (Other flaw is lack of headphone output, so I guess it is the pen pen ultimate camera?)

I actually moved to the G2 from a newer model GF series camera specifically because of the hotshoe and mic input. It's weird how they approach their cameras. Had a hands on a few months back at an event in Italy with the new G6, and boy do I wish my wallet was thick enough to afford one!

If this is Android Central, why don't you use Android products? Don't you believe in them? How can you objectively report on something you don't know and use?

So I've not been writing here on Android Central for about two years now? I work for Mobile Nations, which right now means writing primarily on iMore, less frequently here on AC and very possibly once in a while over on CrackBerry. I even state in the article that I'm found more often on iMore these days, though I'm guessing you didn't actually read that part? Or the part where I said I have a Nexus 4. Or the bit about the Nexus 7 I take everywhere when I travel?

This post isn't about talking up Android products. As a member of staff who is heading out on the road to bring you the best damn coverage of IFA in a couple of weeks, I've joined in and posted "what's in my gear bag." 

And I can objectively report on Android products pretty well I'd say, or does almost 1000 articles on this site not count for anything? 

Im with you 100%. I want a high end experience in a compact form factor. Up until the Moto X came out: The iPhone was the ONLY choice. Still love my Android tablet and Mini PC.