As we get ready to pack up for MWC, we want to give you a look at what we're bringing along.
The editors here at Android Central get a lot of work done on the road, and that means we're always looking to have the best gear available in our bags so we can bring all of the best coverage to folks back at home. When we're getting ready to gear up for a big show like MWC, it's a perfect time to double check the setup and get everything in order before we fly out.
Here's what I'll be carrying to Barcelona this year, and for the most part it's what comes with me any time I leave the house and need to get work done while I'm out.
The bag: Timbuk2 Classic Messenger
I picked up my Timbuk2 Classic Messenger (size large) a bit over a year ago, and I've been very happy with it as both a daily carry bag and for travel needs. The handful of pockets inside make it easy to find a place for my essential gear, while the separate laptop compartment keeps my computer safe and I can use the rest of this cavernous bag for anything else I need.
Most days I have the external straps tightened down, which collapses the bag for a slimmer profile since I don't have much to carry. But you can also loosen those straps out and fit a weekend's worth of clothing and gear or a full set of camera equipment for a day of shooting. The versatility of the big open bag is great, even if I'm carrying the same things most of the time.
Oh, and you just can't beat Timbuk2's warranty, particularly if you have a store where you live. You'll never have to worry about being caught without a bag or being charged for replacements if issues arise.
Also inside: Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Insert
Because I use the bag for photography gear on a regular basis, I also invested in a "Snoop" camera insert; and I went for a medium size for my large bag so that I have extra room for non-camera gear.
This is a fully-contained zip-closed camera container with two movable dividers and a soft cloth interior that can easily hold my camera, two extra lenses, cables, batteries, and usually for me a couple more phones. It has a handle on it so you can quickly yank it out of your bag, and because it's self-contained it means I can quickly turn my messenger back into a standard carry-all bag in a snap.
And finally: Peak Design Capture Camera Clip
The Peak Design Capture Camera Clips came as a recommendation from several people, and I just don't carry a camera without it anymore. It's a simple and secure way to mount your camera on a bag strap or belt, letting you quickly remove the camera for shooting and then clip it back on the bag until you need it.
No more camera swinging around your neck from a strap, and no more stashing it in your bag where it's hard to reach. This thing is absolutely crucial for trade shows, but I've started to use it when I'm traveling for vacation as well.
The laptop: MacBook Air
Ah, my trusty old (literally, quite old) MacBook Air. This 2012 model is a bit long in the tooth, but it's still holding up surprisingly well for the age. I had to get a battery replacement in it last year and just bought a new power cable, but beyond that it's run great. This laptop has traveled all over and covered countless events for Android Central, and it doesn't complain.
I still prefer to use OS X for just about everything (though I have a Windows desktop at home), do all of my video editing in Final Cut Pro X and have all of the software just how I want it here. When I bought the laptop there just wasn't anything else comparable in terms of battery life, trackpad, portability and build quality, and honestly even today the design holds up well. (And I can't count how many times the MagSafe power cable has saved this thing from disaster.) The only thing I'm really envious of at this point on newer machines is screen resolution.
Because it's holding up, I'm trying to wait for the next MacBook refresh, where I suspect I'll end up bumping to a 13-inch MacBook Pro if Apple doesn't blow me away with the new Air model. Either way, I'm pretty sealed in the choice to simply upgrade to a new MacBook.
The phone: Nexus 6P
I've been using the Nexus 6P the most out of any phone since it was launched, and while it's not a perfect phone, I'm still enjoying using it. The phone's still a bit large for me and there are a handful of software bugs that crop up intermittently, but performance has been great and there's plenty of battery life even for heavy travel and show days. I also just downright prefer the clean Marshmallow software experience.
The carrier: Project Fi
I run my Nexus 6P on Project Fi every day, and I won't be swapping out my SIM when I head to Spain. I've used Project Fi internationally before, and it works perfectly well for me. The data can be a bit slow (limited to 3G-level speeds) if I need to do lots of uploading, but for the most part it serves its purpose. Being able to turn off airplane mode the minute I land and have things up and running is huge for me, as is not having to worry about exorbitant roaming rates from some other carriers.
The other phone: Galaxy Note 5
The Galaxy Note 5 is easily in the running to be my favorite phone of the latest crop, and it'll be coming along with me to Barcelona. It also has solid performance and battery life, as well as a wonderful camera, and I don't have any issue setting down the Nexus 6P and picking up the Note 5 to run all of my daily duties when I'm on the road if need be. For most of this trip it'll be in my bag running as a hotspot for a backup connection, waiting to be called into action.
The carrier: T-Mobile
I'll be bringing along my T-Mobile postpaid line in the Note 5 for two reasons. Having the free slow international data means I can keep it on during my whole time in Spain without spending a penny extra (backup data is always a good thing), and if for some reason I need faster data I can drop a quick $25 or $50 to get a solid high-speed data allotment for when i need it. This ability to get higher speeds for an extra price is something I wish Project Fi would offer on some level, and it's why I'm bringing my T-Mobile SIM along.
The camera: Olympus E-PL5
This is the same camera you would've seen on my previous "gear bag" posts here at AC, and I'm still just as happy with it. The E-PL5 is super compact yet has a really good sensor and enough features for any enthusiast (or even pro, in my case) photographer. Sure it doesn't have a built-in viewfinder or newer features like Wi-Fi, but when it comes to sheer photo quality and getting the shots I need, the E-PL5 has never come up short.
There's a newer E-PL6 out that's actually going to be cheaper at this point, and I think it's a great buy. These micro four-thirds cameras are really great (especially for the money), and Olympus does a good job with all of its models.
While the E-PL5 is a great camera with the included 14-42mm kit lens, it turns into an entirely different experience with a good prime lens on it. Olympus' own 25mm f/1.8 lens (which is a 50mm equivalent) is my go-to lens and it's absolutely fantastic. It's extremely fast and bright, meaning you can go into point-and-shoot mode and never miss a shot, even in bad lighting. Whereas you have to work a bit with the kit lens, you don't even have to think about it with this prime.
Micro Four Thirds lenses tend to be dramatically less expensive than their counterparts from the likes of Sony, Canon and Nikon, which is really great. I often carry a 40-150mm (and seriously, just $99) for longer shots and a 12mm f/2.0 (okay, $599 is a bit steep, but it's fantastic) for some video shooting as well.
Other gear and accessories
I'm usually able to get by on flights with just in-ear headphones, but when it comes to really long flights (like my 12 hours to Europe, plus time in airports) I'm glad to carry some over- or on-ear headphones. I'm currently using the AKG N60nc noise-cancelling on-ear headphones for review purposes, and these long flights will be a perfect testbed. They seem pretty comfy so far, and while they don't sound as good as some other headphones I have, the noise cancellation is good and they offer nine hours of battery life. They're also rechargeable over USB, which is a big plus.
Heading to Europe? Don't forget charger adapters! I bring a half-dozen of these EU plug adapters with me. A few for me, a few for those who forget theirs.
Since I'm carrying a USB-C phone and micro-USB phone, I'm doubling up on cables. My messenger bag now always has a three-foot USB-C cable and a three-foot micro-USB cable — I'm using tangle-free cables from Ventev in this case, which let me have two different colors so I can quickly differentiate between them. When I'm traveling I'll always bring a spare of each, just in case.
Keeping things charged up back at home base, I carry a Ventev wall charger that has two 2.1A USB ports to keep my phones up, as well as a larger Belkin travel surge protector that offers two 2.1A USB ports and three U.S. wall plugs (turning one EU plug adapter into three!) for everything else.
One thing that travel and trade shows have in common is the need for power while on the go. Throw them together, and you need lots of power. I carry a 10,400 mAh Xiaomi Power Bank in my bag most days, and it gets a workout when I'm at shows. I'll also be bringing along a 5200 mAh Samsung Fast Charge external battery, which is good for quickly juicing up Quick Charge-capable phones.
We're often doing video voiceovers and podcasts while we're on the road, and for that reason I always carry my handy Samson Go Mic. This little USB-powered microphone is really small and has sound that'll blow away any laptop microphone or lapel mic, making it a perfect companion for the road.
There's a good amount of gear to bring, but there's also a lot to cover at MWC!