Essential tech: What keeps one ZDNet writer on the road?

Essential tech: What keeps one ZDNet writer on the road?

Summary: Writing isn't just sitting at a desk waiting for the news to happen. It often requires a prepared bag of kit for travel to report at the source. Here's what Zack Whittaker keeps in his on-the-go bag.


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  • iPod touch (fourth-generation)

    Yet another Apple product. I can't deny that keeping the Apple ecosystem -- hardware and software -- has made my life somewhat easier and in-sync across devices, but again it falls down to simplicity and value for what you need.

    The iPod touch is my sole companion to-and-from places; that's all it's used for. My working hours often push my social life to the back-end of the day, meaning I miss out on much of the traditional television hours. I often digitally-record or catch up through on-demand services, but travelling is an ideal time to catch up on your back catalog of television.

    8GB is enough: my music collection is rarely transferred in its entirety, but there is plenty of space for a good half season of television to get me through a flight or a two-hour Eurostar journey. 

  • O2 3G Mobile Broadband Dongle

    Thankfully a lot of the places I need to go on the road means travelling from my home in Canterbury to London, or other places around the U.K. When I am on my home turf, or travelling from my house to the office or elsewhere, I can plug in the dongle and connect. Despite the U.K.'s somewhat patchy 3G and EDGE coverage, it generally powers me through the journey.

    I have the option to tether my BlackBerry on my O2 mobile data plan but often choose not to. Tethering hits my BlackBerry's battery which could be used for other things during the day, and while many U.K. trains have Wi-Fi, I can't afford to churn up my Mac's battery on slightly-more-reliable Internet access, which often costs as much as a healthy kidney on the black market.

  • Electronic cigarette

    I know: shame on me, a smoker.

    Though many European member states still allow smoking inside hotel rooms and public spaces, it's a good rule of thumb that smoking is not permitted anywhere inside.

    However, electronic cigarettes often do not fall within the scope of the law set down by various legislatures because it does not burn and only odorless vapor is produced, therefore it's a solid bet you can 'smoke' in hotel rooms and the like without setting off the smoke detectors and forcing an entire building to evacuate.

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, United Kingdom, BlackBerry, Outsourcing, Networking, Mobility, Laptops, Apps, PCs

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  • May I have your pounds

    Please? You look like you don't want them having them scatted around like that.
  • I believe your MacBook Air model qualifies but I could be mistaken, however

    now that Mountain Lion is available - and one of the enhancements to ML is AirPlay - I was wondering two things.

    1. Have you updated to ML?
    2. If you have, and IF that model is compatible with MacBook Air video transmissions to an HDTV set via AirPlay .. will you include that little "hockey puck" of an Apple hobby device called Apple TV in your travel bag, Zack?

    The reason I ask is it might come in handy to show a group of people "something" that is on your computer on a handy large screen HDTV set. With AirPlay and a WiFi source, that would be possible if you had that little "hockey puck" along with you.

    BTW, if you needed a local WiFi signal and a mobile file storage device "all in one", than the Seagate GoFlex Satellite mobile HD (500 GB) + WiFi transmitter is a device that I would recommend highly.

    You never know when you might have time to relax and watch a digital movie or two stored on that device or listen to a musical song from a VERY large mobile song library residing on that Seagate unit.

    Just a suggestion, Road Warrior.
    • PS - OS X 10.8 ML has a feature called "Power Nap".

      Power Nap should work on your MBA, Zack, because of it's SSD. Power Nap should give you some extra minutes of battery power per charge.
  • Website

    First you should have the next button both at the top and bottom of each page so we don't have to scroll up OR you could just put it all on a single page - God forbid we should not have to wait for all the ad's to load every time we go to the next item.

    just pretend the user is trying to get some content out of the piece.
  • Nameless pieces of kit

    "It uses a fraction of the data than other conventional RSS aggregators...It costs less than $'s only a couple of clicks away..." Wonderful! Mind telling us what "it" is? I tried opening the image in a new window to see its file name, but Googling for "q-reeder" didn't help me at all.
    • Seriously

      C'mon, I'm serious. I want to know what the program you intended to recommend in Image 20 is.
  • gee

    How to go on a trip for dummies book coming to a book store near you.
  • Nameless piece of kit

    What JohnQCooper said. :-)
  • Nameless piece of kit

    • Apologies, all: Let me explain

      Behind the scenes, we have a "Subtitle" box and a "Copy" box. I entered the name of the program -- which is called "Reeder" (for Mac, iOS) by the way -- but obviously it didn't show up. Sorry, all!