Travel technology

Posted by jerry on July 23rd, 2005 — Posted in Technology, Travel

For this latest trip to Copenhagen, I managed to put together the closest yet to my ideal travel technology. Interestingly, it is not all the latest gizmos, but stuff that has been around for a while. The photo shows all except the camera (which was taking the photo) that I took on my latest trip.

travel technology

Of course the squared paper Moleskine notebook and Waterman fountain pen (it doesn’t leak on aircraft) are indispensible. But then there’s the other stuff…

First the Psion 5mx PDA. Despite its age (made in 2000) it is still the only one with a really type-able keyboard, and aside from the lack of wifi or USB port it is as capable as most notebook computers – without the battery/security hassles at airports. I can just walk through with it in my carry-on bag and no-one bats an eyelid. On the plane I can type up blog entries, notes about the trip, build web pages, do my accounts – and it even doubles as a travel alarm clock. The wide screen gives me a full page width of typing, or a reasonable version of a web page using the Opera web browser. I can also update my www.20six.co.uk/ijerry blog with the sms function, by typing the message in the psion, then using the infra red port, connect to the phone and send an sms/email to the blog. The Psion is also very light on batteries – two AA batteries will last a good fortnight when travelling – but I take a mains adapter on trips for use in hotel rooms. The other minor drawback over a notebook computer is the lack of photoshop for resizing images or playing with brightness and contrast, or adjusting image file size. But the Psion is pretty close to ideal for my purposes. The great news is that these wonderful machines look like coming back on the market, thanks to POS Ltd in London.

The Sagem V-55 phone using Vodaphone also has a camera. The photos from the camera can be beamed via the IR port to the psion for saving on the CompactFlash card. Once there I can name the photo and integrate it into a web page. The phone is GPRS-capable and can use GSM roaming when overseas to stay in touch. I can send photos direct from the phone to the blog (via MMS), or send them to an email address by phone. I have a standard plug-in charger and a car charger – I take the latter if I’m going to be doing much driving.

The Canon A75 camera provides 3.2 megapixel photos, as well as video with sound, and saves these to a compact flash card – commonality of storage medium is very useful! Yes I can take the camera card and use it in the psion – again for building web pages, or for integrating into related documents. The camera uses four AA batteries, and I always keep a spare set in the camera bag. These can be charged up in the hotel room overnight.

On this trip I picked up the ultimate storage device – an Apacer ‘Disk steno’ CP-200 travel CD/DVD burner that doesn’t need a computer – it will burn CDs direct from a compact flash card (as well as SD cards, USB minidrives, sony memory sticks etc) and it can do so on batteries or mains – so once the camera card is full or I want to back up a whole web site from the psion – as well as all my notes and finances, I just pop the CF card into the CD burner and drop in a fresh CD/R and burn a disk. The thing writes multiple sessions and verifies the burn afterwards, so with some confidence you can wipe the CF card ready for more photos, or at least have some stable media if you are worried about losing data through the airport security screening process. It’s also a great way to pass the time between planes – just burn a couple of CDs in the airport lounge! And you can review the CD images on the hotel TV using the supplied connectors – so you know if the images have burnt correctly.

The whole lot fits easily into my carry-on bag, along with a change of clothes, toiletries bag, a couple of adapter plugs and 4-way powerpoint so one adapter can take four Australian devices, a battery charger, a couple of 256MB CF cards and some blank CD/Rs.

At airports I walk right past people struggling to remove batteries and laptops, and when the pilot asks for electronic devices to be switched off the psion is instant off and instant on – no waiting for hard drives to spin down! And the whole kit, including camera, Psion, CD burner and phone weigh collectively less than almost all the notebook laptops on the market. And in the worst case if I am caught short with low batteries, most places sell AA batteries that will get me through.

And that’s about it – keeping it simple, using reliable technology with common batteries and common storage media seems to pay off when travelling – and with the CD burner you can take as many photos as you like, burn them back at the hotel and start fresh each day with a clean CF card.

travel safe folks

cheers
Jerry

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