CES 2012: What's in our bags for the year's biggest gadget show
This post has been updated. See note below for details.
The annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show has begun. Team LAT is getting into place, and our coverage has started.
I'm still en route.This year, instead of flying as I usually do, I'm road tripping it. In fact, I'm cruising along Interstate 15 as I type -- riding, not driving. And I'm traveling a little lighter than in years past. My bag is smaller, so are my computer and camera. But they're all more powerful.
The bag is as much a part of the story as what's in it. I'll be checking whether it's more than just a pretty purple package. I got this raspberry-colored Powerbag for Christmas. (My family knows I have power issues -- I mean with all of my devices.) So I plan to put it through its paces, charging its contents during CES. Although I believe in redundancy, since technology can and does fail on you when you most need it, I'm carrying only one laptop this CES. That's mostly because I can file text, photos and video from my phone more easily than in years past if I need to. (I'm writing this on my iPhone on the ride into Las Vegas from Los Angeles.)
In the main compartment, I have my 13-inch MacBook Pro, its power cable and my magic folder with analog materials -- important printouts and my CES pass. I am using a removable pouch for USB cables, a hub, an SD card reader, earphones, my glasses, pens and quick-grab snacks.I can also store the many flash drives we collect throughout CES with product details and photos.
In the middle compartment, a 1TB external hard drive fits next to a tiny tripod for the small HD video camera I have in there, since I'll be one-man-banding it. The small video camera will also double as a still camera. Inside the camera is an 8 GB Eye-Fi SD card to quickly transfer photos to either my iPhone or laptop so I can blog or Tweet from either device.
I have an iRig mic to connect with my iPhone if I need to shoot video with it. (Unfortunately, it doesn't work with the camcorder.) Having a more powerful directional mic should help cut the din of the convention center.
The front pocket of the bag is for my iPhone and BlackBerry, which will need charging sooner than later. I carry both because AT&T works in places T-Mobile doesn't and vice versa.
I've also got my brace for weak and weary wrists, hand wipes and the power cable for the bag. There's also a power strip hanging around, but I'm still on the fence about carrying it. We'll see how well the Powerbag holds up. Stay tuned for a review of the bag later in the week.
[Updated 4:20 p.m.: Times videographer Armand Emamdjomeh and tech reporter writer Nathan Olivarez-Giles share below what gear they're using this year to cover CES.]
As a disclaimer, I'm a big fan of Canon and Apple, so this equipment list might not hold any surprises. That being said...
Since I'm focusing on video, the centerpiece of my setup is a Canon 5D MkII. I've called this "a photographer's camera that shoots beautiful video," and even though the model is a few years old by now, it certainly never disappoints with either. The 24-105m f/4 lens isn't quite as good as the 24-70mm f/2.8, which boasts a wider aperture and is a better all around lens, but the extra focal length is good for closeups and interviews, and the image stabilization makes up for the slower aperture. In terms of glass, I also packed a 50mm f/1.4 lens, just in case we get into some really poor lighting. With the 5D's maximum ISO of 25,600, and shooting fairly clean up to 3200 ISO, putting the 50mm lens on on the camera really lets you shoot just about anywhere.
For audio, I have a RODE shotgun mic that mounts on the camera hotshoe, and for more precise sound we have a set of wireless lavalieres and a handheld microphone for interviews. To get all that sound into the camera there's the Beachtek XLR adapter, which mounts on the bottom of the camera.
To hold that rig I have a Manfrotto 680B monopod - it's small, light and maneuverable enough to keep shots steady even in a crowded space.
The hub is my 15" MacBook Pro. Enough battery life and processing power to make video processing in the field not a complete nightmare. And obviously, there's a pen and notepad.
Other things in my bag, AA batteries and Clif bars, for refueling.
And of course, the lynch pin of all this, that which could serve as a backup for every single one of the above devices should any of them fail, is my iPhone 4s. Plus, what would a tech conference be without Instagram?
This year, my bag for CES is a lot different than the set-up I took with me to Vegas last year.
The biggest change might be my lack of a camera. Last year I had with me a Sony HDR-SR7 video camera, spare batteries and a shot-gun microphone for shooting video. This year, I'll be spending more time in front of the camera instead of behind the camera, so the video that will go along with what I write will be shot by my colleague Armand Emamdjomeh, who shoots the gadget review videos we do every Saturday on the Technology blog.
My laptop this year is also lighter. Gone is my 2007, 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro. Instead, this year I'm using a thin and light Apple MacBook Air that's only a few months old. Along with that of course comes its charger. I also have a thumb-drive for transferring files from one computer to another quickly when an Internet connection is slow our not available.
I've also got a paper notepad and three pens for note taking I'll be doing and my iPhone 4S will be used for recording audio of interviews, which I'm planning on uploading to my SoundCloud account, and for a few photos of some of the new gadgets making their debut at CES this year. Along with the iPhone 4S comes its charger and a set of Apple headphones as well.
A Nintendo 3DS, its charger, and copies of the games Super Mario 3D Land, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Mario Kart 7 are also packed inside in preparation for an interview later this week I have scheduled with Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America Inc.
The bag I'm throwing all of this stuff in is a Powerbag that was sent to me as a review unit. So far, I haven't gotten the bag working but Michelle Maltais is writing up a review of her Powerbag for the Technology blog, so maybe she'll help me figure out what I'm doing wrong or if it's broken.
-- Michelle Maltais