Darren details those technology items that are ‘must haves’ for us on this journey.
Since we will be gone for more than a year on our journey, we have spent many hours researching the technology that we will need to capture the sights and sounds from our trip. In making our final choices we took into account our limited space requirements, as our luggage is limited to one rolling duffel bag and day pack apiece. Below are those items that we have purchased for our trip and “just can’t do without”. We are not receiving any compensation for endorsing the products below. All prices are street.
All-in-One Travel Power Plug Adapter – $10
The first item is an All-in-One Travel Power Plug Adapter. We used to have to bring a whole box of adapters. Now there is a single adapter that will fit into just about any outlet in any country. This item is available under several brand names.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector – $20
The next item is a Belkin Mini Surge Protector. Combine this with the All-in-One Travel Power Plug (above) and we now have not one outlet but three! It also has two USB outlets so we can power up to five devices at a time. Plus, this unit has a built-in surge protector, protecting our electronics from harmful power spikes. Another item to consider is a small extension cord (not shown). This item helps when there isn’t power close to our work area.
Duracell Powerhouse Charger – $20
Since we are going to be “off the grid” while we are trekking, we needed to consider portable power. There are many options here, but we settled on the Duracell Powerhouse Charger. We can use the flip-out mini-USB connection to charge those items. Or, we can use the USB cable that came with the device to charge other things. The Powerhouse has a surprising amount of juice… enough to recharge most small electronics two or three times. This is a cheaper and more compact option over a second battery, which in some cases can cost twice that of the Powerhouse.
Smart phone with International Plan – $199 (2-year contract) plus plan and international data
The next items are smart phones with international plans. Darren is carrying a Motorola Droid 2 Global and Sandy has an iPhone 4. These devices are going to do so much more than allow us to make calls. They replace an alarm, flashlight, calendar, calculator, diary, MP3 player, camera, GPS, game console, eReader and even a television. For an additional charge, we can tether our laptop to our phone and provide it with an Internet connection in a hotel room that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Without our smart phones, we would have to print our itineraries and all of our travel documents. Note: before you leave home, make sure that your carrier and phone work overseas.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V 16.2 MP Camera – $300
They say the best camera is the one you have with you. For this reason, we shied away from large cameras and instead settled on a pocket camera that takes stills and shoots high definition video. There were several different brands that fit our requirements. However, in the end, we selected the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V for a couple of reasons, including the optical zoom (16x), video resolution (1080p), image stabilization and the GPS. With the GPS, all of our photos will be imprinted with the geo-location of the place it was taken. This can be helpful if you want to know the exact spot where the photo was shot or see all of your photos on a map.
D-Link DAP-1350 Wireless N Pocket Router – $50
Many hotel rooms still have a single Ethernet cable rather than Wi-Fi for Internet connectivity. By purchasing a travel router, we are able to create a Wi-Fi network so all of our devices have connectivity. Both of us are taking and editing pictures, so, at the end of the day, we need a way to make the photos available to each other. Using the D-Link Pocket Router, we are able to sync our photos and videos using a program called Allway Sync (www.allwaysync.com). For example, one of us might be reviewing and selecting photos while the other is writing website content. Another cool feature of the Pocket Router is that it allows us to attach a USB drive to it, providing yet another way to share data.
Western Digital My Passport 1 TB Hard Drive – $170
We also purchased three Western Digital My Passport 1TB USB Drives. If a terabyte sounds like a lot of space, you are right! It is enough for 280,000 pictures at full resolution and 81 hours of 1080p video. The plan is to take two of these with us initially and then to send one of them home and receive a replacement at the half-way point. It is very important to us that we have backups of all of our work, not just our pictures and videos, but all of the derived works and other content.
Sony VAIO Notebook – $500 – $1,000
The final item is the laptop. We will have two. Darren has the more powerful Sony Vaio S-Series and Sandy has the ultraportable Y-Series. Darren’s requirements call for editing 1080p video at full resolution. He’s using the economical Avid Studio package (www.pinnaclesys.com) to create videos that can be uploaded to YouTube. Sandy’s laptop requirements call for photo editing. She’s using the powerful but simple-to-use Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 package (www.adobe.com).
It is really amazing to think that many of these devices didn’t even exist even a few years ago. It is getting so that what used to cost hundreds or thousands of US dollars and reserved for professionals is now available at a price point that puts it in reach of the average consumer. We are excited how this technology will provide students with pictures and videos while we are on our journey.