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technical solutions for travel

i’m researching technology options for travel. it’s proving to be a difficult task, mostly because i’m picky. i’m trying to figure out the most streamlined, robust and versatile combination of devices. areas of interest include:

1) photography / video / audio – best methods to transport gear and best methods for safe and secure storage of data.
2) laptop – want to have mobile broadband connection if possible, GPS capable with mobile realtime mapping cababilities. safe and secure data backup solutions.
3) cell phone / PDA / blackberry type device

that covers the basics i guess. it’s complicated figuring this out, there is such a broad range of uses, it can quickly lead to multiple pelican cases loaded with gear… which is what i’m trying to avoid here. i’m really trying to distill down the amount of gadgets and maximize their usage, which means bleeding edge i guess. which causes problems because the technology is usually still emerging and not very stable.

i’m very happy with the mac platform and so my decision is made there. i’ll be travelling with a macbook pro and shipping over my two g5 macs and 23″ monitors. i’m set using the D200 camera and the lenses that i already have. i would like to get another battery and some studio strobes. i’m looking at getting alien bees once we get to korea. i’d like to pick up an 8GB compact flash card at some point as well.

as for video, i’m going to take the VX-2000 but at some point i’d like to upgrade to HD. i shot the HDR-FX1 and the Z1U some and i really love the quality, but even though lighter, it’s still bigger than the VX-2000. i’d like to find something smaller, but for now, the VX will work just fine, especially since i have all the accessories, etc.

in the audio category i’m going to take the 4GB ipod which i’m very happy with except for the stock headphones, which suck. i’ve been living with the built in speakers on the macbookpro while travelling. they suck!!! once we get there i will have to either ship over the surround sound system i have here or just spring for a new one. it will be essential, being the movie and music junkie that i am.

fortuna clip on gps
this looks like a great compact GPS solution that will work with a variety of devices, but i still have more research to do!
so the things listed above are pretty much dealt with, besides small details. what i’m having trouble with are the remaining items, GPS systems, mapping/naigation, broadband & cell phones (called hand-a-pones once we reach korea ;-)). after more researching i’m leaning towards getting a bluetooth GPS device, that way it can be traded between laptop use, camera use, and maybe a hand phone or something else. the array of options seems to be endless, and nebulous. i found this review to be somewhat valuable and i like this device so far fortuna clip-on gps. if you read my previous entry on camera gps systems you know i’m interested in geocoding my photos using my nikon d200. if i get the nikon mc-35 cable and a serial-to-bluetooth adapter (mc-35 modified to provide power), then i could use this device for my camera. i could use it with my laptop for navigating when travelling since the laptop has built-in bluetooth. the big question here is what software to use??? i haven’t really researched it yet. so far most of what i find is geared for the US or european market. well, i’m not going to be there much, so i have to find something good for the places i’m going. my fear is that there isn’t anything, we’ll see.
apple’s iphone
the iphone is great, but it won’t work in korea, at least not yet. 🙁
now this leads me to another issue, hand-a-pones. the array is dizzying. if possible, i’d like to get something that will also work with the bluetooth gps as well. but that leads us back to mapping software on mobile phones. another area for research. most cell phones seem designed for specific things… it’s a map phone… or an mp3 phone… or a this or a that… i want it all baby… the iphone is the closest i’ve seen to what i’m looking for, but it’s not going to work in korea, at least not until sometime next year. which brings me to the crux of the cell phone issues. i’m just now learning about the competing technologies b/c i haven’t had a cell phone in many years. it’s all very confusing and annoying. and the problem only gets worse when you start talking about international issues.

researching the cell phone brought me to other possibilities regarding the last issue, broadband. i found information on EVDO (Evolution-Data Optomised). it’s basically getting broadband-like speed internet connections using cellular technology. that means i could surf the internet on a train, in a car, anywhere i can get cell phone coverage basically. that would be a very good thing.

merlin xv620 EVDO card
picuted above is novatel’s merlin xv620 EVDO card that will fit the macbook pro’s card slot.
i got excited, for a bit. then i started doing some Q&A with cell phone companies. even their representatives, though nice and responsive, seemed confused. i was trying to get sprint or verizon, the two compaines offering the service in the US, to talk to me about an international plan that might cover me in korea and here as well. what i really want is a global plan, so no matter where i’m at, i’d have a connection. that’s the goal. but it seems nobody can offer that at the moment. so i’m still researching.

if anyone out there has any insight on the cell phone or broad band issues, please let me know!

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