Many readers would think, when writing for my blog, I mainly use my Macbook Pro. However, that isn’t the case. With a couple of important accessories, I have made a very functional Mobile Blogging Kit. This mobile kit allows me to travel lighter, while still allowing the flexibility to integrate different forms of media into my postings. My MBK (Mobile Blogging Kit) has been road tested in several different states under various conditions.
I first realized I needed an MBK when Ryan and I took our “Epic Road Trip”. While my first kit allowed me to post as needed, there were still several limitations. This kit included:
- 2 15” MacbookPro’s
- a portable Verizon MyFi,
- a digital camera,
- an iPhone
- a Blackberry
- several power bricks to power/charge all of the devices.
While this setup allowed us to do everything we wanted, we ran into major power and space problems. The Macbook Pro has a great battery life, but the amount of photo editing and writing we did required us to recharge after just a couple of posts. On the road, it isn’t exactly easy to recharge as electric outlets just don’t magically appear. Once we were able to find a place to recharge, we needed to use a surge protector just to accommodate all of our devices.
Once we got back from the trip, I started thinking about my ideal mobile blogging kit. I needed to lose weight and bulk without sacrificing functionality in the process. I quickly realized, upon doing some research, that an iPad with a few key accessories would be the linchpin of my new lightweight setup. For flexible blogging on the go, here is what is in my bag:
Timbuk2 Messenger Bag- Medium.
This bag has been part of the mobile kit since the beginning. Lightweight, water resistant, and durable, it has all the features needed for a travel bag. Many of the pockets on the inside fit various apple devices perfectly and make organization of the equipment easy. The lack of a dedicated laptop sleeve takes unnecessary stiffness out of the bag and allows for flexibility in packing up the main compartment. The bag is big enough to fit my jacket and headphones but small enough to be placed under an airplane seat.
This is the primary device in the setup. While it is far from a MacBookPro replacement, it does allow a great deal of functionality in a compact and power efficient package. I have been able to get 9+ hours of nonstop use of this device easily which puts any laptop to shame. Forgoing the built in 3G module wasn’t an easy choice, but the added cost didn’t really add any additional value to my setup. I have found with the advent of portable wireless hot spot devices and free WiFi, you are never very far from internet access. All you need to charge the iPad is a small wall charger or a car charger. The iPad is a very flexible device when it comes to accessory integration.
Apple iPhone 4– 32GB
This device is the other key part of my mobile blogging arsenal. Besides allowing me to stay in the contact with the outside world, it gives me internet access wherever I can get a signal. The camera in this model has been upgraded to a point that I can sometimes just leave my digital camera in my bag. Most of my apps I use for content creation on the iPad also work on this device which allows me to do quick edits on the go. The charger for the iPhone is unabashedly tiny to a point it practically disappears in your bag. The only part that I dislike about the iPhone 4 is the inability to tether to my iPad.
Olympus Waterproof Point and Shoot Digital Camera
For photos that need to be a higher quality (such as photos for my interviews) I reach for my digital camera by Olympus. Waterproof up to 10’ underwater, I can get shots in any weather needed. Not having to worry about if my camera will break allows me to get some amazing pictures both above water and under it. The travel charger for this camera’s battery is low profile and charges quickly. With the iPad camera connection kit (see below) I can get my photos directly on my iPad to preview and edit without needing to connect to my MacBookPro.
Apple Bluetooth Keyboard
This is the most compact keyboard I have seen that integrates with all of my Mac devices easily (iPhone, iPad, and iPhone). The keyboard will wirelessly link with my iPad and allows a very laptop like experience. Since I can type more easily on a keyboard then a touchscreen (at least at the moment) this keyboard allows faster input of text. Its slim form disappears in my Timbuk2 bag’s main pocket when not in use. The device is powered by AA batteries so I don’t have to carry a device specific charger.
Of all the accessories for the iPad, an iPad stand can be one of the most difficult purchases outside of a case. Stands are usually designed for one purpose that doesn’t offer much flexibility outside of that. I needed a stand with a small footprint that offered me various angles for input. The Twelve South Compass stand allows me to type either with my keyboard or on the onscreen keyboard without taking up a ton of space in my bag.
Incase Neoprene Sleeve
I never saw the point of having a hard case for the iPad. Even with a hard case, if you drop the iPad there is a big likelihood that you will break the screen regardless. With that thought in mind, I decided on a lightweight sleeve. I have an Incase sleeve for my MacbookPro that has served me well, so I decided to buy the comparable sleeve for my iPad. The sleeve provides minimal impact resistance, but does protect from scratches and keeps the screen clean. An added advantage is this case is discrete- most casual observers don’t realize it is an iPad.
These adapters address one of the iPad’s largest criticisms- the lack of industry standard ports. You get two adapters in the package; one with USB and one for SD cards. Since my camera uses xD, I only bring the USB adapter with me at the moment. My iPad can now offload photos from my digital camera and my iPhone, making my iPad into a massive flash drive with a large on screen preview. This functionality allows me to directly preview, edit, and post photos directly to Twitter or my WordPress blog.
There are several apps in the App Store that deal with document creation functionality. Pages was one of the first app that launched alongside the iPad and is my sole document editor. The app allows importing and exporting of documents in .doc, .pages, and .PDF which allows anyone to read my work if it needs review. The ability to change the font and add photos within the app really shows that you can produce professional quality documents without the need for a computer. Once the iOS 4.2 update comes out in November, I will be able to print documents wirelessly as well.
WordPress is one of the few apps that works both on my iPhone and iPad. Since WordPress’ site is heavily Flash based (and thus doesn’t work on mobile Safari) you need to use the WordPress app to post, edit, and approve comments on an iOS device. The app is much more HTML based and slightly more barebones in terms of overall functionality than the normal website.
Dropbox is a fantastic app for file sharing over multiple devices anywhere in the world. Dropbox is currently loaded on my MacBookPro, iPad, and iPhone. This app allows me to edit documents across multiple devices seamlessly and makes sharing them with my editors effortless. The program also allows folder and picture sharing, so I can get feedback on my work on the road.
Photo Editing App “Suite”- Colorsplash, Adobe Ideas and Adobe Photoshop Express
For photo editing on the iPad, I use different applications depending on what I need to do to the photo before I post it publicly. Colorsplash allows me to make a certain part(s) of a photo color while the rest of the photo remains black & white. Adobe Ideas and Photoshop Express provide “prosumer” mobile photo editing. These apps are no replacement for Pixelmator and iPhoto which I use on my MacBookPro, but they do provide the general photo touchup that my photos require.
When it comes to Twitter, there are two applications I use for content creation (for content consumption, see my Flipboard review). Both Echofon and the official Twitter app offer great functionality but each excels in different areas. Echofon is used more for tweets directed specifically to other users as the autosearch Twitter handle function is only available in this app. The official Twitter app is used for more search and retweeting work, as the multilayered layout makes it much easier to do so.
My Mobile Blogging Kit is evolving as technology does. It exists as a compliment to the computer setup I have at home. I already have my eyes on a couple of additions to the kit in the future. What do you think of the kit? Anything you would add or get rid of? Let me know in the comments.