Five years ago, a hack could cover Macworld and CES with little more than a notebook and an teflon-lined liver. But in these heady days of live blogging and videocasts, people expect more. And that, of course, gives me the excuse of sorting out a kitbag of delicious gadgetry. Here's what I'm toting this year:
Apple MacBook Air. Size and weight are all important when you're trudging around a show all day. I almost ditched Apple's ultrathin MacBook in favour of the Asus S101, but in the end I couldn't bear to leave the Air's bright 13in screen and fullsize keyboard (two reasons, incidentally, that I don't think we'll see a Mac netbook). Plus I'd rather work with Mac OS, simply because that's what I'm used to. I've found I can realistically squeeze between 3 and 4 hours of life out of the MacBook battery, even with a 3G modem plugged in, so it compares pretty favourably with rivals.
Of course, I also have a pencil case full of Macbook Air essentials like a USB hub to make up for the stingy single port, a memory card reader and a USB-to-Ethernet adapter. These, incidentally, are all built into the smaller, cheaper Asus S101 - Apple should be ashamed!
Canon PowerShot G10. I was tempted to bring a DSLR but in the end size won out over quality - and the new G10 means that the compromise isn't too painful. I've yet to fully explore this 15megapixel bridge camera, but I love its retro styling and ability to shoot in uncompressed RAW format. Plus I should - I hope - be able capture pictures remotely from my computer.
Sony TG3. Sony's pocket-sized HD camcorder isn't quite as fully featured as Sanyo's similar Xacti HD1010 - notably it's missing a microphone input and hotshoe - but it's brilliantly easy to use and records in pin-sharp 1080i. I've already shot a few on-location videos with TG3 - such as my Sony Rolly video - and it works well will iMovie 08 (unlike The Flip and rival USB 'corders). I'll be adding voiceovers and captions and pinging vids up to YouTube as fast as humanly possible.
ACS earphones A couple of months ago I had my ear canals injected with goo. It was a strangely pleasurable experience, not least because it resulted in the arrival of custom-fit earpieces for my
earphones of choice (the Shure 530s). But the company that makes the earpieces, www.hearingprotection.co.uk, also makes its own earphones - and they're completely encased in the
silicon that's exactly moulded to your ear. I haven't used the ACS earphones much - they're designed for professsional use and have incredible clarity but are lacking warmth - but they're perfect for
in-flight use because the custom fit cuts out most background noise, and as they don't protrude from your earhole you can comfortably sleep with them in. They make great monitors for video editing, too.
Apple iPhone 3G Not just for playing Flick Bowling, honestly.
And... well, that's pretty much it. I'll hire a data card in the US and hope that I can grab a bit of bandwidth. Wish me luck...