Refining my portable blogging environment

iPad Mini in coach - At 30,000 feet

iPad Mini in coach – At 30,000 feet

On the ongoing quest to lighten my technology load, I’ve experimented with different technologies. Camera wise, you know I’ve embraced mirrorless cameras. My main travel cameras are the Olympus Pens which together with the smaller lenses, make it much lighter than DSLRs. But my post processing and blogging platform weights a lot too.

On my Cancun trip, I experimented with the iPad Mini as my post processing machine. I also did some rudimentary blogging too. While it’s possible, I found some deficiencies that I’m working to reduce.

The Maxell Airstash works great but I wanted to speed up the download process. I got the iPad lightning SD Card reader which improved speeds about 65%.  It takes about 3 seconds instead of 8 seconds to download to the iPad.

I also got a bluetooth keyboard that improved the typing experience tremendously. The built-in touch keyboard works great for little bits of text but for longer blog posts, a physical keyboard is the way to go. And even if this keyboard is small (it doubles as a screen cover) it works better than expected.

The Logitech keyboard also makes selecting and copy and pasting text a whole lot easier — which was one of the more frustrating parts of linking to my photographs.

So I sit here in the now familiar cramped coach class, writing blog entries.  You can see how small the setup is. The passenger in front can fully recline and I can type unimpeded.  I’ve also used this setup in the car (as a passenger) and at restaurants. It’s becoming a really useful writing platform.

I now use Evernote to write my posts. This free cloud based system automatically syncs my documents across all my devices, my Mac, the iPhone and iPad. I can start writing on one and continue on another.

A great window view - at 30,000 feet

A great window view – at 30,000 feet

I’m marveling at technology as I enjoy a great window view at 30,000 feet. I guess with a WiFi enabled plane, I can even post directly from here. The creative blogging has made the time pass quickly. The 3 hour flight is nearly over as I fly into Washington DC. I’m out-of-town for several days. I brought my Olympus E-PM2 with the 14mm f2.5 + wide-angle and Canon G15 on this trip. I’m travelling really light.

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4 thoughts on “Refining my portable blogging environment

  1. Hey Andy,

    I too have been trying for a long time to work out the best mobile rig that is extremely portable, has just enough photographic capabilities and has excellent battery life.

    As a consummate Mac user I have tried numerous iPads with marginal success. The lack of any real file handling and less than stellar keyboard selection (and a few other limitations) has had me looking further abroad.

    I also gravitate towards a Wacom digitizer for its superior input on tablet type devices and it’s very handy abilities when working in post production of images. I have tried many older style ‘convertible’ laptops for this reason, but they have proven to be very heavy and heavy on battery.

    About a year ago I bought an Asus EP121 – an i5 based tablet with high quality IPS display, 4GB RAM and 64GB SSD, with Wacom digitizer. It was marvelous and a real revelation for what I was trying to do. However at 1.3kg and a battery life of around 4hrs, add the included BT keyboard and it was still a chunker with poor battery life and just plain terrible to try and use with the keyboard.

    Along came Sony with their Vaio Duo 11, similar specs but added 128GB SSD and 1080p display – but the real kicker was the built in keyboard that actually made the thing able to be used on a lap… Something these quasi-laptops seemed to be forgetting. Now we were getting somewhere, however the keyboard experience was less than ideal and the battery life was still limited to 4-5hrs.

    The other day I revived an email from a large electronics retailer here in Australia who were clearing a little known (to me at least) tablet called an Asus TF810C for just $350. I recalled seeing in the shop and did a quick google on it. Minutes later I practically ran down to the store (about 200m from my work) and snapped one up. THIS was the device I had been waiting for and at a price too good to refuse!

    What is so good about this where others have failed so miserably?

    I’m glad you asked 😉 So this is an Atom powered tablet / hybrid thing, whatever you want to call it. So it’s slightly bigger than an iPad and weighs about the same. Runs an Intel dual core Atom processor with 2GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage. So far pretty in impressive. But unlike those other windows machines this things is fabless and completely silent (like an iPad) and the tablet offers about 8-10hr battery life. In a real computer capable of running Lightroom (I know you are an Aperture user – But no Aperture for iPad either). So it’s the size and weight and of iPad, but runs a full OS and Intel processor capable of (just) dealing with RAW files, with about the same battery life.

    But the real kicker is this – It comes included with a keyboard, not a BT keyboard mind you, a keyboard dock and a pretty nice one at that. The keys are a good size and very easy to type with, it also has a trackpad thrown into the mix for good measure. But what’s really special about this keyboard dock (ok not THAT special, there are other like it and seemingly more on the horizon) is that the keyboard has an additional battery built in, just slightly smaller than that built into the tablet using both batteries yields up to 19hrs of battery life. I’ll say that again – 19 hours of battery life.

    The keyboard also adds 2 x USB ports to enable drives etc to be plugged right in and works just as you would expect.

    The final cherry on top so to speak, is that the tablet has my much prized Wacom digitizer built in making natural pen input not only possible, but damn good!

    In the last couple of days I have read about other new devices that are coming out with this type of HW or better (mostly better). This little computer, tablet-y, hybrid thing, that costs not very much at all has me totally in awe of its potential and how it actually works.

    Yes you can coax a lot out of an iPad and I love the vision it has created, but as a tool for creating and not just consuming content, I feel with this little Asus it just fixes every little quirk and annoyance I have had with this type of device. It no longer requires work arounds, it ‘just works’ much like my Macs have been doing for decades.

  2. Matt, sounds like you found a really great machine and an absolutely sweet deal! As content producers instead of just content consumers, yes we need tools that are a bit different than the norm. Looks like that setup really will work well for you. Bravo!

    Thanks for your detailed post. Hopefully other’s will see it and give it a try too.

    1. Thanks Andy, spending a few days with it reminded me of this post and thought I would seek it out. I’m sure in a few months time there will be a new whiz-bang do-dad – however I think with this type of design we finally have something truly useful, something that has been promised for a long time but never delivered and that makes me excited about what may come.

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