Tag Archives: laptop

This is a travel writer’s most important tool on the road

2017-06-13

When any professional, for instance, a digital nomad or a remote worker, who is working while traveling, packs for the next assignment or destination, there is always the question if something could be dropped from the travel kit. The number of electronic devices seems to be gradually growing in my travel bag, at least. Which tools are the essential ones to get the job done, if the assignment is to write on the road?
digital nomad working at a terrace near fruit farms of Murcia

Here is the set of key tools for a travel writer according to my experience.

Maps.

Both digital and paper maps are crucial for planning. For navigation on the road I use offline digital maps, but I have good printed map books as a backup.

Laptop.

Most writers type their manuscripts on laptops, and so do I. Nonetheless, it is quite amazing how little laptops have developed if you compare them to tablets and smartphones that have gone so far in such a short time. Where is the touch screen in laptops? Decent battery life? Protective cases for taking them on the road?

Smartphone.

The ultimate communication tool for keeping in touch with collaborators or calling tourist information offices of the world. The camera on the phone is also a very useful and important tool for a writer.

Tablet.

I use tablet a lot for planning (maps, distances between distances, routing) and researching background information on destinations. On the road, it is the in-car navigation device instead of the dashboard GPS. Tablet is probably the first tool that many other travelers drop from their toolset, but in the future, I may even choose tablet and keyboard instead of a laptop.

prepaid SIM cards for internet access
Local prepaid SIM card.

Some travelers rely on Wi-Fi hotspots to get online, but the best way to have Internet access when you need it is to buy a local prepaid SIM card with data plan. Insert the SIM card to your smartphone, 3G/4G Wi-Fi router, tablet or laptop.

Backup disk.

The next backup disk I am going to get is a portable, wireless SSD disk. In the office, I can continue using USB hard drives that can store terabytes worth of data.

Camera.

I write and take photos for books, but even if you wouldn’t take pictures to be published in an upcoming book, camera is a vital tool for a writer. Photographs have many functions: they show how a place looks like, they help a writer to remember details of a place, and they can document objects.

I just realized that paper and pen are not included in the list of key tools. It is very rare that I use the trusted and reliable note taking technology, but occasionally I do. Pen and paper are usually somewhere near to make notes, for instance, during a phone conversation, but they are not vital tools anymore. Another thing I realized is that occasionally I need help. Hubstaff Talent is a service for finding remote talent.

mirrorless SLR digital camera with zoom lens
If I had to choose only one tool from the list above, which one would be the most important for a travel writer? Camera.

Yes, a camera. I am slightly surprised by my choice, but if I had to select only one thing I can take along for the next trip, it would be a camera. By taking a photo, I can document details of things I would have to write down. Overview photos of landscapes and city streets help me remember how a place really was. I can quickly document information boards that highlight the key points of a sight or a protected park. Video clips of local markets, main squares and pedestrian districts remind me of the buzz and feel of the place. A camera is also a handy note taking aid: I can record a video clip with a note to myself. If it is my job to take the photos for a book or an article, those images have to be taken as well.

Naturally, when the time comes to start actually writing, a camera won’t help anymore. But the photos and videos will.

A traveler who carries a charging station in a backpack doesn’t run out of gadget or laptop power

2016-09-10

When you are traveling – perhaps exploring a new city and snapping photos on a camera, using your smartphone for navigation and reading notes and tips from a tablet – it feels like it is always the wrong moment when the battery dies on one of the devices (that’s why we carry two cameras with us). If you are carrying your stuff in a backpack, why not have a backpack that can charge your gadgets on the go? It is a fine idea that we really like to try out when the HP Powerup Backpack becomes available in mid-September.
hp powerup backpack open
The product concept is that HP has designed a backpack that can be used as a charging station while you are on the move. Throw in your gadgets, books, water bottles and snacks and go. When the power runs out from your smartphone, laptop, tablet, ereader or camera, plug it in to a USB connector in the backpack. The built-in power bank charges your gadget. Note: you may charge your camera only if it has the same power input as a smartphone or a tablet.
hp powerup backpack, front
The thing with this backpack is that it has enough power to charge a big 17-inch laptop, or a smartphone up to 10 times. That’s a lot of power (22400mAh), but it also means that from time to time, you have remember to recharge the backpack (or rather, the power pack inside it).

The backpack that doubles as a charging station is priced $200, for instance, at Amazon.com. Would it be possible to build a similar backpack for less money? Most likely, but keeping the charging process cool enough and avoiding water are challenges that must be solved in any case.

View HP’s introductory video to the Powerup Backpack:

HP Powerup Backpack key features and specifications

hp powerup backpack, side
– Charges most laptops with up to 17.3″ diagonal screen size, a tablet, and a smartphone.
– With power priority, you control the order in which your devices charge.
– High-capacity 22400 mAh battery.
– Provides a full charge to most laptops, charges a tablet up to three times, and a smartphone up to 10 times.
– A built-in heat sensor monitors backpack temperature and adjusts accordingly. Meets security requirements for in-flight carry-ons.
– Coated to resist wet weather and comes with its own raincoat.
– Laptop and USB micro cables included. Two USB micro cables for Android devices and one laptop cable included.
– Recharge your backpack with a side-pocket plug-in.

Word processor for writers who love typewriters, but want modern features

2016-02-24

There is something romantic in old mechanical typewriters that make a loud noise when a writer types a book or an article with one. Computers and word processing applications make writing a manuscript faster and more convenient, but a computer offers distractions that may attract some authors away from their actual work. What if these authors could get a single-purpose machine like a mechanical typewriter, but it was equipped with modern conveniences? That’s exactly what the Freewrite provides.
freewrite typewriter, word processor, woman
The Freewrite is a remarkable hybrid of the old and the new: a merger of a mechanical typewriter and a cloud-connected writing app. The key features of the Freewrite are:

– E Ink screen. Black and white screen that is commonly used in ereaders. It is sharp and very battery-friendly solution. The Freewrite has added front light to the screen, allowing typing in poor lighting conditions.
– Full-size mechanical keyboard.
– Wireless connection (Wi-Fi) for backups.
– Documents can be saved on a cloud service: Google Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox.
– More than one million pages can be saved in the device storage space.
– Aluminum body and stowable handle. Writers who travel or like to go out to write want ruggedness.
– Multiple languages supported.
– 4-week battery life.
– Instant start.

freewrite typwriter, cloud connected via  wifi
The Freewrite costs $449 (plus taxes and shipping). You can order it here.

It is easy to find a decent Windows laptop for the same price that has more than enough processing power for writing, photo editing, communications, following the news and web surfing. Research carefully, and you may find a laptop with a full workday battery life as well.

An alternative – which we have been trying out on our recent trips – is a good 9- or 10-inch tablet and a wireless keyboard. We have been using a $30 Bluetooth keyboard that we have connected to the Apple iPad or Android tablet, and we have absolutely liked the typing experience. It is instantly on, and we can save our work on the device and copy it to the cloud for backup. Tablets have a long battery life when used for typing.