I went to CES last week. Unlike last year when we descended on Las Vegas for the full six days required for journalists to fully exhaust themselves among a flurry of PR pitches and devices that won’t make it out of January, I decided it was a good idea to get everything done in one day.
To accomplish this, I would need to assemble a setup that could survive 9 hours of flights, 11 hours on the ground with no extended outlet access (more than 10 minutes), and that was light and small enough to carry around in one bag. This wasn’t going to be your typical journo-mega-conference bag — I had to narrow my choices down to five devices. An iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, 13” Macbook Pro with Retina Display (late-2013), Anker Astro Mini, and a ChargeKey.
13” Macbook Pro with Retina Display (late-2013)
I’ve already said plenty about the 13” Macbook Pro with Retina Display, but the battery was even a bigger revelation than I thought it would be. I didn’t pull out the charger once for the entire trip, even with semi-heavy usage. When I returned home 29 hours later, the 13” Macbook Pro with Retina Display still had 55 percent of its battery left. My initial claim of the late-2013 edition of the 13” Macbook Pro with Retina Display being the best computer money can buy still stands.
iPhone 5S & Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The iPhone 5S was great as usual, though the battery did go a bit faster than I expected, with heavy usage. What surprised me was the Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s insane battery life, once you turn off every ridiculous feature that Samsung threw in it (anything that begins with “Smart” or “Air” should be turned off). With a large amount of Spotify streaming and the hotspot function continuously running, the Note 3 actually pulled me away from my iPhone for quick browsing and email, as I feared the 5S would leave me with one mobile device, and more importantly no locally stored music for the long plane ride home.
I only charged the Note 3 once, at the airport on the way home, after I’d already left the CES floor (the battery had over 30 percent left, but I like to be safe). Unconstricted by the pile of unneeded Samsung features, the Note 3 is a beast of a device. I understand why half of the over 150K people at CES were carrying them around (at least everyone in a suit was).
ChargeKey & Anker Astro Mini
Nomad, the company that created the ChargeCard, a credit card-sized phone charger, has a new addition to their lineup, the ChargeKey, which operates just like it sounds. The same size as your house key, the ChargeKey is as close to a must-have mobile accessory as you will find. The flexible USB charger quickly became my favorite travel companion, as it kept me from having to dig through my bag and attempting to untangle a lightning cable. As you can pretty much find a USB port anywhere at CES, charging my iPhone was a breeze. In everyday life, you can find USB ports in bars and coffee shops (the back of TVs usually have at least one) to charge your device in a pinch. The ChargeKey comes with either a lightning connector (iPhone) and microUSB (Android) charger. The ChargeKey retails for $25.
The Anker Astro Mini, an ultra-portable battery charger is the perfect companion to the ChargeKey. With a 3000mAh reserve, the Astro Mini recharged my iPhone 5S twice, and brought the Note 3 from a little above 30 percent to nearly 97 percent, with juice left over. The Astro Mini is currently $20 on Amazon.
When you’re flying 4,000 miles in a day, with a 11 hour work trip shoved in between, you don’t want to have to worry about carrying a heavy bag around, or finding an outlet to charge your batteries. The aforementioned devices alleviated both of those issues for me, and did so with simplicity. There is much to be said for that.
Also, never fly 4,000 miles in a day with an 11 work trip shoved in between. It’s never as good as it sounds.