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Geeky Gadgets for Surviving and Thriving at Conferences

Posted on Mar 12th, 2009
Written by Lee Odden
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    Geeky Gadgets

    Here I sit blogging in my hotel room at the Renaissance in Austin, Texas before a full day of search and social marketing brain dump at Pubcon South. Immediately after that is SXSWi for a few days. A few days after that it’s NYC for a PRSA thing followed by SES New York.  I speak at 15 plus events a year which means a good amount of travel. Unless you’re thoughtful about it, travel & conferences can equal a lot of unproductive time.

    That’s where the geeky gadgets come in. While I would have liked to name this post “10 Electronic Gadgets a Digital Marketer Can’t Live Without”, the reality is that there are many more than 10.

    Tumi ballistic nylon briefcase – A bag is more important than many think. The right number of pockets inside and out, rugged, not too big or too small. This bag works perfectly for all those reasons, especially for my laptop.

    Sony Vaio VGN-TXN25N – This 11″ screen laptop is common sized to many netbooks on the market today, but mine is at least 3 years old and packs some real punch for it’s size (2.8 lbs). As a laptop, 3 years is 90 years in people time so I am looking at an upgrade to a solid state drive. I do quite a bit of blogging at conferences, so a small form factor is useful for being mobile. It’s also appreciated when doing work on airplanes, where space is an issue because of Mr, “I have to see how far back by seat goes” sitting in front of you. Oh, and stickers on your laptop are what happen from numerous trips to Web 2.0 conferences and the bay area Tweetups. It’s also a good conversation starter.

    ATT USBConnect Mercury Wireless Card – The antennae for my built in wireless card broke off and I can’t stomach the idea of sending my laptop to Sony for 2 weeks to get it repaired. Not wanting to pay through the nose for hotel internet any longer, I broke down and purchased this wireless card from ATT and it’s worked great for me everywhere I go.

    No Name 4 outlet power strip – I have no idea who makes this, but it’s a 4 outlet mini power strip that’s only 5″ long and makes friends easily at conferences where laptop and iPhone charging is in high demand and outlets are not.

    3G iPhone – I was a Blackberry user for a while and after buying my partner an iPhone I had to get one myself and I love it. Typing takes some getting used to and no copy paste is a pain in the ass, but there are so many other productive and entertaining uses for this thing – especially web browsing, email, calendar and Twitter.  Plus photos and YouTube are handy. I don’t see going back to another phone exclusively any time soon.

    iPod Touch – I got the Touch before my iPhone and that’s where my music, purchased TV shows, music videos and a few movies are. Plus a number of videos from Google Video. Love that you can directly transfer from Google Video to iTunes. Too bad Google Video is being phased out. I also use the Touch as a storage device and where there’s an available internet connection, I can surf Google or web mail.

    Sony Cybershot DSC-W80 – Not pictured because it’s taking the picture above. Friends and long time followers know of my sad tale of losing my old Sony Cybershot to a glass of water at a Russian restaurant in NYC. Then it came back to life! But again, tragedy struck after I left it in my pocket and the Cybershot went through a washing machine AND dryer. Get this: It came back to life AGAIN! It doesn’t work quite the same though, so I picked up a new model. I’d still like to have the old one though, worked like a charm at conferences fitting easily into a suite or jeans pocket – very sturdy.

    Battery charger for the Cybershot – What else can I say? It charges my camera battery. I like the folding prongs but it’s still too bulky.

    Pure Digital Flip Video camera – This has got to be the handiest, portable video camera I’ve had. It takes perfectly good video for the web and battery life is better than normal. Uploading to YouTube is a snap too. It’s great for informal video interviews with conference speakers and industry people who don’t mind talking in front of a camera.

    USB cord and outlet adapter for iPhone – Apple product design rocks.

    SanDisk MobileMate SD+ Card Reader – For SD+ Memory sticks, my older laptop needs a card reader. This one is compact and handy.

    64mb Thumb Drive – Conference swag from Ford. I have many of these thumb drives, but this is the one that happens to be in my bag at the moment. If I ever purchased one, it would have a lot more than 64mb but that’s plenty for a few PPT presentations.

    Shure Earbud Headphones – These portable earbuds are perfect for use with my iPod Touch or iPhone. Awesome bass in such a little package and the come with multiple sized covers and a handy nylon case. While writing blog posts at conferences, it can get me in the zone to listen to a bit of music.

    Logitech VX Nano Wireless Laser Notebook Mouse – The USB receiver for this mouse is absolutely tiny and you can leave it in at all times with no problem. A small size and perfect form factor with all the features of large, full featured devices.  My laptop touchpad is horrible and this mouse makes me much more productive.

    Gorilla Camera Tripod –  Flexible joints make this awesome tripod fit anywhere for taking still shots or video with my Sony Cybershot or any other camera that can connect to a screw in tripod. Great for interviews when it’s just me and I want to be in the interview or unusual camera angles.

    Brookstone Rechargable Backup Battery – If you have an iPhone, I know your pain. Short battery life. Besides, with power outlets at a premium, we wouldn’t want anything to get in the way of our Twittering, would we?  [Said with a crazed look] That’s why for conferences, it’s really helpful to have a backup battery and this one works for me just fine. Plus it has a retractable cord that makes it especially convenient.

    So there you have it. I’m sure I could have many more gadgets and certainly many of those that I do have need updating/upgrading. Maybe I’ll make this a quarterly feature. What do you think?  

    What  geeky electronic gadgets make you more productive and entertained during conferences?