August 14, 2007 10:59 AM PDT
Thousands of miles, tons of tech
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Road Trip 2007: Science and tech in the SouthwestAugust 14, 2007
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Road Trip 2007, that is, which was my journey through Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah--not to mention 30 seconds in Colorado--in search of the best science-, technology-, nature- and architecture-related destinations I could find.
But while I was visiting and writing about, or posting photos of, places like the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the tunnels under Las Vegas, the Titan Missile Museum and many more, I was also carting around a box full of high-tech gadgets to road test.
And on top of that, I was driving a vehicle, an Infiniti QX56--which was provided by the trip's sponsor--that itself had a nearly unending collection of high-tech features.
In the end, I wasn't able to test all the gadgets I brought with me, as I simply ran out of time running from place to place. When you drive almost 200 miles every day on top of spending two or three hours researching a story, processing photos, writing a story, eating and sleeping, there really isn't that much left over.
Still, I did get around to testing a number of them, and here are my thoughts on the ones I reviewed.
Verizon Wireless' V740 EV-DO card: This card, which plugged directly into my MacBook Pro, allowed me to connect to the Internet via the company's cell network. When the signal was strong--usually in cities or densely populated areas, but sometimes even in the country--I had a high-speed connection without any limitations. That meant if I saw something I wanted to blog, I could pull the car over by the side of the road and simply do it. I can't recall exactly how many times I did that, but it was quite a few. Even when processing photos, the speed provided by this card was impressive and I often ended up using it instead of the Wi-Fi networks in, say, my hotel.
Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 460wbt: This compact wireless printer is a little Bluetooth-enabled wonder. It lets you print from a laptop with no wires at all because it has a rechargeable battery. That meant that when I needed to print, I was free from any kind of geographic restrictions, and I proved that point one day by printing from the desert. It produced high-quality printouts, even in glossy color, though that kind of printing was extremely slow.
Canon's 10-22mm and 70-300mm zoom lenses: While I occasionally still used the kit 18-55mm lens that came with my Canon Rebel XT digital SLR, I began turning more and more to the 10-22mm ultrawide zoom lens Canon lent me for the trip. Though it was likely not the best lens for the job many times, I kept on using it because I loved the way it allowed me to take a much wider shot than with the 18-55mm lens. The 70-300mm telephoto lens, on the other hand, allowed me to do things like take high-resolution pictures of Navy F-18 Hornets on takeoff. Of all the gadgets I brought with me on this trip, these are the ones that I most regret having to return to their owners.
HBO's The Wire: While I worked like crazy, producing a full story and photo gallery, plus many blogs nearly every day, I still needed some down time. That's where HBO's The Wire, a taut crime drama based in Baltimore, came into play. The company sent me the first three seasons of this show on DVD, and over the course of the trip, I went through all 37 episodes, often only stopping because I just had to get to sleep. This is one of the best shows I've seen in years, easily as good--OK, bring it on--as The Sopranos. It revolves around the standoff between a special crime investigation unit in the city's police department and gangs of street-level drug dealers, and its character development, writing and acting are top-notch.
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