Mobile World Congress: The Gear We Use

by Todd Haselton | February 29, 2012

Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1

The TechnoBuffalo team hits up a ton of trade shows every year. We were in Las Vegas for CES in January, I’m here now in Barcelona, Spain for Mobile World Congress, Jon and Mike will be in Geneva next week for the Geneva auto show and then Jon and I will be in New Orleans for CTIA. It’s a ton of fun, but our gear is what makes it all possible.

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket – unlocked

Galaxy S II Skyrocket

When I’m home in New York City I typically carry two phones: the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. I love the Skyrocket’s design, amazing LTE data speeds, decent battery life, the solid 8-megapixel camera and its beautiful Super AMOLED display (although I wish it was sharper). I specifically went with Android for this trip because I use Google Maps to “star” specific places where I have meetings or dinners. I love being able to simply open the Google Maps app, click a star representing a destination I need to go to, and then simply showing the cab driver where it is that I’m going. I unlocked the phone for about $40 using It didn’t work immediately (user error on my part) but UnlockThatPhone offered near-instant customer service to get me all fixed up.

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Google Translate

Google Translate

I can manage to get by with a few words of Spanish but Google Translate has been a huge lifesaver for me in Barcelona. I’m staying in a bed and breakfast and, while the owner speaks a bit of English, we’re mostly using lots of gestures and misunderstanding one another when we talk. So, when I needed to ask where to go to purchase a three-prong adapter for my MacBook, I was able to simply type in my question and hit “translate.” There’s a conversation mode, too, which allows you to talk and then it speaks out a translation, but I haven’t used it.

Orange SIM card

Orange SIM

There are plenty of GSM carriers to choose from in Barcelona and I mostly chose Orange because it had the shortest line in the mall. I paid less than 10 Euros for a prepaid plan with 100MB of data and 50 text messages. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow me to place any phone calls. I’m not sure why and haven’t had a chance to head back to the mall to get tech support. Worse, Orange’s data network in Barcelona seems to be really spotty, so I’m constantly moving in and out of data service. Overall, though, it has been solid for allowing me to keep up on Twitter and my email. Maxroam let us borrow a pre-paid SIM card for the trip, too, although the $13 worth of credit ran out on my first night and I haven’t refilled it.

13-inch MacBook Air


I grew up on PCs and used to be a huge gamer. These days, however, I’ve moved on from just hitting the WSAD keys (for the non-gamers out there, those are the keys most used for moving around). 99.9% of the time spent on my laptop is writing, and the MacBook Air offers a killer keyboard and excellent battery life. It’s also super light, which means I can just slip it into my backpack and run around the show floor without feeling the extra heft. It might sound silly, but after 9 hours of walking around, the weight of a standard notebook really starts to add up, especially if I’m toting a DSLR, a few press kits, notebooks and some water bottles.

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myCharge Portable Power Bank 6000


You. Need. This. I’ve had GPS turned on most of the time in Barcelona so my phone is often dying at about noon. Thankfully the myCharge Portable Power Bank 6000 keeps it juiced up with an additional 6,000mAh of power. But the extra battery life isn’t the only thing that makes the myCharge better than its competitors: the device packs three different stowable dongles with support for the iPhone/iPad, microUSB phones and mini-USB devices. I use it all the time at home, too, and my girlfriend often keeps it in her purse so we, or our friends, can charge our phones when we’re out on the town.

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Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1


I’m not a great photographer and I know extremely little about cameras. That’s why I relied on our in-house camera expert Mike Perlman to make a recommendation for a Mobile World Congress camera. He sent me the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1. It’s been great so far and I especially appreciate the battery life. Videos look solid, although they are admittedly pretty poor in low-light situations, and the images have been just as good looking. I like that the E-PM1 is much lighter and more compact than a DSLR, too, which makes it easier to butt around other journalists when we’re fighting to take pictures of a new phone or tablet.

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Burton Laptop Bag

My girlfriend and I try to snowboard often during the winters, so one year she bought be a new laptop bag from Burton, a large snowboard company.  I love it and use it every day for work and life. It has a small padded sleeve that easily fits my MacBook Air, two side pocks for storing phones and a small zipper-sleeve right at the top that’s perfect for SIM cards, SD cards and other gadgets. It’s also lightweight and has two velcro straps on the back for holding a skateboard. Yes, I brought a board with me (a small Stereo Vinyl Cruiser) because Barcelona’s public transit system was expected to strike, but I haven’t strapped it on my bag yet.

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Vans Chukka low

Vans Chukka Low

I feel bad for all of the men and women walking these trade shows in dress shoes – worse, Barcelona is home to a ton of cobblestone streets. Thankfully we get to wear sneakers, and I chose to bring a pair of Vans along. I had never owned a pair of Vans but my brother, and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse are big fans of them (seriously, Dan Hesse), so I figured I’d give them a try. So far they’re amazing. Plus, I was able to buy these kicks in TechnoBuffalo blue.

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...