What’s in the Bag, Wuss? Gearing Up for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show

I took the liberty of snapping a pre-flight photo of all the gear I'll be carrying around with me while the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show is going on. Here's what's what.

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Doug Aamoth / TIME.com

The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (hereby referred to simply as “CES”) is in full swing. Well, full swing for tech reporters. The actual show floor doesn’t open until Tuesday, but there’s a bunch of press-only stuff that goes on Sunday and Monday.

This is my sixth year at the show. I’m by no means a grizzled vet – some of the old-timers wistfully speak of CES back when it was split into a summer and winter show that took place in Chicago – but I’m grizzled enough to complain about not getting hazard pay (here’s what happened to me last year).

Anyway, I took the liberty of snapping a pre-flight photo of all the gear I’ll be carrying around with me while the show’s going on. From the upper-left corner to the lower-right corner, here’s what’s what (I’ll link to the actual products whenever possible):

Vizio Thin and Light CT15-A1 15.6-inch Laptop

This is last year’s model, which runs Windows 7 and can now be had for under $800 on Amazon. If you read the reviews when it first came out, most reviewers complained about the touchpad being wonky. Its software’s been updated a couple times since then, and it’s palatable now but my biggest problem is the mushy keyboard, which often results in the double-typing of certain letters for no apparent reason. Other than that, though, it’s nimble and the full HD (1920×1080) screen is gorgeous. The machine’s four-pound weight and thin frame make it easy to carry around, too.

Third-Generation iPad with Vostrostone Bluetooth Keyboard Case

I brought along my iPad mostly to use the built-in 4G LTE Verizon connection as a personal hotspot, since all the hotel and convention center Wi-Fi drags ass here. The $55 Vostrostone case turns it into a mini laptop and features its own emergency battery, which is good for about a half-charge of the iPad (the third-gen iPad has a huge battery). I’m also a stickler for full-size Shift keys.

Photoland TA+ DSLR Camera/Laptop Bag

I need a bag that’ll hold a big-ish laptop and a DSLR camera, along with a bunch of other stuff. I found this bag in Japan a few years ago and it’s been with me for just about every show I’ve covered. I think I paid $60 for it, but I have no idea where to find one today. It’s got an outside shoulder strap and backpack straps that zip into and out of a pocket on the back. I generally last a day with the shoulder strap, give up, then switch to the backpack straps. The Vizio is the first 15-inch laptop I’ve carried in quite a while and it just barely zips into the bag.

Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700

I use this $60 mouse every day, but I’m too cheap to buy a second one, so I actually pocket it and bring it between home and the office when I’m in Boston. It comes with a rechargeable battery that can be swapped out for a standard AA battery if needed.

JVC Everio GZ-HM400U

This is the video camera I use to make all my questionable videos for TIME. It’s old now, but it still gets the job done. It’s got a built-in 32-gigabyte flash drive and records in full HD. There’s a mic input – that’s the lapel mic I use to the right of it in the photo – which comes in handy at shows like this. The charger is on the left. I think the camera cost around or over $1,000 when I got it four or so years ago.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

This DSLR is by far the oldest gadget I actively use. I think it’s the 2005 model. I don’t use it often enough to justify buying a newer model, but it’s still a good option for close-up and far-away photos that a smartphone can’t otherwise handle well enough. Its charger is on the right.

Droid DNA by HTC

HTC sent this to me to review for our holiday gift guide, then asked me to send it back, at which point I begged them to let me use it for CES. It’s got a great camera, good battery life and the 4G LTE Verizon connection is fast and shareable as a Wi-Fi hotspot. That’s a Micro-USB charger to the left of it. The phone costs $200 with a two-year Verizon contract.

Apple iPhone 4

This is my work-issued cell phone. I need to ask for a newer phone.

Bag o’ First Aid Stuff

Mostly band-aids (for blisters) and antacids (for Vegas food). I generally affix a square of duct tape to each of my heels to avoid blisters, though.

Compact Tripod

I bought this thing at Radio Shack for around $20. It only extends to 41 inches and I wouldn’t put anything heavier than my camcorder on it, but it does the trick if I need to shoot a sweet selfie. Also, there’s nothing worse than lugging a full-size tripod around – this one folds down to almost nothing.

NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner

I have to expense a bunch of stuff and by the time I get back home, I have enough receipts to make for at least a full day of scanning. So now I just bring this $200 doohickey and scan them right away. It’s far more organization than I’m normally comfortable with but if you lose a receipt when you work for TIME, things can get more complicated and dangerous than the final scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Livescribe 2GB Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen

This $150 pen has built-in voice recording and uses special paper to synchronize your written notes with whatever’s being said at the moment you’re writing. When you go back over your notes, you just tap on what you wrote and you can hear that section of the recording. It’s great for reporters and, I’d assume, students. The pen’s Wi-Fi connection uploads all your notes to Evernote, too. You have to name the pen when you set it up. I named mine Mortimer, which was the name of Bill Cosby’s magic pen from Picture Pages. To the right is a regular, non-magic pen.

Other Baubles and Trinkets

Remaining from left to right:

  • Belkin three-socket power adapter with two USB charging ports. There are never enough outlets, so this thing comes in handy.
  • Plantronics compact USB headset with microphone. In case I need to do some killer voice-over work.
  • Kensington backup battery. I use this one because all the cables are built into it. It charges via USB, then features both Mini- and Micro-USB connectors for whatever needs juiced up.
  • Iogear 3+1 USB hub. It’s a three-port hub with a flip-out bonus Mini-USB connector.
  • iPad charger with USB extension cable. The standard iPad/iPhone charging cord isn’t long enough.
  • Innergie 3-in-1 USB cable. This is the ultimate USB cable. The Micro-USB connector snaps into the Mini-USB connector, which snaps into the Apple connector – so one cable works for just about any device. Except newer Apple devices, of course, but I don’t have any of those.
  • Micro-USB cable.
  • Mini-USB cable.
  • JVC Marshmallow headphones. Probably the best cheap headphones available. They’re super comfy and they sound good.

So that’s about it. This is actually a relatively light load this year. Keep an eye on our CES section, where we’ll be bringing you as much coverage as we can from the show this week, followed by some wrap-up stuff next week.

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