How my gadgets fared in a six day fest of sex and drugs and rock and roll. And mud.
Feature by Mike Slocombe for Digital-Lifestyles, 28th June 2007
Leaving the safety and relative sanity of our London office for a six day soiree at Glastonbury, we thought carefully about what gadgets to pack.
Being veterans of Glasto - and all too familiar with the minging mudbath of 2005 - we made sure to pack ample waterproof clothing and bring along plenty of plastic bags for wrapping up our gadgets against the inevitable rain.
After some consideration, we abandoned the idea of taking along a basic phone instead of our fully featured Treo 650, figuring that we'll be needing a decent mobile for checking email, web browsing, texting and tracking any incoming tornados and tidal waves.
Although the battery life is pretty good on the Treo, six days is a long time away when you're constantly ringing and texting 'confused' mates on site, so we also packed a Seido 2400mAh extended battery and an emergency power charger.
We did look at some of the solar phone chargers but predicted the legendary Glastonbury weather would probably only provide enough solar energy to illuminate the screen for a nano-second before conking out.
Wind up chargers were also another consideration, but try as we might we couldn't find any compact ones for the Treo in time.
Although we had backstage access to the press tent with its free wi-fi facilities, we didn't fancy dragging along our precious laptop, although we began to see the point of the Palm Foleo which would have been perfect for the job.
We wanted to get some decent photos of the festival, so we packed our Nikon D80 and Ricoh GX100 cameras, taking along back-up batteries for both.
Although there's some excellent back-up devices for storing images on the move, with high quality SD cards being available at ridiculously cheap knock down prices (e.g. we picked up a 2GB Sandisk Extreme III for just 18 quid), we packed our bags with a selection of cards and headed off to the badlands of Somerset.
How the gadgets fared
Despite a near Biblical onslaught of rain feeding great rivers of thick, gloopy, welly-extracting mud covering the site, we're happy to report that all our gadgets managed to survive the festival intact.
Now that Glastonbury has turned into a mainstream event stuffed full of the major broadcasters, cellphone reception was at five bars for almost all of the site.
We had no problem sending and receiving texts promptly, although some of our friends reported long and annoying delays in receiving texts, resulting in missed meetings.
The extended Treo battery kept the Treo going from early Wednesday to Saturday night - pretty damn good considering the heavy use - but the emergency charger seemed fairly rubbish, swallowing up expensive PP3 batteries in exchange for precious little charge.
Good job we brought along the back up battery.
There was an Orange-branded tent providing free phone charging facilities, but the queues were pretty hefty at times and who wants to sit about watching your phone get charged when there's so much going on outside?!
Both cameras survived the mud and rain, although we found it prudent to shoot from under an umbrella when the rain really pelted down. Other times, we wrapped a plastic bag around the camera with a hole cut out for the lens.
It worked fine, but next time, we might consider buying a proper weatherproofed camera as it was a bit of a pain constantly taking the camera out from its protective layers.
There's also an argument for ensuring that your camera has a simple auto-everything mode, as it's easy to get a little, err, bewildered by technology during the madness of Glastonbury (we got a little over excited during The Who's first few numbers and managed to take a string of crap photos in black and white, focussed on a spot nowhere near the stage!).
At night we wrapped the cameras, phone, memory cards and spare batteries inside several layers of plastic bags, just in case we experienced a late night tent failure, but thankfully our flapping canvas held up to the nightly monsoons.
Battery life on both cameras was excellent - so much so that we didn't need to use the back up batteries.
The Ricoh was still displaying a full charge after 188 pictures, while the Nikon's battery was still showing one bar of life after nearly 700 photos.
Next year, we'll be taking along a second charged up Treo battery as it'll actually work out cheaper than shelling out for all those ruddy expensive PP3 batteries which were eaten up by the emergency charger.
One thing we forgot was a decent lens cleaner which meant that we had to be extremely careful when removing the inevitable smudges of mud and raindrops from the delicate lens. Next year we'll be sure to pack in some decent cleaning gear too.
If the Foleo lives up to its promise (and some very basic image editing programs emerge), then we'll also consider taking along one for updating reports live from the festie too.
But now we're off for a well-earned and much needed long bath to scrape off a week's worth of mud.
Also: Travels with a Palm Treo 650
Review: Proporta Mobile Survival Kit - emergency charger
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