Friday, 14 July 2017

Storing digital photos and videos, and surfing the net, whilst on the road...

Photo and video storage

When planning the bike ride, one issue became almost immediately apparent. How to "safely" store videos and photos taken whilst on the ride.

Photos are less of an issue, as I have 3 x 32Gb SD cards, which will hold several hundred images each, but videos are a problem.

My Contour Roam 3 action camera stores videos in 3.66 Gb segments, and when set to full HD, this accounts for about half an hour of recording time. So a 32 Gb SD card will hold just 8 segments, or around 4 hours recording time, (and also limited to a battery charge life of around 2.5 hours).

Contour Roam3

OK, I could just switch the camera on and off, and record "of interest" snippets along the way, but even then, 32 Gb would not be enough for 8 to 10 days of cycling.

So, is there a solution?

Well, there are several. Buy a lot of micro SD cards, or buy a specialist portable photo storage device, or buy a compact 10.6" or 11.6" laptop.

Enough 32 Gb micro SD cards, to cover 4 hours recording each day, would cost somewhere in the region of £130, nearly enough to buy a small laptop.

A portable photo and video storage device can cost anywhere between just over £100 (of limited use), to well over £700! These can read from SD and micro SD cards, as well as enabling you to view what's on them (more expensive models only). But, apart from storing videos and photos, they don't do much else.

Portable photo storage

So that leaves the compact laptop. But, there is often a snag with these too. Many come with just 32 Gb of internal storage, in the form of an eMMC drive - and that's nigh on useless for storing videos, and pretty much anything else, for that matter.

There are however, a small number of compact laptops that come with HDDs (hard disk drives) with around 500 Gb of storage.

Fortunately, I have one of these, an Acer Aspire R11. It's not the fastest laptop on the planet, in fact it's pretty sluggish. But, with patience, it can do a lot more than just store videos and photos. A RAM upgrade would probably speed it up - a bit!

Acer Aspire R11 - 11.6" laptop

As it runs Windows 10, it can, if somewhat slowly, run various video (PowerDirector 14) and photo editing (Photoshop Elements) software too. It's about the same size as an A4 refill pad, and can easily be carried in one of the bike pannier bags.

As I intend to try to post photos and videos daily, whilst on the ride, as well as updating my blog (that's the plan anyway) - this seems to be the ideal solution. Only time will tell.

Note: Ideally, you should take more than one storage device, in case one fails. So, if a compact laptop is an option, an additional portable external hard drive, might be advisable.

Accessing the internet whilst on the road

WiFi hotspots in urban areas, are generally plentiful, but that's definitely not the case elsewhere. And, one of the things about cycling along National Cycle Network routes, is that these routes often take you well away from urban areas, in our case, through places like the New Forest and Exmoor. Guess what? No WiFi hotspots!

OK, it's still not as bad as it seems. Some of the campsites we'll be staying at, do have WiFi. But, they also have limitations. Most are fine for surfing the web and checking emails, but video streaming and video uploading, is very much discouraged - after all, doing so, could potentially deny others access to a fairly reasonable, but not great, WiFi connection.

So, is there another solution?

Well, yes - sort of!

One option would be to tether a smartphone to the laptop and use the phone as a WiFi hotspot. Not exactly the best option. My relatively inexpensive Chinese 3G smartphone takes two sim cards, so theoretically, one could be a data only sim. But, using the phone as a WiFi hotspot can drain the battery quite rapidly. (I do have an 18500 mAh portable charging bank, if needed).

Another option would be to buy a sim free (it still needs a sim card, but is not locked to any particular network provider), portable WiFi hotspot device. 3G (21 Mbps download) versions can be bought for around £30, whilst 4G (150 Mbps download/50Mbps upload) versions are currently available at around £65-70.

Huawei E5330 - portable WiFi hotspot

Then, of course, you need to buy a data sim. There are various options available, including pay as you go tariffs, to monthly contracts. Three, for example, have three (no pun intended) pay as you go data sim tariffs, 1 Gb for up to 1 month for £10, 3 Gb for up to 3 months for £16, and 12 Gb for up to 12 months for £40.

But, hang on! This will only be needed for 10 days! And, if I went for the 4G device with a 12 Mb data sim, that would cost over £100! Nah! That ain't gonna happen!

So WiFi hotspots, when available, it is then. But, I might, just might (and don't quote me on this), buy one of the cheaper data sims (3 Gb*) for my smartphone, just in case. And use it, only when absolutely necessary. But, probably not!

Reality check!

It would seem that daily updates, may not always be possible.

*3 Gb is just about enough for 15 four minute videos, and nothing else!

Additional information and links

I've set up a JustGiving page, initially to help fund the ride, as we need some equipment to help us along the way

The JustGiving pages for the dementia charities are now live:

Alzheimer's Society page - or text ASDP84 £2 to 70070 (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)

Dementia UK page - or text BIJJ81 £2 to 70070  (if you wish to donate more just enter a different figure after the £ sign - e.g. £5)

@inmemoryofmymum can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow the ride there too. You can also find me on Facebook - Martyn Feather (Skippy), and Twitter - @ZkidooKreativ

© Martyn Feather 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment