OVER THE last 13 years, I’ve done more reporting from remote locations than I did in the 30 years before 2015 put together. All of it has been about technology, its devices, systems, and platforms. In that time, the expectation of time to market for tech news has been steadily compressing.
Early in this game, my reporting bag clocked in at more than 25 pounds, with a laptop, DSLR, lenses and a host of cables, including chargers, and transfer cables.
Over the last 18 months, I’ve been drifting ever closer to relying completely on the increasing capabilities of modern smartphones for my reporting, which, for breaking news, is often filed before I leave an event.
The Note9 brings some useful mojo to the smartphone as working tool.
Speed. The Exynos 9810 octacore processor in my test device does an excellent job of handing off workload and after pushing the device with entirely too many apps and windows open, I’ve never experienced a lag or hesitation in day-to-day use.
Battery life. Live reporting with a smartphone puts a heavy drag on battery and processor. I’ve usually got all the radios on, connected to a Bluetooth keyboard, fishing for a WiFi signal and keeping mobile data on as a fallback. I do lots of app switching, sometimes grabbing the phone to snap a photo then switching back to Evernote to keep writing.
Even in such demanding circumstances, you’ll get a full day’s workout of a charged Note9.
Memory. In a typical reporting environment, I’ll be switching regularly between Evernote, where I compose text, QuickPic to browse images and make preliminary selects, Lightroom Mobile to edit images and apply copyright information, the WordPress app where all the elements get assembled for publication, and HootSuite, where I prep an early social media blast about the reporting.
The Note9 manages all this comfortably with 6GB of RAM.
Samsung has built its desktop experience software, DeX, directly into the Note9, and while the company would absolutely prefer that you use its cables and devices, I found them both too much and too little for my needs.
The DeX cradles are too much device for my needs while the DeX cable only connects to HDMI, and I needed VGA for occasional projector connections.
CableCreation’s adapter offers both ports and with some trepidation, jacked the smartphone into the Samsung 34-inch monitor that’s hooked up to my workstation.
I switched monitor input ports and the Note9 asked whether I wanted to mirror the screen or use DeX after warning balefully that I should use original Samsung cables. I tested both modes, and really, you have to experience DeX to get it.
I put a web page next to Evernote for multitasking, and the screen didn’t feel crowded.
There’s an increased drain on the battery while in this mode, so anyone doing this for longer than a couple of hours, perhaps to work on spreadsheets, multitask or develop a presentation, should consider Samsung’s multiport adapter, which charges the device and adds ethernet and a standard USB port (http://ow.ly/LsEG30mUFKc).
I like the smaller adapter because I never use the televisions in hotel rooms and this would repurpose them nicely as a large monitor on location.
I’ll probably still keep travelling with a full laptop, but the Note9 effectively replaces a tablet for work and is an excellent tool for spot reporting on its own.
Journalists really should keep an eye on this device space, because these tools are striking out determinedly in the direction of all-purpose mobility devices. I certainly appreciate the weight loss in my carry-on.
Mark Lyndersay is the editor of technewstt.com. An expanded version of this column can be found there