E3 might be where all the hype is, but its Germany's Gamescom that actually the bigger show. That's in no small part thanks to it being open to the public — hundreds of thousands are expected to attend in 2016.
This year's Gamescom will be a quiet one, with no big press conference from any of the big publishers. There's still stuff we're looking forward to, like closer looks at Titanfall 2 and Forza Horizon 3, plus who knows what else lurking in the halls of the Koelnmesse.
It's one of the shorter trips for the Windows Central team, which (thankfully) means packing lighter. Here's literally everything that'll be inside my gear bag as I head off to Cologne.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559
My new laptop of choice replaces my much-loved Dell XPS 13. The Inspiron's nowhere near as light or compact, but I switched for its gaming performance. Xbox Play Anywhere is on the horizon, so I opted for a laptop that will be able to take those titles on the road.
I've upgraded it with a 500GB m.2 SSD and put Windows 10 onto that speedy flash storage; the slow 5200rpm 1TB HDD is now for storing media and games. I also bumped the RAM up to 16GB. I now have a pretty formidable machine, just not at a formidable price.
DellTek backpack for 15-inch laptops
Since I've gone for a larger laptop, I had to upgrade my bag as well. I opted for the DellTek backpack, which offers a laptop pocket for my Inspiron 15, with two other large pockets in front of that. These are big enough for everything in this post, plus two days of clothing, which I think is pretty damn good. It maybe won't last as long as other bags, but it's got acres of space without being gigantic.
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
My daily driver and the phone that right now I wouldn't swap for anything. My Vodafone UK contract allows me to use my home allowance of data while abroad in certain countries, which is perfect for a trade show such as this.
The 950 XL will allow me to work on the go, stay entertained with music and video, and keep me on track with offline maps. The battery is hefty too — even when roaming I've usually been able to get through a work day without needing to charge. I still think it's a terrific phone and have no problems using it every single day.
Rii keyboard and Aukey USB-C to USB-A adapter
Large laptops are no good for planes, but I'll want to keep working on the flight over to Germany. Thankfully, I've moved all work into the auto-syncing OneNote, so it's on my phone.
To make typing easier, I'm taking the compact Rii Keyboard. It's not perfect, but it's still a definite improvement on a virtual touchscreen keyboard and will allow me to keep working while I'm in the air. Paired with a UBS-C adapter it works great with the Lumia 950 XL.
Mpow Bluetooth earbuds
When it comes to traveling, I'm all-in on Bluetooth earbuds. If this were a long haul trip I'd be packing a full set of noise cancelling cans, but in this case these Mpow earbuds will do just fine.
They're not actively cancelling noise but they fit snugly enough to block out just enough to make a short journey such as this more bearable. They're a bit chunky since all the electronics is in the earbuds themselves, but there's no denying they sound pretty great. Especially for the absurdly low price. They even look pretty good.
Aukey gaming mouse
The Inspiron 15's trackpad is okay, but it's not great. I could use it an get frustrated, or I could throw a cheap mouse into my bag for those times I'm out for longer than a couple of hours.
I'm a fan of Aukey products mostly because they combine decent value with being decent products. They make a bit of everything, and their portable mouse was an absolute steal at just £8. I wouldn't be using it for gaming anyway, since I'm a controller guy, but it's absolutely perfect for my travel needs. Plus, the LED lighting satisfies my inner child.
Anker SoundCore Nano
I recently acquired the larger SoundCore by Anker and loved it so much I decided to snap up an even smaller version for travelling with. The SoundCore Nano is metal clad and teeny tiny so it takes up only the smallest pocket on your bag.
With a 3W output it's more than enough for some hotel room tunes and since it charges over microUSB it only needs one of the cables I'll already have. For those wanting to use it with something like a PC that may not have Bluetooth, there's an included 3.5mm to microUSB cable to get you rocking.
Aukey 10 port USB hub thing
Trade shows are killer on batteries. Rather than bring a dozen UK to EU adapters, power bricks and cables, I'm bringing this monster from Aukey. It can charge USB 10 devices at once, and two of the slots even offer Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 for the handful of devices that support it.
Amazingly, this thing also isn't even that big. Sure, there'll be a mess of cables, but there's really no better way to charge everything on the road. If you're a serious tech head, then this is an accessory you should definitely think about having in your life.
Lenovo battery pack
The only things I'll likely need to top up during the day are my phone and maybe my Bluetooth earbuds. So I'm not going to lug around a giant battery pack, just this tiny one from Lenovo. I picked it up for just £7 and it's got a 5000mAh capacity — plenty to refill 950 XL and still have a little left over. You don't need this specific one — battery packs are getting better and more compact all the time. I usually carry a QuickCharge unit with a 12000mAh capacity, but for a short trip like this it's unnecessary bulk.
So, that's what I'll be carrying to Germany, well, that plus our chief Xbox Editor, Jez Corden. He's probably only taking a Surface Book, because it's magic!
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