Tag Archives: MimboloveGadgets

Gadget Show Off: My Presentation and Recording Equipment for Surface Pro 4

Written by Tao Yang

OK, it’s Friday night, I feel like writing something on this blog. But after couple of glasses of wine, and I don’t really want to write anything technical that requires too much brain power. So I picked an easy topic for tonight. I have been using a Creative Sound Blaster Bluetooth Pre-Amp and a lapel microphone to record my in-person community presentations. Based on my experience, the recording quality from that device is very average. Last weekend, after I recorded my presentation at Global Azure Bootcamp, I have decided to ditch it and look for a better solution. Over the last few days, I spent some time looking for a new Bluetooth microphone to replace the sound blaster device.

For those who know me well, I can be seen as a gadget man. I like playing with gadgets. after few days of research, I ended up with a Sony ECM-AW4 Bluetooth microphone from eBay. In order to test it, I connected all required equipment on my Surface Pro 4, and created a dummy presentation on this very same topic (My presentation and recording equipments for Surface 4), then presented using these equipments and recorded it using Camtasia. You can watch the recording on YouTube:

To summarise, I am using the following devices during the presentation:

1. Sony Bluetooth Microphone ECM-AW4 (http://www.sony.com.au/product/ecm-aw4)

Sony Mic

Although this device is designed for digital cameras and camcorders, it works with your smart phones and computers. There are some noticeable features:

  • range support up to 50 metres
  • supports external lapel microphones
  • supports headphones – for private communication between the camera man (via the receiver mic) and the person in the camera (via the headphone connected to the Bluetooth mic). this communication is not recorded / passed to the recording device.
  • comes with a wind screen to be used to cover the microphone when shooting outside in a windy condition
  • comes with an arm band which allows you to attach the mic on your arm.

 

2. Audio-Technica AT9903 lapel microphone (http://audio-technica.com.au/products/at9903/)

mic

I’m connecting this mic to the Sony Bluetooth mic only because I have already got it. I’ve also tried using the Bluetooth mic without this external lapel mic, the quality is also pretty good.

3. Creative Sound Blaster Play!2 USB Sound Card (http://au.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-play-2)

sound card

I had to purchase this USB sound card for my Surface Pro 4 because the 3.5mm audio jack on my Surface does not support microphones. I also have a Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 ultrabook, unfortunately, it is the same case on the Yoga Pro laptop. So no matter which computer do I use for the presentation, I will have to get a USB sound card. Therefore I bought this one because I have been using Creative Sound Blaster external sound cards for many years (right now I have 2 on my desk for 2 NUCs that I’m using as my day-to-day PCs), and this one is very compact – just like a USB dongle.

4. Logitech R800 Presenter (http://business.logitech.com/en-us/product/professional-presenter-r800-business)

presenter

In my opinion, this is a must-have device for all your presentations. It is certainly very popular as I’ve seen many of my MVP friends using the very same device.

5. USB 3 Hub

USB hub

Because Surface Pro 4 only has one USB port and I need to connect both the presenter receiver and the Bluetooth Microphone Receiver to it, I have to use a USB hub. I’ve got this Inateck USB 3 Hub with GB Ethernet adapter few years ago for my old Surface Pro 2. It’s good that it still works without having to install any drivers on Surface Pro 4 running Windows 10.

So, I know many of my MVP friends present in many user group meetings, not sure if anyone has come up with other solutions for recording these in-person presentations. I’m pretty happy with this setup I came up with. Overall, it’s very compact, I don’t need to carry too many additional devices with me. If you are looking to achieve something similar, I hope you find this post and the YouTube video useful.

overall1

overall2

On the other hand, the recording quality is not as good as my setup on my desktop (Intel NUC) for webinars, but it can be a topic for another day:

desktop mic

An Alternative for Surface Pro Docking Stations

Written by Tao Yang

I bought my Surface Pro 2 last November – third week after it was released in Australia. I only got it on the third week because I was on holidays in China when it was released and all the resellers ran out of stock when I came back.

I also bought a type cover 2 the same time. I really wanted to get the power cover and the docking station, but they weren’t released back then. I thought I’d get the type cover for now and get the power cover and the docking station when they became available in Australia.

Guess what, I was still waiting when Microsoft announced the Surface 3 release date. I sort of got the idea, they will probably never come to Australia.

For me, a power keyboard is a nice-to-have, but I really want a docking station! Therefore, I have to look elsewhere. I soon found 2 possible alternatives (USB 3 docking stations).

Toshiba Dynadock V.S. Targus USB 3 Dual Video Dock

Toshiba Dynadock U3.0

to_pa3927u_300

Targus USB3.0 SuperSpeed Dual Video Docking Station

ACP70USZ_accessories_b

Both of them have similar specs, The local retail price for the Toshiba one is around AUD $160 and Targus is around $180 (currently $1 AUD = $0.94 USD). I’ve decided to go for the Tagus one simply because the Toshiba dock is vertical with a stand, it will be harder to carry around (if I want to). The Targus dock seems to be more portable to me.

So instead of buying it in a retail shop, I managed to find a seller on eBay U.S. who accepts “Best Price”. After bargaining the price back and forth few times, I managed to get a brand new one for $85 USD. with international shipping, in the end, I paid AUD $118, which I’m very happy about the price!

Targus Dock V.S. Surface Dock

Here’s a specs comparison between the Targus dock and the Surface Pro 2 dock:

Targus USB3.0 Dual Video Dock Surface Pro 2 Dock
Video 1xDVI, 1xHDMI 1xMini Display Port
USB Ports 2xUSB3, 4xUSB2 1xUSB3, 3xUSB2
NIC 1xGB NIC 1x 10/100 NIC
Audio 1x 3.5mm speaker, 1×3.5mm mic 1x 3.5mm speaker, 1×3.5mm mic
Power Supply for Surface No Yes
Security Lock Yes No

The Targus dock also comes with a DVI-To-VGA adapter and a HDMI-To-DVI adapter to cater for different monitor connections. Based on the comparison above, the Targus dock is definitely more feature rich. Since I’ve already bought a spare Surface Pro 2 power supply from eBay, I didn’t mind the fact that I can’t power the Surface with this dock.

More Pictures

Here’s the back view:

Targus Back

Using it with my Surface Pro 2:

20140724_210144

Physical size comparing with Surface Pro 2:

20140724_212815

Drivers

I have no problems with drivers, all the drivers got automatically installed when I connected them for the first time.

Cameron Fuller wrote an article on his experience with Surface 2 RT: Using the Surface 2 RT like a Pro-fessional. In Cameron’s article, he listed all the hardware accessories that he has purchased for the RT device. I’m guessing RT devices would always face compatibility issues because of drivers, I haven’t been managed to find an RT device to test this dock with, so I’m not sure if it supports Windows RT.

Replacement for Other Devices

Down here in Australia, I looked up prices for a USB 3 video adapter. it is around $100 AUD (around $94 USD). By getting a docking station like this, it is equivalent of getting:

  • 2x USB 3 video adapter
  • 1x USB 3 or USB 2 hub
  • 1x GB USB NIC

So it is definitely a cheaper option to get the dock instead, not to mention you end up with only one device on your desk.

So now, even if Surface docking station has been made available in Australian market, I’d still stick with this Targus dock, simply because I can connect 2 external monitors.

The only thing I haven’t tried is testing PXE through the NIC port on this dock. If someone has already tried it, please let me know Smile.