With the badges on the way (if you haven’t already gotten yours as many have including me), SDCC is almost here less than 30 days away! Everyone’s excitement is building and some of the pop culture builds have begun in San Diego itself.
As was begun last year I present to you a gear guide for maximizing your convention experience through gear and for some of the travel as well.
First up your mobile phone:
If you are due for an upgrade or already have them the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ or the iPhone X are the phones to get.
Incremental improvements in camera technology as well as some improvements in fingerprint and facial/iris recognition technology have these more useful for things such as payments and security.
Facial recognition and iris recognition are quite useful for when you’re wearing costumes with gloves because you can unlock your phone without having to take off the gloves. Now depending on the gloves you have (I’ve been doing some tests with the gloves for my costumes this year) and the screen sensitivity after the phone is unlocked you should be able to work everything just fine.
Just note that if you so have an S9/S9+ you should turn on the extra touch sensitivity.
Having both fingerprint and iris enabled for purchasing (such as if you’re using Samsung Pay) is a wonderful thing to have for the above reason. You don’t have to take off your gloves to make payments.
Having the security enabled like this is also great so you don’t accidently post on social media, send the wrong thing, etc. while your phone is in your pocket or other holder (that isn’t a case).
As I said last year course having an awesome phone doesn’t mean much without power, so you’ll want to have a battery case and external battery packs (a little further down this article). With Instagram being one of the best ways to save and share con memories you’ll definitely want to have power, especially now with IGTV
Again I recommend the Zero Lemon cases. The mix of price, reliability, and charge capacity have me as heavy user of these though for the S9+ I’d recommend getting two 5200mAh as opposed one larger 8000mAh. I’ve tested the 5200mhA thoroughly and it can do at least 6 hours under heavy use before the battery case gets to 0% (that’s not the phone just the battery case). The reason is while the 8000mhA is larger it is much more difficult to put on and take off because it has multiple steps and pieces as opposed to being one piece. The iPhone X 8000mAh case is only one piece.
In the past year Pop Sockets a very functional stand have been coming all over the place, and these have many fandom licenses. You can even design your own pop socket on their website. You can also find them at Amazon, Target, and I’m certain plenty of vendors on the SDCC floor. Pop sockets make it easy to show your fandoms on battery and other cases and they are quite useful to be held in your hand as well. In addition, PopSockets collapse pretty flat. They are only add about 5cm (0.20 inches) to the phone case in depth. Most PopSockets are 1.6” x 1.6” x 0.25” and 0.9” when expanded so there is plenty of space to add them to a battery case.
My recommendations for use? Since there will be so many things to show and share this is great for propping up your phone up while eating (as long as you have a table otherwise just hold it via PopSockets) to share awesome things you seen, trailers and such from YouTube, facebook, etc. Photos of things you’ve taken pictures of. And perhaps even selfies especially when you use a time delay photo app (apps will be covered later).
Note PopSockets can be removed from cases without residue and reapplied but they might not stick to silicone or waterproof cases. However, these stick on the cases I have tested.
Also don’t forget a screen protector, till the day all screens are made of sapphire glass you’ll want something to protect your phone in case a accident drops, fumbles, etc. I recommend using tempered glass as opposed to film protectors. I’ve been using this one from MagGlass about since I’ve had my S9+. For the iPhone I’ve enjoyed Spigen products in the past.
Other accessories for your mobile phone will be things like headphones, chargers, and also things like Fitbits, other smartwatches, and Pokemon Go accessories. With the exception of headphones and chargers, pretty much all the accessories come with related apps, so those will be in the apps section too.
Headphones will be mostly for travel especially if coming by plane or if you want some quieter time to yourself because SDCC can be a lot of sensory overload. Truly wireless headphones are becoming more common such as AirPods though there is the risk especially in the busy setting of SDCC of them failing out, as well as being more expensive is why I recommend Bluetooth headphones with a wire connecting the two and the MPow charging case I recommended last year with a few new additions.
Pretty much any good set of Bluetooth headphones from Anker, Aukey, iClever, TaoTronics, MPow, will serve you well. Depending on the style you get such as the ones linked here will also have a magnetic connection so when not listening or put into a case they should stay securely near your neck.
Because I was thinking about plane travel and not every airline offers free in-flight WiFi a small wired pair such as the Anker SoundBuds Verve can be of assistance in-case the flight has some movies that haven’t come to downloadable/streaming saves or something like news or other live broadcast.
If you want to go higher tech you can also look into a Bluetooth transmitter/receiver such as this one from TaoTronics that is about the size of a quarter and will fit into the MPow charging case. This will allow you to plug into the earphone and use your own Bluetooth headphones. In addition, this will allow you to plug into things like hotel TVs so you won’t (at least sonically) disturb others.
I also recommend bringing more than set of headphones because while most have battery life from 7-12 hours they do eventually run out of power, this way you can switch, charge the other in the MPow case and keep listening, watching your media. What I do recommend however it getting some Tile Sports this is because the MPow cases even when attached with carabiners (including the screw ones) have accidentally gotten lost including on a plane when I fell asleep. This way if you don’t see it in front of you or around you can use the Tile app to find it quickly.
External batteries (and chargers for back at the hotel)
One of the best things to try to do is match your external battery to the cable you use to charge your phone with this way it’s easy to charge the battery when you can (I expect some USB charging stations) and this way the cable won’t be the wrong one.
I like a multiport charger that fits in pockets and other small places like the Anker PowerCore 13000 USB-C this way you can charge your device and a friend’s.
This 20000mAh Aukey has a lighting input to make it easier for iPhone users.
For our fellow journalist friends who may be bringing MacBooks there are various types of charges that can help charge your laptops (max 100 Watts) and keep them charged without having to find an outlet.
This Jackery Unit can charge under 100Watt laptops and it also recharges via USB-C.
RavPower also has similar products but they use a separate charging power adapter.
Note: This will not work with gaming laptops that are usually more than 100 Watts.
Aukey’s Ultra Compact Dual Port Wall Chargers are great for keeping a plug with you because these are tiny and fit into just about everything.
Like last year for back at the hotel I recommend a multiport charger such as Anker 5 port and a good surge protector. This model from Aukey has 8 plugs and six USB ports and like last year some outlet extenders like these from Etekcity
Personal Storage at Con
While Vulture and several other others showed us that Chris Pine will be wearing a fanny pack (also known as HipSacks and Waist Packs) and Mattel is releasing a Masters of the Universe™ He-Man™ Belt of Power, a fanny pack can be extremely useful to hold small things such as your phone while in costumes that don’t necessarily have or would be able to work with pockets. Fanny packs also come in a variety of fandom inspired variants available on Amazon, etsy, etc. I expect, since Chris looks smashing in one, they will be very popular this year.
As many cities and places are going for reusable bags as they should, you’ll see less plastic bags given out including from vendors. Now several vendors will give you very large bags should you get certain items like from Hasbro, WeLoveFine, etc. and SDCC has a tradition of giving out very large bags (which have also become a kind of collector item (Tony has also been known his jacket creations from SDCC bags) as well SYFY and others. Though for smaller items such as items from Ralph’s (the essential grocery store in San Diego) some foldable into themselves bags such as these BeeGreens can be extremely helpful I use them myself on my local and raveling shopping trips.
A clear bag may be helpful as well. Now many event places are preventing large bags such as most sporting events and some venues. This has not happened with SDCC and its venues yet, but it’s always good to have a clear plastic bag that conforms to most security regulations.
A good solid backpack is something to have as well. I use more than when traveling. I use a large camera and laptop backpack and a smaller AmazonBasics camera backpack which is great for traveling around with camera gear.
This is in addition to some quality travel suitcases. I like hardside spinners myself for plane travel I’ve use a set I got from Costco but if you don’t have The Amazon Basics set should work just fine. Samsonite is the known standard for luggage and if you’re going to be traveling a lot that is what you should get.
Inside the luggage as I recommended use packing cubes and having two sets will help with the “clean” and “worn” sets and can be useful for cosplay as well. Also don’t forget to use some portable hangers to hang up your light clothes.
Finally onto apps and app enabled accessories
For the most part I’ll be keeping these to the Android, Google Plays listing because most of the apps have the same name on the Apple App Store. If something is missing on the Apple side, let me know and I’ll add it in.
We’re all quite social and as such we’ll probably have these apps installed just as part of our usual communication and share across all the major ones, and there will be so much to share!
SDCC tends not to have livestreamed panels but SYFY and several other properties do a variety of livestreamed events so YouTube and Twitch are great for these. Livestreamed events are great for watching while waiting in other lines. As every schedule is announced we’ll see a list of livestreamed events.
Now for selfies I recommend Whistle Camera (along with the normal camera app you use) because Whistle Camera has a timer that can be activated via whistling (which probably won’t work with all the noise at SDCC) and by touch (which will always work) this way you can get into position for that perfect selfie with friends, celebs, etc. After all you don’t want a blurry or non-intentional derpy selfie right?
Discord is also great for communication especially in smaller group, but it can lead to a large amount of notifications if you are in any fan/community group. Such as in in the hundreds.
The Official Comic-Con App pretty much is this essential for knowing the schedule, locations, etc. during SDCC. It can always use some improvements but you’ll want this with you.
Google Keep is a create way to have a checklist or checklist that syncs with your Google account.
Eventbrite is very useful for the parties and events that will have tickets. There are a variety of ticket systems for such things like afterparties so if that ticketing system has an app, it would be best to get it. Some events also have an option for passbook files. Otherwise a folder inside Dropbox would be quite useful.
Dropbox even with the free version can be extremely helpful for any essential files you need, as well as place to backup your at con photos because Dropbox has a setting to automatically backup photos. This way you don’t have to worry about photos being lost should something happen to your phone.
Dropbox is also wonderful for business because folders of assets can be shared quickly. You see it used often among the PR releases.
CamCard is an extremely helpful app for scanning business cards. It will also auto-sync to your contacts to things like Google Contacts. This way to makes for follow-up easy post con this is especially useful for people who do business at SDCC. Cards can get lost, wet, set on fire (thought this only happened to me once).
Cozi now this app is generally designed for families to keep track of things for various calendars but it can be quite useful for arranging and checking in on specific events with a smaller group (such as your closest friends). It is good to have this in addition to the app you normally use for calendars because this way you can easy check on each other’s schedules without having to share your entire calendar.
Paypal is great for sending and receiving money as well as Venmo along with your banking apps. These can be great to help friends if you need to get something for them, they need to get something for you, etc.
Maps because this will help find any establishment that isn’t a pop-up or the convention center (which is pretty hard to miss).
Amazon especially with Amazon Prime be extremely useful because you can get last minute emergency items delivered to your hotel. Especially with One-Day for a few things this can help save your con.
Square this is more for retailers Square makes it easy to do business including contactless payments which are becoming very popular.
Samsung Pay/Google Pay/Apple Pay. If you have a Samsung Phone Samsung Pay is wonderful for contactless payments, in addition Samsung Pay will allow you to collect point which can turned into gift cards ad it doesn’t cost you extra to use. Google Pay and Apple Pay are other contactless options but I’ve found Samsung Pay to be one of the most useful and it has new offers all the time.
Fitbit and Google Fit being fit and wanting to be in good health is something that is beneficial. In addition Fitbits and smartwatches that have heart-rate monitors can be very helpful in monitoring your heart rate in case you have a problem. I have an elevated heart rate, so it’s something that I watch. In addition, many health plans offer rewards and gift cards for walking and exercise and at SDCC you will most likely be doing a lot of walking.
Tile as mentioned before Tiles are the standard in Bluetooth locators so these are great to add to important things like wallets, passport holders, keys, etc.
Pokémon GO recently Niantic introduced friends and trading, two features that people have been waiting for since the release of the app almost two ago. These features will be used a lot at SDCC because it is a global gathering point and people will want to trade a lot (I know I do) All over social you see people sharing friend codes and sending gifts and trading with far away friends you see at SDCC will come soon. In addition San Diego has a good amount of Pokestops so there will be lots of gifts to share with friends. Now it’s harder to find a Pokemon Go Plus now that has a lot more utility now, so you can look into a third party device which is smaller and has more functionality the Datel Pokemon Go-Tcha it can even autospin pokestops so you’ll be able to get more gifts for friends. It’s not perfect but what about Pokemon Go has been aside from a fun casual game?
Most games come with a social aspect such as Fire Emblem Heroes, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, so as you make new friends at con you’ll find others who play the games as well. Perhaps introduce you into new ones.
Though these games require a constant data connection so if you’re in a place without internet such as most flights you’ll want to get a nice long should hopefully download all at once JRPG such as Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (which I call Chocobros To Go) or the classic Chrono Trigger.
This is of course unless you’re using a Switch then you’ll have the options of almost all the switch games, and then of course you’ll want to use of the battery backs I mentioned above.
So with this I think I’ve covered most of the basics in gear for SDCC. Anything you readers think I should add? A more specific set of things you want me to cover let me know!