8 of the best festival gadgets
Want to make sure you’re fully prepared for festival season? We went to one of the world’s most tech-friendly festivals, Coachella, and tested some high-tech kit – so you can get yourself set for Glastonbury, Reading, Primavera, or your festival of choice.
20 May 2016
We round up the top festival gadgets for documenting your experience, achieving enviable photos and videos, online sharing and keeping connected – for the definitive festival experience. Take your pick, or take it all…
1. Samsung Galaxy S7
In a nutshell: A versatile all-in-one piece of kit that shoots great still and moving images. You’ll wonder how you got by without it
If you only take one piece of tech, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is a super all-rounder. Its camera is unparalleled in a smartphone, plus it has ten different standard in-built modes for creative effects (we loved the Virtual Shot mode) as well as free additional download options including Surround Shot and Animated GIF modes. We made use of all the functions and got some amazing footage. Great battery life and good storage are invaluable for all-day – and even entire long-weekend –shooting.
2. Apple iPhone 6S
In a nutshell: This most recent incarnation of the iconic iPhone has brilliant time lapse and slow-motion modes among its varied camera functions, plus unbeatable battery life
The iPhone still ranks among the best on the market and offers users excellent photographic results and the option to record high quality 4K video. Its camera modes were endless fun to play around with and created some outstanding footage.
One of its key features is 3D touch – it responds to how firmly you press the display, which makes it very user friendly, especially if you don’t want to open something fully and come out of the thing (website/email/camera) you’re in. We found it good for peeking at photos we’d already taken without leaving the ‘live’ camera screen.
It was also brilliant for looking at a location on a map from an address without leaving the screen we were on, meaning we could carry on Whatsapp conversations without the frustration of clicking out of the thread. With good storage space, we found we didn’t have to delete anything the whole time we were there – although we made sure we backed everything up on a Macbook Pro just in case!
3. Apple MacBook Pro 13” with Retina Display
In a nutshell: Use it for backing up and editing your footage, entertainment on-the-go and keeping in touch
A laptop at a festival? Seriously? Well, yes. The MacBook Pro 13” is slim and lightweight so there’s no issue with carrying it round in your backpack if you need to – although at Coachella there are lockers so you can store it safely there if you’re camping or you want to take it on site. Not only was it brilliant for backing up all our photos and videos but it was also great for studying maps at the villa we’d rented in the absence of Wi-Fi when we were out and about. Editing our footage was easy on the hop too – we downloaded some editing software and the whole process was quick and, dare we say, professional-looking.
We also used it for staying in touch via email and Skype as well as watching movies on the plane (and in bed at night when suffering from jetlag!). It was also our music centre – we connected it to a Bluetooth speaker and listened to Coachella playlists at the rental villa in the mornings before heading to the festival site.
4. UE Boom Wireless Portable Speaker
In a nutshell: Listen to music by connecting to a range of devices wirelessly – it’s the ultimate in portability
This was one of the most popular bits of tech we took! Sturdy and space-saving without compromising on sound quality, it connects to a variety of devices via Bluetooth meaning we could play our iPods through it or a selection of Spotify playlists via our smartphones. We could also watch music videos on the MacBook channelled through the speaker. Great for the hire car, the villa – and even the shuttle bus taking us from Palm Springs to the festival site at Indio’s Empire Polo Club.
5. Bose QC25 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones
In a nutshell: Unbeatable noise cancellation in an over-ear model, these headphones deliver high comfort, rich sound and good portability
These award-winning over-ear headphones have a big plus – they’re among the best noise-cancelling ‘phones on the market. Light and comfortable, they’re so nicely cushioned they might even replace a good old plane pillow for you if you’re wearing them travelling – they did for us! They didn’t entirely cut out external sound, like a baby crying – but then if that baby’s yours, it might be a good idea not to shut off totally…
At their best with rich, deep, bass sounds, a compact little case made them trouble-free travel companions.
6. Fujifilm XQ2
In a nutshell: Capable of near pro-quality shots, it’s an inexpensive compact camera that will give great results and won’t weigh you down or get confiscated like a DSLR might
If you’re planning on taking your DSLR with you to a festival, check their photo policy first. There’s a chance they won’t allow cameras with detachable lenses in unless you’re authorised and issued with the right photo pass – as is the case at Coachella. But you can get round it with a good compact.
With 12 frames per second burst shooting and a pretty quick shooting interval on standard shots at 0.3 seconds, getting the perfect snap is pretty foolproof. But one of our favourite features was its Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to view the pictures on it remotely via an app on your smartphone. Brilliant.
If you’re a budding expert, the manual mode will give you plenty of opportunity to hone your talents – and with so much to shoot (people, bands, light shows, California sunsets) we found that a music festival gave us endless chances to perfect our skills. And play around with the other modes like Pro Focus, Pro Low Light and Multiple Exposure.
Oh, and it also shoots video too, of course.
7. GoPro HERO4
In a nutshell: Versatile, lightweight and compact, it’s the perfect device for capturing the energy of a festival
Ah, yes. The humble GoPro. Why do you need a GoPro if you’ve got a smartphone or camera capable of taking great video?
Let us count the ways.
- It’s tiny. You can hold it in the air when you’re shooting the stage and your arm and hand will never tire. Also, you can pop it in your pocket.
- It’s powerful. Capable of shooting high quality video, it’s got various modes so it’s fun too.
- You can strap it to your chest and head. This means you can keep it rolling all day if you want to and capture everything you experience.
- It shoots still images. So you can take pictures too!
- It can handle low light. When you’re shooting bands at night, you’ll get decent footage.
- You can mount it on a stick. Good for capturing footage from a higher vantage point.
We’d advise having a good practice in advance to get used to it first, though, as you may not find it as straightforward as a smartphone.
8. Mophie Powerstation charger
In a nutshell: Provides quick, reliable charging for any USB device
Everything we took had impressive battery life but batteries are known to deteriorate over time so a portable charger is a good idea. Festivals tend to have charging stations but queues can be long. We took a Mophie Powerstation charger with us to top up the juice in our devices if needed. The model we took had USB and micro USB connections and was great as back up and for peace of mind.