In another grand example of amazing products you've never heard of, I'd like to introduce my fellow ambulatory digital artists to a piece of technology that will likely double or triple your out-of-office sketch sessions.
As some of you know, when I need to work on weekends, it's nice to be able to pack up my things and get out of the office. Sometimes, it's just heading down to Starbucks, the mall, or even a quiet bench at the park. Nonetheless, the issue for many of us who work digitally is the hesitation to stray too far from an electrical outlet.
Depending on the horsepower of your machine, whether it be a Macbook with a Wacom tablet, a Surface Pro (like I have), or a Cintiq Companion, the issue is the same...you really only have a few hours of diligent working before your laptop goes kaput.
This is my new mobile setup. It's a Surface Pro 2 connected to a Lenovo LT1423p (Wacom enabled USB tablet monitor...more on THAT later). The Surface Pro 2 provides the horsepower to run just about anything and the 13 inch Lenovo gives me an extra 3 inches of real estate to draw on (compared to the Surface Pro's 10" screen), freeing up my Surface Pro to be used as a secondary monitor for reference or menus.
But what is that strange box next to the Surface Pro?
That, my friends, is the Nature Power Elite 25 Power Bank. And yes, that is a full size AC power outlet on the front.
I can't even begin to tell you the possibilities this little piece of hardware has opened for me. It has two 2.1 amp USB ports for high speed charging of smartphones / tablets, plus one 1.0 amp USB charger, as well as the AC power outlet, allowing you to fully charge even the highest-drain laptops on the go.
You can look up the specifications online, but anecdotally, I'd say that it has effectively doubled the lifespan of my Surface Pro 2, even on High Performance mode, with the additional USB monitor also pulling power from the unit.
I take it with me to long brainstorming meetings at work, to our weekly figure drawing class (where stringing an extension cord is unsightly and somewhat dangerous with people walking around), and on long airplane rides.
My wife and I have taken it on every long trip we've taken over the past year or so and it's kept our laptops, iPads, smartphones, and everything else topped off without having to compete for plugs at the airports.
The only criticisms I could possibly offer is that it is a bit pricey (between $150-$200 - Check eBay as well) and it takes quite a while to recharge (if it's completely dead, it takes probably 8-12 hours). But, those are hardly deal-breakers and it's still much cheaper than shopping for a new laptop, especially if your only need is for longer battery life.
I hope this helps some of my fellow cave-dwelling illustrators to get out of their offices and into the sunshine for a few extra hours. As always, email me if you have any questions or tweet me @bucktoothstudio on Twitter.