Most people don't know me that well. I'm a quiet, introverted kind of person. So usually when someone hires me to solve a problem and I bring a bit of techno-wizardry to bear on it, whether it's a medical communications problem or proper design problem, they might think I'm a big tech nerd. Here's a fact about me: I am not a big tech nerd. I keep a weather eye on it, sure, and I do my best to understand a technologies usefulness to me or the people I work with, but I am not a voracious consumer of technological bits and bobs. I am far, even, from being an early adopter. I try to avoid buying things that will be obsolete in a year. Mobile phone? I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. It has a cracked screen. I recently lost my first generation iPod touch.
With that sad fact about me out in the open, it may not be quite as big a surprise to some for me to say I do all my work on a nearly eight year old laptop. It's a tank. And today it is retiring.
My trusty beast is a 2009 Alienware M15, a brawny mid-sized gaming laptop. Flippin - and I do mean flippin in every sense of the word - incredible when I first bought it. I forget the hardware specifics, but it can still pull it's weight. Unfortunately I'm a bit tired of pulling it's weight. This laptop I think weighed close to 10lbs. It seems to be gaining weight with age too, as though all those 1's on the nearly-full hard drive weigh more than the 0's. It's even heavier if you include the big, dense power-brick that I have to haul around with it. More still if I'm hauling my Wacom tablet and mouse too. I broke spokes cycling to work with it in my paniers. We're probably looking at close to 17lbs of stuff if, you know, I get tired of my scene and just want head down to the coffee shop to camp out for a bit. With a good french press and my new recipe for cinnamon buns in hand, that's an expedition no longer worth making. Did I mention the battery died a couple of years ago so it must travel with that hefty, cumbersome, life-supporting power brick? Sadly it cannot go off-leash anymore. Did I also mention that I once tore my brachioradialis pulling said laptop out of my bag? Yup: couldn't play squash for two months, at least not with any kind of backhand. And then there is that general lethargy that old windows computers slowly, inevitably acquire. Slow to get up in the morning, frustratingly slow even to shut down, I can go for a quick run while inside it a tiny man shovels coal into its firebox and its wee boiler builds pressure enough to make steam enough for the days' work. When I get back ten minutes later, it's almost ready to go. Like a slightly senile old person, it's got a registry clogged with broken links and old, foggy, now-irrelevant windows updates. And never you mind the antibiotics it's on to keep the malware and viruses at bay. So today I put it out to pasture. It's earned its rest. What, you are asking, will I replace it with?
I did a bit of research on newer gaming laptops - I do like their hardware. However, I still need to haul around the Wacom drawing tablet I use in addition to all that power. These days, I kind of value mobility and - swoon - the speed of a solid state drive. I will also admit to being a bit envious of other illustrators and graphicky, designy people in svelt, instagram tinged videos working away on their well equipped, over-sized Cintiqs. I frequently peruse Wacom's website, drooling and getting slightly excited by the prospect of actually drawing (like paper!) right on the screen. So this fall Wacom announced the release of its MobileStudio Pro, which was a more powerful, more refined version of it's Cintiq Companion (which I had been quietly coveting for a couple of years). I waited for specs. They came and were impressive enough. I waited for pricing. It was announced and I winced: so steep. I waited for #$%& Canadian release date (I swear the rest of the world gets everything WAAAY before Canada does; "gotta make sure it's safe for us"). It came in January. I waxed and wained, I hummed and hawed - I hate spending money. HP made a solid laptop named the Omen for half the price. It would do nicely, and that name... But in the end. I wanted to work on the screen. I wanted super portabillity. I wanted something built for the shit I do. Cost be damned, if I hated it I would sell it, and I took the frozen block that contains my credit card out of the freezer, found my password to Amazon where I had buried it out in the yard and I dropped the proverbial hammer on the biggest, most powerful Wacom MobileStudio (not sure why that's one word) Pro and here it is.
So far I like it. But I have had to take some foam-core to make a poor-man's screen stand for when I'm not drawing on it. And I did have the forethought to know I would hate typing on the screen (I do dislike typing on the screen), so I also bought a little Logitech bluetooth keyboard to go with it. And then I also had to buy a USB3.0-to-everything-previous dongle at the local computer store. But so far so, so good. It's kind of dreamy to draw right on the screen. A full report in a bit.