Welcome back to the lab everybody! Lemme tell you all a little story straight from my life. Those are the best ones, right? So, before I started this business I made my living as a freelance Illustrator (Still do to certain extent). In fact, I think I crossed that 20 year mark recently. Anyway, I work primarily from home. It's just me so I converted one my extra bedrooms into a studio. Relax, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds (seriously). After working that long by yourself things can get loopy. You lose touch with the social graces. Work clothes become your underwear and that ratty old robe you got when you were 16 (I've said too much).
20 years is a long time. After a while I kind of wanted to get back into the mix of things. I missed the hustle of the city. Living in New York, you feel it's energy. You tap into it as you walk through its streets. I wanted to get back to that. Maybe get into a co-working space or work out of the library or cafe.
But Here’s The Problem
I’m a Mac Guy. Have been my whole working life. I’ve got 2 iPads, an 27 inch iMac, a MacBook Air, an Apple Watch, several Apple Tv’s throughout the house and of course an iPhone (my 4th thank you very much). I’m invested to say the least. When I put my ear to my iMac screen I can hear you Apple judging me. You get the picture. My whole echo system is Apple. Now, here’s the problem, I want to work remotely sometimes. Let’s take a look what that means. As a Digital illustrator I still like to lay things out on paper and then scan them to do things like inking and coloring. How do I do that remotely?
Well, the solution is obvious. I can just bring my iPad Pro and work in Alias Sketchbook! Problem solved! Ok, so I know I’m bringing the big iPad with me. Great! Wait a minute. I need the Adobe Creative Suite of tools to finish my work. Ah, there’s Photoshop on the iPad! Another problem down the tubes! Hold on I do all my inking with custom brushes in Adobe Illustrator CC. I have to have those brushes. I’ll have to bring my MacBook Air and airdrop my sketches to it. Arghhh! I love my laptop but if there was monument built to inconvenience it would be my MacBook and all these damn cables, not to mention this brick of a power block. I get it, first world problems but problems none the less.
In Search Of Without Leonard Nimoy
So, I want to work outside of the house without dragging around a bunch of devices and cables. I need a screen to draw on and I need access to Adobe Creative Suite. My iPad Pro seems like a solution but it is not. It runs on a mobile operating system that can’t handle the software I need to work. I have a 16 inch Cintiq which would be perfect except the myriad of cables it has and you still require a laptop to run it. Just to throw in a few more problems to make it interesting, I not only need to freelance, I need to run this business which requires me to create and edit videos, create new products and to animate stuff.
Apple talks a big game but the iPad falls short when it comes to most of that. Sure there are apps for most of that stuff but they’re anything but industry standard. That’s a nice way to say they suck. It can’t replace your laptop as much as they want you to think it can. So, I began a search for a way to work outside of my little freelance bubble without carrying 67 devices with me. First I tried a Google search and then on Amazon.
It was right around Christmas of 2019. I’ll never forget it. Remember I’m an Apple guy, I (sadly) have no idea outside of that world. Like Tom Hanks talking to a beach ball I’m isolated. Anyway, my Amazon search takes me to bunch of laptops which are on sale, Lenovos laptops in particular. Ugh, those PC things, no thanks man. You see, in my ridiculous head I’m remembering how horrible The Windows operating system was back in the early 90’s (yeah I’m old) and how much trouble all my family members had with their PC’s. Can you tell I’m a Mac guy?
Anyway, I’m looking at something called a 2 in 1. What? What non Apple socery is this? I anxiously look around and look around to be sure the Steve Jobs ghost wasn’t watching me. I checked out the description of what these things can do. What is this madness? A touchscreen laptop! I’ve surely gone mad, The world doesn’t make any sense anymore. It comes with a stylus? You mean you don’t have to spend a $100 Apple bucks to get one? Jeez Louis, you can flip this puppy over and it becomes a tablet? What the Wozniak is happening right now? So, I checked out the operating system it was running on. Windows 10, a full operating system that can run pretty much anything I want. No Half ass mobile versions without out the full features of their desktop counterparts and damnit its $200 less than an iPad! Am I really ordering this thing?
Pulling The PC Trigger
For me, hitting that buy now was painful. Did I mention That I’m a Mac guy? I felt like I was betraying my tribe. Everybody in my creative circle was Mac-based, everyone. Oh sure, they were a few unenlightened stragglers in our group of friends that were still using the enemy machines. We pitted them and fun of their quirky little PC’s. “But they’re great and much cheaper!” they would exclaim as we shook our heads and high-fived each other with our over priced iPhones. But here I am, holding this box that arrived via UPS that I’m nervously cracking open by the twinkling light of my Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree.
I set it up in minutes which surprised me. Windows had become 20 times less convoluted than I remembered it. Then I began to install all my software. It was beautiful. I was drawing on a laptop screen. Hell, I had a trade pad but who needed it? I could just touch screen and launch or close things! I flipped the Lenovo 14 2 in 1 around and was instantly in tablet mode. Watched a little Netflix and Hulu! I could imagine working somewhere in the city all day, calling it a day, and unwinding with an episode or two of Daredevil before my commute. I was in a brand new world and I liked it. I think I will always be a Mac guy but my eyes are opened. I’m not locked in anymore. Apple beware. You’d better start innovating again.
First all, let me tell you what the nail in the coffin that made me hit that buy now button as nervous as I was about it. Amazon let me pay for the thing over time. $54.38 a month! I was sold. It was Christmas time and I’d just bought a bunch of gifts and was a little strapped for cash. At the time of this writing The Lenovo Flex 14 2 in 1 is only $652.53. When I caught it during the holidays on sale it was $500 and something. I forget. Much cheaper than my iPad Pro and it does more! It has:
- 1920 x 1080 full HD touch screen display
- AMD Ryzen 5 3500U mobile Processor
- Radeon Vega 8 video card
- HDMI, USB-C, and USB 3.1 inputs
- Up to 10 hours of battery life with recharge technology that will get your laptop from 0 to 80% in an hour
- Comes with12GB DDR4 RAM
For the full run down check it out on Amazon!
This laptop is pretty awesome. Something I never expected from a PC but it has become part of my creative arsenal. God willing, this pandemic will be over soon. It kind of cut off my plans (everyones plans) for working outside of the house more but I’m making do like the rest of you. I’m confident we’ll have a vaccine soon and life will return to not normal but close to it.
Well, that’s it for the lab this week. Next time we’ll take a look at my iPad Pro. As much as I just crapped all over it in terms of working remotely, it does have it’s up sides and I’m actually glad the own the thing. We’ll discover it’s ups and downs on the next one. Lata!
Check it out on Amazon