Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Accessory Update: Ergotron LX Desk Mount

The box from arrived today with my order of the ERGOTRON LX DESK MOUNT and needless to say, I was anticipating getting home tonight to try it out.

The specs said that the LX is definitely made of metal but I wasn't really sure what kind and how heavy it was. Lifting the box to needed some flexing of the muscles. Without opening it I was getting an idea how durable the LX might be.

Upon opening the box, I was wading through a whole maze of packaging. From it I could make out spare parts, plastic baggies filled with all sorts of screws and hardware. Pretty intimidating. I'm already telling myself that this could be a late evening sipping coffee while figuring out which end is which.

Amazingly, there is really nothing to the LX. I installed it in about 15 minutes and my Modbook was sitting in it in about 25. There are four major parts: The table mounting post, 1 connecting arm, 1 forearm and the laptop mounting tray. For my initial set up I only installed the forearm that connects to the mounting tray. My art table is not that big and it's a cheapo at that. It's already a little rickety so the less hardware, the better. This whole post was created with the Modbook mounted with a USB keyboard attached. (An ADESSO mini Mac keyboard) And speaking of the mounting tray. I was kind of curious how it works and the kind of mobility it gets. I was doubly curious how it actually secures a laptop while it's mounted. The answer? The tray (which you have to attach out of the box) is mounted on a swivel head with a counter weighed spring so when you remove your laptop, the whole tray swings up. It's designed to accept the weight of a laptop up to 11 pounds.

And what about all that hardware? The LX was designed to fulfill many needs so depending on the situation, there are extra screws, fastening clips and several sizes of hex screw drivers for modifying your set up. So basically I ended up not using most of the hardware. (for now)

I read all the available reviews for the LX before my purchase so I can compare notes. I'll likely be updating on this accessory the more I use it. For now IT ABSOLUTELY WORKS GREAT. Seeing my Modbook freely suspended and mounted on the LX side by side with my WACOM CINTIQ is just overwhelming. My ideal set up is now a reality.

All the LX info is around this blog especially the sidebar.

Now check out the pictures:

25 minutes after unboxing and assembly, I mounted my Modbook on the LX next to my CINTIQ
Sideview- before I connected the Mag-safe power supply, USB and DVI cables
Rearview - Notice that the black mounting tray connects to the arm via a standard VESA mounting plate. According to Axiotron, a VESA type mount will be available in the spring to attach to the back of the Modbook. This means I can have the option of mounting the tablet directly to the LX..... But that kind of defeats getting a portable tablet don't you think?
View directly above the mounting tray. You can easily detach the tray by removing those knurled knobs.
another sideview
Looking up at the LX, there is a provision to run wires and cables through those plastic tunnels running along the length of the mounting post and forearm directly to your machine.
As I mentioned above, when you remove the Modbook, the counter-weighted tray lifts up
A look under the LX sans Modbook.
..... now I'm cooking with gas!! Sitting in between these two makes me feel like Tank from The Matrix.
It looks a little gnarly with all those wires but it's a quick demo. I'll need to tidy things up later.
... it almost looks kind of hospital-ish doesn't it?
.... euphoria has just set in folks....

Friday, February 15, 2008

Modbookin' at the Car Wash

I've been taking my Modbook outdoors to sketch and it's been quite fun. Today at lunch I went to the car wash and did some doodles while I waited.

The bright sun did impair visibility of the screen a bit, but there was more than enough to work with. Just keep the screen directly in front and not at an angle.

Done on SKETCHBOOK PRO using a 2B pencil and chisel tip pen.

(Check out this related post on Random Anomalies)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Battery life

In my previous post, I mentioned that the Modbook can be a bit of a gas guzzler, even while in sleep mode. There have been posts on the ModbookArt Forums about varying experiences regarding this subject. It all really boils down to usage. Some have gotten really good mileage using their Modbooks in a variety of situations including general use.

However, it seems apparent to me (although not unexpected) that running apps like Photoshop will drain the juice out of that Macbook battery faster than usual. For instance, starting at a 100 percent charge I sketched with Photoshop along with Adobe Bridge for 40 minutes and the charge went down to 73 percent. (I've done this several times and the average is about 20-30 percent battery consumption per 30-45 minutes of use)

For one full hour the battery went down to 58%. This averages to about 2 hours of sketch time per charge. Once that fan starts to spin, expect your battery life to go south.

Now 2 hours isn't bad. However like I said previously. Plan on an extra battery if you plan to be away from home base for a while. Most coffee houses (like Starbucks) and restaurants don't mind you plugging in as well. Just plan on ordering some Java to avoid a dirty look.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Light Sleeper

It's been a week since I received my MODBOOK and the transition has been quite smooth. I can tell you that this tablet is hard to put down. I am constantly finding ways to sneak in some sketching time and like some drug addict, the more I sketch, the more I want to do more.

Having used the Modbook so much during this time, I did notice that it has one obvious downside: IT'S A POWER HOG.

Not that I didn't expect this. I knew that the digitizer screen will draw a lot of power but particularly in SLEEP MODE, the Modbook doesn't totally go to "sleep". I suppose it needs the extra juice to keep to keep the digitizer memory intact. The blue LED indicator lights on the top left corner will draw power as well. That is on top of the normal low-power sleep mode that a Macbook already employs.

This could be problematic when you're on the road and unable to plug in. The typical Macbook battery (regardless of what Apple eggheads claim) will only last 2, maybe 3 hours. (Much less if you run Photoshop or stream video) This means you will have less power to work with on the Modbook.

As an example, I charged my Modbook yesterday to 100 percent, then put it on sleep mode. I woke it up after two hours and the power indicator showed it 87 percent. I charged it again to 100 percent then sketched for a few minutes down to about 90 percent. I left it in sleep mode all night then woke it up this morning and it was down to 47 percent...

It's obvious that contingencies are necessary. Perhaps purchasing and packing an extra battery? This will add a tremendous load to one's gig bag but could be a lifesaver if you're pressing to finish a deadline on the run. You'll probably need an extra anyway because the main battery's life will definitely be short with the constant charging/discharging.

Shutting down during travel should help as well. If you don't plan on using your Modbook inside a plane, then power it down. (unless you're on some of the newer jets that have laptop power inputs, then by all means, sketch the friendly skies)

So whatever your usage will be, managing your power will be essential to keep that stylus moving...

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Reader Terence brought up some functionality issues regarding the ERGOTRON LX DESK MOUNT via AMAZON.COM that he had read. I followed up and checked them out and they are worthy of mention. The product rates overall at around 5 stars and the gist of the complaints are centered around the laptop platform and it's apparent inability to hold anything over 6-7 pounds without easily tilting down. (The LX states the cradle will hold up to 8-12 pounds) It's important to note that the MODBOOK weighs around 5.2 pounds so that is something to consider if you are thinking of purchasing the LX.

My response to Terence regarding my proposed use of the LX can be viewed HERE.