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Power laptops, printers in the field with Innovatronix SnapPower  
Thursday, October 5, 2006 | by Rob Galbraith

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Location, Location: The Innovatronix SnapPower, pictured here with a Sony SnapLab UP-CR10L. Click to enlarge. (Photo courtesy Innovatronix)

Innovatronix, maker of the Tronix Explorer 1200 for powering studio strobes in the field, is expanding their lineup to include a new portable power source for laptops, printers, flat panel displays and more on location.

Called the SnapPower, it's housed in a 37cm x 14cm x 18cm (14.5in x 5.5in x 7in) metal case that's nearly identical to the Tronix Explorer 1200. Inside, however, are twin 12V/12Ah sealed lead-acid batteries and conversion circuitry that steps up the voltage to either 120VDC or 230VDC, depending on the model.

Yes, that's DC power to its two output sockets, not AC. This means the new model can't power studio strobes, but it can provide electricity to numerous other items in the field photographer's kit, even those one would normally connect to an AC wall plug.

Ramon Castillo, President of Innovatronix, says that any device that's driven by an automatically-switching power supply, and whose continuous power draw is 300W or less, is compatible. How do you know if you have this type of power supply? Easy, says Castillo: if the device or its adapter will accept 100-240V on input, it can be plugged into the SnapPower, as long as the device doesn't require more than 300W continuous/500W peak power. Examples of such devices include:

  • Desktop and laptop computers
  • Printers
  • Flat panel displays
  • Televisions manufactured in about the last five years
  • Fluorescent lights (ones with electronic ballasts)
  • Chargers for cell/mobile phones, digital camera batteries and more
  • AC adapters for digital cameras

Innovatronix developed the SnapPower primarily for photographers who need to power their computers for extended work sessions in the field, says Castillo. As an example, he notes the unit delivers a five hour minimum runtime for certain power-hungry laptops from Apple, Lenovo and Prestigio in their testing (the company claims six hours of runtime typically under a continuous 30W load). Additional runtime would come from the batteries in the laptops themselves. Owners of the Sony SnapLab UP-CR10L dye sub will also snap up (pun intended) the SnapPower, says Castillo, because it can drive this printer for a total of about 450 4x6 prints.

The SnapPower can be charged from either 120/230VAC or 12VDC power using the included charging cords. There is a connector on the case to enable an additional, external battery to be connected, for even longer runtimes. While the company has begun development of an external battery pack for the SnapPower, they have not yet decided if they will manufacture and sell it. Castillo says that regardless of whether an external pack makes it to market, Innovatronix will release technical information about the SnapPower connector so that photographers who need more juice can fashion they're own external battery solution.

They're also evaluating whether to produce a new version of the Tronix Explorer that includes the same external battery connector, though no decision has been made. The SnapPower case is identical to the Tronix Explorer, except for a slightly different handle and the battery connector. Because it has two batteries inside, as compared to the Explorer's single battery, the SnapPower weighs in at 12kg (26 lb.) vs 7kg (15 lb.) for the Explorer.

The Innovatronix SnapPower, in both 120VDC and 230VDC versions, will ship in October 2006 for US$390 + US$60 shipping, direct from the company in the Philippines. They're hoping to start retail distribution of Innovatronix products in certain regions in the near future, though it's expected that the SnapPower will be available by direct purchase before it lands at retailers. We've requested an opportunity to test the SnapPower, and we will report on our experiences with it later this fall.

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