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03-29-2007, 08:51 PM   #1
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Laptop advice

I am planning a year off to travel the world, starting in August. And, I plan to continue to take pictures, so I need a good, lightweight laptop with all the appropriate bells and whistles for processing, storing, and backing up my pictures (while doing a few other minor things along the way - like writing letters, browsing the web on wireless, etc.). Do any of you have any suggestions for what I should be looking for? I've been a pc user for the past 20 years, and all my programs are windows based, so that won't change.

Thanks for any advice you may have.

03-29-2007, 09:19 PM   #2
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Sager. They have a nice new 12" that has a hardened external case and seames to have some good specs. Its not going to be the best option for winning a photoshop processing race, but it seams to have a good overall peformance factor to weight to utility.
I have a 2 year old 4880 15" model thats got alot of bells and memory. I got it due to size, weight and battery peformance and it could handel photoshop tasks rather well... I am not using it 100% of the time as my main computer is dead, and I dont have $2500 to replace it right now (car, camera and other things all broke at the same time)
I got mine from PCtorque. Great people. good support etc.
Only real problem I have had is the Wirless card went up after 1.5 years... they do that on occasion.
good luck.
03-29-2007, 11:35 PM   #3
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I've been using Sony laptops for nearly 4 years now, and IMO they offer the best in design, portability, and performance.

My favorite model is their SZ series because it's really light, has built-in card readers, and is fast enough for intense photoshop work and other multitasking. It has a 13.3 inch screen with a resolution of 1280x800; the added pixels are a handy bonus.

As I've moved on to Vista (a new SZ with Vista, that is ), I'm selling my old (purchased last March) SZ here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographers-marketplace/5074-fs-fa-my-s...t-compact.html. It'd rather switch to fully supported hardware than to mess with drivers and other problems through an OS upgrade. The one I'm selling has a 1.83 ghz Core Duo processor- better than that of many new PCs.

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03-30-2007, 02:03 AM   #4
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Hi Betsy, I just got my new laptop last week.

Asus F9J

12" inch screen, weighing 1.9 kilogram, Core 2 Duo T5600 with 2 giga Ram, Fantastic graphic card for processing images. Everything else standard is in this notebook: webcam, SD card slot, 3 USB ports, Finger printing device for security etc.

I specificly asked for this laptop as I could do Photoshop processing relatively fast and do photo uploading, typing powerpoint presentation at the same time.

A good buy. I had no trouble carrying it around.

The monitor is Glare type LCD - 2nd lowest LCD resolution in the market

Try that one

03-30-2007, 03:26 AM   #5
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Generally the best-regarded product you can get in Australia is ASUS. Pretty competitively priced, reliable, good customer service, all round very little wrong with them. Dad is getting an F3JP soon.
04-03-2007, 10:33 AM   #6
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Hi Betsy, I don't know how sturdy you need it but we use Panasonic "Tough Books" here at work. I've seen them dropped from 5 to 6 feet and had them still work. Basically get the largest hard drive you can afford and at least 1GB of memory.

NaCl(only time I saw one die was when it hit the 3rd rail and had to deal with 600VDC)H2O
04-03-2007, 11:39 AM   #7
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I've been using IBM/Lenovo T series for about 6 years. They have all been just about bullet proof.

At work, they replaced my old IBM T23 with a new Dell Latitiude D620. The one thing I've found with the Dell, is the wide screen on a lap top is not wide enough to make any difference other than watching movies, and you loose vertical screen space. The screen just seems much smaller than a standard screen when trying to work. The Dell also seems much more fragile than my personal IBM T41.
04-03-2007, 01:14 PM   #8
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For travel (but not for main workhorse) definitely 12", if you're a backpacker type. If travel means driving around in car, then it doesn't really matter.

For what it's worth, I vote for Thinkpad too. For travel definitely an X-series (they lack the optical drive though). I myself own X60s. I'm sucker for light laptops since when I carry one, I carry all day in my backpack and I go around on foot or bike, I don't drive. While you may not notice the difference between 2,3 and 2 kg, you will definitely notice a difference between 1,4 and 2 kg when it's you who has to lug it around, not your car. My laptop with power brick is lighter to carry around than my K100D + external flash.

I get to regularily test laptops and while I may be partial to Thinkpads (have owned/used about 5 of them), I've seen just one or two other lappies, that I'd even start to consider using instead of my current one. For example HP 12" NC2400 is also nice no-nonsense work laptop that I'd buy blindly, should I need to. But people have different needs, and have different areas of pickiness.

Whichever brand you choose, when you look for travel laptop, consider following points before deciding. These may or may not apply to you, depending on what type of traveller you are.
1. Does the lid close completely and tightly? When travelling, all sorts of things make it into your bag and when laptop case doesn't seal off the keyboard you'll end up with stuff getting in between screen and keyboard. And that IS NOT nice. Thinkpads have a lid that protects the space between keyboard and mouse from all sides, some other brands have more or less similar protection, check it by looking at closed lid from each side.

2. Can you place the laptop on each of the four sides or is one side more vulnerable than others? It's not a problem when you use dedicated carrying case, but when not, it may be a problem, when in order to pack effectively you need to place laptop not horizontally but vertically. Or vice versa. Or upside down. Can your laptop handle that or are there any bumps which take it out of balance, or any fragile thingies that can break off or give in?

3. Can you lift it or open it with one hand only? I usually have time to carry my laptop with care at home or at work, but when I'm on the road - internet cafe, a bus, an airport etc - I may only have one free hand to lift it or carry it, while other is holding bags/coffe/tickets/etc. Is the case too slippery? Is the weight distiribution good for you? Can you open it with one hand only?

4. Can you use it comfortably on your lap as opposed to using it on desk? Some laptops have really bad weight distribution with open lid and tend to fall back or forth, when you're using them at an angle (on your knees, with feet put up or curled under your).

5. Does it have neccessary number of ports/slots? Does it have a memory card reader you need (SD-slot, for example)?

6. Can you write on it using it on your lap? Some models are just plain uncomfortable for that, be sure to try it out. Can you use the pointing device while using the laptop on your lap? For most people touchpad seems to be more convenient when working on desk, but trackpoint, when working in confined spaces or on lap.

7. Is the screen readable under various conditions you might encounter? Reflective screens are great when you can control the lighting, but suck, when you have glaring lights from behind and sides.

8. Does it have ventilation holes on the side or underside? If hot air is blown out from underside it's usually not a problem when laptop is on hard surface (desk), but is plain suicidal, when you use on soft surfaces like blanket, lap, hotel bed, on top of your bag etc.

9. Does it have unconditional international warranty? What do you need have/prove when you go into repair abroad? Is the model number enough or do you need any other certificates or proofs of ownership? Are warranty conditions different for different problems (broken case corner treated differently than not working cd-drive?). It may vary wildly between manufacturers. Thinkpads, for example, have unconditional warranty, things under warranty will be replaced/repaired with no questions asked. Some manufacturers are known to point a finger on you first and repair later. While you may have time to argue with them when you're at home, you don't want that hassle and may not have the time while on road. Warranty conditions also vary within manufacturers different models, the line typically being drawn between consumer and business models. Find out before committing.
There are probably other things you should consider, but these are first from top of my head, based on my own experience. Your mileage may vary.


Last edited by aabram; 04-03-2007 at 10:50 PM.
04-03-2007, 09:36 PM   #9
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Thanks all - I've got a ton of homework to do! I appreciate all the suggestions, and especially aabram's lengthy post. Lots to think about.
04-03-2007, 11:46 PM   #10
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I'll vouch for Apple (I have a macbook pro myself) and ASUS laptops, can't go wrong with either one, especially now that Apple's improved their Macbooks after the first generation weirdness.

ASUS also makes Apple's laptops, so technically I'm only recommending ASUS made stuff here.

Cheers!
-Asad
04-04-2007, 05:12 AM   #11
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I would also say Asus for a little one, and if I wass buying myself..

Personally I use a fully optioned Dell Inspiron 9400.. It is great for photoshop with the 17" widescreen. but terrible for travel due to the size.. but work laptop so can't complain..
04-04-2007, 05:39 AM   #12
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Lots of great suggestions - I am a fan of Sony / IBM as well. Have a look at LG as well. There are enough recommedations here and if you wait unitl late summer you just get more for about the same amount of $$

All Iwanted to say is avoid Acer. I had a TM8104 and for the two years I used it (almost every day with some travel) it was great. Then the LCD died on me. I know it may have just been a lemon - but my previous Dell lasted 4 years and if I fixed the pins in the power connector it would still work.

Currently using an HP DV9060 (as the Acer was cost prohibitive to fix) - it has great specs - not what you are looking for though as 17" monitor brings the weight way up there.
04-04-2007, 10:59 PM   #13
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I'm with Asad on this one - get a Macbook (or Pro if you really need the extra screen space). I have a MBPro and I have to admit that I have to handle it with much more care than the MB - I don't want scratches. The MBPro may not be the best to travel with... 1 GB of RAM is a minimum

You can use either BootCamp or Parallels to run Windows XP and your current apps on the Intel based Macbook. Works very well.

If you are getting a Windows only laptop, 3 of the ultra-mobile laptop lines that I have used and liked are:

1) Fujitsu Lifebook (solid little computer)
2) Toshiba Portege
3) Panasonic Toughbook (this is a very ruggedly built line of computers)

I just took a look at the Lenovo v series 12 inch widescreen. Nice computer but the widescreen, like Roscot said, seems like a waste of vertical space on such a small screen.
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