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02-03-2010, 04:56 PM   #1
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Laptop recommendation

My X61 tablet is getting long in the tooth (I'm about to replace the fan...), and I've been looking at getting a regular laptop for more photo- and video-processing power. I'm trying to balance power, battery life, display, and design here. Some contenders:

Macbook Pro 15/17": good battery life, great design, display kind of sucks (TN panel, poor viewing angles, may be overly saturated and contrasty, not the best resolution for the 15").
Dell XPS Studio 16: battery life not great, okay design, can get an AMAZING RGBLED display (high res too 1920x1200 or whatever).
HP Elitebook 8400/8500: battery life seems okay, not a great design, I think you can get a decent display with good resolution on this

Been a Windows user my whole life, but with multi-touch OS X also looks appealing, particularly given that iMovie comes free and there are no similarly featured free programs on Windows (surprisingly).

Any thoughts? I'm surprised so many fashion photographers use Macbook Pros, given the rather not good LCD displays they have on them.

02-03-2010, 05:28 PM   #2
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Personally I think HP's are garbage. I've never had a laptop I hated more. Dell seems good. At least my desktop is. And I hate smacs.
02-03-2010, 05:49 PM   #3
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Macs all the way. Iíve used both for 10+ years between work and home, and thereís no way Iíll ever be buying a another windows laptop on my own coin. I find the Macbooks better in every way.
02-03-2010, 05:57 PM   #4
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HP and Dell laptops can be great if you buy the right ones. That is to say, don't buy the consumer versions you find at Best Buy if you want the best. That's not the market they're pushing at BB.

EliteBook is part of HP's business line and as such extremely good overall. You can buy them with fantastic specs and excellent warranties backed by a solid service department. Buy the W series and you will get a solid mobile workstation - check out the HP 8730W series and try customizing it - lots of good options there including Quadro or FireGL video, top of the line CPUs, 16 GB RAM, and even AdobeRGB displays. Dell Workstations offer the same features.

As far as Macs, all I can say is that in general, if you spend the right money they are great machines, otherwise the lower end models are just as crippled and crappy as any other. My wife works with Macs in a graphic design department at a local publication - if you want to see her rant, ask her about underpowered Macs and she'll go on about it getting crushed under the weight of multiple Adobe CS4 apps.


Last edited by George Lama; 02-03-2010 at 06:04 PM.
02-04-2010, 06:27 AM   #5
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sony

I been using a sony vgn-fw560f the last few months. Its been doing a great job so far.
02-04-2010, 06:56 AM   #6
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I have had several Laptops over the years , Dells, Acer, HP and Sony. My current workhorse is a tank Dell XPS M1730.

Pros: Great Display, Dual Hard Drives (installed 2nd myslef), Good Power
Cons: Heavy beast power invertor alone is almost the size of an XBOX360, goes without saying battery life is an oxymoron (think I squeezed almost an hour once). Price was over $2k (about 18 months ago)

My take on the others:

Acer TravleMate : Good price, however LCD died on me about a month after warrenty will never buy another Acer

HP Pavillion: Was good for the price , took a lot of abuse however cheap plastic hinges at the LCD eventually cracked , I would buy another HP (just be a little more carefull on those hinges)

Sony - bought one for my Daughter just before Christmas - 64bit, Win 7, Light , great display, lots of HD space, average battery LIFE (2 - 3 Hours), decent price (about $1k)

So for me top end Dell while a little more money is worth it. Durability is key as well as stability (ordered it with XP - may move to Win 7 as soon as I can get all the work stuff to work) . Buy the extra memory and Hard drive yourslef - Dell charges too much. The down side is I'll bet it is 10lbs or so with the power adapter and really you can't go far without it

A great resoruce for these types of questions is : Laptop Forums and Notebook Computer Discussion
02-04-2010, 09:01 AM   #7
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There is an interesting article on Anandtech: AnandTech: Intel Core 2 CULV Roundup: Who Needs Atom?
It is focused on low power cpu's (long battery life) laptops.

- Bert
02-04-2010, 09:21 AM   #8
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Here's the truth, laptops that can do photo editing are too freakin big to be laptops. i just DON'T GET 17 inch screens on laptops, that's a lot of laptop to lug about.

IMHO the future of computing and cell phones is docking, I use a docking system to integrate my work, home and photography life.

I use a lenovo machine with a 14 inch, 1400*900 screen. I dock it at work on a larger screen and dock it at home on a 21 inch Dell S-IPS screen ideal for photo editing.

I have my images with me no matter where i am, i have my work with me no matter where i am ...... the two are integrated fully. I load, organise and delete on my laptop whilst watching TV and just leave the serious editing for my larger screen when the laptop acts as a desktop.

Naturally with this system backing up is vital and i do it daily, takes about 60 seconds.

02-04-2010, 10:29 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alfisti Quote
Here's the truth, laptops that can do photo editing are too freakin big to be laptops. i just DON'T GET 17 inch screens on laptops, that's a lot of laptop to lug about.<snip[>.
I use to have this opinion then realized I am not a road warrior away 200 days a year. The 3 or 4 trips I may make a year it's not that inconvenient lugging around the beast. YMMV
02-04-2010, 11:44 AM   #10
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I have a decent external monitor that I use for more sensitive projects. I'm really hoping for a display upgrade on the Macbook Pros in the next refresh (should be due soon). The only thing that I really wish the MBP 15" had was a higher resolution screen and better viewing angles. Then it would be perfect (except for the price tag...).
02-04-2010, 12:10 PM   #11
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Microcenter currently has a $200 rebate on $1000 Macbooks, for in-store pickup only. If there is a Microcenter nearby, and you can live with the white model -- Apple stopped making black macbooks -- it's a very good deal. I'd get it over Macbook Pro.

I don't like the DELL XPS laptops. The Latitude series is better made (magnesium base), and comes with 3-yr on-site warranty.

Toshiba laptops used to be great and solidly built. I have a 7yr old model that's refusing to die, have never crashed either! My father's 4yr+ old model is still running strong. The recent, cheaper models feels flimsy, however. I'd stick to mid-to-high priced models. Same with Lenovo -- probably best to avoid those sub-$600 models.

I've been using a VAIO Z series 13.3" laptop for the 3 years. Pricey, ~$1800 now-a-days, but well-built yet light, a good screen, and comes with an additional, discreet graphics card. I run PPL and RawTherapee on it all the time. Best to buy extended warranty if you are paying that much for a laptop, IMHO.
02-04-2010, 03:51 PM   #12
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Any good stores with a full laptop line-up? It'd be helpful to see these computers in person. I went to Fry's, but they were mostly full of consumer laptops. At least there's an Apple and Sony store nearby me.
02-04-2010, 04:03 PM   #13
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I use a Macbook Pro (the 2.2GHz one once updated to penryn 45nm). I have no issues whatsoever except the battery life has screwed me and I need a new one. Screw it. I keep it plugged in.

The new ones are even more powerful and to get around the screen issues, I just bought a DVI-HDMI cable (cost $15) and hook it up to my 46" LCD HDTV. Works flawlessly.

I don't think I could go back to windows now, but windows 7 has showed much more promise (compared to Vista

-oh and one thing that sucks is the warranty: limited one-year but mac os' functionality is wonderful when using multiple windows in photoshop, iphoto... etc. -
02-04-2010, 05:22 PM   #14
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Another vote I'm afraid for the macbook pro.
02-04-2010, 06:28 PM   #15
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Krypticide, sadly there aren't too many options anymore for laptop shopping onsite. Best Buy and Fry's are the largest outlets with decent selection. Office Depot/Office Max/Staples used to have decent choices but good luck finding much inventory at the stores.

Dell, Sony, Apple stores exist in a few malls so that might also be an option.
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