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Thread: Travel Laptop

  1. #1
    Super Duper
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    Travel Laptop

    Hi,

    I commute to work via a 5 hour plane ride, I live in Jerusalem and work in the UK. I have a good Toshiba laptop but it's heavy, big and the batteries are good for only about 1.2 hours each. I have my hand luggage weighed and weight is a real issue nevermind the annoyance of changing battery every hour or so.

    I'm looking for a small and light laptop which has the availability of using 4hr+ batteries. Weight would need to be <1.5kg. I need a dual core 2ghz+ with 3-4 gig ram. 120 or so gig HD. Wireless internet and preferably a built in cam for talking to my wife with! I don't care about the screen, when in the UK I have it plugged into a big monitor.

    Is there anything affordable out there which comes under these specs? I've had bad experiences with both Dell and HP and won't touch them.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 24th August 2008 at 02:20.
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Mac.

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    I knew someone would say that! My brother has the latest one and it's nice, however I'm looking for cheaper if possible and I'm a PC man so I would look for a native and cheaper PC model rather than a mac.

    Doing some searching around I see the age of the mini laptop is about to arrive. The specs are not that great yet but the time will come, should be interesting!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Ben,
    If you can hold on a bit longer, there may be some new models hitting the market soon that take advantage of Intel's newer chips for more computing power, while also being less power hungry on batteries. Apple may be coming out with a revamp of their lines, and though you say that you are more PC geared, Macs will let you do everything that PCs do, including run PC software via Bootcamp or VMWare Fusion.

    There should also be a new crop of smaller laptops coming from Toshiba and others, as they are jumping on the smaller/lighter/faster trend again also. That being said, it is still worth looking at the MacBooks when they arrive, as contrary to popular belief, they pack more into them for less than almost all equivalent PC laptops. Not trying to push the Macs, though they are the only machines I will use anymore, but they are strong and very reliable, and the rumored new models may really fit your needs for size, power and battery life.

    LJ

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Been looking at prices and for the power consumption (6 hour battery) and size those macbooks are actually pretty fairly priced relative to the market. Hadn't realised that. Might be worth waiting and buying 2nd hand when newer models come out, is a MacBook a good 2nd hand prospect? One thing that really impressed me with the Macbook is the price my brother paid for a 3 year worldwide Mac warranty!
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Ben,
    Not sure how things work outside the US with Apple, but here there is a section in their Web store for "refurbed" models. There will be an increasing number of these coming available as new models are rolled out soon, so it may be worth checking on this also. They are essentially like new machines, and carry good warranties, plus have the worldwide extended warranty option also. As for buying second hand from somebody....that is always an option, but have no idea what that market is like, as most folks I know tend to hang onto their machines for a much longer time than any PC. Worth keeping an eye out. Also, one can buy a model with smaller HD and less RAM and upgrade both from third party sources for a lot less cost than Apple's offerings for a tricked out unit. Lots of options. Good luck with your decisions.

    LJ

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Thanks LJ. My father is about to start a lecture tour of the states to promote his new book, he is over there about 3 times a year so I can think US prices. I'm going to keep an ear out...
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    I would say Mac in a second but if PC user than i would look at Sony. The make some nice small , lightweight laptops. BTW you can run Windows on a Mac very easily with Fusion
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    While you may have had a bad experience with Dell laptops in past, I would still recommend taking a look at their Lattitude series. I've had 4 since 1998 and have only had one problem (on the first one). I had a motherboard go bad, made a two minute phone call to (US-based) tech support who picked up on the second ring, and had a tech show up at my office with a new MOBO the next morning. I like Dell's standard 3 year, next business day on-site warranty, which you get when you buy business-grade machines. Stay as far away from their consumer products as possible, like the Inspirons and the like. The Latitudes are just in a different class, as are the Precision workstations on the desktop side.

    Their new Montevino-based Latitudes boast 9 hour battery life with the 9 cell battery. You can actually get up to 19 hours by adding their new battery slice, which sits underneath the computer. The E6400 is a 14.1" deal that weighs 4.3 lbs, the E6500 is the 15.4" model weighing 5.2 lbs, and on the smaller side there is 3.3 lbs 13.3" E4300. All of them have magnesium cases, LED backlit screens, take up to 8GB RAM, have free-fall HD protection, security features like fingerprint scanners/smart card readers, Express Card slots, firewire, built-in EVDO/GPRS antenna, etc.

    I know how sexy the MacBook Pros are. This is just another option for those looking for a PC alternative. Everything in our business is PC-based, from our database servers and RAID storage arrays to our lab printing software and retail billing system. So, for me, staying PC is fine and I have no problems. My 2-year old laptop runnig XP Pro (that I'm typing on right now) hasn't been rebooted in weeks. My servers at work haven't been rebooted in over a year. YMMV.

    David
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Their new Montevino-based Latitudes boast 9 hour battery life with the 9 cell battery. You can actually get up to 19 hours by adding their new battery slice, which sits underneath the computer. The E6400 is a 14.1" deal that weighs 4.3 lbs, the E6500 is the 15.4" model weighing 5.2 lbs, and on the smaller side there is 3.3 lbs 13.3" E4300. All of them have magnesium cases, LED backlit screens, take up to 8GB RAM, have free-fall HD protection, security features like fingerprint scanners/smart card readers, Express Card slots, firewire, built-in EVDO/GPRS antenna, etc.
    They don't seem to have been released yet as per the website, I'm looking at the E4300 and as such there isn't any pricing or processor speed info. Can you help?

    Have to admit that I haven't had any experience with Dell but I had to return three HP laptops before I gave up and switched to Toshiba which has worked perfectly. Given that HP is usually considered to be a step up from Dell I had been worried. Do Dell have a worldwide warranty option?
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 24th August 2008 at 07:30.
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Ben,

    I've never heard very good things about HP and have stayed away from them myself. Dell is so much nicer in terms of design and specs. To hear that HP is "a step up" is news to me. Not sure about the worldwide warranty.

    The E6400 and E6500 were just released last week. The E4300 is about a week away I think. Currently, I'm personally trying to decide between these three so I have a nice new (long-lasting and lightweight) laptop for my trip to Photokina.

    David
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Have to hope the price is competitive, if it's the same as the Mac, that warranty and quality is hard to argue with.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    It should be competitvely priced. Fully speced out and loaded I came up to about $1800-$2000 for the E6500. This is $500-700 less than the 15" MacBook Pro. Not too shabby. But, I do generally buy my own larger HD and swap it out with the stock one. This is very easy on the Dell - there are two screws on the bottom, that once taken out, allow you to slide the HD tray out without taking the whole thinig apart. Slide in a new drive and you're good to go. Use Acronis True Image s/w to mirror the original HD first, though.

    David
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    If I were to buy a macbook to run windows on, how much is the software (fusion or is there something called bootcamp?) to do it with? There is only one mouse button on under the touchpad, how would I right click? Does the 'option' button default to the windows equivelent, etc?

    *EDIT, just did a search and had a look at how Bootcamp works. Not very well actually. Can't use built in webcam, right click is a serious pain, etc. Hmmm.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 24th August 2008 at 13:11.
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    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    You can right click on a Mac and Fusion is a 80 dollar program. Yes option
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    On a Macbook, two fingers on the pad and click equals right-click, or you can plug in a regular mouse and get it . Seriously, the "adjustment period" coming from PC is like 2 days -- and after two days, you'll never want to go back to PC again. The software changeover is the biggest hassle.
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    There is also Parallels which has a very nice wizard for setting up your Windows VM's quickly and easily. The only thing with any of these solutions (Bootcamp included) is that you need an installable copy of Windows (OEM or retail) in oder to create the VM. The restore CD/DVD that ships with most PC's won't due because that is a "ghost" image of the manufacturers' standard software configuration for a particular PC/laptop model.

    Regarding David's comment on HP laptops. I and my staff have tested several newer model HP laptops (from the tiny tx1000 to the humungous 20" Dragon) and I can professionally report that HP's quality has improved considerably. Just order a CarePack for any HP kit and you will get top-notch service.

    Lenovo recently announced the Thinkpad W700, a 17" 3.8kg behemoth that is geared to digital photographers. It even includes a Wacom tablet and Huey Pro color calibrator built-in. I and many others feel this is a step in the right direction just that the form factor is more "desktop replacement" than "mobile darkroom".

    I can report that AMD and Intel are both working on hybrid (CPU/GPU) systems which promise amazing battery life and performance.
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Thing is that all my software is PC and I've never liked the look of OS...
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Ben,Check out the Voodoo Envy 133 laptop. Carbon fibre shell, all the features you want. Weighs less than 1kg. http://www.voodoopc.com
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Upcoming Thinkpad X200 from Lenovo looks quite interesting. Not sure if it started shipping yet. Trackpoint only, so it's not for everyone (especially not Jack ).

    X300 is of course great but too expensive with the SSD disk.

    Either way, make sure you get two batteries, and as you say, at least 4 hrs each.

    Also keep in mind that (some) batteries fade a lot over the first year - expect a 30-40% drop in capacity.
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    My travel laptop is a Dell XPS M1330, dual core 1.66 GHz 4 GB Ram 136 GB Disk. I’ve been getting decent battery life but I also have a 12volt adapter. Dell offers a universal power adapter that you can use on airplanes as well.

    I like Dell products and have gotten very good use from them. The replacement to this will be Dell’s newer laptop with 8GB Ram but no time soon.

    BTW, the screen maybe on the small size but so is the weight. I used this laptop on my recent trip to Alaska using it to check email, keeping up on our blog, and previewing our images after saving to external drives.

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    I would look at a Lenovo Thinkpad or Fujitsu. Personally I prefer Macs but if you don't want to go that route look at these brands.

  23. #23
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    Re: Travel Laptop

    Quote Originally Posted by losta View Post
    I would look at a Lenovo Thinkpad or Fujitsu. Personally I prefer Macs but if you don't want to go that route look at these brands.

    Both Lenovo and Fujitsu have nice machines. The Lenovo is not a light-weight, heavy but well made. Doesn't matter if someone is able to keep a Toshiba alive with a 5-hr commute.

    Fujitsu, Sony, Toshiba and other Japanese manfrs make 3/4 and 1/2 size laptops. You don't get a full-size keyboard, it's scaled down to 3/4 or 1/2 size, too. I see them use frequently, common with Japanese businessmen that travel, Fujitsu and Sony being the most common I see with them. I have never looked at them, could be they are products intended for Japan/Asia and would have a different keyboard. (Japanese keyboards drive me nuts!)

    Overwhelmingly, the most common laptop with business travelers that I see in the airline lounges is Lenovo/IBM. At times, American Airline's lounge can look like a friggin' Lenovo commercial! Very rarely see Apply laptops. But keep in mind that the lounges are not accessible to most travelers, usually execs and folks traveling on sky miles, executive class and 1st class travelers only.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    If I were to buy a macbook to run windows on, how much is the software (fusion or is there something called bootcamp?) to do it with?
    I would not go there. If you are considering an Apple product, also consider using it with the Apple OS. The two go together very well. That is what made Apple what it is. Microsoft has issued a warning that the use of Windows on Apple machines is a security risk when online, and has recommended NOT using Windows on an Apple machine if accessing the web.

    Here's the latest MS warning regarding Windows XP or Vista and Apple's Safari on the same machine:

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sec...ry/953818.mspx





    ETA: Lenovo is just entering the sub or mini-laptop market. Take a look at this:

    http://gizmodo.com/5038653/lenovos-s...n-just-in-time

    Priced at 280-320 in the UK.
    Last edited by Oxide Blu; 28th August 2008 at 02:04.

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    Re: Travel Laptop

    To underscore what Oxide Blue is saying, I do see a large number of Lenovo laptops in Europe and the US, but the closer to Japan I get the more the mix shifts to Sony, Fujitsu and Panasonic. I’ve had the fortune of getting to work with a large number of laptops and I keep coming back to the Let’s Note series, but everyone has their favorites. Use your favorite web translator to check out: http://panasonic.jp/pc/products/w7d/index.html.

    Like almost all of the laptops today, this uses an Intel based motherboard with the 965 chipset and the core components are essentially the same. I should call out that Panasonic does sell these in the US under the Toughbook name, but they are not the same systems they sell in Japan. The Japanese laptop market is much different than the US market, and priced accordingly.

    Among things I like about the Panasonic include:
    -- Light & sturdy
    I’ve been banging mine around the world with next to no padding in carry-on for a while.
    -- Battery Life
    I have made it from SeaTac airport to Heathrow on one battery a number of time. Granted I turned down LCD and turned off the optical drive and WiFi radio
    -- SDHD slot
    I’ve had 8Gig SD cards in the laptop for a while now

    Things I don’t like are:
    -- Japanese / International English keyboard
    I have been using this http://www.randyrants.com/sharpkeys/ to remap the keyboard and it helps. I have also considered buying a replacement keyboard for a US model, but never got that irritated with the layout.
    -- Memory controller limits the system to 2Gigs.
    Some Lenovo’s can sport two 2Gig sticks of RAM for a total of four gigs – only an issue if you are running Windows x64 (which I am,).
    -- Analog modem
    Haven’t needed one of these for years

    Things that don’t sway me one way or another:
    -- Liquid resistance keyboards
    Panasonic makes a big deal about the ability have liquid (water, coffee, etc…) hit the keyboard and route out the bottom. So far, knock on wood, in my number of times of spilling liquid on any keyboard I count my thumbs
    -- Ability to get different color systems
    Some like the option, but doesn’t suit me too much

    Of the Panasonic line, there are four different models:

    -- R
    This is the smallest of the units; I love the concept and think I’d have gotten used to it if I had given it a little more of a chance. But for the two weeks I used it I just couldn’t get my fingers used to the smaller keyboard. The lack of optical drive didn’t concern me, and the unit I had was lined up with a 120G SATA drive, so I had plenty of space on the system.

    -- T / W
    These two units are essentially the same: T has no optical & supports a touch screen, and the W has DVD burner on it.

    -- Y
    The Y series is a larger system and has a nicer feel on the keyboard as well as the ability to jump up screen resolution to SXGA resolutions. But oddly this only has two USB ports (while the T/W have three).
    Last edited by MrSlezak; 31st August 2008 at 07:58.
    -- M.

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