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Thread: Portable laptop for photo editing

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    Portable laptop for photo editing

    Hi all,

    Firstly the disclaimers - I had a quick search but I didn't find anything that looked relevent - sorry if I've missed something obvious! Budget for this one is variable... As little as possible while getting the job done? What would be great would be a few options - e.g. if you spend 400pounds then you can get this, but at the 600 pound mark this is possible...

    I've just moved to China for a year and I'm going to need a computer of some sort - think it's time for a laptop.

    I'm a bit into the whole photography lark and I'm about to get the new 24mp A900 - that's going to produce some serious RAW files to crunch using Lightroom 2.0. I've also been known to knock up the odd stitched image - I had my old PC creaking under the strain of a 40mp panorama - luckily that was only jpgs. So I'd like some fairly serious power for photo editing.

    However all that power should be balanced by the fact that I intend to get myself a serious desktop when I return home in a year for the serious photo editing - and the fact that I'd also like this to be fairly lightweight and portable. So I'm after a real balance of power, portability and cost.

    Another important consideration for photos is the screen - something high res would be great, but even better would be to include one of the technologies that allows you to display big contrast ratios and full colour gamuts. I'm aware that they're going to ramp up the price though - so maybe an optional extra?

    I'll be storing my photo library on external HDDs, the main one of which is yet to be bought, so maybe an option for E-Sata or Firewire would be good instead of just USB 2.0? If it is to be USB then it should be highly reliable - I'm sick to the teeth of large copies bombing out with delayed write errors.

    Although the Alphas are well known for having fast mass-transfer speeds, a speedy built in card reader would be a nice addition.

    One of the thumb-print recognition devices would also go down well - I've heard they can be used for logging into websites.

    I have a slight preference for AMD products - I like to go with the underdog, but if an Intel is a much better bet, then so be it.

    I have a real preference for Vista, unless someone has a really compelling argument against it. I have to admit I'm swayed by how shiny it is - as well as the fact that my XP experience was never the best.

    I'm aware of the advantages Macs have for photo editing, but I'm going to say no this time.

    Finally, apart from Lightroom and Photoshop, I'll do a lot of web communication, play a few films, listen to music and do some academic work, so IE, Outlook, Office, Skype, MSN, maybe the odd game.

    Thanks very much for any suggestions!

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    One quick addition - wifi is obviously a must!

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Regarding the screen Lenovo are releasing a notebook with am enhanced gamut display and built in color calibrator but it is a 17 inch:

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0808/08081204thinkpad.asp

    I would personally look at any of the notebooks which have LED backlit displays as these supposedly have a higher gamut than CCFL ones.However I believe that most notebook displays are still TN types though.

    What about a 15 inch Macbook Pro?? These have LED backlit displays with a higher gamut and also are very well specced notebooks in their own. I have heard very good things about the screens they use and having seen one myself they are fantastic. You can also run Vista via dual boot too so you would not need to touch OS X!

    http://blogs.oreilly.com/lightroom/2...ook-gamut.html

    http://installingcats.com/2008/03/02...t-lcd-display/

    http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/con...id=7-8741-9027

    They are not very cheap though! The lowest model has a 2.4ghz Core2,2gb of RAM and an 8600GT graphics card but costs £1299 in the UK(including VAT):

    http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/hom...ro?mco=MTE2NjM
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 24-08-2008 at 09:57 AM.

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    How portable do you want it to be?

    12 - 13.3" or 15.4"?

    17" laptops are never really potable so I won't suggest one of those.

    I went through this sort of dilema a year ago. I wanted a portable laptop which was capable of being a desktop replacement.

    I ended up with the first version of the Dell XPS M1330, which is a peach.

    Current models can be configured up to 2.6GHz (although 2.4GHz is more cost effective), 4GB of RAM etc..
    http://configure.euro.dell.com/dells...N08X3310&s=dhs

    The screen on the model linked is the LED screen which I'm using right now and the colour repodruction on it (after a bit of tinkering with nvidia control panel) is awesome, one of the best I have Viewing angles and brightness are better than most laptops too. Only downside is it's 1280 x 800 and that is all you can get.

    It's, thin and light, it's no FPS monster in games but it can game quite happily on lower settings in most games and you can configure 7200rpm HDD's which i'm sure will help with working on RAW.

    You can get the same laptop is 15" guise under the name M1530. You can get upto 1920 x 1200 on that laptop but if the screens are CCFL and not LED then they will not look as good in any respect as the LED.

    If you want to sacrafice a bit of portability then the Dell Studio 15 can be configured with a LED screen with 1440 x 900 resolution and the same sort of CPU options as the XPS, just a bit bulkier.

    If you have a budget to make us all sick then the vaio Z series is almost perfect. It's just missing the 7200rpm drives but, size, style, power and screen are just so annoyingly nice.

    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showpr...VGNZ11MN/B.CEK)
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showpr...VGNZ11WN/B.CEK)

    1600 x 900 on a 13.1" LED screen
    Last edited by staffsMike; 24-08-2008 at 12:16 PM.

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Hi you two - thanks for those suggestions.

    The Lenovo, Macbook and Vaios are out - the Vaios and Macbook are simply too expensive and the Lenovo is too much machine - a lot of what it will do will be superseded by the desktop that I'll be after - I'm after something more portable.

    17" definately isn't portable but I reckon a 15" will do - I do like a nice screen. Under 3kg for portable? The other thing that I'd like to do is get the price down to 600 rather than 800 - 500 if it can be managed?

    A Norwegian friend found these recently:

    Packard Bell MX-52-B701
    CPU: AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile (1,8 Ghz)
    Memory: 4 Gb (DDR2)
    HDD: 320 Gb (5400rrm)
    Graphic: Integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 1200
    TFT WXGA (1280x800))
    Price 4995 NOK ($1000)

    Acer Aspire 5715Z
    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T2390 (1,86 Ghz)
    Memory 3 Gb (DDR2)
    Harddisk : 320 GB
    Intel® Graphic Media Accelerator X3100
    TFT WXGA (1280x800))
    Price 4995 NOK ($1000)

    What do I lose with these that the 850 pound Dell has? Just the CPU speed? I know the above have matte screens - are glossy ones better? How much is that drop in CPU likely to effect a Lightroom session?

    Cheers all

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Another question - back home I'm a big fan of a clean format and installing as little as possible. I've never really had pre-built machines before - are they likely to come laden with cr@pware? Is there anything I can do about this? A lot of them seem to come with MS works - I'm not going to want that installing as I've already got a copy of Office Ultimate to install - is it reccomended to start with a reformat?

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Just use something like CCleaner to get rid of the pre-installed crap. Those Dells look good value for money. I think that you should definitely go for a notebook with an LED backlit as these will be far better for photo work. If you can live with a poorer screen I suggest you look at some of the MSI 12.1" notebooks like the PR210 or something like the Toshiba U300 or U400 which have a 13.3" screens. Matt screens are better for photo work as glossy screens tend to show a lot of reflections. The latter are better for watching films though!

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Packard Bell are a nightmare, Acer have terrible after care and are never really built that well either.
    They are usually below par or at best OK laptops. The two above only have itegrated graphics, probably naff screens and poor keyboards. All the things you don't want in a laptop because they can't be changed.

    if you go for this
    http://configure.euro.dell.com/dells...N0853508&s=dhs

    it's £500 to start with, if you add the LED screen and a 2.0GHz CPU it comes to £600

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Agreed with Mike on the Studio (or XPS - essentially the same laptops). They're not particularly light, though they're lighter than the Vostros. They do come with a handy choice of screen resolutions though. Get the 1440x900 one if you can. The recent 15" Dell 1680x1050 screens are of awful quality.

    Don't agree on the Acer "terrible after care". We've got loads of Acers at work, and 3 have had problems (literally 3 out of ~70 in the past 6 years, and they're used by kids, so they're not that poorly built), and in both instances I spent a minimum amount of time on the phone (longest RMA call was 10min, including the wait, and it was a guy in Britain who dealt with all queries, though 1 was Scottish ) and the actual repair took 10 days from collection to return.

    Having heard previous tales of their care service (though no actual examples I should add), I was rather dubious, but I'd call that pretty damn impressive. In my opinion they're one of those companies who have a reputation which goes before actual experience. In practice for me, after Logitech and Kustom PCs, they've the best after sales or warranty service I've experienced.

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Thanks for the replies guys.

    I'll start looking seriously at options in about a week's time and I'll let you know what I settle on. The Dell studio looks like a leading contender at the moment

    Cheers,

    Adam

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Hi again everyone. I've arrived in Beijing now and I'm doing some shopping based on your recommendations.

    Can anyone offer their thoughts on the following specs? I've had to drop the WLED screen - it just seems to blow the budget - along with a 9 cell battery that I had my eye on. Here's what I've been offered so far in order of preference:

    LG RD405
    CPU T5750 - 2.2ghz
    4gb RAM
    120GB HDD
    Dedicated gfx (I forget which one right now - sorry!)
    14' screen
    6000 RMB = GBP500

    Lenovo - forget the model
    T5750 (2ghz)
    2gb RAM
    250GB HDD
    14' LCD
    5450RMB = GBP450

    Dell Vostro
    T7250
    2GB RAM
    160gb HDD
    Geforce 8400 128mb
    5650RMB = GBP 470

    Acer 4720
    T2370
    2gb RAM
    120GB HDD
    14'
    5100RMB = GBP425

    I'll go in tomorrow and get the missing details from those laptops along with more hunting, but I'd love some initial thoughts so I can go in armed. A couple of things - a lot of those Intel CPUs have very different model numbers but the same speed - higher is better? What tech makes up the difference?

    Also I'm going to have to specify English rather than Chinese Vista - is there any particular version I should go for? I'm not really a poweruser but one thing that could come in handy would be the ability to access a networked external HDD through the internet - not sure if that'll need any extra tech. Anything I should be looking for in an upgraded version.

    The LG lappie seems highly specced - 2 things. Would I be better dropping the spec a little and adding more RAM afterwards? And with LG not distributing in the UK does anyone forsee any problems there? It also comes with 4gb RAM - will 32bit Vista be able to access that? I'm really liking this one - the machine itself seems excellent - very well built. Not powered it up yet but I'll give it a really good going over tomorrow - I remember it does have dedicated gfx - just can't quite remember which one.

    Thanks very much guys - all the advice previously made my first day very productive - it's hard enough doing the whole thing in Chinese without knowing what I'm really looking for!

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    I've never had a chance to play with LG laptops. Certain come with decent enough specs but I couldn't comment on anything else.

    Which lenovo model is it? They can vary quite a bit these days, it's not like the old IBM days.

    Also which Dell is it, vostro 1510? Careful with the matte screens, they can be awful on dells. Do they have the Studio?

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Discount that Acer. It's pretty poor value stood next to the rest.

    LG looks good going off the spec (like Mike I've never seen one in the flesh though). 4GB will be loved by SuperFetch, and if you work with decent-sized images, Photoshop too.

    Most Lenovos are still held in very high regard, and there are some cracking deals around on some here.

    Dell seems fairly standard too. They don't offer the same level of deals they once did on the Vostros though.

    I'd grab the Lenovo personally, especially at the price. It's the safe bet. LG looks good if you fancy something a bit different to others.

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    Hi all,

    Went back in again today and asked more questions. Here's the full specs on the LG:

    LG RD 405
    T5750 2.2ghz
    4gb RAM
    120gb 5400RPM HDD
    14' 1280x800 screen
    and then the potential killer....
    ATI Xpress 1250 128mb Gfx.

    Is that good enough? I'm not going to be doing much gaming but I would like something that could handle say a bit of Civilisation or Homeworld 2, maybe C&C Gens for my downtime... I guess if the gfx is going to negatively effect the rest of the system then I'd rather go elsewhere, if not and it's just going to stop me from doing serious gaming then I'm fine with that. Will it handle Lightroom and Photoshop?

    Failing that I can get the Dell Studio 15' that's reccomended in the recent laptop buying guide for 7000RMB - 585 GBP - that's straight off the Dell China website. Expensive!

    I can also go back and look at the Lenovo.

    One major hurdle is that I'm not going to be able to get an official English version of Vista - it's either Chinese, copied or an extra 3000 RMB - 250GPB. I guess I could go with an official Chinese version for the moment and then have an English version shipped out - what would a suitable version of Vista cost me?

    Cheers again!

    Adam

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    StaffsMike - it's the Vostro 1400. Where does that stand? It is starting to look like a better bet tbh - much meatier gfx and I can use some of the price difference to add 3gb more RAM.

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    Re: Portable laptop for photo editing

    The 1400 is pretty nice yeah. Very compact really and a nice solid magnesium alloy body as I remember, so it's rugged.

    Careful with the screen as I said though, make sure it's a true life or you're probably not going to be very happy. I havn't tried all the vostro matte screens but the latitudes of the same time were awful, green looked grey.

    The LG will handle most 2D things very nicely. The onboard graphics is going to suck for gaming though, even at low res.

    Lenovo still sounds nice, good spec, should be good quality and almost always very rugged for business use.

    You can get Vista Home Premium here for £60 OEM. Shame about the Studio 15, they are about £450 (with a 10% discount applied) right now for decent specs here.

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