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Lightning! et the Surface

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#1 mmalik

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 12:38 PM

New 'Wire...' for SkySafari is out; I wish a Windows version of SkySafari is made as well. I like Microsoft Surface... better than Apple iPad; and the new dock... for Surface is rock solid with USB2, USB3, Ethernet, & more ports.... Regards


Note: Old 'Wire...'

#2 mmalik

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 02:30 AM

New Surfaces at a glance:

..........................Surface Pro 2..............................Surface 2
Size....................274.5 x 173 x 13.5 (mm).................274 x 171 x 8.9 (mm)
Weight..................907g........................................680g
Screen..................10.6-inch ClearType HD.............10.6-inch ClearType Full HD
Resolution..............1920×1080 pixels....................1920×1080 pixels
OS......................Windows 8.1 Pro.........................Windows RT 8.1
Storage.................64, 128, 256, or 512GB..............32 or 64GB
SD Card Slot............Yes......................................Yes
Ports....................USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort............USB 3.0, HD video out
Processor..............Intel Core i5 (Haswell)..............Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4
RAM....................4 or 8GB.......................................2GB
Connectivity...........Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)...............Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Camera.................Front 1.2MP, Rear 1.2MP...............Front 3.5MP, Rear 5MP
Bluetooth..............Yes, version 4.0...........................Yes, version 4.0
Battery................7-8 hours of use.............................10 hours of use
Charger................Micro USB..................................Micro USB
Price.....................$900+.......................................$450+

IMPORTANT: Surface Pro 2 runs Windows 8.1 Pro while Surface 2 runs Windows 8.1 RT; this means the Pro 2 can run Windows desktop applications, while the standard Surface 2 cannot.

I think Pro 2 has a great potential of being an AP tool for acquisition but will require docking... for devices needing USB2 ports; your thoughts?

#3 Thirteen

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 08:55 AM

I have recently considered the pro2 surface instead of a laptop for AP. Since it runs the full version of 8.1, it leads me to believe it would support all the software. Could you explain why the dock is required? Seems like USB3 port would support a standard hub for all your USB2 devices.

Seems like a lightweight / portable solution for AP but a little pricey compared to a laptop with the same specs.

#4 mmalik

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 10:59 AM

Could you explain why the dock is required? Seems like USB3 port would support a standard hub for all your USB2 devices.


Not required but there are situations where, e.g., some guide camera/PHD configurations, native USB2 port is required. In all my testing I have NOT been able to guide using USB3 port. For all other scenarios where USB2 is not a requirement, yes one can get by with onboard USB3 on Pro 2. Regards

#5 mmalik

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 03:26 AM

Retina display of iPad and Surface Pro 2 have display resolution of 2048x1536 and 1920x1080, respectively.

Those resolutions pale in comparison to 3200x1800 QHD+ resolution of Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. Although Book 9 Plus may be somewhat of a middle of the road between acquisition and processing machine, its light weight, stunning display, sleek design, and touch screen have some good uses for AP. ONE major drawback I see with Book 9 Plus is that it only has USB3 ports, somewhat of a show stopper as a guiding machine. Book 9 Plus comes in two flavors, 4GB/128GB/i5... and 8GB/256GB/i7.... Regards

#6 guyroch

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 03:18 PM

I just got the Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 with 8 GIG of memory and 512 GIG SSD. It has a 3200x1800 resolution as well. Awesome little beast. Windows 8 really starts to make sense when you have a touch screen.

Guylain

#7 mmalik

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 04:50 PM

Congrats; according to specs..., Yoga 2 Pro has 1xUSB3 and 1xUSB2 which is great as it makes it even better/cheaper acquisition contender than Book 9 Plus. Regards

#8 mmalik

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 04:01 AM

Well, my quest for a decent mount-side acquisition machine has been shaping up like as follows:

Microsoft Surface Pro 2 may be a compact little thing but requires dock to avail USB2 ports needed for guiding which makes it a very bulky, almost un-manageable device by the mount-side. Screen resolution is also not that great at 1920×1080 pixels (in comparison to QHD+)

I have been looking at Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus but problem with that machine is that it only has USB3 ports. It has QHD+ at 3200x1800 pixels which is great. If Book 9 Plus had a USB2 port, it would have topped my list.

I didn't know much about Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro until Guy mentioned it. This one seems to have USB2 and USB3 ports with QHD+ at 3200x1800 pixels. This makes it a perfect contender for the mount-side so far.

I have also been looking at DELL/SONY tablets/convertibles for mount-side but they seem quite lackluster in comparison to all of the above.

Let me know your thoughts if there is anything more interesting that I have missed in this search? Regards


Note: One machine that fits a total different category and stands as its own is Apple iPad + SkySafari Pro combo for mount control; there just isn't anything I know of that can top this combo, although in addition to but NOT a replacement of, one of the above.

#9 Mr Greybush

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 05:47 AM

Mike the only issue I have using an iPad is the battery life because you run something like Safari and the battery needs recharged then your out using the pad + it takes iPads a long time compared to LP's and other tablets. I love skisafari I wished I had pay more attention to Southern Stars because I bought the regular adapter for the iPad instead of the new one for the 5c but that's fine with me I can steal the other halves iPad and use it just the same :)

#10 Markovich

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:30 PM

Not sure what your experiences have been, but the iPad has excellent battery performance. I use an original iPad running Sky Safari Pro interfacing with an AstroDevices Nexus to provide "push -to " for my Obsession. Have never experienced any issues with the battery.

#11 mmalik

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:54 PM

I would concur; I have iPad (3rd gen) and have never run out of battery while in the field. What I do as a precautionary measure as well as a light contamination prevention measure is to shut the iPad screen off once done going to the target. FYI: I use iPad for planning/pointing/navigating/aligning/framing, etc. Regards

#12 Markovich

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 05:59 PM

I never do that, I turn down the brightness ( to reduce glare, not to save power) and nothing else. I leave the screen on most of the time. It generates just enough heat to keep it dew free. Granted, it is in an Otterbox Defender case!

#13 mmalik

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 05:35 AM

A look at Yoga 2 Pro/59394160/Clementine Orange ($999/i5/4GB/128GB/3200x1800/USB2/USB3/HDMI/Backlit/Touch/8.1)

Pro: Has USB2 port for mount-side use with all the bells and whistles of a latest ultrabook with QHD+ display and beautiful color

Con: Construction materials don't feel as rugged and solid (feels like plastic) when compared to bit pricier Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (which feels like metal) but then Samsung doesn't have USB2 port for field use; didn't much like the keyboard layout/style of Yoga (feels crammed) compared to typical/standard keyboard layout of ATIV or Dell

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#14 bilgebay

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:21 AM

Mike I have recently purchased this Samsung Ultrabook. It is my new image capturing computer. The battery life is quite good and the speed is more than enough. You may want to have a look at it.

#15 guyroch

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 02:20 PM

Mike, I have the Yogo 2 Pro and love it. I got the 512GB SSD + 8GB RAM + i7 CPU.

Initially I thought the keyboard in tablet mode would be an issue but it only took about a day of use before you get pass the fact that the keyboard is exposed.

The keyboard does feel cramped a bit but the layout is still very productive, I rarely press on the wrong key while typing.

The display... well that QHD+ is just crispy clear.

Guylain

#16 mmalik

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:18 PM

Mike I have recently purchased this Samsung Ultrabook. It is my new image capturing computer. The battery life is quite good and the speed is more than enough. You may want to have a look at it.


Sedat, at 1366x768 display, that's ancient in technology terms [QHD+ getting common/cheaper at 3200x1800]; plus that one is quite bulky for the field [again comparing with slimmer/lighter/faster alternatives]. Regards

#17 mmalik

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:54 PM

The keyboard does feel cramped a bit but the layout is still very productive, I rarely press on the wrong key while typing.


Crammed/atypical Yoga keyboard is bit of a problem for power users in my opinion, most of 'em not opting for touch screen I mean; ATIV keyboard is standard/typical with very spacious mouse pad for power users. Regards

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#18 mmalik

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 11:06 PM

1080p was about 2000 (2K) vertical lines of resolution. Various permutations of UHD/QHD+ are about 4K vertical; quite revolutionary in terms of AP processing tool… get ready for lot of our processing flaws getting revealed :). Such 4K systems are going to be a necessary aid to serious image processing.

Newer ultrabooks/tablets (above...) are already there, in terms of 4K I mean, and external monitors are catching up. Difference is, e.g., a 13” ultrabook or 15" laptop packs QHD+ resolution in much smaller diagonal, while external monitors pack similar amount of resolution in much larger diagonals, in the order of 32” and beyond. I have been looking to find a compact size diagonal as an external monitor solution for my yet to be 15” QHD+ ultrabook/laptop as primary image processing machine. My search thus far as has led me here... as far the quality and pricing goes. Your thoughts on 4K systems, their impact on image processing, and any other good 4K external monitor options out there size/price wise (again, preference being relatively smaller diagonals to complement smaller form factor QHD+ laptops/ultrabooks)? Regards

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#19 mmalik

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 01:29 PM

My sum total of mount-side ultrabooks as follows, barring any USB 3.0 issues you might run into with guiding:

1. Get Yoga 2 Pro 59394160... if you had $1000 to spend
2. Get ATIV Book 9 Plus NP940X3G-K06US... if you had $1400 to spend
3. Get ATIV Book 9 Plus NP940X3G-K04US... or NP940X3G-K05US... if you had $1800 to spend


Note: Yoga has USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports; ATIV has only USB 3.0 ports. SKU numbers listed will get you Windows 8.1 installed and stunning QHD+ display for all three; and SATA 3 SSDs on ATIVs. NP940X3G-K04US & NP940X3G-K05US seem best of the best ultrabooks out there today!

#20 akulapanam

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 09:33 PM

I have a surface pro which I use for astrophotography. After a lot of messing around I managed to get it to run the SSAG autoguider and it obviously works just fine with my Canon T3. One of the challenges with that I have is that it only has one USB port so I had to get a USB hub but this was not a big issue. You will want to buy one with a large SSD because it is not good for the life of an SSD to run it close to max capacity.

#21 mmalik

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 01:50 AM

Great! is it Pro 2? What was the fix for USB3 in a nutshell?

#22 mmalik

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 02:06 AM

A look at ATIV Book 9 Plus/NP940X3G-K05US/Mineral Ash Black ($1800/i7/8GB/256GB/QHD+/USB3+USB3/HDMI/VGA/Backlit/Touch/8.1)

Pro: Aluminum all-metal chassis, full-size keyboard/mouse

Con: Expensive, no USB 2.0

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#23 mmalik

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 03:40 AM

SkySafari Pro 4.0 [for iOS 7] is out and is a new purchase (50% off at $19.99 till Jan 20th, 2014). Seems a bit flaky at this time; keeps crashing as I exit out of settings while in the night mode!

#24 mmalik

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 05:36 AM

In today's modern ultrabooks with pre-installed Windows 8.1, BIOS (basic input/output system) as we know it, is gone for the most part! UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) replaces it and along with it comes blessing/curse of its ramifications.

What UEFI boils down to is you have to boot into Windows first before you can access BIOS in normal way. BIOS is still there, it is the boot options part that has to loop through Windows now; general purpose BIOS settings are still there in the BIOS. This also brings some consistency to Windows 8 computers; they’ll all have a consistent way of accessing the BIOS. Currently, different computers use different keys at start-up to invoke BIOS.

One of the ramifications is EFI System partition (ESP) that gets added to Windows 8.1 along with a plethora of new partitions.

Talking about partitions, Windows 7 used to have a 'System Partition' and a 'Boot Partition'; with Windows 8.1, it is not that simple anymore. Your new Windows 8.1 system may look like as follows:


Note: Image contains two samples; each from a different Windows 8.1 ultrabook!

Bit larger image here...

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In short, what do you need to know and/or do when you get your new Ultrabook with Windows 8.1 preinstalled? Here it is:


1. In order to have your data on a separate partition than OS (Operating System), shrink your C: drive (containing Windows) to something that you think you might need for your future applications, e.g., 50GB. [On caveat will be that you may not be able to shrink it to your desired size depending upon how your system may have been built/written to the disk]

2. Create a D: (Data) drive on the space you are able to recover after shrinking C: [This will be your data drive, separate from the OS; benefits of doing so explained below...]

3. If you needed to get fancier, you may leave some space, e.g., 10GB (or more if you can afford to spare) as you create your D: drive; you may call this little drive, e.g., Z: and use it for offloading page file and/or ‘Temporary Internet Files’ from C:

4. Presuming this is your brand new ultrabook, create a pristine image of your base OS, i.e., C: drive, before you install anything or modify your OS too much; but DO configure your new operating system to your liking, making it look like the way you do so you don’t have to do those little changes every time you were to restore your OS. You may also run ‘Disk Cleanup’ to clean your C: drive before creating an image.

5. Go to desktop, right-click Start button and click ‘Control Panel’.

6. Switch ‘Control Panel’ to ‘Small icon’ view, and click ‘File History’. This is where Microsoft was sleeping when they developed ‘File History’; it will take a while for it to search drives and refresh, but it is not so obvious that Windows is doing anything at that time!

7. Click ‘System Image Backup’ in the lower left corner when it appears, which may take a while.

8. Select D: drive that you created above in the ‘On a hard disk’ drop down and click ‘Next’.

Note: This is one of the reasons you need to have a separate data partition. [This is presuming you were lucky to shrink C: drive to have adequate space available to put an OS image in D:]

9. Take the defaults [System, C:, and EFI selected] and click ‘Next’

10. Click ‘Stat Backup’; if all goes well, one finished, you would have a pristine image of your OS ready!

11. With ‘File History’ still open, click ‘Recovery’ in the lower left corner

12. Click ‘Create a recovery drive’ under ‘Advanced recovery tools’; click ‘Yes’ to UAC (User Access Control)

13. Click ‘Next’ with ‘Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive’ selected by default.

Note: This is where ‘Recovery Partition’ toward the end of your disk will be copied to a USB drive as a back-up and/or if you wanted to delete that partition to recover space [I would advise against deleting that partition]. This is the larger size, last partition in pic shown!

14. At this point insert a USB thumb drive that is at least 8GB and click ‘Next’

15. System should detect your USB thumb drive and click ‘Next’

16. Click ‘Create’.

IMPORTANT: Everything on the USB thumb drive will be deleted; if you have any personal files on that drive, make sure you’ve backed them up!

17. Once done, you’ll have a USB copy of your large ‘Recovery Partition’ at the end of your hard drive which contains source software of your factory OS install; beauty of this USB copy is that it is also a bootable USB drive that can be used for trouble shooting in addition to a backup of your OS source. Keep this USB in a safe place; you may never need it as source of this is still on your hard drive’s last partition [if you didn’t delete as you create the USB copy].

18. With ‘Recovery’ still open, as an added measure, create system restore point by clicking ‘Configure System Restore’ and clicking ‘Create’ with defaults [ONLY C: being ‘On’]

19. Provide a name, e.g., ‘BaseOS’, click ‘Create’ and click ‘Close’ once done.

Note: This restore point will be of no use if you were to restore your OS via the image that you created above; but it will be of value to restore your OS if you didn’t use image restore.

20. With ‘Recovery’ still open, click ‘If you’re experiencing problems with your PC, you can refresh it in PC settings’; now you’ll be transported to a whole different area called ‘Update and recovery’. This is where fun begins...

21. Here you can very powerful options; ‘Remove everything and reinstall Windows’ is a way to get back to the state when you first booted your computer upon unboxing; in other words it will restore you OS the factory state.

Note: Beauty of this re-install is if you don’t let it destroy the D: drive you created above, your D: drive data will be preserved. If you chose this option, you will get back to a state prior to your image creation above. Your image that you created above is still valid and can be used to get to a state little after opening the box.

22. Click ‘Restart now’ under ‘Advanced startup’ option; this is the ultimate fun part of UEFI I alluded to at the start.

23. Click ‘Troubleshoot’ under ‘Choose an option’

24. Click ‘Advanced options’

25. Click ‘System Image Recovery’

26. Computer will reboot at this time

27. Click your privileged/admin account under ‘System Image Recovery’

28. Enter your privileged/admin account password and click continue

29. Now you’ll be displayed ‘Select a system image backup’ with ‘Use the latest available system image (recommended) selected; click ‘Next’.

Note: This will be the same image you created on the D: drive in #7 above [verify the date and time to confirm]

30. With ‘Format and repartition disks’ grayed out and/or unchecked, click ‘Next’.

31. STOP: This being a learning exercise, you don’t need to click ‘Finish’; had it been an actual re-image, clicking finish will restore your OS to C: from the image you created in #7 above and which you placed in D:

32. That’s all folks for now... have fun with your Windows 8.1 :)


#25 mmalik

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 09:56 PM

With QHD+ resolution come the nuisances of text and application sizing, i.e., scaling. Consider the following three applications on a QHD+ system:

Note: Windows 8.1 was configured with 'Extra Large - 200%' for following examples...

1. Photoshop [unable to scale, notice microscopic menus, icons/buttons, etc.]
2. ImagesPlus [unable to scale, notice microscopic menus, icons/buttons, etc.]

EDIT... 3. PixInsight [Scales somewhat better; button bar is still an issue as it is quite microscopic]

Up until such apps are re-written to be compatible with QHD+ format of Windows 8.1, scaling compatibility is hit and miss kind of deal for AP applications and utilities. Regards

Bit larger pic here...

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