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Equipment Discussions >> Electronically Assisted Astronomy

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James Cunningham
Post Laureate
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Reged: 08/07/10

Loc: Maryland
Which computer?
      #5629439 - 01/18/13 07:46 AM

My laptop finally died. I am looking to replace it. Any suggestions? How much ram? Thanks.
Jim


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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Which computer? new [Re: James Cunningham]
      #5629462 - 01/18/13 08:21 AM

As much as you can afford. RAM is the key to good performance. Go look at reviews on Amazon. The choices are manifold.

/Ira


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Which computer? new [Re: Ira]
      #5629551 - 01/18/13 09:32 AM

RAM does improve performance, but luckily a laptop with 4gb onboard is cheap enough, and that is far and above what you need for astronomy apps.

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ahopp
sage


Reged: 05/24/12

Re: Which computer? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5629688 - 01/18/13 10:56 AM

Go Mac Book Pro, I have the 15" w/Retina display and solid state storage. No moving parts, and the performance is stellar.

Tony


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Which computer? new [Re: ahopp]
      #5630092 - 01/18/13 03:13 PM

Quote:

Go Mac Book Pro, I have the 15" w/Retina display and solid state storage. No moving parts, and the performance is stellar.

Tony




If you want to do other stuff than astronomy, this is a fine choice. For astronomy? Not so much:

Expensive.
Limited storage.
Limited software.

Still, I keep almost buying one.


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Dwight J
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 05/14/09

Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Re: Which computer? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5630298 - 01/18/13 05:35 PM

I acquired an Asus netbook for use at the telescope. It has XP and 1gig of ram with 160 gig solid state drive. It runs everything without issue and if it goes on the fritz I won't be out an expensive laptop. It will run about 3 hours on the internal battery and there are netbooks that will run much longer without AC. When I want a bigger view I just plug in a larger monitor of which I always seem to have more of.

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wolfman_4_ever
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 07/15/11

Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal
Re: Which computer? new [Re: Dwight J]
      #5630320 - 01/18/13 05:50 PM

I use a MBP early 2011 model wth 8gigs of Ram, 512gb SSD running SL x64 and bootcamp to win7 x64. Works great for me and I get the best of both worlds.

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ahopp
sage


Reged: 05/24/12

Re: Which computer? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5630848 - 01/18/13 11:59 PM

Uncle Rod, you might want to price check again. Macs have the best price for performance in the industry. I went with the 15", they have another that is smaller and less expensive. You can also go with Harddrive instead of solid state storage to get the price down.

Also, everything I do including planetaria,video, ccd/dslr/ and scope control is done native on the Mac. The only thing I have to run on my emulator is the Meade update software for my scope firmware. Meade needs to come out with Mac software, but, if they stay focused on hardware I will understand.

Tony


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Which computer? new [Re: ahopp]
      #5631269 - 01/19/13 10:22 AM

Quote:

Uncle Rod, you might want to price check again. Macs have the best price for performance in the industry. I went with the 15", they have another that is smaller and less expensive. You can also go with Harddrive instead of solid state storage to get the price down.

Also, everything I do including planetaria,video, ccd/dslr/ and scope control is done native on the Mac. The only thing I have to run on my emulator is the Meade update software for my scope firmware. Meade needs to come out with Mac software, but, if they stay focused on hardware I will understand.

Tony




They do have good performance. Alas, that really doesn't matter for astronomy. My <300 buck Toshiba Satellite with a 17.3-inch display works great for our application, and it doesn't bother me if'n it gets a dew bath. I know there are more native Mac apps than there used to be...but there is still no SkyTools 3. Or NexRemote. Or Deepsky. Or--I could go on. Yes I am set in my ways, but Windows still has the lion's share of the best astro-apps.


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ahopp
sage


Reged: 05/24/12

Re: Which computer? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5631691 - 01/19/13 02:46 PM

I use the horsepower to process images in Photoshop, power comes in handy, since I process multiple 22M images.

Have fun with Windows...

Tony


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budman1961
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 02/25/11

Loc: Springfield, MO
Re: Which computer? new [Re: ahopp]
      #5631926 - 01/19/13 05:37 PM

Jimmy,

I have both MAC and PC. My preference is MAC, but for simplicity's sake, I would heartily recommend a PC. I happen to like the Dell Latitude line, they are built like tanks, and are easily upgradeable. Memory and disc space is cheap, look for at least 8 gigs of RAM, and at least 750 gig's of storage.

Solid state drives are becoming abundant, and more affordable, take a look the SSD option also,

I try to avoid Best Buy, Office Depot, etc, and the budget laptops as they have tons of junk software installed, and the performance is often underwhelming. If you do go that route, download this. It will live up to it's PC Decrapify name!

Regards,

Andy


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Stew57
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: Silsbee Texas
Re: Which computer? new [Re: budman1961]
      #5631945 - 01/19/13 05:50 PM

I bought a Clevo (Sager) P370EM3 with the Prostar branding. Great pricing on the top of the line PC. They are easily upgraded including the graphics card, and you can even add a second for sli/crossfire. I opted for a single nvidia 680M. Has 2 hard drives with an additional msata port and a blue ray burner.

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iam1ru12
sage
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Raleigh/Durham, NC
Re: Which computer? new [Re: Stew57]
      #5677113 - 02/13/13 07:19 AM

I would recommend a laptop with the second or third generation of the Intel Core chip (Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7). I purchased a Toshiba Portege in the summer of 2011 (that's the second generation of the chip) and is the precursor to the ultra books. The processor is awesome with quite a bit of horsepower and having 6 gigs helps too. Most importantly the processor is so incredibly efficient, it almost doubles battery life compared to the 1st generation; I get 6 plus hours of battery life when running eco mode. While is does not have a solid state hard drive, I think many newer laptops do.

Whatever you get, get a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, you'll be very glad you did, just make sure you get at least the second generation not the first.

-Mike


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jambi99
sage


Reged: 08/14/10

Loc: Québec, Canada
Re: Which computer? new [Re: James Cunningham]
      #5678003 - 02/13/13 04:54 PM

I would look at the Asus latops. They have a really low lemon ratio per 100 units produced. The amd A6 is a good value and generally cheaper than the intel equivalent(i5 i think).If you have the money, the Asus G75 is a really nice laptop. The lcd panel is aslo very good(better than the average). The contrast ratio is awesome. That is a good thing if you want to use is for live view.

Edited by jambi99 (02/13/13 04:58 PM)


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jambi99
sage


Reged: 08/14/10

Loc: Québec, Canada
Re: Which computer? new [Re: jambi99]
      #5678011 - 02/13/13 05:02 PM

Here a comparison of some hight end laptop display

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4339/cyberpower-x6-9300-msi-gt680r-mobile-gaming/8

The g75 is in there(used to be g73). I guess you want to focus look at the contrast and black scores.

Edited by jambi99 (02/13/13 05:02 PM)


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Which computer? new [Re: jambi99]
      #5695863 - 02/22/13 11:23 PM

Hello all,

I love it - a religious discussions on Cloudy Nights! Computers and operating systems - many beliefs and opinions. The best we can do is say why we use what we use. And sell you on the concept!

For me it is Apple, iDevices and Macintosh all the way. Let me say I am working from experience - currently we are developing satellite design and support software, and developing aircraft maintenance software all under MacOS and iOS. Yes, we occasionally do Windows support, but rarely when we can. Also, it has given us significant edge over our competition who uses PCs. :-)

But let us discuss computers and Astronomy...

Let me say up front, the changes from the "Olden Days" never cease to amaze me, and I work in the software/hardware biz. In some ways technology is totally leap frogging all around.

For me, I work with a MacBook Pro 17" (no longer made) and will be adding a MacBook Air into the mix soon. The MacBook is used for telescope control using SkySafari Pro. I also control my Canon 60Da from the MacBook Pro. Post processing is done with Adobe Photoshop CS6. Any Windows software I have to use is done through VMware Fusion.

For the fun public events and "instructional" purposes or just plain lazy moments I control the scope with my iPad using SkySafari Pro. The SkySafari Pro-SkyFi combo is simply amazing. I can fully control my 21 year old Classic LX200 10" from my circa 2013 iPad. Easy to use and amazing. For those nights of faint fuzzy viewing - or any viewing, just use the iPad. You can't go wrong with 11 hours of battery life.

I also like the Apple eco system because of the seamless integration between Mac, iPad, iPhone and AppleTV (and iPod touch if I had it). Apple TV you ask? I can easily feed the outside image (with a video cam) from the Mac to my high definition TV indoors for those nights I am too wimpy to handle the cold. OR you can use the AppleTV to mirror images on multiple displays for group viewing so they are no breathing over your shoulder. I hope to do this with a MallinCam, however ordering one seems impossible let alone getting one.

With the Mac, as with any device, get as much memory as possible. Also, get as much hard drive space as possible, and back up drives too. They are quite cheap now a days.

BTW - besides the MacBook Air, the new MacBook pros are excellent too. A bit more money, but understand you get what you pay for.

So in summary - all devices are easily integrated together.
* MacBook: Video, DSLR, Imaging Astronomy etc, Telescope Control, Astro Software - and satellite design and research!
* iPad/iPhone: Sky maps, easy telescope control, instruction/public presentations in the field
* AppleTV: Wireless or wired screen sharing from all devices to big screen TV, projectors, etc.

Next up - testing this all out with my on order 14" LX850.


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nytecam
Postmaster


Reged: 08/20/05

Loc: London UK
Re: Which computer? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5696095 - 02/23/13 06:02 AM

Interesting non-video image thread 'cos, so we're constantly advised hereabout, videocams don't need computers. ;-(

Me - I need JUST a laptop and single USB lead for my stonking Lodestar DSO imager ;-)


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