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This is the Best Laptop for the Field!!

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#1 AlexDJ30

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 04:32 PM

Hi Folks..i am Alex^DJ^ but something happen to my password..io couldnt retrieve..so i need to do a new username..so here i am back again.

Anyway i just purchase this beauty:
http://www.acer.com/aspireone/

An Acer Aspire ONe..of course there are some options..but the one I purchase its 120GB Hard Drive, 1.6 Ghz Intel Atom Processor, 1 Gig in Ram, 8.9 LCD screen, 3 USB ports, Webcam and Microphone, Windows XP. The only problem is that it doesnt come with a CD or DVD drive (you can purchase one externally for installing your soft or well try to put the soft on a usb memory and install it) but i use only sofwtare that you can find on the internet (registax, stellarium, Canon Eos Rebel XSi software, Orion starshoot one, Nebula, PHD Guiding, etc)

This laptop rocks for the field use..not so big like normal laptops, not so small like Palms..if you are into imagening (not doing photoshop..only imagening and aqusition) this laptop Rocks big time!!!

I should put a 5 Star on this one, if anybody is looking for a new lap for just adquiaition this one is the way to go..small.

And the price..yumi!! only like 379 dls!!! and i think they are lowering more because they are coming with a 160 GB hard drive version...

So this small laptop is hot for the field! :jump:

#2 daev

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 06:17 PM

Man, for a stripped-down lappy that things got a lot of goodies. Sounds like a great solution for the field, when you don't want to risk the "good" laptop. Nice battery life, though you will likely need to power it in the field. As low as the power draw is it shouldn't tax anyone's power solution much. Really dig the price!

dave

#3 Tom T

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 06:37 PM

Where did you get it? I've been looking (in the US) for the blue version (with XP and the six cell battery) with absolutly no luck.

#4 Tom T

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 06:38 PM

BTW - contact an admin about changing the password to your old account. We'll get it fixed.

#5 AlexDJ30

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 01:21 AM

Tom..i dont have the 6 cell type,i have the 3 cell one <(i use it connected to power on the field) I buy it here in Mexico, they are only bringing the blue color one, i think in the usw theres is the white one too (butg there are other colors like pink, black and brown).

Yes i think tom that the 6 cell is hard to find..and i hear acer sells only the battery apart too (surf around acer site)...i think the new onw comming the 160GB will already have the 6 cell battery....

#6 mlpke

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 01:30 AM

I bought mine at Best Buy for $349 a week ago(blue, XP,three cell battery)

#7 doctordub

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 06:48 PM

Bestbuy online seems to be sold out Tom, but you could check to see if your store has them in stock.

http://www.bestbuy.c...d=1216425209738

I purchased the ASUS Eeepc with 16G SSD ( almost the same except smaller solid state hard drive) for AP and leave my Laptop inside.

#8 AlexDJ30

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 08:51 PM

WEll the asus are Nice but i for i prefer a sloid HD state..and P (most of the software of imagening are xp intended=..of course you could buy and asus get linux out (if it comes with linux) and put XP on it..but for the price I think the aspire one is tought to beat.

#9 William Mc

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 11:19 PM

Tom, I see that Amazon has that model for $399. I was about to buy when I saw it ships in 5 weeks! I could have sworn it said in stock moments earlier. I think I waited to long! BTW that price seems cheap compared to other pricing i've seen.

#10 William Mc

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 11:19 PM

Tom, I see that Amazon has that model for $399. I was about to buy when I saw it ships in 5 weeks! I could have sworn it said in stock moments earlier. I think I waited to long! BTW that price seems cheap compared to other pricing i've seen.

#11 daev

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 11:59 PM

New Egg also has 3 models to choose from.

dave

#12 AlexDJ30

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:16 AM

I think the 6 cell version is very hard to find like i said, the only option would be waiting so they can get more out, or wait for the 160GB coming soon (i dont know when but they already announce it...thats why they put a inminent price drop on the 120Gb version)... I think actually the retail price for the 160Gb is going to be 399 while the 120GB its now reaching the 349 dls..

I saw amazon have the 120GB version (3 cell type)..still not bad for around 350 dls...

#13 BlueMoon

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 08:44 AM

Great timing! I've been thinking about a "knock about" sub-notebook for the field and for traveling. I was about to resurrect my old Compaq Armada 7600 using Debian or Ubuntu LINUX (but the battery is shot and a new one costs $$$)...

Here's a nice tech review (LINUX loaded) for anyone interested (bit-tech.net does fairly credible reviews IMO): http://www.bit-tech....er-aspire-one/1

Another informative review about the XP loaded unit: http://www.laptopmag...windows-xp.aspx

#14 AlexDJ30

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 10:30 AM

This is amazing..I just sufr amazon and instead of they dropping down the price on the aspire one..LOL they just increase the price of them!! i supouse its because there lots of people in line waiting to get one fast...

I think the 6 Cell one typ would be a mission imposible right now...

#15 Tom T

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 02:03 PM

I pre-ordered the Blue 6 cell 160 gb XP Home version from amazon for $399 - I splurged the extra $3.99 for one day shipping. I need more storage than an SSD provides. They are expected in the end of the month.

I need another lappy like I need a hole in the head (I already have three) but this looks like a great size (already found out the hard way that a Sony UX is too small).

T

#16 William Mc

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 02:38 PM

Good Move Tom. I'm about to do the same.

#17 AlexDJ30

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 08:55 PM

Well Tom i hope you indeed get it by the end of the month...that aspire one here in mex is flying..fast! its becoming the first laptop sell all over here.

Tom the size is perfect..9 onches (well 8.9), i have seen your sony and its very small..not so much of memory..and not fast..this this aspire one is fast (you can upgrade the ram to 1.5 only but for that you would need to open it up)..but with 1 gig its good to work quiet fast.

I think this mini laptop its going to be a legend of his own..i saw the assus and other brands and the acer aspire one is in top of them.

#18 BlueMoon

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 09:57 PM

Dang it! Now I'm checking out the Aspire One, the MSI Wind and the Asus EEE 1000H... :4

#19 AlexDJ30

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 10:15 PM

Bluemoon..

it really depends on what you want..i think right now the aspire one is the one to go because they offer you more for the same buck..asus and wind offer you less and their prices are a bite higher....

It depends really.

#20 BlueMoon

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 11:11 PM

True enough... However, I've found it doesn't hurt to see what the competition is offering and read the reviews. This is the same kind of "buying cycle" for me... research and compare, research some more, compare some more... (repeat as necessary)... :imawake:

#21 AlexDJ30

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 12:07 AM

Yes blumoon I did read the specifics of the other ones..its ok 80GB but the problem is the price..i think acer have the price the lowest, i have seen asus wit linux and 8gb flash at the same price like acer aspire one with 120GB and win xp...so...

#22 Tom T

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 06:06 AM

Dang it! Now I'm checking out the Aspire One, the MSI Wind and the Asus EEE 1000H... :4


Also look at the HP and Dell offerings. I waited till Dell annonced em yesterday to make a decision. I need more storage than 16gb.

However, it should be noted that if you need a "full size" notebook, I read on engadget that Dell will be offering their "mini" for a mere $99 with purchase of certain other notebooks starting today.

If I needed a full size note, that'd be a killer deal.

#23 BlueMoon

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 09:02 AM

Thx for the heads up Tom. The "Mini" looks like a nice unit but like you, I need more than 16Gb storage. Perhaps they'll offer a larger HD-based solution later on or an upgrade path to the the newer SSD storage solutions. Unfortunately, there seems to be conflicting information about the actual "real life" performance of the larger >64Gb devices...

Though, I'd love to have a sub-notebook with one of these installed: http://www.ritekusa....&products_id=64

#24 groz

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 12:47 PM

Like tom, I have a _few_ notebooks kicking around. There's 5 on my desk right now, and another on the floor underneath it. They vary in age from less than a year old, to 7 years.

I have two sub-notebooks. The Asus EEE and the Asus R2h. R2h is a tablet form factor, 800x480 display, 768 meg ram, and an 80g drive. My EEE is the 4gig variant. I also have an older aspire 3000 (768 meg ram, AMD Sempron processor), and my primary 'workstation' is an Aspire 9420 (2 gig ram, 160g drive, Core2 Duo) with a 20 inch monitor plugged in. I've used them all with various software combinations for my astro stuff.

All of the Acer laptops suffer from horrible battery life.

The real problem I have for astro stuff with the R2h (My preferred unit for at the telescope) is twofold. Most astro oriented software just wont work well with a touchscreen and no keyboard. Some of it wont work at all on the 800x480 display. Example PHD wont fit on the 800x480 display, and there's no options to size it down a bit to fit. CdC is awkward on the touch screen, hard to do accurate 'right click' touch movements. Likewise, stellarium is also a bit awkward on the small touchscreen. Dont even bother loading MaxDSLR or the like onto a sub notebook with a tiny touchscreen and no keyboard, it's pointless. I have one of the rollup usb keyboards for this little fella, but once that's attached, it takes up as much space as a full blown notebook, so I lose the benefit of the small tablet form factor. On the plus side, this thing can dim down enough a red screen isn't really necessary, and when I let it do it's thing for power save, it'll run for a long time on a battery, but even if the battery runs down, it takes plain old 12V. I can power it from the same jumper battery that runs the scope.

I haven't tried windows on my EEE. The software I'd like to use on it, wont run on the small display if I load windows, and anything I write will end up targetted for linux or windows, so, I'll be able to run it on the EEE using the native linux. The tiny keyboard on this one is a bit of a pain at times, gotta get used to the small keys every time i start to use it again. I wish this one ran from 12V too, but, I have small inverter that can run it, and plugged in with the telescope to the jumper battery that powers the EQ6, that battery can carry them both all night with no issues. Over the last year I have been slowly writing my own software for use at the scope imaging, as time permits me to work on it. I'm being very careful to make sure the user interface is comfortable and workable on the 800x480 display of the UMPC form factor stuff I have here. When it's ready for prime time, EEE will possibly replace my current notebook used at the scope.

The Acer 9420 has more power than needed, a 17 inch display, and lots of disk space. It's a bit big for use out in the field, and as it's a primary work computer, I dont want to subject it to long evenings outside getting full of dew etc. This is a power hungry beast, another drawback for use in the field.

The Aspire 3000 has a 1280x800 display, everything runs ok on that. It came stock with a 2200mah battery, which was in pretty rough shape, only lasted about 10 minutes unplugged. Earlier this summer, before chris and I went on our 'star party vacation', I bought a new battery for it, wasn't cheap, but I bought a 4400mah battery, two of them. If I start the evening with both charged up, I get around 7 hours out of the pair. We built red screen covers by sewing rubylith with a felt back, to make a pocket that just slips over the lid, works GREAT out in the field.

For now, the 3000 has been designated my 'at the telescope' computer.

All of the older and less powerful notebooks suffer one common problem. Capturing video frames at 1280x1024 uncompressed, they cannot write the disk that fast, so trying to save avi files to the hard drive results in lots of dropped frames. My solution is pretty simple, I've got some 8 gig usb jumpsticks here, got em cheap earlier this summer. I can record directly to the jumpstick and not lose any frames, those things are speedy.

In the end, after a year of playing with various combinations, my final conclusions regarding a notebook in the field are a little different than what I originally set out thinking. First off, screen real estate is golden if you plan to use a planetarium program. Not so sure I even want to try go back to an 800x480 screen, I like Cdc on the 1280x800 when I'm at the telescope.

Power has always been an issue when we are 'out and about', and we have used all sorts of power sources to get beyond normal laptop battery life. Finally, a couple weeks ago, I broke down and invested in the ultimate power accessory for use 'in the field', a 100 foot extension cord. We have 200ah of deep cycle power in the van, with a 1000 watt inverter. We aren't going to *BLEEP* upwind on the power issue anymore, out in the field, just run the cord from the van to the telescope. We have yet to camp at a star party where we cannot reach the scopes from the van with a 100 foot cord. The deep cycle in the van can run both our laptops all night, with power to spare. For a year we've played with various battery/inverter setups, always of the mindset 'there is no place to plug in' when we are out in the field. After our trip to multiple star parties this summer, final conclusion was, there is either power already on the scope field, or, we can camp within 100 feet of where we set up, we have not seen an event where there isn't one of these two conditions. $120 put a 200 ah deep cycle in the van to replace it's tired old house battery, and a few more bucks put the 100 foot extension cord in, the inverter was installed last summer, originally intended to be used charging laptops thru the day. No more fussing with power solutions for us, the extension cord is the final answer, and laptop batteries do NOT last long enough, even the best of them, we want to be able to go for 8 to 10 hours at a stretch. When you do the final cost analysis it gets rather surprising too. 17ah jumper batteries are the 'big ones' around here, run $100+, and wont carry scope + laptop all night. 180ah deep cycle rv battery ran $120, carries two laptops all night, with power to spare. The thousand watt inverter cost a bunch, but I already had it. At canadian tire I can buy a 150w inverter for $39. That's sufficient to run one laptop and accessories. With the deep cycle mounted in the van as the house battery, charging is also trivial, by definition it arrives at the location 'fully charged', charges whle driving.

Oh, and to further aggrivate the power issues, fall is rapidly approaching, and, when we were out last weekend, dew arrived. Guess I better add another 2 amps per telescope into the power budget, dew controllers arrive next week.


Another HUGE caveat for field operations, which gave me a lot of grief. Usb ports and power. I need to plug in 2 serial usb converters (one for the mount, one for long exposure control for the Canon), then a usb cable to the camera itself for dl photos, another to the guide camera or webcam, and finally a usb port for the motofocus controller. 5 usb gadgets, two of which require FULL usb power, the webcam and the motofocus controller. Simple solution is a usb hub, but, finding a usb hub with 5 ports, that will give full power to all 5 ports is actually a bit of a trick, and ultimately it arrives with 7 ports and a 3.5 amp 5V power supply, that wants to plug into a 110V supply. Finding a suitable replacement supply that'll plug into the 12V battery running the telescope, and power that usb hub, turns out to be way more expensive than the hub was originally. I _could_ make do with a 4 port hub, but, that results in a far bigger cable mess, it's much cleaner to have one 7 port hub velcro attached to a mount leg, all the cables on the mount/scope attached in place with velcro, then run ONE cable from the hub to the laptop. Again, reference above the extension cord power solution, the little wall wart for the usb hub now has a 110V plug sitting in the power bar that's under the tripod.

When the usb issues are all fixed up, and you have everything powered, then there's yet another power issue that comes up, at least if you are using a DSLR. When it gets cold out, the battery in the DSLR lasts just over an hour, closer to 2.5 hours when it's warm. It takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours in the wall plug to recharge. In order to be able to go continuous, one needs either a 110V adapter for the camera, or, lots of batteries. We have 3 batteries for each camera (bought no-name spares off of ebay for about 12 bucks a pair, they work great), and two chargers. The charger comes out to the scope with us. Even in the cold season, 3 batteries will allow us to image non-stop, there's always one on the camera and 2 in the recharge cycle. Now that I have capitulated on the 110V plug concept, I may look into powering the DSLR from the 110V plug too.

The point of my long power rant here, powering the notebook is just the FIRST step of an all up imaging solution in the field. There's a lot of other gadgets that ultimately need power, and, it's far more problematic to power all of those than the notebook, which was designed for portable use.

In the end, here's the final lessons (to date) from lots of experimenting with different combinations at the telescope, and in the field.

- I like having the larger screen, the sub notebook screens are tedious at the telescope.
- I can use the small chicklet undersize keyboard quite well, in daylight. I sit at telescopes in the dark, at night. Nuff said. Full size keyboard is essential.
- I can fight with, and spend lots of money on various power solutions to be truely portable. In the end, the only thing that's going to work for all night imaging sessions is a 110V plug, and, if it's coming from an inverter, a sufficiently large battery backing the inverter. Been there, done that, got that t-shirt twice over, and a brand new big battery in the camper van.

#25 Patrick

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 04:05 PM

- I like having the larger screen, the sub notebook screens are tedious at the telescope.
- I can use the small chicklet undersize keyboard quite well, in daylight. I sit at telescopes in the dark, at night. Nuff said. Full size keyboard is essential.
- I can fight with, and spend lots of money on various power solutions to be truely portable. In the end, the only thing that's going to work for all night imaging sessions is a 110V plug, and, if it's coming from an inverter, a sufficiently large battery backing the inverter.



I think you've done some good analysis there Groz. I've come to the same conclusion that full blown imaging without 110v power is tedious at best, particularly with a laptop.

I have to admit a small netbook type computer is intriguing, but I also don't like working on a small screen. With all the gear required for serious AP, I'm not sure there is a lot of difference between a 9" laptop and a 14" or 15" laptop.

Patrick


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