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.
On the power front, we've given up on trying to go with ultra portable and possibly lightweight setups. Bottom line, for a short session, laptop battery will do on it's own. for anything longer than an hour or two, we have our camper van along, and it's now outfitted with plenty of 110V. Problem solved, including all the extraneous gadgets.
On the laptop front itself, both the EEE and the R2H have great potential, but, until some software is fixed, I dont see the 800x480 screen as functional for ap. Here's my list of reasons why.
- Guiding. PHD is the common application of choice, seems to do a decent job guiding. BUT, it insists on a screen larger than 800x480, it wants to draw the guide screen 480 high, and it cuts off the buttons on the bottom when run on a 480 high screen. It's essentially unuseable, and until I have a replacement that actually works on 480 high screens, guiding is a problem. On this front, I recently managed to unravel the driver mess for my QHY5 with no help from the folks that provided it, and am now integrating it into my own software. I will have a guiding solution in the not to distant future, that does work on the 480 screen. That's my next project after the one mentioned below, as time allows.
- Planetarium. I like CdC, and like 2.76 better than the 3.x beta, probably because I'm used to it. It's basically useable on the 800x480 screen if you turn off all of the toolbars and menus etc. I wish it was smart enough, that when maximized, it made the stupid windows title bar disappear too. On a larger screen, that's not a big deal, but on the small screens, that's a considerable percentage of 'wasted space'. The 3.0 beta can do this, so, I will likely make the switch if I go to the smaller screen sub notebook. Cdc has hot keys to make the toolbars appear and disappear, that could work ok with the EEE and it's keyboard, kind of hopeless on the R2H tablet which has no keyboard. CdC is heavily mouse dependant, but the touchpad on EEE works well, as does the trackpoint and touchscreen on R2H. I have no interest or desire to write a new planetarium from scratch, will stick to Cdc. I could live with the 800x480 screen and CdC at the telescope, and probably learn to 'make do' on either of the form factors. I should install CdC 3.x on the R2H and see if it can become comfortable, driving with only the touch screen and trackpoint mouse.
- DSLR Shutter. This one clips the bottom buttons when run on the small screen, and also has no option to resize. I've already written my own replacement for this.
- Focus assist. I've tried dslrfocus. It wont work with our nikon camera, and barely works with my 300D. On the 1280x800 screen, it's cluttered, and awkward, really wants a larger screen. On the 800x480 screen on R2H, it's borderline impossible to work with. Ultimately, I find it doesn't do a good job focussing in medium to poor seeing either, nothing based on FWHM measurements does. I have my own replacement for this almost finished, it works with both the nikon and canon cameras, and uses techniques that are seeing independant. I expect to have 'auto-focus' finished on my own hardware later this weekend. We are using FCUSB hardware to drive the motofocus. The UI in my own programs is designed from scratch to use an 800x480 display to full advantage, and be 'touch friendly'. When the focus stuff is done, I tackle guiding next.
- DSS Live. This is not a must have, but, it's kind of nice once a series of subs is being shot, to watch em stack live in DSS Live. Without a full user interface re-write, it'll never be suitable for an 800x480 display, more than that amount of screen real estate is wasted in sidebars and the like.
I've had in my mind that EEE was going to be my final target for using at the telescope, mostly because the small solid state unit provided such minimal power requirements. My R2H is even more preferable, but, the tablet form factor with no keyboard essentially means running without useable planetarium software. But in the end, it's all about having fun, the chicklet keyboard and small screen are not really fun, battling planetarium software with the touch screen is not fun. Now that I've moved to a power budget of 'as much as we want/need', I'm less inspired to get software running on power miser EEE/R2h for this hobby. As soon as I take power requirements out of the loop, the larger screen and full size keyboard add up to 'way more fun'. The Aspire 3000 with it's power hungry AMD processor, and 1280x800 screen just makes life more fun at the telescope.
It is actually quite interesting to see my mindset changing. For over a year, I've been focussed on a setup that allows us to image overnite, away from home. The driving force behind it all turns out to be power requirements, and, once I changed my mind about using power from batteries easily carried out to the telescope, to using power from a 110V plug, I've noticed the priorities suddenly change dramatically. The small form factor of the power misers no longer appears to be a huge benefit, it's actually a drawback.
Makes me start to wonder how priorities will change again over the next year...