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This is the Best Laptop for the Field!!

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#26 mclewis1

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 05:11 PM

I think you've done some good analysis there Groz.

Do ya think? :lol: It was like reading someone's PHD paper on laptop users issues and concerns in the field.:graduate:

Nice work Groz ... oh and Patrick thanks for statement.

:goodjob:


Patrick I also really agree about the diminishing differences between a 9" sub notebook and many of the slim 14-15" units.

#27 groz

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 05:54 PM

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...

#28 Tom T

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 05:58 PM

I think you've done some good analysis there Groz.

Do ya think? :lol: It was like reading someone's PHD paper on laptop users issues and concerns in the field.:graduate:

Nice work Groz ... oh and Patrick thanks for statement.

:goodjob:


Patrick I also really agree about the diminishing differences between a 9" sub notebook and many of the slim 14-15" units.


Those are some good points.

But I'll just point out that IMO, the "slim" 14-15" units are *way* to large to carry on an everyday basis (I used to cart around a 15" Sony Vaio that was intended as a desktop replacement). Granted, if you're carting a ton of stuff for imaging, it probably does not make a hoot of difference. Personally, I have a 13" that I specifically paid extra $$$ for a slim and light that sees daily duty (purchased just this year). I love it, but even that's a bit on the heavy side at times (depending on how many textbooks I have to cram in the briefcase to make it to the next place I'm teaching a class - they now have me in three different rooms at two different schools during the day).

For me, with a keyboard 89% of full size, 160 gb hdd, six cell battery, and a 1280x600 9" screen, and a weight around 2lbs, the Aspire One looks to be just the ticket. But, I'm not using it for imaging. I will be using it to display star charts, surf the web, e-mail, travel, presentations and do some light word processing. Although it's faster and better speced than many machines I worked on for years (and some that are still in service around here) It's not intended to be my main machine. If it doesn't work out - meh. It's $400. The last "experiment" (a sony UX) was about 3+ times that - and didn't work out too hot - sweet machine, but the usability just wasn't there for me.

I nearly bought an original Asus EEE (just cause they were so dang cool when they came out), but there were some limitations I wasn't fond of. If you want a slightly larger subnote, (but no better resolution screen) the new Lenovo or latest Asus may be the ticket (the MSI wind looks promising as well). They were a little larger than what I was looking for.

YMMV, and I'll see how it works for me in time.

T

#29 Jaxdialation

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 08:07 PM

Not many road warriors on this forum I guess. I think I have traveled 2.5 million air miles with a full size notebook.

Does everything get bigger and heavier at 1am in the Atlanta Airport? You bet it does. But really does a full size notebook weigh too much for you guys while playing in the dark?

For me the best "field" notebook is the one that gets the job done BUT wouldn't bother me a bit if it got destroyed. Usually that means the oldest laptop in my "fleet". Today its a 5 year old Dell running XP.

#30 groz

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 09:09 PM

Not many road warriors on this forum I guess. I think I have traveled 2.5 million air miles with a full size notebook.


I'll see your 2.5, raise another 10 million, most of it with 2 notebooks in tow, sometimes more.

Former charter/airline pilot, today, software developer, with airlines and airframe makers as primary customers. My travel history makes a typical road warrior look like 'life staying home'. Hehe, chris has learned, whenever a place comes up in conversation, and I say 'been there', her response now is 'did you get off the airport, and buy anything but gas for an airplane?'

Like you, my field laptop turned out to be my 'cycled out of the work mode' leftover. I've got far more cool gadgets and umpc toys than the average joe, and, they just dont end up with the telescopes (yet).

#31 William Mc

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 09:29 PM

Looks like no more preorders from amazon!

#32 AlexDJ30

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 01:42 AM

Well yes the acer suffers from battery of course i have the 3 cell one and yes.I can get about 2 hours using it with power seeting to laptop and lowering the brightness of the screen. The 6 cell should last twice on this setting (4 hours) and thats very good.. Acer sercice is so so, not like dell or HP but they are offering a very low price with everything to go mini laptop. Here in Mex they are flying away because of the price (normal laptops here start around 6,000 pesos thats around 550 dls, and this acer is juts 4400 pesos, thats 440 dls..still high but not like the 550 dls ones tha have less stuff)..

For me this is the best laptop for traveling, it works sweet and for imagening is great. If you have problem with sight then yes this is not the best..you should go for a 10 inch or 11 inch screen.

Patrick theres is a big difference in size between my normal acer 15 inch laptop and this mini...its freaking much smaller, i have take it to cafes and restaurans and everybody love this thing after seeing it..and after they learn the specs they say woo..all that on this little machine???

Like i said if you have difficulty seeing in small LCD;s en yes..go for a bug one like the Wind (i think its 10 inches)..there is too an HP that is 10 or 11 inches. By the way Patrick..never but never buy SONY Laptops!!!! they look silky and great but trust me their internals are really bad!!! just read the news..they just have to recall around 440.000 new laptops of them because they had a problem!! Every people on the laptop induustry I have speak says the same..SOny looks very good on the outside, very bad on the inside!!!. The best quality laptops are Toshibas (construction, materials) then comes Dell and Gateway, after that is Acer and the HP and Compaq, te last one is Sony!

#33 Paul Romero

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 05:17 AM

Hi Alex and all,

I dont have a Sony laptop, but I do have a VAIO desktop, and I can tell you the construction is first rate. However, I would like to add that Sony's post-warranty support is really less than adequate...even to point of being a profit minded enterprise, in its own right...any semblence of support will cost $35, thankyou yum yum. I remember one year ago, Sony was the first to come out with a 11" screen laptop...at $2800! IMO, they tend to be the company with the trendiest designs, but they are way overpriced..at least in the beginning.

Paul

#34 BlueMoon

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 06:48 AM

So Paul... your VAIO wasn't on the recall list?

[EDIT]Silly me... he said "desktop"... :foreheadslap:

#35 StarWars

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 07:59 AM




Tiger Direct sells the Aspire One and the Asus Eee 900... :bow:


The Asus Eee 900 looks like the better deal to me.. :grin:




:imawake:

#36 Patrick

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 08:11 AM

they tend to be the company with the trendiest designs, but they are way overpriced..at least in the beginning.



I just picked up a new Sony NR 430 at Best Buy for $599. Not a bad deal. Of course their next highest priced laptop was $1049. :smirk:

So far, so good on the how I like the Vaio...it's going to take some time getting used to Vista, but I'll push through on that. I just hope everything I'm currently using will run...still loading software.

Patrick

#37 Tom T

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 06:09 AM

I've had quite a bit of Sony gear and always found it to be first rate. It does tend to come loaded with crudware (but that's never really bothered me), and IMO it's typically a bit overpriced - but they usually offer something - well, different.

T

#38 Patrick

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 03:58 PM

The first thing I did was uninstall a bunch of trial version software. But I'm finding that I like it so far and I think I got a great deal on it. The biggest 'trial' is learning how to use Vista. :grin:

Patrick

#39 Tom T

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 05:25 PM



Tiger Direct sells the Aspire One and the Asus Eee 900... :bow:


The Asus Eee 900 looks like the better deal to me.. :grin:




:imawake:


The Asus XP version is the EEE 901. It's $549 with a 16gb SSD and six cell battery.

The acer is $399 with a six cell battery and a 160 gb hdd.

The only advantage I see to the 901 is that it's got onboard BT and wireless N. I'll take the onboard storage, and buy another BT dongle if I need one (with the extra $150). FWIW, I don't see much advantage to N with a device in this class at this point.

:shrug:

YMMV.

T

#40 Jim7728

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 06:50 PM

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


Interesting thread. I played around with the Acer 8.9" and though it was neat, but wanted something slightly bigger and ordered the ASUS Eee PC 1000H 80G from New Egg. Liked the easy access to the RAM which can be upgraded to 2GB and not void the warranty as with the MSI Wind.

Should be fun in the field.:cool:

#41 Jim7728

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 07:42 PM

FWIW

The ASUS Eee PC 1000H 80G is currently on sale a NewEgg.com for $449. Was able to cancel and resubmit my order and saved $100. :jump:

Asus EEE PC

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16834220370

#42 Tom T

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 09:11 AM

Yeah, saw that. Nearly bought one. Would have been really difficult to turn down if it had ben the six cell.

(Waiting is no fun.)

#43 BlueMoon

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 12:58 PM

Well, I'm holding out for a One... The 1000H was really tempting but I saw a One on display at my local Best Buy... (they are, of course, out of stock) It's a nice piece of work, seems well made and the extended battery life of the six cell unit will be *very* handy...

#44 cvedeler

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 04:26 PM

After seeing the thread a few days ago I decided to check out this little guy at Best Buy. The price they had was $449 for the 1GB / 16GB drive. I tried a number of different things just to test the screen size and keyboard. It is indeed tiny. Very tiny in fact. If portability is your number 1, 2 and 3 concern then this is quite the deal.

However, while browsing around I found a "normal" sized Acer laptop with 2GB / 160GB and a dual core processor for $399. It doesn't draw any more power than it's little cousin (as best I could tell by the specs) and offers a normal sized keyboard and 14" screen.

So it got me thinking. How important is it that my field laptop be THAT small vs. a larger screen and normal sized keyboard?

I must say that for me I just can't justify it. I think I'll stick to the cheaper, more normal sized laptops. My current one is a 1 GB / 80 GB XP 14.1" Acer that is about 3 years old. I'll keep using it until it starts to show signs of death. I'll probably replace it with something similar or perhaps move the opposite direction and get a 17" laptop... :-)

#45 Tom T

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 04:56 PM

14" is a fairly decent size for portability. I've got a 13.3" that is really portable, nice and lightweight.

One note tho - the whole point of the new Atom processor is low power consumption. On the whole, it consumes significantly less (compared to a pentium M which has comparable processing power - around 1/10th) power. The shackles at this point (why there isn't a massive savings in power) is the fact that they are mainly coupling it with the 950 chipset.

I found that for my purposes a portable laptop is where it's at. There's no point to one of those 10lb, 17" behemoths. When you consider the amount of gear that imagers normally take into the field I agree - you really won't be saving much weight or space, and you can get more "bang" elsewhere. But if it's something you're going to be carrying around for 8 hours every day, as well as traveling with (either via crowded car or plane) then every inch, and every pound makes a difference. (I don't ever want to check baggage again if I can help it.)

In the long run, as energy efficiency and computing power catches up, I wouldn't be surprised if the netbooks are something of a dead end market.

Still, the fact of the matter is that for something like this $400 acer, you'd have paid 4-5x as much just a couple of years ago.

At least tech prices continue to fall.

T

#46 Tom T

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 04:58 PM

Well, I'm holding out for a One... The 1000H was really tempting but I saw a One on display at my local Best Buy... (they are, of course, out of stock) It's a nice piece of work, seems well made and the extended battery life of the six cell unit will be *very* handy...


Jeff, did you preorder?

T

#47 BlueMoon

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 05:37 PM

Not yet Tom... but I'm close. I'm checking in a couple of other forums about some software display compatibility questions. The biggest downside I've read so far about the One is the 1024x600 resolution sometimes "gets in the way"...

When I'm on the road, to kill time in layovers, etc, I write interactive fiction using Inform http://www.inform-fi...I7/Welcome.html and I want to be sure it'll run without any probs...

#48 Tom T

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 09:25 PM

FWIW, I have a 1024x600 resolution on my sony UX, and never had a problem (except with some games). I also have the extended battery for that - gives me about 5+ hours. Biggest problem I have had with that unit is that if I want to do any "work" I have to carry a BT keyboard and external mouse, and that 4.5" screen is TINY!

I do find myself using my Toshiba 13.3 U305 quite a bit more. If you want something thin and light without breaking the bank, you might look at one of those. I picked up mine for about $800 in Feb. I'm really pretty happy with it, I'm just looking at this as something even more portable for the basic tasks. And honestly - well - I'm a gadget nut.

#49 BlueMoon

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 10:01 PM

Thx for the heads up on the Toshiba... Interestingly, I've been eyeballing this L305 http://explore.toshi...L300/L305-S5875 at Best Buy for $537.99... The price is supposed to be "online only" but my local BB offers the same deal. A nice unit but the battery life is abysmal, 2.5 hrs...

#50 Rick

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 08:15 AM

I was in San Antonio recently and picked up that Toshiba L305-S5875 for $449 at Best Buy. Looked at the Acer Aspire One too but came to the conclusion it had nothing (except 1.2kg) over my 3yr old 2.2kg Dell 700M which gets about 4.3hrs on battery, and has a DVD-RW drive and 12" screen too.

cheers,
Rick


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