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Me thinks my computer has had it! or i have had it with it.
Would anyone like to suggest a good laptop for use in a backyard observatory.
I am running the following:
.Latest version of Nebulosity
.May also load ImagesPlus
.eos Software for Canon 500d
.Computer also talks to my mount
.Moonlite stepper motor focusing software
and the list may grow.
I do all of my processing in the house on my current desktop computer. If i can get enough grunt from the laptop it may take over from the house computer as that is now 6 years old.
24-04-2012, 11:11 AM
I bought a Dell laptop nearly 12 months ago(XPS17") and would highly recomend them. 12 mths ago I wouldn't even take the time to read their adds. They always seems very expensive compared to others. Anyway I was looking for a lappy to use as my astro lappy. I wasn't a big fan of laptops in general as I could always build a much better desktop for the same price. I just happened to come a cross the dell website after a google search and they had 30% off which made it very competitve with others I had looked at. It had 3d graphics, HD screen, top sound and plenty of HD space. So I took the plunge and purchesed it.
The lappy arrived minus the 3d specs, so I rang them, I had the specs 3 days later, no questions. Then a couple of months later I had a red line running top to bottom of the screen just of center. This was annoying esp. looking at astro pics. (the line was visable against black but not white or lighter colours. I held off calling them as I didnt want to have to send the lappy back to them as its the only pc I own. Anyway they rang me 6mth laters just to see that I was happy. I mentioned the red line, they said their service dept. will ring me in the next day or 2 to arrange to have it fixed. He rang 1 morning and came out that afternoon and replaced the screen on the spot. (I dont think the tech has every had to fix a computer on a hay stack before. I own a stockfeed and my office well its not to big on usable space).
So anyway my point is Dells after sales service is great and I would now highly recommend them. Although I still miss my desktop.
Just my 2c worth.
24-04-2012, 05:10 PM
Things to bear in mind - driver and sofware compatibility with Win 7 - esp the 64 bit version. Don't assume - check - you may need upgrades - some new hardware even (eg usb hubs - usb/serial adapters).
For astro work - if its going to be acquisition only you do not need much grunt/memory (you could even get away with a netbook - some bargains to be had there as they are no longer hot tech), for processing much more grunt is needed, modern laptops are pretty quick CPU wise - but their HDDs are not - consider an SSD upgrade, that will make it fly...as will lots of memory if you are in 64 bit windows land. You may want a second large screen and some form of pointing device also if you go for the full monte machine - processing on a small screen is a pita.
USB ports - you will want plenty (so no, not an ultrabook)
You may want USB3 for future proofing?
Will it get outdoor use or be pampered, is battery life important?
Watch out for Win7 - it tries to be "smart" - looking for new networks, doing housekeeping (updates/patches/scans/defrags) when it thinks it is a quiet moment (like 1am) and quite capable of doing wierd things to your imaging run with one of those helpful activities or to save power - by switching off your usb controller or NIC, and all these are active by default and buried deeply compared to XP (no I am not a Win 7 fan).
Just a few thoughts. Budget is also an issue - best value is away from the trendy ultrabook and latest models. A full size 2011 model from a reputable maker in the $500 range will suffice for acquisition. You might have to go up to $1000 or even $1500 for the processing platform you will not hate.
Other areas to consider
Optical drive - DVD-RW or do you want BluRay?
Screen - size/finish/resolution/form factor (widescreen for movies)
Will you play games - if yes which
Thanks for the advice.
I can budget for around the $900 mark. I'm after a computer that will not keep falling over. I have been advised that my software is fine for current windows 7, but you have me worried about it doing house keeping especialy when i'm imaging at 1am
26-04-2012, 06:16 AM
For that amount you can get a really good machine - I still recon a big screen and an external pointing device are essential when processing and that will push the budget, it is a personal preference and something you could add later.
I did not mean to alarm you too much about Win7 - you can turn all the bells and whistles off - but it does need to be done - machines from the retail channel these days seem to come loaded with tons of cr4pware, so plan on spending a half day cleaning up and optimising your machine for astro work.
The other thing is Win7 Home Premium (so called) has some features missing (it is brain damaged) eg you cannot back up to a network drive, you might check the features list to see if the upgrade to Professional might suit you better.
What do you mean "can't back up to a network drive"?
Am i able to download all of my images to another computer for procesing?
I know it sound a dumb question but i'd better ask
27-04-2012, 06:10 AM
There is no problem copying files to/from a network drive (though Win7 introduces a new way to do this called a homgroup - but you do not have to use it).
What does not work is the Microsoft BACKUP program - it will not let you store backups on a network share - there is no reason why this should be so other than MS decided the feature is not required by most users - thus you will need a 3rd party backup program is you want to back up to a NAS as I do - or shell out for Win7 Professional which does not have this feature disabled.
29-04-2012, 10:52 AM
For that money, and given I agree with the other user regarding DELL laptops (mainly latitudes, which are business class and super reliable) I'd suggest this:
That would be blazingly fast especially with the 128gb SSD. Strongly recommend that!
29-04-2012, 11:33 AM
I would advise getting a buisness class laptop, and ensure it has the following.
1. USB 3.0 ports
2. Express card slot. For addition of firewire card. Some buisness class laptops will come with firewire but it will be the older 1394a not the faster 1394b.
3. The basic models will usually come with Intel graphics suggest you look at one with AMD/NVIDIA 1gb card in it.
4. Soon you will see Thunderbolt ports on Intel based laptops, if you can wait this might be a good option to wait for. Also this launch may also create lot of clearance sales on older models.
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