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Notebook/laptop/tablet Pc Buying Guide *updated 2011*

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  • macchiato!macchiato! ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ bay area, caPosts: 707Member
    edited January 2012
    Hi! Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to be very clear :')

    I'm a college freshman majoring in Photography and I need a new laptop that has good portability and the ability to run many processor-intensive programs at once.

    I'll definitely be carrying my laptop around often at school and most likely even my DSLR on the same days. I also have my other school work, maybe text books, etc... so I wouldn't like to carry anything so heavy.

    I'm going to use a lot of Adobe products (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc) and most likely many at the same time. I'll probably write essays and normal school work too, but I have a PC at home that I can use.

    All my friends are recommending that I get a MacBook (a lot of the Graphic Design majors said they really like the handy gestures/shortcuts), so I took a look at the Apple site and have my eyes on the 13" Air and Pro. With the specifications I'm looking at, the Pro would be about $30 more for basically the same features except with 2.8ghz instead of Air's 1.7ghz.

    By no means is $1300 pocket money, but I want to have a laptop that I won't want to throw away in the next few years. I think both look nice, but I admit I'm a bit more attracted to the design of Air.

    The basic specifications/features of the ones I chose:

    * Pro: 2.4GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5 * 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM — 2x2GB * 128GB Solid State Drive * 4.5lb

    * Air: 1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 * 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM * 128GB Flash Storage * 2.96lb

    Which MacBook is most suitable for my type of use and/or the better (long-term) investment? Do I need more than 4GB RAM? I don't know about many of these technical specifications so please tell me if any of these features are wrong for me!

    Please also recommend me other laptops (I prefer 13") you feel are right for me... unless they're more expensive, then probably not haha!
  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited January 2012
    The Air's processor isn't slow. It runs at a lower clockspeed because it is designed to produce less heat and consume less power on typical loads. When needed, the cores can turbo up to around 2.XGhz depending on the model. This performance complaint was refuted when the models were first released.

    4GB is fine for most Photoshop files buy 8GB provides a good cushion if and when you edit multiple large files at once. I've ran and done work in Photoshop and Lightroom with 1GB so memory isn't necessarily the main concern. 

    I'd personally hold out for the next refresh in a few months. The unibody Macbook Pro has thermal issues and the newer Intel chips might finally resolve those problems. There's also talk of the Pros ditching the optical drive and having some different internals and maybe external appearance. 
  • macchiato!macchiato! ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ bay area, caPosts: 707Member
    orangeman wrote on 24 January 2012 - 03:53 PM:

    The Air's processor isn't slow. It runs at a lower clockspeed because it is designed to produce less heat and consume less power on typical loads. When needed, the cores can turbo up to around 2.XGhz depending on the model. This performance complaint was refuted when the models were first released.

    4GB is fine for most Photoshop files buy 8GB provides a good cushion if and when you edit multiple large files at once. I've ran and done work in Photoshop and Lightroom with 1GB so memory isn't necessarily the main concern. 

    I'd personally hold out for the next refresh in a few months. The unibody Macbook Pro has thermal issues and the newer Intel chips might finally resolve those problems. There's also talk of the Pros ditching the optical drive and having some different internals and maybe external appearance. 



    Thank you!

    I wish I could wait for the next one (I read a couple of the previous posts about it), but I need a laptop within the next few weeks. Do you think buying an Air or Pro right now wouldn't be worth it because of the next refresh?
  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited January 2012
    The concern is whether you care for the optical drive or not. They'll probably be removed in future revisions and if you really hate that thing but want the higher-performance of a Pro, wait it out. Future Pro models assuming the optical is out should have a better battery life and thinner profile, making it lighter also (under 4 pounds). 

    If you can live with the optical drive and the weight that comes with the current Pro models (as opposed to the Air), go for it. Whatever happens, you can pop in some memory down the line and swap the optical drive for a drive caddy later on.
  • macchiato!macchiato! ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ bay area, caPosts: 707Member
    orangeman wrote on 24 January 2012 - 04:49 PM:

    The concern is whether you care for the optical drive or not. They'll probably be removed in future revisions and if you really hate that thing but want the higher-performance of a Pro, wait it out. Future Pro models assuming the optical is out should have a better battery life and thinner profile, making it lighter also (under 4 pounds). 

    If you can live with the optical drive and the weight that comes with the current Pro models (as opposed to the Air), go for it. Whatever happens, you can pop in some memory down the line and swap the optical drive for a drive caddy later on.



    An optical drive is not something I need. I'd definitely be interested in a Pro if it were lighter... unfortunately, I can't really wait out the few months to get that. I know Apple has a recycle program though so if I do end up getting a Macbook now and really can't stand not having the new Pro instead of whatever I got later on, it's an option :)

    Thank you for the replies!
  • hikari-tadashihikari-tadashi Posts: 89Member
    o________O wrote on 18 January 2012 - 03:14 AM:

    I thought OSX was a nice fresh start too, I have no complaints about the software. During the first year, I loved my MB and detested windows, until I realised how bad the hardware was compared to windows notebooks that were half the price. I don't ever expect to use the hardware to full capacity (bad idea anyway) but I like having the additional power?

    What's your reason for wanting a MB exactly? Tired of windows? Want something different? You won't run into many issues regarding compatibility nowadays, so I wouldn't really worry about that, but are you willing to spend 2x as much money for a notebook that's noticeably less powerful for its aesthetic appeal? My main complaint about MB's is their price for performance which is shockingly bad, although the software is nicer. I'm set on getting the 5750, just sayin'.


    yeah, i wanna try sth different (:
    i think i would go for a MB, sigh. i dunno much about computers and laptop though. so yea -__-

    the new refresh is coming soon aite? when at the latest do you guys think? because i dont think i can wait for long ~_~
    in the meantime i will just use my mom's ultrabook >.>;
  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited February 2012
    April is when the first mobile i7 chips are slated for release and there is a model that corresponds to the current i7 quad-core chip at a similar price bracket. May is when the mainstream chips are released so they could wait for a May/June announcement to refresh everything at the same time.
  • hikari-tadashihikari-tadashi Posts: 89Member
    thats quite a long period of time. if i can hold om, i'll wait, if not i'll just buy it :huh:
  • Luuuri.Luuuri. Posts: 6Member
    Hey guys!

    I'm going to the US in December and I'm planning to buy a new laptop there, since it's much cheaper than where I live. 
    Which laptops do you guys recommend to a college student? Btw I'm majoring in accounting and I'm only gonna use it for college purposes and to read emails, watch videos and a little bit of photoshopping (CS5).

    I can only pay $500, so I can't afford a MacBook Air or an ultrabook. My country puts a lame tax on electronic products bought abroad if the total price of the products are above $500. :(

    I already own a Sony Vaio and was thinking of buying a Sony laptop again, but people said it's not worth the price. Any suggestions? I don't want a dell or an HP - I've got a lot of friends that had a lot of trouble with laptops from those brands.
  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    The HP Probooks are fair for their price but if you have the extra money a few months from now, their Elitebook line is worth checking out. Heavy (compared to thin laptops) but built to last. Dell business line is alright but the newer Latitude line feels cheaper than their old one. If you buy any laptop, reinstall Windows on it.

    My other suggestion is an iPad, whatever version is not important. Does what most people need on a laptop and is far more convenient to carry around. This varies depending on your demands for Photoshop.

    Ask the same question in a few more months - a lot of laptops are still waiting to be announced.
  • iyagiiyagi 임진영♣ Posts: 1,505Member

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    I've been looking at the Asus U46SV for a little while now and I think I'm pretty much set on it. I most definitely need a better laptop for my major since I run a lot of demanding programs, and my current laptop is turning 3 this year and has began showing problems with how many programs I need open for schoolwork. I heard the graphics are better on the U46SV in comparison to the U46E because of the Nvidia graphics processor. The problem is I'm finding the U46SV very difficult to find in stores or online. It was released October of last year, so I'm surprised it's not as available? The other U46 laptops seem to be plenty in stock, but the SV I just cannot find, at least not new.

    Anyone own an Asus U46SV? My decision is pretty much set, but I'd love to hear opinions and also where I could find it. Or if you have alternatives that would be great too. I'm pretty set on continuing my PC trend, but my personal requirements are 6GB RAM and up (preferably 8GB and upwards actually), better than average graphics/display, and long battery life. Size is not a huge issue, though I'd prefer one that's a little more portable, like around 5lb or less. But not looking for a netbook. Eventually I plan on doing a dual screen setup anyways, so I'm fine with say a 14" display.
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  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    Do you play games? Most graphic cards are good for that at the cost of heat and decreased battery life. Performance-wise, the new HD4000 integrated option from Intel should be enough for a boost from GPU acceleration. Most programs still depend on the CPU and hard drive so whatever money you can save should go towards a solid state drive.

    The above-average screens are harder to find. Thinkpads have this FHD+ with high color gamut and HP has their expensive Dreamcolor and the Radiance display that sometimes comes into stock. Samsung has the PLS in their Series 9. Some screens on Dells use TN panels + a better backlight. Since you'll be using a second monitor, I would not stress over screen quality on the portable machine.

    Memory is cheap. Not something to look at when buying the system.

    List the programs you use, how much of it, and I can see what will fit your needs.
  • iyagiiyagi 임진영♣ Posts: 1,505Member

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    @orangeman Thanks for the input! I normally play games on my PS3 but I planned on getting back into League and my old MMORPGS when I got a new laptop since my current one just can't handle the gaming programs. I heard the U46SV and Asus laptops in general are really quiet and don't have a tendency to overheat, whereas Sony Vaios (like mine) have a bad reputation of overheating. Asus seems to have a decent line of gaming notebooks, but I wasn't sure if I should spring for those. Overall I just really like the company, but I can always look into other brands. Admittedly aesthetics are a part of my choice as well (as a design student I can't really help it lol), so I'm kind of picky about how it looks.

    I will most likely be running programs like Photoshop CS5, After Effects, Flash, Illustrator, etc. My major deals heavily with animation, so I'll most likely be running more than one of these at the same time. Also later down the road we'll be using Maya for 3D animation. I'm just sort of a heavy computer user in general so I run Chrome, iTunes, GOM player, Skype, etc. on a daily basis, plus gaming.
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  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    U46SV seems to be discontinued as of February. A new model should be out in the summer. 

    A dedicated GPU tends to produce more heat when it's stressed (such as gaming). It's an inherent design constraint for all machines although the bigger and bulkier they are, the better heat management. Newer laptops have on-demand switching. I don't feel you will need a dedicated graphics card for your daily tasks. Photoshop doesn't really use it (benefits more from RAM and faster drives), After Effects might load previews slightly faster, and Maya will most likely stress your CPU more than anything else. If you want to play demanding games, surely consider it but otherwise, the discrete GPU is optional and can save a few hundred dollars for some other upgrade.

    Battery life is generally the compromising factor. Longer life = without dedicated GPU.
  • bulgogi88bulgogi88 Posts: 5,578Member

    IDOL

    ^ yup, that new model to replace the older U46SV looks decent save the typical crap 768p screen resolution.

    http://notebookitalia.it/asus-u47-ultraportatile-intel-ivy-bridge-13909

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/249350/asus_u47_ultraportable_stuffs_power_into_13inch_chassis.html

    I like the thin bezel & overall decent specs for the price but I wish Asus offered a higher rez panel as an option. I'm not expecting an IPS panel but at least 1600 x 900 300nit panel would've been nice. Also, their standard low grade TN panels are nothing to shout about either & unfortunately, it appears this model is no exception. I know Asus will be offering full HD IPS displays in their Zenbook line of ultrabooks but it's a shame as there doesn't appear to be a supplier of IPS panels in the 14" size atm.
    image
  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    Manufacturers will be trying to launch a Retina display spin-off so color quality is likely not on top of their list right now. 

    If the panel manufacturers pumped out a 14-inch IPS screen, it would be a hard upgrade to sell at $150-200. Possibly low yields, little demand, and higher production costs overall passed onto the small customer base. 
  • _siku__siku_ (>^.^)> ang ang~ Posts: 1,455Member

    IDOL

    I don't know much about laptop so uhm my question is what's the difference between IBM Lenovo think pad and ideapad?

    I need a small laptop/netbook for school, mainly taking notes, surfing the Internet and YouTube, no gaming so I don't need a good graphic card. I was looking at Lenovo ones, but do you guys have other recommendations? My budget is about $500 and under :( and I'm looking at about 2GB + for memory.

    Thanks!!
  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    Thinkpad is the legacy business line. I believe Ideapad was a homegrown product of Lenovo launched after they bought the Thinkpad brand from IBM.

    For under $500, I suggest an iPad (or an Android tablet as some may prefer). Same basic performance as a low-end laptop but more convenient. You won't find a better screen or battery life for that price and size.
  • Luuuri.Luuuri. Posts: 6Member
    Are tablets really worth the price? Sure, they are light, small and easy to carry around but with the keyboard and other docks, most of them cost more than $500 and I think that's really pricy considering that tablets don't have as many features as laptops. Also, I think that the average screen size is too small for a person that will probably spend a few hours writing papers.


    I have a lot of papers and seminars, so PowerPoint and Word are a must. For my degree Excel is also essential.
  • orangemanorangeman Posts: 2,650Friend of Soompi

    IDOL

    edited May 2012
    And what features are lost? A large but pitiful screen? A keyboard that anchors itself to the machine? A replaceable second battery just to last the afternoon? You're not receptive to tablets as indicated by your skeptical stance several years after their introduction and it's not my job to persuade or determine what you value. 

    http://shawnblanc.ne...04/ipad-laptop/
    http://technologizer...orite-computer/
    http://davidchartier...top-shawn-blanc
    http://www.macstorie...iting-workflow/

    There are many more opinions on life in the "post-PC" era, something no one is actively fearing sans manufacturers who can't profit from their cheap mediocre products. 
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