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Author Topic: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)  (Read 8473 times)

Adam Shay

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NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« on: May 20, 2013, 01:14:21 am »

So my dell hard disk died and upon replacing it I am retiring the machine to the wife and I need a new work machine.

History:
I am an avid windows operator who knows my way around 95% of problems (and have a brother who is a software engineer at Microsoft willing to send me to a Microsoft paper detailing the answer I am looking for!).  I never "owned" my own mac but my first long term use of a mac was when I converted my dell inspiron into a "hackintosh" b/c I was tired of windows 7 lagging! I now know my way around Mac pretty well, not necessarily a strong power user but I probably know more about the back end than most users due to my time on the hackintosh!Since then when my current machine had died I was borrowing a MacBook from my current employer but I am running out of time on that and need to get a new machine.

I need a machine that will be used primarily for use in the field, and also for the office.  I will be using software for Yamaha consoles, Meyer Compass and Mapp online, Smaart, on occasion the BSS omnidrive software, and other in-the-field audio software. I (now) do mostly corporate gigs and sometimes have an Instant Replay, but I will always want a similar playback program (like Sportssounds Pro or similar) as well as editing / recording software (like Adobe Audition) available (usually just 2-track stuff, but with the Yamaha CL5 (my company has 2 of them) I do plan on possibly doing some multitrack recording with the Dante snake plugged into the computer). I also will be using it for my personal Hotmail mail account as well as the corporate mail (exchange server), spreadsheets and letter editing, document storage, music storage (I would rather put a large drive or micro-sd in than carry around extra hard drives)
Most of these programs I either have for Windows or I can buy ($$) for Mac.  After having my Dell I swore never to buy a Dell again for reasons like them putting security chips into batteries and chargers (so you cant use a generic effectively).  I always kicked myself in the butt for getting the Dell instead of a Mac (late 2007).
Now I am looking at the new breed of machines on the market. I am already familiarized with Windows 8 and it is not as complicated as people make it out to be, especially with a touch screen or scrolling trackpad (you can make any pc trackpad multi-touch/scrolling with drivers from Synaptics!). IT also seems to run very efficiently and well, on par with or better than windows XP (but more stable!) I first got interest when I heard about the new Microsoft Surface Pro, but then realized that if Microsoft comes out with that then other companies will come out with newer machines to beat it!
I am planning on spending between $800-$1000 on a machine. I was originally going to put that into a used MacBook Pro and try to find a good deal on an I5, but I don't have a ipad or other touchpad surface to link with it, and the selection of new windows machines with touch screens / tablet-like full featured pc's makes me think I will be better putting my money into one of these...
Summary:
MAC pro's:  Proven reliability, good solid machine, ability to replace optical drive with 2nd internal hard drive
MAC con's:  No touchscreen available, expensive software
Win 8 tablet/PC Pro's:  Touchscreen / many machines can flip to feel like tablet, PC architecture for software I already own, more selections of software available
Win 8 tablet/PC con's:  probably slightly more expensive machine (not available used) for same processing power, I always wanted to own a mac!

I can find lots of info & arguments about different machines online, but nobody has compared them for the type of use that we / I use it for...
I am writing all this here, so I am looking for other opinions or ideas to try to help me make my decision...

(PS One particular system that caught my attention for it's design was the Lenovo Yoga, but I think I would need to upgrade the hard disc to a 500+gb hybrid to make me happy, and that would put me above budget!  google it and check it out)
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Jason Lucas

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2013, 01:39:28 am »

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-ATIV-XE700T1C-A01US-Smart-700T/dp/B0098O9TRO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369028239&sr=8-1&keywords=samsung+ativ

Only 1.7GHz, but it's got an SSD so it'll be pretty zippy still. A co-worker of mine uses one of these for inventory. Works great.

There's this too: http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-13-3-Inch-Convertible-Touchscreen-Ultrabook/dp/B00ATANVLG/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1369028326&sr=1-1&keywords=lenovo+yoga

I only got to use it for a couple of minutes but it's one of the nicer touch screens I've seen on a laptop.

EDIT: Just noticed you said 500GB+ desired...Haven't seen a good convertible with that much storage.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 01:41:24 am by Jason Lucas »
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Adam Shay

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2013, 02:33:31 am »


There's this too: http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-13-3-Inch-Convertible-Touchscreen-Ultrabook/dp/B00ATANVLG/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1369028326&sr=1-1&keywords=lenovo+yoga

I only got to use it for a couple of minutes but it's one of the nicer touch screens I've seen on a laptop.

EDIT: Just noticed you said 500GB+ desired...Haven't seen a good convertible with that much storage.

I just looked deeper into the Yoga (the one I was interested in and the latter link in your post) and saw that it has a space for a 2nd hard drive (awesome) but that it has no Ethernet port onboard!!!  Does anybody have experience using the Dante virtual soundcard with a usb Ethernet card???  I know that usb data goes thru an extra chip before it hits the buss so that may limit the quality of realtime data streaming from the gigabit Ethernet?   That detail worries me... Thoughts?

Also, I was always an advocate of higher speed processor chips (2ghz+, or if possible 2.4ghz+) and it seems most of these machines are <2ghz. I know they are dual core (I really wanted a quad) and I know these chips use more battery power but that's what really makes a machine zippy (I know hard drive is the other big bottleneck) but are these 1.6ghz dual core machines really powerful enough for multitasking or do they bog down under heavy load (remember they are running windows too!)
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Jason Lucas

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2013, 11:29:57 am »

I just looked deeper into the Yoga (the one I was interested in and the latter link in your post) and saw that it has a space for a 2nd hard drive (awesome) but that it has no Ethernet port onboard!!!  Does anybody have experience using the Dante virtual soundcard with a usb Ethernet card???  I know that usb data goes thru an extra chip before it hits the buss so that may limit the quality of realtime data streaming from the gigabit Ethernet?   That detail worries me... Thoughts?

Also, I was always an advocate of higher speed processor chips (2ghz+, or if possible 2.4ghz+) and it seems most of these machines are <2ghz. I know they are dual core (I really wanted a quad) and I know these chips use more battery power but that's what really makes a machine zippy (I know hard drive is the other big bottleneck) but are these 1.6ghz dual core machines really powerful enough for multitasking or do they bog down under heavy load (remember they are running windows too!)

I'm a Windows guy so for me having Windows isn't a con. Even for heavy multitasking.

Your expectations may be a bit high for your budget. I don't think a convertible notebook with an ethernet port, a quad core processor running over 2GHz and a fast hard drive with 500GB or more exists for less than $1500.

That said, if you're willing to save up a bit: http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/LenovoPortal/en_US/catalog.workflow:item.detail?GroupID=37&Code=X230T_ADVANCED_SAP&category_id=89ECFD45CA0654775864CDBAD2606AC7

Quad Core processor? Check.
500GB hard drive? Check.
Touch screen? Check.

Appears to ship with Win7 as opposed to Win8, oddly enough. I prefer Win7 myself but thankfully it's really easy to upgrade to 8 if you want it.
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Tommy Peel

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2013, 11:58:33 am »

IMO, having enough RAM is at least as important to multitasking that the processor speed/# of cores. I've got a '09 13in MacBook pro with a 2.53 Core 2 Duo processor, after upgrading to 8gb of RAM it multitasks very well provided the tasks aren't too graphics intensive(not very good integrated graphics). I run Parallels with Win7 and 8; they both run well in conjunction with OSX and are fairly snappy. If I was getting a new laptop right now I'd want a 15in MacBook Pro with Retina Display with an upgraded processor and 16gb of RAM; if that was too expensive I'd get either a new regular 15in MBP or a newer used 15in MBP.
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Jason Lucas

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2013, 12:06:49 pm »

I agree that RAM is important but I'd argue that your processor is much more important.

Reason I say that is my home machine only has 3GB of RAM and it can run circles around a lot of other machines I've used. It has a 1st gen Core i5 quad core.

And the biggest bottle neck in my system is actually the hard drive.
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Tommy Peel

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2013, 12:39:57 pm »

I agree that RAM is important but I'd argue that your processor is much more important.

Reason I say that is my home machine only has 3GB of RAM and it can run circles around a lot of other machines I've used. It has a 1st gen Core i5 quad core.

And the biggest bottle neck in my system is actually the hard drive.

I guess it depends on what type of work you're doing with the computer; much of the work I do requires a lot of RAM(I run a VM regularly and did so on my old Win7 machine too) so I've seen significant gains just from a RAM upgrade. My previous laptop came with a 2.2ghz single core processor and I was able to upgrade to a 2.0ghz dual core processor; that made a huge difference in performance(especially considering that I got the CPU for $15 on eBay).

As far as the hard drive goes I've upgraded my MacBook to a SSD and that made a big difference in loading times for everything; it was well worth the money. I put a 240gb SSD in the main hard drive bay and replaced the optical drive with the original 500gb drive. I'd imagine that newer machines with SATA 3 will see even bigger gains than me because I'm limited to SATA 2 which some SSDs can max out.
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"An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you."
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Gear List:
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Riley Casey

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2013, 01:45:21 pm »

How are you guys handling CDs without optical drives?  An external CD drive is a bulky nuisance compared to small external hard drives.  Being able to strip a track from a CD and open it in an editor on my MBP has always been a must have capability.  USB thumb drives have reduced the frequency of that but not eliminated it.



I put a 240gb SSD in the main hard drive bay and replaced the optical drive with the original 500gb drive.

Tommy Peel

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2013, 03:14:03 pm »

How are you guys handling CDs without optical drives?  An external CD drive is a bulky nuisance compared to small external hard drives.  Being able to strip a track from a CD and open it in an editor on my MBP has always been a must have capability.  USB thumb drives have reduced the frequency of that but not eliminated it.

I use an external drive on the very rare occasions I need to use a CD; I've gotten to the point where the external drive isn't even in my laptop bag. That said, being a sound guy isn't my day job; all of the sound work that I do is either for the band I work with or for one of several churches I assist at. The external drive is definitely a hassle when I need it, so if you need an optical drive I wouldn't recommend swapping it for a hard drive; for me the extra storage is worth the hassle with the drive.
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"An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you."
-Inception

Gear List:
Behringer XR18, Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1, Dell Latitude E7470, '09 13 inch MacBook Pro

Mac Kerr

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Re: NEW LAPTOP (suggestions?)
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2013, 03:53:07 pm »

I use an external drive on the very rare occasions I need to use a CD; I've gotten to the point where the external drive isn't even in my laptop bag. That said, being a sound guy isn't my day job; all of the sound work that I do is either for the band I work with or for one of several churches I assist at. The external drive is definitely a hassle when I need it, so if you need an optical drive I wouldn't recommend swapping it for a hard drive; for me the extra storage is worth the hassle with the drive.

As it is for Riley an optical drive is a must have for me. I get handed a CD or asked to burn a CD on virtually every show I do. There are other options for more storage. I am about to swap out my 7200rpm 500G drive for a Seagate SSHD hybrid drive. 1TB drive with small SSD for critical rapid drive access. I already have 16GB RAM and 2.2GHz i7.

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