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Anyone know a lot about laptops?


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#1 TammyB

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    Posted 08 August 2008 - 10:01 AM

    I'm looking for some help finding a laptop. I must first warn you that I'm totally computer stupid. I just know what I need the thing to do or if it's working the way I want it to.

    So I'm looking for a laptop, mainly for editing software, and a good lcd resolution, I also need it to have a decent amount of ram. I'm also on a budget and would like to spend less then $1000.00 if at all possible.

    *What is "Maximum screen resolution" and more importantly can you really tell the difference between a 1280 x 800 to say compared to a 1600 x 900?

    *Video memory, is it only important for playing video games or viewing video's? Or does it have other advantages? Some laptops say 358MB versus 1530MB. Not sure if that is an important thing to look at.

    *I read that you should get anything that has "shared video memory" why is that?

    Also is their an specfic laptop brand that you would say "stay away from" due to problems with the manufacture?

    #2 MikkiStreak

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      Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:04 PM

      oy, you are asking some in-depth questions! :) Let's see if I can explain the random shit in my head...

      First resolution: yes, it's important to a certain degree, and in photography, it can be very important. The resolution basically defines how many pixels you can view on your screen. The higher the number, the more pixels you can view--- which means, if you have a 10 meg image, but a low resolution screen--- your photograph is going to look like shit on the computer screen but the printed photograph looks great. If you zoom in on the image on your screen, you could get distortion earlier in the zoom than someone with a high res screen....

      Now, the hardest thing to explain: memory.

      Most people are obsessed with the speed of their processor. But, in reality, a fast processor isn't going to do squat if there isn't enough memory to handle the commands.

      So, think of it like this: you have a huge computer desktop, which represents your hard drive. Your hands are the memory and your brain is the processor.

      So, on this desktop you have a bunch of piles of paper that you need to file in the drawers of the desk. You have a deadline to get all the papers filed. So your hands want to work really fast. But, the signals your brain sends to your hands, slows you down and you don't get enough done in time.

      The processor and memory work together (called "clock synchronization")... your processor sends a signal and the memory executes the command. If your memory is low, your computer gets sluggish.

      Most processor speeds have not significantly changed in the last 4-6 years. We've been looking into replacing our desktop computer because I really don't want to try and fix my motherboard or deal with replacing it and having to reinstall all my drivers, software, etc... I was really surprised to see that most PC's on the market today, have the same speed processor that I put in mine back in 03.

      But, the memory has increased significantly. For what you're wanting to do Tammy--- I would say go with at least 2gb memory (but make sure it can expand to at least 4gb)... You'll also want a decent size cache memory (1mb or more)... You'll also want at least a 250gb hard drive to store your file sizes. Get a good graphics acceleration card- spend the money to upgrade it at purchase, if you have to--- it'll pay off in the long run. I'd also recommend a dual-core PC for backup purposes. Also, you might want to get a monitor calibration tool for what you'll be using the computer for.

      As for brands---- can't go wrong with a Dell or Gateway or Mac. I would steer clear of E-Machines, Compaq and HP. Their lifespan doesn't seem as long, and they tend to be outgrown quickly.

      Search online for pricing. I don't know if you guys have Fry's Electronics up there, but if you do--- watch their weekly flyer and you'll come across some amazing deals if you're patient. Steer clear of Best Buy for anything, especially PC's (won't even get started on that one)... also, Dell direct usually has some good specials only available online. MySimon is another good price shopping tool online...

      #3 MikkiStreak

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        Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:07 PM

        oh yea, and shared memory: well, there are several types of memory, which can be specific in their use (like cache memory)... when you have a certain portion of your total memory that can be 'shared' it means it's not dedicated to a specific action. For example: if you run low on cache memory (which is like a storage of your browser history), then any memory chip whose circuitry is designed to 'share', can allocate some of it's memory to the cache memory and keep you moving fluidly online.

        #4 starchild

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          Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:15 PM

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by MikkiStreak
          As for brands---- can't go wrong with a Dell or Gateway or Mac. I would steer clear of E-Machines, Compaq and HP. Their lifespan doesn't seem as long, and they tend to be outgrown quickly.
          The techs at my job call Compaqs 'comcraps' for the same reasons you mentioned LOL

          #5 TammyB

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            Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:34 PM

            OK what is a "monitor calibration tool" and what does it do?

            OK HP was on my short list, might now have to re-think that. I was also looking at Sony Viao's

            #6 MikkiStreak

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              Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:45 PM

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by starchild
              The techs at my job call Compaqs 'comcraps' for the same reasons you mentioned LOL
              i LOVE that!!! I even did a geeky snort-laughter when I read that!!

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by TammyB
              OK what is a "monitor calibration tool" and what does it do?

              OK HP was on my short list, might now have to re-think that. I was also looking at Sony Viao's
              Monitor calibration tool--- ever see the color red on your computer screen, and when you print, it doesn't look like the same shade?

              Monitor calibration fixes that. Sometimes you can do color tests of your monitor through your video card control panel, but it can be a real PITA to adjust manually and still get it accurate. I spent about 4 hours trying to manually adjust it using my video card control panel, and then I gave up and decided the $100 for the calibration tool is easier. :)

              #7 TammyB

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                Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:50 PM

                So do I purchase the tool or does someone do it for me?

                #8 MikkiStreak

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                  Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:55 PM

                  Haven't worked on/with the Sony, but just read the specs on the FW series.... it has all the specs you'd want--- not sure how it impacts the price tho when it's customized. I mean, most computer manufacturers show something like "starting at $x,xxx", and the specs will read "up to 4.0gb RAM"... but when you piece it together with a 2.8Ghz processor, 4.0 RAM, 400GB hard drive, etc... it could wind up being double that price....

                  But, from the entry specs and growth potential, it sounds good... You might want to "build" one on their site to get the price, and then do the same thing on the Dell site and Gateway sites using the same specs... just to get a true price comparison...

                  #9 MikkiStreak

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                    Posted 08 August 2008 - 02:58 PM

                    It won't come with the PC... search the photography forum's you're a member of for monitor calibration and you'll find some good resources/info on both adjusting yourself manually as well as buying the tool... then you'll be able to decide if you want to give it a try yourself, or just buy a tool...

                    even if you buy the tool- it's not like something you'd hook up inside the computer---- it's usually software or a device you connect to your monitor that will make the adjustments to your video card automatically.

                    #10 JoLo908

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                      Posted 08 August 2008 - 03:12 PM

                      I am bad with computers, but I have a Macbook and I love it! Macs are more expensive, but are extremely user friendly. You should call Mac and see what they offer, and if they can offer what you need. They are a bit pricey, but worht every penny, I would never go back to a regular PC.




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