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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

OT: Buying new Laptop for any thoughts? (PC Only)
Luke Trottier, Photographer
Bath | ME | US | Posted: 11:44 AM on 03.11.09
->> I'm looking for a laptop with a great screen for photo editing outside the office. Portability is not really an issue. I'm also not interested in Macbook Pro. We have to run Vista or XP so I see no point in paying extra for a apple logo.

I'm thinking the new Dell Studio XPS 16 with the RGB LED 1920x1080 screen. Does anyone have any experience with this laptop and screen or have a better suggestion?
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Karsten Moran, Photographer, Photo Editor
New York | NY | United States of America | Posted: 12:27 PM on 03.11.09
->> Check out lenovo/IBM - I bought a refurbed X61s and while it's a bit small, the screen is phenomenal. Knocks the pants off of the HP machine I used to have. I was looking at the XPS's as well and am glad I went for the IBM... the refurbed prices are also pretty sweet (see second link).

http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/na/LenovoPortal/en_US/speci...:ShowPromo?LandingPage=/All/US/Landing_pages/Sales/stpatsmar09

http://stores.channeladvisor.com/LenovoOutlet/Notebook/
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Philip Johnson, Photographer
Garland | TX | USA | Posted: 12:36 PM on 03.11.09
->> I didn't look at the refurbished Lenovo units, but for the new units they seemed to be higher priced and less disk space and ram then the Dell.

I'm looking also so I will be interested to see what others suggest.
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Luke Trottier, Photographer
Bath | ME | US | Posted: 12:42 PM on 03.11.09
->> Plus they are using WLED vs RGBLED's which I have read have the best color accuracy. You can always buy a larger HD but your stuck with your screen.
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Karsten Moran, Photographer, Photo Editor
New York | NY | United States of America | Posted: 1:22 PM on 03.11.09
->> I believe Lenovo makes different lines/models with different screens. I'd look into that depending on which model/line you're after.

Whatever screen I have on my x61s is excellent -- it's on-par with my 20" HP LP2065 S-ISP display.

Here's a PDN review of the W700. This sort of thing would be overkill for me, but perhaps it's up your alley.

http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/content_display/esearch/e3i083596716ab8fb86b0c...

Phillip, the refurbed prices, if you're willing to buy a refurbed pc, are better than I could find pretty much anywhere else for a similar quality system. It's possible that things have changed, but I'd take a look -- one caveat, they take a while to ship (think 1-2 weeks).
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Brian Schneider, Student/Intern, Photographer
Clemson | SC | | Posted: 2:18 PM on 03.11.09
->> I went for the Dell Studio 17" and was completely unhappy with it. I thought it would be a great machine, but within the first 2 weeks of ownership I had to reset to the factory default image to install MS Office 2007, and went through 2 screens! Their technical support and customer service was horrible, I spent about 5-7 hours dealing with the screens and software issue.

When the tech came out to fix the screen, he also hinted the new Studio all-in-one design has had a lot of kinks that needed to be worked out; he also mentioned, which made me very angry, that Dell has possibly been putting refurb parts in new laptops - and that replacement parts, like my screen he was installing, can be refurb. The screen broke the next day, and after spending another 2 hours with tech support and customer service I was able to send it back.

I had always heard they were good, but this was just such a horrible experience. Maybe I got a lemon, but if they are throwing refurb parts in new systems, that really is an issue.

I did a lot of research and looked around for a good laptop. I ended up getting a Sony FW notebook with a beautiful 16.4" high-def screen, 2.4 GHz dual core, 4gb ram, 320GB hard drive, and a 512MB video card, for about $200 more than the Dell. I love mine, and I would highly recommend it.
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Allen Lester, Photographer
Norfolk | VA | USA | Posted: 3:59 PM on 03.12.09
->> I'm in the same boat with Luke. Any suggestions concerning video card, resolution, screen type, etc. would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Allen
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Alan Look, Photographer
Bloomington | IL | United States | Posted: 4:46 PM on 03.12.09
->> I've mentioned www.cyberpowerpc.com a couple of times. I got one almost 2 years ago - no problems so far. A friend of mine had some trouble and it got taken care of, although he didn't like dealing with a 3rd party on the warranty. I think cyberpower brokers that back to the manufacturer.

Mine has a glossy screen - I love it, but others in previous threads hate glossy. It is wsxga and is actually more clear when in photo mechanic and photoshop than the 21" wide matte dell I have on my desk.

Will I buy another one? haven't really decided. I always check out cyberpower, dell, and hp when I'm in the market.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:25 PM on 03.12.09
->> I recently purchased an HP 8530 Elitebook (WinXP). It was an upgrade model to my former laptop so my docking station was compatible. I use the HP LP2275w 22" wide screen off my docking station and process most of my jobs from it.

The screen on the 8530 is much better than my old laptop and colors are much closer to my monitor (which I calibrate once every two weeks). Hard for me to say if its the best but it works pretty well for me.

In my former life I was employed by an IT firm that was one of the largest HP Partners in the USA so I know a little bit more about their "Business Class" machines and how they are designed to meet buisness objectives. Things like standardization of docking stations, 3 year bumper-to-bumper warranties (they really shine when you need them to), and "original" parts replacement well beyond the warranty period. These things are important to me as my laptop is a mission critical part of my business. If I have a problem I want it resolved ASAP! HP has come through for me several times over the past 10 years.

I can't speak for their retail laptops but I've always felt good about my investment when buying through the HP Small-Medium Business division. I'm sure I pay a bit more but in the long term it's worth every penny knowing they'll be in my corner if I have a problem.

Like my business, I measure the value of the relationship first before looking at the sticker price.

BTW...call the SMB department and get an assinged sales person to give you a quote via email...you'll get 10% off the unit excluding accessories. At least that's what they do for me.

Good Luck
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Mike Huffstatler, Photographer, Assistant
Rancho Cucamonga | Ca | United States | Posted: 6:15 PM on 03.12.09
->> Without going into a lot of details as to why, let's just say I have a lot of experience with mobile computers. This is a tough question to ask..."what is the best", because it's often very subjective. What's best for one person might not be the best for another.

A couple of points to also consider;
-every- mfg of systems has had problems, and every model has had failures. No exception. Those that have had the experience with be vocal about the problems too.

As Kevin mentions above, each of the mfgs also have "business" models and "consumer" models. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they are distinct lines of business. You will almost invariably get better service and support on the business lines, because frankly, they generally cost more.

Without specifics, IMHO, some of what is written above is valid, some I'll disagree with.

I will add one comment to Brian above: without knowing the details behind it (and there is no need to expound on it), it's really hard to say what happened. See my point above. Nothing is perfect, and there will be failures. Here is where I'll tell you to be careful; statements to infer that used parts are being put in laptops are seriously unfounded and one might infer, slanderous. No tier-1 vendor is going to use used parts in new units. Not in today’s market...they will quickly be run out of business. (In the 80's, Packard Bell did that on 1 model and where are they now?) Warranty parts from all providers are often labeled as "refurbished". There are legal reasons why that happens. Some of those parts may have come from disassembled NEW units, or an open OEM box. (all parts come in bulk packaging) If something is taken out of an OEM package, you really can't call it new. It's no longer a sealed-package product.

Ok, sorry, rant over. To your question;

First recommendation would be to consider the business lines from Dell, HP, Lenovo or whomever. You will get better warranty, generally better support and different support lines.

The W700 mentioned above is an interesting unit, but IMHO, I'm not convinced. As a lefty, it just wouldn't work for me.

Another line to consider would be the Dell Precision. These are engineering workstation quality systems. Optimized for performance, good support, application certifications if that's important. On the higher end of the scale, look towards the M6400. 16gb memory, quad-core processors, dual hard drives, 512mg or 1gb dedicated video (you don't need this for basic photography applications...more oriented for 3D/engineering applications) It has a great edge-to-edge 17" 100% Adobe Gamut display that calibrates very nicely. It's a glossy screen, but man, the images look great on it. But, it's heavy...8.5 pounds starting weight.

A step smaller is the M4400. 15.4: display, lots of other great features.

There are also several models in the Latitude line worth looking at. E6500, E6400, etc.

I'd probably generally stick with Dell, HP or Lenovo. There are other solutions out there, but these three are the top vendors.

With XP, there is no need to buy more than 4gb of memory. I'd get the fasted HDD possible; 7200 rpm or solid state. If you are using CS4, it can offload some processing to the GPU (video card) with Nvidia options and OpenGL, so the 512mb option in the M6400 is where I'd go.

I recommend the Dell Factory Outlet to a lot of people, and I've purchased units there myself.
http://www.dell.com/dfo The warranties are shorter by default, but you can bump them up. If you don't mind a scratch or two, look for the scratch and dent units. Killer prices for a blem unit that will get scratched anyway.

Sorry for the long rant...hope this helps at least some.
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Russell Rinn, Photographer
Georgetown | Tx | USA | Posted: 9:39 PM on 03.12.09
->> I agree with the Dell factory outlet. Every machine I have bought from Dell has been via the DFO and I have never had a problem. (I think I have bought 5 or 6 machines in the last 4 years) I recently bought a Dell Latitude 1525 for my wife with 3GB RAM, dual core 2Ghz proc and a 250GB HD. It was $350. Quite a steal actually. The screen was glossy, which I avoided when I bought mine, but if your using it indoors it's really quite nice. The 1525 is a consumer level machine.

I own a Latitude D830 which morphed into an EXXXX I think. It has slightly faster procs, but just a 160GB HD (which I just swapped for higher capacity. I also bought it with 4GB of RAM. I paid roughly 3 times what I paid for hers.

Given the commodity that PC's are, I will go the cheaper route next time. I've been working on/building PC's for 25 years now (breadboarded a PC clone in 1984) so you think I would have learned by now.

Good Luck.

Russ--
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Erik Warren, Photographer
Burlington | NC | USA | Posted: 6:32 AM on 03.14.09
->> Luke
If you have more money to spend I would recommended Alienware Area-51 m17x.

http://www.alienware.com/products/notebook-computers.aspx

If your trying to save a buck witch I'm sure you are, I like HP. The hardware has never failed me after 6 years of so so treatment. The HP HDX 18t Premium starts out with a reasonable price and you can upgrade the components to match your wallet.

http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/series_can.do;HHOJSID=2yF3J7BJ8XLqQf33Cn1ZLQX5v15LBthTQK1JTMQ1n6GLfk4cMhd2!-31551245?storeName=computer_store&landing=notebooks&a1=Category&v1=Performance%20and%20entertainment

You are going to spend less money on a Dell but I think in the long run its better to get a machine that will last longer.
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Mitchell Clinton, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 10:21 AM on 03.14.09
->> fujitsu!

http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=N7010
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Richard Middleton, Photographer
North Charleston | SC | USA | Posted: 8:34 AM on 03.15.09
->> Luke -

I've been really happy with my Dell Studio 1535. I think I picked it up for about $700 at Best Buy. I'm running for Gig of Ram using Vista Home Premium 64bit. Other than a few quirks when I first got it it's been rock solid. I have the integrated video card and so far I haven't had any problems using Photoshop or Lightroom - but you might want to consider getting one with a higher powered video card. Oh and I also second the Dell Outlet option - I've bought equipment from there before and have had zero problems with it.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 10:57 AM on 03.15.09
->> Asus at Best Buy... best deal out there.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami Beach | FL | USA | Posted: 1:30 AM on 03.16.09
->> I wish I knew a year ago the new things I've been learning since I got my last laptop, a Toshiba A215. I know it needed lots of RAM, so I got 4 gigs. This particular laptop was supposed to be good for video editing (according to Tiger Direct). However, the screen resolution is only 1280 x 800, which I wish was better. Hard drive is 160 gigs, which is fine.

My number one requirement is that it do a good job, which my laptop isn't too bad at.

My second requirement was light weight, which mine certainly is not. I guess I'll be looking into a replacement - Toshiba or Sony, probably.

After fighting blue screen error messages over and over, I was getting rather disgusted, and Toshiba service seemed unable to help. Finally it died and wouldn't reboot - I could only get into safe mode. Toshiba said there were NO options other than to take it in for service. The service center said pretty much the same thing. So, after downloading all my files, I had a hunch - I put the original installation CD in it, and selected the "repair" option. (Actually, they call it something else, a utility that will check and repair all the basic files needed to boot properly.) Doing this three times got to where I could do a "system restore" to an old restore point, and now it seems to be more or less fixed... I don't trust it, but it hasn't crashed any more.

I know that for $2000 or so I can get exactly what I think I need/want, but that's more than I want to spend.
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Luke Trottier, Photographer
Bath | ME | US | Posted: 4:37 PM on 03.16.09
->> Phil, I just returned a Asus to Best Buy. The screen was crap but my reason for returning it was the keys where falling off it.

I purchased the Studio XPS 16 with the RGB-LED. My reluctance was the screen technology is not available for viewing at any box stores. Looks like in some ways its better then the new 17" Mac book pro....

Here is a quote from trustedreviews.com about the Dell XPS 16 RGB-LED screen.

"All-in-all, the display is a massive unique selling point for the Studio XPS 16. If put against, say, the 17in MacBook Pro - a traditional favourite among photographers and video editors - the Dell makes a very persuasive argument for itself. Indeed, the only plus point in Apple's column is the option for an anti-glare screen. This is admittedly a serious issue, but in this instance the colour fidelity of the Dell is a real attraction, as is the significantly lower price - the 17in MacBook Pro costs as close to £2,000 as makes no difference."

When I get the laptop I will post a follow-up.
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Lisa Hall, Photographer
Oklahoma City | OK | USA | Posted: 5:01 PM on 03.16.09
->> My first laptop was a Toshiba, second one HP, and my present one (4 years) is a Lenovo Thinkpad. Without a doubt, the best tech service. If I needed a part, it was received usually in 2 days. And really, the only service I've needed during this time has been to replace the CD/DVD burner. It's great to have this forum to hear everyone's experiences with their equipment to help decide when purchasing new equipment. As far as service----go with the Lenovo.
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William Maner, Photographer
Biloxi | MS | USA | Posted: 5:34 PM on 03.16.09
->> Lisa..we have the same ownership line..

My first laptop many years ago was a Toshiba.. Then I moved to HP.. Now I'm using Lenovo.

I've had the HP nearly nine years.. It still chugs along, but it runs Windows ME and can't handle a lot of the modern applications.. It's still a capable e-mail and web browsing machine.

My primary laptop is a basic Lenovo Y410.
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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Sycamore | IL | USA | Posted: 12:23 PM on 03.17.09
->> Dell is having some deals on the Vostro series (which I understand is from their small business line, a step above the Inspirons) through 3/18:
http://tinyurl.com/Dell-Vostro-Deals

One thing I like about the Vostro is that you can still get it configured with XP, but it ships with a Vista disk as well.

FYI I ordered one last night and was getting some crazy results on the Dell screen... I could hit refresh a number of times and the prices (both the starting price and the discount amount) would change with almost every refresh. Once I found a price I liked I configured and ordered the unit. It looks like the site is behaving today though.
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Philip Johnson, Photographer
Garland | TX | USA | Posted: 12:44 PM on 03.17.09
->> Curtis, what type of screen did you get?
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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Sycamore | IL | USA | Posted: 1:31 PM on 03.17.09
->> I just got the regular WXGA, I think I may regret not upgrading that though.
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Kirby Yau, Photographer, Assistant
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 8:33 PM on 03.18.09
->> http://bensbargains.net/deal/96263/

Great Deal on a Dell Studio

Studio XPS 16 Laptop 2.53GHz 4GB 500GB 16" $1249
Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz, 4GB Dual Channel DDR3, 500GB 7200RPM SATA

8x DVD+-RW Slot Load, Radeon HD 3670 512MB, 802.11n, 6-Cell Battery

2-MegaPixel Webcam, Edge-to-Edge 16" LCD, Vista Home Premium, 1-Yr Warranty
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Luke Trottier, Photographer
Bath | ME | US | Posted: 9:51 AM on 03.19.09
->> Kirby, that doesn't include the RGB-LED 1920x1080 screen which is the whole point of getting the Studio XPS 16.
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Charlie Quigg, Photographer
Amherst | MA | USA | Posted: 2:47 PM on 03.22.09
->> Luke -

No experience with pc laptops on the market today, but just recently noticed an article on the Studio XPS 16's display which might help you - looks like maybe the best on the market today:
http://anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=569.

- cq
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Max Simbron, Photographer, Assistant
Phoenix | AZ | USA | Posted: 11:07 PM on 03.22.09
->> Charlie,

thanks for that link. 112% of the Adobe RGB gamut sounds insane!

Max
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 11:39 PM on 03.22.09
->> On a slightly different topic, does anyone have any experience with the plain old 13" XPS with the WXGA screen ?

It seems to be about the best bang for the buck in terms of price, size and power from what I can find.

There are certainly smaller/lighter laptops but I feel they are rather limited in terms of what their specs can deliver. Mini 9 for example is probably fine for business travler and email but try to batch process some 21meg RAW's and I'm sure it would grind to a halt.

There are also cheaper laptops of similar performance to the XPS but then your getting into the 15" 8lbs type stuff which is probably the best overall value but honestly a bit more than I want to haul around.

Basically what I'm after is the smallest/lightest laptop I can find, that still has the muscle to run some fairly demanding apps reasonably well, and thats not going to break the bank, I'd like to around or under $1000 and also PC.
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Thread Title: OT: Buying new Laptop for any thoughts? (PC Only)
Thread Started By: Luke Trottier
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