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  • Gaaak! Somebody Talk Me Out Of It

    After hauling far too much bulk and weight through airports on my way home from the CES and NAMM shows, I once again had the thought that while I couldn't live for a couple of weeks on the road without a computer, I might be able to live with a smaller and lighter one.

    It sure seems like you can get a lot in a small computer for about $300 these days, so I was in looking at them at Micro Center these days. Dang! The screens are so TINY, barely 4 inches high. I can make the fonts bigger but then I have to keep scrolling to read anything. And I still hate the wide screen format. I have one monitor like that and I feel like taking a hacksaw to it.

    Even though I wouldn't use it for recording, I would probably still want a couple of audio applications on it for editing. The only one I can find now with WinXP on it is a Toshiba, which I guess is OK (no Firewire worries since it has neigher a Firewire port nor expansion card slot) but I'll bet that'll disappear fast. I don't want to have to deal with non-Win7-ready applications. And they all come with Win7 Starter. I don't know all the gotchas with that version, but I know one is that it won't write DVDs (external drive, of course). And it would drive me nuts to have to spend half the cost of the computer to upgrade to a full version of Win7.

    And then I look through my computer bag. While the computer is the largest and heaviest piece, that's where I carry my headphones and MP3 player, phone, GPS, a full sized mouse (a "travel" mouse gives me a cramp), cables that I need now and then, tickets, receipts, and other travel stuff . . so that can't get much smaller.

    I'm afraid that if I buy one of these things and can't read the screen comfortably, it'll defeat the purpose. Since I can put two side by side, one about $300 and the other about $900 and can't see much difference other than more memory. That's about enough catches for me, but what else am I missing? Could I really be happy with a computer that's just a step up in visibility than a phone, which I've already decided is an absurd way to try to spend the couple of hours a day I spend with communication, and a worse way to write.
    --
    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

  • #2
    If you can wait just a few more days, the iSlate, or iTablet, will be announced, it might be what you're looking for. Or not.
    Botch
    Start by admitting, From cradle to tomb,
    Isn't that long a stay.
    Life is a cabaret, old chum, and I love a cabaret...

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    • #3
      It depends on what you want to do with it. If I were a betting man, which I'm not, it doesn't sound like a netbook will work well for you. I got one for travel. When traveling I use it for e-mail, confirming reservations, looking up things like restaurants or addresses, backing up photos and setting my fantasy football lineup (I often travel in the Fall and have no burning desire to be kicked out of my league when I return!!) Beyond that, netbooks tend to have minimal computing power....you may well find even basic audio applications run slowly. Check it out of it you can, but I was so underwhelmed by the performance of my netbook for photoediting, I removed my editing program. The one upgrade I did make was to swap out the 1 gig RAM for a 2 gig RAM. Also, I didn't think I could do this, but I got fairly used to the mousepad....instead of an external mouse. So I think my netbook weighs about 2 1/2 or 3 pounds. It is great for what I do with it, but I would be very cautious about trying audio editing with it.

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      • #4
        If you can wait just a few more days, the iSlate, or iTablet, will be announced, it might be what you're looking for. Or not.

        Is it $300?
        --
        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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        • #5
          It depends on what you want to do with it. If I were a betting man, which I'm not, it doesn't sound like a netbook will work well for you. I got one for travel. When traveling I use it for e-mail, confirming reservations, looking up things like restaurants or addresses, backing up photos and setting my fantasy football lineup (I often travel in the Fall and have no burning desire to be kicked out of my league when I return!!) Beyond that, netbooks tend to have minimal computing power....

          This is what I'm trying to resolve for myself. If I'm packing audio equipment, I'm always in my car and the larger bag is no problem. When I think back over what I do in the hotel rooms, though, it's handle e-mail and read forums, look up stuff on the web, and that's about it. Occasionally some writing with Word, or keeping up my expense records in (yes, really, DOS version) Lotus 1-2-3. I will occasionally record a streaming radio program using Total Recorder and listen to MP3 playback over the built-in speakers using Winamp or transfer recordings to my MP3 player over USB. I'd probably want to replace the 60 day trial version of Microsoft Office with either Office 2000 which I own or maybe Open Office if it's more efficient. And I'll probably want to install Thunderbird for e-mail. I definitely don't want to use that Microsoft web-based version of mail-and-everything that they're pushing with Windows 7.

          So as long as the WiFi works well, I should be OK. I've occasionally brought up Sound Forge to edit something. It's a 1.6 GHz Celeron, or Atom 450 which is about equivalent. They all come with 1 GB RAM (expandable to 2, which I might as well do) and 160 GB hard drive.

          The keyboard on these doesn't feel too bad, it's practically full-sized. If I can get over the tiny screen, I can probably use it for what I do when I travel by air. Though it just bothers me deep down that there will be things I can't do with it. Or maybe I can. I'll bet it'll run Reaper and my Behringer UCA-200, which may be better than the internal sound hardware (or maybe not) will probably plug right in. And if that'll work, probably RightMark will work and it'll be easier to take a little netbook to the shop when I want to check something out than to carry the heavier laptop.

          Awwwww . .. . darn . . .. I'm doing it AGAIN!
          --
          "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
          Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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          • #6
            HEY BRO

            If you don't want to get a larger bag, you can just lug the laptop around separately.



            It has a transformer-based power supply, so it's extremely durable.
            My Own Machine

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            • #7
              As long as your shopping Microcenter check the open box/refurbushed section. I picked up a Toshiba L305-S5968 for $335.00 2 weeks ago. Has a '15 wide screen, 2 ghz dulacore Core 2 duo, 350 gig 5400 rpm SATA, and a double density DVDRW. Those deals change throught the day. For $35.00 more, screw the norebooks.
              "If Obama wins a second term I will leave the forum". - Visconti

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              • #8
                As long as your shopping Microcenter check the open box/refurbushed section. I picked up a Toshiba L305-S5968 for $335.00 2 weeks ago. Has a '15 wide screen, 2 ghz dulacore Core 2 duo, 350 gig 5400 rpm SATA, and a double density DVDRW.

                No, no, no, no! I'm not looking for a new notebook computer. I have a perfectly serviceable one now. I want to lighten the load that I'm carrying with me by a few pounds, not just a few ounces (if that). Saldly, that means a smaller computer.
                --
                "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                Comment


                • #9


                  I've carried an original Compaq on planes before. But thanks for the thought.
                  --
                  "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                  Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I don't know if you'd say I travel alot....usually a 1-2 trips per year abroad (this year the Yucatan and Italy) and 1-2 trips "in country" this year Tuscon and Vancouver BC (well, I live in Oregon, so we've adopted BC.) So I use it 3-4 trips per year. As a traveler, I try to do (basically) 1 carry on bag with a very small personal bag... much of my extra stuff is camera gear. The netbook is just right.... the battery lasts 7-10 hours, Wi-Fi gets the job done, etc. Some companies, like Lonely Planet have down-loadable PDF files of their travel books and that works too. A notebook would be too big, but a netbook is (for me) a great travel computer.

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                    • #11
                      Is there a Best Buy or some such near you you could go and get some hands on time with one? Really, that's the only way, short of buying or borrowing one, to see if the small form factor is okay with you.

                      I personally hate them, but I'm a ham-handed sort. The small keyboards are extremely hard for me to type on.

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                      • #12
                        The keyboard isn't the problem, it's the screen. There's a Best Buy and a few other stores that carry them but I really can't get into a real working position with the computer chained to the shelf. I could buy one with the intention of returning it if I didn't like it but Staples, or maybe it's Office Depot, the one store that didn't charge a restocking fee on returned computers, now does. So it'll cost me $50+ to take one home and try it. I guess that's better than costing me $350 and finding that I can't stand it. But I'd rather know for sure or just talk myself out of this silliness.
                        --
                        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I could never tolerate the small screens like that. I
                          <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

                          “Music is well said to be the speech of angels... nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine."

                          ~Thomas Carlyle

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                          • #14
                            I could never tolerate the small screens like that.

                            I want to be able to tell myself "it's just for a week." I wouldn't tolerate it on my desk as my working computer.

                            More importantly however, it seems you
                            --
                            "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                            Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I do find the keyboard fairly easy, mine is 7/8s the size of a "regular" keyboard. I've even gotten used to the onboard mouse. The small screen is another matter....but hey, I tell myself the same thing. It is a week (or 2.) I definitely like mine well enough to buy another one. Plus, I do see it as a temporary purchase. I got it last year and took it on 3 trips. I figure if I do that, for another 2-3 years, something lighter, faster, with a bigger screen will be out... but for now it works fine. I don't think Amazon has a restocking fee....just a return postage fee. That's where I got mine (checked a few out at Best Buy but they didn't have much selection....so I ordered from Amazon.)

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