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In the market for a new laptop
Last Post 02 Sep 2010 11:34 AM by BkkSteve. 11 Replies.
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Sunny ValentineUser is Offline
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29 Aug 2010 01:04 AM  
Was wondering if anyone has suggestions for a new laptop, which will be put to use for editing Photos (Lightroom 3, CS5) as well as general use (Web, mails, ...)
My requirements:
Good monitor, maybe 14 or 15 inch, with at least 1400x900 resolution, and good color response plus the ability to profile (with Colormunky).
Should run Windows 7 64 Bit, with at least 4 GB Ram.
Fast, but not necessarily large HD.
Not too large, and not too heavy.
Should have at least 5 hours power on the battery.
I dont care much for camera and all that, and also rather have the laptop either without OS or at least without all the junk programs that are so often pre-installed.
Budget: Not over 50000 Baht, I would prefer to spend less than 40000.
 I want to buy in Thailand, and not order online from abroad.


BkkSteveUser is Offline
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29 Aug 2010 05:56 AM  
Hi Sunny - This is a good question. I tend to purchase my laptops outside of Thailand because many of the local shops are selling 2-3 year old models at new model prices and with the selection so hard you need to be very careful

When I look at your specs the laptop that jumps out at me is the Dell XPS Studio 16. It has a RGB LED (different from straight LED) backlit screen that covers in excess of 100% of the sRGB gamut and almost the entire Adobe98 gamut. Any laptop is going to be somewhat limited with it's color profile, even using the Munki.

The highest listed model: http://www.dell.com/us/en/home/notebooks/laptop-studio-xps-16/pd.aspx?refid=laptop-studio-xps-16&s=dhs&cs=19&~ck=mn Is $1299 USD's, or about 40,000 baht. This more than meets your listed requirements. Desired upgrades would be the Momentus XT 500gb Hybrid drive ($120 USD's on Amazon) and a 8g RAM upgrade (about $200 on Amazon). It comes with Win7 and x64 is a choice. This is a new release design with the newest i7 CPU and more importantly the ATI 5730 video card.

Why is the video card an important option? Until previously the best you could do with a laptop was assign one monitor profile. Either to the laptop screen, or an external monitor. But not both. I'm pretty sure, but haven't yet tested.. that the ATI 5700 mobility series laptops will let you profile at least two, perhaps 3 using their Eyefinity tech. That the unit also includes a HDMI and Displayport confirms this. Usually notebooks are limited to a VGA port, only a few ever came with DVI, but HDMI and especially DP adds a full digital monitor output. HDMI for your HDTV, and DP for a high end monitor.

I know, you said you wanted to buy it locally. Perhaps Dell Thailand can order this model in.. if not consider the www.shipito.com service I wrote about this week. It's a great service and I've used them extensively over the last few months with 100% great results. The newly re-designed Dell Studio XPS Studio 16 is really great for image processing.. far ahead of anything else I personally know about in this price range. The Lenovo W series is a great choice, and carried in Thailand, but a lot more money.

Let us know what you end up with.. I'm not sure if the Dell above has the glossy or matte.. of course I prefer matte.. but for imaging work I'd be using an external monitor anyway so a high-gamut high quality glossy screen could almost be forgiven..
Sunny ValentineUser is Offline
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29 Aug 2010 06:23 AM  
Thanks for the tip. I am afraid that Dell is not really an option for me. I had a Laptop from them several Yars ago, and I must say that it was the worst piece of Hardware I ever owned (ok, a Philips TV I had twenty Years ago came close), nd their service was such poor I have sworn never ever to buy from them. Saying that, I had a look at the link you sent me, looks interesting the model, then I switched to the Dell Thailand site, and my prejudice was confirmed, what a poor site! Searches not working, links within the site out of date, and on and on.

Another reason is I really want an English & Thai Keyboard, and no, I don't want to use stickers!

One more thing: I won't need an external monitor for my laptop, as I have a regular sized PC at home, and will need the Laptop for travel and on location only. Any other recommendations based on that?

PPS: It seems my user name has mysteriously doubled now, I can see two Sunny Valentines now in the forum members section. I am sure I did not register a second time, and I guess I would not get the seem user name anyway. Looking at the users list, I see there are more people with probably the same issue?
BkkSteveUser is Offline
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29 Aug 2010 12:53 PM  
I understand a company turning you away.  Fortunately I've had excellent service from Dell USA and have used them now for the last 12-15 years.  Three times they've replaced a problem laptop with a newer model for free after failing to fix it, and they've even honored the warranties here in Thailand (the small business models include an international warranty). 

The most surprising was when my then 14 year old son called in with a 7 year old laptop that I'd given him.  It had always been under warranty and was on the last week of coverage.  It had a well documented list of repairs needed and my son told them "this just isn't right.."  They agreed!  And shipped him out his current Inspiron 1710 as an exchange, free of charge!   So they've got me.  And him.  At 14 he was pretty impressed.   But yes, I've heard the Thailand site leaves a lot to be desired.  This particular model.. it's a favorite of photographers.. lots of value for the price and the monitor is great.

I think.. if Dell is not an option.. I'd look for a Lenovo W series. Probably the W510 considering the size/weight you're after.  A friend, in fact my web developer, recently purchased one and he's very pleased with it.  He travels a lot so he needs a rugged laptop and he uses it without an external monitor.  The W series are built with photographers in mind, their monitors are the best available that I'm aware of (RGB LED backlit matte screens) and you can even order them with a built in colorimeter ($35 option) where you click "calibrate", close the top, and it beeps when calibrated.  So you're always carrying a colorimter with you.  It has a i7, good Nvidia graphics card, and is tough as nails.  You saw my review of my own x201s Thinkpad?  The most computer you can put in a 2.5 pound package on earth.. very pleased with it.  It also has a LED backlit matte screen that profiles nicely.

He bought his W510 on Ebay from one of the highest rated Lenovo resellers and has been treated very well.  I think on Ebay it's very close to the higher end of your budget.  Here locally I don't know.. but I know they have many Lenovo dealers so I'm sure it's available if you look.  You might even be able to order it directly from Lenovo Thailand.

One thing.. we both (my web developer and myself), and even a few friends, have all went to SSD's in our laptops.  We use the Crucial C300 256gb model and love it.  All five of us.  If I didn't want to spend the money on an SSD I'd for sure spend the $120 on the hybrid Seagate Momentus XT.. 500gb's and it performs, overall, as well as a desktop mechanical drive which is a huge improvement.  Put the hard drive you replace in a 200 baht USB enclosure and it becomes useful as well.

IF.. I couldn't have a Dell and or a Lenovo.. then I'd look carefully for a higher end Asus.  Asus and Acer are the two top selling brands in Thailand and well supported.  I hate Acer's, but am often impressed with Asus.  You won't be getting a photography centric model though.. but if you match up specs carefully you can probably do well.  If you look at Asus throw some model numbers up and lets take a look at them.

I doubt there are two Sunny Valentines registered.. its' probably just the refreshing happening slow.  The web developer is in the process of turning the site over to me fully.. and we'll be done maybe in 10 days or so.. and at that time I'll have full access to the user base and can take a better look.  At the moment I don't have the access to do that.  Soon..   But if you see someone posting with your handle let me know immediately.. That I can fix..
Sunny ValentineUser is Offline
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29 Aug 2010 10:52 PM  
Thanks!

I will have a look at the Lenovo next time I am in Bangkok.The Monitor and its color reproduction ability is crucial for me. Are there any Acer or Asus Models (I am quite pleased with their after sales service in Thailand so far ...)with extended color capabilities that you know of?
About the user and log in: Have a look at this screen shot. It clearly shows two Sunny Valentines, I can safely say both are me ....You will find other users listed twice, too .....




Kind regards

The real Sunny Valentine



Sunny ValentineUser is Offline
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30 Aug 2010 07:19 AM  
Hi Steve, just a quick note to tell you that I tried to investigate about the Lenovo Model you suggested today, at Lenovo Thailand.
They have a 1-800 Number for Pre Sales Enquries on their Web site, but no Email. I tried to call, but whatever suffix I used (00 or + or +66) I always received a taped message saying the number is not in use .... Then I tried another 1-800 number that was posted for support. Same result, but this time the connection went international.
Finally I found a local Bangkok number for support, called there, and after the usual fight with automated and misconfigured telephone answering services (Press 1 for Hindi, Press 2 for Urdu, press 3 for other languages ....) I finally got an English speaking (well, almost ...) representative on the line. He gave me a Bangkok number for Pre Sales information. Guess what? Number not in service ....

No, I won't buy a bottle of water, nor a computer, from a Company which cant publish their contact information on their Web site. So, as nice as the specs of this Laptop look, anticipation of an odyssey once I need a tiny bit of support tells me loud and clear "Forget it!"

So, will look into Acer and Asus options now, as I have made good experience with the support of both companies so far.
BkkSteveUser is Offline
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30 Aug 2010 12:05 PM  
It's incredible that two of the worlds biggest/best computer companies would be so poorly represented.  Maybe if you just walked in a Lenovo store they could plug you into the right websites?  Anyway, now you're seeing why I order my laptops from the states.  I get what I want, and I get great service.  I just have to do it long distance.

Though, to be fair, any major company I've finally did business with here in Thailand has given me good service.  For instance, ATI replaced my 5970 video card (25,900 baht card) three times without batting an eye.  Acer/Asus are very well represented here and the biggest sellers.. so if that's your primary bar that's the way to go.

About Asus or Acer having a photo orientated laptop.. no.  Very few companies do.  If color is critical, the Lenovo W510 and W700 are the best available with great screens and built in colorimeters ($35 option).  The Dell XPS Studio 16 is another exception.  I'd also consider the Dell Precision mobile workstation series, they're the best Dell offers, but way out of your price range.  My choices would be the XPS Studio 16 if on a budget, and the Lenovo W510 or Mobile Precision if not..

I went to Asus and Acer's site just now to browse.  They market heavily to gamers, multimedia (far different from photography, some think its the same), and business.. from what I can tell all gamer graphics and glossy monitors.  I'd just be guessing.. I'm  not saying Asus and Acer don't make a suitable notebook, in fact they might.  Its just that they don't list one for photography so researching reviews isn't possible, and I have no personal experience with them so I can't draw on that either.

You say the monitor and color accuracy are vital.  I understand.. if I must turn out a color critical project on the road I use my Dell Precision Mobile Workstation, so far it has the only monitor and graphics (matte 1920x1200 screen with about 80% of sRGB) which have allowed me to profile and get close enough to provide a professional product.  That's 2 year old tech.  The XPS Studio 16 and W510 are todays tech.  The problem with laptop monitors as you know, are they routinely only display about 40-60% of the sRGB gamut.. and they allow only limited profiling (you can't hand set R G B).. so usually they're fine for travel, reviewing images, etc.. but not a final product.

When I have clients over we work on a 17" Dell Precision Mobile Workstation running a 21.5" 1600x1200 professional monitor.  As nice as the Precision is, its far different from a regular monitor.  I apply the profile to one, and then the other, and let them see with their own eyes what they've been missing.  I also encourage them to bring their own laptop and we profile it and they can compare that too.  When you see them side by side you really can see huge differences.  When you can't, it's very easy to talk yourself into thinking "it'll do.."     And if they really want to see the difference, we'll throw the same image up on a wide-gamut (106% of Adobe98) pro display and even more difference.

So obviously.. with notebooks.. it's always a sort of trade off.  How much you accept in your personal work flow is usually determined by cost and availability.  If color and profiling is your top priority.. like it is with my work shop and 'work away' laptop.. then I'm willing to sacrifice in other areas to get there.

And here's something to think about.  A decked out Dell Precision Mobile Workstation is about $4000 USD.. at least mine was two years ago.  I can use it's screen for about 90% of my work assuming I use it at just the right angel and profile it often.  However, I can take a $500 laptop (any) and hook it up to a $298 decent desktop monitor (the Viewsonic S-IPS VP2365WB for instance) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002R0JJYO/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER  .. and get better and more accurate color.  The trade-off here is that I need to lug around a hard case with the panel in it.. and stuff the stand in my duffel.  Since I do this professionally, I buy the top laptop and the external for travel.. and then only grab the external when I know I'll either be doing a high volume or work or color critical work.

Viewsonic does have a presence in Thailand and I hope to find out this week how much they want for their VP2365wb locally.. (currently I'm using an older Viewsonic for road work, but need to replace it).  If they want the full list price I'll end up ordering it from the states.. I'll let you know how that turns out.

So your choices:

1.  Dell or Lenovo for a photography centric model, despite not being happy with their service.

2.  Roll the dice on a Asus/Acer and hope you get one that will profile out 'close enough' for your needs.

3.  Get ANY laptop.. and an external monitor and have a very high quality color profiled display.

For what it's worth.. I have a military hard case with nice wheels and telescoping handle.  It's much smaller than carry-on small.  It's high density foam interior easily and safely houses (soft foam sucks) my current 21.5" 1600x1200 Viewsonic VP211b, my 17 inch Dell Mobile Precision Workstation laptop, cabling, and a high quality wireless mouse and keyboard.  The Viewsonics stand clips on/off and I throw it my duffel and don't care if it gets knocked around.  This is the easiest way for me to carry a high powered laptop with a high quality color profiled monitor.    This is a fairly small, easy to carry and move around, high powered workstation.  If I really need power I have two more much larger military cases.. one which holds my full tower workstation, and another that holds both my 26 inch monitors.  It has to be an important well paying job.. but I can do it if i must.

This has really got long.. sorry about that..


Sunny ValentineUser is Offline
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30 Aug 2010 10:37 PM  
Thanks for the long update! Carrying an external Monitor with me would be out of the question, so I will most likely use my oldish Asus Laptop which I wanted to replace now another Year or so.
But please let me know about the Viewsonic Monitor you mentioned, it might come handy for my home workstation.
BkkSteveUser is Offline
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30 Aug 2010 10:50 PM  
There are some trends which validate your choice to hold off a bit.

One trend is away from glossy screens.  Manufacturers have learned consumers can't be fooled for long, and that matte screens are far preferable for any sort of real work, to reduce eyestrain, and for accuracy.. so more and more matte screens are becoming available again.

LED backlit screens and IPS screens are now trending and becoming more available.  We'll see more models with these.

The ATI 5000 series mobility cards are also just now breaking into the market.

New i7/i5/i3 CPU's are becoming standard in every new model release.

I'd guess in 6-9 months you'll have many more choices available.
BkkSteveUser is Offline
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01 Sep 2010 09:03 AM  
Sunny -

I'm now able to access and maintain the user database and you indeed have two accounts. One with only two posts, and one with more. If you like I can delete either one. Let me know.

Steve
Sunny ValentineUser is Offline
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02 Sep 2010 09:02 AM  
Thanks. Can you merge the two accounts?
Seems this came from a glitch in the Software, if you have a look at the user database you will find several more users appearing twice. Just log out, and look at the users list!
BkkSteveUser is Offline
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02 Sep 2010 11:34 AM  
Its not possible to merge them.  You'll have to pick.  You have one account you've only posted on twice.  That would be the one to delete.. losing two posts is no biggie.  AS you can tell, I recently dumped my old account and started new again, and dumped 150 posts or so.. but since I'm using the same name it's no big deal.

I can't confirm a glitch that creates two accounts. I've tried.  Looking at the accounts which have doubles, they're created hours to days apart..  My guess, is that in the beginning there was a  glitch with hte confirmation email being sent out.. so people probably created another account to "try again" and ended up with 2-3 accounts.  Most have activated them all.  I won't be deleting anything anyone doesn't ask me to..

Now that I have full access to the database I have a lot more information.  For instance, one of your accounts was created from one IP, and the other from another IP.  No way this is a glitch, they were hours apart and the IP's show a separation of some distance. For me, I forget small stuff like when I created an account by the next day.. so no big deal.

Choose one, or keep both.. or just tell me to delete the one you haven't used in a long time.  Meanwhile we're still working on that email confirmation glitch.  Yesterday, after you registered, it was showing an error saying there was an error on registration, but your account was successfully created.   The error message would throw most people off.  20-30 minutes later you still get your verification code.  I know the error is related to me insisting on using my professional mail server which is separate from my hosts mail server.  It's working like it should, but it gives that error.  Why I don't know yet  But if I can't fix it soon, I'll use the hosts email server.  Rather not, but I will.

Lots of information no one is interested in.. but we're trying..
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