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Photography Question 
Robyn Mackenzie
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2005


Iím in the market for a laptop, which I intend to use mostly when Iím away from home, to download images from my camera to free up my memory cards, and to do some post-processing in PS. I have a desktop at home for most of my work. Iím hopelessly ignorant when it comes to comparing technical aspects of computers, e.g. RAM, graphics cards, processor speeds, numbers and types of ports, etc. etc. I would very much appreciate getting some advice on what I should be looking for in a laptop, to provide reasonably fast PS processing, etc.

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2/9/2006 9:42:13 PM

Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
  RAM--you can never have too much! And hard drive space, if you're going to save a lot of files on the laptop---also consider a DVD burner or at least CD burner, to archive your images off the hard drive.
But, if you haven't edited on a laptop before, just realize that the LCD screen will (in my opinion) give you lousy color representation, compared to a traditional CRT monitor. (I only have a laptop at home, and recently bought a CRT to connect, just so I could see the colors of my photos more accurately, while editing.)

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2/10/2006 7:14:25 AM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
I do all of my image processing on an HP laptop. Here are a few of the choices I made when I purchased it.

I chose to go with a full Pentium processor (2.66GHz) rather than a mobil Pentium M, or Celeron like you find in many laptops. I wanted a processor that would give me performance consistent with the desktop computer that I was used to, and I'm happy with the results. The tradeoff is that my battery life is not stellar (about an hour or so), but there are few times when I use my laptop and there are no electrical outlets around.

The laptop came with 512MB of RAM and I used it that way for quite a while. It's hard to describe how much the performance improved when I increased the RAM to 1.5GB - it was like night and day. I would recommend no less than 1GB of RAM - the more the better.

Another thing to look for is an ATI or NVIDIA graphics chip with 128 or 256MB of dedicated memory, as opposed to "shared" memory.

Don't skimp on the hard drive, you'll regret it later. My laptop came with a 40GB drive and I wish it was bigger. Upgrading to a bigger hard drive, reinstalling software, service packs, etc is a pain in the butt. Get a 60 or 80GB hard drive as a minimum.

Most good laptops on the market today have built in Wireless G networking - that's very very handy.

And go with Windows XP Pro, not XP Home.


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2/10/2006 8:58:36 AM

Robyn Mackenzie
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2005
  Very helpful advice!! Thank you Christopher and Chris. I'll have more confidence now that I'll make a good choice, with this information! :o) Robyn

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2/10/2006 10:58:18 AM

Joanna Pecha
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/5/2003
  Get a Mac...and don't look back!!

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2/10/2006 11:14:13 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Our Systems guy at work warned me against a laptop as a primary computer - mainly because laptops, generally, use last season's technology.

Chris is correct - stay away from the Celeron and go fo a Pentiium Chip. Get a laptop with a big screen - even if it leads to a slightly heavier unit. My son just biught his wife a Dell with a 17-inch screen.

Windows Xp, despite all the hype, can't handle more than 1.2-1.3 GIG of RAM. Going for 1.5-2.0 will not help your efforts in the near term. I found that out when I bought my computer a year ago. Microsoft just announced it'll be releasing a new Windows - perhaps before year's end. Might be worth waiting for.

Look into processors using 64-bit technology. That's where everything is going as far as chip speed is concerned.

Joanna recommends Mac. Lots of graphics people do but, when you're away from, try to find a service tech.

Have fun.

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2/17/2006 10:15:34 AM

Robyn Mackenzie
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2005
  Thanks very much indeed for your advice, John and Joanna! I appreciate your time.

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2/17/2006 11:05:26 PM

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