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 Post subject: Laptop as a minimalist PC?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 4:31 pm 
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Kind of curious how many people are using a laptop as their main computer. To me, they seem like the perfect minimalist systems: Just the essential features, low-power, small size, etc. Sure, they aren't silent, but most are very quiet, quiet enough IMO, although I may not be quite as picky about noise as some here.

Of course, there are downsides. Many of the components are proprietary and not easily servicable, so if something fails you'll have to send it into the manufacturer (and pay a rediculous sum if it's no longer under warranty) or spend hours hunting eBay for the part and later installing it. Same basic deal with upgradability (although newer laptops do make RAM, HDD, etc. easy to access, maybe future laptops will even have CPU slot to make this upgrade easy as well?).

What's everybody's $0.02 on this? I recently replaced my desktop with a 12.1" Sempron notebook, and have been pretty pleased. Although I don't move it around much, the ability to easily take it to the library, a friend's house, etc. is nice.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:11 pm 
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I started using my laptop as my main browsing machine recently, due to losing the internet connection in my room where my desktop is. I must say that it was quite an adaptation. My laptop screen is 12" as well, and the sound adapter in the laptop is fairly meh. My desktop features two 17" screens (in much better condition than the five-year-old laptop screen) and a Envy24 sound card...

This laptop is quiet, though. Granted it's just a P3 at 700 MHz, but still, with the hard drive at idle (a certain Toshiba MK4025GAS ;)) it's just about inaudible.

Oh, and cheap laptops are usually much slower than equivalently cheap desktops.

I don't think I could trade my desktop's perks for an extended period of time. At least until I have to move a considerable distance, outside couple hours' driving distance.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:26 pm 
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For me, laptops aren't cheap enough and they aren't quiet enough.

Plus, they're no fun. There's hardly anything to modify, and you can forget about fashioning a neat airflow layout...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:04 pm 
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True, they are generally more expensive than a comparable desktop, but they also seem to be getting cheaper. It's not uncommon to find low-end models selling for $400-500 after instant savings, rebates, etc. Also, consider that it's not only a PC, but a monitor and battery backup as well. Really, the value isn't all that bad IMO when you think about it. If a person was just planning to use it as a home computer, you could probably find a laptop on eBay with a missing or worn out battery for a very reasonable price.

It does kind of suck not being able to tweak it, but at the same time, it's also kind of good (for my wallet); I'm no longer tempted to try out that new quieter power supply, HDD, etc. as I was with my desktops. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:41 pm 
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$400? That gives me sticker shock! I'd rather not spend more than $100-$200 on a computer, if I can help it.
Quote:
I'm no longer tempted to try out that new quieter power supply, HDD, etc. as I was with my desktops.

Discipline! I cruise e-tailers all the time, scouring the web for bargains. I don't get in financial trouble because I only buy something when it's a steal.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:04 pm 
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I now use a laptop as my main machine, and won't go back. That said, at home I do use it virtually as a desktop (i.e. keyboard, mouse and large external monitor). It's a 15" MacBook Pro, so it is very quiet to start with, has decently-fast graphics, and has very good onboard sound etc.

Only thing my desktop gets used for now is browsing documentation while programming etc. and recording TV :)

The convenience of being able to unplug a few cables and take your whole computer with you (and have all your files, email, etc) is absolutely wonderful.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:22 pm 
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Location: Germany
Hello,

I've been using notebooks as second machines, only. I like their portability (therefore, I am in the market for sub-14" notebooks) and the possibilities they offer. Sure, they can't be tweaked as much as a desktop can be, but for tweaking I keep my desktop system anyway.

Even my current notebook, a 13" MacBook, is only my secondary machine although it's substantially more powerful than my desktop (until I upgrade it to a dual-core CPU). :) I just prefer the full-size keyboard and the large screen when I'm working for several hours. That's why my single-core desktop gets noticably more use than my dual-core notebook.

My $0.02.

lowpowercomputing


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:47 am 
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My sister is using a laptop as her main machine.

When she's not using it, the network and power cables drop behind the couch and the laptop itself is folded and disappears between the books in the book case.

This way she has a computer when needed, but it isn't around being ugly when not needed.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:35 am 
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Location: Poland EU, Wroclaw
I've started to use notebook as my main machine when i switched my 12" ibm thinkpad X22 for G4 iBook 12" - because iBook has better lcd and 2x longer battery life than X22.

I can do everything (mainly web browsing, e-mail and IM) on my iBook except Photoshop editing which reqiures a bigger screen (my desktop).

But I think that small notebook + big external screen is the way to go.

But if you want go that way be sure to choose notebook with a decent docking station - it just makes connecting notebook way easier. This is the best feature I've lost after I switch form X22.

Notebook as a main system is great if you have other machines

for example (my stuff :D )
- XBOX to handle occasional gaming and as a media player (XBMC)
- epia 800(@400) + notebook drive as download box accesible via remote desktop (running 24/7 - I have very slow internet connection)
- PIII 500 (HP e-pc) as small home fileserver (wake-on-lan)
- SEMPRON 3100+ and 19" screen for photoshop and for a MCE scheduled tv recording


Last edited by VERiON on Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:40 am 
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Location: London
I will admit that the battery backup is nice. We had a two-second power outage just days ago during a thunderstorm. Everything in the room but my laptop shut down... except I was still disconnected from the internets as my friend whose wireless I'm using doesn't have enough outlets on his UPS and his DSL modem lost power :(

That is not to say I don't appreciate the battery backup, but 50 USD can get you a decent UPS for your desktop. (Of course, it clutters up the computer area further.)

Sure the screen is included in the price, but -- generally -- it's not as nice as a comparable desktop screen. I have a friend who uses a Macbook Pro as his desktop, but has a 20" screen hooked up to it and readily admits that the 20" is a much nicer screen. It makes sense, really, when you consider the space limitations in a laptop.

A lot of my friends at the university use laptops as their primary machines and they don't seem to have many problems with it. Of course, a laptop in class makes for a perfect procrastination machine.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 6:15 am 
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Battery backup - yeah, if you live in an area with poorly regulated power (like my friend in a Mexican village), you are better off with a laptop.

If you aren't into upgrading your PC;
If it doesn't have to be the fastest thing out there;
If you need to have computing power in multiple locations;

Then go with a laptop.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:31 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
I currently don't have a PC to use and thus notebooks (IBM, Dell's, MBP) have been my main uh, PC. What I like about it is the tidiness and ease of general handling it offers but I do miss a regular computer for a few reasons. First, maybe it's because I live in a real quiet neighbourhood, but I have not really found a silent or near-silent notebook yet, with the exception of maybe that Samsung flash hdd and fanless cooling laptop which is no way a deal for me yet.

Second, notebook screens still don't hold a candle to stand alone LCD's (well at least the better ones) in terms of ghosting and what not. Not a prob if you don't play games or watch too many action movies though (or just don't notice like some of my friends). Clarity, sharpness and colour is just as good however, so I guess it can be attributed to the idea that notebook screens are manufactured for business/work. Sony and Fujitsu were the best I've seen IMO, but pretty expensive for the slight advantage.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 10:47 pm 
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Yeah, I've noticed that the performance of my screen is poor compared to my Samsung 17" LCD, but I was chalking it up to the cheapness of my laptop and the quality of my Samsung monitor. I'd assume that higher quality laptops and those designed for multimedia have pretty decent screens, but that's just an assumption -- my knowledge of laptops is pretty limited.

As far as sound quality goes, I was goofing around and came by a review for this Creative PCMCIA sound card. So I guess a laptop wouldn't be completely useless for audiophiles, at least if you're willing to pay $75+ for better sound quality.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:00 pm 
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Location: Plymouth, MI
I'm pretty happy with this old beater laptop I got from a friend who works in a state government IT Dept. They wipe everything off and I paid $300 for it--Pentium III with 512 ram and I put in a 60GBSeagate drive.

Has all the connectors I could ever need, pretty small (maybe a 12" screen) and pretty nice performance. Even has discrete graphics (well 8mb Radeon, but still ;)).

The adapter just died last week and tonight is my first night with a new adapter...I missed my laptop! For comparison, the main desktop is an Athlon 64 FX-55 with 2GB and an X800XT PE.

Though this thing gets noisy when the fan kicks up...but it's only for about 20 seconds at a time, so livable.


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 Post subject: Re: Laptop as a minimalist PC?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:49 pm 
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frostedflakes wrote:
Kind of curious how many people are using a laptop as their main computer. To me, they seem like the perfect minimalist systems: Just the essential features, low-power, small size, etc. Sure, they aren't silent, but most are very quiet, quiet enough IMO, although I may not be quite as picky about noise as some here.

Of course, there are downsides. Many of the components are proprietary and not easily servicable, so if something fails you'll have to send it into the manufacturer (and pay a rediculous sum if it's no longer under warranty) or spend hours hunting eBay for the part and later installing it. Same basic deal with upgradability (although newer laptops do make RAM, HDD, etc. easy to access, maybe future laptops will even have CPU slot to make this upgrade easy as well?).

What's everybody's $0.02 on this? I recently replaced my desktop with a 12.1" Sempron notebook, and have been pretty pleased. Although I don't move it around much, the ability to easily take it to the library, a friend's house, etc. is nice.


I finally got a company laptop myself. It's a great machine and actually has a far more powerful cpu than my personal desktop. However I definitely would turn it into a pseudo desktop if it was my main machine. Which means docking station and 1-2 large lcd monitors/external keyboard/mouse.

I think the main issue is you can't stick huge amounts of storage in a laptop and you can't use a high end video card unless you get a very expensive(read heavy) one. A desktop just provides a lot more features that a small size can't give you. There is a solution to the storage issue with a sexy infrant readynas nv+, but that's $600 empty and the performance of NAS isn't as good as direct SATA/ATA. That's one thing I badly want, but the price isn't right.
Bottom line to me: Laptops are awesome secondary machines.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:55 pm 
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I've been using my laptops as my primary computers for a few years now, and I'll probably never go back. The ability for me to have my computer, my files, my settings - all that with me wherever I go - that's worth it to me.

My current laptop is a Dell I6000. Not necessarily a silent laptop, but it's very quiet. After playing with Notebook Hardware Control to get the CPU voltages as low as possible, the CPU never goes above 50C now, and usually idles around 27-28C. My two desktop systems have been converted to headless systems - meaning that the only cables they have connected to them are power and ethernet (my main server has a USB cable plugged into it for my printer). Both have been silenced as far as they can go with my current budget (the only sounds from them are from the hard drives), and for what I use them, they're more than enough.


Granted, you can't do proper Photoshop work on a teeny 12" screen, but my 15.4" WSXGA+ (1680x1050) screen on my laptop is plenty for just about anything that you'd need. With a proper laptop bag (one that fits you well and properly distributes the weight), you probably won't notice the difference between a 4lb laptop (12-13") and a 6lb laptop (15.4").


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:24 pm 
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I use a Dell XPS M1210 laptop as my main computer. It's a 12" widescreen. I use it for my web surfing, Office, Photoshop, etc. The SOLO E6600 system I have posted in the Gallery is only used for gaming and data backup. Noise is the biggest factor for me, and I can't stand doing work on desktop systems with discreet video cards that have HSFs. I actually love laptop keyboards. Something about the setup and feel of the them. I do use an external USB mice whenever I'm using it at home, though. Touchpads have always been a joke to me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:44 pm 
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Location: Redmond, WA
I'm another one that uses a laptop as my primary machine. It's plenty powerful for me, quiet, and convenient! My Dell D620 specs:

1.66GHz Core Duo
2GB DDR2
Quadro NVS 110M
80GB HDD
DVD+/-RW
14" WXGA+ (1440x900)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:05 pm 
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Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
I *currently* use a laptop as my main pc but hoepfully next week that will change. I've been using it for about 6 months now, and personally... I like the big thing more. It pissed me off that after I bought a monitor, 5.1 speakers, mouse, etc, my mobo gets fried and I get stuck with my dad's laptop. I did clean my desk, I'd tell you that much, but since I moved to a bigger place, even though if I do have a desktop, my desk would be clean since now I have all the space I need!

I'm not 'on the move' so much, so I don't really need a laptop, but if I was going to buy another one, I'd buy a powerfull, small, around 12'' screen laptop. I believe laptops are made for mobility, so a 17'' laptop or even a heavy 15'' is too much for me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:14 am 
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lowpowercomputing wrote:
Even my current notebook, a 13" MacBook,


what can you report about this? I too am considering a 13" macbook, and am wondering how they are noise / temp wise? I have heard some reports of them running quite hot....

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:28 pm 
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I just switched to using my laptop as my main machine, it is a 15 inch macbook pro.

Firstly, I don't game at all, but the macbook pro has a X1600 which I hear can do soso decently on modern games. I generally chat, browse the web, and like to take and edit videos or pictures once in a while. I also use it for school work, such as programming (windows) and word processing, as well as html.

That said, here are the pros and cons of a laptop over a desktop. I'll try to be general:

Pros:

Lower power draw, smaller space, infinitely more portable. Tends to be quieter at stock. Has a battery in case of blackouts and such, you got a built in UPS! You can plug in external monitors and a cordless mouse and keyboard and use it like a desktop.

Cons:

Less upgradability, and modability. For example, I cannot upgrade my optical drive as easily. I miss the bigger harddrive space and better soundcard options of my desktop. When using the laptop as a desktop, the machine tends to be on top of your desk, closer to your ears. The quietest modded desktops will be quieter than the quietest laptops IMHO due to laptop drive suspension or muffling and more sound blocking casing that can be done with the space in a desktop tower vs a compact notebook enclosure. You also get less power per buck, but for a non gamer thats not a big deal these days because other than gaming, most tasks tend to run fine on even the most entry level laptops (maybe add ram).


Overall:

As a non gamer college student, I find my macbook pro to be quiet enough (though not as quiet as I'd like) to not bother me (and I have high noise standards, believe me). I can bring my computer to class to take notes or do research on the web during lecture (or for entertainment...shhhh). I can plug in to an external LCD and cordless mouse keyboard and use it on a bigger screen as though it were a desktop, and I can watch videos using front row and the apple remote. It uses MUCH less power and has battery backup standard.

The combination of power efficiency and mobility is worth FAR more than the advantages of the desktop machine to me as a primary computer. Desktops might still be useful as secondary computers though, such as file servers or something, or just as a hobby computer. If I could only have one computer for the rest of my life, it would very likely be a notebook.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:18 pm 
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Laptop sales have been growing at double the rate of desktops worldwide, and they exceeded desktop sales (in the US? world? not sure) last year. The trend will continue, with more and more new/replacement PCs being mobiles. I think desktops will hit bottom somewhere around 20-25% of total PC sales, maybe by 2010; the expansion and upgrade capabilities will be too important for some users. The rest will welcome the simpler way that laptops can become integrated into life.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:10 pm 
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Location: Santa Cruz
A housemate has bought a Mac T-book and an i-Book...total cost about 7 or 8 times my puter...and he can't burn a DVD,the screen image is,for me,unacceptable. The T-Book is pretty much dead and not salvagable. The i-book has gone back to Apple 4 times for the same problem.

The mobility is good,of course,but the thing would not do what's important to me as well as my desktop....which I can upgrade cheap.


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 7:07 pm 
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Location: Michigan
I have to say I absolutely love my 12" iBook. It's only a 500MHz G3, but it's enough power for most of what I do on a regular basis - web,IRC, IMing, basic stuff. It's only ever had one problem with a borked backlight inverter, but that was my fault and I fixed it myself. It's my primary box now that my desktop is probably going to need an HDD replacement. Oh,and did I mention the battery lifE? Ive been using it for about 2 hours now, and it's still reporting 54 minutes of life left. I could stretch it out to 4 hours or so by turning down the backlight and switching to ethernet instead of wifi.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 5:05 am 
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I personnally browse + surf the internet on my laptop (lenovo 3000 N100, WSXGA+ :D) and only use my desktpop for tv watching and eventually do some hardcore video processing.

My laptop's definetly consuming a lot less watts than my desktop, and i like to keep it that way!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 5:36 am 
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10 months later, and I seem to be well en-route to minimizing my desktop usage. I actually shut it down last night for the first time in ages... hard drives were getting too warm with my innovative "cold air for the CPU" scheme (flipped rear fan) with the temperatures we had yesterday.

Getting a new, much faster laptop with a nicer screen probably didn't hurt.

Depending on whether I am able to get my sound card working in a dock for my laptop, I may get rid of the desktop altogether, or at least transplant it into a small, easier to transport case if I want to keep it as a downloading box. The full-size tower (and the dual LCD screens) are getting kind of obnoxious.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 4:27 pm 
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I've made the switch myself. We recently moved to a smaller home where computer desks are just too much clutter. Switched to wireless and laptops. Now we can sit at the kitchen table, the couch, even the toity if we wanted. :)

The power savings are unmatched in the desktop world. But, a desktop's user friendliness is unmatched in the laptop world.


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