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Old Mar 13, 2007, 10:46 PM   #1
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I was set to get a durabook computer built for me but the cost turned out to be too high. I though the ocst was gonna be $2000 but it turned out to be closer to $2600.

Can some suggest the bestlaptop I can get (on a $2000 budget)that is rugged enough for travel and best suit the needs of a serious digital photographer (who shots round 1000 photos on an average week). I had an entery level Dell for 34 months that needs replaced ASAP. I think the HD is crashing (Idid backup everythinglast night). I also would need to buy Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 or 5.0 also as I no longer have the install discs for the 2.0 I bought with the laptop.


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Old Mar 13, 2007, 11:38 PM   #2
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I'm personally not a Mac user and probably won't ever own a Mac desktop, but if I had the same needs as you I'd definitely consider the Mac Book or Mac Book Pro.

The Pro base model is $1999, which has a 15" monitor and slightly faster processor, but only 120GB of storage and 1GB of ram. Both can be upgraded for a cost.

For $1883 you could get the top of the line Mac Book which has a 13" monitor and slightly slower processor, but that price includes the upgrades to 200GB of storage, 2GB of ram, and a MagSafe Airline Adapter. For another $50 you can get it in black.

The only thing to be aware of with the Macs is that the currently available versions of Photoshop, and I believe Elements, don't natively support the new intel chips yet and run a bit slow. The new Adobe programs should be coming out this October which will fully support the new chips.

However, I have heard that if you install Boot Camp on an Intel Mac and run Windows XP, you can run Windows versions of Adobe software with no problems and at much better speed. I'd verify that against some better sources than myself though.

Good luck.
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Old Mar 14, 2007, 12:01 AM   #3
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As far as I know and I will have to double check the machine has to be running Windows XP Pro. O believe it has something to dow ith the software and the server we run being only windows XP compatable. But the Mac you suggested sounds nice although the last Mac I had in 2002 made me smash it against the wall cause it keep breaking down (an iMac) But I have also heard good things about the latest Macs.

I'll have to double check into that.

Thanks for the idea

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Old Mar 14, 2007, 3:48 AM   #4
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Any laptop with a high-contrast screen (deep blacks) would be OK.

These are normally marketed as good for watching DVDs on, and tend to be aimed at the home user rather than the business user because those screens are very reflective.

I have a Dell Inspiron 9300 (which is a couple of years old now) with the high-contrast screen option and it's very nice for photography.

Not as good as the proper stuff of course, but much better than the standard business laptop screens. Of course it can be very hard to see the screen in bright light.

Sony calls their deep black screens "X-Black"

Dell calls theirs something like "Truelife"

As they are marketing terms they keep changing. Getting a decent monitor calibration device is also a necessity.
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Old Mar 14, 2007, 10:58 AM   #5
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One the Pro forums I spend time on, the most common Dell laptop is the Inspiron 640M

It's not the biggest screen, but its light and small (and comes with a fast processor.) The hard disk isn't particularly big, though. And the RAM is shared between the video and applications.

I would suggest you get no less than 1G of ram. With that, I can edit one pictures at a time with other things running.

I would also recommend you get the fastest hard disk you can. So much of picture work is hard disk based (loading images, culling images, building thumbnails,...) that a faster disk will really help. The trade off is battery life, so I'd suggest you get an extra battery with it.

You will also need a system to backup your images. Whatever you get, make sure its something you will actually *do*. I use external hard disks, but that is because I use a desktop for the major work and the laptop only when I travel.

I know others who speak well of HP and Sony laptops. I don't know which models, though.

I also want to point out that the full version of photoshop works on the Mac (just not in native mode on the intel macs) and the latest version will be a native application and it will be anounced later this month. Note, that means they'll say when it will ship later this month. It isn't shipping later this month. I would expect it to come out sooner than Corpsy's guess of Oct. They need to add some features to Lightroom and I bet those will require changes to Photoshop at the same time. So I expect they can't wait until Oct for CS3 to come out.

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Old Mar 14, 2007, 11:15 AM   #6
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I have an extensive photo backup system that consists of a netgear storage server with 2x 300GB hard drives and using DVD-Rs. The netgear storage device is connected to a wireless router that will allow me to access it from my laptop anywhere in my house.

As for Dells the laptop that I currently am replacing is a Dell (34 months old) and I have looked at Dells, Durabook, HP and Gateways as possible contentors.

One major thing I have been finding out is the lack of any machienes that I can buy with Windows XP built in. I very afraid to make the jup to windows vista as several friends and co-workers report bugs and issues in it. Also all my old experience and work flow is Windows XP Pro. I also worry about the time and tech support I might have to invest in to relearn an operating system. I had to use my borhters Window Vista laprop last weekend and it was a challenge to just figure out how to shutdown the system so I can imagine their are other things that would take getting used to.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

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Old Mar 14, 2007, 12:45 PM   #7
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Photo 5,

Panasonic makes a Toughbook laptop that is as rugged as they come. They have three grades; business rugged, semi-rugged, and fully rugged. Fully rugged is a water tight computer you can drop from eye level. For you the business rugged would be great. It has:

Windows XP

512mb ram (upgradeable to 4gb)

Intel Core 2 Duo processor

15" active TFT monitor

Shock mounted hard drive.

It is model C-51 and sells for $1600 before any customizations at this website http://www.buytough.com/tb_51.asp

Panasonic doesn't sell them directly to the public, but they recommend the above site and one other on their official website.

I briefly worked on one in school and you could drive a car over that laptop. I don't have extensive experience with them as I have never required something like thiswith but they seem like they would be tough enough for you and meet your performance needs.
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Old Mar 14, 2007, 1:52 PM   #8
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Hi TwoStep that looks like a winner. I will have to see what ine qwith a larger hard drive and more ram will cost me

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Old Mar 14, 2007, 2:01 PM   #9
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If the Panasonic is more rugged than you need for the money, I highly recommend Toshiba. Aside from the super-rugged types like the Panasonic mentioned above, they have some of the highest rated laptops for durability.
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Old Mar 14, 2007, 7:37 PM   #10
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The problem with the Toughbooks is that you'll pay a lot more money and may not get the same performance as you would from a Gateway/Toshiba/Dell. Most Dell owners think well of them but I find that they heavier than the first two for the same performance.

I have traveled with Toshibas and Gateways for business and never had any problems. I have also traveled with my personal HP and not had any problems.

Get a black screen model as suggested (it will have aglossy appearance rather than a mat appearance.) If size/weight is an issue get a 14.1 screen, otherwise a 15.4 screen. If you're really travelling with it avoid the 17" screens, to heavy and too much battery consumption.

The other specs., Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 2 GB DDR RAM, 120 GB 7200 drive. Look for a notebook that has options on the video card. Some model offer 3 levels of video, on the motherboard and two levels of seperate cards. Obviously the best is what you want for your application. I think you buy something like this for $2200 or less.

I believe there is only one Panasonic Toughbook repair facility in the United States but for a pretty reasonable price Gateway will come to you to fix the computer for several years.

You should be able to get a 300GB external HD in the $160-$180 price range. Note: They are really just a desktop drive inside. Treat them with at least as much care as your notebook.

Reliability stories from users are pretty hard to evaluate. I have never had an HD failure in fifteen years of notebook use in less than 5 years on that particular notebook and mine move about every day.I know people that can't get an HD to last more than 6 mo and they just leave it on their desk. Normally mine are swapped out every 3-3 1/2 years but for specific reasons I have kept some longer.
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