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Thread: Can You Please Recommend a Laptop for my purposes

  1. #1
    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    Can You Please Recommend a Laptop for my purposes

    Hey all,

    I've got a media room where I've decided to buy a laptop to play movies (over continuing to stream or use USB via Samsung Blu Ray which experiences disconnects and Cinavia protection) and hook up some old emulators to play old video games.

    The laptop will be fairly dedicated to my media room, will occasionally take it around the house or on trips (yes I want a mobile device not a PC, doesn't need to be super slim size or anything). Netbooks/tablets that won't have enough USB slots or HDMI out slots won't cut it so I figure a mid-size laptop is what I'm looking at. I just figure I need a decent chip for CPU/Graphics as I've found laptops can struggle to play videos after a few years (netbooks a few years ago basically couldn't even play videos from day 1). Guess I'm saying, I may as well spend a little extra now to get another year or 2 out of this device. If things like the battery are just going to die in 3 years anyway maybe thinking too far ahead isn't worth it...

    I was thinking of getting something like an Intel Core i5 like http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/...308d589c34en02 on sale probably on a Boxing week.

    Even looking through different vintages of i5 chips alone it's hard to sort through everything. I looked at an Intel chip comparison list and could see that some of the new i5 can take 15 W of power to do what some of the old ones did with 35 W of power, but to be honest exactly what processor best meets my needs isn't clear to me. My guess is I don't want Celeron or Atom. i3 or i5 is my guess. What is even more vague to me is what "HD Graphics 4400" brings to the table vs. the older "HD Graphics 3000".

    As I said, really just want this thing to play movies for years. Will integrated video do, or do I need to look at more? Is there a way I can spend a little less and get everything I need (bigger CPU usually comes with bigger, nicer screens and features I would barely appreciate)?

    P.S. I just got thinking, maybe if I only have 1 USB slot I can get away with it if I can put a USB hub on there. Curious to know if that approach works well.

    I'm open for ideas.

  2. #2
    Administrator Philip's Avatar
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    You pretty much have your priorities right, i.e.

    1) Decent processor, like the i5
    2) Decent graphics card (not sure about that particular one. I'd rather get a 1920x1080 native resolution for HTPC)
    3) RAM/SSD ? (you can replace the HDD as an upgrade later, it is great to have fast boots on a HTPC)
    4) Video/Audio out ports... I imagine you want HDMI, that particular model also has VGA and optical out.


    USB2 ports on laptops provide 500mA of power per port. If you hook up a slim USB hub that doesn't have a separate power adapter, you will be dividing that power between the devices, it may not be enough for devices that require more electricity like portable HDDs, for example.

    One other thing to consider would be the native laptop resolution, the one you mention has 1366x768. I'd consider one that has a native 1920x1080 resolution so you can just clone the desktop to your TV, rather than using two different screens with different resolutions, and moving your videos to a secondary screen each time. The graphics card would also have to work harder running two separate screens.

  3. #3
    R.I.P. Nov 2015 RaisinCain's Avatar
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    Have you considered one of these? Just mount it to the back of the LCD.

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product...bop=And&page=1

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    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    Philip: I'll look into the resolution issue. I assumed the physical screen was the limitation not the video card but it could be the video card so glad you brought it up. Also, I agree with a USB hub I would need a 2nd source of power in most cases, question is would the computer see all connected devices and work properly given that? I've never used a USB hub before.

    RaisinCain: Cool idea, will look down that path a little more also. Initially looks like the CPU might be lower end than I want. If I have to pay too much for a laptop to get the 1080 resolution that I want I'll then be forced to go with a box like this or a PC. I really do have a use for a laptop occasionally so this really challenges that. If I need to pay $1000 for a laptop to get good video though I need to challenge if occasional portability of a laptop is a want vs. need.

    I'll report back with what I've found in the next few days.

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    http://shop.lenovo.com/ca/en/laptops.../z-series/z40/ This Lenovo Z40 is probably the thing I've found to best address the specs I'm looking for.

    It addresses 1080 resolution, has slightly better graphics processing.

    The main con seems to be that reviews think the machine is a bit more cheaply build, screen has a lot of glare and bad viewing angle, bad battery life. I'm a bit conflicted, if you read 50 reviews you're bound to find the bottom 5% of people complaining about defects, people trying to use a computer in bad lighting, people that don't do a few things to manage battery life, people with bad routers that cause dropped connections......you get a few people that call the machine pretty good for price.

    At $580 Cdn is only of the only i5 processor machines I can find with 1080, comparables I think I need to go to $900 to find that. Computers often having touch screens with lower resolution is one of the norms.

    Thoughts

  6. #6
    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    Alright I decided on the Asus Transformer Book Flip....is on for $600 at the Microsoft Store of all places. http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/...ctID.308008300 note that is a link for the US microsoft store, to find it another country you need to enter the Microsoft store for your country.

    I was holding out to find something in this $600 range and in this case I was able to get the core i5 that I wanted, plus a touch screen, plus 1080 resolution (this is what the Signature edition brings to the table). After going and actually using the computers in person I decided that a touch screen would be a nice feature as I mentioned the main purpose of this thing is to quickly select movies and songs for a home theatre. With Windows 8.1 touch is more effective.

    The other $600 deals out there were often for 15 inch laptops that were a little bigger, was happy to find this one in a smaller 13" size. I don't plan to work off this screen all that often so being compact is my preference in this case. Should come in a few days, will give some feedback after I get it.

    I've had a few ASUS PCs get flakey on me in the past, hoping that I break the streak here and this laptop lasts me a long time...

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