Replace Your Desktop With a Laptop?

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    • #47853

      Recently I finally had to break down and get a new laptop. My old (2005) HP Pavillion workhorse which still works just as well as when first purchased can only handle DV. So I wanted to get something that could not only handle HD, but was 64-bit based, had a 17″ screen and a Duo Core fast enough to push HD video without wheezing. In my search I not only found a unit within my proposed budget, it had a Quad Core, 4GB DDR3 RAM, Blu-Ray ready, a 7200rpm harddrive and a whoppin’ 18.4″ screen.

      Now I’m thinking, ‘that’s a big screen!’ But a little more investigating turned up the biggest laptop screen (so far) is 20″! Before I started to get a bout of ‘screen envy’ I realized that these large format laptops are called “Desktop Replacements”. I thought about the new unit I just purchased as a potential replacement even for my oldest desktop needing to be replaced for about 7 or 8 seconds. Not a chance.

      My desktops stay in the shop unless I’m on a shoot for a few days or more and we’re doing heavy editing then I’ll just bring one of the NLE’s. The new laptop will take the place of doing that, but for my admin computers, graphics and main NLE’s there’s no way I’d change those out for a laptop.

      Now after looking at Dell’s new concept ‘Laptop/Desktop’ I can see the potential for a ‘mobile office’ particularly on big jobs. Here’s a look at the Dell XPS Mobile Concept and some of the latest units in the desktop replacement class:

    • #196919

      I SAID “no” but my actual vote would have been “not yet.” A bit of upcoming “expansion” in my production future will more than likely require that I ACQUIRE one, but the likelihood of a laptop of ANY size, shape or description totally replacing my desktop(s) is teensy-weensy 🙂 I could, however, SEE a time when some type of laptop MIGHT wind up getting heavier use than those desktops churning away back at the office/editing bay.

    • #196920

      I started editing on a laptop and did some of my first projects with them. I figured I needed a laptop for mobility, but now I simply have 2 desktops (one at work and one at home). Can’t beat it, with web-based mail and other applications. I thought I’d never live without a laptop, but you never know.

      I will say that those laptops listed have come down in price a bit. I built my current two machines, and probably didn’t do it much cheaper than those laptops run using parts. But still, you can’t switch out the parts as easily on a laptop, and if it breaks, you’re without a machine (whereas with the desktop I can harvest parts and keep it limping along).

    • #196921
      Grinner Hester

      I’ll enhance my workflows with a good laptop at some point but I don’t see replacing my main stream of income anytime soon.

    • #196922


      I feel you on the ‘not yet’. Particularly working in a Mac environment you’re limited on how much in-house customizing you can do on your systems. And mac desktops like PC’s potentially have way more horsepower in RAM, available hard drive space, graphics cards and on and on.

      Pseudo’s reason is why I say not a chance as I can easily build systems specific to my co’s needs for less than what I’d have to fork over for a similar laptop. Now with that in mind, the new rig coming doesn’t look too shabby! Right now, 4GB sticks of Mobile RAM are pretty pricey (I bought 8GB for the main desktop NLE for less!)

      But, that Dell Concept did perk the old ears up. Properly outfitted I could easily see that thing with a field editor in a tent banging out the rough cut as the dailies come in.

    • #196923

      I voted no. Not as a replacement but maybe to augment. Something to take in the field to preview/review the days shots and to catalog them. Leaving the desktop for the primary editing when you get back.

    • #196924

      My vote was no.

      I have edited on a laptop and as long as it’s powerful enough it’s not a problem.

      That said, I prefer to edit on my desktop – bigger monitor and keyboard, better cursor control (mouse), much more HD space (my desktops have 2.15 TB & 1.5 TB respectively), plus they are more powerful and have more RAM.

      I realize you can attach external components to a laptop (some have nice docking solutions) but why bother. I keep a 500GB portable USB HD attached to my desktop and just plug it into my laptop when I need to take it on the road.

    • #196925

      I voted no, but..

      I had both but prefer my desktop. To be fair I am not comparing apples to apples here either. My Vaio has 4GB RAM and 32bit Vista where my desktop has 8GB RAM and 64bit Vista. I don’t have much of a problem when I ‘have’ to use the laptop (remote edits for my church for example) but it is not as responsive and is much slower during render (especiallt HD footage). Not to mention the desktop is connected to my server with 3TB of space, has dual monitors yada yada…

    • #196926

      Grinner, ‘Cat & 210pe,

      I’m with you all on the ‘enhancing work done with a laptop’. Though I love my desktop w/2 28 monitors and quote, “yada, yada” but on short runs it’s just not worth the pain & suffering draggin’ that stuff around. God forbid I have to go out of the country for a month or more! I’ve had to go through the process of getting gear through airports and customs with a crew by ‘spreading’ the gear out among them as checked baggage. Now it’s a nightmare.

      My old laptop has an old copy of DV Rack on it so it serves as a portable monitoring station during controlled shoots the new one will perform in a similar fashion among other things. Having a laptop that could do many of the things my desktops can do in the field is invaluable. Just by virtue of it meaning I have to pack and carry a number of things less makes it worth the money.

      However, if in the field or on location I have suitable stable resources I’d dig being able to pull out one of those Dell Concept jammies (did you guys take a look at that thing?) out of one hardcase with an extra LCD, a couple of multi-TB SATA Raid enclosures, UPC, a couple of DSLR’s and Hn4’s, cables and be off to the races.

      The drawbacks I see with these ‘desktop replacements’ are power and heat issues. They’re great long as you have stable AC power coming in. But if you’re not running a generator and have to rely solely on battery power, that could be a major issue. It’s a problem with much smaller laptops because editing eats up lots of power and makes even more heat.

      The most important drawback is unlike a desktop, if something goes south with your laptop making repairs in the field is a limited to zero sum option. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to scavenge parts for a mac or pc to keep it running when the nearest civilization is 70 or a lot more Kilometers from our location. I’ve had laptops go down in the field and if it wasn’t a software issue with a potential fix, it was a paperweight until we could send it off or get it back home.

      Replacing your desktop with one of these in my mind isn’t particularly smart. As Grinner said of me in another post “You sound like some old guy….” In this case I have to agree. Some changes inevitable or not, need some serious thought before going ahead with it.

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