Cheap laptop. DO or DONT?

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Nov 9, 2010
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I have a good desktop that I currently do all my post processing on, but having a hectic life and a family, I typically don't get around to post processing until weeks after I took the photos and sometimes I have 4-6 shoots to go through. I take the bus to work everyday where I have about 30mins to kill and then some additional time during some outings. I am considering buying a cheap laptop (around $300) for lightroom only to keyword, delete and sort photos. Most of these laptops use integrated graphics cards and only have about 4GB RAM (some are expandable).

Bad idea or good idea?

Thanks,
Alan
 

Growltiger

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Don't buy a low end machine that won't work well enough to do what you want. That would be a complete waste. The so called netbooks have always been awful things. I know people who have bought them, used them once and then put them away in a cupboard so they can forget their mistake.

Do buy a laptop that will do the job, it will cost a bit more.

Integrated graphics is no problem at all.

4GB is at the bottom end, look at one with 6GB-8GB.

Importantly, look at the processor. Go for a Core i5 if you can afford it, failing that an i3. (I'm assuming an i7 is not affordable). I suspect the machines you are looking at have low end processors below this level. They will crawl. Avoid.

Think carefully about screen size. My little laptop for travelling is only 12", but that is probably too small for you to easily see the photos.

Check it comes with Win 7 or 8 Home edition, and not the "Starter" edition. That is crippled.

Look at Acer and Asus.
 
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Thanks Growltiger. I plan on the 15.6" screen and would like a machine that's upgradable to a min of 8GB. I may have to shop around to see if it's cheaper to buy a laptop with the 8GB already or if it's cheaper to add separate. Since LR will be the only program I will be running, I think the i3 or i5 should be sufficient. I don't plan on doing any developing on this machine, purely the first pass through for images and maybe a quick social media export of a photo here and there.

Anyone else have any insight for me?
 
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Consider PhotoMechanic over Lightroom if keywording is your goal. PM does many things more than keywording, but it really really excels in adding metadata to your images. It also allows you to do a lot more through keystrokes, an additional advantage when working during your commute. I dare say that you can keyword at least twice as many images during your commute when using PM over LR.
 
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I use my i3 3Gb laptop and it runs LR quite well. Obviously not as well as my 6 core AMD desktop, but the new LR5 is better performance wise. Unless you're kicking out 36mp or MF raw files I'd say even a budget laptop will be fine.

4Gb is fine for most laptops. I don't even come near to using my desktop 16Gb ram
 
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Two other things to consider:

- Most cheaper laptops with larger screens are pretty heavy. If your journey involves a walk as well as a bus trip, make sure you're happy to carry it back and forth. It can be worth paying a bit extra for something lighter.

- Wil you be happy working with it on the bus? Despite the name, I don't find laptops that comfortable to use on my lap, when there's no flat surface to rest it on. And if the ride is bumpy, it's even less fun.
 
Joined
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Good points. I didn't think much about the weight. I'm not fond of having a laptop sit in my lap either, but if it allows me to at least make a first pass through on my photos, that's 20-30 minutes of time that I could put toward processing the good ones.

Maybe I will start saving and look into getting something more middle of the road. Guess it's always better to be over powered vs under powered.

Are most brands (Asus, Tosiba, etc) created equal these days?
 

Growltiger

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Asus and Acer both have good reputations. I love my little Acer (two years old and works perfectly and still looks like new).

Be sure to check reviews of the model you want. I know some Toshibas had hinge problems a while ago.
 
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I would look at the 13/14 inch systems from Asus (or even one of the 11 inch ones) AND PhotoMechanic. I started using it this year and it is much faster and less resource intense. It previews based on the embedded preview files instead of build it's own like LR does. I'm not saying it can do half of what LR does. But Culling and Keywording? Mo problem. I've even run it previewing file off a USB 2.0 drive (well a 3,0 drive plugged into a 2.0/eSata port).
 

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