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Old 12-31-2012, 08:26 AM   #1
mgh-pa
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Default Laptop Suggestions...Wife and I Upgrading.

So my wife's 5yr old Gateway laptop is starting to show its age, and as such, I think it's time for an upgrade. The catch? I've been meaning to start a new workstation build myself for my photo editing (much prefer a desktop system for that due to the ability to upgrade and allow for more storage/boot options).

Anyways, I feel since we do most of our everyday work on the laptop, that should get upgraded first. We need to find a balance between appearance (my wife trusts my judgement, but still wants something that looks "sleek and shiny"

While I have no intentions of buying from there, we were in Best Buy last evening looking through the notebooks, and I was explaining to her the differences (as best as I can), while trying to feel out what's more important to her. She doesn't care for the smaller Ultrabooks, since 95% of the time this is sitting in our office connected to power. The other 4%, we are elsewhere in the house, and the 1% we are taking it with us somewhere other than home. She seems to prefer a glossy wide screen (15"+) vs. the 13s, and 14s. She also likes a backlit keyboard.

She really liked the looks of the Asus Q500A which is also a multi-touch screen that neither of us would ever use. Specs wise, it's not bad - i7/750GB/8GB, no dedicated graphics which bums me a bit if I want to do any photo editing (and I will) on this. The glossy screen doesn't bother me, since if I don't upgrade my workstation anytime soon, I will just hook up externally to a CCed monitor if I want to do any editing.

Other than this particular model, I don't have much more to go on from her. Any recommendation would be great.

My ideal scenario:

Laptop that is sleek (i.e. no mobile workstations) looking
Backlit Keyboard
Ease of Upgrade in terms of RAM
15" Min. Screen Size
Ability to process and edit photos (yes in RAW format) running Bridge and PS CS5.1 as well as CS6 down the road
Good warranty
Decent CS if needed

Budget is flexible.

Thoughts?

Happy New Year!
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:08 AM   #2
corkyg
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Lenovo T430.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:23 AM   #3
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Non-retina 15" MBP - Didn't specify which OS you wanted - fits all of your points.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corkyg View Post
Lenovo T430.
I do like Thinkpads and have one myself but I'm not sure if they are an absolute requirement for everyone. There are better entertainment and performance oriented laptops out there. The T430 for instance has an average screen. For that price, mgh-pa might be able to find something better. Something lighter with a better screen.

The Sony S15 laptops have a better screen and might even offer better performance based on the features chosen. They are expensive. That is one option. There are others. The Asus Zenbooks for instance might be more appealing to mgh-pa due to their lightweight and excellent screens. They are sleek and shiny.

joshhedge's suggestion of 15" MBP is also great.
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:24 PM   #5
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That "sleek" requirement is going to cost you in a couple of ways. Sleek laptops cost more and they have less space to work with so they can only be so powerful. If you go sleek you are looking at a GTX 650m max. Is that enough GPU for you?

The MBP is nice but really expensive. Just how "flexible" is the budget? Do you need a Windows based machine?

My laptop is a huge 9lb lug-a-bout but it gets the job done with an i7 and a GTX 670MX. It is not "sleek"...
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Old 12-31-2012, 05:20 PM   #6
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I will second the 15 inch Vaio S as it has IPS screen
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:57 AM   #7
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Thanks, everyone. I would be open to Apple, but I'm not sure the wife would. I think she really likes the look of the S series, so we may be heading that direction. I like the fact that it actually has dedicated graphics (will appeal to me if I need to do any photo or graphic work) compared to the Asus.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:21 AM   #8
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Alright, after some looking, and indecision on models, I'm starting to question a Windows 8 move. I'm not as technical as most of you, but I hold my own (definitely way above average), and I HATE windows the little bit I've played with it. It only took me a few seconds to re-launch the traditional desktop environment, but I just feel like the software has a lot of extra "bloat." I've heard of people having some issues trying to install Windows 7 on these laptops that come pre-shipped with Windows 8 and vice versa. I have no problem doing a clean install, but if there's going to be driver issues, I don't want to bother.

Am I being unfair about Windows 8? Or will it become the new Windows ME?
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgh-pa View Post
Alright, after some looking, and indecision on models, I'm starting to question a Windows 8 move. I'm not as technical as most of you, but I hold my own (definitely way above average), and I HATE windows the little bit I've played with it. It only took me a few seconds to re-launch the traditional desktop environment, but I just feel like the software has a lot of extra "bloat." I've heard of people having some issues trying to install Windows 7 on these laptops that come pre-shipped with Windows 8 and vice versa. I have no problem doing a clean install, but if there's going to be driver issues, I don't want to bother.

Am I being unfair about Windows 8? Or will it become the new Windows ME?
Just install Start8 and you won't have any problems.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:37 PM   #10
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W8 not so bad once you get it set up to your liking. I made a thread about some of the things I did to make W8 more tolerable:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2293473

If you are using a touch pad disabling Edge Swipe will cut down on frustration quite a bit.

I tried Power 8 and found it to be too slow. Classic Shell works great and it is free. Start 8 is said to be the best and while it is only $5 I couldn't bring myself to spend the money given the other free options out there.

Originally I disabled Hot Corners but it was Edge Swipe that was really annoying.

Due to all the anti start menu replacement postsin that thread, I'm currently using W8 without one (Classic Shell is back off). Hot Corners are handy if you don't have a Start button...

Edge Swipe with the Touch Pad was by far the worst part of my initial W8 experience. Edge Swipe functions as a "hidden trigger" to launch various full screen Metro pages if it enabled. You will be on the desktop one minute and BAM the desktop is gone, replaced by some other thing you can't "escape" out of. That or the "Charms" bar would pop up seemingly randomly.

This does not happen if you are using a mouse, only a touch pad. Mouse users have no clue as to how annoying Edge Swipe is...
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:36 PM   #11
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Win8 is a non-issue since there are so many ways to get the Start menu back (Start8, Classic Shell, StartisBack, etc etc). It has enhancements/optimizations that Win7 doesn't have and will be the most compatible out of the box with the latest hardware. There's really no reason to stick with an older OS.

As for your laptop, if you want to do anything more than very basic usage then definitely get a laptop with a "real" GPU. If image quality is a concern to you (sounds like it is), try to go for one of the units that has an IPS screen. I wouldn't concern yourself with RAM/HDD if I were you. Those are the two things that are hilariously easy to upgrade on most laptops. When I had my Lenovo x120e, it took all of 30 seconds to swap out the ram and hard drive for better ones.

You typically pay a much over-priced premium to get a laptop that comes with better RAM/HDD. You'd do much better financially by buying the RAM/HDD (or SSD) that you want and installing it yourself. It's not for everyone, and it's not equally easy on *every* laptop (the shinier and sleeker, might not be so easy or even possible), but it's something you may want to keep in mind.
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