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Thread: computer upgrade

  1. #1
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    Default computer upgrade

    Im thinking about getting a 'laser-only' computer, as my current acer notebook(lol) sucks to begin with. Im looking for something with a bigger screen and faster processor. i feel like anything at this point is an upgrade from an 11'' and 2g ram. I was wondering if those touchscreen laptops work with Quickshow. Ive also entertained the idea of a windows tablet. but i think id just end up being frustrated by the small screen size, even though i may (im assuming) have touch screen capabilities. Any suggestions on a decent computer for the price.

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    A "laser-only" computer.... boy, have I tried that on several occasions. Including the new one I'm typing on now.... that I really don't like.

    I'm not certain how many laptops I currently own right now... I'm going to guess and say at least 11, maybe 12, with several being considered to be "laser only" but, after using them, I've discovered their shortcomings. A couple observations.... go big on real estate. A large screen makes a huge difference. Quickshow is about the only thing you can squeak by with on a small screen size. BEYOND and LSX I feel, have far too much built into their screens not to use something like a 17" or better. If you've been using 11" then ANYTHING is going to feel like a huge improvement.

    Touchscreen on the other hand is a novelty. Been there done that. If you really want touchscreen capability, lean towards an All-In-One, or a desktop with a second plug in ELO monitor or something like that or, build a dedicated control station with a rack mount touchscreen. The problem I found on laptops is, the small screen size as mentioned before, and the lid basically waggles back and forth on the hinges each time you tap it with your finger. Try pretending to punch cues on your Acer for a bit and see what happens with the lid. It will start moving further away and most likely just simply not be steady. Touchscreen is great for phones and touchpads - especially since they're designed to be used with a finger. Laptops... not so much.

    The other issue I have found is finding everything you're looking for in one laptop. Stand there in the store doing comparisons and you'll say, "Well, it has this, this and this but... not this. And this one has it bu... it doesn't have this and this." I had a salesperson recently tell me that you really need to contact HP or Dell or something and get them to build something to your specs. It will cost a bit more but, it's better than the laptop feature combinations sold in stores right now.

    Unless you're buying a higher end laptop, I think you'll also find most laptops are pretty flimsy feeling. They're not the solid heavy machines of old. Just like a lot of other stuff in this society, they're cheap and designed to be thrown away. All the sub $1,000 laptops just don't look or feel "hardy". Everyone wants thinner and lighter which to me, translates to "less durable".

    I don't know that processor speed and memory are a huge issue with laser software. BEYOND is probably the most taxing thing out there and while it does require a little more power than other software, it still runs fine on a basic Pentium with a couple gigs of ram. You don't, for example, need an i7 proccessor and 12 gig of ram or something to run laser software so, don't over buy what you're not going to use. The biggest single performance upgrade you can do right now and I did it with my most recent laptop, is bought an SSD hard drive to replace the one that comes with the laptop. THAT experience proved to suck too. The laptop I bought came with Windows 8.1 which I really didn't want and couldn't get it to downgrade. The SSD drive I bought also came with disc cloning software that you run prior to installing into the computer and I couldn't get the laptop with 8.1 to let me boot from the software CD (which it was designed to do.). It wouldn't boot a Windows 7 install disc either. So, I ended up sticking the SSD drive in an older laptop and I'm definitely pleased with it. The trade off though, is speed for size. SSD drives are nowhere near the size of standard spinning platter drives without paying stupid money. But, using an SSD for your operating system and laser software and then, putting your shows on an external drive seems to work really well performance wise.

    Stick with major brands. HP (Lenovo), Dell. I think they're generally going to be a bit more robust than the Acer, Asus, Toshiba's of the world.

    I should clarify my first paragraph and say that while I have all those laptops, most of them have been bought used for between $100 and $200 at computer shows where I know the vendor or, eBay. Two are IBM Thinkpads. 5 are Dell Latitudes/Precisions including 3 nearly identical ones in the ATG series which are designed for more rugged use - police use them in squad cars. I'm fairly pleased with them as show computers. I'm a firm believer in having a back up so, once I found something I liked enough, I got two of them and keep them identically configured. Right down to where the desktop icons are placed. They still have their drawbacks but, for me a used Dell say, 620 ATG works great as a laser-only show computer once I added an SSD drive and a little extra memory. And I have maybe $300-$350 tied up in the rig.
    Last edited by Bradfo69; 10-30-2014 at 03:47. Reason: grammar

  3. #3
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    I'm a big fan of dedicated 'show' machines. As Brad has stated, Lenovo are a great brand for this sort of job. Look at used T series Thinkpads as these are the tough ones. Lit keyboards (with an LED at the top of the screen on the T61/41/etc so useful for seeing 'stuff' in the dark too), waterproof keyboards (for those spilled drink moments in the club), shockproof disks, titanium chassis, etc all make them ideal show machines.

    The best part is that although they are horrendously expensive new, they can be picked up for really good prices used. I still use a T61 Core2Duo, 100Gb HDD, 2GB RAM, WinXP running Beyond and 4 or so FB3 as my primary show machine (at least 4 years old to me, bought for ~260 with 6 months left on the 3yr corporate on site warranty [so a 'safe' purchase] and hasn't skipped a beat), although I just bought a Lenovo Y510p (new) as a secondary and more versatile 'workstation' which I intend to keep for at least 6 years so went for top spec (but in real terms its less suitable than the T61 as a show machine, but I also wanted a machine I could play Elite: Dangerous on, hence the dual GFX cards... )

    The T540p is the one to have (IMHO) as it one of the few T series with a number pad. This one would last you some years (i5 is going to be more than adequate unless you have some very specific processor intensive tasks, even most high end games only need an i5)
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lenovo-Thi...ht_5011wt_1400
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    That's a very interesting point about the movement of a touch laptop screen. Didn't even occur to me. It just seems like an advantage for live play being that there's such a lag using the mouse pad. And if it truly is I may be able to live with it. Also, what would be an advantage of a num pad. I feel like I've been fine without one since we ditched desktop keyboards for laptops. I can only see them being added on larger screens to match the space given on the keyboard. This usually decenters the mouse pad, which always feels wierd when trying one out in the store.

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    I guess the number pad is down to personal preference, I like to have one as I use a desktop a lot (programming day job), and so naturally reach for it when typing. If you do any Pangoscript you'll do typing
    Also, a number pad can provide a very handy section of keys to map keystrokes to. YMMV

    I'm a lighting guy too, and I own a number of ELO touchscreens that get used with my lighting desk (alongside a 'wing' of buttons and faders and jog wheels) so I understand how a touchscreen might be useful. I used a touchscreen very briefly with Quickshow, but ever since I've used a physical interface (Novation SL Remote Zero II and APC40) and never wanted to use a touchscreen since.

    If you can find the right laptop with a touchscreen, then by all means get it, but I wouldn't make it a defining feature.

    I'm also not sure about using a touchpad for liveplay anyway - this is why they invented mice! In fact, every laptop should come with a mouse, and some novel way to dock it with the laptop (IMHO)
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    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

  6. #6
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    I too have touchscreens. I have a 25" All In One I bought specifically as a show computer with Quickshow and, I got an ELO back when using LivePro a lot more. I did a two screen system with the cues on the touchscreen. I too have the APC40 and Novation Remote Zero and did find I reached for them more than tapping on a screen. The difference for me was they were more solid. I tried tapping on some laptops in stores and that's when I dscovered the disadvantage of the lid wiggling. All this talk of course, has made me do some searching on eBay today and I did find the Dell has an ATG model now with touchscreen, 256 gig SSD, Core i7 and like 8 gig of RAM and WIndows 7. Damn... Must. Not. Click. Buy. It. Now. !!

    But it's shure purdy!









    I'll blame you when I buy it.

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    So im defiantly going to upgrade my computer(soon) but I'm looking for better live control too. I'll admit I find more enjoyment from button mashing than trying to sit and program a show. I only have QS and I'm looking to explore other software too. You have all mentioned the APC40 and other midi controllers. But I never know where to begin. Better computer, better software, more controllers, more projectors. Red blood, from making Green paper, and Blue tears on a pale White face, being sucked into the big Black hole. Colourful words, man. You all warned me. But I need something else soon.

  8. #8
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    the best choice you could make would be to buy a laptop that is 'adequate', and spend the difference between 'adequate' and 'hot dang' on a controller (IMHO)

    I'd be looking at something with 15" 1080 or higher display, Intel i5, 4GB ram, Win7 or higher, HDD of choice (SSD not necessary). If you can get a well priced T series used for good money then so much the better. Then spend the rest on midi hardware, and maybe a case for it all (I use one of these for my laptop and APC)
    http://www.juno.co.uk/products/magma...ver/443560-01/

    Of course you may want to look at what controller you want to use first, and a lot of that will be dictated by software. My Remote Zero is better for LivePro, the APC for Beyond.
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    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

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    Is livepro a decent upgrade? I've been watching boring tutorials on YouTube. I'm more of a hands on learner so I space out to those pretty easily. It looked like the upgrade for a fb3 is about 350-400. I also got around to downloading the Phoenix demo. I only got around to using the live version, and as Brad said, my screen is deff too small to really focus on all the small boxes. So yes, Im prioritizing a computer first. Is there a demo for livepro I can mess with? No luck on google. Maybe right from pangolin?

  10. #10
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    Livepro does have a bit of a learning curve. There is even a DVD tutorial DVD you can get that used to be $75 although, I think I heard at SELEM that there was now a source to get it for free.

    LivePro was sort of the answer to playing live if you owned a LD2000/QM2000 system prior to Quickshow and the FB3 coming on the scene. It's still more robust than Quickshow but, I think BEYOND will eventually render LivePro even less useful. You can get a LivePro upgrade for your FB3 from Pangolin and I think it's in the area of $345. Best bet is to hold off a few weeks and see if it's part of their holiday specials as I think it may be closer to $295. It might be that it's normally more than $345 ($600 rings a bell) and $345 was the holiday special price... I honestly forget exactly. Livepro has the advantage of being able to use the Novation Remote Zero and Norty and I have mentioned so, you could have something to mash buttons with. BEYOND is really best used with the APC40. Quickshow doesn't really have a controller that everyone has said works well so you're limited to a mouse or a touchscreen.

    I don't know that there is a demo.

    I think Quickshow is still my favorite software for playing live. I haven't fired up Livepro in a couple years I'll bet. I'm trying to learn to like BEYOND with the APC40 but, honestly I don't at this point. That may change the more I use it but, I set up Quickshow the way I want it first when doing a show and then exit out and set up BEYOND next and I'll reluctantly force myself to use it knowing that if I get frustrated or it starts giving me fits, I can just exit out and start Quickshow to get the job done. I know BEYOND is what I need to move towards and there is a lot of cool stuff under the hood but, I just don't have time to sit and work with it.

    Second hand is still a very good idea to explore for the computer and you can still do very well on eBay as opposed to buying something new.

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