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  • Linux on Bicycle (recommend me a notebook)

    I want the AK-47 of notebooks.

    I'm thinking 11-13.1 inches, I can handle 14. I need it to be light and incredibly durable (and has a good warranty). I'll be biking with it on a single-speed with no suspension on occasionally rough roads religiously for upwards of 10 miles a day. Of course, I'll be considering a good case for it as well.

    I need to have the option of programming OpenGL 3+ on it, so the proper video card is necessary (definitely don't want intel). Something that can handle editing fairly complex scenes in blender would also be ideal.

    Aside from that, I don't have any specifications. I'm currently looking into barebones, but with such a huge option of vendors and oem product I'm thinking it may be best to go with a prefab.

  • #2
    Definitely go with an SSD disk.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by droidhacker View Post
      Definitely go with an SSD disk.
      Agreed: sounds like you'd kill a hard drive pretty fast, at least if you plan to run it while cycling... even with the heads parked I'd be reluctant to subject it to that kind of treatment.

      What's the budget? If money is no object, then one of the ruggedised laptops designed for this kind of rough-and-tumble application is probably the best choice.

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      • #4
        $700ish. I'm looking for a supplementary machine that will give me some mobility. I don't intend on riding with it powered-up. I believe a good carrying case will be fine, assuming I don't crash. So I'm not really into SSD.


        A dedicated gpu with 512 MB vram and a dual-core processor isn't hard to find for around $700- I'm just having trouble finding a decent one under 14".

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        • #5
          Originally posted by spinsane View Post
          A dedicated gpu with 512 MB vram and a dual-core processor isn't hard to find for around $700- I'm just having trouble finding a decent one under 14".
          You may have trouble because most people wanting a dedicated GPU probably also want a large screen to display the output; the only small screen PCs with dedicated GPU I can think of are the Nvidia Ions, and while they're better than an Intel-based netbook they're probably too low powered for what you need.

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          • #6
            The new Acer TimelineX modells are available in 13.3 and 14 inch and come with quite powerfull dedicated graphics (up to ATi Radeon Mobility 5650), but there are several drawbacks with them as well:
            1) switchable graphics. While in theory great, it seems like it'll be awhile before it'll actually be working decently with linux (and especially with fglrx, if ever).
            2) ATi drivers. Since you want OpenGl 3.0 there's no option besides using the proprietary drivers for now. I've not used them in a while now, but I'm pretty sure they're still far from perfect.
            3) glossy screen. Not exactly what you're looking for when you want to use you notebook outdoors.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by spinsane View Post
              $700ish. I'm looking for a supplementary machine that will give me some mobility. I don't intend on riding with it powered-up. I believe a good carrying case will be fine, assuming I don't crash. So I'm not really into SSD.


              A dedicated gpu with 512 MB vram and a dual-core processor isn't hard to find for around $700- I'm just having trouble finding a decent one under 14".
              Whether you're riding with it on or not, you don't want to be bashing a hard disk around. Unless you absolutely need huge space, smaller SSD's are not all that expensive.

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              • #8
                Hmm... I might consider an SSD- but in all honesty, I've had an iPod (I didn't buy it, I found it in the snow) for 6 years that has suffered greatly (more than 2 meter drops while HDD was running and all the biking I've done), so I think a powered down HDD should be fine. If it breaks, replacing it with a SSD isn't a big problem (I'll be syncing important project files with my desktop).

                Originally posted by Zhick View Post
                The new Acer TimelineX modells are available in 13.3 and 14 inch and come with quite powerfull dedicated graphics (up to ATi Radeon Mobility 5650), but there are several drawbacks with them as well:
                1) switchable graphics. While in theory great, it seems like it'll be awhile before it'll actually be working decently with linux (and especially with fglrx, if ever).
                2) ATi drivers. Since you want OpenGl 3.0 there's no option besides using the proprietary drivers for now. I've not used them in a while now, but I'm pretty sure they're still far from perfect.
                3) glossy screen. Not exactly what you're looking for when you want to use you notebook outdoors.
                I don't mind an ATI.

                I wont actually be using it outdoors, I'll just be traveling a lot with it so it needs to be able to handle a fair amount of vibration. That said, I'd prefer 100% matte everything.

                Where can these configurations be found? Browsing the acer website they're only offered with intel integrated.

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                • #9
                  Wow, the TimelineX modells seem to be almost impossible to find on us-online-shops. Here's a german price-comparison-service that lists the modells I was referring to: http://geizhals.at/eu/a519806.html

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                  • #10
                    It is REALLY difficult to get what you really want in very small form factors. You almost always have to compromise on something.

                    One of the major weaknesses of the AMD lineup is that they really don't have much in the way of super-low-power parts, you know, the ones that make sense for things like netbooks and the smallest of laptops, which means that if you want something fairly small, you're either stuck with intel parts, or you possibly have the option of having virtually zero battery life. Either way, being weak/crap in the GPU area is *almost* a given. My experience in hunting down mobile devices is that you either severely compromise on something <=13" or end up with something fairly large.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Zhick View Post
                      Wow, the TimelineX modells seem to be almost impossible to find on us-online-shops. Here's a german price-comparison-service that lists the modells I was referring to: http://geizhals.at/eu/a519806.html
                      Too expensive for my purpose.


                      Originally posted by droidhacker View Post
                      It is REALLY difficult to get what you really want in very small form factors. You almost always have to compromise on something.

                      One of the major weaknesses of the AMD lineup is that they really don't have much in the way of super-low-power parts, you know, the ones that make sense for things like netbooks and the smallest of laptops, which means that if you want something fairly small, you're either stuck with intel parts, or you possibly have the option of having virtually zero battery life. Either way, being weak/crap in the GPU area is *almost* a given. My experience in hunting down mobile devices is that you either severely compromise on something <=13" or end up with something fairly large.
                      Not too concerned about power consumption. I'd like 5ish hours on power-save settings, but I really just need a lite mobile workstation.

                      I found something! Maybe. The dm3z customizable laptop by HP is actually fitting my bill.

                      AMD Turion II Neo Dual-Core K625 (1.5GHz, 2M L2 cache)
                      512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5430
                      4GB DDR3 System Memory
                      320GB 7200RPM SATA
                      13.3" diagonal High-Definition LED


                      for $700. It's technically exactly what I'm looking for, but the customer care package is a bit pricey and the return policy without it is only 21 days.

                      I know I didn't buy the extended warranty on my last laptop and it is lasting me 5 years (an Acer no less), but I'm not sure how planned obsolescence is playing out these days, especially with HP. Any thoughts?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by spinsane View Post
                        Too expensive for my purpose.
                        Well, I linked the most expensive modell. There's also one with a ATi 5470 which is quite a bit cheaper. And don't make the mistake to translate between and $ with the official rates, I'm pretty sure an american modell will cost <= the same amount in $ as the european modells in .

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by spinsane View Post
                          I know I didn't buy the extended warranty on my last laptop and it is lasting me 5 years (an Acer no less), but I'm not sure how planned obsolescence is playing out these days, especially with HP. Any thoughts?
                          I read a survey recently where HP were rated very low for laptop reliability; however, given the vast array of laptops they produce it's hard to tell whether that's due to poor quality overall or because the cheap models break more often than expensive models from other manufacturers and the expensive ones are no less reliable than Toshiba and the like. Certainly I haven't had any problems with their business laptops in the past.

                          That said, it's one of the reasons why I went for Toshiba rather than HP when I bought a new laptop recently.

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