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Media Laptop (1 Viewer)

Eric_L

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I have decided to purchase a new laptop. The one I have is ZT systems/MSI and they have HORRID support; for example; they have never released an update for the video card and Nvidia refuses to directly update their laptop video cards.

So I have decided to get one from a company with better, or at least existent customer support. I've got a soft spot for Asus - I have used their Mobos and been happy. My wife had me look at a Vaio and I was also impressed. I could look elsewhere too.

I want to use my new lapto for a multitude of things. In order of priority they are;

1) Games. I need a good video card. One of the games I play recommends (for its highest settings) at least a Nvidia GeForce GT240m or ATI Radeon HD 4650.

2) Blueray DVD. It will work perfect for my purposes. I have a projector at the back of the room with a dedicated upconvert DVD player and I have a 52" TV at the front of the room for daytime viewing, games and casual TV. With a Blueray laptop I could connect it to whatever system is suitable for the time. I could also use it with netflix, Hulu or whatever. Very nice. For this to be MOST effective I would need HDMI with audio out, Digital COAX spdif out (when I use the projetor the audio is carried over coax spdif 25' to the receiver) and I would very very very much like a infrared port so I could use my programmable remote when I watch movies. The IR port is the most difficult thing to find.

3) Ordinary computing. It has to have Windows 7 and decent enough memory and hard drive to run well. No less than 4meg and a 7200 rpm hard drive.

So the most important specs are;

1) smokin hot video card. Processor isn't as important.
2) IR port
3) Digital coax out (NOT optical!)
4) Windows 7
5) Decent enough specs - no slow crap but I don't need anything over the top either.

I'd rather not spend more than $1200, but I could stretch if I must. I've seen plenty of machines that come CLOSE for anywhere from $750 to $1000.. but they are always missing something close - like no IR port, or sportin a 5400 spin hard drive, no blueray or whatever. I even looked at an alienware for $3,000 - but it had no IR port! ARGH!

I tried using the screener at Newegg but came up empty. I wish I could just build one, but I can't.

Can anyone from this forum help me out in finding a laptop that would fit this bill?
 

Brett DiMichele

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For what you want to use it for, you really should be looking for a workstation not a Laptop. But if you want a Laptop that hot, you are going to spend big money on it to get what you want. I don't think you will find anything close in the $1200.00 range.

Have you checked to see what Lenovo offers? If the IR port is a big deal, Lenovo was always into IR Ports. Or you could just buy a Media Center USB IR Receiver, that's what I use (and it even came with a remote).
 

robko44

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I agree with Brett here but, If your hell bent on a laptop I would look at a Dell. I have 3 Dell laptops and getting ready to order a Netbook for work and travel purposes. Personally I would never buy a desktop since you can build a better one for less and you can configure it exactly the way you want it to be with out any of the stuff you don't want. Building also lets you put your money into the components that you feel are important to your needs not what someone else thinks is important
 

Eric_L

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I have already built a desktop which I am happy with. I like the fact I could move the laptop with relative ease between media stations. I don't think my price point is irrational since I have seen systems come VERY close to what I want. One was almost exact except it had a 5400 spin HD - What a POS! Some lamer had that idea! I would not want to mess with swapping it though because laptops can be so finicky about heat.

I'll have to lookup a few lenovo systems - I've not seen theirs. Are they OK with providing support?
 

Brett DiMichele

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Better than the competition. Lenovo manufacturers all the former IBM Thinkpads. But hold onto your wallet, it's easy to drop 3-5K on a thinkpad :)

Not sure why you just don't pick out a laptop that specs out in all the respects except IR and then buy this:





One of these came with my Dell Inspiron laptop and I use it on my HTPC.
 

Eric_L

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I'm not certain, but I don't think M$ makes that anymore and/or it has some problems with Windows 7. There are others out there and I am pretty close to resigned that I am not going to get consumer IR on a laptop. I am starting to wish I could make my own. It seems like there is a fatal flaw built into all laptops under $1500 - be it a $5400 spin hard drive, no blue ray, no digital out or whatever - it is like they try to find a way to muck it up.
 

SethH

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Do your research on the hard drives. Recent tests show that the Western Digital Scorpio Blue drives (5400rpm) test very, very close to the 7200rpm drives from Seagate. RPM is only one factor in the overall throughput of the drive.

Also, for the digital sound output, you could consider a USB sound card. Nice cards are around $65, but you can probably find cheaper cards.
 

Parker Clack

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Eric:

They still make the remote and it works with Windows 7 just fine. I use it on my HPTC with no problems.

Microsoft Receiver

I don't know how you feel about HP but I enjoyed the last 3 I have purchased for myself and family.

HP DV6TGE Series

It has Windows 7, I7 chipset, 4G of RAM, 500G 7200 HD, Blu-ray and the Nvidia Geforce 230M with 1G on board memory. It also comes with a 15.6 inch LED backlit LCD screen. You get an instant rebate of $200 to drop the price to $1177.99. You can always configure it with more RAM (up to 16G), larger HD, etc. but sounds like it covers all your needs. HP has great customer support too.

If you get a nice program like Total Media 3 you can pass you HD audio over your HDMI to your receiver. (That is if you have a receiver with HDMI inputs). I agree with not worrying about the 5,400 RPM HDs. The Western Digitals have a spin rate from 5,400 to 7,200 depending on the demands to the drive. This way they can make them more energy efficient.

My 2 cents.

Parker
 

Brett DiMichele

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I have to reinforce Parker on this. Yes Microsoft still makes the Media Center kit, yes New Egg has it in stock and yes it works on Windows 7.
 

Eric_L

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Thanks for the input. I had thought I saw somewhere that MS stopped making that remote.

I am intrigued my the idea of using USB 5.1 sound - but all the ones I am finding take in a stereo signal then remix it to 5.1 surround - not optimal... Any suggestions. If there is a true 5.1 usb card then that could fix a major shortcoming of several of the laptops I've looked at.


I may have found what I am looking for in these boxes. If the 5400 is not so different from a 7200 HD then deciding between these is a bit hard. Maybe you guys could give me some feedback?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115679
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834157043

They are both very close to what I am looking for. Trouble is - they are huge. It also appears I would need a USB digital audio out for the HP.. if such a thing exists...
 

Parker Clack

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The HP has a HDMI output and passes the audio through the HDMI so the USB digital audio isn't needed. You will need to have a program like TMT to play back your blu-ray discs and it allows you to set it to pass your HD audio via the HDMI. You just plug in an HDMI cable to the HP then to your receiver and then from the receiver to your TV. This will support all HD formats from Dolby Digital to DTS MA. No need for any type of USB audio.
 

Eric_L

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Thanks Parker, but passing HDMI audio to a projector is useless. I've decided to go with the Acer. I wish it wasn't quite so large, and the 5400 drive has me a little concerned, but in all other regards it is the only thing I've found which hits all my bases. I can live with a bigger screen and possibly slower drive.

Got by with $1405 for it, including three copies of MS Office home (student).
 

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