Old 300mhz laptop vs portable dvd player

Discussion in 'Computers' started by DaveGTP, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    Hey,
    Any comments from anyone that uses an old laptop as a portable dvd player? My and my fiancee are driving on a cross country trip in June and have been looking at portable dvd players for in the car/tent/hotel/etc. She'd also be using it at work. We weren't happy with the image quality on the cheapest (Mintek, Initial, etc). We liked the Toshibas and Panasonics (and boy the 10" Samsung was beautiful), but there's a definite price premium.

    A little internet hunting finds the 7" Toshibas in the mid $200s. But I've really been considering an older laptop instead. I can find some decent Pentium II 266-366ish (IBM Thinkpads 600E, Compaq Armada 7800, etc) laptops for about the same price as the decent 7" DVD players - and they have 12-14" screens (plus I could play Super Nintendo, oldschool games, etc on it).


    Any thoughts on going with a cheap, older, laptop instead? A new laptop deal ($700ish) is way out of budget after setting up my FP setup (Infocus X1). Is 300mhz enough for smooth DVD playback? I'm willing to hack up the OS a little if need be to save resources.
     
  2. Kelvin Tucker

    Kelvin Tucker Stunt Coordinator

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    Excellent idea, in theory. The only problem that I've seen is being able to find a cheap laptop that has a DVD drive, AND the corequisite s/w drivers. In general, if you find that it will give you decent playback.

    For example, my old Toshiba Portege (266 or 366Mhz) works just fine with the bundled dvd s/w, which is only supported under Win98. If I try to load another OS (WinME, 2000, etc.) I tend to lose the Mpeg h/w drivers and it stresses the CPU.

    Bottom line - Yes, any name brand laptop with a dvd drive should work fine, just don't expect to load WinXP. Then again, why put a $150 piece of s/w on a $300 machine.....
     
  3. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    I'd be perfectly OK with running win98SE on it - although loading XP on it would be preferable (after stripping XP of useless services, eyecandy, etc). I'd probably try both. I did some reading and found comments that the older versions of PowerDVD run pretty decently on a PII-266. Glad to hear someone else had luck with it.
     
  4. CRyan

    CRyan Screenwriter

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    Biggest problem will be battery life. An old laptop will not last more than an hour and a half with the DVD drive going. Will also have to invest in a compatible car adapter. That may not be cheap and possibly very difficult to find for an OEM. Radio Shack may have something universal depending on the laptop. Something to conisder.

    Also, an older laptop may not have the ability to output to a TV if this would ever be required. The portable players all do this easily of course. Would be nice to hook it up to a hotel TV instead of watching on a 12" screen.

    Anyway, things to think about.
     
  5. Kelvin Tucker

    Kelvin Tucker Stunt Coordinator

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    Good point on the battery, I've never gotten more than 1 hour myself, even when they were new.

    Anyway, I've had a Port Universal Auto/Air power adapter for many years, which has adapters for every major laptop, and works in a car's lighter, as well as on those finicky plane connections. I don't recall how much it cost.

    Hmmm, lets google that.........still $99.99 list! [​IMG]
     
  6. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    I'd probably just get one of those power inverters to use normal plugs in the car, they're pretty cheap.

    Still keeping an eye out on the laptop market. Lost a bid on a larger Dell 500mhz beast. Trying to stay under $300. I am more heavily eyeing up the ones with a video output.
     
  7. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    I'm not an expert on this, but my gut feeling would lead me to believe this might not be a great idea. I wonder how much power the laptop would need to run the DVD without a battery (i.e. powered off the cig. lighter). I'd think the power would be too demanding to run properly. Again, I'm not 100% positive, but it would be something to research.
     
  8. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    The battery on my hand-me-down Toshiba Portege lasts exactly 2 SOAP episodes.
     
  9. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Using a power inverter isn't a problem. I've been using 300W inverter with IBM 600E to tune my car.
     

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