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New notebook/ultrabook for remote area travel

Tony Jay

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Later this year I will be travelling to South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.
This will be a five week camping trip (rooftop tent on a 4X4) in various game parks and reserves.

Most of the time there will be no access to mains power.

I am looking a small, light notebook/ultrabook that can run Lightroom 4.x (possibly 5.x will be available by then - who knows).
I will not be looking to do mission critical image editing.
Most of the work will be importing images, keywording and metadata acquisition.

Other important criteria include the ability to charge the system from a 12V power source (predominantly the vehicle in which we will be travelling).
It is possible that the only option will be an apparently "universal" 12V charger but I have already found Asus ultrabook models that are not compatible with these types of chargers.

Weight considerations make taking a transformer a major pain.

I would appreciate any recommendations/suggestions.

Tony Jay
 

clee01l

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I would not restrict my search for a computer to those that have a 12vdc charging adapter. You can purchase (in the US) a 12v/110v power inverter http://www.theinverterstore.com/power-inverters-for-car.html. This is what I've done for my rMBP. These plug into the power port (cigarette lighter) of the vehicle. Mine has two USB ports in addit
ion to the standard 110v outlet.
Since I've mentioned the rMBP, I'll recommend it. I have the 13" model and it works well with LR 4 and LR 5b for handling my large 36mp (40mb) NEFs.

i suggest strongly that you purchase this equipment well in advance of the trip and test it under simulated conditions. Once you are in the middle of the Savannah, is not the place to find out that your notebook is a wimp or the power supply is too small.
 

Bruce J

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If you are only planning to do import, keywording, and metadata, you might also consider a tablet solution. Lighter and longer battery life than a laptop. I'm quite happy doing exactly what you plan to do using an iPad and car charger. I run PhotoSmith on the iPad for metadata, keywords, and immediate slideshows; sync back to LR when I get back to my desktop computer.
 

Tony Jay

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Thank you gentlemen for your thoughts.
I will investigate your suggestions in detail.
I am not travelling until the end of October.

Tony Jay
 

Stevechippy

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Excellent question run Ultrabooknews . com and also have a personal interest in 'off grid' computing.
The main problem is that even laptops that run from 12v aren't really built for the variations of car 12v. You will need to think about a large Li - ion battery pack with flexible input voltage charging. I have successfully used the Tekkeon power pack for this while camping.

http://www.umpcportal.com/2007/03/429/

There are newer models now. It will give you a lot of flexibility if you take this route.

If you need help on the Ultrabook, let me know
Chippy
 

Tony Jay

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Thanks Chippy - I will follow this up.
I must admit to some trepidation in making a good selection since the feature/cost trade-off is difficult.
It is possible that a Macbook Air may do the job but there are certainly other possibilites as well.

Tony Jay
 

clee01l

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...It is possible that a Macbook Air may do the job but there are certainly other possibilites as well.
A 13" MBP is robustness enough to run LR. More so than a MBA. I would not hesitate to take my 8GB rMBP on a 5 week camping trip as long as I could manage to keep the battery charged.
 

Replytoken

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Sounds like an exciting trip! If you are willing to look beyond Apple's offerings, I would see if Lenovo has any units that could be configured with an SSD, and then install a hard drive in the DVD bay. Many of their computers come with high capacity batteries, and possibly even a second batter slice (or possibly one that would fit into the DVD bay instead of the secondary hard drive). You could get as many as 9-13 hours without recharging if you can configure a machine accordingly. Their Thinkpad line is generally their best built series of machines.

Regarding charging, I imagine it to be important that whatever you use between the laptop and the vehicle, it should prevent any voltage swings from harming the laptop. Perhaps you charge a storage battery from the car, and then use the battery to charge the laptop? Also, learn to use your screen on its lowest possible setting that you can tolerate, and turn down the CPU clock speed if that is possible. Lenovo has a battery stretch program that can squeeze a bit of extra time if you are willing to put up with performance restrictions.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

Tony Jay

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Thanks Ken.

A lot of slicing and dicing the various options and issues.
Lenovo does have options.
So does Toshiba as do Apple.
None are completely ideal.
Nonetheless I am learning what to generally expect from these lightweight machines.
No decisions yet - time is still on my side.

Tony Jay
 
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