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Buying a laptop for music production. Need help!
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CynepMeH
Hey you fine trance producers! I'm looking to purchase a laptop for music production and wanted to get some advise.

First of all, I'm seriously considering getting a Sony Vaio VGN-A290 (heeheheh if you're a perv like me, you can almost see the model as "VaGiN-A290").

Anyway, here are the specs:

- Intel Centrino 1.7Ghz (735 Dothan w/2MB L2 cache)w/400Mhz FSB
- 100 GB ATA 100 drive 4200 RPM
- 1 GB PC 2700 RAM (expandable to 2GB)
- Double layer DVD/CDRW/CDR/CD (+/-) combo drive
- ATI Radeon 9700 w/64MB RAM
- 1 PCI slot, 4 USB 2 and 1 iLink (Firewire) port
- Intel WiFi (b/g) 54Mbps
- Intel NIC 10/100/1000 Mbps
- LiIon 12 Cell battery (1.5-2.5 hrs)
- WXUGA with 1900x1400 resolution!

I'm comparing it against Toshiba Satelite Pro P25-S676

- Intel P4 3.40GHz w/800MHz FSB and HT
- NVIDIA® GeForce™ FX Go5700 (128MB)
- 512MB PC2700 DDR SDRAM
- 17" Wide-Screen XGA Display (1440 x 900)
- NVIDIA® GeForce™ FX Go5700 GPU w/128MB DDR memory
- 80GB HDD (5400 rpm)
- DVD-Super Multi
- Integrated Wi-Fi™ (IEEE 802.11a/g)


The main difference is (obviously) the CPU platform. The Centrino (while being 1.7Ghz) actually benchmarked better than a 3.2Ghz P4 w/HT on business apps. Since Cubase/DAW apps are considered "business" apps - I'm assuming Sony should be on-par, performancewise in that area. Of course, in gaming and multimedia, P4 will probably excell.. but at least I'd be able to take sony on the road and actually manage to watch a movie without swapping out batteries in the middle of it, while Toshiba will probably choke 3 minutes after the DVD menu comes up.

I've seen and played around with Sony - and boy o boy... This massive resolution (1900x1400) kicks ass! I've never seen anything quite like it, really. You can literally, stack 3 Atmosphere next to each other in the bottom row and still have a top half of the screen left to run cubase with about 10 visible tracks hight and see the 2:00 marker without moving a mouse (even with inspector enabled).

My only concern is, is P4 3.4HT better than 1.7 Centrino? and if so, is it substantial?

Sorry for long description...

Plus I love the way Sony Vaio looks. So, I don't know - what to get! what to get!
fr0st
Get a mac......
AaroNoct
I don't like Sony's VAIOs, or Toshibas.

Check this out:

http://www.nusystems.co.uk/buy.asp?...e=Audio_Laptops

Desktops make better DAWs btw
TranceMuzik02
The aesthetics of the Sony's Centrino’s are very nice, but with that 4200rpm HDD makes it less desirable, but you could always replace it. I’ve noticed that Sony’s laptops are more expensive and I don’t know if the quality reflects that kind of price. The Toshiba has the 800mhz FSB which I haven’t seen before, usually its 400mhz. I would go for the Sony because it’s a Centrino, it’s more like a laptop should be, not some bulky affair.
CynepMeH
quote:
Originally posted by fr0st
Get a mac......


Well... I'd love to get a mac but the problem is that I can't use it for anything else but DAW (meaning in my line of work). It's quite enticing but I also would have to spend the extra dough on Logic (which is a great product) but bottom line is that Mac is not an option.

I agree about the hard drive issue - 4200RPMs is crap. I might get a 7200 RPM drive and hook this one up through an external enclosure for added storage.

I also hear that Vaio's are notoriously (as all sony's) proprietary - e.g. you can't hook up anything non-vaio to it. e.g. - floppy disk drive (tested it - doesn't work), all the rest of the nonsense, etc.

What's putting me off Toshibas is: 1. Weight 2. Resolution 3. Heat (I hear if you actually put it on your lap it will fry your jewels) :nervous:

Anywho... So, what do u think - should I get a Sony?

Oh, BTW - here's a picture:

TranceMuzik02
I would look into the Vaio more before buying one, but I would get a Centrino for sure, try looking at other makes to like IBM, Asus etc...
uxud
I produce on a laptop. It's a 1.6 Ghz Centrino with 512 megs DDR ram. It's hooked up to an external soundcard, because soundcards that come with laptops are terrible. The external card is just a USB soundblaster MP3+, which cost me $50 CDN, but the difference it makes is really obvious. If you plan to go through with buying a laptop, expect to buy an external card. Soundblaster also makes an Audigy 2 USB card, and I think that M-Audio makes some really high quality ones as well if you're looking for something professional.

On the topic of processing power, my centrino laptop doesn't have enough. I use cubase, and I have to freeze a lot of my instruments just to finish a song.

The only advantage of a centrino is that it has built in wireless, and it provides long battery life. If you don't need battery life, go for the faster processor. It will probably only last an hour on batteries, compared to 5 hours for the centrino, but that's the tradeoff for faster processing power.
auujay
quote:
Originally posted by CynepMeH

The main difference is (obviously) the CPU platform. The Centrino (while being 1.7Ghz) actually benchmarked better than a 3.2Ghz P4 w/HT on business apps. Since Cubase/DAW apps are considered "business" apps - I'm assuming Sony should be on-par, performancewise in that area. Of course, in gaming and multimedia, P4 will probably excell.. but at least I'd be able to take sony on the road and actually manage to watch a movie without swapping out batteries in the middle of it, while Toshiba will probably choke 3 minutes after the DVD menu comes up.


I am not sure agree that Cubase should be considered a business app. While it is doing very different things that a video game it is not nearly the same kind of thing as word/excell/powerpoint/outlook which I think of as "business apps". Because of the intense audio being done, this is essentially lots of fp ops which I would think the p4 would perform much better with.

I am a big fan of centrino but it does have tradeoffs and in this case I would go with an athlon or p4 over the centrino.

EDIT: I just noticed the horrible battery life quoted for the sony. Better battery life is one the advantages of centrino and if you don't get that because of a huge screen then I see wireless is really the only thing going for the sony.
TranceMuzik02
quote:
Originally posted by uxud
On the topic of processing power, my centrino laptop doesn't have enough. I use cubase, and I have to freeze a lot of my instruments just to finish a song


Maybe you need more RAM, isn't 512MB the minimum amount for running Cubase? Maybe a faster hard drive if it isn't 7200rpm?
uxud
quote:
Originally posted by TranceMuzik02
Maybe you need more RAM, isn't 512MB the minimum amount for running Cubase? Maybe a faster hard drive if it isn't 7200rpm?


When I'm using Cubase, my task manager tells me I have 85 megs of memory left (which is in line with the minimum 384 required) and my CPU is running at max capacity. That leads me to believe that it's the CPU. 1.4 GHz is the minimum suggested amount. I get clipping when I've got 8 vanguards/FM7s running at once with like 15 or so audio channels with inserts, but less than that and it's fine.

Until I get a desktop I'll just keep freezing my instruments.

CynepMeH
I ended up returning Sony and got a Toshiba P25 instead. Here's why:

1. Sony website initially had no drivers for 290 AT ALL! About a week after I bought it, they placed 3 drivers on their website. For a manufacturer, this is just unacceptable.

2. System ships with XP Home - no way to go to XP Pro with clean install and retaining all of the functionality. You have to do an in-place upgrade.

3. Upgrade to XP Pro voids your warranty. Any other OS is out of the question - as there are no drivers available from sony website. This is just nonsense

4. 4200 RPM drive and 64MB video - what the heck? For this kind of price???? Oh, and a 1.7Ghz not 2.0 or at least 1.8.

5. Sony support is the rudest, most useless, and least customer oriented of all.

6. Very prorietary - cannot run anything but sony-bastardized version of OS, cannot upgrade to Win2k3 server, forget about Linux

7. Can't boot from USB memory stick or non-sony USB floppy drive

8. Terrible battery life, even with LCD turned down all the way.

9. Problems with LCD - mine was defective and it seems to be a well-known issue.

Don't buy at Best Buy - the tiest support and customer service, rude staff, absolutely retarded technicians. One dude was trying to get smart with me and explain to me that single-purpose Sony laptop somehow had something to do with Moore's law. Of course, I took the opportunity to destroy him after such a retarded remark, as he had no clue of what the he was talking about.

I fought with 3 best buy's to return the laptop without restocking fee - as I explained that this laptop is only for home use, it cannot be used in business. They did not see it as a reason for defectiveness and told me to pay $400 restocking fee. I told them to blow me. Finally, I saw that screen had a problem with it and took it to exchange it to best buy near my work - I was already ready to keep it. The manager told me that he has 3 laptops that are all "spoken for" and refused to exchange it, even though it was defective. Told me to take it to the store where I bought it - after wasting an hour of my time with his stupid techs. I would have kept it if it wasn't for such a ing arrogance and rudeness. So, I took it back to the store where I bought it - the techs had a victorious smiles on their faces, thinking I was gonna suck it up and swallow the charge. You should have seen the utter dissapointment when they realized that laptop was defective. You should have seen the way their f-n manager was kissing my ass just to talk me into exchanging it or buying another one - I told them to off, took my money and went to Circuit city and bought a Toshiba.

So, that's that. I will miss the 1900x1200 resolution but for $600 less and 3.4HT CPU with 800Mhz FSB, 128MB Video RAM and 5200 RPM drive - I'll just have to live with it.

I'll keep you posted about Toshiba. ;)
sufee_b
If you want to get into srrious production dont bother with a notebook, much RF noise problem with it.
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