What is the best computer (either windows or mac) for typing outside?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by student_trap, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #1
    Hello all,

    Here in the UK we have been having some absolutely gorgeous weather recently, and I have been spending much more time outside!:)

    Furthermore, I will be going into my final year of uni this August and am looking to use my student discount one more time, and potentially get a free ipod for my mother too!

    I already have my wonderful mac pro for any 'proper' work I need to do, however my room next year potentially has a balcony, and I can see myself doing most of my papers (till it gets cold!) outside on some sort of sun-lounger type thing.

    I am therefore looking for a new laptop that is reasonably priced, fine to use outside pretty much exclusively for word processing, some light internet and some light itunes.

    I have been looking at the air, but it seems that i'd really want the ssd version which is right out of my budget; the unibody macbook (£850), however I am concerned about glare problems if I were to turn the screen down for 'natural sun frontlighting!'; and the white macbook (£690), although the heat of this laptop concerns me a little.

    2 important points:

    1. I have never particularly liked glossy screens before, but it seems that they are all that are available these days, so what would be the best option for working outside?

    2. The heat of the laptops is very important: I need something that is cool on my man bits. Previously I have had a mbp which was too hot, a powerbook 12" which was again too hot, and have used my sister's 1st gen whitebook, which was too hot also. My ibook G3 is cool enough, however I will be using online journals next year that it can't handle, so an upgrade is required!

    Finally, I am open to windows and mac solutions. I haven't had a windows computer since windows 98, but am willing to use one if it is the only solution to the screen/heat issues. Any advice about the windows/mac thing would be appreciated, however please don't start flaming or anything like that.

    Oh, and I have considered netbooks, but I am yet to find one that i can actually type comfortably on, and as the machine will be used to type up to 10 000 words a week, this is pretty important.

    Thanks in advance for your opinions.

    Student_trap:)
     
  2. macrumors 65816

    gan6660

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    #2
    You can look at the refurb ssd air for $1300. Also why must it be ssd?
     
  3. macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
  4. thread starter macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #4
    Hey, my student discount is actually cheaper than refurbs, however i am concerned that it would be too slow with a 4200 hard drive in general day to day browsing?

    Also, how hot does it get?

    reasoning?
     
  5. macrumors 603

    SkyBell

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Texas, unfortunately.
    #5
    4200 RPM drives aren't terribly slow unless you routinely load 50 MB+ files.
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    gan6660

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    #6
    I am also looking into getting the Air but I dont think the drive will slow it down on day to day browsing but maybe it would if you were doing many things at once. I dont see myself having a problem with the speed. /you have your MAc Pro for heavy duty stuff and I have my iMac.
     
  7. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    #7
    I can understand you wanting to get some sun.... we don't get much in the UK!

    I was using my Unibody Macbook today outside on full screen brightness and I have to say it was a bit of a struggle. The glare was one issue but just with it being so bright outside it made the display seem so dull.

    Not sure if a matt or antiglare film would have helped much but I wouldn't want to use it like that full time.

    Hope that helps!
     
  8. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #8
    The question isn't windows or mac OS which are OS's it's which manufacturer to go for. There are so many windows based laptops out there, its hard to say which ones are any good. I have seen so many awful windows latops (mainly acers) which look like they cost £200 but pack in expensive components like blu-ray and stuff like that. Then again, there are many windows based laptops up there with macs when it comes to build quality and design.

    So as there is such a wide range in quality of windows based laptops, you should go for ones that are comparable with macs, i.e. the premium brand ones. When it comes to laptops, I don't think specs are the only things to consider, but design is too. Its best to see them in person to find out if they are ergonomic or if their screens suit you. Make a short list and post back on here if you are unsure!
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    #9
    XO screen is coming

    All backlit screens will be hard to use outside -- the sun is just bigger and stronger.

    The XO (from OLPC) uses a dual screen, which can be either backlit (color) or reflective (black and white). The BW screen layer isn't e-ink, but similar, and is similarly readable in sunlight. But the XO has a keyboard inappropriate for typing.

    Mary Lou Jepson, who invented the XO screen, split off her own company, Pixel Qi. She will have screens commercially available in the fall, and there will be laptops coming out with her screens starting then. Wait.

    I'm hoping that the mythical Apple netbook/tablet will be one of them, using her screen with a third layer for touch.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    #10
    We 'll have to see how this plays out, this so far is just speculation, there is e-ink which is very strong at the moment, oled, etc. there are a lot of options.


    I would suggest to the op that they get a macbook air (ssd preferably) or a 17" unibody matte macbook pro if money and size is not that much of an issue.

    I would not recomend the blackbook which I own as the screen is not up to par.:apple:
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    #11
    take a look at the lenovo t400

    reasons:

    1) thinkpads have had the best notebook keyboards. lenovo quality has slipped since but the keyboards are still excellent
    2) 678nit!!! led matte screen as an option
    3) ati hd 3470 as an option
    4) 6-9 hours battery life
    5) compact size
    6) stays cool on lap
     
  12. macrumors demi-god

    Spanky Deluxe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #12
    Sounds like you want one of these:

    [​IMG]

    Its got great battery life, up to infinite hours. The display contrast and the keys are nice and big. It also runs pretty cool.

    In all seriousness though, if all you care about it typing outdoors then you might just want to consider the option of a generic netbook but also buying a full sized USB keyboard. I know it might sound a bit odd but you'd have superb battery life and easy typing.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #13
    Thank you everybody for your help thus far,it has really got me thinking. I shall try to respond individually,so bare with me!:p

    Thought i'd add that I am not looking to spend any more than £850 unless it is the air, as the unit is to be a second computer to get me through a year's typing!

    Guides for my costs (on the mac side, still trying to get my head around PC's):

    Macbook 2.0 with applecare: £850
    Macbook White with applecare: £690
    Macbook Air with applecare: £1100

    The Air is actually beyond my budget, but I will stretch to it if it makes more sense for me simply because it is just so gorgeous! My day to day usage at uni usually consists of having at least 5 or 6 tabs open in firefox, of which a couple will themselves be pdf's of journals which can be particularly hefty.

    Also there would usually be at least to word documents open at any given time,and now and then itunes too.

    I should mention that the only way to get on my uni network is through ethernet, so that would leave me with a total of 0 USB ports, not that big of a deal, but a pain none the less.

    Importantly RE the AIR, how hot does it get? If it is anywhere close to the old macbook pros it is a definite no on that one.

    Finally, is it likely that the next air revision will include SSD's on both models, that could skew things if the heat issue is OK?

    Thanks for your input, it is particularly interesting. Would you say that it was the reflections that were a problem,or the dimness? I currently use my old ibook with the backlight off and let the sun do all the screen lighting, so I don't mind looking at a monochrome type imageas it will only be for typing.

    Can you use the macbook with the display off (when you are in bright sun!)?

    Thanks for your help, however the mbp and ssd air are way out of my price range. Is your blackbook a newer model? COuld you potentially comment on the heat it produces on your lap?

    Very very interesting, In many ways this would be pretty much ideal, however it is £1000 before things like the screen/battery upgrades etc.Do IBM offer any discounts for students, if so this could be a contender?

    OOO that looks nice, does it have an ethernet port so I can get on the uni network?!:p

    The netbook idea does sound useable, however I would definitely prefer a dedicated laptop that would be light, cool and easy for typing in one package!



    RE: all replies so far,please look above as I have replied to a few of you in individual posts.

    Can anybody comment on the heat given off to your lap from the unibody macbook, whitebook and air? Does anyone have both so that they could compare them?

    Thank you all so much for your input so far!
     
  14. macrumors demi-god

    Spanky Deluxe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #14
    I've not got a Unibody MacBook but I do have a Unibody MacBook Pro and used to have a Black MacBook. Honestly, the heat's no biggie unless you're actually doing something intensive. My MacBook Pro does get pretty darned hot (hot enough that I wouldn't want the hot bits resting on me but its localised enough that I can just balance it differently) if I've got the 9600 gt on and am playing WoW or something. In terms of general usage, its absolutely fine.

    That's the thing, I think any machine you've listed would be absolutely fine since they only get hot when you're using a lot of CPU or GPU power. Word processing or surfing the net, its just not going to get hot.

    As far as the reflective glossy screens go, well I've always been a bit against the norm with this. I think glossy screens are easier to read outdoors than matte screens. If you're sitting with the Sun behind you, a glossy screen reflects a mirror image of the Sun so you get one spot on the screen that you can't read while the rest stays ok. If you have a matte display, the light is dispersed and the whole thing becomes harder to read.

    I'd say go for the unibody MacBook but wait until next week at least in case they update them. They're due a refresh.
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    #15
    Can I just say, black reflects heat, so it'll be very hot on your lap. The whitebook/blackbooks screen isn't great outside, but the battery will last you ages. I suggest something with a VGA port, so when you are inside you can have a monitor attached, for larger viewing ;)

    -Sam
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2006
    #16
    I imagine the metal laptops would get extremely hot if left in the sun, too hot to touch and probably damage the actual computer. And sunny day + glossy just isnt going to work.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    #17
    It's a few months before the upgraded to the unibodies, someone correct me if I am wrong but the blakcbooks didn't get led screens right? Mine for sure doesn't have one. It's not that hot on my lap, not as hot as the aluminum mbp for sure, but I have a macally casing so that reduces the heat too. So all in all, not too bad would be my summary in terms of heat...but that's about it.

    How about going for the hd air, it's nowhere near as bad as some people make it out to be in terms of speed, it has THE BEST screen arguably from any 13" its size, the gloss gives it a nice zing to read while not being glassy or too reflective...and you can always upgrade to an ssd as soon as you get the cash, it also has great and fast graphics. Have a look at the mba forum and read where we have commented on it and the updates it might or might not receive.

    As for the lenovo's, micro-f#W$@@-soft or not, they are good machines, they do have nice keyboards as a fellow poster said, they are traditionally good and thin and light, I also love the cursor resistance thing mid keyoboard...so all's good and welll...but...microsoft? Do you really want to be with the software these bozos make? Sure win 7 is *rumored* to be better, but so was vista, and with os x you ll be on the much better platform which will set you up for life, you can have your iphone which integrates better with a mac, a better community, and a more advanced user friendly software....

    So, I would say, even if it's a bargain bin gen 1 air which despite their problems some of them are quite good (I have a lot of friends who swear by them) or better a gen 2 with hd, go for the air, it's a super portable, light, super sexy (good for some tail at uni, or if you are a girl it will look good with you), aluminum, cool, fast graphics, the world's most advanced os... I mean what more could you need...an ssd :D, well you can get that in a year dirt cheap and with macs you can easily clone the drive too.
     
  18. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    #18
    I love to work outside (I write) and was looking for a laptop I could backpack into the woods or take out in my sunny backyard. My previous laptop was an iBook G4 and its screen was pretty much unreadable outside, so I knew screen clarity was a priority for me. I ended up getting a MacBook Air Rev. A HDD, since they've come down so far in price and it seemed perfect for my uses--which it has been. (I don't play games on it and I only rarely watch Hulu bits, and it's been fine for that.) I pack it in a Higher Ground Shuttle (http://www.highergroundgear.com) which acts as a desktop surface, complete with pads to raise and cool the laptop. The Shuttle also has an attachment to turn it into a backpack (at additional cost), so it's terrific for lightweight mobility. The MBA's screen is brilliant. I can work on it in full sun, if I turn the screen up to brightest. And I love love love the portability and sheer pleasure of hands-on work on a beautiful machine. Keeps me happy and focused :)
     
  19. macrumors 68000

    Fizzoid

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #19
    OP is in the UK, he'll only have to worry about that for 2 days a year :)
     
  20. thread starter macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #20
    Thanks for getting back to me, I used to have a mbp 2.33 c2d that i bought in January 2007, but it was so hot even when doing nothing that i could never use it on my lap (not even with jeans on!).

    Your argument for the glossy screens is a very interesting one. However, when using my ACD (23"), I tend to get a lot of eyestrain when reading (not for photo stuff strangely!), and I think that it is because it is essentially like starring at a torch. My girlfriend find the same when she uses it too.

    May I ask therefore, whether the glassy screen of your macbook is only not badly effceted by glare/reflections when at high brightness, as I would almost certainly keep the brightness of the screen as low as possible.

    The air does appeal to me, especially as it seems to me the only current mac to be doing what apple do best...pushing the boundaries, getting rid of the unnessary and creating a wonderfully usable,beautiful product!

    Now that's enough waxing lyrical, I'd like to ask you how hot it gets if that is ok?

    I know this might sound weird, but I just can't deal with hot or even paticualrly warm laptops (on my lap) for medical reasons, and so am hoping to get something that is as cool as my current G3 clamshell ibook, but with the ability to deal with the online journals I need for uni next year.
     
  21. macrumors demi-god

    Spanky Deluxe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #21
    To be honest, the brightness doesn't matter that much. As a test, I've just aimed a light bulb in my office at my MBP's screen and turned the brightness right down. I can still read everything just fine except for where I see the light bulb's reflection. I'd advise you to go to a store that sells them and move the screen around to see what I mean. I remember when I switched from a matte iBook G4 screen to a glossy MacBook screen (Core Duo). The difference outdoors blew me away. Sure the MacBook's screen was brighter anyway but the iBook's screen just became a washed out sea of grey as it defracted all available sunlight. My MacBook's screen was obviously dim compared to the Sunlight but I could still read everything. It totally convinced me that glossy screens for laptops are better.

    Here's an example of what I mean. I found matte displays to look all washed out like the one on the left, very hard to read. The one on the right is easy to read. Yes the parts showing the brighter reflections are harder to read but the rest isn't compromised.
    [​IMG]
     
  22. thread starter macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #22
    Thanks for your comment, this sounds particularly promising. I too adore writing outside, it seems wrong to be cooped up inside when all your doing is essentially elaborating your thoughts into words!

    This is really great news. Thank you very much for conducting your little test and letting me know. I think you are correct however, a look at them both in store will probably sort out all of the reflection concerns, you can just never really know what they are like in the sunlight though!:cool: Thank you so much again for the test.

    At the moment on the mac side I think it will either be the macbook 2.0 or the AIR Hdd. Is it expected that the air may incorporate a SSD on both models with the next revision?
     
  23. macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #23
  24. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    #24
    yeah, thinkpads are expensive but its a business class notebook and not consumer grade like the macs you mentioned. they have superior durabilty and warranty.

    ive seen some schools having deals with lenovos but i dont think they have a specific education store like apple does. they might have a corporate deal with the university thru which you can get a better price.

    as for glossy vs matte, dont even bother asking opinions/impressions. you must try it out for yourself. what works for one person would be totally unacceptable to another....
     
  25. thread starter macrumors 68000

    student_trap

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #25
    This sounds particularly interesting on the windows side. from checking wiki, it seems that 'transreflective' screen emit and reflect light at the same time. Would this make them the best option for outdoor use?
     

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