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Notebook with big monitor
Old 01-06-2008, 12:45 PM   #1
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Notebook with big monitor

I've never owned a notebook, but I'm considering getting one to replace my desktop. Two main reasons:

1. Power savings... since I keep the computer turned on all the time I figure a notebook with its power saving processor will consume less
2. Now that I'm living in the city I like the idea of taking the computer to a cafe to surf in a more social setting.

But I don't want to give up the possibility of using a big screen.

I want output at 1920x1080 or better, ideally via hdmi, so I can watch movies (maybe even HDTV recordings) on my HDTV, or in the future buy a 24" computer monitor and use it with the laptop.

This seems to be a real problem... most laptops look to have a screen resolution of 1440x900 or less, so it looks like I'll need to buy a laptop with resolution of 1920x1200 in order to get this kind of output. And even then except for a few high end Sony laptops, you don't get a HDMI output, just VGA.

So has anyone figured out a way to hook up a big monitor (1920x1080+) to a normal laptop?

When I go into stores and look at the display properties on notebooks, I don't see any higher resolutions available than the native screen resolution (e.g. 1440x900). But I wonder if I plugged in a VGA monitor whether I would see larger resolution available? Is there any easy way to figure out which notebooks are capable of more resolution than their native screens?
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:54 PM   #2
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Another followon question is whether any (or most) notebooks allow you to use an external monitor for more screen real estate. I suppose one approach could be for me to use my old 1280x1024 lcd next to a laptop with a smaller screen to get an effectively bigger desktop. Do most allow this?
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:17 PM   #3
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My 2 cents. I own or have owned (or had the used of) dozens of laptops over the years. When I FIRE'd a couple years ago, the first thing I purchased was a Big Screen Laptop for my gaming needs. I enjoy RTS like C&C, Panzers, Etc, and OK Some FPS like HL, Doom, etc now and then.

Your screen resolution is just that, i.e. you get what the "Screen" can deliver. So I can use the embedded 17" widebody or I can plug into my 32" TV Monitor. One is just way bigger than the other. Be assured a modern video card in a laptop will give you more than enough lines of resolution to watch DVD's. The issue's I found significant are what you give up, namely what I'll generalize as Comfortability.

The big screen laptop that I have (HP) needs three fans on the underside, still runs quite hot, the brick (also quite hot) is relatively huge, the noise from the fans is significant (unless you use headphones, LOL) and it weighs a ton. I wound never consider actually taking it anywhere.

For portable use I would take my old Sony Vaio with the small screen and 2 pounds of weight. I can surf fine on that, it'll run a couple hours, the brick is small, it get's the job done, and in fact I'm typing this thread on it right now. They haven't made these for years, and it's borderline obsolete (700mhz speed, 128Mb Ram)

However the last batch my ex-coworkers purchased for the Old Plant? HP's w/ 15 inch wonderful screens, speed, power, pretty light, that's the one I'd buy if I was in the market today. You can still plug nearly any laptop into an external monitor and most Flat Screen TV's are built for just that. And the price point is nice 2.


OK maybe only a cent and a half. I like Toshiba, Sony, HP for mainstream brands.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:00 PM   #4
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You need to check the specs on the specific laptop. As an example, this MacBook supports a higher resolution for external monitors than it does for the built-in screen. Since these are all Intel based architectures and Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor, you will probably find something similar in the WinTel world:

Apple - MacBook - Technical Specifications

Quote:
Display
  • 13.3-inch (diagonal) glossy widescreen TFT display with support for millions of colors
  • Supported resolutions: 1280 by 800 (native), 1152 by 720, 1024 by 768, 1024 by 640, 800 by 600, 800 by 500, 720 by 480, and 640 by 480 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio
Graphics and video support
  • Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor with 144MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory3
  • Extended desktop and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 1920 by 1200 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors
-ERD50

PS/edit - I second JonnyM on the idea of small screen for laptop, big external screen. That is the route I may go for my next 'desktop'.
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Old 01-06-2008, 03:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I've done a bit more research and found that there's no universal way of telling how many pixels are supported on output, that as ERD50 notes it's generally necessary to go to manufacturers websites and hope they are one of the few that provide specs.

I have found though that there are a number of laptops that use NVIDIA discrete graphics, listed at NVIDIA Powered Notebooks and it looks like all these in the 8M series should have DVI/HDMI outputs supporting 1920x1200, I think should support non-mirrored external monitors. Getting a small monitor notebook that supports a big external monitor seems like the way to go.
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Old 01-06-2008, 03:35 PM   #6
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When I bought my laptop, I planned to plug it into my big monitor, nice ergonomic keyboard, and trackball. I did that a few times, but then found it unnecessary.

Once you go laptop, you never go back, OP.
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:29 PM   #7
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I've been using laptops with 17" 1920x1200 (WUXGA) LCDs for a few years now. I can't imagine using anything else on a daily basis. My current machine is a Dell E1705, which includes DVI output, a good sounding "subwoofer", high-end GPU, great battery life, etc. Highly recommended.

If you prefer something smaller, check out Dell's XPS M1330. It includes HDMI output, and lots of sex appeal (optional LED backlight, SSD, etc) in a 4-lb package. I just ordered one today from the outlet to replace my old subnote. 15% off with this coupon: 6R2?F75ZFXHCLB (ends tomorrow, I think).
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Old 01-06-2008, 11:26 PM   #8
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I used to work with a computer daily in my pre-FIRE days, so I'm very ergonomic focussed... monitor must be high enough that I don't have to look down at it. I could never imagine looking down at a laptop screen for any extended period of time. So I'm thinking I would put the laptop on the 10" tall monitor stand I currently use, and use a wireless keyboard.

I've done a bit more looking around and Dell does look decent. The XPS series has hdmi outputs, but the Inspiron and Vostro lines don't have hdmi, even though the Invidia graphics cards inside them do have the support for dvi/hdmi. I have been looking at the XPS 1330... it's the least expensive notebook I've found that has hdmi and the other features I want (webcam, bluetooth, digital audio out, multi cardreader). Dell is currently discounting the loaded ~$2050 model down to $1399. There are a few HP laptops that look to have HDMI at low pricepoints, but I've heard bad things about HP reliability from people that have bought recent HP computers. There are some good looking Sony laptops, with yummy blueray, but they are just too expensive for me.

Because I might consider taking the laptop I buy on extended travel, I think it's best to go for light weight rather than a big laptop screen.
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Old 01-06-2008, 11:39 PM   #9
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If you're ergonomically focused, then you know that sitting up straight is bad for you.

Don't Sit Up Straight, It's Bad For Your Back

I'm one of those weird people who actually use a laptop on my lap. The idea of using a laptop tethered to a desktop monitor doesn't excite me, but DVI/HDMI can still come in handy once in a while.

Check fatwallet, slickdeals, or bensbargains before you buy. I think there's another 12% discount on top of the existing deal for the M1330 available....
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:10 AM   #10
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How about this one (Expensive but nice big monitor - sort of portable) Dell XPS M2010 Product Details
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:25 AM   #11
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From that study:

Ideally, you should lean slightly back, at an angle of about 135 degrees, they say.

Neat, that's exactly how I'm sitting right now. Laptop on my lap, in a leather (OK, faux leather) chair (like this)



reclined back somewhat.

I don't know what it would like for 11 hours per day (like pre-retirement), but it feels good.
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Old 01-07-2008, 02:26 PM   #12
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For many years I used to work at the computer slumped back in my chair. But I have always had an issue with "Forward Head Position" where my head rests further forward than the normal position over the shoulders. I found that when I leaned back I had to tilt my head forward even more, and that made the FHP worse.

Now that I'm FIRE'd I'm starting to do yoga on a semi regular basis, and discovering that with flexible joints it's more comfortable to sit up straight, whereas before I was this flexible I would find it more comfortable to lean back.

While I think the studies are correct that leaning back puts the least stress on your back, sometimes a little bit of stress is good to help you build and maintain musculature to support a good posture.
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