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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


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Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new
      #15667 - 18/09/04 01:26 PM
I investigated a similar idea a couple of years back but didn't get anywhere - but right now I've worked out I really need some kind of portable setup for hooking up with people, doing gigs etc.

However, I cannot afford a laptop, and I cannot afford to buy another laptop in a couple of years when I need to upgrade, and I don't need serious portability - and besides, with all the required accessories I never found laptops that portable anyway.

So what I'm after is a small, compact portable box. I was thinking of something like a shuttle case - anything better on the market these days? And a small TFT - can you get TFTs smaller than 15"? Anything that will do at least 800x600 will be fine, the smaller the better.

Some nice stuff here: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Barebones_Systems_ 110.html

Any suggestions?

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk


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grahawk



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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #15701 - 18/09/04 02:18 PM
You can get 14 inch TFTs. I was looking at one yesterday. Here's the link

http://www.dabs.com/uk/channels/hardware/monitorsanddisplays/productView.h tm?quicklinx=3f5n

PC World sell one as well.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: grahawk]
      #15725 - 18/09/04 03:29 PM
It's funny you should bring this up as I've been on a mission doing the same thing myself. I ended up getting one of these. It's not as well-known as Shuttle but I'm finding it works just great. Very stable running Gigastudio and a few soft synths with a P4 2.4Ghz and a gig of RAM. Intel 845 chipset, none of that AMD rubbish My one doesn't have firewire but I think there's a model that does.

I bought it partly because of the shape. It's more like a small desktop (only 8cm high) whereas the Shuttles are more "cubic". I picked up a cheap flightcase on Ebay that fits it perfectly, with a few cm height to spare for a TFT monitor, and it closes up to a kind of rather fat briefcase size. I couldn't work out a convenient way to flightcase a Shuttle+monitor in such a way that it would be easy to carry.

On monitors, I was down at PC World today and saw these, and they looked like just the ticket. Only about 2cm deep, and can be detached from the stand and wall-mounted. So I intend to somehow affix this inside the lid of my flightcase, and I should end up with what is effectively a rather bulky laptop. An added bonus is that the monitor draws its power from the PC via the same cable that is used for the VGA connection, so only one power cable is needed for the whole lot. There might be a risk of pushing the PC's PSU too hard, but I think it should be OK as I don't have much attached to it.

I've been through a lot of permutations trying to get this right, but I think I'm finally there. I didn't buy the monitor as I'll do it online instead for returns purposes in case it's not right after all, but it looked perfect. Then I'll fix everything tight inside the case and foam around it, and Bob's your uncle.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #15727 - 18/09/04 03:32 PM
Sorry - the PCWorld link doesn't seem to work. The monitor was a PROVIEW PZ456. You can go to the PC World main page and search for it.


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Rick Taylor
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #15744 - 18/09/04 04:50 PM
Briefcase?

Guitar case:
http://www.envador.com/cases/GuitarPC/

--------------------
www.RTaylor-Design.Com


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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #15745 - 18/09/04 04:51 PM
Quote:

It's funny you should bring this up as I've been on a mission doing the same thing myself. I ended up getting one of these. It's not as well-known as Shuttle but I'm finding it works just great. Very stable running Gigastudio and a few soft synths with a P4 2.4Ghz and a gig of RAM. Intel 845 chipset, none of that AMD rubbish



Oh very droll That does indeed look nice, but I am after an AMD system as 1. I'll be running lots of softsynths like reaktor and Reaktor runs much better on AMDs and more importantly 2. I have a spare Athlon 2000.

There isnt an AMD version so that rules that out, but your point about the flightcase is a good one. I know you can get bags for Shuttle cases but having a PC and tft, with space for the cables all in one briefcase-sized package is definitely tempting.

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk


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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Rick Taylor]
      #15747 - 18/09/04 04:55 PM
Quote:

Briefcase?



Go on?

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk


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Rick Taylor
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #15754 - 18/09/04 05:03 PM
You might check the guitar case link I posted above. I know I've seen a page out here that had several computers built into briefcases.

...Get a a microatx board and one of those aluminum things... bolt the monitor to the inside of the lid... {build it into the lid} punch a few holes in it...

--------------------
www.RTaylor-Design.Com


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AJ
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #16303 - 20/09/04 09:02 AM
PC in a briefcase? Check out this guy's kit (about halfway down):

ableton forum



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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


Joined: 21/03/03
Posts: 2215
Loc: East Midlands
Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: AJ]
      #16639 - 20/09/04 12:53 PM
I don't think I'm up to the challenge of modding something - I was never much good at that stuff at school and my only forays into DIY have involved assembling Ikea furniture

And this:

Looks dangerous! I wouldn't want that sitting open at a gig with pints of beer around.

No, its definitely the pre-packaged option i'm after. Looks like it'll have to be the shuttle - unless anyone knows of a good small slimline barbones system like what Wurly mentions that takes AMD chips?

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk


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Chock
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #16715 - 20/09/04 01:16 PM
How about this?


http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/acatalog/info_1456.html

For Socket 939 cpus. Don't know about AMD, so this might not be suitable...


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #16743 - 20/09/04 01:25 PM
I had a quick look and all I could come up with was this. Not great IMO, as it only takes low-profile PCI cards and the PSU is only 180w.

There seem to be loads of options of the more cubic shape - some interesting ones by Aopen etc as well as Shuttle - but not so many of the slimline type, and all of those (apart from the above) seem to be Intel. I wonder if this is because of heat considerations for AMD chips that make it harder to build them into such a confined space.

Your other option might be to buy a slimline case - something like this - plus a micro-ATX mobo and build it yourself. But I don't know if that would be asking for trouble from the same point of view of heat.


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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


Joined: 21/03/03
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Loc: East Midlands
Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #16871 - 20/09/04 02:24 PM
Hmm, I think I'm stumped by the distinct lack of low-profile PCI soundcards out there, and I'd rather not negate the portability aspect with a USB or FW sound device. I guess this rules out the slimline option, unless any of them use some kind of PCI 'riser' to flip the PCI card over 90 degrees? Wurly - is your case simply a bit thicker so as to take standard PCI cards?

Guess its the Shuttle then...

(PS. Wurly - Intel CPUs are hotter than AMD's at present)

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk


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GaryG
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #16960 - 20/09/04 03:57 PM
not as little as you like but the antec aria case is getting good reviews : a little bigger than a shuttle but can take a regular micro-atx board so you're not limited in any way. Has three PCI slots too.

Think of it more like a cut down PC than a SFF PC.

.g


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #17071 - 20/09/04 05:03 PM
Quote:

Hmm, I think I'm stumped by the distinct lack of low-profile PCI soundcards out there, and I'd rather not negate the portability aspect with a USB or FW sound device. I guess this rules out the slimline option, unless any of them use some kind of PCI 'riser' to flip the PCI card over 90 degrees? Wurly - is your case simply a bit thicker so as to take standard PCI cards?




No, it's only 8.4mm thick - narrow even by slimline standards. It has a 2-slot PCI riser card just as you describe.

Great little machine. I've spent most of today working on my sounds on it, and it's well solid.


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jalapeno
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: GaryG]
      #17076 - 20/09/04 05:07 PM

I can't help thinking that you'll still need a screen, keyboard and mouse, and the practicalities of lugging these bits and associated cables around is a pain..

If these these type of things weren't so damn expensive they'd be ideal for a rackmount PC, keyboard & monitor but as things stand I think a laptop's going to be chaeper.


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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #17081 - 20/09/04 05:10 PM
Looks like I just need to find out an AMD-capable equivalent then.

Wurly - could you tell me what the measurements of your box are? ie depth, width height etc.

--------------------
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Wurlitzer
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #17101 - 20/09/04 05:26 PM
Quote:

I can't help thinking that you'll still need a screen, keyboard and mouse, and the practicalities of lugging these bits and associated cables around is a pain..




That was my point about having them all fixed into a flightcase, with the cables attached and tucked away, so that all you have to do is plug in the power cable, and your MIDI and audio cables to and from it (like you would with a module). Although I'm only part-way through the process, this seems easier to me with a slimline than a shuttle, as it allows for a narrower, "briefcase-style" case with the monitor fixed into the lid.

Quote:

Wurly - could you tell me what the measurements of your box are? ie depth, width height etc.




309mm wide x 345mm deep by 84mm high, in desktop orientation (it can also be used upright as a mini-tower).

Edited by Wurlitzer (20/09/04 05:27 PM)


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Rick Taylor
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #17123 - 20/09/04 05:40 PM
Quote:

And this:

Looks dangerous! I wouldn't want that sitting open at a gig with pints of beer around.




I just don't believe in pre-packaged. I was thinking that if you built the monitor into the lid facing outward {better yet... if you made a sort of slidey drawer with l-brackets so you could turn it around when you're traveling} you could just set the whole thing on the desk and have everything self contained with the monitor on the side of the case...



+====+
+---------|----|---------+
| +--------------------+ |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| +--------------------+ |
+------------------------+


^ looks a little iffy without a fixed width font.

You could probably use a smaller video card though. Considered firewire sound?

--------------------
www.RTaylor-Design.Com


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Rick Taylor
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Rick Taylor]
      #17176 - 20/09/04 06:46 PM
:} I just read the text above. It would seem you have.

...Something with a small pci card and a smallish breakout box? {With a drill... you could just build the breakout box into the case as well. {Same with firewire for that matter... trace the faceplate, drill the holes... 5 minute job. {no pci card.}}}

Now that I've thought about it... the plexiglass on the outside is probably protection enough...

This might alleviate a little of your space and heat problem:
http://store.yahoo.com/impactcomputersmiami/00k3120.html

...Or something similar... {Actually... you can get replacement screens for laptops at really low prices.. might be a good place to look for a small sized power supply as well. {At froogle type "surplus"}}

Micro ATX boards are easy:

http://froogle.google.com/froogle?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&tab=wf&am p;q=micro+atx+motherboards&btnG=Search+Froogle

...and cheap. And you can get them with onboard video.

--------------------
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Rick Taylor
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Rick Taylor]
      #17219 - 20/09/04 07:32 PM
Then again... that briefcase looks sorta' big...
http://store.yahoo.com/impactcomputersmiami/fu21copldiwi.html

--------------------
www.RTaylor-Design.Com


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Baz Bloye



Joined: 02/09/04
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #17265 - 20/09/04 09:16 PM
I've been looking at the Shuttle XPCs recently - mmmm!

The SN45 (NForce2 Ultra 400 chipset) would be ideal for an Athlon XP. They only have one PCI slot though, which might be a bit limiting, but very connectable externally. These are around £150-160 depending where you look.

The briefcase is a bit 'Chancellor' for my liking!


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Rick Taylor
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Baz Bloye]
      #17441 - 21/09/04 08:16 AM
What if you were to take a Morris Minor...set up the above mentioned plasma screen like that pop up bullet proof shield that Bond had in his Aston Martin except put it in the front, directly in front of the windscreen so that when you popped it up it would be like a travelling computer drive in?

You could use the steering wheel for a mouse, put the power supply in the trunk {along with a whole bunch of batteries that you could charge from the generator} and, maybe mount the processor behind the fan and radiator or on the hood with some sort of fancy, bubble-looking scoop to really get cooling going. {Or do you think that a bubble big enough to house the motherboard might be a bit gauche?} and, maybe a couple of those tiny lcds that are made for automobiles on the dash so that you'd have the ability to run 2 user accounts whilst in motion...

Of course if you could shut off all the accounts and set up some sort of multi-processor "render mode" to switch to whilst you were moving you could really get some numbers crunched and take advantage of the natural cooling properties of the wind at 6o miles an hour. ...You could probably get away with some overclocking that way as well.

When you pulled over or stopped for the night you could pop up the big screen in the front and *really* compute.

I imagine you'd have to build in touch pads for the passenger though. {or maybe set up the shift so it had a "joystick" mode} You could build in a few synths, a pa... some hardcore mics... maybe flatten off the top for an impromptu stage for a guitarist or singer or stripper or something...

...You'd have a real musical computer "hot rod" that way. Of course... if you were to pick an Aston-Martin somewhere, for cheap... You could do it in style.

I do gotta' wonder how you'd keep the bugs out of the processor though.

--------------------
www.RTaylor-Design.Com


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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #18417 - 21/09/04 08:41 PM
Well, due to lack of available alternatives, I'm looking at:

Shuttle nforce2-based system
Shuttle carry bag, with pockets for keyboard and mouse etc

Depending on how I feel, I may yank out a half-gig stick of ram from my main PC when I need to use it, or I may buy a 256mb stick (I'm certain 256mb will be plenty to run a vst host and a couple of vsti and effects), then stick my old Athlon 2000 and an old HD and CD drive in it. I'm also looking at a number of second-hand 12" LCDs.

I'm plan to sort all this on my lunchbreak tommorow, so if anyone thinks I'm doing the wrong thing speak now or forever hold your 'piece'!

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk

Edited by Mahoobley (21/09/04 08:42 PM)


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Chock
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #18940 - 22/09/04 11:50 AM
Make sure that all the software you plan to run will actually be ok at such a low res...


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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


Joined: 21/03/03
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Chock]
      #19191 - 22/09/04 02:51 PM
Oh! I forgot to make the order... well I could do with some more time to think.

Yeah, 800x600 should be fine - I coped with it myself until relatively recently!

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) new [Re: Jez (mahoobley)]
      #19317 - 22/09/04 05:00 PM
hoobs

I've got a 12" screen going spare as it didn't work out for my own system. Maybe you'd be interested before I stick it on Ebay.

I'll send you a PM if I can work out how to on this new forum.


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Jez (mahoobley)
monkey


Joined: 21/03/03
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Re: Portable Computer (not a laptop!) [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #19329 - 22/09/04 05:21 PM
PMed yer

If you don't know how to send PMs, click on my name, then the option is at the bottom left of my profile page.

--------------------
http://www.jeremycorbett.co.uk

Edited by Mahoobley (22/09/04 05:26 PM)


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