Way back in September of last year I acquired a brand new laptop, specifically for my photojourno-type activities. A super bit of kit, quite highly spec’d and, best of all, from one of my fave manufacturers… Samsung. You can read the full story here.
Well (and no, I’m not going off-topic), when I changed the theme of this blog to its present one I added a little bit of blurb to the sidebar that, for years now, has been my own personal “motto” sort of thing… “It seemed like a good idea at the time”.
From which one could legitimately and quite accurately infer that all those things that seemed to me like a “good idea at the time” in fact turned out to be utterly naff.
And so it was with this super-duper Samsung laptop. To start with, the bloody thing’s too heavy. Admittedly quite a bit lighter than a lot of laptops of comparable size but, when I took it with me for an all-day trial walkabout I discovered that, along with all the other photokit I carry as standard (on “events” at least), I ended up… er… what’s the phrase I’m searching for?
“Bleeding knackered” is I think how they describe it.
As if that weren’t enough, and given that its primary purpose was to enable me to offload from the camera(s), process, and upload to the Web photos in “real time” so to speak (that’s to say, pics of events as they’re happening or as near as makes little difference… virtually “live” in other words) I discovered that, notwithstanding its impressive specs, its graphics capability is crap!
You’d think, given that I wanted to use it primarily for photo-processing purposes, that’d be one of the very first things I’d have checked wouldn’t you? Yeah. Dream on.
Still, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
So much of a good idea in fact that I revisited the problem (of processing and uploading pics “in the field”) and now think I’ve come up with the ideal solution…
Or, rather more accurately, what they call a “notebook”. Specifically, the Acer Aspire One Notebook.
And, I have to say, it seems to be a super little bit of kit. Half the size and less than half the weight of the Samsung, where it earns gold stars by the fistful is in its graphics. Its super. Its brilliant. Its great.
From which you can deduce I’m quite impressed.
A tad on the “cool” side maybe, but no doubt that can be adjusted by tweaking the colour balance. Though it suits me just fine exactly as it is. And the resolution’s superb.
Okay, the screen’s a bit small but its still possible (with a bit of determination) to do some “quick and dirty” pic processing. Certainly sufficient/adequate for the type of usage/pics I have in mind. Funny thing is, screen size was one of the things that drove me to the Samsung in the first place. But now I’ve had an actual hands-on play with the smaller screen its nowhere near as much of a problem as I thought it would have been (though I do have to wear specs to see just what the hell I’m doing!).
Plug in a web’n’walk dongle thingy (and yep, the one I’ve already got works with it fine. Bonus!) and, providing I’m in range of cellnet coverage, essentially I’m sorted. In theory anyway.
I don’t think its an especially fast processor, and only a Gig of RAM but with XP I’ve found that it’ll run a resource-intensive app (such as, for example, Adobe Lightroom) without even pausing for breath. Even more impressively, it’ll handle the whopping great 24Mb RAW files off the GX20 without pausing for breath either.
I know cos I did a test import of a batch of 130 or so of these huge files and it just breezed through them. That’d have my normal pic-processing laptop (also an Acer coincidentally) screaming for mercy… before just rolling over and dying. I know. Its happened before! So when I clicked the “Import” button in Lightoom I found myself cringing, just knowing it was a bloody stupid thing to do. But no probs! The tiddly little Aspire just chomped them up seemingly without a care in the world.
Its got no CD drive (hence the light weight and diminutiveness) but it has got two memory card slots… one that’s a multicard slot and the other for SD cards (including the high capacity ones) that it’ll read as a logical drive. Super. Means you could carry a load of apps on a card and just plug ’em in when you want them (I tend to use the portable “stand-alone” apps whenever I can as well… ideally suited to this sort of usage). Also good for more… ah… “sensitive” type stuff.
Plus there’s three USB slots, and a few other holes to poke things in. And it comes with a 160Gb hard drive! A nice little bonus if you run short on memory cards cos you can just dump a load of pics onto the hard drive for sorting later if need be, so it can double up as a slightly larger than normal portable storage. Great stuff!
All that remains now (having already done a test all-day walkabout) is to lug it along to some event “for real” and see exactly what the practicalities are of using it “in the field”.
The only criticism I have of it so far is that the battery life seems a bit rubbish. That may prove to be a bit of a problem if processing a lot of pics, particularly in Lightroom. But given that Acer knock out an accessory six-cell battery pack (as opposed to the three-cell pack that comes as standard) I’m thinking it’d be worth investing in one of those as well soon as finances permit. Maybe even investigate the possibility of some mini solar recharging panel also. Thus I’m quietly confident.
Hmm, I said I had only one criticism but, come to think of it, there is another little gripe. Only a very small one though…
Someone really should have a word in Acer’s ear about that stupid wifi switch on the front. A proper “click one way its on, click the other its off” would have been a damn sight better than that stupid sprung-loaded affair which doesn’t offer a positive confirmation of whether its on, off, or loitering somewhere in limbo. But in fairness this is a very minor gripe.