Author Topic: Could I not buy a laptop  (Read 1190 times)

Could I not buy a laptop
« on: 28 May, 2024, 09:35:32 am »
I have a work laptop and tablets.  I could do with a machine that has an hdmi connection for when I WFH to use the graphics tablet/screen.  I would also do with a machine from this decade.

I was wondering, instead of a laptop, sh/could I get a mini pc, connect it to a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard and then use a tablet or my graphics screen as a screen?
My query is whether at startup I would need a dedicated screen.  Could I wirelessly link in the TV,is this a very faffy way to just do what I could do with a laptop?

Also, it's not clear that this would be any cheaper/better computing power.
simplicity, truth, equality, peace

fruitcake

  • some kind of fruitcake
Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #1 on: 29 May, 2024, 09:37:51 pm »
I have been disappointed with the build quality of the last two consumer grade laptops I've owned. Hinges have seized/stiffened, case plastics snapped, lids more flexible than they ought to be, and keyboards have been poor compared with machines released ten years ago, so I too am hoping to find an alternative.

I very much like the idea of an e-ink monitor with HDMI input from a mini-PC. I figure keyboards and mice are cheap enough that they can remain in situ at work / home and I can own two sets. Actually mini PCs are cheap enough for that too: all I'd need to carry is my data on a USB drive and a 13" screen (because that's the expensive part). I have my eye on the Dasung 13" monochrome screen. I will also experiment with a short throw projector onto a white wall as a big screen option.

Nonetheless I expect I would buy another laptop after this one dies, because there are times when portability is the most important factor, but I'd use it as little as possible.

Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #2 on: 29 May, 2024, 10:29:48 pm »
You could use an eink tablet as a monitor and/or graphics screen/tablet as touch screen monitor.

I had not considered portability of minipc.  And carrying data?  That's what the cloud is for, surely.
simplicity, truth, equality, peace

Kim

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Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #3 on: 29 May, 2024, 10:44:28 pm »
I very much like the idea of an e-ink monitor with HDMI input [...] the Dasung 13" monochrome screen.

I hadn't realised that these were A Thing.  Interesting.

I don't think it's quite barakta-ready yet (she struggles with the flicker of e-ink redrawing, and it's a bit pants at scrolling), but it's clearly getting there.

Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #4 on: 29 May, 2024, 11:59:00 pm »
If you want a try of eink for general internet use I have a new boox tablet and amnot that far.
simplicity, truth, equality, peace

fruitcake

  • some kind of fruitcake
Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #5 on: 06 June, 2024, 04:57:31 pm »
You could use an eink tablet as a monitor and/or graphics screen/tablet as touch screen monitor.
Yep. That would be the plan. For various reasons I need to reduce the time I spend looking at backlit screens, and the Dasung 13" e-ink would be a good enough replacement screen. It would work with either a desktop or a lapdog.

I had not considered portability of minipc. 
I reckon the trick would be to buy two power supplies (they use a laptop charger as the supply), and leave one of those at work and the other at home. The mini-PC is then a small chunky object which I think I'd find easier to carry in a bag (for a commute) than a large flat fragile object (which a laptop is). It could be all the more rugged if it was fanless.

And carrying data?  That's what the cloud is for, surely.
Sure, if that's what works for you. The data is the easiest part of this puzzle.

fruitcake

  • some kind of fruitcake
Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #6 on: 06 June, 2024, 05:28:45 pm »
...Interesting.

I don't think it's quite barakta-ready yet (she struggles with the flicker of e-ink redrawing, and it's a bit pants at scrolling)...

Yeah, they've been working to reduce the black flashy flashy moment and current devices have modes that reduce it to nearly nothing at the expense of contrast IIRC, and so scrolling is OK. Youtube reviews show where the Dasung monitor is at with that.

For me, the flashy flashy is preferable to any amount of glare, and a compromised refresh rate would still be usable for word processing and spreadsheets (which are the time consuming applications in my life), and I quite fancy running a mahoosive e-reader that I could control with a normal Linux box, though I recognise that peoples' experience differs.

Alas monochrome e-ink is now a developmental backwater for monitor makers (because hardly anyone buys e-ink) and so it takes years for minor incremental improvements to be made. I guess this is because there's no longer demand from the likes of Ama$on who've probably calculated they can charge advertisers more when users are viewing backlit colour screens.

Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #7 on: 06 June, 2024, 07:24:16 pm »
You can get a colour e-ink screen (and change from 2k!)
simplicity, truth, equality, peace

Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #8 on: 06 June, 2024, 08:11:56 pm »
I have an Intel nuc which I took with me when dog and house sitting for the youngest cub a couple of weeks ago.  I could plug his screens, keyboard and mouse in as there were enough slots of the right kind on the box.  It has an SSD in it for storage.  I just took the nuc, it's power supply and a webcam for my weekly zoom calls.

Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #9 on: 06 June, 2024, 08:16:15 pm »
Thing is, minipcs are not especially higher spec/£ than laptops (probably economy of scale).
simplicity, truth, equality, peace

fruitcake

  • some kind of fruitcake
Re: Could I not buy a laptop
« Reply #10 on: 07 June, 2024, 06:57:28 am »
I think of them as laptops without screens in small fat cases rather than large thin ones. The components in a mini-PC are laptop components.

There's less to go wrong than with a laptop and so they're a relatively safe bet secondhand, unlike laptops which have lots of delicate and consumable parts (e.g. hinges, a battery). The university I work in uses mini-PCs as part of its PC feet in computer rooms and libraries.

The HP EliteDesk 800 G6 is nice: good quality materials for the cases, sturdy build, ports securely attached. I expect we buy them by the thousand. We have a few Lenovo mini-PCs too which are also perfectly good.

We operate a three-year replacement cycle. If that's standard for the sector, there are a lot of three-year old PCs regularly entering the market in the UK, and a three-year-old machine is good for web use and office applications IME.

I've bought budget models for myself. I have an entry-level Acer mini-PC and it's clearly a budget model. Plastics are brittle and thin, and the HDD is buried at the bottom of the stack of components making it fiddly to upgrade. Interestingly though, it is built with a large steel plate above the chip to dissipate heat, and so cooling will be pretty good and probably superior to a laptop. I bought secondhand and haven't used it yet but it will become a music player (connected to a hi-fi and a spare monitor). I think I'd only ever do that with a mini-PC, not a laptop.

I also have a much older NDIS fanless mini-PC and that's extremely rugged due to the all metal case. It's reassuringly hefty and I wouldn't want to carry it everyday in a backpack, but it would be OK in a pannier or similar bike luggage. Something this heavy is probably overkill for an 'everyday carry' machine, I just like heavy duty equipment. But mostly I like the fanless PC concept, having previously destroyed two laptop fans by carrying those laptops in panniers.

So...

Pro:
Portable if you can can leave peripherals in situ at your (regular) destination.
Secondhand units are cheap.
Build quality is generally high (but avoid entry-level).
Usually better cooling than a laptop, less likely to overheat, better performance with like-for-like components.
Not much to go wrong (no battery, no screen)
Likely to have an alternative use toward end of life (e.g. media player)

Con:
Less customisable than a tower PC
It can be fiddly to get to the HDD if you need to replace it (although the manual should show you how)

Neutral:
Uses laptop chip and memory - as powerful as a laptop of similar age
Forces you to make your own choice of monitor and external keyboard - you select peripherals that meet your needs/preferences