Monday, January 02, 2012

A New Computer!

Yay! I bought a new computer!

For the past few years, I've been doing everything, computer-wise, on my laptop: processing photos, authoring this blog, writing e-books, Facebooking, emailing, watching movies on Netflix, and wasting countless hours surfing the net. I have other computers: A couple of older desktop PCs (which aren't even hooked-up these days) and a decent Mac desktop system which is dedicated to Final Cut Pro video editing. (Not that I've done much video editing in the past few years, tho that's likely going to change in 2012 for a number of reasons.) Trust me when I tell you my laptop is nothing to brag about.

My laptop is a bare-bones, nothing special, Toshiba. Recently, I had to replace the keyboard on it as I wore it out. It's also dirty and stained from spilling too many things on it. It's about 3 or 4 years old and, recently, the DVD drive quit working altogether. Lately, it's been acting very twitchy in more than a few ways.

If you've been a reader of this blog or have read either of my first two e-books, Guerrilla Glamour or Guerrilla Headshots, you know I'm all about making things as simple as possible. As you might guess, that notion extends to computers and how I use them. Another way of looking at my simplicity beliefs is to say I'm something of a minimalist. So, when I set out in search of a new computer, minimalism was also a factor in making a choice... as was money. (As in spending the minimal possible but still getting a computer that meets my needs, as minimalist as they might be.)

My daughter and son-in-law recently purchased an HP Touchsmart. It's a pretty cool computer, although the touch screen aspect of it doesn't seem overly useful to me. It turns out they rarely take advantage of their new computer's touch screen capabilities. I know I'd take advantage of technology like that even less. But I really like its all-in-one design! That is, the monitor and the computer being married into one chassis. Plus, it has a nice big monitor! While size doesn't always matter, it does, IMO, when it comes to monitor size.

I decided an all-in-one would be just right for me. It meets my criteria for simplicity and minimalist design and, more importantly, there are brands and models which meet my personal-use needs near perfectly.

The first thing I did was research quite a few brands, always with price in mind. While HP seems to be the undisputed leader in touch-screen technologies for all-in-one computers, I didn't want a touch screen monitor. Finally, after reading many reviews and product descriptions, I began focusing on the Lenovos and Gateway Acer brands in my search. Once I got to that point, it became, for the most part, a matter of price. (For you Mac folks: Yes, I would love a Mac. But Macs, at this time, don't meet my budget considerations.)

I wanted something with a high-resolution and good-sized monitor, i.e., in the 23" or 24" range. I also wanted a fairly large hard drive (even though I make much use of external hard drives), a fast enough processor (although not game-playing fast), and a minimal amount of RAM; at least 4GB expandable.

After a week of searching online, I found a factory refurbished Gateway Acer all-in-one (a model with pretty good reviews and an attractive price tag) plus a further 20% off that price tag (sale priced for three days only) and free shipping. I bought it immediately.

My Acer all-in-one, which arrives tomorrow, is the non-touch-screen model. That, in itself, saves about $100 or so. It has a 23" HD screen, a dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM (expandable), and a 750GB internal hard drive. It comes with a (non-Blu-Ray) DVD RW drive, wireless keyboard and mouse, Wi-Fi card, TV tuner, a factory warranty, and more. All for about $400. It also has a very small foot-print which I wanted because of my very cluttered desk.

In terms of glamour photography, I'm hoping my image processing will become improved as a result of a much higher resolution and significantly larger monitor. If there's one thing most all of my photography tends to be about, it's skin. Skin-tones, therefore, are quite important to me whether I intend them to be realistic or not.

Unfortunately, when I see my images (that I personally processed) on other computers, they almost always appear overly-warm. This, of course, is because my laptop's monitor is overly cool, color-wise, and probably doesn't display the black properly. I've tried to compensate by de-saturating the color on many of my images when processing them but I'm always guessing at how much to de-saturate.

More unfortunately, my laptop's monitor is very limited in terms of adjusting and/or calibrating color or much of anything else. Yeah, I know there's products out there to help with that but please remember I don't process my images except for my own personal use. My clients have re-touchers and graphic designers who do that stuff. As a result, I haven't wanted to spend the money on screen calibrating products which are available. (Sheesh! I must be sounding more and more like a cheap-fuck as I write this update.)

Anyway, the computer arrives tomorrow. It actually arrived locally last Friday evening but UPS doesn't deliver on Saturdays nor does it have will-call on Saturdays so, with the holiday and all, I'm having to wait an additional 4 days for it to arrive. That sucks, doesn't it? By the end of the week I should know if my new computer meets my overall expectations for it.

The jumping pretty girl at top is Jessie. She shares my excitement of buying a new computer even though she didn't know it at the time.


Rick Horowitz said...

Congratulations! I bought myself a MacBook Air a few months back (after they came out with the new "refresh") and it's the best thing I've done for myself in years.

Bill Giles said...

Best of luck with your new computer. I keep thinking that Microsoft updates Windows just to slow the computers down. I'll be watching to see what you're up to in the coming year.

I just got my Pretty Girl Shooter T-shirt.


jimmyd said...

Thanks guys! I forgot to mention the new computer comes with Windows 7 installed. I'll be happy to be rid of Windows Vista assuming 7 is an improvement.

The Photodawg said...

Congrats on the new Windows 7 computer. A bullet in the head is better than a computer running any version of Vista!! As for the referb, I have had good and horrible luck with them. I hope yours works out for you. I have learned that multiple back-ups (not just one) is the only way to protect yourself if the referb craps out on you (yes, I have had an external HD go out the day before the internal HD did).

Drake said...

How has your new computer been treating you? I'm interested in making the same move.

jimmyd said...

@Drake: I love my new computer! It's plenty fast enough for my needs and the 23" HD widescreen is just amazing! It has one particular, low-tech feature I wasn't aware of and it's really nice to have: At the bottom of the screen there's a light source hidden in the chassis. I think it's fluorescent and it's definitely daylight temperature. It puts out a very soft, non-distracting, angled light aimed downward so it gently illuminates the keyboard. Nice touch, Gateway!

Drake said...


I appreciate the feedback. I'm definitely going to pull the trigger on an all in one with similar specs. That's a great deal!

Also, FB or no FB, your true fans will find you.