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Author Topic: Laptop Vs Desktop For Ham Radio Use  (Read 1499 times)
KE5HJO
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Posts: 207




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« on: December 17, 2008, 10:35:30 AM »

I've used the same desktop PC for about 10 years so I am due another one.  Plus, my laptop's motherboard is fried so I need another laptop for the family (the desktop is strictly ham radio and networking use).  I was considering buying two new laptops and relegating my old desktop to being a file server but I'm not sure if I can go without a desktop.  I need some help making a decision.

Here are the "knowns".
1.  I'm just getting into PSK and other digital modes.
2.  I just completed a QRP kit for portable opps.
3.  To date, 99% of all my QSO's were from my home station (non portable).
4.  I like desktops because they offer greater expansion capabilities.
5.  I like laptops because they are portable (see #2).
6.  It's tough being an engineer because I have to over analyze everything.

Suggestions?

tks.
Mike


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KI4OZG
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2008, 10:39:52 AM »

Laptop!
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N6NKN
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2008, 10:49:20 AM »

Desktop.
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KZ1X
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2008, 10:53:04 AM »

Mini-tower, UNDER the desktop.
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K6AER
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Posts: 3516




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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2008, 11:02:15 AM »

I have two laptops in my operation. They take up much less room than a desk top and can be moved around easily without rearranging the HAM hardware. During contest it is nice to be able to place a lap top in front for logging.

If you plan to use a Flex radio then you might want to consider a higher performance system to run the Flex with.
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N3JBH
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2008, 11:11:54 AM »

BOTH!!! I have both and really enjoy them... For RTTY and PSK-31 at home i really enjoy the desk top. it also does my logging and other task with my station.

But there is time like when we go to camp the lap top is far easier to drag along. Only thing i do is use a remote controlled mouse and key board with the lap top because the laptop's keyboard and mouse is to compact for my fat fingers...


As far as your comment about being an engineer and over thinking every thing. I under stand that.  Being a retired Millwright I seen many many engineers that suffered from the same problems hihi. That’s why God made millwrights

Jeff N3JBH
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K2DC
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2008, 11:17:13 AM »

Mike,

I would go with your first impression, two laptops and the old desktop as a file server. If the desktop is 10 years old, applications are going to outrun it more and more as time goes by. For the laptop in the shack that will mostly be stationary I would definitely recommend a docking port, a flat screen monitor and a real keyboard and mouse. I have all of those with a high end laptop at work and love it. But in general I can't stand the laptop keyboard and touchpad - just too cumbersome.  Having the laptop with the peripherals gives you the best of both worlds.

And on over-analyzing things, I only have one comment. Thirty years ago I couldn't spell Engineer. Now I is one!

GL & 73,

Don, K2DC
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2008, 11:19:13 AM »

I'd only use a laptop at home if:

1.  It had an available external PCIe slot for new peripherals; and

2.  I plug an external keyboard/mouse into it (USB okay), because there isn't a laptop made anywhere that has a good keyboard.  The Mac book PRO isn't too bad, but most positively suck.

If portability is not an issue, I'd stick with a mid-tower that can handle a dual CPU mother board.  With quad core Xeon 2.66 GHz processors, you get eight CPUs running and can do more stuff, faster, than any laptop -- and you can always upgrade as you go, and your needs expand.  Hard to do that with a laptop.


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W4VR
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2008, 11:34:57 AM »

The strongest case for a desktop is expansion capabilities.  But, the technology for the chip running the machine changes so often you end up having to buy a new desktop every few years anyway.  I've been using laptops for years and after I replace each one 3 years down the line I simply toss it...even the charities don't want them.  Bottom line: laptop is the way to go if you want convenience and mobility.
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KE5HJO
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Posts: 207




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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 12:21:03 PM »

Thanks for all the replies.  Based on your comments, I suppose I'll purchase a good desktop and a good laptop.  I'll use the desktop the 80% of the time I'm operating from home then, when field day rolls around, I can use the family's laptop for portable ops.  They, in turn, can use my desktop while I'm gone.  The best of both worlds indeed.  Smiley

73

Mike
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W3JJH
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 12:23:02 PM »

While I've had machines with PCI slots in my station before, I've never had to replace or add PCI cards.  I decided that I wanted something that took up less space.

Since I normally don't do Windows, I now have a pair of iMacs (a G5 and a new Intel) in the shack.  I like the all-in-one packaging; each takes up no more space than an LCD monitor.  Between the two of them, I'm able to run any ham radio software I've found.  Using VirtualBox (Sun's free virtual machine software), I run Ubuntu and OpenSolaris along with OS X on the Intel Mac.  I run Windows XP Pro (when I have to) using Virtual PC along with OS X on the G5.

I had been using an old Mac G4 Powerbook for portable operation, but I'm switching to an HP 2133 netbook running Linux.  It came with a SUSE distro installed, but I'm considering moving it to Ubuntu as well.  I like the small size of the netbook for portable work, but I wouldn't want an 8.9 in screen for day-to-day use.  I'll stick with my 20 in iMacs for that!
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AA4PB
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 12:31:22 PM »

Laptops tend to run hotter than a desktop. Desktops use standardized cards, keyboards, moniotrs and are easier to get components for and repair. I wouldn't use a laptop unless you really need the portability.
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KT8K
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2008, 01:29:11 PM »

I'm surprised that nobody mentioned this, but in my experience laptops are electrically a lot quieter than desktops (especially the monitors, but sometimes the system box, too).  If noise is an issue for you, you might want to consider that.
Best rx & 73 de kt8k - Tim
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AC5UP
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2008, 01:40:58 PM »

Desktop machines aren't necessarily large... But they do allow for the CPU / monitor / keyboard & mouse to be arranged for best integration with the rest of the gear.

http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?ItemID=4308396
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KG6WLS
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2008, 02:07:39 PM »

Laptop here. Heat is not an issue because I keep the unit elevated with with spacers for it to breath. Works FB with a keyboard and mouse for rig control and logging. Very quiet machine on this end.

73
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