one laptop for E.T. please
February 26, 2013 8:40 AM   Subscribe

tech-savvy mefites: please help me find a laptop! (somewhat snowflakey)

My physical disabilities are making it challenging to find a laptop. I need the screen at eye level, since I can't bend my neck. I need a good and big a screen as possible. I touch-type (to avoid bending my neck) and need a comfortable keyboard. And it can't be too heavy to pull out of a bag (up to 3 lbs / 1.5 kg) or too large or breakable to move around (needs to be something that can be toted around in a trolley-bag, and easily set up on a coffee shop table).

(to sum it up, we're talking about something E.T. could easily use)

also: I'm a PC user. I'm also a rather heavy user (office, programming, graphics) so I'm guessing (correct me if I'm not up to date) that a tablet (on a stand with a blue-tooth keyboard) won't meet my needs.

Is there any shelf product out there that will work? (something like the Dell All-In-One desktop that's transportable?) If not, which is a good laptop (or tablet) that will work for me with a stand and keyboard? Any recommendations for a stand that's good and not too heavy? and a comfortable keyboard?

posted by mirileh to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been sitting here thinking about this.. and doing a bit of research. You might get by with a tablet designed to run windows 8.. but if you're doing some heavy graphics then i don't think it'll cut it.

Only solution I can come up with is clunky. I can't find a decent stand with good reviews that is easily portable. You're probably going to have to tote around a stand, the laptop itself, and a keyboard and mouse.

You might have better luck if you DIY a stand. Or talk to someone who likes DIY projects and see if they can make up something for you.

Are you working in these coffee shops or only meeting to show project progress? If it's the latter, you might be better off getting a desktop computer and a monitor with a tall stand or mounted to the wall.. and use a basic laptop or tablet to do the showing off.
posted by royalsong at 9:09 AM on February 26, 2013

something like the Dell All-In-One desktop that's transportable?

Have you heard of Microsoft Surface? It's like crossing a tablet with a laptop: the RT version is like an iPad equivalent (only runs "apps"), while the Pro runs full Windows. Both can run Office, and Penny Arcade just wrote an article covering graphics use.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:11 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

On the stand front - a coworker has a setup like this, though I'm not sure how portable it actually is - it certainly looks like it packs flat into something with the footprint of a clipboard. It looks like a short version of one of those mini-podiums people put on top of tables, and puts the screen at eye height, with the laptop keyboard on a slope ending a few inches above desk height. (The laptop keyboard isn't very usable because of the lip that keeps it from sliding off; he uses it with an external keyboad.)

It's plexiglass, has triangular 'feet' that swing out to make the base, and a bar in back that lets you adjust the slope of the top surface. He's from Germany AND very handy, so I don't know how likely it is that you can purchase what he's using, but if this would fit your needs I'll try & find out where he got it.
posted by heyforfour at 9:21 AM on February 26, 2013

Big screen and light weight are conflicting requirements. Which do you care about more?
posted by flabdablet at 9:22 AM on February 26, 2013

With 3lb as the upper weight limit, about the biggest screen you're going to find is 13", at least according to cnet's filters. One of those laptops plus a folding stand like this one might work. Although the one review on that one indicates it isn't very sturdy, which might be a common problem with any folding stand that's also lightweight. But, yeah, a Surface Pro or Acer Iconia might be worth looking into.
posted by hades at 9:23 AM on February 26, 2013

Response by poster: royalsong, I need to be able to work outside.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, that looks interesting. Though the lack of CD is going to be a pain. I guess that's one of the differences between a laptop and a tablet. I have a feeling that in a few years from now all laptops will be tablets and visa versa.

heyforfour, I'd love to get the name of the stand. I have a brother who can send me stuff from Europe.

flabdablet, as big a screen as can fit into a case that isn't a suitcase and leaves the machine up to 3 lbs (I'm juggling here).

(is this "thread-sitting"? sorry if it is! I've never really understood why it's considered bad)
posted by mirileh at 9:39 AM on February 26, 2013

I'm struggling to see how any laptop will be high enough off of the desk to view without bending your neck. There were a few absolutely crazy desktop replacements around 2007 that were more like portable all-in-ones, but they were 20 pounds.

You'll definitely need a laptop stand such as this.

With regards to the laptop, anything that meets your size/weight requirements should do.
posted by dobi at 9:48 AM on February 26, 2013

The Surface Pro has a USB port, and USB optical drives are cheap-ish. Assuming that it's ok if the total weight of the system is over 3lb as long as no individual component is, just add an external optical drive to your bag. You'd need to do that for most, if not all, ultrabooks (which is what you're looking for, at under 3lb), too.
posted by hades at 9:52 AM on February 26, 2013

Alternately, you use whatever laptop/desktop you want, but it stays in the rolling cart, tethered to a portable monitor like this. I haven't used one of those; I have no idea how well they work. But it is a sub-3lb 15.6" monitor, which is bigger than the 13" max you're going to get from something where the monitor and cpu are in the same device.
posted by hades at 10:04 AM on February 26, 2013

One catch with the MS Surface NT and Pro is that there's only one viewing angle allowed by the stand as it currently exists. This will change as accessory products come available, and it may support existing large-tablet accessories already on the market, for all I know. If you can, check it out in a store first, or at least buy it with a good return police (i.e. no reshelving fees). That review from Mike "Gabe" Krahulik of Penny Arcade, linked above, is an excellent review, but being a demo unit makes no mention of price.

Also, I'm a Windows user myself, but my current job provided a Macbook Pro, and it's got nice hardware, and installing Windows (7, 64-bit) on it via Boot Camp was a breeze. You'll need a mouse, though, to do a software-CD-eject at a single point before the boot camp windows drivers are installed.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:08 AM on February 26, 2013

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