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High Definition Video Editing Solutions
For all HD formats including HDV, HDCAM, DVCPRO HD and others.

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Old March 19th, 2010, 09:14 AM   #16
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Location: Neenah, WI
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I think a lot of this is not as black and white as it might seem.... Lots of shades of gray exist.

I've got an older (3+ years I think) dell M90 that I bought to be downstream from an SI 2K mini. It's got 2 GB of RAM, T7400 processor, and an NVIDIA QuadroFX 2500M display card. It's only 32 bit of course so I still run XP on it.

While far from ideal, I have edited some shorter pieces shot on my EX1 in native XDcam mode in PPro CS4 (which is a RAM consuming monster as Adobe users know). Is my desktop better? Oh yeah... Is this 'laptop' too large to open on a plane and too hot to set on your legs? Yup. Can I take my desktop on an air travel location and use it to edit in my hotel room? Hardly.

Also...for the Mac question...I had a brand new 17" MacBook Pro that I was using in mid-2008 and I didn't see any real differences between the two platforms for editing capability. The Mac has a nicer interface for the OS, and the styling of a Mac laptop is just head and shoulders above any utilitarian PC laptop and all that, but as far as getting work done, they were both decent performers for a portable machine. The PC probably had the edge in display card torque for AE previews...but again, in a general sense I didn't sense that either was head and shoulders better than the other.

I can't remember the exact price of that Dell M90 machine, but it seems to me it was just a bit under 3500.00 USD.

I think that if you plan on trying to use a really small laptop to edit video, I'd try to learn Vegas. I've run Vegas on a little email laptop that can't get out of its own way and it's not fast, but it's hard to crash as it seems to scale its performance to different configurations better than any NLE software I've ever encountered.

All that said, keep in mind that HDV and XDcam are heavily compressed, long GOP formats and they are processor intensive. The data rate of the video allows you to use pretty pedestrian little harddrives (I use these shirt-pocket sized Seagates that have the little self-powering USB cable for portable work), but you have to have some serious processor power to handle the decompress/recompress tasks during editing.

I think they'll be a day when a really proficient HD-capable editing laptop will be out there for 1000.00 USD, but it's not today unfortunately...
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Old March 19th, 2010, 09:50 AM   #17
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One thing to add to your post:

HDV and XDCAM are two formats that are relatively easy to edit, in contrast to AVCHD. Where a notebook may give reasonable/acceptable performance with HDV or XDCAM, it will hopelessly fail with AVCHD material.

Given that so many are lured by the resolution and attractive prices of AVCHD cameras, few realize that it really requires a beast of a machine to edit. Of course this is caused by the salespeople, who fail to mention that you really need a new computer to edit that material.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 09:58 AM   #18
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Ah yes, AVCHD.

I have not used it yet myself and I need to work that into my consciousness when having a conversation about such things...

Harm is of course, correct. Those of us who thought MPEG2 based HDV/XDcam was a pain in the processor to handle had not yet seen MPEG4 based AVCHD. I'm quite certain that the laptop I have would be grossly inadequate to handle the codec operations associated with editing AVCHD, even though it does seem to be able to chug through XDcam acceptably when I need it to...
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Old March 19th, 2010, 11:17 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by James Strange View Post
so how would this laptop cope with editing?

The Dell Online Store: Build Your System
I have a Dell Studio 15 with a 15.6" 1080p display I bought from their Outlet for $500. It's an excellent location backup/playback device, works well with Canon EOS Utility software, and lets me use ZoomBrowser EX for basic editing without transcoding.

I also use it to show clients examples of my work to land a paid shoot and to show them results during.
[T2i/550D] [17-55 IS USM] [Zoom H2] [HoodLoupe/HoodMAG 3.0]
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