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Old December 13th, 2005, 11:40 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 29
NLE/HDV: Convert semi-new PC or buy new laptop?

Hi, I have a hardware dilemma resulting partially from a change in my
requirements over the past year. I am wondering if it's feasible to
upgrade/gut an old PC I built Feb 2005 and use it for video production,
or whether it's better to use a new highend laptop for
videoproduction/NLE? Feel free to throw out warnings and gotchas.

I built one PC February 2005 primarily for the purpose of building a web
server. Good 64 bit AMD processor, good memory, average video card, no sound card,
adequate hard drive space.

But over the past year my priorities changed. It no longer is a
requirement for me to use this machine as a webserver. I could use it
as a video production desktop, but need advice about what parts need to
be upgraded.

My initial thought was to keep the old server PC as a test box (albeit
a fairly expensive one!) and then buy a high end laptop for Windows
video production. I actually plan to use the laptop for independent
contracting and make a lot of use out of it as well. BUYING A LAPTOP IS A REQUIREMENT, although I can go for either a highend dual-use laptop or go for a moderately priced laptop for nonvideo contract work.

But then a knowledgeable friend said, "use a laptop for making
videos--are you out of your gourd??" We talked about it for a while. I
was willing to spend a premium ($2000+) for a high quality laptop, but
he mentioned things that did not occcur to me: the overheating problem
with sustained processing to acquire/process your video, LCD's going bad, higher
incidence of maintenance problems for laptops, risk in depending too
much on a single laptop (with my webserver staying relatively unused!).

Then I had a brainstorm: gut the server PC and upgrade as needed for
video production. And buy a moderately priced laptop for $1200 or so
(instead of $2000 as I had originally planned).

I haven't mentioned my video plans/requirements:

I'll be importing miniDV and using Vegas as my NLE. I haven't decided
on what camera (and this could potentially be a huge factor).

Either I use the $1200 Panasonic 3CCD GS-400. Or use the 1 CCD $1700
Sony HD-HC1 camera (with the capability to make SD or HDV output). I
initially dropped the Sony out of the picture until a poster pointed
out that I didn't NEED to set the HC1's output as HDV (if my
desktop/monitor isn't ready for example). I could simply use the much
less strenous SD acquisition (with the option to go to my miniDV/HDV source
later on when I found a monitor to view it with). Even at SD, the Sony
camera has been said to deliver superior picture quality, 16x9 and
superior low lighting. I should mention I don't have an HDTV or a
monitor capable of viewing HD/HDV output, and don't plan to for about a

So 2 decisions which might be dependent:

1)is it more practical to gut/upgrade my relatively new desktop or try
to do my NLE on a high end laptop? (Would there be any advantage to
having a portable laptop for NLE and serving as a second monitor for
2)would my decision to go for the HD-HC1 have a great impact on what my
desktop should be like? (or are my specs good enough?). Assume that
I'll mainly be acquiring SD from my HD-HC1, although I'd certainly like
to try HDV out.
3)if I gut/upgrade my current desktop, what components would be most
important to upgrade (keep in mind I'll be using USB2 hard drives for
data). My guess is that as long as the upgrading/switching costs for my
desktop would total no more than $600-700, it will still be worthwhile.

So I keep my mobo, tower, dvd writer, harddrives,
I have a 21 inch monitor, not HD ready, but hopefully I could switch
this in a year or two if I go 100% HD/HDV).

I need to replace/add:
upgrade my processor?
upgrade my RAM from 1 gig to 2 gig. (That would mean that I would have
512mb, 512mb and then a 1 gig stick. Is that awful?
upgrade my videocard (a must)
upgrade my soundcard

My specs for my current (unused) server which I am thinking of
converting to a video dekstop?

The other option of course is to try to sell the web server ($500?), buy a moderately priced laptop AND a high end desktop for video production.

I would appreciate your input

Robert Nagle
Houston, Texas

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