Backpack-sized laptop for field work?


Frank O'Donnell K6FOD
 

I'm in the market for a backpack-sized small or mini Windows laptop to run SDR Console out in the field. The ideal would be:

-- As small as possible while retaining enough screen size to operate controls and watch the waterfall without too much trouble;

-- Sufficient computing power to run SDRC along with a decoder program;

-- Adequate disk storage for overnight sessions;

-- Hopefully not breaking the bank price-wise.

Any suggestions among what's out there right now?


Max
 

Hi Frank

"-- Hopefully not breaking the bank price-wise."

That phrase means something different to practically every person. I would suggest you give us an idea of budget?

73

Max



On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 06:44 PM, Frank wrote:
-- Hopefully not breaking the bank price-wise.


Frank O'Donnell K6FOD
 

On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 12:24 PM, Max wrote:
I would suggest you give us an idea of budget?
Thanks for asking. Price isn't the biggest driver. As a starting point, I'd like to keep it under $1,000. But if there are models with significant features that group around certain price points, that could be flexible.

Frank


Siegfried Jackstien
 

for 1 k you should find a good one ... maybe a convertible (tablet and laptop in one) ... in most cases you do not need the keyboard so you then can work in tablet mode ...

maybe a convertible is not robust enough (such things are not built to survive ww3) ... there are also "robust" laptops available (for workers etc) ... most of the time not the power of a "gamers laptop" but with a bit heavier case and those can survive a bump or two

i would say take a so called "business laptop" ... a bit more robust then a gamers laptop with all bings and boings but built for everyday use

it all depends on how often you will use it in the field ... if it is more like camping in a tent (backpacking) or more like working from a motor home (that is more like work from home) ... and ... when not in the field ... will you use it also at home regularly??

maybe a buisiness laptop with docking station ??

.... here i use a "robust" tablet for sdr console (fujitsu siemens v535 industrial) ... only an atom cpu with 1.92 ghz clock so not superfast ... but fast enough for sdr console, a pluto and an additional digimode soft (be it rtty or sstv or whatever) ... cause the screen is not that big i use it on a docking station (cradle) with a 32 inch tv screen via hdmi ...

for 1k ... a buisiness laptop with a modern cpu and a docking station ... that should fit your needs

greetz sigi dg9bfc

ps sometimes you can get really good refurbished ones that are 2 or 3 years old but look brand new

Am 16.09.2020 um 19:48 schrieb Frank:

On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 12:24 PM, Max wrote:
I would suggest you give us an idea of budget?
Thanks for asking. Price isn't the biggest driver. As a starting point, I'd like to keep it under $1,000. But if there are models with significant features that group around certain price points, that could be flexible.

Frank


Frank O'Donnell K6FOD
 

Thanks, Siegfried, those are all good points.

A "business" (or "business travel" laptop sounds like a good category. However, the majority that I've seen in this category list a 14" (~35.5cm) screen size, and the overall dimensions are a little too big to fit comfortably in a backpack along with radio gear. I think for me the sweet spot would be a 12" to 13" (~30.5 to 33cm) screen. I'll be using it at home, but will also be going on frequent hikes.

Right now I'm looking at a 2020 HP Elitebook X360 1030 G3, which lists an Intel Core i5-8350U with Intel UHD Graphics 620 (4 cores 8 threads, base clock speed 1.7 GHz, Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache), with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD. In most ways including price ($850), it sounds like a good fit. My only question is whether an i5 will be up to running SDR Console along with, say, WSJT-X and other software simultaneously. The i7 laptops I've seen in this category are a lot more expensive (~$1,500).

I do see some refurbished ones at low prices. I tend to buy new gear and use it forever until it keels over.

So at this point I think I'm focusing on (a) will the above i5 configuration be adequate, and (b) are there new i7 laptops in this size range worth looking at.

 


Siegfried Jackstien
 

it depends on what bw your sdr is set to and what screen resolution and waterfall speed is set etc etc

as reported i can run a pluto sdr on qo100 on an atom tablet (w10 4 gig ram max clock1.92g) ... thats just barely above your base speed what my max speed is (and for sure the atom cpu is a lot slower as your planned i5 with 16g!!)

but that is with low spectrum resolution and slower wf speed setting ...

all settings maxed out the atom cpu is not enough but i can tune it to low cpu usage ... overall i would say the hp you have in the view should be fast enough ... no idea if you can sample 30 megs bw of a modern sdr and let it run for a long time (even your half a terrabyte big ssd will be filled up fast) ...

if you can get a good refurbished i7 ... go for it ... the i5 is also good so the main thing/thoughts should be ... does it have a robust case and keyboard (some are even safe against a cup of tea hi hi) ... thats why i wrote business or travel laptop ... most of the time they have a bit lower spec cpu but a good keyboard and last "forever" (just typing this on an old core2duo refurb business laptop now ... grin) ... travel laptops often have a bit lower screen resolution (simon will cry out now .. grin) ... that lower resolution in the end means also lower cpu power needed to fill those pixels

a good refurbished one is like a new one (in my view) ... if it is a real good unit (good case,keyboard .. stable screen mounting!!) it will last very long ... and a business or travel unit is in most cases the right category for a long usage ... sometimes comes with a docking station (good to use at home with a bigger screen, mouse, keyboard)

if you can get a travel unit with docking ... with an i7 instead an i5 ... as a refurbished one ... then i would not resist

main thing is robustness if you really pack it in a backpack with radio gear ... i5 or i7 ... does not matter much (both have enough power left to run one or two digimode software in parallel to sdr console and have also the logbook open)

greetz sigi dg9bfc

ps if a 14 inch is too big ... you need a bigger backpack or smaller radio gear hi hi

Am 17.09.2020 um 14:39 schrieb Frank:

Thanks, Siegfried, those are all good points.

A "business" (or "business travel" laptop sounds like a good category. However, the majority that I've seen in this category list a 14" (~35.5cm) screen size, and the overall dimensions are a little too big to fit comfortably in a backpack along with radio gear. I think for me the sweet spot would be a 12" to 13" (~30.5 to 33cm) screen. I'll be using it at home, but will also be going on frequent hikes.

Right now I'm looking at a 2020 HP Elitebook X360 1030 G3, which lists an Intel Core i5-8350U with Intel UHD Graphics 620 (4 cores 8 threads, base clock speed 1.7 GHz, Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache), with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD. In most ways including price ($850), it sounds like a good fit. My only question is whether an i5 will be up to running SDR Console along with, say, WSJT-X and other software simultaneously. The i7 laptops I've seen in this category are a lot more expensive (~$1,500).

I do see some refurbished ones at low prices. I tend to buy new gear and use it forever until it keels over.

So at this point I think I'm focusing on (a) will the above i5 configuration be adequate, and (b) are there new i7 laptops in this size range worth looking at.

 


Tom Crosbie G6PZZ
 

Frank,

You might also consider the Microsoft Surface Book. Gen 10 i5 or i7, 8-32GB RAM 13.5” screen, choice of graphics. Probably cost nearer 2K though. My son has an older larger version and it has survived several years of military deployments and personal travel from Iceland to the Falklands, east to west USA, Europe from Norway to Turkey and parts of the Middle East I’m not allowed to mention!  

 

From: main@SDR-Radio.groups.io <main@SDR-Radio.groups.io> On Behalf Of Siegfried Jackstien
Sent: 17 September 2020 16:26
To: main@SDR-Radio.groups.io
Subject: Re: [SDR-Radio] Backpack-sized laptop for field work?

 

it depends on what bw your sdr is set to and what screen resolution and waterfall speed is set etc etc

as reported i can run a pluto sdr on qo100 on an atom tablet (w10 4 gig ram max clock1.92g) ... thats just barely above your base speed what my max speed is (and for sure the atom cpu is a lot slower as your planned i5 with 16g!!)

but that is with low spectrum resolution and slower wf speed setting ...

all settings maxed out the atom cpu is not enough but i can tune it to low cpu usage ... overall i would say the hp you have in the view should be fast enough ... no idea if you can sample 30 megs bw of a modern sdr and let it run for a long time (even your half a terrabyte big ssd will be filled up fast) ...

if you can get a good refurbished i7 ... go for it ... the i5 is also good so the main thing/thoughts should be ... does it have a robust case and keyboard (some are even safe against a cup of tea hi hi) ... thats why i wrote business or travel laptop ... most of the time they have a bit lower spec cpu but a good keyboard and last "forever" (just typing this on an old core2duo refurb business laptop now ... grin) ... travel laptops often have a bit lower screen resolution (simon will cry out now .. grin) ... that lower resolution in the end means also lower cpu power needed to fill those pixels

a good refurbished one is like a new one (in my view) ... if it is a real good unit (good case,keyboard .. stable screen mounting!!) it will last very long ... and a business or travel unit is in most cases the right category for a long usage ... sometimes comes with a docking station (good to use at home with a bigger screen, mouse, keyboard)

if you can get a travel unit with docking ... with an i7 instead an i5 ... as a refurbished one ... then i would not resist

main thing is robustness if you really pack it in a backpack with radio gear ... i5 or i7 ... does not matter much (both have enough power left to run one or two digimode software in parallel to sdr console and have also the logbook open)

greetz sigi dg9bfc

ps if a 14 inch is too big ... you need a bigger backpack or smaller radio gear hi hi

Am 17.09.2020 um 14:39 schrieb Frank:

Thanks, Siegfried, those are all good points.

A "business" (or "business travel" laptop sounds like a good category. However, the majority that I've seen in this category list a 14" (~35.5cm) screen size, and the overall dimensions are a little too big to fit comfortably in a backpack along with radio gear. I think for me the sweet spot would be a 12" to 13" (~30.5 to 33cm) screen. I'll be using it at home, but will also be going on frequent hikes.

Right now I'm looking at a 2020 HP Elitebook X360 1030 G3, which lists an Intel Core i5-8350U with Intel UHD Graphics 620 (4 cores 8 threads, base clock speed 1.7 GHz, Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache), with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD. In most ways including price ($850), it sounds like a good fit. My only question is whether an i5 will be up to running SDR Console along with, say, WSJT-X and other software simultaneously. The i7 laptops I've seen in this category are a lot more expensive (~$1,500).

I do see some refurbished ones at low prices. I tend to buy new gear and use it forever until it keels over.

So at this point I think I'm focusing on (a) will the above i5 configuration be adequate, and (b) are there new i7 laptops in this size range worth looking at.

 


David J Taylor
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Frank
[]
So at this point I think I'm focusing on (a) will the above i5 configuration be adequate, and (b) are there new i7 laptops in this size range worth looking at.
====================================================

Just a few comments:

- if it's for SDR Console, a laptop with NVIDIA graphics would be worth considering.

- if you want to do lots of [perhaps unattended] recording, the combination of a small SSD [256 GB] together with a 1 TB spinning HD may be worth considering. SSDs have a limited write life, which may or may not matter depending what you intend to do.

I have used an HP Envy 13.3-inch model with MX250 graphics (now superseded) but after a few months use it kept rebooting, sometimes getting very hot. HP tried twice to repair it, but the fault reappeared after a few days each time. I was expecting HP to be a good make, but searching with Google showed it to be a common problem. I was typically using a few percent CPU, so I don't think my usage pattern was to blame. You can see it's usage here - click on the day, week, month & year buttons for more.

https://www.satsignal.eu/mrtg/performance_floro.php

Support from HP was good, from the seller [John Lewis] very poor. Perhaps HP, like Dell, offer a refurbished store? The current model:

Product Description: HP ENVY 13-ba0010na
Model Number: 133S9EA

Cheers,
David
--
SatSignal Software - Quality software for you
Web: https://www.satsignal.eu
Email: david-taylor@blueyonder.co.uk
Twitter: @gm8arv


Frank O'Donnell K6FOD
 

Thanks to Tom and David for the comments.

I'm sure the Microsoft Surface is a very good computer, but it sounds like it's about 2x my target price range.

An HP Envy 13.3" sounds interesting. When I look it up, the current model I get is an Envy 13-aq1075nr. This and the HP Elitebook I was looking at both use integrated Intel UHD graphics. I'm aware of how SDR Console uses the graphics card for processing (doing so very well on my Windows desktop), but wasn't sure which all graphics adapters are supported. If the Intel HUP is a no-go, it sounds as though I might want to be looking for a ~13" laptop with Nvidia.

Frank


David J Taylor
 

Thanks to Tom and David for the comments.

I'm sure the Microsoft Surface is a very good computer, but it sounds like it's about 2x my target price range.

An HP Envy 13.3" sounds interesting. When I look it up, the current model I get is an Envy 13-aq1075nr. This and the HP Elitebook I was looking at both use integrated Intel UHD graphics. I'm aware of how SDR Console uses the graphics card for processing (doing so very well on my Windows desktop), but wasn't sure which all graphics adapters are supported. If the Intel HUP is a no-go, it sounds as though I might want to be looking for a ~13" laptop with Nvidia.

Frank
===================================

Frank,

Yes, finding PCs when they change every 5 minutes can be a problem! You might try the model number "hp 133S9EA" but likely there's different models for different markets. Anyway, laptop + NVIDIA is a good staring point. Any manufacturer. These tend to be gaming models, so larger screen which I know isn't what you want.

Cheers,
David
--
SatSignal Software - Quality software for you
Web: https://www.satsignal.eu
Email: david-taylor@blueyonder.co.uk
Twitter: @gm8arv


Stu C <stu@...>
 

My next one will be a Ryzen.
I tend to look at the CPU and then the Passmark score to get a feel for the basic performance beyond the adverts.
Just did a quick search for £1000 and got - ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, blimey...
Asus make some underated kit, bought a HP to replace an old Asus for my dad and he still prefers the Asus.
I do like the HP Elitebooks too though but tend to avoid the mid range now (typing on a older HP mid range).

I'm not specifically recommending that laptop for field work (45W CPU), just saying for the budget it should be fairly easy to get a good bit of kit but consider AMD for the CPU if not for CPU/GPU (I don't know about SDR-Console and mobile GPU chips).

Why did you have to make me look....

Stu


Frank O'Donnell K6FOD
 

I searched on ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, but it looks like a 40-inch screen.

Meanwhile, HP has a pretty good search utility on their website. When I punched in 13.3-inch screen with Nvidia graphics, a single model came up -- HP Envy 13t-ba000. When I customize it to upgrade Win 10 from home to pro and tweak the RAM and SSD, it comes to $1,239 (plus I'm sure our ~10% Calif sales tax, and I imagine there might be a shipping charge?). But this would be an i7 with 16 GB RAM and 500 GB SSD, as well as Nvidia GeForce MX350. So maybe I need to bite the bullet and spend a little more. I'll think about it for the next 24 hours or so. When bought directly from HP, they take about 2 1/2 weeks to configure and ship.


Frank O'Donnell K6FOD
 

On Thu, Sep 17, 2020 at 01:39 PM, Frank wrote:
I searched on ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, but it looks like a 40-inch screen.
I assume the typo is obvious ... that should have been "14-inch" --


Siegfried Jackstien
 

40 inch is not backpack size... Grin

Am 18.09.2020 00:29 schrieb Frank <gio@...>:

On Thu, Sep 17, 2020 at 01:39 PM, Frank wrote:
I searched on ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, but it looks like a 40-inch screen.
I assume the typo is obvious ... that should have been "14-inch" --


Stu C <stu@...>
 


Patrick
 

I also plan to replace my current PC.

Would an i7-1065G7 (TDP 15W) with 16 Go RAM and 1To SSD be OK to smoothly handle 10 MHz BW when listening 'live' or Data File Analyser processing, without any stuttering or similar problem ?


Thanks a lot.


Martin
 

On Fri, Sep 18, 2020 at 11:54 AM, Stu C wrote:
https://mothership.sg/2018/12/japan-backpack-huge/
Hi Stu,

I once was given a 'laptop' that would have needed a bag that big to carry it.

https://www.cnet.com/news/acer-aspire-9800-giant-laptop-squashes-competition/

Regards,

Martin


Siegfried Jackstien
 

hello martin ...

if you do not have the room for it ... donate it to me ...grin

greetz sigi dg9bfc

Am 18.09.2020 um 13:35 schrieb Martin via groups.io:

On Fri, Sep 18, 2020 at 11:54 AM, Stu C wrote:
https://mothership.sg/2018/12/japan-backpack-huge/
Hi Stu,

I once was given a 'laptop' that would have needed a bag that big to carry it.

https://www.cnet.com/news/acer-aspire-9800-giant-laptop-squashes-competition/

Regards,

Martin


Martin
 

Hi Siegfried,

It was a slow and as heavy as an elephant, and got scrapped many years ago.

Trust me you wouldn't have wanted it, even if it had been given to you (as it was given to me - for a good reason).

Regards,

Martin


Waldemar
 

I like my MS Surface Pro, and they start below $1k and I think are powerful enough. One nice thing about these is that you can get a USB C to Surface power cable so that you can run it on battery power from suitable (PD-enabled) power banks, removing some of the noise.

cheers, waldemar
KI7VYJ