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Laptop for translator
Thread poster: Paul Adie

Paul Adie  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 9, 2007

Hello fellow translators!

I am moving soon, and would like to upgrade my old laptop to something snazzy. I would like it to be fast, have a lot of memory for all the CAT programmes, but I would also like it to have a 'softer' side - enough space for pics, movies, podcasts etc. Are any of you particularly impressed with your machine and would like to share it with me?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards, and happy translating!


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Mark Berelekhis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:11
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
Think Thinkpad Jul 9, 2007

I got my IBM T60P Thinkpad about 9 months ago with the "work on the go" idea in mind. I haven't been disappointed one bit -- it's powerful, smooth, quiet, relatively cool. It's reinforced against accidents too.

Most importantly though, Thinkpad has just about the most comfortable keyboard of any laptop I've tried. Try it for yourself and you'll see. And in our line of work...

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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:11
English to Dutch
+ ...
Acer Aspire 9300 Series Jul 9, 2007

I bought one a little less than a year ago; they've since released new models, but the series is really good. The Acer website is good too, you'll find a lot of information there.

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Nicolas Coyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:11
Spanish to French
+ ...
Dell Jul 9, 2007

I bought a Dell Inspiron e1405/6400 a year ago. I got the basic configuration (eg no Dual Core, no screen protection - I don't remember how it's called). The keyboard is a pleasure to type on. Another nice feature is the multi-standard port (SD, memory stick etc.) next to the keyboard.
They also come with a lot other ports, which, in my opinion, makes the docking station Dell offers a non-sense.

BUT I reckon it is a bit heavy for its size. I don't remember the weight stated on Dell's website for sure but I do not have a lot of additional features on it either (like bigger HD etc.) Another shortfall in my view is the size of the screen. I think 14" is definitely too small as I often have to check sw interface or glossaries while I translate. You can definitely plug in a external 19 inch display (which I do) and have a sleek resolution on your extended desktop, so in the office it is not a problem. The issue rises when you have become accustomed to this big workspace and must cope with a tiny one on the go...

The reason I bought this one and not the 1505 or above? At the time, I read reviews saying there were a bit on the flimsy side unlike this one which is said to be sturdier (in fact, it has already experienced a fall from my desktop tower with no harm so far...fingers crossed!).
A piece of advice would be to buy your laptop with full upgraded memory. I thought 1GB would be enough when I bought mine, but I now find 2GB would be a plus.

Other Dell peculiarities: I hate the hundreds of little more or less useless apps that come preinstalled on their computers, and they could definitely get a clue when setting partitions (3/4 of the HD for OS and apps and the rest for files, come on...).

I know my dad got an Acer last year around the same time I got mine. He bought it for half the price of mine. I had a look at it : big screen (with that "glass" to protect it), light weight, keyboard is nice too... He has not complained about it so far...

I would say Acer is definitely an option for me next time I have to buy a laptop.

Also, my wife got a second-hand Vaio from a cousin (2 year old computer). I hope their most recent models went thru a diet, bc it is even heavier than my Dell!!! And of course, you have the typical Sony legacy stuff (only a memory stick port, etc.)

Hope this helps,
Good luck!

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Paul Adie  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
+ ...
How helpful you have been! Jul 9, 2007

Thanks for the replies so far guys, I've had a little look on the net, and the Acer seems to offer good value, the memory I'm after and the look. Yes, I'd actually like it to look good too, have some kind of understated style about it. Screens look huge. I'll keep looking around, and I'll let you know what I go for.

Yo ho ho! Back to work!

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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:11
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
Sony Vaio Jul 9, 2007

But all this are personal preferences.
You must answer your onw questions alone.
Shall it be portable? Do you move a lot with it? Or do you plan to have only laptop as desktop repplacement?
Going this way you will chose the right screen size - for mobility less than 15", for desktop replacement really 17". Starting with the screen size chose the best (most expensive - I'm afraid with laptops this is true) one you can afford. Don't buy no name products. Don't buy something you couldn't take in your hands and feel how heavy it is, how good (or bad) is it manufactured and so on.

Just for the record: I reject a laptop as a desktop replacement. I'm using both a desktop at home and a laptop (a big Sony Vaio BX197XP with 17" screen). The Vaio is good, but could never be a desktop replacement. And even if you go and pay several thousands Euro for a dual core machine with big memory, HDD, good graphics and so on, it will still remain a laptop with limited facilites. A desktop can easily be upgraded. When you need more memory, you buy it simply in the next computer store around the corner. More HDD space? You simply install a HDD from our computer dealer around the corner and are happy. Not enough ports? Go to eBay, get yourself a PCI extensions card, plug it in and you are ready. But having a laptop forget about all this. You can of course buy a docking station with several additional features, but for that price (laptop, docking) you can buy two desktops...


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
Acer Jul 9, 2007

I have 2 Acer laptops and I think they are simply perfect for a freelancer like me who also loves music and graphic design (which means lots and lots of pictures + software).
Like I say - if its good enough for Ferrari, its good enough for me.:-D

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Charlotte Blank  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:11
Czech to German
+ ...
Asus for me Jul 9, 2007


did you try a search on "Smart shoppers"? There are quite a few postings about laptops, their advantages and disadvantages. Here's a more elaborate one:

As for myself, I bought a notebook of Asus' A-series about two years ago (not at last after having asked for recommendations here at proz!) and still would recommend it to everybody. Most of all I'm enthusiastic about the noise or better the absence of noise. You won't hear the cpu fan unless it makes 3000 rpm (which is very rare) and even then it's only purring very quietly. The notebook has - among many other things which I don't even need - 4 x USB (you just can't have enough of them) and a parallel port (very useful if you have an older printer or the like!). Its weight is less than 3 kg which you will certainly appreciate when travelling... BTW, I got it for about half-price on ebay, it was almost new and with two years worldwide guarantee

Good luck!


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:11
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Dell Jul 9, 2007

I am on my 5th laptop. And I am staying with Dell. The main reason for this is their support. I cancelled the deal on my last laptop (an LG, that I was otherwise very satisfied with), beacause it broke down during the guarantee period, and after waiting for 6 weeks to have it fixed and still getting nothing but hot air and empty promises, I told them to keep it and got a Dell instead. That also had a hiccup of some sort during the guarantee period, and calling them, they sent someone to my home the next day to fix it.
Maybe this varies from one country to the next, but I think the service when something goes wrong is very important. Depending on the laptop for work, I want something that works, and is fixed immediately if it does not.
Mine is a Dell Inspiron 630m, that I got a year and a half ago.
It has only a 14 " screen, but I don't mind that. It weighs only 2.3 kg, and that is important to me, I like to haul it around with me.
A laptop will always be a compromise between weight and advanced features, so you just have to find out what is important to you.
In this country there are no useless applications installed in my Dell (that I have noticed....)and the formatting of the HD is not bothering me either...

[Edited at 2007-07-09 18:14]

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Marcela García  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Dell Jul 9, 2007

I have a XPS 1210 for travelling and a Dell Precision M90 at home and I am very very happy with both.

Good luck,


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invguy  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
English to Bulgarian
I'd rather take the strictly functional approach... Jul 10, 2007

... instead of choosing by make or model. Having used Gateway, IBM, Compaq and HP laptops, I've found in each one things that I like and others that I wished were better. All of them, however, were perfectly fit for MS Office, Acrobat, Wordfast, SDLX, Trados, a couple of dictionaries, and Internet.

Thankfully, CAT software isn't the system resources hog that are graphic apps, multimedia or games. So you don't really need the fastest CPU, the biggest HDD, the best video card or the memory bay packed with as much RAM as it can take. Anything better than a 1 GHz Pentium III with 512 MB RAM, 20 GB disk and a 32 MB video card is more than enough for the purpose (presuming that your OS is WinXP Pro or earlier; I haven't tried Vista yet).

Of course, if you want to use your laptop also as an entertainment centre, disregard that last sentence

Anyway, IMHO the most important thing is not the laptop itself but ensuring connectivity and selecting additional devices.

1) If the laptop is planned to be your main machine, you definitely need a 19" (or at least a 17") external monitor plus a docking station (or at least a PS/2 Y-cable) so you can work with a full-size keyboard and external mouse. I have one monitor/keyboard/mouse set at home and another one in the country house where I retire from time to time. You could also opt for a USB mouse so you won't actually need the Y cable.

BTW (my stingy side speaking here ) docking stations are often mere waste of money, not to speak about the video problems that some of them cause. As long as your laptop has the external monitor and PS/2 ports, you don't need one. And if you don't use an external monitor, all you need is a self-made device to position the full-size keyboard above the laptop's - and you're set.

2) An external USB hard drive for backup/archive (and eventually carrying around your favourite movies ) I wouldn't recommend Firewire even if your laptop has the port: you may occasionally need to exchange larger amounts of data with another computer, and USB is a more common standard than Firewire.

Note: Since laptop hard drives are usually low-rpm (to reduce power consumption), you'd love adding a 7200 rpm external drive through a USB 2.0 port: that's a pretty fast storage device. Only make sure the laptop has a USB 2.0 port; most external drives are USB 1.1 compatible but with a 1.1 port performance decreases dramatically.

3) A couple of USB flash memory thingies to transfer files to other computers. Not everyone would allow you to hook up to their computer or network through IR, Wi-Fi etc., so you've got to be ready with something more conservative (now that floppies are practically extinct). USB flash keys are also good for storing sensitive data that you'd rather keep safe in your pocket than on your hard drive.

Memory cards are not a solution for the purpose, since not every computer has a card reader - but all have a USB port for sure.

4) A PCMCIA LAN card *and* a Wi-Fi adapter (USB or PCMCIA), if your laptop doesn't have these built-in. Possibly - also a PCMCIA mobile connect card that works with your mobile operator. Bottomline: you need to be equipped to link to the Internet any time, anywhere. If there is a chance of staying in remote areas where all you'd have is a regular phone, then the LAN card should be a LAN/modem one.

A network extension cable (plus connector) would often help you position your laptop more conveniently in locations that provide Internet through LAN.

5) If you work a lot when en route, it's a good idea to have a second battery and an external charger, so you can have both batteries charged simultaneously when you get near an outlet. Alternatively, you may have a second battery in the laptop if the model supports one.

6) Optical storage: I'd go for a combo drive - one that only reads DVDs but writes CDs. You'd rarely need to write a DVD on the move: translation files are typically not that big so the 650-700 MB on a CD-R/RW is ample space. You could also use pocket/mini CD-R/RWs which hold up to 210 MB.

7) Display size. This is actually the only thing in a translator's laptop where it's worth going for the max value. 14" displays are OK but a 15" one actually gives you the viewing area of a 17" CRT - which should feel comfortable enough in most cases.

8) Gadgets are not a necessity but can make your life easier. For instance, a USB fluorescent lamp (powered from the USB port) can solve your lighting problems if you want to stay late working on the veranda. A USB fan may be useful in a bus or train. With a USB hub you won't bother about not having enough ports to connect your USB devices. Microphone/webcam might be something you'd like to have (if they're not built-in). Etc.

9) Last but not least important: the bag. I'd say, don't choose it before you have a clear idea of everything you plan to drag along with your laptop. You might choose a slim one for the laptop only plus another one for the extra stuff - or take a bigger multi-pocket one that would hold everything.

I realize this was not exactly an answer to your question, Paul - but (speaking out of practice) I think that once you take into account these practical considerations, you'll be OK to choose whatever make & model you like, and it will work for you.


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 23:11
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Disagree with Dell and Sony Vaio Jul 10, 2007

Of course I don't intend to start a "my laptop is better than yours" war or anything, but I thought I'd put in my two cents:

Dell had an excellent track record up until 2 or 3 years ago, when they decided to cut down on costs by using cheaper components. Certain companies (huge multinational corporations in this case) for which I directly translate quit buying Dell after launching extensive evaluation programs. The numbers are in the thousands, mind you. I mean, even Dell's president, whatever his name is, recognized that using cheaper components was a terrible move....and this wasn't very long ago. The company is supposed to be improving its quality once again, but that's only Dell's promise so far; there hasn't been enough time to evaluate the results on the real market.

As for Sony Vaio, do yourself a favor and look online for "Sony Vaio customer service." I have a friend who went through hell and back to get his Vaio fixed properly....he ended up buying an HP instead.

My (pretty extensive) research not too long ago led me to choose between the following three: Thinkpad, HP, and Toshiba.

Thinkpad has an impeccable track record, but since the laptops are not made by IBM anymore (the're made by Lenovo now), I don't know if this still applies or not. From what information I could gather, they're still incredibly sturdy and reliable, if not too pretty.

HP is a pretty good choice, what with their low prices and excellent customer service. The laptops are a bit on the "unnecessary flash" side, but they're pretty good, except for all the unnecessary garbage they come installed with.

Toshiba was supposed to be one of the top laptop manufacturers up until at least two years ago. I've read some negative comments about them, but they seem to come from people who don't really know the difference between flimsy and "well, it fell down a flight of stairs...why isn't it working anymore?"

From my research, I concluded that Thinkpad and HP were the best choices out of the main laptop manufacturers....I didn't look into stuff like Acer, so I can't give my opinion on that. There is also Hypersonic, which has excellent customer service and killer laptops, but they're geared towards the gamer, rather than the professional.

Unfortunately, I also have to say that personal experience with equipment has limited value when it comes to making a well-informed decision. Take, for instance, the Xbox 360. I have two friends (the two gamers from my group of friends) who swear by it and will say nothing but good things about how it works. However, a little research shows that the estimate is that 1 out of 4 (you read correctly) consoles stop working during their first year of operation due to what is called the "three lights of death." Experience with customer and warranty services is invaluable, but experience with the actual equipment can be almost worthless (by which I mean no offense to anyone who loves their Dell, of course)

Mind you, all this is only related to laptops in the U.S. and Mexico....I have no idea if it applies to the UK or not.

[Edited at 2007-07-10 03:49]

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Saturniana  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:11
English to Romanian
+ ...
My laptop Jul 10, 2007

Well, I don't have as much experience with laptops as other people here, but I thought I should tell you what I chose.

After careful consideration and research I chose an HP nx9420. This is the first laptop I have ever owned. It's a Core 2 Duo laptop with a 17" widescreen and I couldn't be happier because it allows me to keep two documents open side by side on the screen which provides more real estate than a 15 or 15.4 incher would.

At a resolution of 1680X1050 I can also view and touch up photos in Photoshop, which was another requirement before purchasing and has a pretty good graphics card you can use if you like to engage in a bit of gaming every now and then.

It's also a business range laptop so nothing flashy about it like in the consumer range of HP.

The keyboard is comfortable to type on if you are someone whose hands hurt at times from too much typing. Coming from a desktop with a Microsoft Natural Keyboard, I can say it feels comfortable and it also has a numpad if you need it.

A 17" screen makes it less portable but it's not that heavy, just not something you would take around with you if you move a lot.

If you want to learn more about Thinkpads, you should check out this forum:, to see what long-time owners of these laptops have to say about how those made by Lenovo compare to those made by IBM. That's where I did my some of my research before deciding what to purchase.

For user opinions on laptop performance and service issues you should also check and

[Editat la 2007-07-10 06:53]

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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
Acer Jul 10, 2007

I am happy with my new Acer. Where else could you get a notebook with 17" screen and 1 GB RAM for 800 EUR?

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United States
Local time: 01:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Asus N20 Mar 25, 2009

I know this is a couple of years late, but I just wanted to share my experience.

I recently bought an Asus N20 and it's a superb little (12") workhorse. I originally planned to use it only while traveling, but I have found that it is also very handy to work on at the same time as when I'm on my desktop, I have them sitting right next to each other.

It comes with everything; core 2duo, 4GB RAM, 250 hard drive (I have 320), bluetooth, wifi, 3 USB, E-SATA, HDMI, k-lock, multi-dvd optical drive, webcam, fingerprint reader, optical mouse, 2 yr global warranty, adapter, sleeve, bag, full recovery disks, all for under $1000 USD.

I have Trados Freelance Suite 2007 on it and it runs this incredibly convoluted (and annoying) software as if it were my desktop, without a hitch. In fact it runs all my programs and has room for my files as if it were a heavy duty desktop (hence "workhorse"). The only thing I'm not crazy about is the keyboard (and usage of short-cut keys), it's kind of flat, but you do get used to it. It's not as fancy or as pretty as other laptops, but it's ultraportable (a big plus for me) and I've absolutely fallen in love with it. Soooo much better than the last Dell and HP I had.

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