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Mini notebooks: enough for translators?
Thread poster: Manuel Rodriguez

Manuel Rodriguez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:13
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 15, 2009

Hello,

I come to you all with a simple question. I have a Mac desktop at home, and have been able to work relatively well with my clients. However, lately I've been feeling a little trapped in the house (I'm sure many of you, though solitary by nature, sometimes feel the same way), and I also feel that I need to broaden my client base. So, I'm thinking of buying a Windows-based notebook that I can take to the local Starbucks/McCaffe, and on which I can install the Trados suite (or some other big-name CAT) to attract more clients. This way I kill two birds with one stone. I have my eye on this mini notebook: http://laptops.toshiba.com/laptops/mini-notebook/NB200 The biggest plus for me is the low cost. My question is, do you think it's enough for a translator? It can be upgraded to 2GB of RAM, I believe, but I would only use it to translate with MS Word (+ Trados) and surf the net (mainly the web-based dictionaries). I have lost touch with the Windows OS, and have never owned a notebook, so I'm not sure if I should expect any potential problems with this buy. Has anyone here had experience with mini notebooks?

Thanks in advance for any comments!

Manuel R.


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Tomasz Poplawski  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:13
English to Polish
+ ...
Almost identical topic from recent past Jul 15, 2009

http://www.proz.com/forum/hardware/139330-which_laptop_to_buy_for_travel_to_us.html

I could only repeat my words but obviously, opinions on the subject vary

[Edited at 2009-07-15 01:50 GMT]


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Manuel Rodriguez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:13
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks for the link Jul 15, 2009

I did a search before I posted my question, but did not find the link you provided. I think because I looked for mini-notebook instead of netbook. Anyway, I think I get the picture now. For the basic work, the notebook I want is OK. The only potential issue may be the screen size and its effects on the eyes, but I guess I won't use the notebook for more than a couple of hours.

Thanks again!


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Tae Kim  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:13
Member (2007)
English to Korean
+ ...
Mini netbooks are worth to try Jul 15, 2009

I know exactly what you are going through and thinking. I too was feeling so closed off in my home and was itching to get out and hang out at Starbucks or other outdoor Internet cafe places, so I bought Acer Aspire One notebook recently. I have not done a great deal of translation work with it yet, just a couple of really short file jobs. As you mentioned, there are those issues of short battery power, screen size, and other problems that come with these netbooks.

As for doing translations in Starbucks or other outdoor cafes, first of all, the sun glare will make it difficult to read the screen, and with all the traffic going by, both vehicle traffic and other people, it's a bit of a challenge to keep concentrating on work, not to mention all the noises. So I've been just using my netbook as an entertainment source and not as a workstation for my translation work. I continue to rely on my main desktop to produce translations and just use my netbook for fun and entertainment, or talking to my friends.

You can do some descent work if you take your netbook/notebook to a quiet place like library, I think, but I found translating at a Starbucks a bit difficult to do.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:13
French to English
+ ...
Good for Starbucks, but possibly not your "main" machine Jul 15, 2009

I've been using an NB100 recently for exactly what you suggest-- occasions when I need to go and work in Starbucks for a couple of hours to regain my sanity, or work in the library for a while. I also took it to a conference the other week, to the envy of other delegates during one or two more snoozeworthy moments.

(The NB100 is very similar to the NB200 looking at the picture-- though it looks like they've improved the keyboard a bit.)

The portability is great. Battery life is also pretty good. But realistically the keyboard and screen are far too small for more than emergency use. Personally, I'd be thinking of it for occasional work in Word/Wordpad, not extensive projects with Trados etc.

At a pinch, it probably *could* be your main machine (when used with external monitor and keyboard). The proc speed is about 1.6GHz -- i.e. similar to a mainstream laptop 3-4 years or so ago (and without any extra frills such as decent graphics). So if you thought Trados etc was working fine on your hardware from a few years ago, you shouldn't be too disappointed (though I stress I haven't tried-- I've just been using boring old Word, web browser etc).

[Edited at 2009-07-15 06:49 GMT]


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Manuel Rodriguez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:13
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree with the last comments Jul 15, 2009

Tae Kim: If I ever do translation work outside the house, I would still do it indoors, so the sun glare shouldn't be a problem. One thing I will try to work on is concentration. I've already tried to do other assignments at such places (such as writing essays), and found that if I really try I can concentrate while there's pandemonium all around. But it sure isn't easy.

Neil: As you suggest, this won't be my main machine. I am still going to spend most of the time inside my house in front of my Mac. This netbook, I figure, will serve these main purposes: keep me connected when going outside so that clients can still reach me; perhaps allow me to continue to do some work that I had already begun in the Mac using just Word; and maybe with Windows lure more clients who are a little apprehensive about the Mac OS X. I have never used Trados, and probably never will, but being able to put it on my CV once I add Windows as one of my Operating Systems could bring more clients my way. If I ever get a project with Trados, I will either educate the client about Wordfast and do the work on my desktop, or... *gulp* actually do the project on the small netbook. Let's hope that seldom happens.


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Mariana Passo
Portugal
Local time: 11:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
I use one Jul 15, 2009

I decided to buy an ASUS ha1000 and I'm delighted with it. It's small, light, the battery lasts up to 8 hours (4.5 if you're connected to the internet) and it has a relatively broad keyboard and screen, apart from having the same characteristics as my former PC: 1Gb RAM, 80Gb HD, etc.
For larger projects I connect it to a wide screen, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. It works perfectly fine with the wide screen (loses very little definition, if none at all. I guess if you were a designer, then you would probably notice).
Anyway, I suggest this netbook as I've done extensive research and it's the one that best suited my needs.
Cheers,
Mariana


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:13
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Consider keyboard size and screen resolution on Mini Notebooks Jul 15, 2009

These would be key issues for me when deciding whether to make a mini-notebook my main machine. Computing power is probably less of a concern, because, as another poster stated, they should match mainstream notebooks of a few years ago.

We love my wife's Lenovo Ideapad S10, but I couldn't use it as the main machine.
1) While I can use the keyboard to type for short periods without too much discomfort, I could not imagine trying to type on it for several hours or a day. Of course, if used at home an external keyboard would solve that.
2) The screen resolution on the minis is quite low - on the Lenovo the video card maxes out at 1200x600. Therefore, with an external monitor the picture will not fill up the larger screen, and even then the results won't all that great.

An ultraportable would have a larger keyboard, but the maximum screen resolution is relatively low. You'd probably need to get into the business-notebook range (>14") before you will get good results on an external monitor.

Otherwise, the minis are great for portability and light use.
Just my two cents...


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David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
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External screen resolution / keyboard size excellent when I connect my netbook Jul 16, 2009

Rudolf Vedo wrote:

An ultraportable would have a larger keyboard, but the maximum screen resolution is relatively low. You'd probably need to get into the business-notebook range (>14") before you will get good results on an external monitor.

Otherwise, the minis are great for portability and light use.
Just my two cents...


I get excellent results when connecting my Acer Aspire One to a large 24" external LCD monitor. The resolution is something like 1800 x ??? and everything is huge!

Check the maximum resolution connected to external monitors when you buy your netbook but in my case I am thoroughly satisfied.

In regards to the keyboard size, my netbook advertizes having "94% full keyboard size." Like any new keyboard it took some adjusting to but I am happy to say I type as fast on it as I do on a full keyboard.

Best,
David

[Edited at 2009-07-16 12:09 GMT]


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David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
My experience and a suggestion Jul 16, 2009

I have an Acer Aspire One running Windows XP. It runs Word quite well and Trados is a bit slow on it. I do some actual translating on it in cafes and the like but typically prefer working from home on my other laptop due to speed and lack of distractions. My Aspire One is quite useful, however, for things like billing, responding to clients emails, creating marketing materials, doing research, etc., all the translation related things that are not specifically translation! I am quite happy with it.

Perhaps a good middle ground for you, Manuel, would be the new Acer Timeline series, specifically the version that has the Dual Core processor. These are super light and thin and their batteries last for 8 hours!

Good luck.

David


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Fran Cesca
Italy
Local time: 12:13
English to Italian
+ ...
Screen and keys Jul 16, 2009

Dear Manuel,

I completely agree with Rudolf's comments above. They are very nice but not so suitable to work on for a long time both for screensize and keyboard.

I just made a present of one of those to my mother and she is enthousiastic, but she mainly sees photos, uses messanger and plays games of patience.

Once I tried to work on it and half an hour was enough.

Surely you can connect it to a bigger monitor and to an external keyboard, but I do not find this convenient to carry around

Have a nice evening,
Francesca


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Manuel Rodriguez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:13
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How slow? Jul 16, 2009

Thank you all for your input. I think I'm gonna go ahead and buy one, but keeping in mind that it's not going to be my main machine. I'm a Mac, anyhow.

David Jessop wrote:

I have an Acer Aspire One running Windows XP. It runs Word quite well and Trados is a bit slow on it.


How slow would you say Trados is on the AA One? I'm not very computer savvy, but could increasing the memory to 2GB speed up the performance?

Cheers


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Michael Joseph Wdowiak Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:13
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Why a netbook? Just get a cheap normal laptop. Jul 16, 2009

A cheap Acer or Dell or whatever of normal specs would be much better and not that much more expensive than a netbook. Why risk buying something that might turn out to be too small to work comfortably on?

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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 05:13
English to Spanish
Mini Notebook Acer Aspire One, N270 1.6Ghz/1Gb/160GB/8.9" Jul 17, 2009

And the best of all, it runs under Windows XP!

No problem with Trados/Word/TagEditor, or the several dictionaries I use, including Babylon, at the same time.

Take it wherever you go, and be happy.



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avaaid  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:13
Japanese to English
A tangent: Wordfast/Mac Jul 17, 2009

Manuel, have you been pleased with the way Wordfast performs on your Mac to date, and do you use Classic or Pro? I am new to CAT tools and am leaning towards Wordfast, but I have read posts here and there about various problems that can crop up...

Thanks!


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