Best portable hardware for translation in 2019?
Thread poster: ritatranslates

ritatranslates  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:51
Member (Sep 2019)
English
+ ...
Sep 30

I'm looking to buy hardware for translation work. Main software I use is SDL Trados 2019 and Cafetran Espresso. I hope for the hardware to be productive and easy to travel with.

Selection is so vast I'd appreciate some help to narrow it down.

Much thanks!


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:51
Member
English to French
+ ...
A few pointers Oct 1

But try doing more homework next time, your request it too general.

Portable hardware = you need a laptop.

SDL Trados 2019 and Cafetran Espresso = Any decent laptop above some price range will do. For big TMs, CafeTran Espresso relies more heavily on RAM, so keep that in mind.

You don’t need the best laptop.

My take is that you don’t need (overpriced) cutting edge hardware to translate comfortably, although your mileage may vary, and if you
... See more
But try doing more homework next time, your request it too general.

Portable hardware = you need a laptop.

SDL Trados 2019 and Cafetran Espresso = Any decent laptop above some price range will do. For big TMs, CafeTran Espresso relies more heavily on RAM, so keep that in mind.

You don’t need the best laptop.

My take is that you don’t need (overpriced) cutting edge hardware to translate comfortably, although your mileage may vary, and if you have money to spare, you can’t go wrong buying a top-spec PC. Especially, you can get away with less than a top graphics card (which matters most for gaming, video editing and the like). CAT tools aren’t the heaviest (nor the most lightweight) programs out there, I’d say they are in the middle-range.

Laptops are less upgrade-friendly than desktop computers, but still, anyone can replace RAM (unless it is soldered) or a hard drive.

Specs to look:

- RAM: I would go for 12 GB/16 GB or more. RAM is an easy way to get better performance, especially when having several applications open (as translators tend to). It’s also quite cheap. Realize that you don’t need your laptop to actually have that much RAM installed when first bought. What is more important: look for two RAM slots (no soldered RAM), and a good maximum supported RAM. I’d go for 32 GB or more max supported RAM, since you might need to upgrade it in the future.

- Hard drive: SSDs are noticeably faster than standard HDDs. Absolutely go for an SSD. The trade-off is that they are pricier if you require more storage space. But translation does not call for massive HD space. And again, you can replace a hard drive on your own, so you can always buy a new one with more storage space if needed.

- Screen size/resolution: Pick a screen size you are comfortable working with for extended periods. And pick a screen resolution to take full advantage of it. For example, I would not go for less than a 15-inch laptop, and I’ve found that 1920 × 1080 is my current sweet spot, but I often wear glasses, which makes everything look smaller. You might be able to get away with a smaller screen size (probably not advisable, unless maximum portability is absolutely crucial to you) or take advantage of higher screen resolution (advisable and adjustable). At 1920 × 1080 or more, you can split your computer screen, to have two applications visible at the same time. It might not work for your CAT tools, but you can use it for everything else on your secondary virtual desktops. You do use virtual desktops, right?

Also, I prefer matte, not glossy displays. You get less fingerprints and less light reflections.

- Keyboard: Unless you intend to you use an external keyboard and/or speech recognition, the keyboard is one of the most crucial features (since you’ll be typing all the time!), plus it’s not upgradable. Whenever possible, go to a store and experience the keyboard in person. You can also check online for reviews on laptops which sport good keyboards.

- Processor: higher end (later generation) Intel Core i5/i7 or equivalent is fine. I wouldn’t go lower than that, CPU power is quite important.

- Battery autonomy: more autonomy is always nice, but this is not an essential factor. You can get by with less than impressive autonomy. Depending on your required portability, of course, so your mileage will vary.

- Graphics card: you don’t need anything too fancy, but a GPU with it’s own RAM is nice to have. An integrated graphics card is still OK.

- Trackpad: not that important, you will probably use a mouse anyway (I know I do).

- Other: ports for external monitors and devices, Wi-Fi card, etc.

[Edited at 2019-10-01 06:13 GMT]
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Josephine Cassar
Hans Lenting
Oksana Weiss
Kevin Clayton, PhD
ritatranslates
 

Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:51
Polish to English
+ ...
Display. Oct 1

"Especially, you can get away with less than a top graphics card (which matters most for gaming, video editing and the like). CAT tools aren’t the heaviest (nor the most lightweight) programs out there, I’d say they are in the middle-range."

Any CAT software only displays stationary fonts, numbers, other signs, and frames. So, it is as graphics/video-hungry as MS Office in its earliest times (like with Windows 3.11). Even a graphics/video card manufactured 25 years ago (like in
... See more
"Especially, you can get away with less than a top graphics card (which matters most for gaming, video editing and the like). CAT tools aren’t the heaviest (nor the most lightweight) programs out there, I’d say they are in the middle-range."

Any CAT software only displays stationary fonts, numbers, other signs, and frames. So, it is as graphics/video-hungry as MS Office in its earliest times (like with Windows 3.11). Even a graphics/video card manufactured 25 years ago (like in 1995) would do the job. Converted to what you can buy at present times: any video card installed in any computer is more than sufficient for translation needs.

Display size: my laptop computer display is standard 15.6". This is sufficient off-home but at home I work with a 22" monitor connected and used as the primary display, with the laptop being the secondary display (for the Internet browsing, viewing the original texts in PDF, etc.)

HTH
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ritatranslates
 

ritatranslates  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:51
Member (Sep 2019)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
very useful info Oct 6

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:
Specs to look:

- RAM: I would go for 12 GB/16 GB or more. RAM is an easy way to get better performance, especially when having several applications open (as translators tend to). It’s also quite cheap. Realize that you don’t need your laptop to actually have that much RAM installed when first bought. What is more important: look for two RAM slots (no soldered RAM), and a good maximum supported RAM. I’d go for 32 GB or more max supported RAM, since you might need to upgrade it in the future.

- Hard drive: SSDs are noticeably faster than standard HDDs. Absolutely go for an SSD. The trade-off is that they are pricier if you require more storage space. But translation does not call for massive HD space. And again, you can replace a hard drive on your own, so you can always buy a new one with more storage space if needed.

- Screen size/resolution: Pick a screen size you are comfortable working with for extended periods. And pick a screen resolution to take full advantage of it. For example, I would not go for less than a 15-inch laptop, and I’ve found that 1920 × 1080 is my current sweet spot, but I often wear glasses, which makes everything look smaller. You might be able to get away with a smaller screen size (probably not advisable, unless maximum portability is absolutely crucial to you) or take advantage of higher screen resolution (advisable and adjustable). At 1920 × 1080 or more, you can split your computer screen, to have two applications visible at the same time. It might not work for your CAT tools, but you can use it for everything else on your secondary virtual desktops. You do use virtual desktops, right?

Also, I prefer matte, not glossy displays. You get less fingerprints and less light reflections.

- Keyboard: Unless you intend to you use an external keyboard and/or speech recognition, the keyboard is one of the most crucial features (since you’ll be typing all the time!), plus it’s not upgradable. Whenever possible, go to a store and experience the keyboard in person. You can also check online for reviews on laptops which sport good keyboards.

- Processor: higher end (later generation) Intel Core i5/i7 or equivalent is fine. I wouldn’t go lower than that, CPU power is quite important.

- Battery autonomy: more autonomy is always nice, but this is not an essential factor. You can get by with less than impressive autonomy. Depending on your required portability, of course, so your mileage will vary.

- Graphics card: you don’t need anything too fancy, but a GPU with it’s own RAM is nice to have. An integrated graphics card is still OK.

- Trackpad: not that important, you will probably use a mouse anyway (I know I do).

- Other: ports for external monitors and devices, Wi-Fi card, etc.

[Edited at 2019-10-01 06:13 GMT]

Thank you for the very helpful details, Jean

I recently purchased an Intel i7 16GB RAM with SSD laptop and although it might be very capable it turned out to be quite heavy for me to carry. It's 3.4lbs. I know weight is YMMV. So now I'm thinking of returning the laptop and switching to a baseline Surface Pro 6. I envision the Surface to be able to connect to an external monitor at home and easy to drop in a bag for travel. However, I've never used one before and don't know if it'll run the CAT tools smoothly.


 

ritatranslates  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:51
Member (Sep 2019)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
External display Oct 6

Andrzej Mierzejewski wrote:

Display size: my laptop computer display is standard 15.6". This is sufficient off-home but at home I work with a 22" monitor connected and used as the primary display, with the laptop being the secondary display (for the Internet browsing, viewing the original texts in PDF, etc.)

HTH

Thank you, Andrzej.

When a small laptop is connected to a large external monitor, will the resolution on the external change? i.e. Will words become blurry/fuzzy because signal is transferred from a smaller device?

[Edited at 2019-10-06 19:53 GMT]


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:51
Member
English to French
+ ...
Surface Pro 6 // External display Oct 6

Users have reported comfortable translation experience (SDL Trados 2017) with previous Surface Pro versions. Specs seem appropriate.

https://www.proz.com/forum/hardware/311755-surface_pro_4_ist_it_possible_to_run_trados_2017_properly_on_a_surface_pro.html

With an external monitor, you can m
... See more
Users have reported comfortable translation experience (SDL Trados 2017) with previous Surface Pro versions. Specs seem appropriate.

https://www.proz.com/forum/hardware/311755-surface_pro_4_ist_it_possible_to_run_trados_2017_properly_on_a_surface_pro.html

With an external monitor, you can mirror (clone) the desktop, or extend it. Mirroring might not allow you to set multiple resolutions, but extending it will. You can also disable the internal monitor and use only the external one.

Adapters play a role in max resolution for external monitors, so you might need to check what you need based on the model and your requirements.
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ritatranslates  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:51
Member (Sep 2019)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jean Oct 6

Thanks for the pointer, Jean. Will try it out and see how it fairs.

 


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