I’m Ignat, 35 years old professional photographer (news/official/portraiture/architecture… whatever), DTP (printed stuff designer, from leaflets to art albums), TV cameraman, translator and writer; from Moscow, Russia. And a PC user with 25 years of experience. Here I’ll try to describe my vision of a proper laptop for work on the go.
I’m tired of Mockbooks, i.e., the futile attempts of other manufacturers to make their laptops as successful as MacBooks mocking their look and feel. The results are dreadful: keyboards are totally unsuitable for productive creative work, especially with large texts. Gluttonous displays, good for watching movies, but bad for everything else, including making movies. Few ports, some of which are next to useless. Little external ports, sometimes it’s only 2 USBs, one of them still 2.0.
My current laptop, a 2013 Toshiba KIRA 13, is almost as good as it may be in such conditions.
It is reasonably lightweight (1,5 kilos with power supply). It has three USB 3.0 ports (one of them always powered), one HDMI out, all six “editorial” keys (home, end, page up, page down, insert, delete, and even dedicated print screen key). No Scroll Lock, but no love lost here, for the 25 years of my UX I never used it.
It has backspace key, full set of F-keys and is even backlit. At the same time, it doesn’t have any kind of numpad whatsoever, even as Fn+NumLock combination (no NumLock key). Not that I need a numpad itself that bad, I need the capability it offers, meaning the input of whatever special characters and symbols, which in Windows is sometimes the only way to input them, aside from tedious copying them from the Character Map application. Currently I have almost all what I need with Ilya Birman’s Typography Layout (available both for Windows and Macs), and I even hard-engraved all the special symbols it contains, which worked out perfectly, they are even backlit.
It doesn’t have onboard Ethernet connector. I’m living with this using external USB to Ethernet dongle, but that is good only until I need all three USB ports… which happens.
Now, the display. I currently have 2560×1440 thirteen inch 16:9 display with multitouch capability, which is really nice overall, but suffers from color shifts under indirect viewing angles and has problems with color rendition even after hardware calibration (it isn’t IPS of any kind). Also, the 2K resolution on 13 inches is a bit more than it is good, unless and until all the graphics, videos and applications are adapted to Hi-DPI, which will happen as soon as never. And, yes, it is 16:9, which is good for watching videos of this proportions, but nothing much more for. Except that movies are either FullHD or 4K/UHD, as the 2K format didn’t find practical application in the industry for a number of reasons.
Specifications look like an older MacBook Air 13. The CPU is hard-soldered and cannot be replaced. RAM is hard-soldered and non-extendable. 8 gigabytes of it is still enough and, hopefully, that will last, but Core i5-3337U is not the best in show when it comes to processing large number of RAW photographs or encoding a FullHD video longer than 5 minutes with color correction and special effects, or 10 minutes without that and little fast motion. So I guess I need more powerful CPU… or better optimized software. Storage is 256 Gb mSATA SSD, replacement is possible. Battery is hard-wired and non-user-replaceable… but users are different, I can replace it. There is a cooler, which originally is faulty, but I managed to replace it with a Chinese clone, which is better than was the original by Panasonic. It has USB 2.0 SDXC-capable card reader, which only problem is that it is USB 2.0 and not 3.0/3.1/PCI-E.
Now, how I see my possible future laptop.
I’m happy with this keyboard even at present, although I’d like a numpad, even combined with a touchpad or Fn-keyed.
Most professional software in my areas of interest is produced by Adobe, and these guys still use a lot of vertical stuff in their interfaces. So, I’ll be happy with 1920×1440 resolution of the same 13 inch diagonal display. I need veritable color reproduction in the field, so display should be an LED-backlit IPS, bright and with adjustments for brightness and contrast more extensive than any OS or calibration software offer.
Since I’m not always producing stuff, but consume it as well, the display should be flippable. Here it is not (on a rival model from Lenovo, Yoga 2 it is, but there the resolution is even higher).
I like my laptop thin and lightweight (aluminum and plastic), but will like it no less if it will be seven millimeters thicker and 300 grams heavier with the benefit of more capacious battery (which should be easily interchangeable to carry spares when I need them), better display, an Ethernet port, another USB port (3.0/3.1 or C), fingerprint ID sensor, rear camera, 4G cellular modem and, ideally, an HDMI input with FullHD/60p capability for video capture and broadcasting in the field. Oh, yes, and no less than 9 hours of real battery life under top load with 100% brightness, 95% CPU usage, all wireless enabled and actively working under Windows 10.
So, dear developers, can my dream be made true for under US$1500?