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Need advise/help on 2 hardware purchases

I have two simple questions, however, before asking them I probably should provide some background info.

Background
My mother is buying an expensive EEG/Biofeedback machine for her business. This machine comes with software that runs on a PC. The company that is selling the EEG machine would also like to sell my mom a laptop (she doesn't own one) and a 17" flat screen color monitor (for dual output). Well, she thought the price of the laptop and monitor was little high and asked me if I could help her save a few bucks on the laptop and monitor purchase.

Here are the stats and prices the company quoted her:

* Laptop -- $1,995  2.8 GHz MMX, 512 MB RAM, 40 GB hard drive, 24X CD-ROM, 15" TFT XGA Active Matrix Color Screen, external simultaneous (800x600 16K) color output, 8 MB video SGRAM, 2 PC-MCIA 2 Type II, ........

* 17" flat screen color  monitor -- $695
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Question 1:  Is it worth the effort to shop around on the web for better prices or do the above prices seem reasonable to you?

Question 2:  What do I need in order to get 2 monitors (multiple display) working on a laptop?

I have never experienced a multi-monitor setup before (2 monitors displaying 2 different types of output ), however, I believe the way it works on a desktop PC is that you have to have two video cards installed on your machine.

Thanks ahead of time for any advise provided.

Bob
Saturday, August 14, 2004

both prices seem inflated and I think you'd need a specialized laptop to do dual screens.  It sounds like you're saying your laptop has simultaneous output to a second device?  Do you mean that it outputs a second desktop or that it outputs the same image to two devices?

Also, what's up with the external video only being capable of 800x600?  The ideal resolution for that 17" flat panel is probably 1280x1024, anything lower in that case would look blurry.

You should ALWAYS shop around.

muppet
Saturday, August 14, 2004

The laptop you quoted is ridiculously overpriced.  For example, $2,000 for an XGA laptop with 8MBs VRAM?  For less than that you could get a Dell Latitude with SXGA and 64 MBs VRAM.

Second, laptops don't work in dual monitor mode, at least not well.  For it to work well, you need a dual-head graphics card and two identical monitors set at the same res, placed close together and with a very thin bezel.

Definitely shop around.  They screwing her on the peripherals.  Does she even need a laptop?  A desktop with better capabilities would be half the price.

Justin Johnson
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Laptops can work in dual monitor mode, if the GPU can do it.  They usually have a monitor jack, and the card treats that as a second monitor.

However, it's incredibly disorienting if your second monitor isn't the same size and resolution as your first one.

Justin Johnson
Saturday, August 14, 2004

++
However, it's incredibly disorienting if your second monitor isn't the same size and resolution as your first one.++

This is subjective, but it is generally more aesthetically pleasing to have identical monitors in a multiple-head display.  My two 17" panels are a beautiful thing.

muppet
Saturday, August 14, 2004

> The laptop you quoted is ridiculously overpriced.
I second that.

You can drive a second display using some of the PC Cards coming on the market.

The only reason I can see why they are pushing such a machine on her is if they feel that's the only machine they are willing to vouch for:

1. They stock thousands of these guys in their warehouse and the model they quote has been engineered to pass some strenuous abuse testing. Like the Panasonic toughbooks. However, I doubt there are many companies out there besides Panasonic is putting out tough machines, and even if they do, they would be able to give you something at LEAST Pentium 3 class for the price range of USD$2000. What they showed you is just a little better than  Pentium 1 class.

2. They will null your equipment warantee if you don't buy their PC and PC support contracts. I have seen companies do this, it's for their sanity sake (this is great for tech support and your mother, because they know the machine inside and out) however, forcing you to pay that much means their accountant is on crack.


2.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Okay it looks like they aren't selling a Pentium 1, I am on crack, however its' still pretty pricy. Find out why they recommend it.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Question 1: Yes it's worth shopping around!
Question 2: As muppet says, it's not clear what you're trying to achieve with two monitors. Some laptops, such as IBM Thinkpads, can handle an external screen with a different resolution via a VGA connector on the back of the laptop. The external screen can show either the same or different image as the laptop screen. Not all laptops can do this. Bear in mind that the comments you get here concerning using dual monitors are biased towards the needs of programmers. Your mother's needs may be quite different.

Finally be wary of laptops that use fast desktop processors, like this one. They can be unreliable in the long term because of inadequate cooling.

_
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Wow! I didn't expect to see so many responses in such a short period of time.

You guys are right, I didn't make it clear what my mom is trying to achieve with the two monitor setup. The following is what she told me she will be doing: A patient watches something on the flat screen monitor such as a video or a bunch of pictures. Meanwhile, my mom will be sitting in front of a laptop looking at GUI screens that display the patient's physical responses to whatever they are watching or listening to (i.e. heart rate, brain wave patterns, etc.). The purpose of the machine is to help patients who are suffering from things such as chronic pain, stress, migraine headaches, etc.

My mom and three people who work under her recently attended a one week EEG Neurofeedback Certificate program. During their training they learned how to use the EEG machine she intends to buy. Btw, the company that provided the training also sells the EEG machine and the interface software that runs on a PC. The EEG machine is called ProComp Infiniti  http://www.stens-biofeedback.com/html/procomp_infinti.html

Regarding what the true "minimum system requirements" are here is what I found:

A 500 MHz Pentium, 256 MB RAM, sound card, 4 MB video card, high speed serial port, 10 GB hard disk space

Bob
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Hi Li-fan Chen,

The laptop they trying to sell her is a a Pentium 4.

I agree that I need to find out why they are recommending such a powerful laptop.

Bob
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Bob, a lot of laptops can do dual-monitor - just make sure you verify on the one you buy.

Philo

Philo
Saturday, August 14, 2004

>> an expensive EEG/Biofeedback machine for her business. This machine comes with software that runs on a PC.

So does this:

http://www.brainfingers.com/

Fair warning. I've used ("worn") this product, which demodulates and displays EEG, EMG and EOG. They should sell a bottle of Aleve and an icepack with every box.

This sector had a lot of hype about it years ago. I feel about it the way that most people feel about AI.

BTW: the "Brainfingers" device was intelligent, and streamed serial data out to the PC. It ran OK on Windows 95 and 133 mhz class Pentiums.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, August 14, 2004

> My two 17" panels are a beautiful thing

Your girlfriend's 36"ers are more beautiful, especially in the flesh.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

My 12"er is more beautiful, especially in the flesh.

Long Dong Jong
Sunday, August 15, 2004

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