# tech computer

#### control

##### Member
hey im going tho college and studying technical theater and as a student i need a computer. i plan on building my own so i can get what i need and what i want or go the money rought and by a nice laptop

i would like to gear this new computer to technical theater but want to now what type of hardwear i need ot include for sound recording and editing light control and designing. and of course school work

but so far here is what i think i need
cd/dvd burner and drive
cd drive

good graphics card so i can do cad and lighting designs aswell as run two monitors

and a good sound card that allow midi

so if you guys have any thing that i should add to my new computer just say so

#### Footer

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
i would higly sudgest going for the laptop FIRST and getting a desktop later.... as far as hardware goes get one with a decent hard drive and dvd burning would be a plus if you can get it.... have plenty of USB ports and good battery life... also dont get one that is huge, i.e. alienware... you are going to be filing them up with mice, jumpdrives, and a number pad, dongles, and others things... video card should be decent but doesnt have to be amazing... CAD contrary to popular belief does not need a huge video card enless you are doing a ton of 3d stuff and everything has a texture... i have a dell d600 and it does anything i want seamlessly in vectorworks and it has a 2 year graphics card... and the audio thing... having a computer that is capable of recording and editing is fine...all it take is a good sound card.. but if you are going to build a desktop (which is the cheapest way to get a decent audio computer) do you want to drag it to whatever space you are working in?... most laptops have resonable sound cards in them that can at least be used for editing cues.... or you could add on an mbox or something like that.... and the lighting contoller thing.... you dont need your computer to be a dmx controller.... if you do this you will have to leave your computer in the space even though you might not (most likely you wont) be running the console for the show... your computer should only be used to do cad and paperwork in the theatre, not be a controller

#### soundlight

##### Well-Known Member

Also, make sure to get the longest warranty available, WITH accidental damage coverage. If you don't do this, you may very well end up having to buy another computer because you accidentally mess up the one that you get. The warranty should be included in the price these days, as the reason that computer prices are going down (one of the reasons) is that companies are using cheaper components. So get the nice four-year extended warranty w/accidental damage coverage.

Also look at the refubished section. I got my laptop from the refurbished section (FROM THE MANUFACTURER), and it works like a new one. The refurbished models are the ones that people ordered and then didn't want, so they can't sell them for the full price. It's just about exactly like buying a new computer, except for the price, where you can save a huge amount of money.

Also, get XP Pro. Don't go home edition. And get Office '03 with all the goodies.

If you really want to pursue the audio recording deal, get one of the small two-mic/line interfaces from PRESONUS. These should fit in your bag.

Hope this helps,

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#### gafftaper

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
Got to agree with the Laptop as the way to go. While you can get more for your money with the desktop, portability is very important especially in college. As far as hardware, the good news is tech software doesn't require much. You don't need a heavy duty video or sound card. The only exception would be if you wanted to go heavy into audio, in which case you need the desktop and a ton of other stuff. In general however, you probably don't want to pay to have your own digital sound recording studio... that should come out of the wallet of whatever theater you are working for. I would focus on just a good all around laptop and spend your money on software. Getting a refurbished laptop is a great way to go. The laptop companies have lease agreements with major corporations. After a year or so, or if they break down, they return them and the manufacturers refurbish and resell them. Dell used to resell them on E-bay… I don’t know if they still do, check their website first. It sounds like HP sells them direct from their website. When I got my refurbished Dell 600 mhz w/ DVD ROM for about $400 about 3 years ago… it still works great and that still isn’t that bad of a price. I had to spend$60 on a new battery right away but other than that it’s been great. Be sure to check in with your college bookstore about student pricing on Windows and Office. Often there is a special deal available on campus somewhere (If you live in Seattle like me you just get your friend who works at Microsoft to hook you up… XP Pro $40). Light and set design software is expensive stuff... but doesn't require a lot from your system to run, you aren't 3D rendering. As for what to buy you'll have to shop around and decide for yourself. There are ton's of cheap freeware/shareware sound editing options out there to play with. If you want to run sound cues from your computer check out http://www.soundcuesystem.com I haven't used it but I've heard good things about it and it starts at only$40.

When it comes to editing light cues, that will depend on what type of light board your theater owns, however most current light boards have an offline cue editor you can run form your laptop. I've heard that some of the ETC software will not run in XP so you may have to set your laptop up for a dual boot system with Win95 to run their software. Apparently rather than upgrade their offline software, ETC is going to release a new line of light boards instead.

#### soundlight

##### Well-Known Member
ETC's Express software runs on XP, because I've got it on this computer right now, and it works. But I don't know about the Obsession stuff, or if it even has an offline editor.

#### gafftaper

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
Just checked ETC's site. Aparently it's the old version of the Obsession software that won't work on XP. They have recently posted an updated version that will work, so ignore that part of my previous post.

#### PhantomD

##### ♂
I call bullsh*t. ANYTHING that works on 9x will work on XP with the appropriate compatibility settings set. It sometimes takes a bit of tinkering though.

Definitely go for a laptop if you can afford the extra - I'd actually recommend a Toshiba much more than a HP.

#### Footer

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
and then there is strand that doesnt run on crap w/o alot of tinkering

#### PhantomD

##### ♂
Footer4321 said:
and then there is strand that doesnt run on crap w/o alot of tinkering
LOL! That is so true!

#### SteveB

##### Well-Known Member
PhantomD said:
I call bullsh*t. ANYTHING that works on 9x will work on XP with the appropriate compatibility settings set. It sometimes takes a bit of tinkering though.

This not true.

There are lot's of programs that run on DOS only (early Obsession Off-Line, ETC Edit, Trackmaster, etc..) and run in a DOS window within Windows 95/98 or ME but cannot be used on an XP machine as XP has no DOS in the core. You can get 3rd party software to run these programs, such as Virtual PC that is clunkier then running in a DOS window. FWIW, ETC has most every one of the console series available for Win XP - Obsession, Emphasis, Express/ion, Smartfade. The only legacy DOS software is ETC Edit, for the Expression/Insight 1 series and Vision/Microvision consoles.

That said, I too would recommend a laptop. I would also recommend a Win XP Pro unit, and I'm very fond of my HP unit with the 17" screen, especially for CAD work. I'v had 2-1/2 years now with no problems.

SB

#### AVGuyAndy

##### Active Member
Well, I could not disagree with your post any more!

HP/Compaq Sucks. Big time. Their "customer service" is god awful, and their laptops are poorly constructed peices of junk. I used to own one. I now have a Dell, and it has so far served me well.

Don't bother with the extended warranty. HP will just try to screw you and make you pay dearly even if you have a warranty. They claimed I spilled something into mine, and even emailed me (fake) pictures of my system board. I say fake because my board did not have the damage shown in the pictures.

XP Home works just fine. The only real diiference between Home and Pro is remote access, which you don't need.

As for office you really only need Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, so I would not reccomend getting the full package.

And the Presonus interfaces are too expensive. You can get the same thing from M-Audio for less, with the same quality.

#### SteveB

##### Well-Known Member
Andy

Be careful with blanket statements such as your's that "HP/Compaq Sucks. Big time. Their "customer service" is god awful, and their laptops are poorly constructed pieces of junk. I used to own one. I now have a Dell, and it has so far served me well".

Folks tend to jump all over you with comments about how your one particular experience does not indicate that every HP laptop ever made is a POS, or that Dell is the cats meow.

My experience with a HP 7010 laptop mirrors yours with the Dell, terrific value, very reliable, a workhorse. I use mine in a very busy performing arts center as a desktop replacement. I wanted an IBM or Dell, but neither offered a 17" screen, which is a very good thing to have when doing CAD work. In fact the only 17" unit at the time outside of a Mac, was a Toshiba, which at the time had a poor reliabilty rating compared to the HP. The HP has actually exceeded my expectations and a quick web search yielded this: https://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,123409,pg,9,00.asp about laptops/notebooks in general.

One thing I've learned about computers in 10 years of having them in the home and 25 years of use at work is that such ratings are very rough and never seem to reflect actual usage. My first home computer was a Gateway, who's reputation at the time was as the most reliable with the best cucsomer support. My unit had 9 terrible months of problem (registry errors) with countless calls (3-5 times a week) to service. I had to threaten legal action to get them to send me a new and DIFFERENT computer, which they eventually did. After that I never purchased another Gateway. My experience with HP, on the other hand is that I have never had to call tech support. I was so happy with the reliability of the laptop that I purchased a desktop for the home 2 years ago, which also has run fine.

As to XP Home vs. Pro ?. It's a tough call. XP Pro does offer better network support and usage and is required for certain functions, such as accessing ETC Net2 systems, CEM Plus On-Line and remote console in Emphasis. These may well not be something most folks need, but if the computer comes with XP Pro, take it. It may well be that you can get more features on a machine with XP Home - more USB Posts ?, a DVD burner ?, who knows, and that may have more value. But if it's apples to apples and one machine has XP Pro, then that's a better choice.