"Fake" laptops?

Hi Lovely Dopers, I am hoping you can help me with a computer question. :slight_smile: Apologies if this comes across as a bit of a dumb question - when it comes to hardware I am pretty ignorant.

I have a kickass pc tower that does everything that I need it to. I do a lot of freelancing and I find the PC quite restricting - our house is so small that the only place I can put it is facing away from the main living room. We were considering buying a laptop so that I can at least have a semblance of “being with the family” while working, as my current laptop cannot run what I need it to, but alas, finances aren’t able to stretch that far right now.

I am wondering if anyone has ever heard of a portable set up (ie. monitor, keyboard and mouse - I guess laptop-like) that you can connect to your tower either by cable or wireless? I have googled around a bit and come up with nada…

thanks :slight_smile:

What you want is something called a “thin client”, but I’m not sure that anything exactly like you want exists. Most thin clients are served off of mainframes, not desktop PCs.

We have thin clients at work, and for every eleven of them there’s a real pc. We were told they kept those pcs to make the thin clients work, but it wouldn’t be the first time IT has lied to us if it’s not true.

Laptop connected to tower via PC Anywhere. You run the apps from the tower remotely with your laptop. All your laptop would run is PC Anywhere and display the results from the tower running the apps.

Yeah that’s what I thought initially too - until someone pointed out that my laptop doesn’t have the grunt and graphics card to run what I want to do - and if it did. I’m so uneducated when it comes to stuff like this. :frowning:

PCAnywhere costs $$.

Try http://www.logmein.com

There’s a free version.

I’m using logmein Pro to work remotely and love it love it love it! The Pro version allows you to drag/drop files from the PC to the laptop seamlessly. Other than that, the free version works very very well.

It is not very clear from your post what your space issue is,or where you hope to set up the laptop you are talking about, but perhaps it is worth pointing out that you do not have to sitting right by your CPU to use it. Wireless keyboards and mice are cheap (though the mice tend to eat a lot of batteries) and work well. Their range isn’t huge, but it doesn’t sound as if you are hoping to move very far away from your CPU, and you coul dexperiment a bit with where you place the little radio that communicates between your computer and your wireless devices (and maybe get an extension USB cable for it, if necessary).

The monitor might be more of a problem (I don’t think they make wireless ones, though I am not certain), but perhaps you could get by a small flat screen monitor with a long cable. A setup like that should be a lot cheaper than a whole new laptop.

You are completely right! I want to sit less than 10 foot from my tower! At the same time, I am hoping not to make my family trip over cables, etc. I just want to sit “with” but not “apart” from my family. I’m about to undertake large freelance project that will enable me to buy a laptop that willdo what I need it to do.

Until then, if I could find a way to “have” without having one (ie. using my computer via a kind of laptop interface) it would greatly enhance the quality of my at home life.

Thank you for explaining clearly for me :slight_smile:

Actually, they do: http://www.google.com/products?q=wireless+VGA&ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&sa=X&oi=product_result_group&resnum=1&ct=title

I can’t be the only person who read the title of this thread and thought P-P-P-Powerbook. :smiley:

There was a trend for wireless remote access to a PC for a while, but none really took off - it actually takes a fair amount of bandwidth to move video data from one device to another - which is why video cables are generally quite big and have to be fairly short.

You don’t define what sort of freelance work you do - this will impact how you approach what you need to look at.

The cheapest approach would be get a low cost netbook (Asus EEE 1001, Acer One, etc), and run a VNC server (free, and is like PCAnywhere/LogMeIn/etc) on your PC tower. Then you can remote control your PC from the notebook. The notebook has limited performance, but has enough to display screen data from your PC tower (as well as running a browser/email/some word processing). However, the notebook does have a small screen, and the VNC/PCAnywhere approach is not suitable for intensive graphics/video/illustration work.

A full sized laptop will give you more screen area to work with, plus more local capabilities if you want to shift your workload from the PC to the laptop. You can get a fairly powerful dual-core laptop for not too much money these days.

The really expensive option is a full power portable desktop - a 17+" laptop with dual/quad core processor and multiple hard drives. You will need a small table for one of these - they weigh a ton and don’t qualify as a laptop.


Remote Desktop is built right in to Windows.

If you’re less than 10 feet away, get a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and get an extension cable for your monitor, which you can run along the wall. If you need to cross a doorway, you can get a little rubber mat or cable cover, or even tape it down with duct tape to avoid tripping over the cable. As you say, this is a short term solution until you can get a suitable laptop, but it should work well until then.

What he said. Though I’d also recommend pricing things out for the wireless mouse/keyboard versus a used laptop.
Unless you’re doing video editing or some other super-intensive-computing, even a two or three- year old laptop should do find for most computer tasks (writing, surfing, most programming, basic image editing), and you should be able to find a used one for a couple hundred bucks max, quite likely less.

I’d nix the netbook idea if you want to do intensive slaving over a keyboard – I have an MSI Wind and love it to bits but it really doesn’t do great things for my carpal issues. :frowning: So extended activity on the netbook is out for me. I will also note that the screen real estate on a netbook is tiny and an odd size as well if you’re used to regular CRT and LCD desktop monitors. (Something like 1024x600 on my Wind)

I’d go with FatBaldGuy’s idea or with the used laptop + remote in. You don’t need a lot of oomph to use Remote Desktop but there will definitely be lag involved either way. (I have a fairly new laptop that I use to remote into my work machines pretty regularly and still hit lag/slow render issues due to bandwidth)