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Seeking Alternatives

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Gadgets, Gizmos and Technology' started by SayWhat?, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    Primary device has always been a desktop PC with a notebook as a secondary device. I've never had a problem with running a desktop 24 hours a day. Recently, it seems like utility power rates are rising almost as fast as cable and satellite subscription rates. Now, running a 300 watt power supply constantly is becoming an issue even though it doesn't pull 300 watts all the time. Kill-a-watt tells me around 280 watts for the two UPSs that power the PC, 32"LCD TV, DVD player/audio unit and Dish 512.

    The Dish service will probably be going away in the next few weeks as I simply can't deal with their rates any more. I may leave the box connected for a while to see what if anything I can get without a subscription. There seem to be some conflicting opinions and experiences about that.

    Trying to cut back on power consumption by not keeping the PC running is where I'm stuck. What alternatives are there? I have no idea what a tablet does, but it doesn't look like it comes close to what I need. Same with a netbook and some of the other gadgets.

    I need LAN/web access, preferably wired. I also prefer a traditional keyboard and mouse, so I'd need USB ports to connect those. One port might be OK if the device could handle a HUB to connect the KB, mouse and an EHD. I also need a port for an external screen. The 12" and under screens won't get it. Memory is another thing. Most of the smaller devices are showing under 4Gb of RAM. I need capability for multiple programs and browser windows concurrently.

    I'm not finding anything under a notebook/laptop that appears to even come close to what I need.

    Am I missing any options?
     
  2. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    By tablets I assume you are thinking iOS (Apple) or Android (various)? They are primarily consumption devices and you'd be hard pressed to do any real 'normal' computer things with them.

    If you broaden that to include the Windows 8.1 tablets or 'transformers', then there are lots of choices with more on the way. The SurfacePro 2 can be ordered with more than 4Gb of RAM and a bigger SSD than previous models, and there are other brands out there with all sorts of configurations available. On the SurfacePro, the screen is 10" which is certainly a bit on the small side but it is crystal clear. It has a USB port and a Mini-Display port on it so you can connect peripherals to it in 'desktop' mode, which is what I do. Wired networking is either gone or disappearing in the laptop/tablet arena though.

    The smaller devices you are seeing with less than 4G RAM are generally non-intel iX chipsets and are really meant for very light work. Devices with i3, i5 and i7 chips are out there, and they have usually 4G of RAM as a base model, with some either offering upgraded versions or the ability to add/replace RAM. But as more and more ultra-lights come out, more and more solder on chips are becoming the norm.

    The beauty of the smaller/lighter units is they are mostly using SSD vice hard drives, so booting up isn't an issue as it happens so quickly.

    Just some food for thought...
     
  3. dmspen

    dmspen Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    New highly efficient PCs are starting to hit the market. Check out www.xi3.com. They won best PC innovation awards at CES this year. Nifty looking fast devices running on much less power than traditional PCs. I have a big honking PC (450 watt power supply) and I turn it off at night to save a few nickels.

    BTW, if you cancel your DISH subscription, your DISH box will basically be a brick.

    For many people, the biggest electricity use are lights. I'm considering dropping a few semolians on some LED bulbs since my family thinks every light needs to be on in the house.
     
  4. peds48

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    have you looked into a Mac Mini ? it does everything a desktop does and is very every efficient


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. klang

    klang Hall Of Fame

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    Why not shut the PC down when you aren't using it?
     
  6. CCarncross

    CCarncross Hall Of Fame

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    +100, you can have a very aggressive power saving scheme setup so that it virtually goes to sleep 1 minute after you are done with it....uses next to nothing then.
     
  7. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    I'm rarely not using it in one way or another. Monitor turns off after an hour or so and the HDD shuts off after an 20 minutes (I think). Sleep is 2 hours.
     
  8. dpeters11

    dpeters11 Hall Of Fame

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    How long would it take to recoup the costs of new hardware though? Especially when you're talking something like a Mac Mini, $600 takes a lot to recoup with power, unless of course that isn't the only reason to get one.
     
  9. peds48

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    perhaps because we all want "instant gratification"? I never turn off my Mac even though is boot up time is way shorter than my Windows machines in used to have


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  10. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Just as there's only one real way to lower your satellite or cable subscription costs, there's only one practical way to lower your power consumption.

    Trimming the sleep intervals would be a big win. Sleeping (NOT hybernating) the computer is something that only takes a short time to recover from. I found that if I tap a key before I sit down to the computer, it is ready to go by the time I get my eyeglasses on and get comfortable.

    The other side of the equation is that you may be a computer junkie. This is worse than being a news, weather or sports junkie because you have to be rotting at your computer to do it. ;)
     
  11. inkahauts

    inkahauts DIRECTV A-Team

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    try screen saver in 10 mins, monitor in 15 mins, and cpu sleep in 30 mins. That will save a ton, and assuming you have a good computer, power back up time is very very fast. Mine is under 10 seconds.

    Honestly, if you can afford to buy them, solar panels is the only way to avoid the screw you power companies...In california rates are goign up another 18% over the next few years. Nothing is goign to slow this down but to get your own power.

    Also, how many dvrs do you have? dvrs really kill you because they just help push you into the next their faster if you have many of them.

    Also, what light bulbs do you have? Its amazing what happens if you change all you light bulbs form incandescent to led or even cfl. Especially ones in bathrooms and kitchens. Assuming you have a tiered system like we do in los angeles every little bit off the top helps a ton with the overall price.Leaving things like accent lights in the kitchen off, and also not having security lights on outside all the time help big time too.



    To your original question... tablets are meant for consumption more than production IMHO, so if you are looking for a way to simply read stuff, a tablet is great, and you don't need things like keyboards and external monitors. If that could eliminate half the time you are on your computer or so, then maybe a tablet is a good idea for you, if not then there's no point. Although with siri or similar google now, you can type by talking in most if not all aps on a tablet, which also helps. Apps do make things much easier to read vs web sites too by streamlining the GUI and such.
     
  12. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    1 512 DVR which may be going away soon.

    Only use a few lights and they're all either CFL or very low wattage (25 W or less) incandescents.

    Solar on a whole house scale isn't affordable, but I'm doing some things with 12V landscape type LEDs inside the house fed by a 35Ah battery charged with a small solar panel. Considering going to a larger panel and a second battery ganged.

    Other than the HTPC/TV, the biggest users are the refrigerator, freezer, water heater and window AC and I can't do much about those.

    I'm thinking about switching to the laptop for primary use. It has both a VGA and HDMI output so I can feed a monitor and the TV, then use a wireless mouse and KB.
     
  13. satcrazy

    satcrazy Icon

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    I have 2 low wattage cfl's on timers for security. Outside security light is also cfl, any ambient lighting is cfl. Only task lighting is incandescent. I will be looking at led next. I'm pretty good about shutting off lights when not in use.

    My puter has a solid state hard drive, and they boot super fast. So I shut it down when I'm done. [ or think I am, lol ]

    Do you live far from a store, is that why you have a separate freezer? They are notorious energy users.

    I'm guilty of letting the tv run while on the pc, or doing something else. I really need to break that habit, although the tv is set to shut off after 3 hours.

    Looks like you are doing what you can to conserve tho.
     
  14. inkahauts

    inkahauts DIRECTV A-Team

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    Is it just a window ac? I know a lot of people now install just a couple of panels to take care of their ac needs.

    Solar is a lot cheaper than it used to be but you have to shop around. And if course your budget matters too. Buying them can pay back in about six to seven years now. I'm going to start a post in a couple weeks about it as my folks (me doing most the research etc for them) are having it installed at their home now. It's been an interesting process or them to say the least.

    Laptop route sounds good. Hold
    Old are your appliances? More than ten years?
     
  15. houskamp

    houskamp New Member

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    if the pc is older (esp if it's a p4) any newer one will save a ton.. my old server was a p4, pulled 100w actual 24/7.. replaced it with an i3 and it now runs 45w..

    all the new I series chips are drastically better on energy use..
     
  16. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    I'm going to mention my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 thread.

    My wife and I now have five months experience with the setup I describe there and it does save power. One thing about our Surface Pro 2's running Windows 8.1 is that they boot very fast so we shut them down much more than we used to.

    As I note, the setup we use is just like any Windows computer. Yes, there are some differences between Windows 8.1 and prior versions, but once you set it up to boot to desktop and setup your desktop pretty much the way you always have, you forget the fact that no fans are blowing, no drives are running, and the room is cooler. And you don't have to have it on a battery backup as the battery is built in because it is a very usable tablet. The power supply is 48W but certainly when you are not using it you can unplug it.

    With all that said, the base model with 128GB of what is a built in solid state C: Drive is $999 at the Microsoft store whether online or in one of the stores. I couldn't risk going that low for a C: Drive so we bought the 256 GB versions which kicked the price up to $1,299. Of course that kicks the operating RAM from 4 GB to 8 GB. It turns out that to date I've used 89 GB of the C: Drive and all the old data I thought I'd put on the C: drive is still on the external hard drive which doesn't have to be plugged in except when I need it. And they do throw in 200GB of Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage for free for two years.

    That's a lot of money to spend to save a few bucks in electricity.

    So let me tell you about how I use it, other than it being my desktop computer that runs any software I use that runs in Windows (which is a heck of a variety of software, most not Microsoft). It does everything I did with my iPad which mostly is reading Amazon Kindle Books and, when I have a wifi connection, browsing. What it does that an iPad can't is view web sites that use flash and Java. And it allows me to get my email using exactly the same mail program I always use putting the email into exactly the same folders I use all the time because it is my desktop computer. And when I want to stream video from the web, it becomes my streaming device that I can plug it into the HDMI Port on my "home theater" system or bedroom TV providing access to anything on the web (yes, including iTunes) with full HD 1080p. I don't need to buy a streaming video box like a Roku.

    With the "type cover" it works adequately as a laptop. I'm still waiting for the "power cover" which was to be a keyboard with a battery. That has become vaporware. Not that battery life is a problem, it seems to be typical for a tablet which is better than a normal laptop.

    I've never understood why Microsoft doesn't promote this product more. I guess it competes with other hardware manufacturers that have been the bread-and-butter for the Windows OS for a couple of decades.
     
  17. billsharpe

    billsharpe Hall Of Fame

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    I have an HP Pavilion desktop running Win 8.1. Keyboard has a sleep key, which puts the computer to sleep and turns off the monitor as soon as I touch the key. Tapping the console power button brings the computer back on in a couple of seconds.

    I do turn off the computer at least once a week. It starts up again in less than a minute.

    Tablets are nice and portable but not really suited for any long-term typing or working with spreadsheets.
     
  18. CCarncross

    CCarncross Hall Of Fame

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    my windows pc boots from completely off in 18 seconds, if thats not instant gratification enough, there is probably a bigger issue at play here.....
     
  19. houskamp

    houskamp New Member

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    I bought an i7 laptop last year.. cold boot wasn't real fast.. then I put an intel 520 SSD in it.. now its less than 10 secs.. and that's to actually opening programs..
    The difference was unbelievable..
    and of course sleep to live is near instant..
     
  20. satcrazy

    satcrazy Icon

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    Great...
    https://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?DwnldID=18455

    If you don't have this cool tool installed, you should. It keeps your SSD healthy. The company that built my pc installed it before I picked it up, they recommended using it at least once a month. It is Intel software so don't worry :righton:

    Oh yeah, it's simple to run, never even hiccupped on me.,

    My SSd rocks! It is my primary HD with a standard HD as secondary.
     

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