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AV and Multimedia Related Thread, Perfect Computer for Light Control in Technical; Hi all, We use ShowMagic for our light control through a DMX-to-USB link, which suits us very well: the students ...
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    Perfect Computer for Light Control

    Hi all,

    We use ShowMagic for our light control through a DMX-to-USB link, which suits us very well: the students like it and find it easy to use and like the feel of it in the performances. A screenshot of a demo version is below:

    d.PNG

    Now, as you can see, this is suited for touch screens, however it is currently being used on a crappy old Toshiba laptop that our Business Manager got from a closed down school.

    Continuing with the back story, there seems to be a fault with either the DMX converter or laptop as sometimes 2 minutes before the performance starts lose control of the lights, whatever button we press does not change the settings of any of the lights, meaning we have to reset the whole system (takes around 5 minutes, which is 5 minutes too long when its 6:59 for a 7:00 performance)

    Anyways, to stop babbling on, we believe it's the laptop that is at fault, so we need a new one for the next performance (The BM said he would at the last performance for the one a few days ago, however didn't). We need a laptop (preferably touchscreen) that we can use for the lighting system and also for PowerPoints for use in assemblies, I have looked at the Latitude XT3 but not sure due to the high price tag. It's either that or I may be able to persuade the BM to buy a touch screen monitor and just use a desktop connected to it.

    Any suggestions will be appreciated!

    Tom

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    Steve21's Avatar
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    If you don't mind what laptop it is, any reason you aren't considering the cheaper dell models?

    Dell Inspiron 15R Laptop Details | Dell UK

    The Inspiron 15R starts from £569 (Inc VAT) for:

    •3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i3-3227U processor (3M Cache, 1.90 GHz)
    •Windows 8 64bit, English
    •15.6in High Definition (1366X768) WLED Touch Display
    •6GB1 DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz
    •500GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
    •8x DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
    •Intel® HD Graphics 4000
    •2.32 kg
    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    If you don't mind what laptop it is, any reason you aren't considering the cheaper dell models?

    Dell Inspiron 15R Laptop Details | Dell UK

    The Inspiron 15R starts from £569 (Inc VAT) for:



    Steve
    Thanks, I shall take this into consideration. I think the appeal of the XT3 came about when one of the students lent of the keyboard and things then blacked out, so with the keyboard turned around and out of the way it would get rid of the risk of such a thing happening.

    Tom

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    Does it have to be a laptop?

    Have you tried one of the other school desktops to see if its the issue first?

    Second hand Touch screen monitors tend to come up cheap on ebay under "Business > Cash Registers" (At least in Aus)

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCollins View Post
    It's either that or I may be able to persuade the BM to buy a touch screen monitor and just use a desktop connected to it.
    Desktop, or a 19" rackmount machine that you can slot in with your other 19" rackmount audio equipment in a flight case? LinITX sell 1U rackmount cases that you can put your own low-power motherboard in, one of those coupled with a touchscreen monitor might be just the thing. You can get rack-mountable monitors, intended for server room racks, but they tend to be rather over-priced. You could always just get a rackmount drawer to sit the monitor in.

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    @robk has an old HP TX Tablet that he uses for his DMX - USB System which is a good idea so you have the best of both the tablet and laptop

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    We use a basic ultra small form factor HP, and although we use Martin Lightjockey, as long as it has 4Gb ram, should handle anything fine. We've not tried a touchscreen yet, as these are expensive out here, but a simple set up like that should be fine.

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    At my previous school, we used the same software with a HP desktop and 19" touch screen fitting into a rack as it also linked into the sound system.

    Unfortunately I cannot remember the spec of the desktop and I cannot ask to find out as the school closed last august.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john View Post
    @robk has an old HP TX Tablet that he uses for his DMX - USB System which is a good idea so you have the best of both the tablet and laptop
    I was just listening to the Pc Pro review of the Acer Iconia W3 yesterday. At £330 online it might be just the thing for sticking in a slide-out rack drawer or even mounting in a pop-up sound desk flight case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCollins View Post
    Hi all,

    We use ShowMagic for our light control through a DMX-to-USB link, which suits us very well: the students like it and find it easy to use and like the feel of it in the performances. A screenshot of a demo version is below:

    d.PNG

    Now, as you can see, this is suited for touch screens, however it is currently being used on a crappy old Toshiba laptop that our Business Manager got from a closed down school.

    Continuing with the back story, there seems to be a fault with either the DMX converter or laptop as sometimes 2 minutes before the performance starts lose control of the lights, whatever button we press does not change the settings of any of the lights, meaning we have to reset the whole system (takes around 5 minutes, which is 5 minutes too long when its 6:59 for a 7:00 performance)

    Anyways, to stop babbling on, we believe it's the laptop that is at fault, so we need a new one for the next performance (The BM said he would at the last performance for the one a few days ago, however didn't). We need a laptop (preferably touchscreen) that we can use for the lighting system and also for PowerPoints for use in assemblies, I have looked at the Latitude XT3 but not sure due to the high price tag. It's either that or I may be able to persuade the BM to buy a touch screen monitor and just use a desktop connected to it.

    Any suggestions will be appreciated!

    Tom

    Hi, there are a number of new Samsung and Toshiba touch screen laptops available - would you like me to put together a quote and PM through? Obviously you'll want best value, but do you have budget in mind?

    Liz

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    Kevin at Showmagic is a really nice guy. He will tell you if there are any known issues with Showmagic running on a particular PCs with different versions of windows.
    He did mention something to me about Showmagic not liking some laptop sound chips. Don't know if sound is part of your shows. (its great for playing sound effects and bits of music in a performance)
    The Showmagic software is so well written that the spec of the PC is not that important. Spec only becomes an issue if you are using Showmagic for running video as well as lighting.
    I would go for any spec PC that's in a full size case, rather than a laptop if thats not too cumbersome. That way you can always upgrade the Showmagic to have multiple video outputs by adding a standard 'off the shelf' graphics card.
    You can also control equipment via RS232 by adding a Card, midi, media player remote and touch screens can all be added.
    Some smaller format cases won't take standard size cards
    I've not tried it yet but I believe Showmagic can now display powerpoint, so powerpoint slides can now be sequenced with lighting effects.

    Showmagic is brilliant, and for some uses the free version will do all you need.

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