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Got a laptop? Wondering why you can't get enough tracks?

If you have a laptop or notebook computer, you might wonder why you don't get as many tracks as your friend with his desktop. Could it be something to do with the internal hard drive?

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There is no doubt there is something seductive about laptop computers. Where desktop computers have become generic, almost commodity devices - and they are all ugly - there are so many smooth, sleek and almost sexy laptops that they just fall off dealers' shelves.

So it is the most natural thing in the world to want to use a laptop for music. But there are limitations. The first thing you will notice about a laptop is that it is sluggish in comparison with a seemingly similarly specified desktop

The reason for this is that laptops have to manage their power very carefully. They do this in all kinds of ways, shaving a milliwatt here, a milliwatt there. The end result is that laptops can manage really surprisingly good battery life, but sluggish they are without doubt.

Where this will affect audio recording most is in the speed of the hard disk. A laptop drive is smaller than a desktop drive, and most importantly rotates at a lower speed.

A typical desktop drive has a rotational speed of 7200 revolutions per minute. This allows fast access to the data, which in turn leads to lots of tracks being available in your recording software. A laptop drive in comparison may rotate at a speed as low as 4200 rpm, which is a significant difference. The data just does not flow as fast, therefore your software will achieve fewer tracks.

At the other end of the scale are disks that rotate at up to 15,000 rpm, which really will give you plenty of tracks. But they won't fit in your laptop.

The solution for laptop owners is to use an external FireWire enclosure, into which you can insert any ATA drive you like, or a pre-assembled FireWire drive such as the Glyph NetDrives model.

By the way - the new Mac mini contains a laptop drive - just thought you'd like to know.

By David Mellor Monday January 23, 2006
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