Outside Laptops Revisited

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As the good weather takes hold in the northern hemisphere, more and more of us think of hauling the laptop computer out to the park or the back yard to do some billable work in a natural setting. What could be better than tanning while you work? Well, one thing: being able to actually see what you’re doing.

We took a look at this subject last summer, and our advice there is still a good start: work under an awning or umbrella, wear a cap with a brim to keep your eyes in shadow, and take a lot of breaks. But I’ve also collected a few more suggestions in the intervening year.Some people find it easier to read the screen in bright sunlight if you switch from dark text on a light background to light text on a dark background. On OS X, you can use ctrl-opt-command-8 to quickly invert the screen, or try Nocturne to selectively invert, tint, or make the screen monochrome. On Windows, you can use the Magnifier utility to invert the colors in the magnified area, or switch to one of the high accessibility color schemes.

If you have enough money, you could invest in a ruggedized notebook like the GETAC B300, whose screen is something like 10 times as bright as that on your pokey old laptop. But you’re looking at $4000 or more for such a notebook, which is more than most of us will spend just to soak up some rays.

Another place to look is in light shields made for professional photographers. These include the Lastolite EzyView and the more affordable laptop hoods from Hoodman (who also make similar hoods for everything from full-size monitors to the tiny screen on your digital camera. For about $40 you can get yourself set up with a collapsing fabric shield that will keep sunlight out and also give you a bit of privacy.

Overall, the state of the art in summer laptops hasn’t advanced much over a year. I may decide to invest in a Hoodman – or I might just enjoy my yard without working. How about you?

2 Comments

Anonymoose

Dell’s new semi-rugged ATG series has fairly bright screens… in the $2K range.

Or find a model with a transflective screen for true outdoor, in the sun, usability.

Jim Wolff

really like that invert screen feature on OS X – one of those hidden beauties I’d never have stumbled across myself. Now I just need some sun in Scotland to test it out (cld be waiting some time)

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