Top 5 Laptops for Displaying the Color Gamut

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Markzware noticed some reviews on equipment for showing the color gamut. FlightCheck, the patented preflight software from Markzware, is famous for its ability to preflight color, amongst hundreds of other potential preflight issues, before printing documents. We all know that FlightCheck can preflight color, but what is the best portable PC monitor for this? An article was written for us:

It used to be that if you wanted to use a laptop, you had to accept the fact that the color quality would be mediocre at best – fine perhaps for the general user, but sigh inducing for the painstaking designer. Even after years of improvement in LCD technology, if you wanted to see the most vibrant colors you were creating… then you needed to buy yourself an external CRT monitor. Slowly, however, technology has continued to improve, and in the last few months mainstream LCD technology has finally caught up with the needs of meticulous designers.

If you don’t know what a color gamut is, read on – if you do, skip this paragraph. The color gamut is essentially the visible color spectrum… Older LCD screens use CCFL technology to provide a back-light, and this light is insufficient for…much of the desirable color gamut. This is a problem because a viewer on a superior monitor (such as CRT) will have access to colors in your image which are there, but which you simply can’t see, and this creates discrepancies between what you wanted them to see and what they actually do see.  The same is true of printers which can capture a wider gamut than your screen can [show]. More recent monitors are LED backlit, and while at first this was only an incremental improvement, in recent months laptops have come out that can actually exceed 100% of the NTSC color gamut. This makes it possible to see all…you’re working with and allows an artist to more accurately control how their image will appear to others.

In short, gone are the days of laptops which displayed a measly 40 or so percent of the color gamut. Without further adieu, we present to you the top five laptops (all recently released) for displaying the full color gamut.

5.  Lenovo W700 – 72% Gamut
Lenovo W700 ThinkPad mobile workstation for graphics applications
Most wide gamut laptops are pretty big workstations designed to handle the needs of modern designers, and the W700 is no exception.  Weighing in at 8.3lbs and touting a 17.1” 1920×1200 resolution, this laptop fits right in with the bigger laptops on the market today, but if you can believe it is actually a shade lighter than some of the units we’ll be mentioning below. The W700 can come packed with the new Intel Extreme Quad-Core processors along with up to 8GB of ram, a 1GB GPU, and nearly 1TB of HDD space.  More importantly for the sake of this article, however, the Lenovo W700 can also [show] up to 72% of the color gamut, which is more than 50% more than your average LCD screen.  Although the fact that 72% isn’t 100% has stuck it out here at #5, it should be noted for designers that this machine comes with an integrated Wacom digitizer and color calibrator.  It should also be noted that fully decked out, this baby can cost over $5000 (with a base price of about $3000).

4.  Acer Aspire 8920G – 90% Gamut
Acer Aspire 8920, 90% Color Gamut
With an LCD measuring 18.4” and hitting 9lbs on the scales, the 8920G ranks highly among the biggest laptops out there. It comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (either the 2.0 GHz T5750 or the 2.6GHz T9500), up to 4GB of RAM, a 512MB GPU and as much as 320GB HDD space.  The resolution is an HD ready 1920×1080.  Although this laptop is missing a number of the features that come with the W700, it does boast the ability to [reveal] 18% more of the color gamut.  Another thing you’ll find missing is the hefty price tag – although it’s not cheap, compared to the Lenovo a cost of $2200-$2500 seems like pocket change.

3.  HP EliteBook 8730w – 16 million colors (96% gamut)
HP EliteBook 8730W Laptop with 16 million colors (96% gamut)
The EliteBook 8730w uses HP’s DreamColor technology to display its 17” 1920×1200 LCD.  DreamColor is the result of cooperation between HP and Dreamworks Animation, and more selectively back-lights the LCD than most standard displays.  HP didn’t give their display quality in terms of the percentage of the gamut, but their press release did say the Elitebook’s DreamColor LCD could display over 16 million [hues]. The Adobe RGB color gamut has approximately 16.7 million colors in it, and after doing a little math we’re given a 96% gamut representation. Not bad at all. The 8730w can potentially come with high end features such as the Intel Extreme Quad-Core processor, up to 8GB of RAM and up to a 1GB GPU, but if you want all the bells and whistles it’s going to cost you.

2.  Dell Precision M6400 – 100% Gamut
Dell Precision M6300 Laptop, 100% Gamut
We break triple digits in color representation for the first time with the M6400. This 8.5lb unit with its 17” 1920×1200 LCD is clearly a computer for the high powered designer. The optimal M6400 comes packed with Intel’s Core 2 Quad QX9300 Extreme Edition processor, a 1GB GPU, 1TB of HDD (or alternate SSD configurations), and a whopping 16GB of RAM. This combination of cutting edge features, in tandem with the top of the line LCD color representation (again, 100% of the Adobe RGB gamut), makes this a computer worth dreaming about. But in what seems to be a trend for new laptops of this quality, the price is more of a nightmare. To buy a maxed out version of this laptop you’ll need to fork over more than $5000, although it’s possible to get a pretty badly stripped down version that still has the good LCD for around $2550.

1.   Sony VAIO AW – 137% Gamut
Sony VAIO AW Laptop, 137% Gamut
The Sony VAIO AW is truly the crème de la crème of laptops for displaying the color gamut. With a stunning 137% representation, you’ll be fully immersed in all the color you can handle. And with a large 18.4” screen size to go with a 16:9 1920×1080 resolution, you’ll have plenty of space to view those exceptional high definition images. The weight of just over 8lbs is very respectable for its size.  This notebook is no slouch for power either, with options to give it a brand new Intel Core 2 Duo T9600, up to 1TB of HDD (with options for SSD), a 512MB GPU, and 4GB of RAM (up to 8GB starting in late October). Upgrading it like this will price it out similarly to the other top notch laptops above, but you can still get a decent preconfigured model with no features besides the high quality LCD for a much more reasonable $2300. Since we still have our calculator out from the HP, we are pleased to say that’s less than $17 per percentage point of the gamut you’ll see – quite clearly the best in its class.

About the Author:
While on Twitter, Markzware met guest author Emma Best, who has also added to Markzware on Twitter, so check  it out!

About FlightCheck:
FlightCheck preflight software can check documents before to save you from costly print errors at printing time. FlightCheck is available online from Markzware via the FlightCheck page.

Title: Top 5 Laptops for Displaying the Color Gamut
Published on: October 14, 2008
David Dilling

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