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Finding The Best Laptop for Video Editing

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/15/2010

How to choose the laptop that will allow the best and most diverse range of digital video editing for the home.

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    The Best Laptop for Video Editing

    As computer technology has developed, the costs have begun to recede and equipment that would have once been relegated purely to the professional realm is now available to the home consumer. Now any individual can obtain most of the resources needed in order to produce professional appearing video content. Traditionally one of the biggest barriers for home video production was the inability to edit the video that has been captured. Now that non-linear editing systems are the standard, an effective laptop can be used for the majority of editing jobs. However, this is only true if the correct laptop is purchased.

    The most important thing to note when purchasing a notebook for the purpose of video editing is to find one that provides the most flexibility. There are numerous quality laptop computers available that will give you the power and reliability you would need to do real-time online editing, but they do not have equal access to Mac software. In my opinion, the absolute best software to use as a crossover between professional and home editing is Final Cut Pro, mainly because of its quick learning curve. Final Cut Pro is able to meet all the requirements for full-scale film production, but basic editing can still be learned quickly. This allows the average user to develop and progress as an editor, and allow their work to consistently improve in quality. Final Cut Pro is only available for Mac computers, while the majority of editing software that is commonly used on Windows PCs are also available for the Mac. Systems like Adobe Premiere, or the very complicated AVID system, are available cross-platform. The purchase of a laptop should not be based on the desire to use these programs because a preference towards them does not eliminate any particular type of computer. It is also important to note that Mac has pre-installed software that can also be utilized for this type of application, mainly iMovie and Garage Band. For these reasons, I recommend a Mac laptop.

    When selecting your Mac laptop there are several things to look for. The likelihood is that if you are going to be doing a lot of video editing, you are going to be utilizing a variety of peripheral items such as video decks and external hard drives. Make sure that there are two FireWire ports for these connections - one for FireWire 400 and one for FireWire 800. You also want to make sure that you have a laptop that is both sufficiently fast and has a significantly large viewable screen. The base requirements for Final Cut Pro is a Mac running at 1.25 GHz. But to experience the full range of capabilities in the suite provided in the FCP package you must be running a processor of at least 2.5 GHz. The obvious best choice for all of these specifications would be the Mac Book Pro with a 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor. With this type of machine you can go from zero to sixty with your home editing and bring professional quality to your home digital video production.