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NYT: The New Breed of Gaming Laptops Get Serious 312

Posted by michael
from the lap-burning-goodness dept.
securitas writes "The New York Times' Seth Schiesel writes about hardcore gamers and the growing trend toward high-performance gaming laptops. Traditional enterprise computer manufacturers like Dell and HP are entering the gaming markets dominated by VoodooPC and Alienware, with the specialty high-end PC makers going the other way and breaking into corporate markets. There are some accompanying graphics and quotes from hardcore gamers about the Alienware Area 51m, Dell Inspiron XPS, and VoodooPC Envy m:750."
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NYT: The New Breed of Gaming Laptops Get Serious

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  • Desktop... (Score:4, Funny)

    by hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:17PM (#8748377) Journal
    Repeat after me:

    i will game only on the desktop.
    i will game less than 20 hours per day.
    i will go outside and feel the sun.
    i will not game on LCD...evar.
    i will not play games i cannot stop.
    i will game only from the desktop.
    • i will go outside and feel the sun.
      Maybe if you had a good gaming laptop with and LCD instead of a desktop, you could do this _while_ you were gaming 20 hours a day (of course you'd have to be in Alaska in the summer to have daylight the whole time, but it's a small price to pay).
    • Re:Desktop... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by superpulpsicle (533373) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:10PM (#8748967)
      Until the day laptop graphic parts become superior, I am 100% on the desktop.

      Can't imagine the temperature issue of a graphics card inside a laptop.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:17PM (#8748381) Homepage Journal
    The testimonials for the products are priceless.

    The Alienware model is lauded by "Daniel P. Martin, 15, High school sophomore". He crows, "My computer would be going at, like, a frame a second right now".
    Like, Danny, how are your grades this year?

    Dell's Inspiron inspired "Tori K. Beverly, 16, High school junior" to gush "It's easier to take to parties."
    Yeah, the screen hinge is probably great for crushing tabs of X.

    But this one takes the cake: "Matt A. Hendershot, 21, unemployed says of the VoodooPC, "I'll trade you my Mustang for it. I'm serious".
    I'm serious too, Matt... you need to turn off the computer in your parents' basement and get a freakin' job.
    And lose the hat. Jeez.
  • I don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seoulstriker (748895) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:18PM (#8748394)
    I don't know how many people really game on their laptops or if they just want that ability, but I know that the only time I would use it would be on long car trips.

    But How often do you need to be in that kind of situation to buy a gaming laptop? I have a desktop PC specifically for gaming (among other things) and a laptop for remote work in the library. Is the high latency/low brightness/low color quality of the laptop screens really a good idea for gaming?

    I don't know, I always keep my laptop strictly for work and my desktop for everything else. I don't know anyone who would seriously game on their laptop.
    • Re:I don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 74nova (737399) <jonnbell@PLANCKgmail.com minus physicist> on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:29PM (#8748525) Homepage Journal
      I don't know anyone who would seriously game on their laptop.
      i think that is the point of this article, that this is changing.
    • LAN parties (Score:5, Insightful)

      by malraid (592373) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:30PM (#8748533)
      Subject says it all. It isn't fun to move a desktop around
    • Re:I don't know... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by questamor (653018) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:30PM (#8748542)
      Gamers aren't geeks any more. That's what's changing.

      I know 2 people with laptops used for nothing but gaming, and they're both the kind of guy that would, stereotypically, be said to have a life. They go out, they visit friends, they party, they don't want to geek about at home playing XBox or their PC. So they have a gaming laptop.

      Having survived the 1980s it looks like the gaming laptop as I've seen it used has the place of a ghettoblaster... not everyone has them but those who do share with friends when they're out... It's just one more part of the entertainment for them.

      (me, I'm a nerd. I don't game and I get off on coding. until coding is entertaining at parties I guess I'm out of luck :)
      • Gamers aren't geeks any more. That's what's changing.

        What's not changing is that it's still a sad waste of time. Next time you see some slackers doods at the mall with their pants down around their knees showin' off their name brand panties while talkin' about the new "gaming laptop" daddy bought them, why don't you think about all the tech jobs going to India, a place where people take education a bit more seriously.

    • Re:I don't know... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mahdi13 (660205) <icarus.lnx@gmail.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:34PM (#8748579) Journal
      I have a Dell 600m and I have to say, that laptop LCD displays have improved 10 fold over the last few years. A couple years ago I would never want to play a First Person Shooter on a laptop due to the horrible refresh rates.

      On this laptop I can play Enemy Territory with no problems. The display is excellent and even seems clearer then my NEC MultiSync CRT. The laptop has a Radeon 9000 (64mb) which can handle RtCW:ET with no problems (and the new Linux ATi drivers are very good).

      Using a USB mouse, there is not much difference in gaming on a laptop then the desktop. The big plus is that there is a lot less to lug around to a LAN party.
      I haven't tried new games like UT2004 on it, and will admit I'm afraid to due it being underpowered for a game like that, but overall they do make decent gaming platforms.

      But there is no way I'm paying $3000+ for one!!
    • Re:I don't know... (Score:5, Informative)

      by kcb93x (562075) <kcbnac&bnac,biz> on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:34PM (#8748580) Homepage
      High Latency? Nope...we play {Halo,Quake III,HL/Steam} at college, on 802.11b, with pings of 20-50, which is not noticible (except when the slow laptop hosts)

      Low Brightness? Not a problem, unless I'm outside with the sun in my face or on the screen.

      Low color quality? Good enough for me, I can't see the difference in my games versus a CRT, I've ditched the CRTs altogether, but then again, I'm not addicted to having 350,203,234,234^10 colors either. (Yes, I'm exaggerating)

      We seriously game on our laptops because they're mobile, powerful and capable. Sure, we have slightly longer load times, but mine (eMachines 6805) gets ~3 hours normally, 1-1 1/2 gaming. And that's with a Desktop Replacement designed laptop.
    • Re:I don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:41PM (#8748653) Homepage
      I had one. a Dell Inspiron 8200 2GHZ 512 MB RAM, Geforce 4 440 GO. Sweet rig. Unfortunately it wieghted 12lbs. Toss is a Mouse, Adpater and extra Battery, DVDs, a good pair of headphones and you got about 16lbs of wieght. Used it during my commute, between classes at school and at work while waiting for experiements to finish oR something to explode. That lasted for about a month. I'm a big believer in the bare neccesities, having the minimum amount of stuff you need for comfortable survival, and 16lb of computer equipment plus my books was just to much.

      I parked it on my desktop for another 9 months and then sold it on Ebay. Got a little more than half of what I paid for it, but that was still enough to buy a decent desktop machine from Dell and a 20 inch monitor.

      The only time I really missed it is on plane flights, but whats the point of buying a laptop that only leaves your desk twice a year?...

      The laptop I buy has to wieght less than 5lbs, have more than 5hrs battery time (without an extra battery) and have kickass specs. So maybe in 2010...

    • I don't have what could be called a "gaming" laptop-- solely because the video chip is an Intel onboard-- but I've been using that as my primary gaming computer for a while now. Its only real flaw is the video, but using 3D Analyzer gets around most problems. I've been heavily playing UT2K4, FFXI, and Warcraft III.

      Oh, and for those wondering, it's a Gateway something or another purchased new in October with a P4 2.8GHz, 512 MB RAM, and 15" screen. It's a thing of beauty. ^_^
    • by chosen_my_foot (677867) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:55PM (#8748812)
      My University requires engineering students to purchase a laptop. It is OK to have a desktop, but a laptop is required. The reasoning is the engineering labs are limited and have aging computers, so by requiring the students to have their own laptop, labs that don't have computers/have computers below requirements become available.

      It seems like a dirty cost-cutting measure, but there is one large advantage. My largest CS lab had 8 people in it. This meant the TA was able to provide individual assistance easily. My Microprocessors lab was a different story. To perform well you needed an oscilloscope. Scopes were limited, so the lab sections had about 25-30 students per section. I was often in the lab for 45 minutes before the TA could get around to checking my prelab so I could start on the lab itself. (Often the prelab involved a circuit you would tear apart during the lab, so working ahead was out of the question).

      Anyway, I haven't been able to play the newer games for a year or so now. I even have problems with older games like Quake III. Due to the financial strains of the university and the internships I'm doing, a new desktop is a luxury I cannot afford. I would have loved the choice of a performance laptop when I was looking for one.

      Plus, a laptop is sometimes more convenient. In the small kitchen of our dorm, four of my friends had a small LAN party at one table using their laptops and a switch. This would not have been possible with their desktops, as they would have had no room. Playing from the rooms was unacceptable; the network seemed designed to thwart gaming. So there are a few reasons people want to game from a laptop. Some people do not have the luxury of a desktop AND a laptop, and must use a laptop for both work and play.
    • Re:I don't know... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dwillden (521345)
      The last two laptops I've purchased (the first two for that matter) Were Dell Inspirion 8k series machines that I chose specifically for their ability to play games. I chose he first one, a Inspirion 8000, because at the time (late 2000) it was the only laptop available that offered a video card with 32megs of ram.

      The same reasoning was why I went with the 8200 (with 64mb video ram) a year and a half later when I bought the second one.

      Why did I choose Laptops? Because both times I was preparing to be

  • by Trespass (225077) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:20PM (#8748413) Homepage
    Laptops need to be able to have video cards that are easily upgradeable for they to really give desktops a run for their money. With a laptop, you've essentially made a commitment to a particular level of video card power for the life of the laptop. I don't like the idea of replacing a $2000 laptop every 18 months for cutting-edge gaming performance.

    We really need a common standard for laptop video cards.
    • by micradigitalis (708492) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:25PM (#8748482)
      They are upgradeable-- "Upgradeable Video Modules" [alienware.com]
    • The biggest thing fueling my pc upgrades of recent years has always been games. Let's face it, you don't need a very impressive machine to do word processing, spreadsheets, internet browsing, etc. If you're looking to keep a bleeding edge gaming machine, you'll have to shell out a lot of money for new laptops. Recent games also have very large installs, so you'll run into harddrive space problems fairly quickly with a laptop. Laptops for gaming are great if you've got tons of cash just laying around, bu
    • I really mean something like an AGP slot, but for portables.
    • I have a discrete video card in my eMachines - I just need to find something better then the 9600 that is in there already!
    • The Alienware laptops feature upgradable Video Cards.
      But you are still stuck with the CPU, which is fine since (I think) 3Ghz is plenty for a few more years. Just make sure you also have room to upgrade the memory, but even 1Gig will keep you for a while

      I'm running 1.4Ghz on my desktop and am still happy with it, only just now starting to think about upgrading.
      • I'm a Q3er and I'm still running my P3-600 with a Geforce2 GTS and after a lot of time spent tweaking the game, I can keep my FPS above 100FPS at 8x6 with pretty good detail, and I can still beat people with the LATEST hardware. You can't tell me that you need the absolute fastest hardware to be able to play a game; it's the gamer, not the machine. I'm not even thinking about upgrading (just because after I outgrow q3 I won't game anymore).

        You could have a Porsche and Rick Mears will still own you with a
    • I don't like the idea of replacing a $2000 laptop every 18 months for cutting-edge gaming performance.

      But I'm sure the laptop manufacturers love this idea... hey, replace that $2000 laptop every 12 months... It's cool! Everyone's doing it!

      (see, even if them underemployed folks can afford it, so can you... :-)

      I think these companies market the _image_ of the laptop more than the laptop itself. Kind of like those Apple laptops---they just look so cool and everyone looks in your direction when you open one
  • Homer quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by Enrico Pulatzo (536675) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:20PM (#8748416)
    "Extended warranty? How can I lose?"

    That's the first thing I thought of when I read the 17 year-old's quote of the Dell.
  • eMachines too... (Score:5, Informative)

    by kcb93x (562075) <kcbnac&bnac,biz> on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:20PM (#8748422) Homepage
    I know some of you are going to roll your eyes and go 'eMachines? POS'

    However, let me tell you...my m6805 laptop is wonderful.

    AMD Athlon64 3000+ (1.8GHz)
    512DDR2700 (can upgrade to max of 2x1GB, one of which voids warranty, buried in case)
    60GB 4200RPM (Probably upgrade to faster HD soon, this is the only downside)
    ATI Radeon 9600 Mobile 64MB (9600 standard, same speeds, only 64MB)
    15.4" Widescreen
    DVD/CD-RW
    10/100 LAN
    802.11b/g

    This thing works just as well as my desktop almost, except for load times. That's got an Athlon 2800+ with 512MB and a 9600XT. Halo I just have to turn down like one more setting on the laptop.

    I'm honestly contemplating selling my desktop and upgrading my laptop more, it's that powerful.

    Plus, the warranty is great. Battery died two days ago (don't know why, totally failed) I called it in shortly after that, and they overnighted it for free to me. So 24 hour turnaround on battery replacement.
    • "Plus, the warranty is great. Battery died two days ago (don't know why, totally failed) I called it in shortly after that, and they overnighted it for free to me. So 24 hour turnaround on battery replacement."

      Hmmm... I'd prefer, you know, the battery to *not* fail and have crappy customer support than a failed battery and great customer support.

      • Laptops get abused. Think of the random, dirty power he has plugged into. It scares me to just THINK about it(!)(!)(!)

        So, Im not suprised that a battery fails. Everyone has a battery that fails. He got the good support around it, tho.

        Don't you think its very cool that they even were good enough to replace it?!
      • by SoTuA (683507)
        then you'd have to find that "magical battery manufacturer whose products *NEVER* fail", or a laptop brand that uses them.

        I recently replaced the battery on my brother's PowerBook. Apple's supposedly top-notch hardware failing less than six months from purchase.

        Shit happens. And then is when you wish for good support. (My international warranty was honored, but had to wait weeks while they imported the battery)

      • Re:eMachines too... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by chadjg (615827) <chadgessele2000NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:58PM (#8749461) Journal
        I used to work for emachines as a tech support flunkie. For a quite awhile I was ashamed of it and ranted regularly because of the poor service I was forced to give customers. For example I had a hotel owner beg me to send him a hard drive because his had failed. He said that he would pay for overnight shipping without hesitating and that we should name our price for doing so. Policy prohibited anything but offering him the normal slow warranty fufillment process and mule based delivery. The policies also prohibited me from telling him to walk down to the local store, grab the appropriate drive and run the restore procedures.

        Ok, so I still like to rant, but eMachines has seen the light. Maybe. When I worked for them he would have gotten his battery via regular parcel post or UPS ground, and God only know how long that takes.

        Bulletproof hardware will likely always cost large piles of money. Great, heaping, has their own ZIP code piles of cash. That's fine and dandy if you're NASA and are putting machines on some other planet with exactly one semi-redundant backup. Most of the rest of us must make trade offs. If reliability is slighted for cost's sake, then some kind of replacement system is necessary.

        If it is necessary, why not do it right? How much extra does good customer support need to cost? In my example case, replacing the guy's drive overnight could have been as easy as setting a single flag on the ticket and having a pile of "ship this out on the next plane" stickers at the fufillment center.

        Legendary customer support will always cost big money. If you want multi-lingual engineers that have taken sacred vows and can offer prayer, holy communion, teach yoga or sacrifice chickens for your machine, then it's coing to cost you.

        I accept the fact that stuff will fail. Crappy customer support doesn't have to be, and good customer support doesn't have to be expensive.

        It sounds like e-Machines is getting it. Now we can top calling buyers "eWhores." Perhaps "eMildlySluttyAfterTwoBeers." Really, I'm happy about the change.
  • thats comical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theMerovingian (722983) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:21PM (#8748424) Journal

    Shane M. Kluskowski, 16, leaned over the row of empty caffeine drink bottles that separated him from Victor and said that he was washing dishes 20 hours a week at a nearby diner to pay off his own $2,100 laptop.

    "It's the best investment ever," Shane declared. "I am going to keep it for the rest of my life, probably, because I won't be able to afford another one."


    Thats what I said about my 266mhz K6 laptop I bought in 1998....

    I think every geek felt that way once, when the world was shiny and new.

  • by sczimme (603413) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:21PM (#8748427)

    but if I were a teen today I don't think my parents would buy me a $3199 laptop for playing games. linky [nytimes.com]

    Yeah, this is probably off-topic... (Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn! Meshugganah brats... *grumble*)

    PS If your kid is saying "It works as good as a normal computer" perhaps games shouldn't be a priority. I'm just sayin'.
  • Recommend (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kushy (225928) <kush@nospaM.marakush.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:22PM (#8748446) Homepage
    When someone asks me for a good gaming machine, I suggest a custom rig... Put it together yourself and have many less problems then any thing you get from Dell...

    But for those that need me to come by and install a USB mouse for them I suggest, Alienware, hell yea it cost more... but worth every penny if you can't/won't/don't want to build your own rig...

    • The sager 8790
      http://pctorque.com/8790.php
      kicks the pants off of any Alienware notebook and costs several hundreds (if not a thousand) less.

      Though the gpu is not upgradeable, at least you have the option of not paying the Microsoft tax if you want to use one of the Linux Flavors.

  • Warning!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sameerdesai (654894) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:23PM (#8748455)
    The powerful machines may harm your genitals if you use for longer period of time on your lap!!! Use at your own risk!!
  • Will they be able to upgrade those laptops to play next year's "latest games". At @$3,000, buying a completely new machine every two years hurts, whereas spending $400 - 700 a year on your tower will keep you in the running for a while.

    Why not spend the money on a tricked out mini-itx and find a decent LCD monitor with a small footprint?
  • by RailGunner (554645) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:23PM (#8748461) Journal
    These new laptops have impressive specs, but the problem is still the LCD displays. LCD's (and even the plasma screens) have just too much motion blur to play extremely fast-action games. And actually it's not just games, it's also TV / DVD viewing. I was at a Best Buy, thinking about getting a plasma screen, but when I saw the blur I passed on buying it. What was I watching? Hockey... So I guess I can rule out NHL 2004 on that laptop as well, and I wouldn't want to see how bad the blur was on UT2004.

    That being said, is there any hope that OLED's will alleviate the motion blur problem? Because right now, as far as gaming / DVD viewing, I'm not giving up my CRT.

    • They do discuss this:

      At the same time, liquid-crystal displays with low response times have become more widely available. L.C.D. screens are inherently slower to respond to electrical signals than traditional cathode-ray tube designs are. The average consumer wouldn't notice the difference, but gamers who measure virtual life and death in milliseconds definitely do. Now, more expensive L.C.D. screens can almost replicate the experience of playing on a big, bulky tube.

      It would be nice to have a definition of

  • by seanpecor (627534) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:25PM (#8748481)
    is a relabeled and marked up Asian notebook that is also available from http://www.pro-star.com and at a cheaper price. I own the ProStar 4774 and it's the second ProStar I've bought. They're extremely reliable. It's ten pounds of gaming goodness! Sean.
  • by nizo (81281)
    It would be nice if you could easily upgrade the video/ram/cpu/etc without having to rip the whole laptop apart. Memory has certainly gotten easier, but you are stuck with whatever video card (at least I have never seen one that is upgradeable) which means when the new games come out in 6 months you are wishing you had an upgradeable desktop instead of a laptop.

    Which of course leads to my other rant: I wish they would design PCs so the average joe could upgrade them without having to open the case. Aside f

    • It would be nice if you could easily upgrade the video/ram/cpu/etc without having to rip the whole laptop apart.

      Have you looked at a laptop recently? My HP Pavilion has three removable covers in the base; one for the hard drive, one for memory, one for the video card. All it takes to upgrade any of the three is a small screwdriver to remove the single screw and removing the plastic cover. Piece of cake.

  • I have enjoyed gaming on my albook and beating the crap out of people on Battlenet with it. I hate the LCD though, the game is so much nicer if I plug in the monitor and go that way.

  • by rosewood (99925) <rosewood@ch[ ]ru ['at.' in gap]> on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:28PM (#8748513) Homepage Journal
    The eMachines m6807 [e4me.com] or if you want to shave off $100 cause you don't care to do DVD burning, the M6805 [e4me.com].

    These laptops kick ASS. Ive had an m6805 since launch and I fucking love it. First, the display is like sex on LCD. The keyboard has a great feel to it, better then some crap desktop keyboards Ive been on. Obviously, you can't game with a touchpad but it works just fine in RTSes. With the 4 USB ports, pluging in a nice optical mouse is no big deal.

    This machine rocks. When I use AutoGK I normally get 24+FPS on my encodes to XviD. I can play UT2k4, BF:Nam, Far Cry and more on my "ATI(R) RADEON(TM) 9600 Discrete Graphics with built in 64MB Video RAM." 802.11g means Im killing your ass naked while in bed.

    But its an eMachines? Well, before 2002 I would have stopped at the name too. However, being a true tech gadget nerd, I don't let a brand name determine my picks. I let the features and #s speak for themselves. I did a review [elrosewood.com] back when I got it and I still love it love it love it. AND FOR UNDER $1500! I received $250 in rebates and spent $189 on the 3 year warrenty.

    Speaking of which, that was the final straw that sold me this thing. Dell, HP, Compaq, WHATEVER -- Laptops BREAK. Maybe the screen, maybe the hard drive, modem, network card, etc. Something is BOUND to happen to a portable system in normal day to day use no matter WHO makes it. This laptop is VERY sturdy so I don't worry about that. However, I know that taking it to class and going from full to E on the battery day in and day out is going to cause some loss of charge on that thing. Guess what? My battery is covered. So is my screen, hard drive, modem, network card, etc. All for $189. The only warrenty that comes close is HP's and according to the fine print, you even install a program that wasn't there OEM, you are in technical violation. It is also considerably more expensive.

    If you want a kick ASS laptop, then seriously, pick this bad boy up.
    • Preaching to the choir...I posted below the specs of mine as well.

      KICK ASS MACHINE.

      Went back to return the warranty from BB, the manager said 'oh, the warranty covers more than whats listed' I said, write it down.

      So now I have it covered including:
      1 pixel
      Battery for 3 years
      Anything normally covered by eMachines is now covered by BB...(Glad that manager was kinda dumb/really nice)

      I had the battery fail 3 days ago, sadly. Called it in, they overnighted a replacement to me. Let's see you beat that for wa
    • Ads? (Score:2, Funny)

      by baudilus (665036)
      I knew /. had ads, but I thought they were just banners. Are you guys letting them into the forums too?

      Seriously though, I don't much of a difference in price to warrant this kind of purchase, it's still twice the cost of an equally (or better) equipped desktop. I don't go to LAN parties, so I guess spending that kind of money on a laptop is out of the question. Buy a desktop and use the rest of that money to take a girl on a date. Enjoy.
    • Hmm... I think I'm going to have to stick with my powerbook. It seems to have similar specs, but it smaller (about 2/3 as thick) and lighter and doesn't require me to run Windows to get all of the features.

      Mine's well over a year-old, and they didn't have 802.11g when it came out, but I don't have access to any 802.11g anyway, so I don't really miss it. It does have 10/100/1000 ethernet, though.

      I've also got it hooked up to an external 1600x1200 LCD via DVI as a second head. That doesn't seem to be an
  • The problem with all of these, IMHO, is that they're heavy and/or thick. I'm sticking with my PowerBook G4 precisely because I can get 64MB VRAM and decent processing power under 6# and about 1.1" thick.

    Voodoo has one (I think it was the 460) that was great on paper with the exception of missing bluetooth and having questionable battery life..

    • Re:heavy and thick (Score:3, Informative)

      by Txiasaeia (581598)
      Two Words: IBM T-Series.

      Less than an inch thick, some come with 64MB VRam, most have battery life of 4 hours + (higher end with better batteries are 9 hr +).

  • Eh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MoneyT (548795) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:31PM (#8748551) Journal
    I don't know, it might catch as a niche, but I don't think gaming laptops are going to be the next big thing. Gaming on a laptop is uncomfortable, you need a seperate keyboard and mouse to get really comfortable, and laptops are limited in terms of resolutions.

    What I think would be a much more viable market is pizzabox formfactor computers. Towers are too bulky to lug arround, and laptops are too limited, but something in a pizzabox format (a la Mac LC II / III or sun sparcs) would be more portable without sacrificing much in the way of expandability or upgrades
  • by Advan (761361) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:34PM (#8748585)
    Did anyone notice if battery life is mentioned in that article? Because if it is, I couldn't find it. While a laptop is nice and portable, is a laptop with a one hour battery life really practical? Unless you're hardcore for the LAN parties, I don't think this is really useful. For the $2000+ you spend on a gaming notebook that, with the exception of the Alienware (I think you can upgrade the video chipset), you're stuck with what you buy. At least with a $2000 desktop, you can change out parts in three years when it becomes obsolete.
    • While a laptop is nice and portable, is a laptop with a one hour battery life really practical?

      It is for me. My laptop doesn't leave the house. I can do work while sitting on the couch, instead of sitting in my office. I can take it outside for a smoke break.

      99% of the time I'm on the computer, I'm on the internet. If I'm close enough to an access point, odds are good I'm close enough to a power outlet.

      My laptop spends a majority of its time plugged into the wall next to the couch. You couldn't rep
  • by Sivar (316343) <charlesnburns[ AT ]gmail DOT com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:34PM (#8748590)
    Athlon64 laptops with ATI Radeon 9600m video chips have been available since November of 2003. Why would anyone want a desktop Pentium IV chip in their laptop?
    You do realize that they can go for all of an hour before needing to be recharged?
    How about that the systems aren't really "laptops" at all, unless you like your pants melting to your medium-rare flesh.
    The Athlon64 is a better gaming chip and allows for decent battery life (3+ hours) because of "Cool'n'quiet". In the Intel camp, the Pentium-M is an extremely capable processor and uses even less power than the Athlon64. IBM and VoodooPC both have Pentium-M laptops with game-worthy video capabilities.
    What's next? Dual Xeon laptops with a car battery backpack accessory? :)
    • My Pentium-4M laptop runs at 2Ghz, an gives me about 2 1/2 hours of battery life.
    • by swb (14022) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:01PM (#8748879)
      This debate raged a couple of weeks ago. There's apparently at least two camps on portable computing: fully-featured and super-portable.

      The fully featured camp really wants a desktop with a laptop-style form factor. It's easily portable, but not necessarily "highly mobile". Battery life, size and weight are all traded for power, peripherals and screen size.

      The super-portable camp wants something that's convenient to take anywhere without being a burden. Size, weight and battery life are more important than power, peripherals and screen size.

      We got a bunch of Dell X300s in the other day, and they've taken kind of an interesting path -- they all come with these docking stations that attack to the laptop in the same footprint; it just makes the laptop thicker, and provides a place for the DVD/CDRW, extra ports, extra battery, etc. Otherwise you can remove the laptop from this and have a thinner, lighter, more portable device.

      A clever extension on this idea would be a very small laptop (say 800x600 screen) with no peripherals except USB2/LAN ports that slotted into a "full size" laptop and gained the usual ports/bays AND a larger screen.
  • by genixia (220387) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:39PM (#8748630)
    Ever since their inception laptops have been marketed to the business sector where the purchasing price is less relevant than the total cost of ownership. In a nutshell, most companies would rather pay more to buy a laptop that has solid hardware support than pay to hire someone who was capable of doing that job. Upgrades for laptops have typically been either proprietory and limited - memory and network, or via pccard which is still limited.

    Many personal users, especially gamers, have held the opposing view - buying the best machine that their cash can buy and supporting the machine themselves. Many machines have been given new leases of life through CPU, memory, sound- and graphics- card upgrades. Desktop PCs architecture is incredibly open.

    I wonder if the manufacturers will cater to this new breeed of laptop buyers. Will we see upgradable graphics cards? How about an upgradeable motherboard? Will there eventually be a range of components from different manufacturers that could be used to build a completely custom laptop?

    I guess that it's time for a new standard. Desktop PCs have had the AT and ATX standards to help ensure physical interoperability between components. Newer standards (FlexATX, MicroATX etc) have helped spawn smaller desktops.

    AFAIK, no such standard exists for laptops. Yet.
  • by Morganth (137341) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:40PM (#8748635) Journal
    They used to sell one of Sager's [sagernotebook.com] notebooks for $500-600 more and call it their own simply because they spraypainted it grey and inserted an "Alienware" label where it used to say "Sager."

    One of my friends spent $2600 on that Alienware and my other one spent $1999 on the equivalent Sager. Both of them ended up having problems after a year because the Sager has a badly designed cooling system.

    The bottom line is, Alienware doesn't even pick good models to resell at high prices. I wouldn't trust their notebook. They need to find shitty manufacturers who will let them resell their notebook for a profit by putting a rubberized stupid-looking cover on the top of the LCD screen.

    Not to mention that when I bought an Alienware desktop (this was like 5 years ago--that computer definitely didn't last me for life, kiddo), AW was a small company that actually had real tech support (i.e. my GeForce overheated and died, and when I called them they overnighted me a new one, no charge). Nowadays, they are just like every other tech support troupe--probably based out of India, but if not, just as bad.

    Stay away... and please do your research.
    • If you think Alienwares are the only company that does this, you're sadly mistaken.

      In fact, that alienware laptop wasn't Sager's. It was Clevo's. Clevo is the name of a laptop manufacturer, probably the biggest one there is. Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM*, Sager, Alienware, Voodoo, and others all buy from clevo, stick in ram, a hard drive, and a logo and then sell for profit. Sager's model was cheaper than AW's because it was not as well known

      Apple and IBM* are the only major companies who make their own laptops.
  • I have noticed that all of these laptops feature "mobile" versions of the graphics cards. These cards all utilize shared memory as well.

    Is there a reason that the cards don't come with their own separate memory?
  • that Sony should market a "PS2 laptop" for a slightly higher price than a console, but cheaper than a regular laptop.

    (yes I know about the accessories to make the PS2 portable. not the same.)
  • by MMaestro (585010) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:52PM (#8748772)
    As any traveller will tell you, a portable gadget is only as reliable as its durability. When you're talking about a $2000+ gadget that weighs anywhere between 5 to 13 pounds, is constructed of weak plastic, silicon, and an LCD screen that costs half of the entire system alone, people are very, very wary of actually using a system such as this for its intended purpose. Hardcore gaming while travelling.
  • I just don't understand why someone would spend $2,000 - $3,000 on a laptop just to play games. Sure, it's convenient to have a portable kick-ass gaming system, but not when it's THAT expensive. You can piece together an equivalent desktop system that performs as well, if not better, for nearly 1/5 the price.

    I don't know many people who NEED to take their games with them, as laptops are generally meant for portable work.. start putting hardcore gaming technology and you're gonna be paying out the ass for
    • Unless you're fine with blowing that much money, take a step back and think of convenience vs. necessity.

      For you it may not make sense. For some people who have high disposable incomes but not much living space (like those in NYC), a high power laptop capable of gaming is a fantastic option. Saving $1500 is nothing compared to not having a huge desk (with a massive 21" CRT and a huge tower) eating up a huge chunk of your space. Since you're going to buy a $2000 laptop anyway, adding another $1000 to ma
  • Why is everyone here obsessed with getting the top of the range laptop to play games. It is really not needed. My laptop that is a year old costs less than 1900 euro , has a pentium 4 mobile 2.2 with 640Mb RAM and a GeForce4 420 Go and is 2.7Kg (6 pounds.... I think). This is easily good enough to play all the 3D games out there. You dont need 150 FPS because it is a LCD screen. Having a 3.6GHz HT Pentium 4 in a laptop will get really hot really quick. Then in a years time you will have a heavy hot brick of
  • Maximum PC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tokennrg (690176) on Friday April 02, 2004 @02:57PM (#8748827)
    Check out this months issue of Maximum PC for pretty good reviews on all those laptops. According to them the Dell is quite the machine.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:01PM (#8748876) Homepage
    "Shane M. Kluskowski, 16, leaned over the row of empty caffeine drink bottles that separated him from Victor and said that he was washing dishes 20 hours a week at a nearby diner to pay off his own $2,100 laptop.

    "It's the best investment ever," Shane declared. "I am going to keep it for the rest of my life, probably, because I won't be able to afford another one."

    Jesus. What more can be said! Except the second he unpacked it, it was only worth $900 or less... Especially with all that teen goo stuck to keyboard.

  • If you're really into LAN parties, lugging around a huge tower and a CRT is definitely a pain in the butt. Even when you're not lugging them around, those beasts eat up a lot of space and usually look ugly. (Let's face it- even if you don't agree, looks are an issue for PCs, especially if they're in your living room, especially if you happen to have a wife/girlfriend) But I still don't see the appeal of a laptop here. Why not compromise and buy a tiny Shuttle PC? They're cheap, easy to build, and you're sacrificing ZERO power/upgradability compared to "normal" desktops, unless you realllllly need more than three drive bays or have a poopload of PCI cards. 5.1 audio, acceptable video, USB2, and firewire are built right into the motherboard. And most models have an AGP slot for a "real" video card. And you could build one for a fraction of the cost of a "performance" laptop. $220 for a Shuttle w/ nforce2 chipset $70 for an Athlon2500 that you can easily run at 3200 speeds $80 for 512MB of 400mhz ram $200 for a Radeon9800pro $300 for a 15" lcd $80 for a hard disk $50 for an optical drive That's only $1000 for something that not even a $3000 laptop could beat, gaming-wise. And it still fits in a backpack. Of course, the system I just described isn't really that useful for taking notes in class. :P
  • Check the prices out at Powernotebooks.com

    Check out the Sager 8890 Specs [powernotebooks.com] and then rethink alienware and dell.

    I have the Sager NP5680 P4 2.8GHz with the ATI Radeon 9600 with 128MB DDR... and it cost around $1800.. (thanks to work for picking up the check)

    Check out the 17" laptops for around $1500. Nice!
  • Guess what! I just get my brand-new Xtreme gaming laptop [rockdirect.com] up and running, and what is the top story on Slashdot?

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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