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Which Laptop To Buy? 732

Misha writes: "In this day and age, it seems that the advertisement offers for desktop systems have slowed down in term of features. Everyone has agreed that AGP, DVD, >1GHz, etc. is what everyone will want. This does not seem to be the case with laptops. Every year, they manage to cram a bigger resolution screen, more system and graphical memory, more battery life into a less-than-two-inch thick plactic box. So, what are everyone's preferences as far as laptops go? What kind of features are most important? How does price enter the equation? Which one is best for the money? And especially, can you get a decent machine for under $1000?" I've been using the IBM Thinkpad T20 for the last year or so, and love the machine -- with the exception of the WinModem *sigh*. What else is everyone using?
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Which Laptop To Buy?

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  • Go Dell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nutt ( 106868 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:00PM (#2164367)
    I have a dell inspiron 5000. It's very nice with a 15" 1400x1050 res screen. As far as the things that I want to get, it goes: Screen (res + size), Proc speed, ram, HD, vid card. Most people won't be using their laptop for games anyway, so a powerful video card wouldn't be very useful.
  • 3d... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crandall ( 472654 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:04PM (#2164403) Homepage
    I do a lot of 3d game programming and development, so I've been holding off for a decent laptop that can match our development systems. Basically, I want to get an Athlon 4 based system, with a geforce 2 go, and 256 megs of ram. As soon as I can get something like that, there will be a point to buying a laptop. Until then, I guess I'm just chained to my home and work machines.
  • Winmodem (Score:1, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:05PM (#2164418) Homepage
    A "winmodem" isn't such a bad thing for a laptop computer; having an extra power-draining chip for signal processing is bad for the battery life. 'Course, there are all those compatibility issues; but hasn't the interface been mostly standardized? Why haven't alternative-OS drivers been forthcoming?
  • Dell is good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daath ( 225404 ) <lpNO@SPAMcoder.dk> on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:06PM (#2164423) Homepage Journal
    I have a Dell Inspiron 8000 - The one with a 32MB AGP card, 15" screen with 1600x1200 res. Now there is a niiice machine!
    I had a hard time installing linux on it though - but since the 2.4 kernel came out I had no probs =)
    Pity that they (supposedly) don't support linux any more.
  • by James Hetfield ( 14513 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:19PM (#2164536) Homepage
    Here is a unit that comes in at 4.3 LBS, and is Linux Compatible. Great Guys to deal with as well.

  • I know, I know... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZeissIcon ( 67281 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:26PM (#2164591)
    Just don't nail me as flamebait right out of the gate, please.

    The new apple iBooks are really, really nice pieces of hardware, particularly for the money, and they run Yellow Dog beautifully. See this slashdot article [slashdot.org] for more info.

    I keep telling people about them and they say: "But this Toshiba goes to 11."

    Yeah, and you can edit digital video on the road with this one, and it does everything that that Toshiba does.

    "But this one goes to 11."

    I administer a mixed office of macs, linux boxen and windows machines, and feel that all three machines have their place, it just seems sometimes that people don't give apple's hardware its due. Whatever else is wrong with them (and there's plenty, of which I'm sure I will be reminded in the posts that follow this one up) they do make really, really good hardware, and it's not as expensive as everybody thinks that it is. Go configure an iBook at the apple store, then configure a notebook from any other manufacturer to the same specs (if you can) and look at the price. I'd be surprised if there's $100 difference either way. And between OS X and Yellow Dog, there are plenty of configuration options.

    Don't take me for a mac zealot, I just hate it when people either (a dismiss apple just 'cause their apple, or, (b make an uninformed or prejudicial decision for any reason. Apple certainly has their shortcomings, and I am not blind to them, they often seem to forget that good design is: "form plus function, followed by meaning." But don't let that discourage you from looking.

  • Re:second that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cryptoslut ( 246887 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:35PM (#2164652)
    I have a Thinkpad T22. RedHat-7.1 installed perfectly without a single hiccup. Everything worked, X, sound, pcmcia, suspend-to-disk, everything. Never had that experience before, always a couple things that need tweaking with laptops, sound usually doesn't work until newer kernels, sometimes X has to run in VESA frame buffer mode until a newer release of XFree86, etc.

    I had to play with some settings to make it run flawlessly, but nothing too difficult.

    Only problem is this: the 1400x1050 screen in just two months has developed several pixels (usually green ones) that are always on. I will have to send it back shortly to have the screen replaced. That sucks.

    To all laptop purchasers, especially if you plan to use it 8 to 12 hours a day like I do, buy the extended warannty package, preferably with next day service or something. Its worth it. Laptops take much more of a beating than a desktop.

    No matter how careful you are, inevitably they get smashed into doors, dropped on the floor, your friend comes by and picks it up (while hard disk is spining) to feel how heavy it is, you foolishly us it on a soft surface (like a carpet or bed) and it overheats because the vent is blocked, you get the picture -- get the full service warantty if you depend on your laptop.
  • Laptop (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CFBMoo1 ( 157453 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:38PM (#2164673) Homepage
    I'm running a Dell inspiron 8000 myself... Great for Diablo 2 and such. *What a reason to buy a laptop*

    Anyhow I like it a lot. P3 700, 192 megs of mem, burner, 2 batteries, big screen, 20 gig drive, and a 32 meg ati graphics card.

    I do have some problems though. The pointer stick in the middle has got to go. That thing is a total waste, especially after as it gets older and ya tilt the laptop and it grabs the pointer on the screen because it's not working right. Nasty problem, Dell's solution is not to have a bios switch to turn off the pointer stick, but Windows software to turn it off *Sucks big time.*

    So if anyone knows of a Linux utility that can kill pointer sticks on laptops, especially ones like mine, let me know. I have a copy of Mandrake 8 that's itching to get on their.

    *And keep a small windows partition for Diablo 2* *Waves cash at Loki to have a diablo 2 port to linux* God I'm a sad case. :)
  • Re:Mac, No Seriously (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SPK ( 8321 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:39PM (#2164682) Homepage

    Not to be a "me too", but I totally agree. Actually, I look at it like this ...

    When it comes to desktops, for price-performance, it's hard to beat PCs. After all, $1000 (US) can get you a hell of a machine, and as much as I love those G4 towers, they don't compete very well.

    However, when it comes to laptops, where else can you get USB, Firewire, ethernet, modem, a 15" screen, a decent amount of memory, a DVD player and a fast little processor all for about $2500 (US)? Now, if you want an inexpensive (ca. $1000) or high end (more than $3500) model, then go with a PC, since there aren't many Apple offerings in those realms. Besides, the MacOS is cool in that hooking up an external monitor to your laptop gives you an extra screen/desktop (not just a mirror of your current desktop).

    In any case, if one is a hard-core PC zealot, then feel free to disregard this post.


  • Dell I8000 & GF2Go (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fragbait ( 209346 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:42PM (#2164702) Homepage
    I purchased one of these in May. PIII 900, 256MB RAM, 15" XGA, 32MB DDR GF2Go, 20GB HD. Built in Firewire, modem, ethernet, 2 Card slots, SVGA port. It weighed in at ~8lbs and just over US$2700. The only thing I wish the laptops were up to speed on is HD transfer rate. If you are used to ATA100, you can definately tell the difference when you have to drop to ATA33. Quake 3 runs great and looks just as good as my desktop even when I turn up the settings to 1024X768, 32bit color. Diablo II does chug a bit when the top of the Palace in Act II or multiple streams of water in Act III come on the screen.
  • IBook (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plastik55 ( 218435 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @05:58PM (#2164787) Homepage
    I love my new iBook. I spent a long time comparing specs on new laptops and came to the conclusion that the iBook packs the most features in for the least money.

    I got mine with a DYD-ROM and 256MB of memory for $1500 -- I looked at what Sony and Compaq etc. had to offer, and the nearest offerings wre usually lacking something big (like, say, the CDROM) or had about 50% of the battery life (or, even worse, didn't mention the battery life at all.) I can watch two DVD movies on this, back to back, before the battery runs out.

    It works well with Linux too. The hardware is almost entirely supported now. There's a preliminary sound driver, and a daemon for answering requests from the volume/screen brightness/eject CD buttons on the keyboard. Wireless networking is fully supported, and since the iBook has an antenna built in to the case, you'll get much more range than with a run-of-the-mill 802.11 card. Power management on Apple laptops under Linux is actually better supported with pmud than with the APM support on most other laptops. Hmm, what else... the latest XFree86 supports the ATI chip with DRI support, so the video is fast. Since it's a new machine, a lot of the drivers are floating around as kernel patches on linuxppc-dev, but I fully expect them to be rolled into benh's kernel tree in the next couple weeks.

  • Re:Go Dell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mallan ( 37663 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @06:05PM (#2164819) Homepage
    Screen resolution has nothing to do with the nvidia drivers themselves - that's an X issue. X will support whatever resolution you want - I have a TNT2 w/ the NVIDIA drivers running at 1280x768 which is a very non-standard resolution.

    See this page for more info on how to set up non-standard screen resolutions:
    http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/XFree86-Video-Timi ng s-HOWTO/

    There's a web page somewhere that will calculate an appropriate mode line for X based on your monitor's capabilities, but I can't locate it right now.

  • Re:Toshiba (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Brainless ( 18015 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @06:29PM (#2164930)
    I am using a Toshiba 2805-S503 right now at the office. It's a 900MHz, 20G HD, 128M memory, DVD with GeForce2 Go video. All in a package for $1999. Fairly cheap for it's game. The only disavantage is, you cannot dock it. But I use it at the office for work and can take it around with me to game at friend's places. The GeForce2 makes it a pretty decent gaming machine. Runs Everquest just fine! Now I don't have to leave the office in a hurry to go home, just stick around till traffic dies down.

    I've only ran FreeBSD in a VMWare session, so I cannot say how it runs them on the hardware. I've heard rumors it works just fine.

    If you spend about 500-600 more you can get 1GHz, 30G, 256M, DVD/CD-RW, GeForce2. I wish I would have had the money to upgrade.
  • Re:Used Laptops (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <revaaron&hotmail,com> on Monday August 06, 2001 @06:36PM (#2164965) Homepage
    Well, I'd say the $1299 iBook too. Personally, I don't watch movies on my computer, so I don't need a DVD-ROM. A CD-RW? For the difference in price between the CD-RW and CD-ROM iBooks, you could buy an external firewire CD-RW drive and a slew of blank discs. :)
  • by ahde ( 95143 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @07:59PM (#2165316) Homepage
    www.toughbook.com [toughbook.com]

    These are the some of the coolest computers out there. You may have some hardware problems, but still, its worth it. Do you hate mice, trackballs, erasers, pads, etc.? How about a touchscreen? That's point and click. And I swore I'd never get a LCD until I could actually see the picture. These almost deliver. And the case is no-doubt styling from Milan to Tokyo. Most important of all, crumbs in the keyboard are a thing of the past. Oh, integrated wireless, too. CDPD :(

  • Re:ASUS, KDS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by karld ( 141289 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @08:32PM (#2165420)
    I have an Asus L7300/P3-500/128MB/6GB and I love it. Except one minor problem, IT WON'T RUN X. I tried Mandrake 8, Redhat 7.1, Suse 7.2 and Progeny and EVERY TIME I get stopped cold in my tracks once we come to X setup. Even after I got the H/V sync rates (which are nowhere to be found) from Asus, still no love. Aside from that, the only complaint I have is that the keyboard is a little mushy.
  • Re:Toshiba (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alex_siufy ( 411363 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @11:54PM (#2166134)
    I've had a Tecra 8100. Horrible. Broke down in 2 months (shoddy quality), had issues with Linux. Mine was the 3rd dead Toshiba @ at the office. Now they only buy HPs, which are butt ugly but are far more robust. If you absolutely must get an Intel, don't get a Toshiba. Otherwise, yeah, get a PowerBook or an iBook.

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