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Most powerful notebook?

I am looking to buy a really high end notebook. The best one available there. I want something to replace my desktop, to do all my development work. I am looking into notebooks from Alienware, Sager, Pro-star. Size, Weight, Price are no obligation. Are they worth thier money? Do any of you have any one of those? What kind of notebooks do you guys use? Thanks in advance for your reply.

Yaniv
Thursday, October 31, 2002

I use a Trapper Keeper.  The most powerfull.

Cartman
Thursday, October 31, 2002

I custom ordered an HP ze series a few months ago, and I couldn't be happier with it. P4 .4 desktop processor, 1 gig DDR ram, 60 gig drive, 15.1" SXGA+ screen, DVD/CD-r, etc.

I use it for all of my dev work. For the year before this I used a HP laptop with the 15.1"SXGA+ screen. I think that's the best screen possible. With the digital inpts it's way better than desktop flat panels, and the usual flat panels need to be 17" to get 1280x1024. At that size you have to move it away from you to the point that youre back at the effective res. of 1024 or so.

I've been really happy with both of my high-end HP laptops, as have the guys from my former employer. The only thing that I wish it had was USB 2.0 ports built in. Most of the other manufacturers are making these desktop replacement laptops with the full desktop processors and available high res screens too, but I'd reccomend looking into customizing an HP. All built up you'll be looking at $2,500 or so.

Good luck, and enjoy it!

  --JWA

JWA
Friday, November 01, 2002

Sony PCG-GRX570... Huge 16" monitor, nice big keyboard, barely portable (just too darn big and heavy). Had it for months, no problems.

happy with laptop (sir)
Friday, November 01, 2002

Dell Insprion 8200 with Enhanced ASV UXGA screen (1600x1200).  I was upset when I saw the sony the day after ordering this but after seeing both and comparing I am happy with my choice because:-

1) Dell has 15.1" screen, is a bit thick but I can take it around with me without major problems.

2) Dell has better keyboard, decent layout and key travel.

3) It can take a mini-pci wireless ethernet card (I got one off eBay) without having anything sticking out of the pcmcia slots at the side.

3) You can have 2 batteries AND the DVD drive, with the sony (the one I saw anyway) you have to lose the DVD to have the second battery.

4) pointy stick and trackpad - you can set the pointy stick to work like a scroll wheel (horiz & vert), great for scrolling in visual studio.

5) Geforce4 (or Radeon 9000 now I think) graphics.

6) Can take 12.5mm or 9mm hard drives, though I seriously recommend the 40GNX 5400rpm 8Mb cache IBM series, it's just so faaaast, great for compiling etc.

Downsides:-

1) RJ45 is on the left not the back.

2) PCMCIA slots have these stupid dummy cards instead of sprung flaps like every other make, I keep a compact flash adapter in one which helps.

3) Power supply seems heavier than it needs to be, compared to other makes.

4) erm...  thats it, I'd buy the same again if something happened to it (though I'd look at the sony's again to make sure).

David.

David Neale
Friday, November 01, 2002

I second the Dell Inspiron 8200 choice. recently got one pretty fully outfitted pretty much as described earlier, including burner, dvd, etc. The display is awesome, especially if you get their top-end display. It's brighter and has a wider viewing angle in addition to being able to handle very high resolution levels (got a 64mb video card in it). Ergonomics appears good as well. Opted for the built-in modem (just in case) and nic, so I wouldn't burn up a pcmcia slot for either of those (now non-optional) devices. It's correct, though, that the network connection on the front left is, IMO, a mistake. Should have been in the rear someplace.

I also got a laptop backpack with it (also from Dell), as opposed to ordering the more conventional laptop case -- IMO a very good choice for transporting it around. The backpack is big enough you can use the extra space as an overnight bag if you have a short trip to make as well.

Of course the downside of that is you pulling your laptop out at the client site from amongst your underwear, so you may want to be a little circumspect about letting the client see the inside of your "laptop" case, especially if it's by then full of dirty laundry ;-).

Personally, I made a decision to avoid buying anymore HP products (not trying to start a flame war here) due to some just remarkably stupid, horrible, and costly support problems I had a while back on an HP printer. They pissed me off so badly, that my only revenge is to not willingly give them any more of my business. I realize, though that YMMV, but FWIW that's one reason I've gone with Dell.

anonQAguy
Friday, November 01, 2002

I have seen the Dells, HPs, SONYs etc. But have you guys taken a look at the machines from Alienware, Sager or Pro-star. If you don't mind the weight, they look great! They look like killer machines! P4, 2.8GHz, 1GB RAM, 60GB Hard drive etc. But they are real bulky, which is okay by me. Does anybody have any experience with one of those? Thanks.

Yaniv
Friday, November 01, 2002

I can't recommend IBM Thinkpads highly enough.

I've used a T23 for the last year or so for all my development work (and everything else, including video). Best hardware purchase I've made. 1.13GHz, 1GB RAM, 48GB HDD, DVD/CD-RW, 1400 x 1050 14.1" display, wireless, etc. It's good enough for everything I do (except gaming), and the keyboard is fantastic. The newer models are Pentium 4s and probably have 3D cards.

One tip: If you want genuine portability, get a 14.1" screen. I carry my machine around in a small backpack. I can get it into carry-on luggage with all my clothes when I go somewhere for a weekend. I couldn't do that with the larger models (e.g. the A series). The larger ones tend to be more powerful and have better video options, but you'll definitely get *enough* power with the smaller machine if you configure it right, and you'll thank yourself when you need to carry the thing around.

Rhys Weekley
Friday, November 01, 2002

>> Personally, I made a decision to avoid buying anymore HP products (not trying to start a flame war here) due to some just remarkably stupid, horrible, and costly support problems I had a while back on an HP printer. They pissed me off so badly, that my only revenge is to not willingly give them any more of my business. I realize, though that YMMV, but FWIW that's one reason I've gone with Dell.
<<

I made the same decision about Dell due to a problem I had about 10 years ago. I wonder how many digruntled customers actually cancel each other out?

Anyway... I also saw somebody post about getting a P4.4 desktop processor in their laptop. How does that work as far as heat? I currently have a Toshiba with a desktop processor inside. Sometimes it overheats and shuts off even if I'm just typing a text document. Some day when I can do without the laptop for a few days I'll take it back to get it fixed.

I used to have an IBM Thinkpad. I never had problems with that other than the heavy weight. When my current laptop gets too obsolete I'll probably go for a high-end, but not cutting edge machine with good durability and reliability.

NathanJ
Friday, November 01, 2002

I use an IBM Thinkpad A series.  Rock solid and quick.  I had to call support once and they were very helpful and courteous.

I always thought I would prefer the touchpad, but after using it for a while the eraser head is very efficient.  You don't have to move you have very far to get to it and it is more accurate than the touchpad.

It's heavy, but then again I'm not backpacking with it either.  I guess if you're commuting a lot on public transport or walking to work, that might be a factor.

I occasionally dock it if I'm going to do graphics work and need a better monitor, but for the most part it has everything I need.  Highly recommended.

Chris
Friday, November 01, 2002

I have a brand spanking new Dell Inspiron 8200 also.  My previous i7500 was stolen from my car last month  :(. But, my homeowners policy helped my get this new beautious monster with the immaculate screen.  The display is truly excellent.  I love the keyboard layout and feel - its an improvement over the 7500, which was pretty good to begin with.

I had sent the i7500 back to Dell 4 times for warranty repair in its 3 year life.  It had just come back from a warranty trip just before it was stolen.  I've seen all brands of laptops break in various ways: screens snapping off, pixels flickering, keyboards cracking, PCMCIA slots crunching...  So I think with laptops its not a matter of if they break as much as when.  Dell's warranty service is very good, IMO.  A guy shows up from Airborne with a box, you put it in a box and you'll get it back in about 3 days.  It hard to imagine better service from a local repair shop.  One time it came back the next day with a new screen.  That was pretty phenomenal.  Dell's standard warranty is 3 years and can be renewed.  I would not upgrade beyond the mail in service.

This laptop runs Redhat 8.0, and as far as I have owned it, has never seen the XP boot screen.  I intend to resell the mandatory MSFT software on eBay.  The RH8 install was flawless.

Nat Ersoz
Friday, November 01, 2002

One problem I have with programming after dark with a laptop is that the different colors of the comments (green), and colde (black or blue) is very difficult to see from most angles. The laptop is a brand new HP Omnibook 6200 with a 15" 1400 x1050 screen, so I don't think the problem lies with the brand.

Of course if I was a real programmer, as opposed to somebody studying books for a hobby, then I wouldn't need these wimpy colours anyway :)

Steve

Stephen Jones
Friday, November 01, 2002

Are you a consumer or a technical user, as far as this notebook goes?  As a technical user, you usually don't care about 2% speed differences because stability dominates completely, especially when you can't tinker with internals.

I don't trust Dell Inspirons anymore, I've heard too many problems with the stability of their monitor joints.  I had a DOA, and got a good replacement whose only problem was one dead pixel, back when those were common.  I sold it to a friend and it still works fast.  Took a lot of abuse in my care.  Very good tech support.

Sony is ok.  It's a fine consumer machine.  My NV was fairly cheap and has only USB mouse problems with sleep mode.  So I deactivated sleep mode.  Also, I don't necessarily trust their driver support, it didn't exist for a month for my model.  I really wanted an IBM, but I had to get a notebook quick in Germany.  (God damn the german keyboard layout.)

I suggest IBM thinkpads.  I've never owned one, but I've used them.  I'll be able to talk about their warts intelligently once I get my next notebook.

I guess we're not talking about Apples, just oranges...

anon
Friday, November 01, 2002

Check this out.

http://www.dell.com/us/en/dhs/products/model_inspn_1_inspn_8200.htm

I have been using a 2500 Dell Inspiron for more than a year. No complaints. Very good laptop, I haul it around in my backpack, use it very roughly, and there are no problems.

The only thing I have noticed is marks/ spots on my screen.

Do you guys also have this problem? What do you do about it?

Prakash S
Friday, November 01, 2002

One thing to watch out for if you buy something with 802.11b builtin, Mine came with a orinoco silver mini-PCI card which can't do 128 bit encryption.
Check this before you buy.

Peter Ibbotson
Friday, November 01, 2002

Nathan J {

LOL! Excellent point about disgruntled users cancelling each other out! My position is that my HP experience is a single datapoint in the grand scheme of things. It was significant to me, but it may be an outlier to the market overall. None of these companies is perfect, certainly. Guess if enough customers "vote with their feet" from one vendor over to others, the market will figure out whether it's significant or not. Hence my inclusion of the "YMMV", because it really does.
}

Heard very good things about ThinkPads also. All our developers at work use ThinkPads, I believe, and one visual designer. There used to be a saying, back in the PS-2 days (dating myself here), that " Nobody ever got fired for buying IBMs." It was referring to corporate IT purchasers back in the early 90s when computer vendors came and went like dot.com's did some years later. Rest are on Dell Inspirons.

Prakash {

I have experienced both dead pixels on a 1999 Gateway laptop I still use at home for email, and in the last year (out of the 3-yr warranty, unfortunately), I lost about 15-20% of the screen - it just pukes out random static. It's a problem with the LCD itself because video output to an external monitor is fine. So in my experience, I've had LCD problems with one machine, a Gateway, but only after several years' use and a fair number of miles of travel  and abuse.
}

Overall, I don't think you'll go far wrong if you stick with one of the major vendors that has the features & support you want.

anonQAguy
Friday, November 01, 2002

I've been happy w/ my Compaq Presario lappy. (I've had it for a little more than a year.) My next will be that sweet, green Alienware lappy tho. They use desktop-class CPUs and the best graphics processor on the market.

Anonymous
Friday, November 01, 2002

I've never tried a notebook that's key-board would be satisfactory for 4-10 hour/day usage.

pb
Friday, November 01, 2002

I use a Dell Inspiron 7500 Notebook and I have no problems typing and using its touchpad for 6-10 hours per day.
I even prefer its keyboard to classic keyboards.

S. M.
Friday, November 01, 2002

The secret truth about who makes laptops: http://www.mindconnection.com/library/computertips/whomakeslaptops.htm

Troy King
Saturday, November 02, 2002

I second ThinkPad recommendation. I used to have a very stylish Sony (man was that screen beautiful), but found it to be too flimsy. If you're going to be hammering out code for hours at a time, do yourself a favor and get something as rugged as a ThinkPad.

They have thought of everything too. There's a white-LED downlight to illuminate the keyboard at night. The keyboard is well designed: there are finger indentations to help you find the arrow keys without looking; the F-keys and cursor-control keys are spaced exactly as on a real keyboard; the "Windows" and "context menu" keys are gone, allowing for full-size Ctrl and Alt keys. Screen dimming and volume control are hardware functions and work even if you don't load the provided utility software. The screen is solidly connected and won't bounce as you type.

I could go on and on but basically, they've got a very well designed, if ugly, notebook.

ns
Saturday, November 02, 2002

Oh yes, Sony Vaios are too dependent on software for things like brightness controls.  So no luck if you wish to run Linux unless there's a patch out there, or you write one.

anon
Saturday, November 02, 2002

I have a Sony Vaio PCG-GRX316MP and I can't recommend it enough - it is fantastic! PIV 1.6GHz, 30GB, 256MB ram (though I am upgrading this), 16" screen.

It does have a few minor inconveniences for me (no built in Wireless LAN, so I have to have a PCMCIA one with an ugly arial, no built in floppy drive, have to remove the DVD/CDRW to use the second battery, etc) but overall I highly recommend it.

It's a little old now, they have released a few updated versions (mine was purchased in May).

James Ussher-Smith
Sunday, November 03, 2002

"A little old"  - purchased in May??!!

Hell, my 3 year old i7500 had at least another 2 years left on it, before it got stole from mah truck.  An' mah truck at 140K miles still got another hunnert thow or more left on it.

Kids these days. 

Nat Ersoz
Sunday, November 03, 2002

"Kids these days. "

we are early adopters of technolgy Nat :-)

Prakash S
Sunday, November 03, 2002

>I can't recommend IBM Thinkpads highly enough.

I had Thinkpad for a bit, but could never get used to that
the Ctrl-button is not in the bottom left corner. That
Fn-button Thinkpads has crippled me. I went with Dells,
and although a bit on the heavy side, Im happy with it.

Patrik
Monday, November 04, 2002

I'm running a Toshiba S901; Pentium 4 2Ghz, 512MB DDR, 60 GB HD, Bluetooth, integrated wireless card, Firewire port, plenty of USB connections and most importantly for me, 64MB GeForce 4 Go video.

I needed something that would do heavy development, but also have enough video horsepower so I can play video games so I wouldn't have to buy a desktop that I rarely use.

The Toshiba fits the bill quite nicely. I've been very happy with it.

Mark Hoffman
Monday, November 04, 2002

You guys should check this out.

Let your thoughts be known about this company.

http://www.business2.com/articles/web/0,1653,44923,FF.html

http://www.xentex.com

my 2 cents says no way this thing is going to take off!

Prakash S
Monday, November 04, 2002

Thank you all for your inputs. But I still don't see people having notebooks from Sager or Pro-star. Most of you use one of the big name brands. But for under $3000, a P4, 2.8Ghz 1GB RAM, 40GB Hard drive notebook from Pro-Star looks like a great deal to me! Why none of you are using it? Is there any known issues with them?

Yaniv
Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I for one, had not heard of these brands till I saw them mentioned here.

Most of the bigger companies have customer service, however good or bad they might be.

I would still go for a Dell, compared to any of the well known or not that well known brands, simply 'cos I know dell as a company will be around.

And somehow dependability is associated with brand names(i guess that is branding!)

Prakash S
Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I'm sorry for bringing back the dead, as abandoned as this forum may seem (November '02 last post) But to answer the question about why no one has ever bought a sager or prostar. Well, people do buy sagers I know for a fact (www.sagernotebook.com/forums I think or just go to their forums) and Alienware and rivals use Sager and Prostar notebooks for their basic structure layouts. Basically, an Alienware is a tricked out Sager or Prostar (both of which must get their OEM notebooks from elsewhere because they both look the same. I've gather some information that Sagers are the "official" barebones.

Someone passing by
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

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