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New Computer

I want to get a new computer.

It will be used for software development, papers, etc. while I'm at school and coop jobs during my time at University.

Should I get a laptop, tablet PC, or a desktop?

Thanks

anon
Thursday, February 13, 2003

laptop, and but the most bad ass Alienware Area 51 system you can get your hands on

http://www.alienware.com

Prakash S
Thursday, February 13, 2003

I wouldn't recommend Alienware unless you just want to throw money away on an overpriced system with silly neon lights or Day-Glo box covers.

I'm a laptop person myself. I prefer the ability to take it wherever I go. With displays being as large as they are today, the screen size is no longer a problem.

I'm running a Toshiba Satellite S901 with 2.2Ghz/512MB and a GeForce 4 Go graphics card. It's got all the power I need to run Visual Studio .NET and play the latest games.

Mark Hoffman
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Both.

I have a laptop and a desktop.  Laptops are portable, but you can stuff more stuff in a desktop.

This comes up most when you use up lots of disk space.  Agregate, 220 gigs and growing in my apartment.

flamebait sr.
Thursday, February 13, 2003

A lot of people here seem to like laptops, but I don't get that at all.

I don't know too many developers who spend a lot of time in hotel rooms around the country, but if that's your gig - go for the laptop.

Otherwise, there's no reason to sacrifice the *far* superior useability and power of a desktop machine.  Personally I find anything less than a 21" screen to be quite limiting.

Robert
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Also, I get 'tight' around the shoulders and neck if I work with a laptop keyboard for too long.

I'd recommend some sort of laptop/docking station type solution, although it would be pricey, but then it's not my money.

Realist
Thursday, February 13, 2003

If you're mobile, laptop. If you're fairly mobile but have a "home base" then laptop with a docking station and normal sized keyboard (a laptop keyboard WILL give you carpal tunnel)

If you're pretty stationary, then agreed with the thought that just buying  a desktop means you can get a 21" CRT and 18" LCD (dualhead, y'all!) and probably still come out cheaper.

As for Alienware, they don't answer email. That puts them on my "do not call" list. Lately I've been looking at Sager Notebooks, which look pretty powerful but at a very competitive price.

Philo

Philip Janus
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Personally, I like a top-of-the-line dual-cpu desktop/workstation computer, but that's only because I do a good amount of cpu-intensive development/compiling.

In terms of laptops, I prefer a small, lighter laptop (even if it is underpowered) for misc. stuff like documentation, etc. Lugging a heavy laptop through airports on a constant basis gets old quick.

AEB
Thursday, February 13, 2003

dude, your'e gettin' a mac

ms free
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Would you rather have a giant screen with lots of space to put stuff while you're programming?  Or would you rather be able to sit outside and program under a tree?  Or would you like both...keeping in mind that your battery life will suffer with a big heavy desktop-replacement laptop?  Is that important to you, or do you want to go all day without having to charge?  It's also worth keeping in mind that laptops walk off more easily than desktops.  But I personally think they're also more fun than being stuck at a desk, especially if you get one with a wireless card built in.

As for tablets...I was in the market for a new laptop recently and read up on tablets.  The only one that looked realistic was the Toshiba, because you can use it as a real laptop (with keyboard).  But reviews seemed to indicate that battery life wasn't that great; for something you'd be carrying around all day, I'd expect six hours or better, and they say you're lucky to get three.  My conclusion was that tablets are a unique, creative idea and will be practical one day, but that day is a ways off.

So I got a Dell Latitude X200: very light (under three pounds), good battery life, built-in modem and wired NIC and wireless NIC, media slice so you get a DVD/CD-RW and floppy but don't have to take them with you.  If light weight, mobility, and the sitting-under-a-tree thing is important to you, take a look at this one.  However, if you plan to do much gaming, I'd rule out this class of laptop; you're looking at a ten-pounder, and always having an AC adapter with you.

Kyralessa
Thursday, February 13, 2003

anon what kind of programming do you do?

I mean we can recommend Pentium Celeron 650 in times of bad economy. But if you are going to run Oracle/Sql Server 2000 and Java/VS.Net and do serious software dev don't be surprised if you need more.

Hmm.. so please give us more info anon.

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Kyralessa,

What kind of battery life do you get?

Prakash S
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Kyralessa,

tablet computers have been next year's big thing for about 10 years.

flamebait sr.
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Tablets are not for software developers.... you guys should be smart enough to figure that out by now. They're really good in vertical industries, and for executives, consultants, and other people who do a lot of note taking and moving around.

John Rosenberg
Thursday, February 13, 2003

As some people wrote: If you're programming and not developing at the customer site, buy a desktop! I worked for almost three years with (three) notebooks and I everytime hated a new keyboard layout.

Now, I have gigs I can work from my home (office) and I'm relieved to work with my (now an ad ;)) MS Natural Keyboard Elite (no extra keys in different colours, just that what you need; great touch'n'feel).

Enjoy
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Off-topic, but since it has been mentioned in this thread:
What's a vertical market? How does it differ from a horizontal one?

Thanks!

Marketing Newbie
Thursday, February 13, 2003

>>What's a vertical market? How does it differ from a horizontal one?

Vertical market - A market which meets the needs of a particular industry. For example, a piece of software used only by the banking industry.

Horizontal market - A market which meets a given need of a wide variety of industries, rather than a specific one. For example, word processing software.

RocketJeff
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Oops, forgot to credit the source for my definitions - http://www.investorwords.com

RocketJeff
Thursday, February 13, 2003

I have to say that Apple is very attractive. As a guy who has never even touched a working Apple computer, that’s saying a lot. What blows my mind is the 128-bit architecture and the OS-X Unix underpinnings. I still run MS Windows 98 / Linux at home and MS Windows 2000 Professional at work. I have nothing against Microsoft. But the Apple G4 is really, really cool. I want one and someday I’ll probably buy one.

I also love the idea of power notebooks. Working under a tree sounds really cool to me- as long as its far, far away from the sounds of the highway or road.

If you want a “tablet” why not get a Wacom. That’s what I have at home for graphics. I’m an amateur artist (a pro would have a Mac and a Wacom). http://www.wacom.com/
(I knew what you really meant, but I couldn’t help mentioning the true blue die hard artists tablet- you can plug it into your USB!)

WNC
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Apple 12" powerbook is the right thing for you. go to Apple site and look at the capabilities against your requirement. I think it will fit most of it.

R K
Friday, February 14, 2003

I was in the similar situation couple of months ago and wanted to get an Alienware Laptop. They said it will take a month before I get it. Hence I bought a similar system (P4 2.8GHz, 1GB RAM, 40GB Hard drive etc.) from Pro-Star.
Big mistake :(.
This laptop is so heavy -12 pounds, battery life is horrible - 1 hour, it gets very hot, makes lot of noise, screen resolution is bad -1600X1200, doesn't look good in lower resolution. $2800 down the drain. Now I have to live with it :(.
For normal development, it really doesn't matter if it's 2.0Ghz or 2.8Ghz. Just get one of the cheaper, lighter Dells. They have a good deals all the time. Here is a link for some of them - http://wwwc.dell.com/us/en/dhs/offers/specials_rtg_inspn.htm

Yaniv
Friday, February 14, 2003

Whenever people talk of getting laptops, I tend to recommend against it. I always suggest going for a desktop instead.

1. Can't really ever upgrade them
2. ergo you have to replace the whole thing in one go
3. Very few folk really need the portability
4. Because they are portable, they are easier to steal/lose
5. Less comfortable to word on than a desktop... unless you get a second monitor, keyboard, mouse (already looking like a very expensive desktop)
6. Cost about 1.5x to 2x the price of a comparable desktop.

tapiwa
Friday, February 14, 2003

"I have to say that Apple is very attractive. As a guy who has never even touched a working Apple computer, that’s saying a lot. "

I'd try one out before you buy...  I used to think the way you do, and then I had to use one for a while.  I found myself becoming super frustrated because there were about a million and one things that didn't work the way I was expecting (esp the single mouse button).

I think there was a JOS article about user expectations that talks about this phenomenon.

MaisOui
Friday, February 14, 2003

Battery life:  I haven't given it an all-day test yet.  If I go by the on-screen battery meter, I have a range of 5.5 to 9 hours for the 8-cell battery (depending mostly on screen brightness), and 2.5 to 4 hours for the 4-cell battery.

Keyboard:  Not a reason to get a desktop.  You can always get an external keyboard and mouse to use when you're at home, without having to be stuck at home.  My laptop keys are 97% full size, and have minimal travel, but they're actually surprisingly comfortable to type on.  (Biggest complaint:  Arrow keys are half-size; Home/End/Delete are in a weird place above Backspace.)

Upgrading:  True, with a laptop you're pretty much stuck where you start.  But my old Latitude LM does have a 20GB hard drive and 72MB memory now.  Granted, the 166MHz Pentium is stuck, but hey, it's good enough for *cringe* COBOL class.

Price:  I got my memory from Crucial instead of Dell because it was about half the price.  Discovered yesterday I could have gotten the extra 8-cell battery from Dell, but separately, for $30 less than with the system.  Darn.  Computer pricing is getting to be like auto pricing; even if you're getting your system from one manufacturer, consider shopping around on those overpriced options.

Kyralessa
Friday, February 14, 2003

[I wouldn't recommend Alienware unless you just want to throw money away on an overpriced system with silly neon lights or Day-Glo box covers]

Hey! some of us like our neon lights and leds and overpriced huge heatsinks and custom water cooling lian-li aluminum case with see clear panels and huge blow holes.
But we don't need no stinking alienware to build us one though.

admit it, you like beige, go to bed at 8:30, and throw your money away on crapaccinos.

That being said I want a mac ibook cheapie. I can develop for mono now using macosx instead of my suse hellbox.

Ian Stallings
Friday, February 14, 2003

My next machines was going to be the Alienware Area-51M crazy fast notebook. P4 3.06 GHz (not P4-mobile, regular P4 northwood). Then I found out that Alienware's laptops are made by Taiwaneese original design manufacturer (ODM) Clevo. Clevo also sells laptops to Sager (http://sagernotebook.com).

You can get the same machine Alienware sells for $350 less. You could also get a better machine that Alienware sells because Sager offers the full Clevo product line rather than just two of the six or seven lines.

dmooney
Friday, February 14, 2003

Robert: "...A lot of people here seem to like laptops, but I don't get that at all.

I don't know too many developers who spend a lot of time in hotel rooms around the country, but if that's your gig - go for the laptop.

Otherwise, there's no reason to sacrifice the *far* superior useability and power of a desktop machine.  Personally I find anything less than a 21" screen to be quite limiting.  ..."

In our workplace, developer machines are nearly entirely laptops, though some developers have a beige box aswell for testing, controlling them all through a KVM setup.

Laptops are fast enough to do a lot of development work, you can take work home if you are so inclined and if you are feeling sick or otherwise out of work, you can tackle some of the backlog rather than stressing about it piling up. Laptop screens are excellent for long term reading (like development) and use. They have a very small desk footprint (but you will want to raise it up if you intend to use the screen) so I have more space for paper-type work.

Still, insurance and theft are always a major concern, and they cannot truly compete with an equivalent desktop for performance (HDD speed in particular). They are expensive, and if you rule out the desire to play games, you can get an excellent development (big box) for very little money (you want CPU, memory, HDD, thats it). Another concern is the student lifestyle - you could end up moving house a lot, a laptop might be easier to move around, and is easier to conceal.

Richard
Friday, February 14, 2003

Realist "... Also, I get 'tight' around the shoulders and neck if I work with a laptop keyboard for too long.

I'd recommend some sort of laptop/docking station type solution, although it would be pricey, but then it's not my money.  ..."

I notice that praying-mantis typing effect begins to get painful very quickly. Invest in a good keyboard. I like the MS Natural Pro, but YMMV, and personal preference is a big issue. Those keyboards are quite difficult to find nowadays.

I don't know about the docking station route, sure you get a nice laptop when it is disconnected, but end up losing most of your ports. I think you can get away with just having an external keyb & mouse, and a monitor if you really want it.

Richard
Friday, February 14, 2003

Mine has plenty of ports:

http://wwwb.dell.com/us/en/dhs/products/model_inspn_left_2_latit_x200.htm

http://wwwb.dell.com/us/en/dhs/products/model_inspn_right_2_latit_x200.htm

(Scroll down to see the side view...)

Kyralessa
Friday, February 14, 2003

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