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Laptop recommendations?

I'm looking for a new "desktop replacement" laptop to replace my current one.
My requirements:
1600x1200 screen
1GB RAM
5400rpm hard drive

All the other stuff (DVD, CD-RW, wireless) seem to be ubiquitous - the big three above seem to be the ones that knock most options out of the running. Dell offers this, but going from 512MB->1024MB is $800 (?!)

My current favorite is Sager ( http://www.sagernotebook.com/ ) - $3000 for the perfect machine. But I wanted to canvas the folks here to make sure I wasn't missing someone.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The trick to getting lots of RAM in a Dell laptop at a reasonable price is to buy it separately.  It makes no sense to me, but you can save hundreds by getting a laptop with minimal RAM installed and ordering your "real" RAM separately from Dell.  You actually save money doing this, even BEFORE you resell your original RAM on eBay.  Or you can buy your RAM from Crucial to save even more.

The last time I was in the market for a similar configuration, the options boiled down to Dell or IBM.  I hear Sony now has a good 1600x1200 screen on one of their machines, but I'm not sure about the other specs.  I went with the Dell 8200 and haven't been disappointed.  The UltraSharp 1600x1200 is the way to go.

ODN
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I dont know if these models are available with the specs you asked for, butthese are my two favorites right now:

HP Omnibook 6200 is my "mobile" laptop and its very sturdy. Ive had it for six months and I dragg it around every day and it still looks bascily new. Easy to handle. I think it has a P4 1.7.

My stationary laptop is a fujisu-siemens Amilo. Its a consumer laptop, and its not as well put together as the hp, but as I dont move it much thats secondary. Its good bang for the buck, though the screen is not terribly well lit.

Eric DeBois
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I second Eric's comments on the HP 6200; it's the first laptop I've really liked working with.

It is underspecced for Philo's uses though, but if somebody else finds the odd one going at clearance prices it's well worth buying.

I would think about getting a DVD rewriter. Toshiba now do them with their top of the range models. If you're using a laptop as your primary machine you really want to have a convenient way of backing up all data at one go.

And if space is not a problem it might be worth thinking of having a desktop and a lower specced laptop; spend $1500 on each instead of $3000 on the one.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

[nod]
My desktop machine is fine. The problem is that lately I've been doing a *lot* of development on the road, and I prefer to work on a comfortable speedy machine.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Take a look at:
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=29169&ixReplies=28
for more.

Yaniv
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

You might want to check out the new Dell Inspiron 8500.  It's got a wide aspect 15.4" display that supports a resolution of 1920x1200.

Brian B.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Definitely buy your RAM from Crucial, not from Dell; you'll save 50% or more.  I just did this recently with a laptop and spent $150 on 512MB instead of Dell's $314.

So far as brand, I'd say think about lifetime, not just specs and price.  I used to work in contract PC repair, and Dell had the best part-replacement scheme of anyone we contracted with (which also included HP, Compaq, Toshiba, Best Buy...).  They really do get it there the next day if you call in the morning and need a part replaced, whereas with others it ranged from several days to who-knows-when.  They also had a far better percentage of correct diagnoses on the first part replacement, and more knowledgeable techs when you had to call in.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I don't own one, but the Sony GRX700 Series looks tempting, and a match to your requirements.

Sony GRX700 as configured below - price $US2689.99

16.1” UXGA (1600x1200) LCD display
Mobile Intel® Pentium® 4 2.2GHz-M 
1024 MB DDR-SDRAM
60 GB hard drive
CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo 
Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional

You can decrease the price by substituting, for example:
40 GB hard drive [subtract $180.00] 
30 GB hard drive [subtract $210.00] 
Mobile Intel® Pentium® 4 1.8GHz-M [subtract $250.00] 
Mobile Intel® Celeron® 1.7GHz [subtract $410.00] 

You can increase the price/capability by substituting:
DVD±RW/CD-RW combo with Click to DVD™ software [add $300.00] 
Mobile Intel® Pentium® 4 2.4GHz-M [add $300.00] 

More info at:
http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/eCS/Store/en/-/USD/SY_BrowseCatalog-Start?CatalogCategoryID=0.4KC0.NZxUAAADzvzpE.teE
or start at:
http://www.sonystyle.com (their specific links change periodically)

Philip Dickerson
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Anything that runs OS X.

fool for python
Tuesday, March 11, 2003


Two points:

1.  Read everything you can before buying a Sager.  I cannot speak from experience, but I almost bought one several years ago.  I talked myself out of it by reading the comments of those who have bought one.

2.  I strongly recommend the IBM Thinkpad A31p.  Over the years I've owned 12 different laptops, including Toshiba, Dell, Gateway, NEC and Sony.  The bottom line is that Thinkpads are the best, and the A31p is the finest laptop I have ever used.

Eric W. Sink
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

ODN, Kyralessa:

Won't your warranty with Dell be void if you put in your RAM?

Philo:
After doing some more research on Laptops, I would say

1.) Go with a name brand model: Dell, IBM, Toshiba, etc.

2.) Get a 3 year warranty.

3.) Dell has the best customer service (not the greatest, but the best compared to the rest).

best,

Prakash S
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Kyralessa,

I was checking up RAM prices for my laptop - $100 for 256 mb sounds good to me.

Wanted to know if opening up a laptop doing an upgrade is easy? I have done it on PC's, but never on a laptop.

FYI: My warranty ran out.

THanks,

Prakash S
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

On a laptop, spend until it really hurts and then keep it as long as you can make it make do.

I have a Dell Precision m40, because I needed it a year ago.  Nice machine, too expensive. It's built around the Latitude C800 series, which is a nicer and more robust platform than the Inspirons. 

Particularly, you get two PCMCIA slots and the nubby stick in the middle of the keyboard in addition to the touchpad.  I'd go crazy if I had to use the touchpad.  I just plain like the industrial design better, too.

Make Dell sell you a Latitude.

anonymous
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

It's even easier to put memory in a laptop. Normally you just take out the battery and open a slot at the bottom. Have a look at your manual.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Don’t forget a first rate warranty.

I have owed at 4 notebooks,and EVERYONE of them has had some major failure (screen, or hard disk).

I use my notebooks a lot, and in fact the finish on the last one actually wore off where my palms rest!

My current keyboard was replaced under warranty, and is only a few months old, and again is showing real good signs of wear.

In my previous notebook, the flat screen just stopped working. The cost of replacement was more then the notebook was worth!

Of ALL my friends who also have notebooks, the ones that actually use/move the notebook (ie: it does not count if your notebook just sits at the office and never gets moved). I am talking about people who actually use, and need a notebook. That means it gets moved on a daily basis. If this is the case, then it will break with normal use. Just general wear and tear means your notebook WILL FAIL. I REPEAT every notebook I have has had some major failure. Every SINGLE one of the people I know have also had, or required warranty work if they are on the go all the time. A large portion of notebook users do NOT move the notebook everyday, and thus do not experience much failures at all.

As a result, I now always have my notebook under warranty. It is has been a few months since dell rolled the truck to fix my notebook, but it is costing them a bundle, and not me.

I strongly recommend that you get a very good warranty, and in fact purchase at least 3 years worth of warranty.

I will restate this gain:

I strongly recommend you get a VERY good warranty.

With a desktop pc, you pull out parts and replace it. Dirt cheap, and disposable those desktop computers are. Besides, they don’t get moved, and thus there is not stress on the motherboards.

With a notebook, a small failure will cost you big bucks. You need a warranty to use, and run a notebook. There is no other way around this.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I recently read that Sager is currently kicking Dell's butt on laptop prices. Note: I haven't verified this myself.

As far as Dell is concerned.  As others have already mentioned you should buy additional memory from a third party vendor such as Crucial. You will save yourself some money. Btw, adding more memory to your machine won't void your warranty.

While comparison shopping make sure to check out various web sites for coupon deals. You should be able to find coupons deals for memory as well as the laptop itself. Just in case you don't know a coupon is -- a coupon is simply a discount code (i.e. ABC3457U might equal 10% off the purchase price) that you type into a particular web site during checkout time.

Let us know what you wind up buying.

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

"3.) Dell has the best customer service (not the greatest, but the best compared to the rest)."

Prakash S,

I realize that you are orginally from India so don't take this post as a personal attack against you.

Imo, Dell's customer service currently sucks.

Do a Google search if you don't believe me. I recently was looking to purchase a new desktop PC and all of the reviews that I read from Dell customers who recently purchased a PC I was interested in buying went something like this, "great machine, but the customer service I received was simply awful".

Dell outsourced most of their customer service calls to an Indian firm a couple of years ago.

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I have mentioned this in previous threades regarding buying new laptops.
I was in the similar position looking for a desktop replacement notebook few months ago and I wanted the fastest, most powerfull notebook available in the market. Dell wasn't offering 2.8GHz notebooks then. Hence I looked at Sager, Pro-Star, Alienware etc. They all had machines with similar configuations. Alienware said it will take a month to deliver the machine. I went with a Pro-Star 5654 (P4 2.8GHz, 1GB RAM, 40GB Hard drive, 1600X1200 resolution) becuase of the better pricing. It was a big mistake. It's very heavy (12 pounds!), Everything is so small in 1600X1200 resolution, it really hurts the eyes and if I go to a lower resolution the display becomes blurry, battery life is horrible (1 hour max), Too much of heat generation! (I keep my coffee hot, I mean HOT, not just warm!, the whole day!). $2800 down the drain :(
Think twice before buying a laptop with P4 desktop processor as opposed mobile processor (P4 M)!
Just some food for thought!
Let me know if any of you have any other opinion and agree or disagree with me. Thanks.

Yaniv
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Albert, re: warranties - agreed. Also make sure you get an "onsite" warranty. My first Dell was depot repair - the screen went bad while I was living off the laptop and they wanted it for two weeks to fix it; I couldn't even pay for the service visit - it was send it in or no warranty. (I ended up writing a letter to Michael Dell's office which got me a trade for a refurbished machine, with which I was very happy)

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I'd go with Dell.  I've had my Inspiron 8200 since September and I've very happy with it.  Prior to that I owned a Micron TransPort Trek II for almost four years and was never happy with their service.

Dell is constantly changing the "specials" they offer, and many times they offer a "double RAM" special.  I was able to increase my memory from the 128MB standard to 512MB for about $75.  No doubt you could do the same, and get Dell RAM. (I've also bought from Crucial and have been very happy both with price and their service.)  I just checked their site and they don't currently offer that deal, but their specials change on Thursday - so check back tomorrow.  Also, their inventory changes almost daily; at one point I had the opportunity to get double RAM AND a combo DVD/CDRW drive at an incredible deal, but wasn't quite ready ... I decided two days later it was too good of a deal to pass up, but when I checked the site the drive was no longer available.  So when you find the combo you want at the right price, jump on it.

As others have said, get the longest warranty you can, and make sure it's for on-site repair.  A lot of my dissatisfaction with Micron was that the laptop had a manufacturing/design defect: its hinges were far too tight, and the plastic in the display portion of the case basically disintegrated about two years after I bought it.  I spoke with several others with the identical problem.  I had not purchased the extended warranty (unavailable since I bought a "refurbished" unit), and it took me almost three months to get Micron to admit fault and fix the problem without cost (it would have been $400 otherwise).  With the $300 extended warranty, it would have been a matter of calling them and telling them to fix it, and everything else would have been covered, too.

Look both at their small-business and their home sites.  Their prices for the identical computer on the two sites can be hundreds of dollars different.  I find that their small-business pricing is much better.

Also, be sure to continue to check their site AFTER you receive your machine.  About 25 days after I received my new Inspiron I needed research a new laptop for a client, and out of curiosity I re-priced the configuration I bought.  It was almost $300 less!  I called Dell's customer service, and they credited me for the difference.  You have to do this within 30 days of purchase.

Finally, check the 1600x1200 resolution carefully.  Have you worked with one of these displays yet?  I have a friend with one, and found the characters were just too small for my 43-year-old eyes.  He's a bit older than I, and thinks it's great.  I compromised on the 1400x1050 display and have been very happy.

Dell has by far and away the most choices available, and their product is very nice.  I recommend them highly, despite Joel's opinion of their servers :)

Karl Perry
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Just bought additional RAM from Dell, it was $19 cheaper than what I found at Crucial's website.

Customer service was pretty good, never had any complaints with Dell Service.

Prakash S
Thursday, March 13, 2003

I recently bought a Sony Vaio R505 to replace my aging Z505. It doesn't meet the original poster's specs, so I wouldn't recommend it for him; I bought it because of the small size / light weight.

But I just wanted to comment. I seriously thought about a Dell laptop. I know several people who own them, and swear by them. And they all said the same thing:

"Yeah, and the Dell service was great the three/four times I had to send it in for repair!"

My first Vaio went for 3 years without a hitch. Dells seem to need major or minor repairs every six months in my experience.

Chris Tavares
Thursday, March 13, 2003

In May last year I got a Sony PCG-GRX316MP (P4 1.6GHz, 512MB, 30GB, 16.1" screen) and couldn't be happier with it. I would definitely recommend Sony's latest model which I believe has already been mentioned earlier in the thread.

James Ussher-Smith
Sunday, March 16, 2003

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