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Choosing a laptop

Hi *,

it's getting time to get me a new laptop. I'd like to have the Dell Inspiron 8600 because of the specs but it has a ridiculously large (15.4") screen that makes it 36 cm wide. No go.

So, which one do you recommend? 15" screen, 1600 Xsomething resolution, Centrino 1.7, 1 Gig RAM, >= 60 Gig fast HDD. Doesn't have to be a Dell.

Thanks a lot!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I have the Dell Inspiron 8500 and am very happy with it.  Once I started using the wide-screen I find it hard to use standard size monitors any more.

Wade Winningham
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I got the Dell Inspiron 8200 last Feb, mainly because I was flying a lot and wanted to watch DVDs.  It's pretty good for that.  The Downside is the thing weighs a virtual ton.  After lugging it for 30 minutes both arms are about to fall off.  Most of the weight is due to having 2 batteries, needed to watch a 2.5 to 3 hour DVD.

Outside of the weight, I have no complaints about the laptop.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

If you are looking for a traveling machine, get the lightest thing you can find with a 1024x768 display and an external CD/DVD, which you usually don't need to travel with.  I have one like that (a Dell Lattitude C400), once inch thick and three pounds, I never hesitate to bring it along when I am traveling.  I see those guys at the airport with a 10+ pound laptop bag over their shoulder, they can't even stand straight from the weight, and wonder what they were thinking.

If you are looking for a somewhat portable desktop replacement, then my advice is not for you.

Years ago I was shopping for a telescope and someone told me the best telescope was the one that got used the most.  Translation - convenience often is more important than sheer size and features.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Get a Targus backpack instead of a briefcase type holder.

These things are great for travelling, and really reduces the arm strain.  Plus you've got hands free for carying your latte on the plane.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I have a 12lb labtop and Targus backpack and I only mind lugging it around a little bit. My laptop is Sager 5660. I would recommend them for their power, except I've had a lot of issues with hardware failing. Supposedly most Sager owners don't have these problems. YMMV.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

After two+ years, my 12" iBook (dual USB) is still just fine. It's light and extremely durable (stood up to a kitten pushing it off a desk). I just bought the wife a new 12" PowerBook with a SuperDrive. It's even lighter than the iBook and quite a bit faster.

I use Windows all day long; when I get home, I just want the machine to work.

One thing I do like about my company laptop (a Dell 3 pounder) is the external DVD burner. It's nice to be able to shed the extra weight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I've been happy with my ThinkPad T series for the last year.

Nice and sturdy with a titanium composite shell and metal screen hinges, yet still light enough to travel with.

Another plus for me was that the IBM web site makes it pretty easy to locate all the drivers you need for rebuilding your particular machine from scratch if you ever need/want to.

For backpacks, I like these guys:

I have their Brain Bag and love it.

Tim Lara
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

hey, this brain bag looks cool.

Prakash S
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Based on personal experience, I would stay away from Dell laptops. The quality is rather sub-standard, and what you get for what you pay on the top end isn't a great deal.

PC World did a fairly comprehensive survey of customer satisfaction for desktops and laptops, as well as other consumer electronic devices.

For notebooks, it looks like the best reliability scores go to Toshiba (highly regarded among developers) and Gateway, and among service, the best score is by far IBM.,aid,112915,00.asp

Brad Wilson (
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I'll put my 2c in recommending a Dell.  I have a D400 and have no complaints on quality and love the portability.

Next business day replacement service can't be beaten in my neck of the woods - Tosh, IBM or equivalent takes weeks typically.

Motown (AU)
Thursday, December 11, 2003

One Word:


($350 now on ebay! I've had mine for 4 years now and it still turns heads and outperforms new dell xp laptops somehow. Put w2k on it and a 40GB drive in!)

Josh No-Spam Jones
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I have a backpack from Spire, , and it's excellent.  The model I have isn't being sold anymore (got it in 2000).  It's comparable to the Zoom.  The best part is it's very comfortable, and it doesn't look at all like a laptop bag.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The first laptop I had was an Acer, and the second and current was an HP Omnibook 6200.

No real complaints about either - in fact the Omnibook is a beauty.

At present Toshiba seem to be the most popular and best specced, though the fact that IBM have given up  nipple fanatacism and provided a touchpad as well puts them back in the picture.

I think it's basically a question of deciding what you need and then trying it out. And please be wary of using a laptop as your primarly development machine because you will end up disabled quicker than you can say carpal tunnel syndrome. If you want it dual use, check the screen out at a distance when you are typing with a full size keyboard.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Really, toshiba's are the most reliable, I had a Tecra and it was horrible, I reccomend the IBM's I was recently using a 570e and it ran great (256megs of ram) obviosuly DVD's wouldn't work very well, but IBM's seem to be most consistently high quality. After that I would get a Dell, but a Latitude not an inspiron (I own an inspiron, and don't really like the mushy keyboard).

the artist formerly known as prince
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I had a toshiba satellite and the thing ran so hot it would practically burn.  It had a fan on the back that turned on automatically, but apparently it had to get really really hot before it would turn on, and even then, it didn't make much difference.  They said that was normal.

I recently bought a laptop preloaded with linux from - I have been extremely happy with their service and the laptop has worked flawlessly.  They respond to emails within a day and their "tech support" department is actually the guys that build the machines (not some outsourced call center with a sheet to read instead of any real technical knowledge).  The one time I did have an issue, they had a response immediately.

They preload any software or linux distro (within reason) on the machines, and when I had a problem, they ended up having a drive image of what they had installed on my laptop, so they were able to pinpoint the problem on the exact configuration I was using and solve it within minutes!

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I've had a 15" powerbook for the past 1.5 years and have loved it.  At a hair over 5 pounds, it's a moderate weight and not hard to carry around for extended periods, despite a bad back.  Whether or not it's appropriate for your dev needs is another matter, but I'm perfectly happy doing web app development on it.

As for a carrying case, if you already have a backpack, don't bother with one of the purpose-built ones; just pick up a sleeve for your laptop.  I've been incredibly happy with the SleeveCase from Waterfield Designs at .  I use it along with an old jansport backpack and it's a great and convenient solution.

Thursday, December 11, 2003


Thursday, December 11, 2003

I can vouch for Brad's findings as far as IBM's service being excellent:

My laptop's cooling system originally had some sort of malfunction (always ran REALLY hot for some reason) and after a few months, I suspect that this caused it to fry one of its memory banks - I noticed that 1/2 my available RAM mysteriously disappeared.

I called IBM's tech support and told the person on the phone that I had done some troubleshooting (swapping DIMMs, etc) and determined that one of the memory banks had failed.  Unlike most tech support employees I've talked to, this guy was actually smart enough to know that I had already diagnosed the problem in a way that made sense and therefore didn't make me go through his standard "try this, try that, it must be a software conflict, blah blah blah) checklist.  Instead, he accepted the diagnosis, overnighted me a super-cushiony prepaid shipping crate, and I had my laptop back with all its guts replaced within a few days.  I've had no troubles since.

Much better than some companies that outsource support and make you deal with 3rd party technicians who are often incompetant and end up taking 2, 3 or more tries to fix a problem.

Tim Lara
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I got a Toshiba (last year's low end model, a Satellite for $999 with a $200 rebate, 1.4 ghz celeron, dvd, 128 meg, Win XP home) and I've been a happy camper.

Battery life is OK and I have not run into the spontaneous combustion issue noted above. :-)


Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 11, 2003

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