Tender me laptop advice

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thisisdavid
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Tender me laptop advice

Postby thisisdavid » Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:50 am UTC

I'm starting to get excited about getting my college laptop over the summer, and not knowing too much about notebooks i thought i'd ask for input here. Here's what I'm looking for.

I have a pretty nice budget to work with, since god willing i get named as national merit semi-finalist and I name OU as my college choice, i get a $1500 laptop allowance, and then whatever my parents will put up for it, so hopefully i'm looking in the $2000 range.

Macs: Through broadcasting class this year i've become very interested in macs, particularly how they tend to not bog down like pc notebooks do, and because of how well designed they are. Also, they seem to be more student friendly and i like the size. I'd probably get a macbook pro, or if they have made a beefier macbook by then, i might get that since i like the smaller size. My main issue with macs is i have a lot of pc software including games that i would like to keep using in college, so what i'd like to know is whether you can practically get xp to dual boot along-side os x (or leopard?) with the new intel chips, or is it not worth it?

pc notebooks: I inherently mistrust pc notebooks, particularly ones like dell or hp, just because i've seen so many of them degenerate into sloppy, slow-booting sloths, even when they're pretty responsibly used. Aside that, I'd like a 128mb graphics card, a processor that can healthily run games like hl2 and a corresponding amount of RAM. Enormous hard drives aren't that imperative, since i'll probably end up getting an external drive to keep it from bogging down with my crap. Portability is nice since i'll be taking it to class and everything, and a fast boot time or at least a fast wake-up-from-standby time is a must.

gimme some anecdotes please
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Phentos » Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:55 am UTC

The majority of PC laptops out now have around 100-200GB HD space, so I'm not so sure the external will be necessary.

I love my laptop (Acer 9410Z); my only complaint is battery life. Can barely suck 2 hours out of it.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby BNOOOOGERS » Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:57 am UTC

OMGZ great topic to bring up because I am in the EXACT same situation, except I'm not sure if I will actually go to OU.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby redthegreat » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:07 am UTC

Yes, you can dual boot and yes, vista / xp will run at native speed.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,13664 ... ticle.html
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Antimatter Spork » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:12 am UTC

I haven't done dualboot, but I love my Macbook, which I got just last summer.

If you do get one, I highly recommend upgrading the RAM and hard drive space as much as they'll let you. I did, and it's pretty awesome how great it runs.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby mrcheesypants » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:15 am UTC

Many people will disagree with me but avoid Acer (or atleast the aspire series). My POS Aspire 3610 now has broken hinges and a CD-Rom player that MIGHT break as well as poor battery life. From what I've heard, go with either a thinkpad or a macbook.

Anyway, aside from brand names looking for a laptop is a bit different than buying or building a desktop PC. There are three questions you should ask yourself when buying a laptop:

1) Is it portable? Don't even think about gaming for a laptop. The higher the specs, the less battery life your laptop will have. If you insist on gaming, get a really cheep laptop and build a desktop.

2)Does this model/brand have any complaints about durability? The only way to figure this one out is to google reviews for the laptop you want.

3)Is this company known for great support? A laptop is not like a desktop PC. If you have a problem with your hardware, the only way to fix it is to send it back to the company. Once again, look for reviews or read forums (like this thread) for accounts on good or bad services. You might also want to consider getting an extended warranty because problems with all technology arise when the warrenty expires.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Phentos » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:23 am UTC

1) Is it portable? Don't even think about gaming for a laptop. The higher the specs, the less battery life your laptop will have. If you insist on gaming, get a really cheep laptop and build a desktop.

:|

Are you serious buddy?
You're missing the part where ac adapters are ALSO PORTABLE. Haha. I take my laptop over to my friends house (who has a brutal desktop) and we LAN Unreal Tournament. Then I go to a coffee shop and camp out with some friends and play WoW. I rarely am in a position where I lack access to power and also want to game; in fact, I think I could safely say I'm never in that position.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby ArchangelShrike » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:27 am UTC

Hardware sub-forum. Check there for more details precisely, there's a thread on buying new computers.

But from what it sounds like, a Mac would be fine, preferably a MacBook Pro because they're the only Macs with non-budget cards (ATI X1400 iirc) You will need to buy XP in order to run Boot Camp, however.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby zingmaster » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:30 am UTC

I actually decided to get a mac for college simply because I know that later I'll have to decide which platform I'd rather use, and so I figured what better time to really try the other side than now? I've used PCs my entire life, so I tried a switch.

I really like my Macbook Pro. The biggest difference between this and Windows is how naturally I learned Mac OS. Granted, I had some help from a friend on a few features, but it's not hard at all to figure out. Things basically work for you. There's less to worry about on a Mac, such as finding your way around your hard drive. That really annoyed me on my PC. I would suggest that you try not getting OS 10.5 Leopard quite yet. I got it, and there are still a few kinks that need to be worked out. But if you must, I wouldn't about it. It works fine. So yeah, my vote is for a Mac.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby mrcheesypants » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:36 am UTC

Phentos wrote:
1) Is it portable? Don't even think about gaming for a laptop. The higher the specs, the less battery life your laptop will have. If you insist on gaming, get a really cheep laptop and build a desktop.

:|

Are you serious buddy?
You're missing the part where ac adapters are ALSO PORTABLE. Haha. I take my laptop over to my friends house (who has a brutal desktop) and we LAN Unreal Tournament. Then I go to a coffee shop and camp out with some friends and play WoW. I rarely am in a position where I lack access to power and also want to game; in fact, I think I could safely say I'm never in that position.


Yes, but say you want to surf the web or work on an assignment while waiting for a class to start. From personal experience, I can say it's really annoying to find a power outlet not being used as well as a chair to sit in. Also with gaming you would get more bang for the buck with a desktop PC.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby williamager » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:52 am UTC

thisisdavid wrote:Macs: Through broadcasting class this year i've become very interested in macs, particularly how they tend to not bog down like pc notebooks do, and because of how well designed they are. Also, they seem to be more student friendly and i like the size. I'd probably get a macbook pro, or if they have made a beefier macbook by then, i might get that since i like the smaller size. My main issue with macs is i have a lot of pc software including games that i would like to keep using in college, so what i'd like to know is whether you can practically get xp to dual boot along-side os x (or leopard?) with the new intel chips, or is it not worth it?

pc notebooks: I inherently mistrust pc notebooks, particularly ones like dell or hp, just because i've seen so many of them degenerate into sloppy, slow-booting sloths, even when they're pretty responsibly used. Aside that, I'd like a 128mb graphics card, a processor that can healthily run games like hl2 and a corresponding amount of RAM. Enormous hard drives aren't that imperative, since i'll probably end up getting an external drive to keep it from bogging down with my crap. Portability is nice since i'll be taking it to class and everything, and a fast boot time or at least a fast wake-up-from-standby time is a must.

gimme some anecdotes please


To satisfy my rather pedantic nature, I should inform you that Macs are still PCs, and what you refer to are computers running Windows. This is especially important now that Apple uses the x86-derivative architecture, since most PCs can run OS X if you aren't concerned with breaking the EULA.

I've never had any problem with computers degenerating in the manner you describe, but I use Linux on computers that don't run OS X. Dell, and many other manufacturers, seem to have changed considerably over the years: I actually was rather happy with my Dell laptop, a D600, and used it for almost three years, far longer than my previous Apple laptop. I would always advise purchasing a laptop from a business line if the manufacturer has one, however, as they usually are far better and cleaner in ways that technical specifications won't reveal. Dell, for example, hardly includes any unwanted software on laptops intended for businesses, and also has amazing warranty support if you pay extra. The quality of the hardware in my D600 was horrible, but that was ameliorated by the warranty support which included next-day, in-home service. The technical support staff were clueless, but also completely trusted me when I told them what was wrong, and what needed to be replaced. This can be contrasted with the Apple I had before that laptop, where the technical support refused to speak to me unless I provided a credit card number, even though the laptop was still covered, and the warranty support took weeks to replace a simple broken hard drive, while at the same time almost ruining my Dvorak keyboard (and insulting me over it in their ignorance), swapping out the burner the laptop came with for a cheaper cd-rom drive, and then first refusing to believe me about the drive and later claiming that Apple must have mixed up the labelling on some boxes.

That said, I now have an Apple again, a Macbook Pro, and am not displeased with it. OS X is quite nice, and rather easy to use, even if it has a number of stupid flaws that should have been fixed years ago. The company on the whole seems terribly arrogant, and much of the community seems hideous, but one must remember that I came from Linux and thus have a skewed sense of such issues. The hardware is well designed, at least from an aesthetic sense, but there are issues, and Apple tends to try to hide them: on my one-year-old MBP, for example, poor design of the battery has led to the mouse button randomly clicking if there is the frame is slightly stressed, and this problem is apparently common. In addition, the paint on the keys is starting to wear off, the paint around the keyboard is starting to flake off, the case latch is stuck, and the frame is starting to warp near the power cord plugin. The power cords themselves also wear out rather quickly, and Apple uses patents to prevent anyone else from making third-party cords.

That said, many of these problems apply to other computers as well. My Dell had almost the exact same power cord wear issues, and Dell actually intentionally cripples their power cords by adding a third pin that sends special codes. At least Apple can use MagSafe as an excuse! Over the three years I used it, my Dell also had major exterior paint-flaking problems, four motherboard ethernet failures, a hard drive failure, and a broken hinge. Dell also neglectedc to fix serious cooling issues that made newer games and graphics-intensive software very hard to use: I remember putting ice packs from my lab underneath in order to help alleviate the problem.

In short, all laptops are rather bad. If you like Macs, then I would suggest buying a MacBook Pro. You needn't worry about compatibility any longer, as Macs will now run Windows almost flawlessly (PC World, if I recall correctly, related that benchmarks in Vista ran faster on an MBP than on any other laptop they tested), and the only problems you might have will probably be with rather old software that might not work on other new laptops, since Apple tends to eschew legacy support and use only very modern standards: a game that requires a non-USB keyboard, for example, won't work with an MBP. As some anecdotal advice, don't spend the money on buying the best MacBook you can buy; I did this with my old iBook, and I think the support problems mentioned above were partially due to the techs not realizing that I was, in fact, a very serious computer user, and that the computer was higher-priced and better than low-end Powerbooks at the time. Also, don't buy extra RAM from Apple, as third-party RAM is far cheaper and is not nontrivially different.

Phentos wrote:The majority of PC laptops out now have around 100-200GB HD space, so I'm not so sure the external will be necessary.

I love my laptop (Acer 9410Z); my only complaint is battery life. Can barely suck 2 hours out of it.


I have over 40 GiB of photographs I've taken over the last 3 years alone. I'd also highly recommend backing up laptop hard drives regularly. In fact, despite my dislike of over-formatting of text, I would highly recommend backup up laptop hard drives regularly. Every laptop I've ever had, save for my most recent one purchased under a year ago, has had the hard drive fail within two years of purchase. Hard drives simply can't cope with being moved around that much.

Phentos wrote:
1) Is it portable? Don't even think about gaming for a laptop. The higher the specs, the less battery life your laptop will have. If you insist on gaming, get a really cheep laptop and build a desktop.


Ah, but you forget the wonders of CPU frequency scaling! Faster laptops no longer have battery lives significantly shorter than slower ones, so long as you aren't actually running something resource-intensive. Cheaper laptops can also have less efficient hardware, and cheaper batteries.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby thisisdavid » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:36 am UTC

wow thanks for the fast advice guys, and bnooogers, how bout that $85,000 scholarship? I'd really like to graduate debt free, and OU has both a good honors program and it's raking in money right now, so the quality of the school is increasing very fast.

i didn't know that the intel dualcore ran windows so well, that takes away probably 90% of the qualms i had about getting a mac, i know i'd use both OS pretty often so i figure it'd be worth it, plus i can get some good mac software from my broadcasting teacher.

reasons to run leopard over OS X? I already know i'm not leaving XP, just because vista seems frivolous and useless. However every mac savvy person i've talked to is really excited about leopard, but havn't really told me anything that it does new/better than OS X.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Likpok » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:49 am UTC

All the insight I can really offer (my only experience) is, if you go with a non-mac, buy a thinkpad. From what I hear they are far above the rest, even other "business" class laptops. I have heard this from multiple different sources. In additon, the keyboard feels better (to me) than any other, including macs.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:07 am UTC

As far as I can see, Leopard can do stacks (on the Dock) and multiple desktops. I've no idea what else it does that's significantly better than Tiger (I run Tiger).
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby williamager » Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:18 am UTC

thisisdavid wrote:reasons to run leopard over OS X? I already know i'm not leaving XP, just because vista seems frivolous and useless. However every mac savvy person i've talked to is really excited about leopard, but havn't really told me anything that it does new/better than OS X.


I assume you mean Leopard over Tiger, but this won't really be of any consequence for you, because you'll be receiving Leopard anyway; the names simply refer to different versions of OS X. I wasn't excited about Leopard before starting to use it, and am still not very excited about it, but it is an improvement over previous versions. Note that 'mac savvy' people are often simply mac fanatics, who will be excited about anything promoted by Apple, a company which in their opinion can do no wrong. This is a very serious issue, and well documented. I've known a fanatic who, after touring a supercomputer centre, wouldn't stop talking about how his Mac was also a supercomputer and must be faster than most of the computers there.

Most of the features being promoted in Leopard's marketing aren't very useful. The 3D dock is rather annoying, and the reasoning behind having a huge dock at the bottom of a wide screen is dubious. However, the new side dock, which hasn't been promoted, looks quite nice. The transparent menu bar isn't as bad as it seems, partially because it isn't nearly as transparent as it was in marketing photos; it is only translucent now, and only enough to make it blend in slightly with the background while not decreasing legibility. Stacks are hideous, with universally condemned and extremely confusing dynamic icons that Apple won't change, a general lack of flexibility, and no way to disable them. Time Machine is nice, but takes some configuration in order to be reasonably usable, and has a number of annoying little problems.

However, there have been major changes that weren't given much promotion but are important nonetheless. Finder has had significant improvements, and isn't nearly as horrible as it was before. This probably wasn't promoted much because the previous version of Finder was so embarrassing. Saying something to the effect of 'Finder no longer randomly freezes your entire computer for minutes at a time for inexplicable reasons, or at least doesn't do so as often!' isn't conducive to heightened opinions of one's company. The Mail application has been significantly improved, especially with regards to IMAP support, but still seems like a shaky implementation of an excellent design; the main addition in Mail being promoted (Stationary), however, is so horrible that I would be very much inclined to simply ignore emails that make use of it. Proper handling of DPI is now present in many programs, which is quite wonderful, as 100% zoom in Preview for a letter-sized document will be nearly letter-sized; this was one of my major complaints about Tiger, as it was something that I had been able to fix myself in Linux. On the whole, Leopard seems to be faster, more polished, and more stable than Tiger.

Likpok wrote:All the insight I can really offer (my only experience) is, if you go with a non-mac, buy a thinkpad. From what I hear they are far above the rest, even other "business" class laptops. I have heard this from multiple different sources. In additon, the keyboard feels better (to me) than any other, including macs.


Yes, Thinkpad keyboards do seem to feel better than Mac keyboards, and I've heard that Lenovo has done quite a good job at maintaining the quality and prestige of the brand that IBM created. A relative of mine recently bought one of their tablets, and I was extremely impressed: the handwriting recognition was able to correctly recognize text that I couldn't understand well myself, and I was able to write out mathematics that looked very nice.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Okita » Wed Dec 19, 2007 9:25 am UTC

You may want to check if your university has a special deal with laptops. My school has a special deal with dell allowing me to get a laptop with a lot more bang for its buck. Sure, I can't use it to play the crazyawesome games I want but it does the job very well for schoolwork. And you might even get warranties/ on campus tech support.

Also, with laptops, make sure you learn how to maximize battery life so you don't become chained to outlets.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby spelunker » Wed Dec 19, 2007 9:37 am UTC

I dualboot on a MBP, and it's like 90% awesome. BioShock runs great, and I recently did a project that required the use of IIS and SQL Server, which all ran fine off my 'book, too.

The one thing, though, is that in my experience an external hd to backup with would be a good idea. XP ain't all that stable for some inexplicable reason, and will crash on occasion with a force reset (I think I've tracked down the problem to the usb mouse driver, I think). This could be an issue with my mac, but still- backing up is always a good idea.

Other than that, the thing si awesum. It's battery life is >3 hours, too, which is nice, and the wireless card picks up all kinds of crazy distance access points.

Oh, and I get to play BioShock.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Solt » Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:05 am UTC

thisisdavid wrote:i didn't know that the intel dualcore ran windows so well, that takes away probably 90% of the qualms i had about getting a mac, i know i'd use both OS pretty often so i figure it'd be worth it, plus i can get some good mac software from my broadcasting teacher.


Since you have no actual need for OSX but a need for windows, why go through the extra trouble? Buy a windows notebook. Believe me, windows isn't that much harder to use. And yes, I use both. Personally I prefer Windows over OS X because the latter is much more limiting, and I like the extra control of windows but you might not feel the same.

Apple tends to be overpriced and not nearly as easy to upgrade or customize (in terms of the number of devices that will be compatible, and the variety of components you can choose from initially). All you really need is a Core 2 Duo and your preferred graphics card, other than that get what you think you'll need in terms of HD capacity, screen resolution, etc. Of course, Apple doesn't even give you a choice with the graphics card, you have what, 2 choices for the highest price range?

There's no reason to believe that macs are of higher quality than other PC manufacturers, Apple fans would like you to think so but it's probably not true. Remember, manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo make and sell many more laptops than Apple and seem to be doing quite well for themselves. I certainly have no complaints about my Lenovo.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Dream » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:49 pm UTC

Solt wrote:Since you have no actual need for OSX but a need for windows, why go through the extra trouble? Buy a windows notebook. Believe me, windows isn't that much harder to use. And yes, I use both. Personally I prefer Windows over OS X because the latter is much more limiting, and I like the extra control of windows but you might not feel the same.

Apple tends to be overpriced and not nearly as easy to upgrade or customize (in terms of the number of devices that will be compatible, and the variety of components you can choose from initially). All you really need is a Core 2 Duo and your preferred graphics card, other than that get what you think you'll need in terms of HD capacity, screen resolution, etc. Of course, Apple doesn't even give you a choice with the graphics card, you have what, 2 choices for the highest price range?

There's no reason to believe that macs are of higher quality than other PC manufacturers, Apple fans would like you to think so but it's probably not true. Remember, manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo make and sell many more laptops than Apple and seem to be doing quite well for themselves. I certainly have no complaints about my Lenovo.


Rubbish, of course. But I'm not getting into a discussion that has been done to death. Instead:

The OP has good reason to use a Mac, as it will increase compatiblity with the software used on his broadcasting course. I believe in the axiom "choose your software first, then choose a system that will run it." with this in mind the Mac is clearly the right choice. There may be other concerns on the OPs mind, but I doubt they would be so big as to counter that basic common sense. Even if there were a few choices that were as good a fit, I would think that OSX is a strong reason to choose Apple, along with X11 and Open Office (and any other X app you care to mention) and the far superior bundled software. Even if you think Macs are more expensive, I don't think you can call that overpriced, because the things I listed above are worth actual money. I don't think I paid much more for my MacBook than I would have for a similar hardware configuration in a similar form factor from a similarly reputable manufacturer. But if I had, I'd still be happy, because Macs are valuable to me for many more reasons than just price divided by performance. Speaking of which:

Thisisdavid: Buy any upgrades to memory and storage from a third party. They're very easy to install, and much cheaper. For my purposes, in music production, a basic MacBook with full RAM and a fast hard drive is more than enough. But if you're doing graphics work, the extra screen size, and faster graphics processor on the Pros is probably worth the extra it will cost.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby MoonBuggy » Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:29 pm UTC

Dream wrote:Thisisdavid: Buy any upgrades to memory and storage from a third party. They're very easy to install, and much cheaper.

Seconded. I've recently bought a new model iMac, which I think was reasonably fairly priced (read: expensive but worth it!). Apple's memory upgrades, however, are quite simply extortionate; to have the machine shipped with 4GB rather than 1GB would've cost an extra £539.99 - two 2GB sticks of memory cost £25 each when bought separately, meaning the Apple upgrade is more than an order of magnitude too expensive.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby williamager » Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:30 pm UTC

Solt wrote:Since you have no actual need for OSX but a need for windows, why go through the extra trouble? Buy a windows notebook. Believe me, windows isn't that much harder to use. And yes, I use both. Personally I prefer Windows over OS X because the latter is much more limiting, and I like the extra control of windows but you might not feel the same.


His mention of broadcasting software seemed to hint that he might have some use for OS X specifically. There isn't really much extra trouble involved with dual booting anyway. Both OS X and XP have very quick startup times, and software like VMWare Fusion can alleviate even that inconvenience.

Also, how is OS X much more limiting? Since many *nix-compatible programs will compile in OS X, I haven't had much of a problem with software choice, while to get a decent terminal in Windows I would have to install cygwin, which is rather awkward. Windows doesn't even come with a decent compiler. A new laptop would probably come with Vista as well, which would have to be removed in order to install XP. And OS X has Quicksilver, which is one of the most useful programs I've ever used.

Apple tends to be overpriced and not nearly as easy to upgrade or customize (in terms of the number of devices that will be compatible, and the variety of components you can choose from initially). All you really need is a Core 2 Duo and your preferred graphics card, other than that get what you think you'll need in terms of HD capacity, screen resolution, etc. Of course, Apple doesn't even give you a choice with the graphics card, you have what, 2 choices for the highest price range?


Apple did tend to be overpriced at one time, but I don't think that they're much more expensive now. Most devices seem to be compatible, though Apple does have a tendency to include new technologies even when doing so can harm customer choice: the use of ExpressCard rather than PCMCIA is an excellent example of this. Hardware choices in laptops are limited in general, as they mostly seem to be made from the same components; I expect that this is why the OLPC laptops are in such demand. It seems to me that the graphics card isn't terribly important, so long as it is decent, unless one uses Linux and thus needs a specific, supported card. Unfortunately, I do use Linux rather often, and happen to have an MBP with an unsupported ATI card.

There's no reason to believe that macs are of higher quality than other PC manufacturers, Apple fans would like you to think so but it's probably not true. Remember, manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo make and sell many more laptops than Apple and seem to be doing quite well for themselves. I certainly have no complaints about my Lenovo.


I think it is clear that in terms of aesthetic quality, Apple is a leader in the market. However, I can't say that the reliability and sturdiness of the hardware have proven to be much better than other laptops my relatives have used. That said, selling more laptops doesn't mean that the laptops aren't built to an inferior standard. As I noted, I found Dell's reliability to be horrible; they made up for that, however, by obediently replacing any failing component within two days, which was quite impressive (of course, they also insisted that I was a university, so I can't say much for their bureaucracy). Given my previous experiences with Apple's support, I doubt they would be quite so friendly and helpful. Thinkpads, of course, are quite praised for their excellent reliability and sturdiness, so I'm not sure they would be a fair indicator for arguing that Apple's quality is average.

I will agree, however, that in the minds of Apple fans, Apple's laptops are completely indestructible, much cheaper (once you take into account added features like the magnetic power cord, worth at least $1000 by itself!), and faster than most computers on the TOP500 list.

And now I've taken so long that someone has responded:

Dream wrote:Even if there were a few choices that were as good a fit, I would think that OSX is a strong reason to choose Apple, along with X11 and Open Office (and any other X app you care to mention) and the far superior bundled software. Even if you think Macs are more expensive, I don't think you can call that overpriced, because the things I listed above are worth actual money.


OpenOffice and X11 (via Cygwin, I believe) are free in Windows, or one can run Linux instead. The bundled software isn't amazingly wonderful, and in places seems quite unpolished. Mail, while an excellent design, is so unstable that I've had to switch to Thunderbird, Firefox is far better than Safari for everything except basic browsing, VIM is far better than TextEdit, Terminal still leaves something to be desired, iChat is superior to Adium only if using video, VLC is far better than Quicktime player, and Finder is still annoying. Most of the bundled software also tries to push Apple's extra products, like iDisk, which can't be removed from the menus, and .Mac.

It's also rather amusing that the two pieces of software you choose to mention both happen to be free, and one even happens to be Free.

Thisisdavid: Buy any upgrades to memory and storage from a third party. They're very easy to install, and much cheaper. For my purposes, in music production, a basic MacBook with full RAM and a fast hard drive is more than enough. But if you're doing graphics work, the extra screen size, and faster graphics processor on the Pros is probably worth the extra it will cost.


I agree that buying memory from a third party is a good idea. In my case, I bought my MBP with 1 1GiB stick, and then bought another 1 GB stick. Planning to buy an HD upgrade from a third party isn't quite as obvious, however: it will have to replace an HD that's already installed, and so something will have to be done with the old one. Using it as an external drive with an enclosure might be a good idea, if one wants an external drive; otherwise, using the Apple HD upgrades would probably be a more economical choice. This obviously applies to memory somewhat as well: if you plan to upgrade the memory, don't buy the laptop with two sticks already installed.

As I also mentioned before, I would suggest buying a Macbook Pro instead of a Macbook, for reasons of support and general build quality.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Dream » Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:32 pm UTC

williamager wrote:
Dream wrote:Even if there were a few choices that were as good a fit, I would think that OSX is a strong reason to choose Apple, along with X11 and Open Office (and any other X app you care to mention) and the far superior bundled software. Even if you think Macs are more expensive, I don't think you can call that overpriced, because the things I listed above are worth actual money.


OpenOffice and X11 (via Cygwin, I believe) are free in Windows, or one can run Linux instead. The bundled software isn't amazingly wonderful, and in places seems quite unpolished. Mail, while an excellent design, is so unstable that I've had to switch to Thunderbird, Firefox is far better than Safari for everything except basic browsing, VIM is far better than TextEdit, Terminal still leaves something to be desired, iChat is superior to Adium only if using video, VLC is far better than Quicktime player, and Finder is still annoying. Most of the bundled software also tries to push Apple's extra products, like iDisk, which can't be removed from the menus, and .Mac.

It's also rather amusing that the two pieces of software you choose to mention both happen to be free, and one even happens to be Free.


Sorry that was unclear. I meant that the bundled programs are better, for me anyway. As in, bundled in windows vs. bundled in OSX. Probably the OO mention confused that point. Obviously, if you download all free (or Free) programs you can find wonderful stuff that will do almost everything you need. My point was that Safari > IE, and Garageband > Nothing and so on. I agree with the extra product pushing, but I don' think it's excessive. My computer hasn't mentioned .mac or iDisk since I installed Tiger.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:40 pm UTC

For college, I would really recommend a Macbook over a Macbook Pro. Why? Ruggedness. (I'll be upfront and say I'm basing this on my G4 iBook, but they're essentially the same build.) They're hard plastic rather than metal, which is really a lot stronger in this case. If you're going to be moving it around a lot (and you will), you'll appreciate being able to drop it and not bend the case, which has happened to Powerbooks and MBPs. You probably won't have much need for the better graphics card and only a slight need for the ExpressCard slot. After that, it's a small difference in screen size/resolution. My iBook has been dropped numerous times, had stuff on it, been thrown up all over (don't ask), and still works great. I don't know if an MBP could live through that as well.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Angstrom » Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:15 pm UTC

I used to hate macs (and yes I had used them before), but my co-workers at college talked me into it. Leopard impressed me to say the least, and so I managed to get a 1-1/2 year old used black macbook for under 1200. Specs are Core Duo 2GHz with 2GB RAM and 120GB HDD, plus it has 1-1/2 year applecare left.

There's something to be said for an OS that is specifically designed for a certain hardware. While it can't do as much as a PC, it does the job flawlessly for school. Also, the built in Unix features are so convenient (compilers and ssh mainly).

Oh, and it's really really light, and has a 3+ hour battery life (depending on monitor brightness).

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby b.i.o » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:48 pm UTC

I notice that others have been saying that there's no need to get Leapord (which is OS X 10.5--Tiger is 10.4), but there most certainly is if you want to dual boot. Boot Camp is no longer available for Tiger and so if you want to be dual booting you'll want to get Leapord.

Also--someone said that an external hard drive is unnecessary. Don't listen to them. Get one for backups if for nothing else.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:25 pm UTC

Silver2Falcon wrote:I notice that others have been saying that there's no need to get Leapord (which is OS X 10.5--Tiger is 10.4), but there most certainly is if you want to dual boot. Boot Camp is no longer available for Tiger and so if you want to be dual booting you'll want to get Leapord.

Also--someone said that an external hard drive is unnecessary. Don't listen to them. Get one for backups if for nothing else.

If he buys a new Mac, he has no choice whether to get Leopard. He'll get it, and unless he goes out of his way to purchase Tiger, it's what he'll use. There's no real need to downgrade since Leopard works well (not perfectly, but 99% of the problems have been from upgraders). It's not like Windows machines where most vendors are nice enough to offer a choice of Vista or XP.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby b.i.o » Wed Dec 19, 2007 9:50 pm UTC

Very true.

It's just that I noticed a lot of people saying Leapord wasn't worth it and I wanted to make sure he didn't go out of his way to get Tiger.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby LittleChrist » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:00 pm UTC

I went through the same issue last summer. I personally don't like Macs, so I shopped Windows-based. It came down to HP vs. Lenovo Thinkpad. My aunt works for IBM, so I was able to get major discounts on a new thinkpad, so sticking with the same budget, I got more bang for my buck. Do check with your school and see if they have a laptop purchase program. Some school setups are actually above what the average user needs.

I also found it helpful to ask "Am I going to use this feature more than once?" Turns out most people really won't use a $400 HD or BluRay drive. Price is always a big factor too.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:17 pm UTC

In the vast majority of cases, what people already have is far above their actual needs. Does anyone really NEED a dual core whatever if all they do is look at the internet and run Word? Any percieved slowness is most likely fixable with a virus scan and spyware remover.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby b.i.o » Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:54 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:In the vast majority of cases, what people already have is far above their actual needs. Does anyone really NEED a dual core whatever if all they do is look at the internet and run Word? Any percieved slowness is most likely fixable with a virus scan and spyware remover.


It's not usually viruses or spyware, it's that tons of processes get running in the background they have a ton of things that start when the computer does. This is easily avoidable/fixable if you know what you're doing, but you do have to be willing to mess around with things a bit. It's a lot less likely to happen to Macs. It's also a lot less likely to happen if you have 2GiB+ of RAM.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Solt » Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:27 pm UTC

Dream wrote:The OP has good reason to use a Mac, as it will increase compatiblity with the software used on his broadcasting course.


You made that up, of course. You don't know which software he uses and certainly not whether it is exclusive to macs. IF he knows what software he may want/be able to acquire and IF it is only compatible with OS X (unlikely), then yes the obvious choice is a Mac. But since he has OTHER needs as well (games) the better choice is to go with one system, a windows.


williamager wrote:Also, how is OS X much more limiting? Since many *nix-compatible programs will compile in OS X, I haven't had much of a problem with software choice, while to get a decent terminal in Windows I would have to install cygwin, which is rather awkward. Windows doesn't even come with a decent compiler.


Let's get one thing straight: the average user, and certainly not the OP, is NOT a *nix power user. None of what you said is comprehensible to most, much less useful. Damn macs and their lack of a right click! Safari seems to have spell check but I can't figure out how to change the word! Of course, the mouse DOES have different regions, with the center bringing up the useless dashboard, but noo, can't have a right click, that would be too useful. And this gay scroll wheel. Sure it looks cool, but it's too damn small. Same with this pathetic keyboard.[/minirant]

What I meant when I said Mac was more limiting was that it simply doesn't let you see as much of the file system as I'd like. Of course, that may be related to my relative inexperience with them. I see the sidebar which lets you launch programs, for instance, but where are the rest of them? What if I had 100 programs installed, there's no way they'd all fit on that bar, and as far as I can tell there's no other menu you can access from the desktop to get to them.

Apple did tend to be overpriced at one time, but I don't think that they're much more expensive now.


Right, then why, exactly is the black mac book pro $200 more than the white one, with the same specs? If that isn't bullshit pricing, I don't know what is.

Oh, right, it's because its hard drive is 40 Gigs bigger. Clearly, that is worth $200. Am I the only one who thinks that's ridiculous? If you don't believe me look at the complete specs yourself, everything except the hard drive is the same, yet the black Macbook is $200 more expensive right off the bat. How can you possibly say that the mac's "other features" justify the higher than average price when the black macbook is perfect proof they have no problem jacking up the price for no good reason?

But it gets better. With that Apple store link above in mind, check out this laptop from newegg. It's $10 cheaper than the mac, with the same screen size and processor. However, it has a dedicated graphics card where the mac has integrated. It's also .7 pounds, or about 15% lighter.

There is no argument: macs are simply a poor value if you consider equivalent windows PCs on the market and ignore aesthetics.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:08 pm UTC

Solt wrote:What I meant when I said Mac was more limiting was that it simply doesn't let you see as much of the file system as I'd like. Of course, that may be related to my relative inexperience with them. I see the sidebar which lets you launch programs, for instance, but where are the rest of them? What if I had 100 programs installed, there's no way they'd all fit on that bar, and as far as I can tell there's no other menu you can access from the desktop to get to them.

Apple did tend to be overpriced at one time, but I don't think that they're much more expensive now.


Right, then why, exactly is the black mac book pro $200 more than the white one, with the same specs? If that isn't bullshit pricing, I don't know what is.

Oh, right, it's because its hard drive is 40 Gigs bigger. Clearly, that is worth $200. Am I the only one who thinks that's ridiculous? If you don't believe me look at the complete specs yourself, everything except the hard drive is the same, yet the black Macbook is $200 more expensive right off the bat. How can you possibly say that the mac's "other features" justify the higher than average price when the black macbook is perfect proof they have no problem jacking up the price for no good reason?

Without using additional software, on Tiger you can add a shortcut to /Applications to the Dock, and it'll bring up your programs. With Leopard you can add a Stack of it. In either case, you can install Quicksilver and everything's available without a single mouse click. Everything's available through Terminal, as well, if you enjoy that route. Right click is there with the Mighty Mouse (although you have to lift your left finger off...I don't much like it, myself), or by holding ctrl. It has no problem using a true two-button mouse on USB, either. The scroll ball works fine, and is well-sized unless you are a gorilla.

I'm not going to defend the black tax, since I agree completely that it's a lot for basically nothing. But there's obviously people who are willing to pay for carbon black, so they do. Just because it's not worth $200 to you and I doesn't mean it's not to someone. Yeah, they'll "jack it up" for no reason, but so will any other company that can get away with it. They're far from unique in that.

Does that laptop you linked ship with a full consumer-level multimedia editing suite (iLife)? If not, I'd say that alone is worth the additional cost, since you won't find a suite of utilities that are nearly as good for as cheap for Windows.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby TomBot » Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:27 pm UTC

Been said before, but: get a small one with great battery life. If it's huge, or requires power often, it's a big chore to take out. Also, huge laptops completely block your view of the teacher if you use them during class. Plus you can't really use them on planes. And they're annoying to carry places.

If you want to game (and it may be awhile before you have time to), get a desktop. If you can't get one right now, wait a few months and ask your parents again. Personally I would always want a desktop anyway.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby b.i.o » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:16 pm UTC

TomBot wrote:Been said before, but: get a small one with great battery life. If it's huge, or requires power often, it's a big chore to take out. Also, huge laptops completely block your view of the teacher if you use them during class. Plus you can't really use them on planes. And they're annoying to carry places.

If you want to game (and it may be awhile before you have time to), get a desktop. If you can't get one right now, wait a few months and ask your parents again. Personally I would always want a desktop anyway.


I have a laptop that can do gaming pretty well and it certainly worked out better than having separate computers would. Sure, the battery life is pretty bad (1.5 hours), but that's more than the length of my longest classes so I don't have a problem there--plus there are outlets in the classrooms if I really need. However, size is certainly something you want to pay attention to. Don't go above 15.4" if you're looking for portability (that's what I have)--that's not too bad for carrying around, but 17" is a lot larger.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:20 pm UTC

TomBot wrote:Been said before, but: get a small one with great battery life. If it's huge, or requires power often, it's a big chore to take out. Also, huge laptops completely block your view of the teacher if you use them during class. Plus you can't really use them on planes. And they're annoying to carry places.

If you want to game (and it may be awhile before you have time to), get a desktop. If you can't get one right now, wait a few months and ask your parents again. Personally I would always want a desktop anyway.

I agree with everything in this post.

Seriously, small and light is what you want. Anything beyond that is gravy. But not eeePC small.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby b.i.o » Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:55 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:
TomBot wrote:Been said before, but: get a small one with great battery life. If it's huge, or requires power often, it's a big chore to take out. Also, huge laptops completely block your view of the teacher if you use them during class. Plus you can't really use them on planes. And they're annoying to carry places.

If you want to game (and it may be awhile before you have time to), get a desktop. If you can't get one right now, wait a few months and ask your parents again. Personally I would always want a desktop anyway.

I agree with everything in this post.

Seriously, small and light is what you want. Anything beyond that is gravy. But not eeePC small.


But if he wants a Mac he's not going to be able to go below 15.4" (the lowest spec'd macbook pro) if he wants dedicated graphics and playing games like HL2.

There are plenty of smaller notebooks with graphics cards that aren't macs though--although most of them come with 8400M graphics cards. I wouldn't recommend getting anything with under an 8600M (with 256mb or 512mb of RAM if possible) if you want to be able to play games at the native resolution.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby williamager » Thu Dec 20, 2007 11:04 pm UTC

Solt wrote:Let's get one thing straight: the average user, and certainly not the OP, is NOT a *nix power user. None of what you said is comprehensible to most, much less useful. Damn macs and their lack of a right click! Safari seems to have spell check but I can't figure out how to change the word! Of course, the mouse DOES have different regions, with the center bringing up the useless dashboard, but noo, can't have a right click, that would be too useful. And this gay scroll wheel. Sure it looks cool, but it's too damn small. Same with this pathetic keyboard.[/minirant]


I may be mistaken, but I was under the impression that Macs have had right-clicks for quite a while. Did you try clicking using the right side of the mouse? I believe the particular mouse you were using discerns the type of click in some strange, and in my opinion very backward, way; unfortunately, if one of your fingers is resting on the left side, clicking on the right side will be detected as a right click. Also, it's unfortunate that right-clicking seems to be disabled by default in many cases.

None of this particularly matters for me, however, as I don't use Apple accessories. My MBP has a very nice touchpad, set up to use two-finger taps for right clicks and two-finger movement for horizontal and vertical scrolling. I find little wrong with the keyboard either. If I wanted to use a solid keyboard, I would use a Model M.

What I meant when I said Mac was more limiting was that it simply doesn't let you see as much of the file system as I'd like. Of course, that may be related to my relative inexperience with them. I see the sidebar which lets you launch programs, for instance, but where are the rest of them? What if I had 100 programs installed, there's no way they'd all fit on that bar, and as far as I can tell there's no other menu you can access from the desktop to get to them.


This has to do with your inexperience, I believe. In fact, OS X shows more of the filesystem by default than Windows, even if Finder isn't a very good browser, and doesn't have ridiculously annoying "You shouldn't change files in this folder" screens. Applications are in /Applications, and that folder can be added to the sidebar. Personally, I use Quicksilver, which is quite wonderful, for launching programs, and have removed all launchers from the dock, so that it acts like a taskbar.

Right, then why, exactly is the black mac book pro $200 more than the white one, with the same specs? If that isn't bullshit pricing, I don't know what is.

Oh, right, it's because its hard drive is 40 Gigs bigger. Clearly, that is worth $200. Am I the only one who thinks that's ridiculous? If you don't believe me look at the complete specs yourself, everything except the hard drive is the same, yet the black Macbook is $200 more expensive right off the bat. How can you possibly say that the mac's "other features" justify the higher than average price when the black macbook is perfect proof they have no problem jacking up the price for no good reason?


I mentioned earlier in this thread that I think Apple is terribly arrogant, and this is reflected in their odd pricing. However, I don't quite understand your reasoning. Firstly, while my memory is poor, I don't recall having said that other features justify the higher price; in fact, I think quite a bit of the included software is very poor. Secondly, there is a very good reason for raising the price, which is that some people will buy it anyway, or not notice the difference, and thus increase Apple's profits by taking advantage of customers. Thirdly, $200 isn't very much money.

But it gets better. With that Apple store link above in mind, check out this laptop from newegg. It's $10 cheaper than the mac, with the same screen size and processor. However, it has a dedicated graphics card where the mac has integrated. It's also .7 pounds, or about 15% lighter.


I do believe that laptop is cheaper than most comparable-specification laptops, regardless of manufacturer. Apple certainly isn't the cheapest manufacturer, to be sure, just as Lenovo isn't, and as I said, the Macs aren't much more expensive. The premium you show is only on the order of a few hundred dollars. Do you know what the premiums were like a decade or so ago?

There is no argument: macs are simply a poor value if you consider equivalent windows PCs on the market and ignore aesthetics.


If you prefer OS X, they aren't necessarily a poor value. To say there is no argument here is rather abrupt. However, the argument is rather inane. If someone likes OS X over Windows, why should you argue against their purchases, when it will only cost slightly more? I, for example, need a Unix-based system that still has good support for a variety of random proprietary software.
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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby Endless Mike » Fri Dec 21, 2007 2:13 pm UTC

Silver2Falcon wrote:
Endless Mike wrote:
TomBot wrote:Been said before, but: get a small one with great battery life. If it's huge, or requires power often, it's a big chore to take out. Also, huge laptops completely block your view of the teacher if you use them during class. Plus you can't really use them on planes. And they're annoying to carry places.

If you want to game (and it may be awhile before you have time to), get a desktop. If you can't get one right now, wait a few months and ask your parents again. Personally I would always want a desktop anyway.

I agree with everything in this post.

Seriously, small and light is what you want. Anything beyond that is gravy. But not eeePC small.


But if he wants a Mac he's not going to be able to go below 15.4" (the lowest spec'd macbook pro) if he wants dedicated graphics and playing games like HL2.

There are plenty of smaller notebooks with graphics cards that aren't macs though--although most of them come with 8400M graphics cards. I wouldn't recommend getting anything with under an 8600M (with 256mb or 512mb of RAM if possible) if you want to be able to play games at the native resolution.

For the cost of a laptop that *can* play games, he can build a WAY better desktop with a nice, big screen, and still have money left over for a really cheap laptop that he can take to class or whatever. I, personally, don't feel that one should really take gaming into account when purchasing a laptop, since it'll either be enormous, or barely be able to play anything. In either case, you're not really getting what you want.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby b.i.o » Sat Dec 22, 2007 12:04 am UTC

Endless Mike wrote:For the cost of a laptop that *can* play games, he can build a WAY better desktop with a nice, big screen, and still have money left over for a really cheap laptop that he can take to class or whatever. I, personally, don't feel that one should really take gaming into account when purchasing a laptop, since it'll either be enormous, or barely be able to play anything. In either case, you're not really getting what you want.


Not at all. My laptop is only 15.4", doesn't weigh too much, and can play newer games fine. It runs Crysis on medium settings and Source games at full everything except AA (at its native resolution)--and AA doesn't matter because the display is 1680x1050 only 15.4".

And I only paid ~$1600 for it.

The specs, for anyone doubtful:
C2D E6600 @ 2.4GHz (yes, that is a desktop processor, and it OC's to 2.8GHz at the press of a button)
2GB DDR2-667 RAM
GeForce 8600M GT w/ 512MiB DDR2 VRAM


The only downside it has is the battery life--and as I said, it's not a huge deal for me. I doubt you're going to get a nice desktop AND a decent laptop (that's not something like an Eee PC) for under $1600. You probably could for under $2000, which is the price of the entry level Macbook Pro (which is also not going to perform as well on games as mine), but that's a personal preference thing with Macs.

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Re: Tender me laptop advice

Postby TheStranger » Mon Dec 24, 2007 4:12 pm UTC

There is one piece of advice I'd offer to anyone getting a lap top... buy a docking station at the same time. Its a fairly inexpensive piece of plastic that expands the ports on the back as well as acts as a charging station.

Its that charging station function that is the most important part. Over years of use the power port on the back of a lap top can become lose (little tugs and twists as it's moved about add up). Once this happens you can slowly (or suddenly) lose the ability to charge your lap top... leaving you with only a few hours worth of use. Both lap top's I've owned have had this problem, as have many of the people who I've known to have lap tops. Get the docking station and use it often will give your power port some extended life (and keep you from running around looking for one on your current lap tops last charge). It took me three years do do that to my first lap top, and about the same amount of time for my current lap top.
"To bow before the pressure of the ignorant is weakness."
Azalin Rex, Wizard-King of Darkon


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