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neddie

Yet another "which laptop?" thread

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Yes I know people have moaned about yet another such thread, so I'll try to keep my questions a bit more specific. It looks like my current laptop is too sick to be made better (according to the shops I've taken it to so far), so it looks like I'm reluctantly in the market for a new laptop.

 

My most important requirement is the screen, it should be around 15 inches and preferably non-widescreen (but that's looking difficult to satisfy) and preferably non-shiny (ditto), and preferably around the same resolution I've got now (1400x1050). I don't care too much about speed, or graphics speed, but it should be decent build quality and reliable. Obviously it should be linux-friendly too.

 

So I'm looking at a few different models like Dell Latitude (business model), Lenovo Thinkpad (probably R series), maybe Samsung, but I wondered if you lot have any particular advice. An advantage of Dell is that I can choose every aspect (including which keyboard I want), but of course the disadvantage is that I can't see them or try out the keyboard before I buy... interestingly though I've been told I can buy a Latitude without an OS if I do it by phone!

 

In particular, I have no clue about the graphics cards - my old laptop had integrated Intel graphics and was fine for what I use it for. In the higher end laptops you get one of the two other major brands, am I right in thinking this only has a noticeable effect for fast 3d games? If my 4-year old laptop could run Google Earth fine with a cheap graphics system, is there any reason to go for a more expensive one? And between the two big brands (Ati, Nvidia), would I be right in thinking that there are just as many people saying "don't buy A, buy B" as there are saying "don't buy B, buy A" ?

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I tend to keep it simple and go with a laptop that is Intel everything, video, etc. My current one is HP 6710b and everything works in Linux. Resolution is 1650x1050 or something like this and screen is not shiny. I hate the shiny ones.

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IMy personal choice is a Thinkpad T series. It's a business line laptop, hence you can get it with non-shiny screen, but check with them whether you can get a 4x3 screen, it may not be advertised on the website but may be available as an option. Thinkpads used to be much better built, with magnesium alloy chassis, etc, though they may be more expensive. Graphics options change all the time, nonintel cards provide a better quality graphics (video, games, etc.) but a bit more power hungry. A critical issue with graphics cards is the ability to resume from suspend/hibernate - more recent ones are more likely to give you trouble. Check www.thinkwiki.org and www.emperorlinux.com. The latter is a linux company that sells both Dells and Thinkpads, so you know that what you buy is Linux compatible.

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Thanks for the tips.

After doing some searching around, I find it incredible that it's SO difficult to find a 4:3 screen on a laptop now!

I understand that for watching films widescreen is better, fine. But I don't watch films on my laptop, I look at photos and write documents and develop code and read web pages and lots of other things that are just better on a 4:3 screen. So why's it so difficult to find one?

 

I guess it could be that all the laptop manufacturers buy their screens from the same source, so the souce just has to make screens of one format - but I still see a huge variety of sizes, resolutions, finishes, coatings, glare, non-glare and lots of other jargon so it's not as if all the screens are exactly the same... so why don't they want to make 4:3 screens any more? Is it just so they can save money by making fewer pixels - make a "short" screen with less height and then market it as "wide" to make more profit??

 

My old (sadly deceased) laptop had 1050 pixels vertically. Now, over 4 years later, it seems very difficult to find any over 800 pixels high (many only 768 high!) and then they're much more expensive. Whatever happened to tech getting better and cheaper over the years?

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My HP Business Notebook 6710b that I mentioned before is 1650 x 1050 but I guess widescreen, so not quite what you're looking for. But it matches your vertical pixel value perfectly well :)

 

And if I remember rightly, it wasn't bad on price either.

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I was going to recommend this laptop which meets some specs you want but the problem was the price it is being sold...maybe tux suggestion is better but you can take a look and tell what you think..

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Fair enough, but those two laptops only have vertical resolutions of 768 (yikes!) or 800. My poorly old laptop has 1050 and I don't want to spend loads on a new laptop which is not as good (in that one particular respect) as my old one... I think Ian's right, 1680x1050 is about the best I could do, but those are significantly more expensive than the 768 or 800 high ones.

 

So I'm thinking it over and coming to the conclusion that maybe I don't really need it to be a laptop any more, and maybe I can get better value with a cheaper desktop (but something small like a Shuttle case) and then I'd have more choice of screens. Maybe I have a better chance of finding a "normal" format screen, or if not then a 1680x1050.

 

Still don't get why they're all widescreen now.

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maybe I can get better value with a cheaper desktop (but something small like a Shuttle case)

 

Shuttles are usually expensive for what you get, the only exceptions are the K45 (I have one, it's great but it lacks DVI, the newest K45SE with front USB+audio and a slim DVD writer is better than the plain K45) or the K48 (has DVI, but is slightly taller, and can take a standard DVD/BD drive too, but lacks a PCI/PCIe slot).

A K45/K48 with 2x1GB RAM and an Intel E5300 cpu makes a great cheap little PC, almost unbeatable for value for money.

Mine is overclocked to 3.01GHz, absolutely stable and doesn't get hot at all (max 56C), even after many hours of running at 100% load (when using Handbrake).

 

Maybe I have a better chance of finding a "normal" format screen, or if not then a 1680x1050.

 

Still don't get why they're all widescreen now.

 

You can still find 19" 1280x1024 (5:4) or bigger 1600x1200 (4:3) desktop screens, but not a lot of choice anymore.

I don't get this widescreen mania either, widescreen TVs are great, but computer monitors should ideally be square or taller than wide!

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Widescreen may take away some vertical space but it adds a good bit horizontally. Scrolling vertically is common anyways, even on 4:3 monitors - however, more horizontal space gives more room to run several applications side-by-side (and horizontal scrolling is less natural). That is why I personally prefer widescreen - I've never missed the extra vertical pixels, even when working with images or writing code.

 

As far as the topic...I find the Thinkpads to be pretty nice, as long as you don't buy one of the really cheap models. They're a bit flimsy.

Edited by tyme

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Flimsy Thinkpads.... What this world has come to :sad:

 

It's rfather natural: All cheap laptops are currently made in China, buy two or three major manufacturers. Even my Jap/Corean LG E210 subnotebook, is 100% made in China- not Corea.

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That was joke :lol2: Thinkpads are not cheap (that's not a joke). Now serious, my latest Thinkpad is a bit flimsy, too. IMHO, the quality of Thinkpads dropped a little. Lenovo seems to no longer be concerned with maintaining the Thinkpad's reputation of rock solid built laptop, since they don't put the IBM sticker on Thinkpads anymore.

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