William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

new laptop Final Four; my phone's journey to the Promised Province

Not that long ago, I can remember looking at laptops with 20-40GB hard drives, 512MB RAM if you were lucky, and compromised processors. A "combo drive" meant that you got a CD-RW. I'm so glad I didn't buy back in those dark ages - I'd be stuck with a piece of junk that would make the Canada World Youth laptops look good.

Now, things are much different, and you can get some really neat dual-core machines for a reasonable price - the only thing that they lack from their desktop counterparts is the bulk.

Well, excepting those lame "multimedia laptops" with 15"-17" screens - one of my groupmates had a HP-Compaq "entertainment" laptop in Ukraine, and it had to be the least practical thing imaginable. It weighed so much that the owner just left it in our office most of the time. The screen looked nice, but we didn't give a s**t about the JBL speakers and the ports and doodads we never used - heck, that thing might have had a parallel port!

Okay, that computer WAS a lifesaver many times, but a lighter model could have done the jobs just as well. Better, because she would have kept it with her that much more often.

There are now four contenders for my new laptop. If anyone's purchased these or any other laptops recently, let me know what you think of them!

4. Black MacBook (Apple)

They're getting relatively affordable, but there are some major things that turn me off. First, I can't get discrete graphics and a 7200RPM drive without moving up to the MacBook Pro. Honestly, if I'm going to get an Apple, I WANT TO EDIT VIDEO. If I'm going to pay a premium for Apple, I'm going big or going home. Well, I have seen people successfully run Final Cut Express (iMovie = yuck!) on Apple notebooks, but my NSCAD professor strongly advised against it, and I'll drop enough frames as it is with dirty DV tape and other mishaps. I always dream of doing video but I might need to put this dream aside for now, as getting a laptop up to the task is going to cost north of $2K when the dust settles.

My second gripe is that the auxiliary video output is "mini-DVI." That means that in order to hook up to a monitor or projector, I need to purchase a dongle. Separately. Give me a break. I know Apple wants to be legacy-free, but a VGA-out is, in my (Mac)book, Standard Equipment. Every presentation I've ever been involved in has been VGA-enabled. I'm not saying it'll stay that way forever, but give me my VGA! (Although you may wish to note that this is coming from someone who went into town one day last year just to buy a floppy drive.)

Also, I've got my misgivings about the keyboard. I don't think it stands up to Lenovos / ThinkPads.

Sorry, Apple. Maybe next time.

3. Latitude 640m (Dell)
2. Latitude 6400 (Dell)

These are almost the same computer, but the 6400 is a bit bigger physically - the tradeoff is that I can get a 7200RPM hard disk and dedicated graphics, giving myself a little screamer of a notebook. But, it's bigger. I hear "big" mentioned too many times in too many reviews. And to get it configured the way I want costs over $1,700. Plus tax. So we're looking at just over $2K, which is more money than I can lay fingers on right now.

The 640m is a candidate, but it's kind of a compromise of the 6400.

I heard that the keyboards are kind of blah, which is again a turn-off.

A nice touch is that you can play many of your movies and albums on this machine without even having to boot up. But, there's another little machine out there that does this...

1. Lenovo 3000 V100 (Lenovo)

This is one sexy little computer. I need to give myself a one-week cooling-off period on it, because it's *really* tempting to just snap one up now and get some work done pronto. It's got the portability (4 pounds with optical drive; 12.5" widescreen display - yes, you can call me "squinty"), the same bootless media playing that Dell offers, plus a ThinkPad-like keyboard (a major consideration for me: if I don't get a laptop that makes me want to type on it, then there's no point). Most reviewers are raving about the keyboard, and the portability for the price - and that price is really OMG hot - the base configuration is lower than any of the other choices at normal, human configurations (don't get me started on what Dell figures we should settle for and what we should throw money away on - HOWEVER, they do have IMO the best website in the industry). The only drawback is the integrated graphics, but it's hard to expect a dedicated card at this size and price point. I think this one might be the winner, though I might need to get an aftermarket RAM upgrade if I intend to run Vista (which I probably won't; an XP / Linux dual-boot would suit me fine).

As you can see, I'm kind of leaning towards the 3000 V100, with at least a 100GB hard drive and as much RAM as I can reasonably get (it tops out at 2GB, but doing the .5 / 1 to 2 GB upgrade on my own might be cheaper, as is sometimes the case.

Wait! All these machines are Intel Core 2 Duo! What about AMD?

Well, AMD right now is kind of stretching the longevity of their mobile platform by lengthening their pipelines. You could buy an AMD-based machine and never make a mistake, but Intel seems to be having a slight edge in the benchmarks now, thanks to their relatively new platform. (Slow-simmering Pentium chips these ain't.) A few years ago (back in those aforementioned dark ages), I would have been AMD all the way, because Pentiums could have been doing double-duty as toaster elements. Things have changed, though. I'm sure AMD will come out with a new edge soon, but right now I think the smart bucks are on Intel.

* * *

Ah, but before I buy a laptop, I should wait and see how much it's going to be to fix / replace my phone. It's gone to Ontario without me. They're going to charge me $25 just to look at it, but I guess I can live with that for curiosity's sake. (Plus it gets deducted from the repair if said repair is undertaken.)

The guys at the "service centre" were kind of a*****es - they weren't happy to see me, and they weren't happy to talk to me, and they weren't happy to send the phone away for me. The "service" consisted of trying my phone without the battery, plugged into a wall outlet. (Gee, thanks, I could do that at home.) At that point, they instantly decreed there was nothing they could try. I noticed they had about a zillion clones of my phone lying in a "parts" bin.

(Oh, and as soon as it was shown that I was 7 months away from the end of my contract (and upgrade ineligibility), the lackluster treatment kicked into high gear.)

As I'm about to leave:

"Okay, we'll call you when we hear back from them..."
"Ha-ha, but you'll call my home number, right?"
"Do you guys have my home number?"
"Oh, yeah, what's your home phone number?"

... Grrr. Thanks for nothing, Telus. I'm glad these bozos aren't fixing it; obviously the fact that there's no money in my phone for them is a big turn-off. Boo-hoo.

UPDATE: You have to shop around to get a decent deal on the Lenovo - Lenovo's website has the worst prices, but the situation improves elsewhere - like here, for instance. I'm sure I'll find more. Also, I forgot to mention that Apple makes you buy yet another USB dongle if you want to have dial-up capability. Again, the Lenovo has this built-in. You laugh, but that dial-up modem was my cousin Andrew's lifeline on his HP machine when we were down in Sherbrooke!

ARGH the Lenovo has Core Duo, NOT Core 2 Duo. D**n. This might take us back to the drawing board. I see that Nic's just chimed in; he'll have something pretty good to say.
Tags: apple, cell phones, computers, dell, laptops, lenovo, phones, repair, travel, ukraine
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