I am planning to buy a laptop to learn Maya 2008 and to create art with PhotoShop CS3 and other graphic programs.
My first cut key specifications are as below.
A: RAM capacity of 6 - 8 GB
B: Screen size of 16.5" to 18.5"
C: Very high quality screen resolution
D: Dedicated video memory of 1 GB
E: Quality design and construction
F: Good battery life (Plan to use mostly connected to power)
This will be a Windows 7 computer. I might want to add Ubuntu
Oooh that's going to be tough with that low a budget. I was expecting like 2+ times the bidget, my favourite being the W700 I worked with.
I'll have to check during the day to see who offers a good balance at the $1000 level, you're likely going to have to give up any notion of a workstation cards, but really DX Maya is fine, and CS3 just uses standard OGL acceleration, even in After effect, so a good standard Geforce or Radeon mobile solution will be fine and little need for a FireGL or Quadro.
Workstation cards? I am not sure of what the "cards" are, or would be used for. At this stage I will be learning and, by looking at Maya, I don't think that I will be knocking out anything exceedingly complex for a while.
A few years ago I saw a rich student with a Windows laptop running Maya 4.5. He said that it worked fine. I was impressed with the demo files he showed. I have the impression that laptops are much more powerful than in back then. I have a 3 - 4 years old Velocity desktop that is using a Core2 with XP. I think that it can be upgraded for rendering of really big files that I hope to created in the future. There will be a while before I reach that stage. The problem is that I may have to buy a second copy of Maya to use two computers. Adobe allows putting its software on more than one computer. Maybe Autodesk has the same policy (BUT DOUBT IT).
The reason for wanting to get a laptop is that I will be transferring to a security guard position that will give me a lot of time to do nothing but be there. This would be an ideal learning situation. The other guys listen to sports and to phone in programs such as Rush Lambaugh and etc., which I would not be interested in. This is also a good time to read (there is also one guy who reads hunting and NRA magazines).
Two more things about my interest in getting a laptop.
I was impressed with the Alienware and Saga ads. They make gaming laptops which I could save up more money and buy one maybe by April.
It would be good if Maya came with a separate rendering module that could be put on computers other than where the main program is. The rendering module would do nothing but render (which can take a long time).
OK, if you're not overly serious, and you're just starting out, then there are a few options that may fit, but I would recommend getting the memory yourself, because most companies overcharge for the memory.