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Which compact notebook?

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March 29, 2005 3:05:27 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

I need to get a new laptop and am rather turned off by these huge new
laptops with their wxga screens that are even bigger and heavier than
they used to be. Do any of these people have knees or do they all have
roadies?

I need a small, sleek laptop/notebook that has a cd/dvd burner in it,
reasonably high resolution screen, doesn't need fancy multimedia,
something that will do some good strong office work and Internet based
web work. I saw the VAIOs that were selling at around $1,250 and
seemed like a good buy with an 80GB HD and a P4 1.6 GHz processor.

What I also need to do is compile a list of the new features that seem
to be the new "must have essentials" that would cost more to integrate
later. I'm thinking that having wireless ethernet might almost be
essential these days. I had an IBM T61 and it was good except it was
large and heavy. Sometimes web work and surfing was slow as the HD
spun. Screen size at 12 inches is fine as long as the resolution is
reasonably good.

What can you guys suggest?

More about : compact notebook

Anonymous
a b D Laptop
March 29, 2005 12:26:26 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

>I need to get a new laptop and am rather turned off by these huge new
>laptops with their wxga screens that are even bigger and heavier than
>they used to be. Do any of these people have knees or do they all have
>roadies?
>
>I need a small, sleek laptop/notebook that has a cd/dvd burner in it,
>reasonably high resolution screen, doesn't need fancy multimedia,
>something that will do some good strong office work and Internet based
>web work. I saw the VAIOs that were selling at around $1,250 and
>seemed like a good buy with an 80GB HD and a P4 1.6 GHz processor.
>
>What I also need to do is compile a list of the new features that seem
>to be the new "must have essentials" that would cost more to integrate
>later. I'm thinking that having wireless ethernet might almost be
>essential these days. I had an IBM T61 and it was good except it was
>large and heavy. Sometimes web work and surfing was slow as the HD
>spun. Screen size at 12 inches is fine as long as the resolution is
>reasonably good.
>
>What can you guys suggest?


Any notebook with those specs will have internal wireless. These are
the cutting edge ultra-lite notebooks, which are always released in
Asia first.
http://www.dynamism.com/index.shtml

--------
AJ
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
March 30, 2005 2:35:21 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

Dell X300 is little more than 2lbs, battery life isn't "long haul flight",
screen is 12" 1024x768 - realise that is small if you are short-sighted.

Magnesium alloy casing buys you 1) low weight & 2) stiffness.
o Laptop failure due to mechanical stress is real
---- lots of surface mount chips, solder balls make little contact, weak
---- thermo-mechanical modelling of laptop failure is still very poor
o Thermal failure due to restrictive design may have reduced
---- thermal modelling of laptops is much improved re "hot spots"

Re focus on CPU / RAM / HD:
o Identify which is the little bottleneck for most of your work
---- or your time critical parts of your work re "feel"
o Typically that is the HD for most people
---- 5400rpm & 7200rpm reduce the slow electromechanical latency
o If the data-set / app don't sit in RAM, the HD gets used
---- so don't neglect RAM, XP really needs 384MB re bloat

Then, remember the warranty:
o Laptops are a field-replaceable unit comprising 1
---- screen, mainboard, even a keyboard can be quite pricey
o Laptop failure can force secondary upgrades re different O/S
---- new laptop = new O/S = breaks old s/w forcing secondary u/g

Dell in the USA are 3yr, not so elsewhere. Check carefully.
Laptops are a "covert proprietarisation" away from compatibility,
a lot more sunk-non-upgradeable h/w & sunk-cost than desktops.
--
Dorothy Bradbury
www.dorothybradbury.co.uk for quiet Panaflo fans
Related resources
March 30, 2005 4:51:36 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

On Tue, 29 Mar 2005 22:35:21 GMT, "Dorothy Bradbury"
<dorothy.bradbury@ntlworld.com> wrote:

>Dell X300 is little more than 2lbs, battery life isn't "long haul flight",
>screen is 12" 1024x768 - realise that is small if you are short-sighted.

I was looking at their 700m series that should run me about $1500 and
change for a full system. A 12" screen is fine as long as the words
are legible and at that size they should be. It seems fast and even
with the "heavy" big battery it only runs about 5 pounds and change. A
little heavier than I'd like but bearable.

>Re focus on CPU / RAM / HD:
>o Identify which is the little bottleneck for most of your work
>---- or your time critical parts of your work re "feel"
>o Typically that is the HD for most people
>---- 5400rpm & 7200rpm reduce the slow electromechanical latency
>o If the data-set / app don't sit in RAM, the HD gets used
>---- so don't neglect RAM, XP really needs 384MB re bloat

Yeah. I would not consider anything less than 512MB of RAM and an 7200
80MB hard drive which is what it will come standard.

>Then, remember the warranty:
>o Laptops are a field-replaceable unit comprising 1
>---- screen, mainboard, even a keyboard can be quite pricey
>o Laptop failure can force secondary upgrades re different O/S
>---- new laptop = new O/S = breaks old s/w forcing secondary u/g
>Dell in the USA are 3yr, not so elsewhere. Check carefully.
>Laptops are a "covert proprietarisation" away from compatibility,
>a lot more sunk-non-upgradeable h/w & sunk-cost than desktops.

Great points here. This is very true. I miss the days when they were 5
year (had a great ACER that lasted forever.) The issues with these
laptops that I have heard is that typing is a real problem since the
keys are so small. I'm not so sure as I've never had problems on
slightly smaller keyboards. I would consider the warranty.

As much as I love the IBMs, they are very, very pricey...

I appreciate the advice. I guess I don't need a subnotebook but
something in between the subs and the bricks. the VAIO 505 series (I
think that was it) seemed small cool and compact but I've read a lot
of complaining about them...
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
March 30, 2005 3:55:35 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> Yeah. I would not consider anything less than 512MB of RAM and an 7200
> 80MB hard drive which is what it will come standard.

That should be fine - 7200rpm is noticeable, a lot of laptops until
recently still shipped with 4200rpm which is quite a high latency.
Seek times are still not great on 2.5", but areal density & rpm go
a reasonable way to making the I/O bottleneck less of one.

> Great points here. This is very true. I miss the days when they were 5
> year (had a great ACER that lasted forever.) The issues with these
> laptops that I have heard is that typing is a real problem since the
> keys are so small. I'm not so sure as I've never had problems on
> slightly smaller keyboards. I would consider the warranty.

Dell I think do offer a 4yr warranty - however the catch-22 is obsolence:
o In the past @ 4yrs, you may want to u/g the laptop re functionality
o Today, I'm not quite so sure
---- 1024x768 is quite usable
---- HD size of 80GB is fine, and rpm of 7200 is unlikely to improve
---- P-M processors are powerful
---- Battery technology is L-Ion, long running time, compact
o Huge u/g incentive is gone
---- from 800x600, slow CPU, limited RAM, limited HD, lousy NiMH

The risk is perhaps s/w obsolescence - re plans for secure O/S. That
is being done because the u/g cycle is getting a bit tough - and the
substitution of competitors laptops is easy if they fixed C.Service.

Keyboard size should be ok:
o Laptops are very different to a desktop keyboard
---- many people struggle to adapt between the two if fast typers
o However, the solution is to laptop-ise the desktop keyboard
---- Cherry do a great keyboard with trackball - slim 20mm
---- IBM do a super-slim travel keyboard - trackpoint & touchpad
o Laptop keyboards are identical certainly down to 13.3"-TFTs
---- and I doubt there is much difference as one goes to 12"

Dell keyboards are very good - not sure about a 12" screen keyboard,
should be little different from a "normal" laptop keyboard (13.3"-TFT).

> As much as I love the IBMs, they are very, very pricey...

They are also decreasingly "IBM" - the innovation & quality is still
there, although not quite the "near ToughBook" they once were in
terms of alloy cases, rubber coating, good substitute for a hammer.

Check very carefully if buying VAIO - they are a designer laptop in
style, but in the past there have been reliability issues with some:
o Too early productionising a reference design re first to market
---- pushy marketing get given laptops free
---- consumers buying got under-temp-spec'd capacitors near CPU
o Laptops are a single point failure
---- you can't just buy a generic ATX board to fix them
---- you also can't repair them yourself re downtime

One good idea with a laptop when it is not outside is to keep it
on a solid base - ideally 3mm rigid aluminium rubber coated. That
stops it sliding, stops it marking, dumps heat, keeps under-laptop
airflow clear and most of all - mechanically stops the laptop flexing.
You could use a 10mm sheet of nylon or delrin, or cutting board.
--
Dorothy Bradbury
March 30, 2005 8:37:07 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 11:55:35 GMT, "Dorothy Bradbury"
<dorothy.bradbury@ntlworld.com> wrote:

>Check very carefully if buying VAIO - they are a designer laptop in
>style, but in the past there have been reliability issues with some:
>o Too early productionising a reference design re first to market
>---- pushy marketing get given laptops free
>---- consumers buying got under-temp-spec'd capacitors near CPU
>o Laptops are a single point failure
>---- you can't just buy a generic ATX board to fix them
>---- you also can't repair them yourself re downtime

Superb stuff... really amazing list dorothy. I just got back from
COMPUSA and was not at all impressed with the VAIO build. I was much
more impressed with... of all companies... the HP laptops. Nicely
styled, good keyboard.

Now the only toss up is whether to go with the Dell, which I have not
and cannot view. On the bright side it doesn't have that ridiculously
slow HD that is in the HP. For a multimedia machine it's rather a
shock. I can live without the 6in1 portable media slot. Nice, useful
occasionally but don't really need to. The HP has a number of
multimedia features, also nice, probably has a better graphics card,
but at the end of the day it's just a nice frill that would be used
occasionally. Bottom line is I need something for business.

It looks like the Dell 700m might be the best of breed. Altogether it
costs a bit more (and tax is a killer) but it seems to be a better
long term buy. Thank you very much for helping me think through this
process... what are your thoughts on this machine?
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
March 31, 2005 12:56:52 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

"Dorothy Bradbury" <dorothy.bradbury@ntlworld.com> wrote in message
news:JKk2e.2050$Pm4.1440@newsfe5-win.ntli.net...
> Dell X300 is little more than 2lbs, battery life isn't "long haul flight",
> screen is 12" 1024x768 - realise that is small if you are short-sighted.
>
> Magnesium alloy casing buys you 1) low weight & 2) stiffness.
> o Laptop failure due to mechanical stress is real
> ---- lots of surface mount chips, solder balls make little contact, weak
> ---- thermo-mechanical modelling of laptop failure is still very poor
> o Thermal failure due to restrictive design may have reduced
> ---- thermal modelling of laptops is much improved re "hot spots"

So true - it's funny how little these issues are talked about. But it
explains the mysterious demise of some laptops after a few years, when the
fan starts to go on all the time, blue screens appear and eventually it
doesn't boot at all. My bet is a lot of laptop problems can be attributable
to mechanical and thermal failures.

>
> Re focus on CPU / RAM / HD:
> o Identify which is the little bottleneck for most of your work
> ---- or your time critical parts of your work re "feel"
> o Typically that is the HD for most people
> ---- 5400rpm & 7200rpm reduce the slow electromechanical latency
> o If the data-set / app don't sit in RAM, the HD gets used
> ---- so don't neglect RAM, XP really needs 384MB re bloat

Totally agree that HD is the usual bottleneck, and then in turn, RAM is. My
Pentium M 1.3 processor is so much more powerful than the hardrive, it runs
rings around it, solving pi to a few milliion places while waiting for the
drive to spin up.

> Then, remember the warranty:
> o Laptops are a field-replaceable unit comprising 1
> ---- screen, mainboard, even a keyboard can be quite pricey
> o Laptop failure can force secondary upgrades re different O/S
> ---- new laptop = new O/S = breaks old s/w forcing secondary u/g
>
> Dell in the USA are 3yr, not so elsewhere. Check carefully.
> Laptops are a "covert proprietarisation" away from compatibility,
> a lot more sunk-non-upgradeable h/w & sunk-cost than desktops.
> --
> Dorothy Bradbury
> www.dorothybradbury.co.uk for quiet Panaflo fans

IBM do a 3yr warranty on some of their more expensive laptops for 3 years,
outside of the US. I think it's 3 years for all their laptops inside the
US.

Duncan.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
April 1, 2005 5:17:00 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

www.conics.net
www.dynamism.com

Here's a few ideas under 3lbs.....

with cd drive:
Panasonic W/Y series - <3lbs.
Fujitsu P7000/T70 series <2.5lbs.
Sony T series <3lbs.

without cd drive, but even lighter:
Sony U50/U70 series - <1lbs. (world's lightest, smallest laptop made by
a brand-name company; yes, there's the QQQ, but where's the support in a
few years?)
JVC Interlink XP - <2lbs.
Sony X series <2lbs
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
April 2, 2005 6:35:48 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

If the laptop fan comes on more & more often:
o Many now use thin skived-copper heatsinks
o Dust matter will very easily clog the inlet to the heatsink
o So rapidly diminishing airflow & elevating temperatures

Vacuum cleaners could overspeed the fan if an axial fan.
o So gentle vacuum used on the intake side (eg, bottom)
o Then once the dust mats hit the intake grill, pin & tweezers

Alternatively you can remove the keyboard, the cover plates,
and go fishing for the CPU heatsink and its dust mats that way.

Takes about 6 months for clogging to occur in a carpeted area.
It may be less noticeable on P-M machines re lower dissipation,
but when skived heatsinks are used it is a known disadvantage.
--
Dorothy Bradbury
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
April 2, 2005 6:35:49 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> Bottom line is I need something for business.

Q: Can you use leasing to buy the laptop?

Leasing is generally disliked in the business world, but in many areas
it has sound logic re 1) reducing working-capital demands & 2) turning
a large capitalised asset which is tax depreciated into fully tax expensed.

o Dell allow you can lease over 3-4yrs
o You might even be able to upgrade the machine in that period

It may change the cost structure in favour of a better machine.
By that I mean warranty duration & quality, weight, battery life.

Dell are relatively well engineering machines these days - I just wish they
would dump ABS plastic and use aluminium if not magnesium-aluminium.
Some have magnesium-alloy frame inside, that is an ideal compromise if it
is a "skeleton of vertically ribbing" to provide extra depth rigidity.

However...
o 1) do a google for the chosen machine
o 2) go visit the Dell forums and read/ask regarding any laptop
--
Dorothy Bradbury
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
April 4, 2005 5:00:24 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> If the laptop fan comes on more & more often:
> o Many now use thin skived-copper heatsinks
> o Dust matter will very easily clog the inlet to the heatsink
> o So rapidly diminishing airflow & elevating temperatures
>
> Vacuum cleaners could overspeed the fan if an axial fan.
> o So gentle vacuum used on the intake side (eg, bottom)
> o Then once the dust mats hit the intake grill, pin & tweezers

Or simply, on my Thinkpad, simply blast it out with a compressed gas
duster and it's clean in a second flat.

(Depends upon the fan design, which I've already peeked at and
disassembled. Thinkpads have very easy to clean designs with pretty
straight in/out flow pathways....)
April 5, 2005 2:20:17 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

On Sat, 02 Apr 2005 14:35:49 GMT, "Dorothy Bradbury"
<dorothy.bradbury@ntlworld.com> wrote:

>> Bottom line is I need something for business.
>
>Q: Can you use leasing to buy the laptop?
>
>Leasing is generally disliked in the business world, but in many areas
>it has sound logic re 1) reducing working-capital demands & 2) turning
>a large capitalised asset which is tax depreciated into fully tax expensed.
>
>o Dell allow you can lease over 3-4yrs
>o You might even be able to upgrade the machine in that period
>
>It may change the cost structure in favour of a better machine.
>By that I mean warranty duration & quality, weight, battery life.
>
>Dell are relatively well engineering machines these days - I just wish they
>would dump ABS plastic and use aluminium if not magnesium-aluminium.
>Some have magnesium-alloy frame inside, that is an ideal compromise if it
>is a "skeleton of vertically ribbing" to provide extra depth rigidity.
>
>However...
>o 1) do a google for the chosen machine
>o 2) go visit the Dell forums and read/ask regarding any laptop

Dorothy - Thank you SO MUCH for your help. I ended up making a choice
I'm not so thrilled with but I am thrilled with -- the Dell Inspiron
700m. Apparently everything is pretty sweet with the machine but the
keyboard is a bit too small. My hands are normal sized so I may be
able to adapt. I'll go through the cons first and then for the
punchline :) 

CONS: 5400 RPM drive. I can live with this for now although eventually
I'll replace it. Small keyboard is 92% the size of normal sized keys
and apparently an annoyance for real typing. I've done used small
keyboards before and due to the punchline I'll adapt. Reflective
screen - This is a big con as I've seen what they look like in regular
light. However, move it to the right angle and you should be OK and
the screens can look gorgeous.

PROS: The price (wait til you see :)  )
It has a widescreen 12.5" which should be excellent for viewing and I
can place all the toolbars from applications to the side. I got a 2GHz
Pentium 4 processor for only $190 more over the 1.6 GHz and figure
best to get the fastest you can at that price. Got the long life
battery which adds some heft but at around 5.3 pounds I'm doing well.
Docking station and more... it's sweet. Got a 4 year warranty with
screen replacement. Cost me an extra $350 but I'm tough on my laptops
and for in home repair OR REPLACEMENT at that price it was insane. I
also got Microsoft Office Pro (with Access), extra battery, high end
nic card, and a few other extras. Oh yeah, I got a free color ink jet
printer too.

PRICE: $1970 delivered.

I was one of the 4,000 few who saw a coupon for up to 35% off on the
entire system. It was an insanely good price for all this stuff and
the value could just not be beaten. I was originally tempted to get
rid of the warranty protection but figured that since they would
replace for FOUR years, it was worth the money, especially since any
laptop wears out.
!