I've been searching for the better part of a month now for a reliable, honorable and innovative laptop manufacturer, and I've had very little success thus far. I'm looking for a high speed desktop replacement laptop that isn't the product of some corporate conglomerate or a garage outfit. I was considering some of AlienWare's products until I began conversing with their sales and customer service representatives, and dell doesn't look anymore appealing despite what looks like better hardware and reviews (XPS series looks to have gotten good marks). Who would YOU recommend these days?
Ideally, I would like to have:
Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB DDR-667 or 800
Single or Dual (Preferable) 7950 GTX w/512MB
17-20" Display WUXGA or Better (WQXGA)
Two Drive Bays w/SATA 100GB @ 7200RPM in a RAID0 Array
Dedicated Optical Bay w/DVD Burner 8x +/- Dual Layer
Decent Integrated Audio System (Audigy Integrated, perhaps...?)
+ All The Other Standard Features Seen Today
Well Alienware is a wholly owned subsidiary of DELL, so they actually are a conglomerate. They sell about 40,000 systems a year, and if they have one more P.O.'d customer, it isn't going to make the difference in their business.
The specifications in the system you desire narrows the choices considerably. For the 7950 GTX, you need a 17” chassis. You also stated you would like dual 7950 GTX cards, and there isn't a 17” chassis that has those at this time. For that you need to move to a 19” or 20” chassis. The other thing you mentioned that would facilitated that move would be the RAID controller and a dedicated optical drive.
I usually get around the optical drive with virtual drives streaming ISO's or networked CD's & DVD's over high bandwidth internal network architecture, that, or external notebook dual layer DVD's connected via USB or Firewire, usually with internal batteries.
If you want 2 internal drives in a RAID array, you must move higher than the 17” chassis. For decent audio, the cards inside are all really good in either 17” or 19+”, but the larger models will in most cases incorporate more speakers and the speakers, of course, will be able to be larger which will help with the sound quality.
As far as a C2D processor, I don't know of a system like that because Intel isn't a big SLi player, but may be in the future. It doesn't sound like you want to wait a whole heck of a lot longer, so you may have to make some sacrifices in the “want” department.
Big companies are not going to be "innovative" because, quite simply they don't need to be. They know they get more sales throwing money at the advertising department instead of the R&D branch. Generally they aren't real big on making things better. They get the parts, slap computers together and sell them.
In some cases these guys aren't even doing that. MOST of the companies you see are just going out and distributing the systems and never even touch them! They front that they are bigger than they are, and that they are "the same as everyone else", but in reality they are little more than mail drops that forward orders to big distributors.
If you want innovative, you need to go where they need to be cutting edge. Where they know the market and your basic desires and can deliver value added innovation. Trust is something that comes from knowing someone, from dealing with them and having some sort of relationship where individuals interact. Trust is not something you push button #3 for on the DELL offshore robot line while you wade through the maze of prompts for 20 minutes to end up in India talking to someone that has little true power to help you.
That's my take on it. It may be an old fashion business model, but I for one am sick of "the customer is always wrong" mentality that seems to be adopted by businesses today. They hide behind wall after wall of robots, computers, voice mail, and outsourced phone answerers that in the end
1. Frustrate you to the point of hanging up because you have a life to live.
2. You get disconnected because you are being transfered to the 3rd person that "can help you".
3. They just hang up on you because they want you off the line, or don't know how to handle your problem.
4. You hit the wrong prompt button because none of the choices were really what you wanted, and you picked the wrong one because it was "close".
Forget that. I don't want my baby delivered by a robot arm, do you? Doin' it for a buck on the shareholders report this quarter isn't the same as doing it because you love it... and in the end, it shows.
As a satisfied customer of KillerNotebooks, I think you should see what he can do for you. You will always get a fast response to your questions, and he will work with you to get you a quality notebook, built with high end components. He is always there after the sale, too, this fact really sets KillerNotebooks apart from the competition. If you sift through the posts in this forum, you'll see that he really knows his stuff and is very generous with advice, even to those who don't buy from him.
I concur with the Killernotebooks recommendation.. Beyond the sale, Mark has been really helpful and keeps me appraised of "new stuff" and tweaks. In fact, I just upgraded my gpu to the 7950 GTX only because he called me personally and offered me a deal..
I too had to make some decisions when picking a notebook. I wanted RAID, but there is only so much room in a laptop and a internal DVD Burner was a higher priority to me. So, I use an little external 100gig usb harddrive to backup onto as well as a network. I wanted SLI, but when I was looking, you couldn't (and still can't?) get it with the Intel Core2duo cpu that I wanted. Unlike desktops, you don't have a huge selection unfortunately, and the internal realestate is serverely limited.
The good news is that there are a ton of external devices you can get and run off of a laptop. External soundcards, monitors, hard drives, optical drives, etc. can all be found. Works fine with a workstation for normal use..
So like my office setup, I'm running a matrox triplehead2go with three 17" monitors, a scanner, external keyboard and mouse, and a hardwired network. At home where I'll setup where ever I want (like outside on the deck on nice days), I use the laptop monitor and keyboard, external mouse, wireless network & internet, a headset and a usb external hard drive as needed. On the road, I take the external hard drive, a mouse, and a projector... Extremely versitile as a desktop replacement since it wiped out having to have three machines and I can go anywhere.