Looking for advice on a new laptop purchase

Hi everyone. I'm in the market for a new laptop, and would like some pointers, or advice. I purchased a Compaq V5000z 3 years ago, but it was stolen about a year later. I basically purchased the laptop at the time, for entertainment purposed during long trips to family in Europe. I'm again going overseas, and am looking to buy a laptop to play games on, watch movies, and surf the net while in Italy. Since it's been a while from my last purchase, I was curious what's changed, or what features I should focus on. I'm looking to spend anywhere from $600-1,000.

The graphics card is important, since I play games like Madden, NHL 09, Battefield series games, and would likely purchase additional stuff for the trip. I've read the FAQ on graphics cards, and have scoured the rankings to see how the more common cards fair. Most budget books seem to have the Radeon HD X3200, or comparable. Is this adequate enough?

My old laptop was a 15.4" viewable, and while the screen size was nice, it was cumbersome on planes. Would a 14.1" viewable present any problems that I might not think of? Would anyone advise against going smaller, to 14.1"?

How does High Definition work on newer laptops? It might seem crazy, but does the drive upscale DVD's, or would I need to actually have a Blu-ray drive. Just wondering.

Which processor is better?

Which manufacturer should I stay away from?

Where I'm basically using this for home, and travel use, I don't need something overpowering. I don't want to be penny cheap, and dollar foolish either.

Thanks in advance!
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  1. The 3200 is a rather weak card, and I don't think it will do well in the modern battlefields. In the least head for a 9300/9400 or 3400 series.

    The screen size thing is really a matter of opinion over technology, but your next comment is troublesome...Blu-ray on a 14" screen? What's the point? A screen size that small likely won't have options for a 1080 resolution - you won't actually be watching real blu-ray.

    Intel processors are best now, and to watch blu-ray, you should get one at least 2GHz, if not better.

    Manufacturers you should avoid is a matter of experiences and opinion, but, IMO, you should avoid Sony and Apple.
  2. I only mention the blu-ray bit cuz I see that a lot the screens now say High Definition, and desktops I've seen have blu-ray drives.

    The 9400 series card, IIRC, ranks near the top 40 overall. I saw a few books that offered that card. How many GB's of RAM would you recommend? 2, 3, 4 or more?

    How are ASUS Laptops? There is one at a local BB on sale. It's got one of the cards you mentioned.
  3. A lot of people keep pointing me toward this Asus box at BestBuy:

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=9173262&type=product&id=1218044029168

    It fits right into my budget, and I was wondering if anyone owned this, or was familiar with it. Positive's, negative's?

    Others in here have mentioned a Sager Notebook. I looked for something comparable to the Asus at BestBuy, and I think this would be it.

    http://www.sagernotebook.com/product_customed.php?pid=91133&action=customize

    It's the Sager NP2096. With a lesser video card, but Bluetooth enabled, it's about $100 more. Any opinions?
  4. I'd get the Asus. The screen rather sucks, but it's got quite a bit of power. For a more balanced machine, get the Sager.
  5. Ok, so I bought the Asus G50Vt-X5. I haven't loaded any games, or software on it yet, but I did watch MLB.TV on it last night. The picture is terrific, but man, oh man, do the speakers suck. I mean, I couldn't hear the broadcast on max, from about 10' away. Does anyone know if there is a way to boost the output inside the settings? If not, can anyone reccomend to me a good set of USB protable speakers for a laptop. When I travel, I'll need more sound, but I don't want to lug around outlet powered speakers.

    Thanks in advance.
  6. Terrible sound is a common theme for all notebooks. Speakers use room that notebooks don't have.

    I don't know of any USB powered speakers, but there are some that are battery powered you can buy.
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