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Help me not buy a macbook air

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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August 12, 2011 5:05:03 PM

So I feel as if I'm about to pay a premium for an apple macbook air when I have no partiality towards OSX or the ultra portability offered by the very light weight air. All i really want is a reliable laptop smaller than 15 inches with a superb battery life and the most hardware that I can get without weighing more than 4 pounds. Really weight is not as much an issue as size. Ideally I would love a laptop with the smallest bezel to maximize screen size versus actual size on a desk. The only other important factor is the quality of the screen. This laptop is not for anything more than web browsing and other simple tasks. Please help. Any suggestions are much appreciated.

More about : buy macbook air

a c 571 D Laptop
August 12, 2011 5:27:18 PM

Take a look at the 14" Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420s
It's 4.4lbs but with Core i5-2410M, 6hrs+ battery life using Wifi, Bluetooth and a great keyboard.
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a c 445 D Laptop
August 12, 2011 5:50:27 PM

I'm afraid you will have to define what you mean by a quality screen.

The vast majority of LCD screens in laptops are TN panels. They are in at least 98% of current available laptops. TN panels are inexpensive to manufacture and have low response times which generally keeps cost down and gamers happy. However, there are not particularly color accurate enough for anything that is color critical, but for the average person TN panels are fine. The most obvious drawback is the limited viewing angles. Colors change very easily on a TN panel, just move your head slightly or tilt the LCD screen a bit and you can easily see the change. At some angles some colors can even appear reversed such as blue becoming red.

IPS panels offers better viewing angles than TN panels, but they also cost a bit more especially if you want a H-IPS or S-IPS variant (HP Elitebook 8xxx series w/ "DreamColor" option). A new variant is the e-IPS panel which is still a little more expensive than the cost of a TN panel, but it is considered competitive. The viewing angles are much better than TN panels and these types of screens seems to be pretty popular in tablets like the Asus EEE Transformer and iPads. However, they haven't penetrated the laptop market yet.

The only laptop that I know of that has an option for an e-IPS panel is the Lenovo 12.5" ThinkPad X220; it's a $50 option. It has a very long battery life of 8 hours and 47 minutes based on "continual web surfing" by refreshing web pages every 60 seconds from the following review:

http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=6056&r...

There's also the choice between a glossy, reflective screen which makes colors "pop", but they are very annoying unless you like seeing reflections on your LCD screen. The other option is a matte finish screen which diffuse light so you don't get those annoying reflections. However, people complain that it makes colors look dull. I prefer matte finish screens, like the ThinkPad X220.


However, I will assume that a 12.5" laptop is too small for your needs. There is the 14" ThinkPad Edge E420s that WR2 has mentioned and it does cost less.

There's also the 13.3" ThinkPad X1 which weighs 3.7lbs, but it is also pretty expensive at $1,300 compared to the other ThinkPads I've mentioned. It offers pretty good battery life of 5 hours and 51 minutes using the same type of test as for the X220 above. Here's the review:

http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=6125&r...


The reviews have photos of the laptops' screens at different angles. The X220 has an e-IPS panel and the X1 has a TN panel. Note how much the colors can change on the X1. The ThinkPad Edge E420s as mentioned by WR2 also uses a TN panel and it is glossy as well.
August 12, 2011 9:43:12 PM

Ok so lets decrease the importance of screen quality. I will probably be fine with a TN panel. What other options are there?
a c 571 D Laptop
August 12, 2011 10:53:01 PM

Did you have a budget range in mind?
If not you might just want to look through the options here - either from the Top 10 list or the Editors Choices list.
August 13, 2011 1:34:58 AM

I find the viewing angle advantage to be blown out of proportion anyways. When you use a computer, it's just you. You will just point the monitor at you and it hardly matters if the view isn't very good if you were in the chair next to you.
August 13, 2011 6:43:32 AM

I agree that viewing angles is not a priority. For the screen I would prefer a high resolution, 900p at least, and a good color saturation. This is no longer my priority though as I feel it is limiting my options though.

Also my price limit is 2500 usd.
August 13, 2011 5:40:01 PM

For web browsing and office tasks you shouldn't have to spend anywhere close to $2500 unless you need something that's ruggedized or something.

I recently found myself looking for something similar; a small laptop with a lot of battery life, sturdy/reliable hardware, and a quality screen. I bought a macbook pro and it has worked out very well for those purposes. The smallest Pro is pushing your size limit and has a big bezel (giving only a 13" screen) but the air obviously more than satisfies your size requirement (although you do give up some battery life with the air). I run OSX/Windows 7/Ubuntu off of it and both OSX and Windows 7 run great but Ubuntu takes some time to set up. Also double booting OSX and Win7 is a breeze with bootcamp.

The obvious drawback is that you overpay a lot for any apple products. You can get the same performance out of a windows-based machine for probably half the price. I will say that for the extra money you get...peace of mind I guess. I've owned and serviced several laptops in the last five years or so and nothing comes even close to macbooks in terms of hardware reliability and longevity - Apple products are really well constructed with quality parts.

I'm not an Apple fanatic or anything...I have an Android phone and a home-built desktop...but I thought someone should put a word in for the macbook.
August 13, 2011 5:46:40 PM

danraies said:
The obvious drawback is that you overpay a lot for any apple products. You can get the same performance out of a windows-based machine for probably half the price. I will say that for the extra money you get...peace of mind I guess. I've owned and serviced several laptops in the last five years or so and nothing comes even close to macbooks in terms of hardware reliability and longevity - Apple products are really well constructed with quality parts.

I'm not an Apple fanatic or anything...I have an Android phone and a home-built desktop...but I thought someone should put a word in for the macbook.


I know this is generally the party line, but reality is often different: http://smidgenpc.com/2010/05/07/laptop-reliability-rati...

One thing that was mentioned towards the bottom, with another graph, is that premium laptops defined by those which cost more than $1000, had fewer problems than entry level laptops.
August 13, 2011 7:52:20 PM

bystander said:
I know this is generally the party line, but reality is often different: http://smidgenpc.com/2010/05/07/laptop-reliability-rati...


Can't argue with real data. On a separate note, though, in the event something does go wrong, the Toshiba and Sony laptop support can be very difficult in my experience. ASUS support is always good, though.
a c 571 D Laptop
August 13, 2011 8:17:50 PM

bystander said:
I know this is generally the party line, but reality is often different: http://smidgenpc.com/2010/05/07/laptop-reliability-rati...
Reality is different, that's for sure.
You might say looking at just 30,000 laptops over three years is too small a sample to be a 'reliable' indicator of what that company claims (or is selling?). Not when the year that study was published over 140 million laptops were sold. And covered laptops built in the years prior to the study. Does it even apply to 2011 models?

Who buys the Squaretrade warranties (and other extended warranties), and why? And is SquareTrade trying to scare up more business for itself?
More than one company has said that study did not represent anything like the 'real world' reliability. Lenovo responds to laptop reliability study

Is a $450 Toshiba Lxxx more reliable than a $850 HP Probook laptop?
Is a $450 XXX more reliable than a $450 YYY when they're built by the same ODM for two different companies? SquareTrade would have you think so and would like to please buy one of their warranties.

!