Best notebook to meet my needs

I just received a new Sager 5680 two days ago and will probably be returning it for a refund. Why? The viewing angle of the screen (SXGA) is so restricted that I cannot use the computer in a comfortable manner and the feel of the keyboard is lousy.

Basically, I would like your suggestions as to an appropriate machine to purchase as my first plan was an obvious failure. Let me outline that which I will be doing on the machine and what my thoughts are vis hardware:

Usage - I do software development. My machine's typical load is SQL server, IIS, MS Visual Studio .NET 2003 (often multiple instances), MS Outlook, multiple IE windows, and frequently a text editor, Excel and Word. Yes - all running simultaneously - I am one heck of a multi-tasker!

Hardware - Given the load, it seems that a desktop Pentium with dual-channel memory access is a must. Also, 1GB of fast DRAM and a 7200 rpm HD are needed. I am not too picky about the graphics solution, but needs its own, dedicated RAM. I need 80211.b/g, Bluetooth, three USB ports, 100BaseT, Synaptics touchpad (or equiv), etc.. Having built in memory card readers is a bonus. Battery life is not important and I would like a system that runs as quietly as possible.

With regard to the screen, here is an interesting table. The first row shows the aspect ratio, normal or wide. The second row shows the diagonal size of the screen. The third row shows the number of horizontal pixels. The fourth row shows the standard name for this type of display. The fifth rows show the pixel pitch in pixels per inch.

(This aligns with a fixed-width font)
Aspect Norm Norm Norm Wide Wide Wide Wide
Diag Size 15 15 16.1 15.4 15.4 17 17
Hor Pixels 1400 1600 1600 1680 1920 1680 1920
Dot Pitch 117 133 124 129 147 117 133

My current laptop has a pixel pitch of 117 px/in and this is quite comfortable. I believe that a pixel pitch greater than 130 px/in results in text that is too small to be easily legible. So, this defines the screen types I find acceptable.

Finally, I do carry this laptop to/from work daily, so I would like to keep its weight below 10 pounds.

Given all of this:
1) Do you agree with my assessment that a desktop-class processor is needed to meet my needs?
2) What specific machine (make/model) would you recommend? Money is not a deciding factor, but I do not want to be ripped-off (like Sony's charging $550 to upgrade from a 2.66 GHz P4 to a 3.2 GHz P4 - who the heck is uninformed enough do do that?)

Thanks in advance for your help!
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  1. 1) No. I still maintain, that if you are using a notebook, a Pentium-M will satisfy all of your needs. Firstly, at 1.7GHz, it is more powerful than a 2.66GHz Pentium 4, and runs a lot cooler (and thus quieter) at that. In fact, up to 1GHz, it can be cooled passively which means the only noise you will here is that of your HDD.

    2) I would seriously (and in fact I, myself, have) the Dell Latitude D800, for the following reasons:

    - Pentium-M 1.7GHz (unbeatable, and if at some stage you decide you DO need battery life, 5hrs at max. batt. savings should suffice)
    - 15.4" Wide Aspect LCD (WSXGA+ or it will be to fine for you to read according to your table)
    - 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g Wireless
    - 3 USB Ports
    - Dedicated (modular) graphics card (GeForce 4 ti 4200) and up to 2GB of RAM.
    - Integrated (modular) Bluetooth.
    - Synaptics Touchpad.
    - Weighs in at around (3.8kg) 9lbs.

    I am, in fact, studying Information Systems and Computer Science at the moment, and I give my notebook much the same work-load as you do (e.g. Several instances of VB .net, Powerpoint, Word and Excel (usually running simultaneously), about 8 IE windows in the background (research), and - of course - NFS Underground running in the background (erm, also research). With 640MB of RAM, and a 1.6GHz Pentium-M, my D800 does not struggle at all. The one thing that I would recommend that you add to your list, as this is (surprisingly) the most important factor for a 'quick' notebook; and that is a 7200rpm HDD. This is a must, and don't settle for anything less. By the way, I use the WUXGA Panel, and it is fine for coding, so long as the DPI is set to 125.

    Good luck,


    Who's General Failure and why's he reading my disk?
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