I've been running with a Alienware M11xr2 for the past 3 years. I started off with no interest in programming, but now do web/software/mobile development along with graphic design, etc. Obviously, as you can imagine, a 11 inch screen is not ideal for this kind of work. I have a desktop with multiple monitors, but when I'm out and about (which is pretty often), this m11x with a 1.2ghz i7 dual core is not cutting it (especially when I run VMs in it).
I've recently been looking at the macbook pro 17" from 2011 and I see that I could get a decent quad core with radeon 6770 for ~1800 depending on existing warranties and condition (and from where). I really like the quality of macbook pros but I've never owned a mac. I always see developers using macs, so they have to be good for that right? Also, I'm pretty sure I don't want the retina macbooks. The scaling stuff that happens in the background for the displays is something I don't want to deal with. Are there any other laptop alternatives (OS X, Windows, Linux) that would suit this type of work well?
pretty decent battery life
1) Find out what SOFTWARE you would be using and whether that runs on OSX or Windows.
2) Apple laptops are more expensive.
3) high-res displays are not an issue:
a) set the DPI Scaling as desired (start with 125%)
b) use "NoSquint" in Firefox
c) manually resize web-pages with CTRL+Scroll
4) CPU-> get an Intel 3rd gen quad-core CPU
5) RAM-> get at least 6GB of RAM
6) SSD/HDD-> if possible, get a laptop which supports a second drive, then:
a) add an SSD (CLONE WINDOWS to it), then
b) Format the hard drive and use as a backup and mass storage drive (I recommend the Samsung 840 Pro, 128GB SSD for Windows).
7) Screen resolution at 17" should be 1600x900 or 1920x1080.
(I know you specify 1920x1080 but if you want ALL features you may have to compromise somewhere).
8) An expensive laptop often has an expensive GPU. If you don't game at all, just use one which uses the Intel graphics.
9) *Intel HASWELL is coming in June/July. These CPU's provide very significant power savings features. You can Wiki/Google that.
The high resolution of 1080p is not an issue for my eyes or seeing. I was referring to the retina display not actually showing it's "true" resolution and dpi, hence it scaling its display in real time.
I would use eclipse, some other IDE, terminal, and most programs would be compatible with all 3 OS's. I wouldn't mind getting low end storage, and then upgrading to ssd myself (with additional storage in drive bay, etc.). I also read that macbooks get very good battery life as it is.