Laptop Business 2006

Ok, I know that I just purchased an IBM X41 Tablet last fall, but I am in the market for a new laptop again.

No, nothing wrong with my computers... I am just going to be giving the X41 to my younger sister so that she can use it during Law School the next few years. I wager she needs it more than I do, and I still have my older Dell laptop, PC, and Mac Mini, so I have no shortage of computers. Yes, I am a nice older brother.

Why am I giving her the X41 instead of the other machines? Because the X41 is new and still has its 3-year warranty. There is no way that I am giving my sister a machine out of warranty because if anything goes wrong, I will get the phone call... and we all know what long-distance computer troubleshooting can be like... 😉

All it means is that I must re-evaluate the ultraportable landscape again.

Unfortunately, it seems that Dell's design philosophy for its Latitude Ultraportables no longer match what I am looking for. I do not want a widescreen LCD on the business-class Latitude; if I wanted widescreen LCDs for movies, I would choose the consumer-class Inspirons. PC Card slot and SD memory slot are necessary now, for my smart card reader and digital camera memory. And packing it all into a real ultraportable package (2.5-4lb, 1" thick) is important. Sigh... I do like Dell machines, especially their a la carte software setup, but their hardware design seems to go in a direction that no longer match what I want.

Toshiba appears to still go with the R200, which while sleek and more business-minded, it is also demanding a price premium for last year's hardware (Pentium M instead of Solo/Duo, 4200rpm HDD). I may enjoy the fashion, but not at the cost of basic functionality. I am willing to trade-off some hardware functionality for a fashionable ultraportable form factor (like the fastest CPUs, discrete graphics, or 1600x1200 LCD panels), but not for last year's functionality. Gotta have standards, you know. 😉

Apple, HP/Compaq, and Gateway are pretty much out of the picture because I have never seen a system from them that simultaneously satisify the price, functionality, reliability, and customizability ratio. I am always amazed at how Apple manages to pawn last year's hardware at premium prices and still get away with it - gotta love their marketing and spin-machine...

So, I guess that leaves me with IBM (oops, Lenovo) for the this purchase. I am debating between the X60S and the T60P... because on the one hand, you have the classic ultraportable X60S with all the usual features and this year's hardware refresh (Duo, 7200rpm HDD) while still retaining the standard XGA resolution, PC Card/SD Memory, and now 3 USB 2.0 ports... and on the other, you have the classic power-machine T60P with all the top-end Vista-ready hardware (Duo, 7200 HDD, discrete graphics) while sporting a 1600x1200 LCD. I don't know... 1600x1200 is a really attractive resolution, especially for me to PPTP into my work machines. I have been really spoiled by my dual 1600x1200 and 1200x1600 monitor layout - having screen real-estate really helps my work efficiency.

Hmm... I guess I will just have to toss a coin... 🙂


Comments (5)
  1. drdamour says:

    You didn’t mention Sony. They make an EXCELLENT ultraportable in the TX. I use it constantly (as i did my TR all through college). At 2.3 lbs it’s extremely useful to move around, especially for travelling/meetings.

    I understand the want of the huge screen, but really, just adding a del 20.1 or 24 inch monitor to your home desk to plug your laptop into will solve all those problems.  Do you really work from your livingroom couch that often?

    Also don’t be so afraid of the short wide screens, once you start using them, you realize that scrolling up & down is 100x faster (and more common as it is) than scrolling left & right.


    Or if you want a bit bigger screen


  2. David.Wang says:

    drdamour – hmm… interesting.

    The Sony TX is extremely light-weight and fashionable, and having built in optical drive, large hard drive, 1G+ RAM, and cellular roaming is sweet.

    However, reading the specifications of the Sony, they are more comparable/capable to the Toshiba R200 (Pentium M) though at an even higher pricepoint. And Sony only bundles 1 year of warranty, which is quite shocking to me. No other major computer manufacturer ships premium laptops without a 3 year warranty (and no consumer should buy laptops without a 3 year warranty).

    So, sigh, as usual… if I was not paying for it (or I can get a discount), I would probably consider Sony. I had eyed their 505 portable for some time before. 🙂 For certain, I am sold on the ultraportable line – I have purchased and used three models of them since they were introduced.

    And regarding the screen real-estate – yes, I have two Dell 20" LCD panels, but that is not the issue. Changing screen resolutions and the resulting changes is the issue.

    I use Windows like Windows – I have dozens of Windows of various shapes, orientations, and positions all over my desktop – and switching resolutions would shift them about. If I ran everything maximized so that I only see one thing at a time, sure, I can do this, but I do not run with maximized windows.


  3. drdamour says:

    i don’t understand yoru resolution problem.

    when i’m docked, i use my lcd’s as my main screens. I just set remote to use their native resolution, and everything looks good.

    the triple head 2 go is a sweet addition to a laptop setup also (three 20.1’s with one port)

    and i totally agree with you, once you jump to the world of 1280×1024 and higher, the concept of maximized windows just doesn’t make sense. especially for development. I’m waiting for VS to look like the old VB3 where there was no mdi container.

  4. David.Wang says:

    drdamour – The problem I describe happens when the machine you RDP *from* has lower resolution that the machine you RDP *to*, and you share the same WinStation on RDP.

    Everything works beautifully when you have a machine with high resolution and you RDP to machines with lower resolution. I keep tabs of several machines over RDP in that fashion.

    However, when you RDP from a laptop with a low resolution like 1024×768 to a machine with high resolution console like dualmon 1600×1200, all windows on the dualmon machine are moved to the 1024×768 viewable part, and they DO NOT move back when you exit RDP, so when you subsequently login on the dualmon console, your windows are all moved.

    Of course, this happens because I use the /console switch to RDP to the same WinStation I console login, so that I always see the same desktop and windows regardless if I am at home or at work. In other words, I keep one copy of Outlook running, and I view the same Outlook window from console login at work and RDP login at home.

    There’s no real solution to it other than to make sure you RDP with similar or greater resolution than the target.


  5. wil says:

    The notebooks of these days seem to be less satisfactory all the time and more targeted at consumers as professionals. Guess it makes sense with the prices that keep dropping.

    There is however another manufacturer which makes awesome high quality notebooks.

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