It May Be Time for a New Laptop

I'd hoped to put off replacing my aged Dell 300m until fall, when the new generation of netbooks would be out, but now I may be in the market very soon. I knew its days were numbered because it had stopped recharging the battery some time ago (apparently a common motherboard problem on this model).

I want lightweight, with a great keyboard at least near regular size, and doesn't break the bank. I will sacrifice speed, and screen size (and even screen resolution if I have to).

Any suggestions?

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22 Responses to It May Be Time for a New Laptop

  1. Mitch Guthman says:

    Think Mac. I switched about four years ago (iMac 24″ as my main computer; Macbook to travel with) and I’ve never regretted it for a single moment.

  2. PHB says:

    Mac has the best hardware regardless of whether you run Windows or OSX on it.

    There are still a few first generation MacBook Air’s at the apple store for $1000. Ignore the folk who say you need a DVD drive, you won’t notice you don’t have it. If you want to watch a movie you will just have to rip it.

    Only problem with the Air is that there is a design flaw in the hinges that Apple is currently refusing to fix under warranty. That will probably sort itself out soon though, there is already a class action lawsuit over them.

    The $1200 Macbook PRO is probably a better bet. The 17″ brute is really too big.

  3. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Just don’t see it guys. Compatibility issues. This is a guy who needs wordperfect, remember?

    Apple won a major battle but lost the war. I wish it were not so, well assuming Steve Jobs would have been a better monopolist than Gates. Which I doubt he could have been worse.

    But they lost because they couldn’t give up any control. Now they make nice products, and that’s about it. They will never get another crack at the computer market.

    My compatibility issues on Ubuntu are probably less of a pain than they would have been on a Mac.

  4. Steve says:

    The Lenovo X301 is now on sale…

  5. Steve says:

    And you can get an employee discount.

  6. C.E. Petit says:

    My son has had good success with the flash-drive Acer AspireOne running semicustomized Fedora; he can’t crunch numbers, but can do just about everything else that is non-gaming within the reach of the battery life. If you do get an AspireOne, spring for the larger battery; whether you go for one with a hard drive and WinXP or go for Linux is your call. The keyboard is quite manageable for average-sized hands and smaller; for those of us with smaller hands, the difference is barely noticeable compared to a regular laptop’s keyboard. Large hands, though, rule out ANY netbook.

    I’m a member of the anti-Mac brigade, so don’t expect me to extol the purported virtues of any toys from Cupertino. Sure, they look kinda kewl… but (a) what’s the point of putting a GUI on top of the OS that invented “user hostility”, (b) if/when they do break — a distinct risk with a portable machine — they’re expensive, inconvenient, and often impossible to fix, (c) at their price level, their battery life is uniformly far worse than their competitors, and (d) they won’t reliably run WordPerfect.

  7. Rhodo Zeb says:

    That’s good, or maybe go for an Asus Eee with a usb foldable full keyboard for 20 bucks.

    Ha ha C.E. just posted; that’s three Chinese brands 😉

    Good solution CE, I am liking it.

    Open Source!

  8. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Ahh my linx is fuxxored…

    This should work

  9. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Ugg I am giving up embedded links for good.

  10. michael says:

    I looked at the original asus eee and the keyboard was unacceptable due to the odd placement of the period and slash keys on the right side. I’m a touch typist and need standard key placements for the alphanumeric keys, although I’m more flexible on the cursor keys.

    HP, Acer and maybe panasonic seem like the ones I need to try to get my hands on in the netbook space. Otherwise it’s back north of three pounds….

  11. Adam says:

    I beleive the Asus EEE 1000HE has a new better keyboard, as well as a faster processor and better battery life.

    It seem to be the current top of the crop for netbooks (ignoring macintosh).

  12. If the smallest Mac is too big, here’s another vote for the ASUS 1000HE. Unless you put enough wear on a netbook to want a solid-state drive.

    If you want a Mac, you can run WordPerfect on a Windows partition of a Mac via the Boot Camp software that comes with new Intel Macs now. You just have to pay additionally for the Vista software, a security program to guard the Vista software, and the WordPerfect software.

  13. central texas says:

    To help cut down your search space:

    I bought a Dell Mini 12 with Ubuntu. I like it. Good battery life, decent performance given the chip, and a pretty good screen. The keyboard is a disappointment. It looks like a standard keyboard and is easy to touchtype on until you get to the end of the sentence and discover that the period and comma keys are, essentially, each half a key. Why I cannot figure out as the row on which they are place ends with a full sized key space left unused. I am told that the HPs keyboards are better, but be sure to carefully look at all of the keys that are repeatedly used in rapidly typing prose.

  14. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Usb fold-out full keyboard. 20 bucks.

  15. michael says:

    Amazon & newegg consumers are not that happy with their foldout keyboards (and they’re more the $20 this far from the factory). It also means you end up far from the laptop screen, which is small to begin with.

    But I may have repaired the laptop enough to see me through the summer…

  16. Kat says:

    I love my Lenovo x61t (running Fedora); lightweight, nice screen, satisfying keyboard. No touchpad, just the trackpoint. (Much cheaper when you buy a refurb through the outlet store as I did, which may not be something you’re interested in.) Previous laptop was a Lenovo also and took a really staggering amount of abuse before being replaced.

  17. Rickey says:

    Mac laptops go forever, buy one of these, but don’t break the law and install Windows on it !

  18. Dale Dobuler says:


    Personally am a Mac user and use my Air on campus at UM everyday and love it. Light, powerful, and never have missed the lack of CD ROM drive. That being said, if you are not familiar with the site – you might find it interesting. I enjoy browsing from time to time just to see the latest and greatest. Prices are not the best, I’m sure but they have some very interesting hardware that you won’t see in the U.S.

  19. eb says:

    I stay away from Apple, the technology is nice but the company is censorious. If you can handle a 10″ screen, the Lenovo S10 comes with a 1024×600 display and a semi-decent keyboard, and you can easily add Kubuntu to dual-boot with the pre-installed XP. The S10 can be had for under $400 most days. For about $500 the Dell Mini-12 still comes in at about 3 lbs, and the 12″ screen is great at 1280×800. It’a available with ubuntu (which you can easily upgrade to kubuntu), or with XP if you must.

    Of course you can buy a real 15″ laptop for a little over $400 these days, which is somewhat more practical unless ultra-lightness is a requirement.

  20. David says:

    being a tech means you’re de facto support for friends and family, so I recently found myself de-screwing an eeepc for a friend who was out of town for a week and I am completely sold on them. At ~250$, you can get a linux-flavored one and a windows-flavored one and still not break the bank. I wouldn’t do anything processor intensive on one — no gaming or video editing for e.g. — but for writing on the go, remote connections, emails and basic photo stuff (ie uploading photos to a site or editing with picasa or similar lightweight editor etc), they’re more than capable. I would recommend the XP over linux flavor but only because the linux flavor they’ve used is not as robust and full featured as other linux distros (it’s a debian derivative but not as slick as ubuntu). Battery life is decent and as expected will shorten considerably if you’re doing “heavy” work with them (playing music/video vs writing an email or web-browsing).

    Macs are an acquired taste — and I do love them dearly, OS X being Unix With A GUI Done Right, imo — but I’ve travelled enough with a heavy bag full of more computer than I’ll ever use on a trip and Never Again. Just thinking about it tires me.

    The only other consideration would be how rough you are on equipment and how long you’re hoping to make a portable last. If you’re really tough on hardware and/or you want something that will last for ages, get a thinkpad (ibm/lenovo). They are tanks (and ubuntu loads like a duck to water). Otherwise, eee (or similar mini like dell etc etc)

  21. dell gx620 says:

    I’m going to get myself a dell laptop soon, just wondering if dell is a good buy? or acer? Currently I am using a toshiba ones. Been using before IBM, HP, Dell and Toshiba laptops for the past 6 years.But I guess Dell ones is ok with the cheap promotional price they are offering now.

  22. Detox Diet says:

    The Dell netbook is great. You should get it. It’s very light and cheap but it has a pretty weak wireless adapter. For example, at a distance from my router, the netbook is unable to connect to the network but my Inspiron can connect to the network without any problem. I was having problem at free public wifi too but if you have a mobile broadband, then the netbook is an excellent companion.

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