Buying a Notebook


This is just a rant but damit, why are the prices for notebooks so varied?

I've been wanting a notebook computer lately and have been looking and it's so frustrating because there are so many tradeoffs. Go for lightweight and then settle for a small screen? Go for cheap and therefore no power? Decide I just want to browse the net and read email and therefore don't need the graphic speed or decide I might want to program at a cafe and therefore need the graphic acceleration. And so it goes back and forth, back and forth.

For example, of course lots of Mac fans would recommend getting a MacBook or MacBookPro. That rules out the lightweight idea. All MacBooks are around 5lbs+. If I want graphic acceleration then I have to go to a MacBookPro. But, MacBookPros start at $2k, and that's with only 512meg of ram and a 80gig HD 😞

Sometimes I almost talk myself into living without the acceleration and going for a MacBook but they start at $1100 for just 512k of ram and a 60gig HD. To give you some contrast my nephew just got a new Gateway MX6931 from Best Buy. It's got an Intel Core Duo with 2GIG of ram and 160gig HD for...........$999!! and the display is larger. 15.4 vs the MacBook's 13.1. Try to expand a MacBook to the same specs and the MacBook will be more than twice as expensive.

Toshiba has a few nice ones. Unfortunately Toshiba Japan and Toshiba USA are different companies and they sell different notbooks.

I know it's stupid but style is important to me as well. On they style front there are really only 2 choices IMO. Apple and Sony. I was looking at the Sony SZ series. The plus to the SZ series is they have both a low−powered intel graphic accelerator AND a fast Nvidia one in the same notebook and you can switch between them. Using the low−powered one you get almost double the battery life. The SZ is also light, more than a 20% lighter than the Mac or Gateway above. But, it's nearly as expensive as a Mac at $1800. With 1gig of ram and a 160gig HD it's $2100. For those prices I could buy 2 of the gateways.

What I'm really curious about is why such a difference in price? It's it really just about branding? Are their quality differences? I know people that have had problems with pretty much every brand of notebook. That includes Mac and Sony and Toshiba and IBM and you name it.

I kept flopping back and forth between resolution issues too. The current most common resolution for a notebook seems to be a widescreen with 1280x800 pixels. that's relatively small. At work I have 2 1280x1024 monitors. At home I have 3, the main one is at 1920x1200. Resolution matters, especially for programs like Photoshop or Visual Studio that have lots of control panels or panes that need to be open. It also matters for editing code. The more code I can see at once the easier it is for me to understand what I'm looking at.

So, some notebooks have higher res than 1280x800 but almost all of them feature some tradeoff. For example the 15.4 inch macbook pro goes to 1440x900 but it's expensive. Sony makes a type BX which does 1440x1050 and it's accelerated but it also weighs more like the Mac and Gateway vs the SZ. It also doesn't have an unaccelerated option so it's got a worse battery life. Sony also makes a special F series with a 15.4 inch 1680x1050 display which would be awesome. They call it their "special graphics version" but damit, it it's not accelerated. WTF! If I remember right it's not even a Core Duo machine. Lenovo makes one but damit, Lenovo's are fuuuuuuugly! Those 15.4 notebooks are also HEAVY.

CEATEC, Japanese version of I guess CES or Comdex is this week. Maybe some company will announce one without the trade offs.............I can dream at least.

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