Vasco Dias @blog

another blog about stuff?? oh yeahh

The endless journey for a new laptop

Hi, i’m not sure how everybody else buys their products but i’m a very sceptical person and usually i do a lot of research before buying something. I’ll try to get some points quickly explaining what i want on a new machine and some short description of what i think are good specifications for a new machine.

Maybe first i should try to explain my reasoning (AKA my user case): i’m a university student, i need my laptop to study and develop. After that what i do most is surf the web, watch some anime, movies and tv series. Do i play games? Not really, maybe just some case of really rare playing like the Humble Bundles that i bought (yes i bought all of them). Important to note here is that i carry my laptop a lot, from home to university, all around the house (going to the bedroom then the living room, etc) and i spend lots of time reading stuff. As you should know i use GNU/Linux and the rare times i need windows i prefer launching some virtualization solution.

What kind of laptop do you have now? – would you dare to ask. An Asus M51Vr (specs) of around 3Kg (use google to convert these units if needed :P), 15.4”. The quality? Pretty bad, right now i have just one hinge supporting the screen, the lower of the pc is hot, the hdd is full of dead sectors, it’s noisy and have i already said heavy? Yeah, it really is. Why did i buy it? – should you want to ask too. It was cheap at the time (3 years ago on a media markt promotion – 666€. It was around 1100€) and it was my first laptop and i needed something to use when entering the university.

So, on the present, the hinge broke around 3 months ago and since then i’m looking for a new laptop. 3 months is a really long time to be with a broken laptop on the verge of collapsing. In the meanwhile i tried to order an hp 5320m and only after one month had passed and after going to the shop some times they were able to tell me that i couldn’t order that one anymore. Great service. Since then and with the coming of many new sandy bridge laptops and new AMD APUs i’ve been stalling and searching a lot to find a good new machine.

Main specifications that i’m looking for:

  • Weight: should be light, so not netbooks, something like what they call today the ultra-portable. Less than 2,2Kg.
  • Cpu: if i’m buying new, should be recent. i5-2410 at least, or amd Llano A6-3400 or A8-3500.
  • Graphics: INTEGRATED. I don’t want 2 cards on my pc, so a intel HD3000 or the card from the APUs is enough. And NO NVIDIA (bad linux support on the open-source drivers).
  • RAM: at least 4GB because we are talking about a machine that should run at least some kind of virtualization.
  • Hard drive: the smallest in capacity is enough, just want it to be stable and silent. Later maybe upgrade to a SSD of my choice.
  • Optical drive: i don’t think they are needed. I have my current laptop since 3 years ago and i can count with my fingers how many times i used it. On the 21st they are useless. Specially if i can get a lighter laptop without this i’m all for it.
  • Size: 12.5” i think is to small, 13.3” should be fine, 14′‘ would be good but normally comes with external graphics, optical drive or numpad, so 13.3” is where i can avoid these “features”.
  • Screen: for god sake, i want a matte screen, my current laptop burns my eyes, i’m many hours on the pc. Should be decent enough to see some multimedia.

Other, more secondary specifications:

  • USB 3 support. I want a new laptop with recent cpus, they all have usb 3 support, so i want it. No excuses.
  • Number of usbs: don’t know, at least 2, at least to support Pen-to-Pen copy.
  • E-SATA support. I need it. My current laptop has one, i use it, i want it on the new one. These days laptops even save space using a combo with usb.
  • VGA, HDMI or VGA, Display port. Is the minimum.
  • Card reader support of course.
  • Webcam, i don’t use it at all. Kill it with fire. Actually all recent laptops come with it so i can’t do anything about it…
  • Fingerprint reader. I don’t use mine, but i’m not sure with this. Becomes Optional.
  • NO NUMPAD. I don’t like mine. I can’t use the PgUp and Down shortcuts on linux console like i used on the destop in my current laptop. Kill it with fire too.
  • NO MODEM. C’mon, seriously, take hp’s laptops, who seriously need it? I don’t at least. (i’m talking about the old old one that did some amazing music connecting).
  • Bluetooth, i don’t really use it, but it’s possible it could become handy. So, optional feature.
  • Network card, at least 1Gbit.
  • Wireless card, mine has N support but i don’t use it, but maybe it should be included, just like the gigabit card and bluetooth 3, they all offer the most recent connection technologies.

Have i already covered everything? … No, keyboard should be good enough quality, i like the looks on those new chicklet keyboards. Touchpad should be good enough too as i only use it without any external usb mouse. Then i just want what everybody wants: good and resistant body construction, really silent, good airflow because i don’t like to get burned, and a reasonable price for these specs (not over 800€).

And cherry on top of the cake? WITHOUT MICROSOFTcrap. I don’t care if it comes without OS, with Ubuntu, with OpenSuse, whatever the case i will install archlinux on it. Even if i want Miscrosoft OS i have access to MSDNAA so i don’t want to pay for something i can get legally and free. So the laptop should have good linux support, but everything said above is compatible with it, so i see no problems. Obviously finding a laptop like this and without Windows pre-installed is just an utopia.

Should be easy to find laptops with these specs? I would say yes, but it seems that manufactors don’t really know what consumers (or am i that special?) want and just throw out random kinds of configurations and poor built laptops. It’s really sad. I’m looking for a new laptop since 3 months ago. I waited for the AMD APUs to get out, now i’m waiting for laptops to come with them, if i wait longer i’ll be waiting for ultra-portables, then wait for return to school laptops launching, etc…

Give me a good laptop today!!


5 responses to “The endless journey for a new laptop

  1. Milozzy 15 August 2011 at 17:41

    maybe a dell vostro v131?

    • diaz 16 August 2011 at 16:32

      That’s exactly one laptop that is like what i want. I was looking at it before posting the article 😛

      I was also looking at the toshiba tecra.

  2. Mike 25 September 2011 at 21:29

    What did you settle on in the end? I’m looking for something similar. My biggest problem has been that a lot of manufacturers don’t tell you what their wireless chipset is, so I can’t see whether it’s linux compatible…

    • diaz 26 September 2011 at 02:19

      I’m still hoping to find one that i like. I even lowered my specifications while searching…
      Right now i would like the thinkpad edge e325 that has a weak AMD processor but at least has matte screen and it’s cheap.
      The problem is i can’t buy recent Lenovo laptops in Portugal.
      So maybe i’ll buy the Asus 1215b with the amd e450 cpu… It isn’t matte, the body is weak, it’s an Asus (which is something i don’t like) but that one i can buy it in a store near me.
      Living in Portugal and probably in Europe is a freaking problem to get new technology.

      Normally i check netbookcheck site everyday and at least on their reviews they put the wireless chipset on the specifications. Other than that it’s pretty hard to find any useful information on the internet.

  3. Klesti 15 December 2011 at 23:57

    Yes, it certainly is very difficult to get good hardware for cheap in Europe. I was in Albania this past summer and I was appalled at some of the prices I saw for mid to low end laptops in stores. I bought my cousin a Toshiba Satellite in the States before going there because she knew it would be something like half the price. Anyway, I’d like to know what you finally settled on.

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