I’ve been on the hunt for a new laptop for a while now. The other night I finally placed the order. I had a couple things that I was looking for that really seemed to narrow my search. In this entry I’ll go over the criteria I had and some of the information I found along the way.
Obviously the first thing to need to ask when buying any computer is to determine how you intend to use it. I wanted a laptop that I would use as a desktop about half of the time and as a portable laptop the other half.
Because of that reason, I wanted to have an easy docking solution, that criteria alone eliminated a lot of laptops. More specifically, I just wanted a port replicator, not a full docking station. I looked into some of the USB port replicators but none of them transfer video very well. To do that, you need to connect up with the VGA connector, or the laptop needs a docking connector. When docking or undocking, I don’t want to be plugging in and removing cables. It’s too much of a pain.
This brings me to HP/Compaq’s “docking” solution. They have moved to a proprietary docking connector on the side of the laptop. This is probably better than the USB solution, but it’s still a cable that needs to be attached and removed every time. I don’t want to be removing any cables, so that eliminated HP/Compaq.
The are only a few major manufacturers I found that still incorporate a real dedicated docking port. Toshiba (Tecra Line), Sony (Vaio) and Dell (Latitude.) There are a couple more, but these are major ones I was considering.
My next criterion was a 13” or 14” widescreen display. That requirement almost eliminated Dell until their recent release of the new Latitude D620. So, I had it narrowed to the Dell Latitude D620, Toshiba Tecra A6 and Sony Vaio SZ & FJ series. Comparing the screen resolutions, the Toshiba comes in at 1280×768, Sony at 1280×800 and the Dell with a WXGA+ 1400×900. This was the convincing factor to go with the Dell. Doing a lot of code development, I really like the higher resolutions.
There were also a few other minor factors that came into consideration that I hadn’t really thought of when I first began my search.
Both Dell and Toshiba offer a couple different sizes of 7200 RPM hard drives, while most are still 5400 RPM. I went with the 80GB. Both Sony and Toshiba offer true hard drive shock protection with a 3D accelerometer. Dell only has a shock absorption protection, which does not park the hard drive head during a drop. So, as a “replacement” I reluctantly bought the drop and spill warranty protection that Dell offers.
Linux Wireless Support
Since I also intend to install a Linux partition on the system, my friend Rob, reminded me to check for Linux WiFi chipset support. Dell offers a choice between the “Dell” wireless, (based on a Broadcomm chipset) or an Intel based chip. From what I’ve read, there seems to be better support for the Intel. So, tack on another $40 for that.
I was quite disappointed that the Dell does not have a built-in multi-format card reader like the Toshiba. Of course, Sony only offers an integrated Memory Stick reader… need I say more? I’ll probably get a PCMCIA or USB adapter to read my SD card.
When it came to the CPU selection, I debated between the 1.66GHz and the 1.83GHz. After reading through this report, it seems that there is a significant performance increase between the 1.66 and the 1.83 vs the 1.83 and the 2.0 GHz. So, the 1.83GHz seemed to be a better buy for the dollar.
That’s it for now, after I get the new laptop, I’ll be sure to do a full review and, of course, update the De-Crapifier script if need be. 🙂