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Which Laptop To Buy?

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the where-to-drop-your-cash dept.

Hardware 732

Misha writes: "In this day and age, it seems that the advertisement offers for desktop systems have slowed down in term of features. Everyone has agreed that AGP, DVD, >1GHz, etc. is what everyone will want. This does not seem to be the case with laptops. Every year, they manage to cram a bigger resolution screen, more system and graphical memory, more battery life into a less-than-two-inch thick plactic box. So, what are everyone's preferences as far as laptops go? What kind of features are most important? How does price enter the equation? Which one is best for the money? And especially, can you get a decent machine for under $1000?" I've been using the IBM Thinkpad T20 for the last year or so, and love the machine -- with the exception of the WinModem *sigh*. What else is everyone using?

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One Word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164358)

TiBook. FP?

Re:One Word... (1)

DESADE (104626) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164389)

The titanium Powerbook is a sweet laptop. Beautiful screen. Runs OSX. Runs linux under Virtual PC. Sexy as hell.

Re:One Word... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164430)

hell, runs Linux on it's own under Yellow Dog Linux

Re:One Word... (0, Offtopic)

Darby (84953) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164434)

Hey, is that you, Bob?

Re:One Word... (0, Offtopic)

DESADE (104626) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164450)

Yep! How ya doin Doug man!

Re:One Word... (1)

lotion (310153) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164456)

Ti PowerBook: DualBoot Yellow Dog Linux and OS X....Well I guess I'm tri booting since OS 9.1 is installed on the same partition as OS X.....

Re:One Word... (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164475)

Your post made me think to myself, "Yeah, that titanium powerbook is a damn nice computer. I wonder what one of those bastards costs?" So I went to the apple.com store to look. The 500MHz version is 3500 bucks! Creeping zombie Jesus that's a lot of money.


Re:One Word... (1)

clmensch (92222) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164547)

I've also heard that they have horrible Airport/802.11b reception when using the internal antenna. I guess encasing the laptop in metal ain't so good for radio reception, huh?

Time to Blast Our Enemies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164543)

American Dissident Voices Broadcast of August 4, 2001

Time to Blast Our Enemies

By Dr. William Pierce

Get it from here [natvan.com]

my old MacSE & and car battery (0, Funny)

motherfuckin_spork (446610) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164363)

with the proper power convertor, of course.

Re:my old MacSE & and car battery (-1)

asbestos_diaper (456125) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164535)

What version linux do you have loaded on your car battery?

Toshiba (2, Informative)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164366)

I've used everything from the Tecra 730, up to the Satellite Pro 8100. Beautiful machines, and they run linux flawlessly.

Except ones with Cirrus "Crystal Audio" chips... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164553)

The CS4281 driver, in every Linux kernel since 2.2.18 or so, still doens't seem to work reliably. Sound support just "disappears" for no reason after a while, if it starts up at all.

Re:Toshiba (1)

well_jung (462688) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164556)

Amen, Brother. I started with a Tecra 780 that was great (built like a tank) and now have a Portege' 7020 w/ DVD docking station. Sleek, sexy, and plenty powerfull enouigh for Win2k or Gnome/KDE

Winmodems are the bane of every non-MS OS using laptop owner. Not a day goes by that I don't count my blessings. Health, Family, and a Cable modem... :)

Go Dell (2, Interesting)

Nutt (106868) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164367)

I have a dell inspiron 5000. It's very nice with a 15" 1400x1050 res screen. As far as the things that I want to get, it goes: Screen (res + size), Proc speed, ram, HD, vid card. Most people won't be using their laptop for games anyway, so a powerful video card wouldn't be very useful.

Re:Go Dell (5, Informative)

Sethb (9355) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164428)

I like Dell machines a lot, and use them exclusively at work (I buy all of our new systems). But, I just bought an iBook for my personal laptop. It's the first Mac I've ever owned, and I like it a lot. I got the DVD model ($1449 for Education users) and I'm quite happy in OS X.

I'll be happier when the 10.1 update is released in September, but I love the small form factor, the light weight, and the AirPort wireless networking. The unfortunate thing about the Dell machines is that you can't have both an internal network card and an internal wi-fi card, at least not at this time.

The biggest drawback to my iBook is the cost of the 3 year AppleCare warranty. $237 is a major rip off to extend your warranty two more years. OS 9.1 sucks too, but I don't use it except to play DVDs and to configure AirPort base stations.

In short, don't sell Apple's iBook short, I'm pretty happy with mine, and I've been a Pee-Cee user since I got my XT in the 7th grade.

Re:Go Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164452)

I've been repeatidely dissatisfied with Dell's laptop. All the ones I got (3 so far) have been breaking left and right: screen, harddrive, keyboard. Stay away from them, they don't last long.

Re:Go Dell (1)

dchamp (89216) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164453)

If you want a good video card... and can afford it, the Dell Inspiron 8000's with the nvidia GeForce 2 Go are quite nice. Mine dual boots Win2k & Mandrake 8.

They're a bit tricky to run the opengl nvidia X drivers on... partially because the nvidia driver doesn't support the native resolution (1400x1050) of the screen, so I have to run it at 1280x1024, and the text isn't quite as sharp as I'd like it to be.

But... it does play Q3A very nicely under linux. When I take it to LAN parties, everyone thinks it's pretty wild that you can play good 3D games on a laptop.


Re:Go Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164523)

I totally agree. My last two laptops have both been Dells, and I've been very satisfied with them. They're also common, which is a plus if you're running Linux.

What I have now: Inspiron 8000, 512 MB RAM, 15 inch TFT, 32 MB ATI video, DVD drive. All this for less than $2000!

What I had before: Used Latitude CP. I bought it because it was cheap at the time, ~$800.

I know it's a trite answer, but what you should buy depends on what you do with the box. If you do graphics work, you might want a bigger screen and better video. If you do Java development (like me) ridiculous amounts of memory may be in order.

Used Laptops (3, Insightful)

neuromantic (468525) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164369)

If you want something decent for under $1000, you've pretty much gotta go used. I got a PII 400, 256mb, 14.1", 12GB for $400 off of eBay. ~Will

Re:Used Laptops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164482)

I didn't get as good a deal as you on a used laptop. But the Tecra 8000 I got runs red hat 7.1 perfectly. I can use star office and listen to mp3s in on the go goodness.

Re:Used Laptops (2, Insightful)

Splork (13498) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164492)

agreed. anything new for less than $1600 will be a piece of shit that skimps on quality all over the place.

New cheap laptops break easier under heavy use, from the keyboard wearing out to the display hinge failing. Used "cheap" laptops are more likely the higher quality ones that someone has put aside because they wanted a whiz bang upgrade. If they fail, they were cheap and you can generally find a replacement or the parts you need to fix for a low price on ebay.

If you're buying a laptop new and plan on using it as your primary machine, the extended warranty is well be worth it so that repairs of such things are taken care of for at least three years.

feature to not bother with: dvd-rom drive. how often will you use it for the extra $200+ it ads to the price (to pay off the MPAA)? Just buy a PS2, they're more fun and useful and plenty portable.

under1k$? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164373)

Why is everyone so cheap?

second that (1)

gnurd (455798) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164374)

i have a T20 myself, not a trivial install, but RH 6.2 and it work well.

more importantly (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164376)

which laptop dance to buy? and wheres the best place to get one?

Re:more importantly (1)

tbone1 (309237) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164407)

Ask your local NBA team. They seem to have all the "inside scoop" on things like that.

Re:more importantly (1)

asmussen (2306) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164444)

Here. This link [stripclubdirectory.com] should help you answer that question.

rather than a new laptop (1)

Adler (131568) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164384)

anyone know where i can get an old laptop cheap? liek a P200 with a few GB of space? i had a thougth saturday that they would make great portable mp3 machines, load up and plug it in to your friend stereo for a parties and such.

Re:rather than a new laptop (1)

imranthegreat (472693) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164465)

Try Auction Depot: http://www.auctiondepot.com [auctiondepot.com] . The list prices hardly ever go up, since they sell multiple units in each auction and few people bid. Their shipping prices can get high, though.

TiBook (1)

tbone1 (309237) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164386)

I got to use a three-month old TiBook with OS X this weekend. I had to give it back today, and I'm going through withdrawal.

IBM (2, Informative)

aaronl (43811) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164388)

IBM laptops are great, they work wonderfully. I *have* the T20 that was mentioned in the writeup. Winmodem or no, every piece of hardware works in Linux. The winmodem is Lucent based, and has Linux support.

Best I've used is still a Dell Latitude CSx. Was metal cased, and very nice. Everything worked great and it was tiny.

Compaq 1800T (4, Informative)

Tim (686) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164397)

I've been using a compaq 1800T with linux and windows for almost a year now, with very few problems. At the time I bought it, it was easily the most feature complete laptop I found for the money. And the 1400x1050 screen resolution (which works under linux) is pretty stunning...

One thing for potential compaq buyers: don't pay extra for memory upgrades from compaq. You can do far better at other places on the net (ebay included). I bought mine with 64M installed, and upgraded to 192M for *half* the price that compaq was charging...

Apple iBook (3, Informative)

kb3edk (463011) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164401)

I was sold on this one after taking a friend's out on a test drive. One of the sleekest yet solidy built machines I've seen in a while. I'm planning to buy one within the next few months. It's not below $1000, though (I think it's more around $1500). I'm pretty optimistic they'll get the issues with OS X worked out so that more applications work properly. I haven't done too much research into loading Linux PPC onto the new iBooks, are there any hardware/driver conflicts out there to watch out for?

Compaq 1700T (1)

pyronicide (104978) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164402)

I have a Compaq 1700T and have been extremely happy with it so far. The performace is excelent, it is just perfect between lugging the 10lb + books around and the non-performing 2lb stuff. And, it looks great. Linux is a pretty easy install, the win-modem is a bummer, but other than that it works great with linux. If anyone is looking for a new laptop, i would highly recomend this one.

3d... (2, Interesting)

crandall (472654) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164403)

I do a lot of 3d game programming and development, so I've been holding off for a decent laptop that can match our development systems. Basically, I want to get an Athlon 4 based system, with a geforce 2 go, and 256 megs of ram. As soon as I can get something like that, there will be a point to buying a laptop. Until then, I guess I'm just chained to my home and work machines.

Toshiba Toshiba Toshiba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164406)

The most important thing on a laptop is the display, Toshiba has the best.

Re:Toshiba Toshiba Toshiba (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164461)

The display is important, but Apple has the best followed by Sony

Used (0)

ignipotentis (461249) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164415)

I grabed my compaq armada 1500c for $400. It is a celeron 300Mhz/96Meg Ram/4.0 GB hdd. For the price, it was well worth it. The batery life is at about 3 hours a pop with about an hour to charge. I have no complaints and while it is far from being a desktop replacement(as in no dvd), it does its job. Unless your looking for a system that can compare to a desktop, I think used is the way to go, if you can find one in good condition that is.

Winmodem (1, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164418)

A "winmodem" isn't such a bad thing for a laptop computer; having an extra power-draining chip for signal processing is bad for the battery life. 'Course, there are all those compatibility issues; but hasn't the interface been mostly standardized? Why haven't alternative-OS drivers been forthcoming?

Vaio XG700k (4, Informative)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164419)

I just got a Sony Vaio XG-700K, and it's a pretty sweet package. It comes with seperate DVD and Cd-RW drives. The screen is 1024 x 768 XGA and pretty crisp and can be replaced with a privacy screen for cheap off eBay.

It's a 750 megahertz PIII, has built in modem but no ethernet. With two PCMCIA slots, though, you can jam an ethernet card and 802.11b card with no problems.

Downsides? Everything is expensive. Battery is $250 (200 on eBay), extra AC adapter is $100 or so, and so on.

It's a great laptop, and there are linux drivers for the custom stuff (like the Jogdial).

Dell is good (2, Interesting)

Daath (225404) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164423)

I have a Dell Inspiron 8000 - The one with a 32MB AGP card, 15" screen with 1600x1200 res. Now there is a niiice machine!
I had a hard time installing linux on it though - but since the 2.4 kernel came out I had no probs =)
Pity that they (supposedly) don't support linux any more.

The lightest one, of course. (4, Insightful)

lelitsch (31136) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164424)

This might not be a popular response for /., but I have a bunch of laptops and notice that I always carry the lightest one if in any way possible. For most of the things you do on the road, anything you can buy nowadays is plenty powerful enough. Another rather important consideration if battery life. I have pretty good luck borrowing power in airports and hotels, but a laptop that shuts down after less than 3 hours is annoying. As far as quality goes, I had pretty good luck with Dell, some with Sony and none with Toshiba and IBM. But YMMVW. If your company is buying, get the replace-and-send-back warranty.

Re:The lightest one, of course. (1)

Daath (225404) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164459)

Enlighten us. What does the acronym YMMVW hide?

Re:The lightest one, of course. (1)

Chasuk (62477) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164521)

Your Mileage May Vary, though I don't know what the final W stands for, unless it means Wildly.

Re:The lightest one, of course. (1)

Dunedain (16942) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164546)

Your Mileage May Vary Wildly

Mine is Titanium (1)

cloudscout (104011) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164429)

Not all notebooks are crammed into a 2 inch thick plastic box these days. Mine's in a 1 inch thick titanium box.

My laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164435)

I just got a Dell Inspiron 4000 for college where I'll be starting the University of Utah this fall! P3 800 with the 59 hour battery, my first laptop I'm pretty excited even though I have been using AMD chips for a while now but the Athlon 4 does not seem to be dropping in price very fast. -Edward www.edwardpultar.com

Ultralight Laptops (2)

sien (35268) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164440)

Are there people our there running Linux on laptops that are under 4 pounds ? What are your opinions on these ?

4.3 LBS should be clsoe enough. (3, Interesting)

James Hetfield (14513) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164536)

Here is a unit that comes in at 4.3 LBS, and is Linux Compatible. Great Guys to deal with as well.


Re:Ultralight Laptops (1)

cvincent (99204) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164566)

I use the Dell Latitude L400, it weighs 3.4 lbs and its a great machine. I run both linux and windows on it with great stability. I get a lot of battery life out of it and overall its the best laptop I've owned.

Asus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164443)

I have seen asus is making laptops now... Their hardware is known for greatness but how about their laptops? Any one tried them?

Re:Asus? (2, Informative)

hajibaba (468067) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164531)

Actually Asus has been making laptops for a while now. I used an old Asus P/233 laptop at my last job, and it was excellent machine, considering the hardware specs (P/233MMX, 48MB RAM, 2.1GB HDD). Excellent screen and keyboard too. Of course, YMMV.

Ask Slashdot: Which Car to Buy? (5, Informative)

rho (6063) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164445)

I've heard that this driving thing is pretty cool, and everybody agrees that a car is neccessary. Which car should I buy?

Not to be persnickity, but what constitutes a good laptop under $1000? Well, it depends on what you do! Amazingly enough...

For example, my main axe is a ThinkPad 760ED. It's about 5-6 years old, a P-133 with 48MB RAM, 4xCD, 12" 1024x768 TFT. Is it a kick-butt machine? Well, no... It runs Windowmaker, Emacs and Netscape 4.74 on FreeBSD 4 pretty good, though, and that covers everything I need a laptop to do.

When it was new, it was a $6K machine, now it goes for $150 or so on Ebay. It makes it a pretty good laptop for throw-away purposes (for example, if you're particularly hard on your laptops).

For others, Firewire, USB, etc may be important. You may need massive speed -- I dunno. However, if you don't spend a lot of time on the road, or need to take your machine with you when you go home, your laptop should generally be a generation or two behind your desktop as a general rule. Computers depreciate quickly, and laptops are fragile. You don't want a $4000 toy that spews sparks 2 days out of warranty. (at least, I don't -- others are different)

Portege 3110CT from toshiba (1)

h3x (467498) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164446)

Although these are great, the problem with small laptops are the extensions that come with it, you have to carry your cd player, floppy drive and docking bar with you (they are kind of necessary to me...) and it gets quite annoying to have all this stuff onto your laptop... Personnaly i wouldn't refer these to the ones who need these medias frequently...

Macs (2, Insightful)

Prion86 (463800) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164451)

if you dont have the $ for a Tibook, the g3 laptops are getting cheaper. especially the first generation ones. most of the problems with the first gen g3s are gone these days. not to mention, who wouldnt want a cheap laptop that can run osx?

compaq e500 (1)

elijahb80 (238904) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164455)

I have a compaq e500 that I got from computersurplusoutlet.com for 920 dollars. it came with 64 megs of ram (that i quickly upgraded to 192), and a 600 mhz processor. It's a real nice machine, and best of all, everything is supported under linux.

Fujitsu Lifebook (1)

crleaf (103984) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164457)

I've been using one of these for about 6 months now. I got it refurbished (whoopidy doo, it still works great). The biggest problem I've found with all laptops is the mouse. Do you get the touchpad? The pencil eraser? Some sort of rollerball? What? I hate the touchpad, I hate the rollerball. The pencil eraser (IBM) is good.

Hey Hemos! (5, Informative)

Accipiter (8228) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164462)


The IBM ThinkPad T20 has the very popular Lucent Winmodem in it. My Acer Extensa 501T has one as well.

Download This File [linmodems.org] from Linmodems.Org [linmodems.org] . Sure, it's binary only, but it works. Set up the modem with isapnp, unzip the file above, read the readme, and run the installer.

You can add this to conf.modules:

alias char-major-62 ltmodem
install ltmodem insmod "-f" "-k" "ltmodem"

I'm pretty sure this will work for you. Enjoy.

Toshiba Portege (1)

juno (70153) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164464)

I bought a Toshiba 3025 off of Ebay last year that I really like. At 3 lbs it's actually lighter than the newer models, but the screen res is lower. Pretty good battery life, no HW problems. Works wonderfully for my life as a student, because it takes up very little room in my briefcase and is light enough to carry around all day without causing back pain. One of my previous notebooks was a Toshiba 486, also very reliable. Less flashy than the similar VAIOs but comes with two card slots. I do wish they would make a 1024x768 model with the 10" screen rather than the 11".

Apple iBook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164467)

I'm a first time laptop buyer, long time mac user. I just bought an Apple iBook dvd model, for $1630 after tax in nyc, including 256 megs of ram, dvd drive, 10 gig hard disk, two usb ports, 1 firewire, 1 ethernet, modem, audio out, vga out. The screen is gorgeous, and the keyboard is very comfortable (i sent some really long emails yesterday from my parent's place from the iBook.) I'm just about ecstatic about the iBook, it's been a complete joy.

if looking for lowest price for features... (1)

Joe_NoOne (48818) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164468)

consider non-brand names like segar, prostar, or winbooks. I got a few years ago a top of the line pro-star that had a 14.1", DVD, 128M mem, 466MHZ processor (that was the top) for over $1200 less then the brand names (i.e. DELL, IBM, etc...)

I've got an old Mac powerbook 150 (1)

tewwetruggur (253319) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164469)

with a Asante SCSI-ethernet transciever I bought off of eBay. Battery is dead though, but hey, it still processes words.

NEC Laptops (1)

ctembreull (120894) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164471)

Okay, you can accuse me of bias all you like, but I rather like my NEC laptop. I've got a Versa SXi [neccomp.com] , and had a Versa FX (no longer produced) before that. Both work *extremely* well (at least, they do with Red Hat 7.2).

IceBook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164472)

Works like a charm, mine has both DVD and CD-Burner, and runs BSD Unix with an splendid UI (i.e OS X) 4-5 hour on one battery, depending on screen brightness and if you use things like 802.11b all the time. If you prefer x86, take a look at IBM thinkpad X21. Lously battery, no IrDA, but everything else is OK, for a PC. If you want CD/DVD and diskdrive, just get the dockingbay that is placed under it. Its among the most sturdy docking bays beneath a computer I have seen. Its like being able to choose a "thin laptop" or a "a bit more thick laptop".

The laptop I have... (3, Insightful)

Natalie's Hot Grits (241348) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164473)

Is an IBM Thinkpad i1400. It's a decent thinkpad, winmodem, but intel NIC (integrated). the screen is only 800x600 (blah!) but the newer low end (read: ~1,000-1,500$) all come with 1024x768 Active Matrix TFT.

Mine is a celeron 500MHz (this is good, as it is the 100MHz FSB version, not the 66MHz Crap they put in desktops).

I have installed linux on it, in fact, there are about 5 different websites out on the web that tell me how to install linux on this exact model. I couldn't get the modem working tho :(

If you want the best laptop for LINUX, then i would have to say IBM and Apple's iBook are your best bets. Sure, the iBook has a shitty CPU in it, but, it uses very little battery life (compared to a p3). And apple is all about not being compatible with the rest of the world. Well friends, when it comes to laptops, there are only a few things that matter. and CPU architecture isn't one of them. If you are running Linux on an x86 machine, or Linux on a PPC machine, its' all the same. I bet, if you are a linux guru that wants to run all the latest beta shitware on sourceforge, you wont want the iBook, because it will take some porting to get it to compile/running properly. but if you stick with software that comes with your distribution, then x86 and PPC are all the same.

For 1,300$ base end, and 1,900$ for high end iBook, i consider it a good buy for a linux laptop. (I paid $950 for my IBM 500MHz Celeron, 192MB ram, 800x600 active matrix TFT, NIC, winmodem, generic sound, i810 video (intel's), I think it was a steal about when i bought it 9 months ago)

If you were you, i would stay away from Dell laptops. For one, they are not like Dell desktops. They arent the "stable" machine on the block like the optiplex is. Not only that, but Dell is dropping Linux support on the desktop, so you can forget getting a Dell that is gonna run linux any better than IBM or apple. All in all, with my experience with dell laptops (i service them, gateway, and Apple's laptops under warranty where i work), I would have to say that Dells, and certain models of Apple's are the least reliable. (apple PB g3 Wallstreet comes to mind! Don't worry, bronze kb is a good one)

I hope you like my brief review, this is just my experience.

Re:The laptop I have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164567)

i have something similar, 1400i. the 800x600, mine is a 466, and I'll never buy another IBM laptop. the mobo has fried twice, it has been to shop 5 times, two of those were because it was broken at the shop, and I've had it for 18 months or so.

Insist on Linux Preload (4, Informative)

elflord (9269) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164474)

If your time is worth any money, you will not buy from a vendor who won't preload Linux and set it up properly. Of course, if you got nothing better to do than waste time chasing up drivers for (poorly|un)supported hardware or you want to learn about kernel compilation/configuration, that's fine. But for those of us who have better things to do, it's much less of a hassle to get Linux preloaded.

Here's my shortlist of vendors who preload Linux on laptops:

I encourage other posters to add to the list.

It depends... (5, Insightful)

Kphrak (230261) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164479)

It really depends on what you want. If power is what you want, you might sacrifice battery life and portability. If you want portability, you may have to sacrifice power, or might have to pay a premium. Cost also factors in. Who wants to buy a computer that has as much power as their desktop at double the price, even if it is portable?

There are plenty of special designs in the notebook world that are made only for one purpose. There was a guy showing one at work the other day...it was an unbreakable laptop. He hurled it against the marble floor in the hall to test it...it wouldn't break....it blew my mind. Some of the subminis (Vaios and the latest Librettos) have digital cameras built right in... that's always a plus.

I use a Toshiba Libretto [silverace.com] 70CT. It's possibly the smallest full-featured computer ever built; P120, 32Mb RAM, no 3D, no CDROM, no floppy, but dual-booting Linux and Windows on a 10GB HD. You can get one off eBay for about $300-$500 (of course, it's an older model; the new ones are far more powerful and cost $2500 last I checked). It's not powerful considering this day and age, but don't think of it as a small computer. Think of it as a big palmtop. ;)

As you can see, I favor portability. In addition, I am hooked for life on Toshiba because they use a standard laptop HD. You know, the kind that you can plug into an adapter to connect to your desktop's IDE cable if you so prefer. Other than that, the only computer-to-computer I/O is done through a cheap PCMCIA card.

Oh yeah, and all the chicks dig the Libretto because it's SOOOO CUTE! :)

Mac, No Seriously (5, Insightful)

ritlane (147638) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164484)

Prepare to loose all Karma

The PowerBook G4 [apple.com] , and iBook [apple.com] are still impressive offerings.

Even if you don't accept a little Apple FUD [apple.com] there is still one thing that can't be beat: These things are amazingly light, fast, and have a great screen. Besides that, they run many Open Source OSes (Linux [linuxppc.org] , Darwin [apple.com] ).

Keep in mind, I am not posting this from a "Mac zealot" perspective. I am posting this as someone who admires the aesthetics of a computer, and who realizes that one of the powers of Open Source is that you can compile anything to your hardware. What ever it is.

All I ask, is that you don't mod me down simply because you dislike macs, just keep it as an option for some people to consider

ibookgruven (1)

headbonz (156721) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164485)

i use a (new) ibook (500mhz g3, 128mb, 10gb, dvd model) running macosx. it cost $1499 but included an additional 256mb ram. my only complaints: no pcmcia slot (yada), no ir and "only" a 10mb disk. otherwise, it's zippy, light and quite sexy. further, i get apache, mysql, php, perl, ... on a machine that also runs photoshop, illustrator, imovie, itunes, and ms office...even windows apps (not that i indulge)! no pc laptop comes close. >-headbonz- year by year the monkey's mask reveals the monkey. - basho ps: did i mention the builtin 10/100 ethernet, 56kbs modem, usb (x2)and firewire ports?

PC or Mac? (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164488)

as far as pc's go, the IBM laptops are the best, imho. you can get other brands, and sometimes you're happy, but i've found that in the long run, the IBM machines last the longest, and give you the least problems. you pay a little more up front, but you get your money's worth in the end.

the apple iBook is a nice little machine too. way better price than the PowerBook. if you want a mac, that's the way to go.

p.s. the IBM and Apple portables are the only ones i've ever seen that survive long-term abuse. that's something to take seriously when thinking about a laptop.

ergonomics, then speed and toys. (2, Insightful)

krismon (205376) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164491)

The pointer is important (to me), I like the 'eraser' type that IBM has, and some others, like Dell who have dual. I hate those touch pad things(personal preference). So the laptop doesn't really matter as long as I can use some type of windowing system and ssh, and have the pointer.. it can be an old 486-66 thinkpad(which I had for a while) to a Gateway solo 3150 which I use now(pII-366, dvd, built in ethernet, a little over an inch thick).<p>
For me, ergonomics plays a bigger role than the processor speed and all those fixins, next to that I'd like a nice clear screen, doesn't have to be big.<p>

Dell Inspirons (2, Informative)

cap'nnapalm (470760) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164496)

I Just purchased and recieved a Dell inspiron 8000. Very nice, 1Ghz, 256mb pc100, 32mb geforce2go 3d card, a 8x DVD and a 8x CD-RW, a 15" screen. This thing can fly, and play with the big boys. And it wasn't too bad at $2,400.

New iBook (1)

HaiLHaiL (250648) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164497)

New iBook [apple.com]

'nuff said

Build your own??? (0)

xenome (106744) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164499)

Are there any places that will let you build your own, I don't mean like how dell lets you pick the ram and hd sizes...but rather..ok here is the shell, a screen like so, you can buy the HD ram, mainboard, mini-pci ethernet stuf...etc...and put it together yourself perhaps?? I would love to do this, it would probably also leave you with a more easily upgradable laptop for down the road, and save you that stupid MS tax...

IBM T22 (2)

AstroJetson (21336) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164507)

Look no further. Expensive beast, but well worth it. This [ibm.com] page has a comparison of all the Thinkpad T models (or is that Model Ts?). You can get the T22 pre-loaded w/ Linux, but it's Caldera...ick. Check out the keyboard light, that one feature is worth the price of admission.

IBM T20 (2)

smoon (16873) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164508)

Best freakin laptop I've ever used. Great keyboard. Great screen. Great size. Not too heavy. I love this thing and it runs Linux really well.

I don't use the winmodem, as I generally don't use a modem at all. If it came down to it though, I'd get a PCMCIA modem before I'd give up my T20.

Touchscreen! (1)

clmensch (92222) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164511)

What I've learned is, power isn't necessarily the game-winner. Buy the machine that fits the need!

I have a Fujitsu B-2130 that is 1.5 years old. It's a beautiful, well made, and tiny machine. It has no internal CD/DVD/floppy drives, and the processor is only a celeron. But it has a touchscreen interface, which has made all of its (minor) shortcomings seem irrelevant. Considering I use the laptop mainly for holding digital pics, music, and (802.11b) surfing, the touchscreen is OUTSTANDING. Surfing on the couch with the machine in my lap is actually comfortable, and being able to hit the transport buttons in winamp with my finger is wonderful! I will never buy a laptop without a touchscreen again.

So I can't watch DVD's with my laptop, big deal. The new version of the B series has a PIII, anyway. I can't wait until it's time to upgrade!

Pimpin' Laptops :) (1)

Francis (5885) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164518)

Well, I have a Compal N20U. Details about it, and how to set up Linux on it can be found here [francischang.com] .

Big wins: Light & light (read: sexy ;), dockable, Internal WinModem & Ethernet work with linux.

My primary concern was this:
I'm a student - therefore, I am poor, and will continue to do so for the foreseable future. In a few years, my laptop will be obsolete. So, it's better to have a light, obsolete laptop, than a big honking one.

I also tend to like ultrabase/mediabase/whatever you want to call it. Think IBM X-Series, or Sony Z505's. You can have your nice, thin, laptop, or you can have a big-ass laptop with all the drives.

satellite 420CDT (1)

elohim (512193) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164519)

P100 toshiba laptop with a 1.1 gig drive, 40 megs ram, and an 11.3 inch TFT. Runs linux very well; this was the machine i installed linux on for the first time, and it worked like a charm! The PCMCIA modem simplified the process of getting on the net for the first time. I didn't have any of the typical newbie problems dealing with winmodems.

Laptops... (1)

Mupp252 (263650) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164524)

I highly recommend the Toshiba Satellite Pro 4600 series. They have P3 clockspeeds in the upwards of 900mhz and seem to get better and better with every new cpu upgrade. Our company has been using them since the 4200 series and have been pleased throughly with not only their performance, but dependability. We have compared these with the Tecra series (Which we also use) and the performance is far surpassing when you consider the series is supposed to cater to the "working" class. Tecra's seem to have more modem and bios issues when compared to SP's. Another great thing about the 4600 series is that they're all inclusive. No bulky dongles or port replicators (Like the portege...bleck). I know the question wasn't pertaining to work machine, but these variables can easily be translated to home use.

fast and cheap! (1)

TunaPhish (81577) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164527)

www.sagernotebooks.com provides excelent notebooks for the cost, and I highly recommend checking them out!

smaller and lighter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164528)

I used to have one of the 7-lb monsters. Even though that doesn't sound like much, it was enough of a pain to lug it around that I usually didn't bother.

My 2.75 lb 0.78" thick 1024x768 LCD 505TX, on the other hand, goes everywhere. I even take it on 4-day backpack trips (so I can download camera pictures and save GPS tracklogs.) There is no way I'd get one of those big and clunky laptops again.

Toshiba Satellite 1755 (2)

mr_gerbik (122036) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164533)

I picked up this Toshiba about 2 1/2 months ago, and it has worked great with linux. Its a nice thin laptop too.

For $1200 (almost 3 months ago.. price has prolly dropped) I got a 700Mhz Celeron, 64M ram (I added another 128M for $50), 13.3 Active TFT 1024x768 (really crisp), DVD, built in modem (haven't tried it out in linux -- use my pcmcia ethernet).

The only problem I have had is with sound. I haven't found good support under linux for the cs4281. Upping my kernel to 2.4.3-12 helped.. but mp3s skip a lot. The OSS drivers work perfectly, but I refuse to drop them cash ($45!) because I'm too lazy to fix things myself. Anyone have this soundcard working well on a laptop?

Nice troll, Hemos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164534)

...answer: whichever fits your needs.

The only laptop worth buying... (4, Funny)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164542)

...is the kind that costs $50 at Cheetah's Totally Nude.

Inspiron 5000 (1)

mass (65691) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164544)

I got mine about a year ago - 1400x1050x32bit (SXGA+) resolution (although DVD playback only supports 24bit) - it's got a great pair of built-in speakers, 18 GB hard drive. It's a PIII 600 with 90 MBs of RAM with a dual-boot setup between Win98 and Mandrake 7. I only had to tweak a couple of files in order to get mandrake to install and use the full rez of the LCD screen. It's also got s-video out so with a pair of Monster (tm) cables I picked up for about $30, I can play DVDs on any TV, just about anywhere I go. The two deciding factors for me was the 1400x1050 resolution and Dell's premiere service and support. - I just wish I had waited a couple of months and gotten the UXGA+ when it came out.

Dell inspiron 8000 (2)

imp (7585) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164545)

I really like my i8k. It was only $2200 for 900MHz + dvd/cdrom + builting ethernet + modem + etra battery. And best of all, it has 1600x1200. The Equivelent IBM was almost $4k.

Of course, if you want to have a small, light machine, you are better off with one of the new Librettos...

IBM 390X, but.... (1)

dtrevino (309507) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164549)

I love my IBM, but the Thinkpads never have enough video memory. My next one will be something like the Dell 8000.

Graphics, Modem, Wavelan... (3, Insightful)

tjansen (2845) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164550)

Things to consider when buying a laptop:

1. If you want to play (3D) games, make sure that you have a GeForce 2 Go chipset. It's the only one that allows you to play newer games at decent framerates

2. For Linux you should check whether your built-in modem is supported

3. Integrated WaveLan/WiFi is a cool feature if you know other people who have it, much better than an external PCMCIA card

4. If you want to use external drives (CD burner, faster harddisks (Laptops harddisks are slooow)), make sure you have a FireWire/iLink/ieee1394 port

5. built-in ethernet is always a useful feature

Dell Latitude (2, Insightful)

jerkychew (80913) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164552)

I say go with the Dell Latitude. My last two employers both made the switch to Dell Latitudes, and they are by far the best, IMHO. My last employer was previously an IBM Thinkpad shop, and we had nothing but problems - ever try to get serial, parallel, and infrared all working on a TP600 under NT? DON'T. Just burn the damn thing. The machines are a little better with Win2K, but they are still far from perfect (install Win2K on a TP 390. I dare you...).

You can do a fresh install of NT or 2K on a latitude, load up the correct drivers, and you're off and running - with Thinkpads you had to install the TP utility (it's bundled with Win2K but still barely works) and then spend FOREVER tweaking the resources to get everything to play happy.

However, if price is an issue, the Latitudes do come at a premium... they are geared for the corporate world, so they are on the pricey side. I had a Lat C600 with a PIII 750, 256MB, 10GB, and built in NIC/modem, and it cost roughly 3 grand when brand new (>6 months ago). However, Redhat 6.2 and 7.x ran flawlessly on the machine - once the 2.4 kernel came out, I didn't need to install drivers for anything on the box (unlike NT and 2K). Plus, the head of the Latitude design team previously worked on Apple's PowerBooks, so you know that they're gonna be more sexy than most other laptops, save the VAIO.

You could go with a Dell Inspiron instead, as they are cheaper, and generally have more bells and whistles than the Latitudes (I believe you can get them with Geforce video), but in my experience they just aren't as stable as the Latitude.

Great used laptop dealer... (1)

MasterD (18638) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164554)

I have had great luck from a company called Afortable Portables. I have bought a few great little machines for around $500. Their website is at http://www.aplaptops.com/ [aplaptops.com]

And I don't work for these guys nor do I have any financial interest in promoting them.

Again? (1)

GiorgioG (225675) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164557)

Mod me down, but this "story" is crap.

Yet another "newbie" question just like Are High-End CPUs Worth The Money? [slashdot.org]
Come on folks. We're technical people. Do your own research and stop wasting our time.

Yes, AGP is better than PCI (No Shit?)
Yes, DVD is better than a plain old CD-ROM (DUH!)

-In England, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun, so if you commit a crime "Stop!...or I'll say stop again." - Robin Williams

An Apple a day (1)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164562)

I'm running OS X on my older iBook. 10.0.4 runs well even with the 300 mHz G3. I wish I had Firewire and another USB port. The new iBooks will be monsters. They're affordable, reasonably fast, and well-made. Run OS X or Yellow Dog/Linux PPC. And away you go.

A20M (1)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164563)

I've been running an IBM A20M for about a year, and I've installed a bunch of stuff (I used the laptop as a guinea pig a lot). RH 6.2 was squirrely until I upgraded the kernel to 2.4, RH 7 was a breeze as were Mandrake 7.0, 7.1, and 7.2. Debian was a little more challenging, but I still got it up and running in less time than it took to download and install all of the hotfixes/service packs/etc for Windows 2000 Pro. I finally settled on KRUD [tummy.com] which was even easier to get going than Mandrake.

IBM TP 240 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164564)

I have an IBM TP 240. Very light little machine that has an "ugh" lucent winmodem, USB, up to 20GB hard drive and 192MB RAM and a single pcmcia slot. If you wanna CD, its external only. PCMCIA cd's "could" be a tremendous pain to instal LINUX on (at least for me, a relative GNUbie), but SuSE 7.2 was easy. The bootdisk found my targus PCMCIA cdrom no problem. At one point I reinstalled via NFS. Suse bootdisk and module disks found my netgear pcmcia nic and flawlessly connected to my desktop exorting the suse dvd via NFS. Voila, a full color Yast2 linux install. Aside from the modem, I found that X 4.n made the machine freeze. But if you boot to CLI and run "sax" the SuSE X 3.n configurator, then everything works great at 800x600 16bit. KDE 2.1x. 240's are't in production, but you can find them pretty cheap n the net.

If you're in for style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2164565)

i love my new asus S8600 laptop, although it's a little more (~1600) it's not too fast, has a low maximum amount of memor (192MB), and a small disk (10GB), but it travels really well, costs half of what most notebooks in it's weight class (3.9lbs) do, and many complete stragers will talk to you if you get the yellow one. it even comes with *two* very stylish cases, one is clear rubber(!), the other a pleather case that's as trim as it is, and hundreds of times more stylish than any of those big bulky ugly ones you find everywhere. and it has all the essentials onboard 10/100 connection, IR, 2 USB ports, glidepad, modem. only downside is a weird proprietary port for the external CD (DVD and CDR are options) I've been travelling around europe and it's perfect for this sort of thing, though by no means in the IBM class but hey, compare 3-5k to 1.6k, you know? check it out: http://notebook.asus.com/s8series1.asp oh, yeah -- caveat emptor: comes with winME installed(!) yick. i put win2k on and it's fine, but haven't tried linux. will as soon as i'm done traveling.

iBook (1)

mmarcos (45149) | more than 13 years ago | (#2164568)

The new iBook is far more exciting than any of the current ThinkPads. I'm a fan of ThinkPads, sturdy, wonderful design, really solid. However, the iBook has taken over my world what with OSX/BSD, VirtualPC, Linux for PowerPC and iTunes to sooth me while I work. The price cannot be beat. All this without touching an Apple for over 5 years now.
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