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Advice on New Laptop

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Old 05-22-2011, 01:16 PM   #1
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Hey y'all,

I'm new to this forum, but I've happened upon it many times in Google searches, found it very helpful, and decided to finally sign up.

I was hoping someone could give me some advice in my hunt for a new laptop. Feel free to offer technical advice - if I'm unfamiliar with something I'm happy to learn about it.

I currently have a Lenovo T61p and am looking for something smaller, faster, and less likely to catch fire. Coincidentally, I'll be making my second post here on the thread "Laptop Burning smell?"

These are the general guidelines:

Budget: ~$2000. Less is good. $2.4k is my limit.

Screen: Looking for something small-ish, 14" widescreen or less. Widescreen is cool, but not necessary.

Brands: No Macs. Sorry, Apple fans.

Mobility: I'd like something light and portable. Battery can last as little as 1 hour - I'll have it plugged in more often than not. I'm used to living with a dead laptop battery.

Durability: Lack of coordination means I'm not incredibly gentle with laptops, sadly. The Thinkpad line has been great for me, and I haven't lost a hard drive yet (with the exception of an unfortunate Frosted Flakes incident which resulted in a totaled T60p). No Toughbook necessary.

Multitasking: I need something with massive multitasking capability. I regularly run Final Fantasy XI, Firefox, instant messengers, Photoshop, and iTunes at the same time. I can't stand lag.
Yes, I'm demanding and a little bit crazy.

Gaming: I'll be running Final Fantasy XI and XIV, which has minimum requirements of 2GHz processor and Nvidia GeForce 6900 series or ATI Radeon HD 2900 series discrete graphics cards with at least 512 MB VRAM. Once again, less lag is better.

Calculations: None really. A tiny bit of MP3 editing for the occasional ringtone, if that counts.

Storage: I only have 140 GB used on my 232 GB hard drive at the moment, most of which are programs, with 8 gigs of documents, 21 gigs of music, and 60 gigs of pictures. I'm catastrophically paranoid about being limited by disk space though.

Optical Media: I'd like the option of a CD/DVD burner. I use CDs on random occasions and don't want to have to cart around an external drive.

OperatingSystem: Windows 7 64-bit please.

Location: USA.

Additional features:
- Webcam (preferably)
- Easy-to-use touchpad and/or, preferably, a pointing stick (trackpoint, track stick, accupoint, what-have-you). I don't carry mice around.
- At least 4 GB of RAM, upgradeable to 6 or 8.
- Debating on some sort of setup that involves booting the computer and running programs from an internal SSD, and storing everything else on an internal HDD. I have further questions about this.

I know this is asking a lot from a laptop, and realize that I'll most likely have to make compromises. I'm hoping for this to be a laptop I can be happy with for years, which is why I'm willing to spend so much. The most important things to me are:
- Fast processor
- Discrete graphics card
- At least 4GB of RAM, upgradeable to 6 or 8
- Optical drive
- Pointing stick or convenient touchpad

As far as the hard disks go, it's very difficult to find a small (14" or less) laptop that has the capability of a bootable SSD and a HDD for storage. I've been dying to have a go at a SSD, with its speed, near-silent operation, safety of storage, and, well, speed. I've looked into hybrid disk drives and wasn't too impressed. I'd be happy with just a SSD with enough room for storage, but I'm not willing to cough up $1100 for a 512 GB SSD. I can't wrap my mind around the idea of a $1k hard drive, especially when it will only last a couple or a few years.

I've looked at every brand I can think of - Lenovo, Acer, HP, Dell, Alienware (*drool*), Toshiba, and a number of others - and was most impressed by the Toshiba Tecra R840. It even has a pointing stick and multi-touch touchpad!

The only thing I can't decide on is the hard drive. Do I settle on a 256GB SSD? A 320GB 7200 RPM HDD? I've looked into ways to add another internal HD to the R840, and spoke with their (clueless) tech support a couple of times. I was finally told that the ExpressCard slot does not have boot capability, so the idea of a bootable PCIe SSD is out the window. I looked into having a caddy for a HDD in the optical bay, and am still not sure if that's possible or not. The only thing their tech support could tell me was that the optical drive is IDE interface, and the computer only recognizes SATA hard drives. They couldn't give me a part number for the motherboard, optical drive, ExpressCard, or, well, anything. I couldn't find (via Google) any optical drive caddies for Toshiba Tecras that convert IDE to SATA, or think of any other port to stick something in, so I'm back to debating if I should settle on a small-ish SSD or a 7200 RPM HDD.

If anyone can determine for sure what my options for dual HDs are with the Tecra, give their advice on my SSD vs HDD dilemma, or offer a suggestion of another computer that fits my (demanding) needs, I'd really appreciate it. Might even ship you a cookie!

Thanks for making it through my book-long post!

Have a good one!
Lauren

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Old 05-24-2011, 09:56 PM   #2
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Um... *bump*

No one has any ideas? Even if it doesn't solve my dilemma, any comments would be appreciated.

I was hoping to be able to order the laptop to be here in time for my birthday, but at this point I'm shooting for within a week or so of the 2nd.

Thanks again!
Lauren

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Old 05-25-2011, 01:22 AM   #3
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Send a message via Yahoo to smit@india

Go to this link & checkout this one : The Dell Online Store: Build Your System .. you can customize it as per your choice,add gaming accessories
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:50 AM   #4
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Have a look at this one as well : The Dell Online Store: Build Your System
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips Smit.

I looked hard at the Alienware M11x and M14x and, while they look incredible, I recall that I hate using my friend's Alienware for long because I find the touch pad and keyboard so unwieldy. I had a long debate with myself on form vs. function. Alienware does make a cool-looking laptop. Also, I liked that the M14x had an HDMI port, option for WiMax, 3GB graphics memory, and larger CPU cache, but I finally decided that I liked the smaller-and-lighter Tecra R840's touch stick, fingerprint reader, webcam, slightly faster CPU (2.7 vs. 2.3GHz), and $500 lower price tag better. While I might one day use the HDMI port and WiMax, I can always use the fingerprint reader and webcam now, plus the spare $500 will let me upgrade the RAM (myself, for cheaper) and buy a SSD.

I'm thinking I might invest in a larger SSD (Newegg has an Intel 300GB for $560) rather than stressing over finding a way to stick both a HDD and SSD in a 14" laptop.
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Old 05-27-2011, 02:45 AM   #6
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Did you have a look at XPS 15z..that one has face recognition,which is better that finger print reader..also has other good features (i7 2.7 Ghz with turbo boost upto 3.4 Ghz)..also it has a 4 Year Accidental Damage Complete Cover Warranty..a Full DH Screen..I M not recommending Dell because I work in Dell..just becaus it is good..
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Old 05-27-2011, 02:47 AM   #7
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for $ 1,769.98..it's a good system
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Old 05-27-2011, 07:43 PM   #8
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I checked out the XPS 15z and was really impressed. It's powerful and classy. However, while it may be the thinnest 15.6" laptop yet, it's still a bit more than I want in my lap and on my back while traveling. I'm looking at laptops 14" and less. While less than 2" of screen real estate may not seem like a huge difference, I've been using 15.4" laptops for the past several years, and I am so ready to have a computer I can comfortably pull out in class or on a long flight (without infringing on my neighbors' personal space).

Now, if only there was an XPS 14z or something...
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Old 05-27-2011, 10:47 PM   #9
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Have a look at this : The Dell Online Store: Build Your System .. its for $1,219.98 after the customizations,excluding the cool snap on covers..
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:59 PM   #10
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Thanks Smit, but I'm looking for something lighter and faster, and preferably with a point stick. Are you sure you don't work for Dell?

I'm hoping for some advice regarding a laptop (fitting my specs) that's an improvement over the Toshiba R840 I've mentioned previously, and/or that can accommodate both a (bootable) SSD and a HDD.

I was just looking at this HP EliteBook 8460p (the custom builds were ridiculously expensive) because the model has the option to switch out the optical bay for another hard drive, but after much thought I think I'm going to stick with the Toshiba R840, as I'd like the a usable optical drive, and the EliteBook is a bit heavier and thicker. I did email HP's support asking if it's possible to place a bootable SSD in the ExpressCard54 slot of the EliteBook, and if the answer is yes, I'll be reconsidering it.

I'm hoping to decide on and order the laptop by my birthday (in 3 days) - my "have it arrive by June 2nd" deadline got completely blown out of the water when my friend told me I could take my new kitten home a week early. Kitten in my lap takes precedent over my computer search.
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:01 PM   #11
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Had a look at HP EliteBook 8460p....seems to be good enough to fit your needs....go for it....

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