As you may well know, the laptop I previously used belongs to my former employer. When I resigned, I had to relinquish my possession of said notebook computer. My new employer has informed me that they will not be providing me with a new laptop. Due to sudden need, I have been forced to buy a new laptop with my own money. I am going to discuss this experience here because it is unlikely we will do an episode on it. Rym is generally disinterested in laptops and gadgets, so a show about it will not be pleasant.
As you may know, I am the kind of person who needs a laptop that is first and foremost Linux compatible. Secondly, I need a laptop with long battery life, small size and light weight. Of course, price is also a major consideration. If money were no object, I would order the latest hotness like the Fujitsu Q2010
, aka "The World's Most Desirable Laptop".
After considering all the other factors, it boiled down to pretty much two options.
First, the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 or X60s
. Both of these are small, have long battery life and are very Linux friendly. They both cost a little under $2000 all tolled. What makes these things great is that they are ludicrously fast. The X60s has an Intel Core Duo while the X60 has an astonishing Core 2 Duo at almost no extra cost! The X60 is however, thicker and heavier than the X60s due to additional cooling apparatus. The main problems with these machines is that their screens are 1024x768 at 12". That's great compared to my previous laptop which was 1024x768 at 15", but it's still a fairly meager resolution. Also, there is no interal optical drive available, so one must be attached externally.
The other choice was the Fujitsu P7230
. This thing has everything the Lenovo has and more. For starters, it's much smaller. Also, the screen is 1280x768 10.6" wide-screen. That's pure hotness right there. It even has a modular bay which can hold an optical drive or an extra battery. The deficiency of this laptop also seems to be its strength. Where the ThinkPad has a super powerful dual core CPU, the LifeBook has the weakest and lowest voltage Core Solo available. This allows for insane battery life, but also means much weaker performance. Also, this laptop can only support one RAM module. Putting any more than 1 gigabyte of system memory in it is going to cost more than $400 extra. If you tell Fujitsu you would like 2 gigabytes of RAM, they increase the price of the machine by $850.
So what was I to do? I have two machines to choose from which have different pros and cons, but weigh evenly on the scales. The prices are also effectively equal. What do I purchase? I can tell you that I just purchased the Fujitsu P7230. I will tell you why. This laptop is perfect except for the possibility that it is too slow to be useful. See, a laptop doesn't need to be stupid fast. I'm not encoding video or playing 3D games on it. If it is fast enough, I will be satisfied. I called Fujitsu, and they have a fifteen day return policy. If it is too slow, I can get a refund. Unlike the LifeBook, the ThinkPad has irreversible problems. I know it is fast enough, and I know it has enough RAM. However, the lack of an internal optical drive and a low resolution monitor are doom. If the Core Solo in the LifeBook does indeed provide satisfactory performance for my needs, then it is clearly the superior machine. There is also the case in which the LifeBook is fast enough now, but proves too weak down the road. In this case, I can always shell out for a bigger RAM module when prices are lower in the future.
I know a lot of people out there are going to enter the laptop market at some point. People often ask me what to buy, and I have a hard time giving them advice. I always end up telling people to evaluate their needs and select a product that fulfills them. Some people just don't seem to be capable of doing this without someone holding their hand. I hope this anecdote provides some insight into the thought process of a knowledgeable computer geek making a major technology purchasing decision. When I actually receive the laptop you can be sure I will follow up. Please learn from my example when purchasing expensive technology of your own.