Seeking a 13" laptop for portability and some multitasking

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by hydralisks, Jun 8, 2010.

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  1. hydralisks

    hydralisks Notebook Consultant

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    General Questions

    1) What is your budget? $1500 (prefer to keep around 1000 though)

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    Prefer 13.3". Might consider 12" but no 14" please

    3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.
    California , USA

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like:
    b. Dislike:

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed? No

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Want it to be light, have good battery life, have good heat dissipation (I hate it when the palmrest area gets hot and sweaty from using it too long), and have a good screen (preferably LED, but a good LCD will do as well).
    I will mainly be doing multitasking (ie. browser, AIM, photoshop, solidworks, programming)

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    Both

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games?
    No

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    As much as I can get without sacrificing too much multi-tasking performance

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    Doesn't matter.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista or Windows 7), Mac OS, Linux, etc.
    Windows or Mac.

    Screen Specifics

    12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer? Keep in mind screen size in conjunction with resolution will play a large role in overall viewing comfort level. Everyone is different. Some like really small text, while others like their text big and easy to read. If you are unsure of what to purchase, we would highly recommend you check some notebook screens before you buy to see what you like. You may also wish to take a look at the notebook screen guide for more information.

    I'm on 1440x900 on my current XPS 1530 and like it. So... a similar resolution on a 13.3" ?


    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen?
    Doesn't matter.

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you? Somewhat, but performance/functionality is more important

    15) When are you buying this laptop?
    Couple weeks to a month

    16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
    2+ years

    Notebook Components

    17) How much hard drive space do you need; 80GB to 640GB? Do you want a SSD drive?
    At least 200 gigs. SSD would be nice if price isn't too high

    18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a CDRW/DVD-ROM, DVD Burner or Blu-Ray drive?
    Just the regular CD/DVD drive


    Just a note: I'm pretty knowledgeable about computers so hit me with any technical terms or specs and I should know. Also, I've been a PC user all my life but I'm willing to give Macbooks a try if someone can convince me that they are that much better. I honestly don't know what all the hype is though so please explain. I do love to customize computer and download (and torrent) a ton of programs - I wonder if compatibility will be an issue?
     
  2. Franky5

    Franky5 Newbie

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    Personally, I'd say go for a mac 13". It fits all of your requirements, long battery life, light, and excellent screen. You can also install windows if you need to use it. However, it has intel core 2 duo. For some thats a no no. IMO, you won't get the best bang for buck by buying a mac. However, you do get a durable and reliable laptop.

    However, if you're going to be doing some intensive work, stay away from the 13" mac. Sadly the only 13" power house available on the market is the sony vaio Z.
     
  3. cjwhite92

    cjwhite92 Notebook Evangelist

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    An i5 and 4GB RAM will be sufficient for what you are doing, and other than the Mac you can look at a Toshiba Satellite U500. You can customize the Satellite with an i5-430m, free upgrade to 4GB RAM right now, and a Nvidia 310m for only $800. Toshiba has quality laptops, and surprisingly they last longer than a Mac (by a small percentage, but I'm counting it). A 13" Macbook with the same configuration costs $1150, but it'll have better battery life.
     
  4. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope.

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    If you're going to use Windows7 buying a MBP makes no sense to me. If you buy a Mac use OSX. There is another powerhouse coming to the US, available already in EU and Asia, the Acer 3820TG. Low cost, high spec and will probably margially out perform the $2K Sony Z for 60% of the price.

    Bronsky:cool:
     
  5. cjwhite92

    cjwhite92 Notebook Evangelist

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    Forgot about the Acer, that looks like it's everything you want at a great price, ignore the Toshiba.
     
  6. hydralisks

    hydralisks Notebook Consultant

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    cjwhite92 - Where did you find the MB with an i5 for $1150? I'm looking at the 13" MB's but it seems like they are all running c2d's.

    Bronsky - If I get a mac, I would be using OSX the majority of the time. However, I'd probably also use bootcamp for windows only applications like solidworks. I'm wondering if bootcamp will be slow on a moderate spec macbook, running windows 7 & OSX (ie. 2.4ghz c2d, 4gb ram, 250gb hdd)?

    What is the expected release date for that Acer? I read some reviews on it but it seems like the screen and keyboard are not very good. I would rather take a better screen and keyboard over specs, even if it costs more.

    I've also been looking at the Asus UL30Vt. How does that stack up?

    Thanks!
     
  7. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope.

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    The display is not as bad as the reviews indicate. The display goes from 180nit to the design level of 200 with calibration. I use a 1410T so I'm used to the Acer island keyboard. It's not a big deal to me but I can see how it would be.

    We are told that Timelines will be in the hands of most US retailers (including Walmart) by the end of June. I'm looking at the Envy 14 as a backup just in case. One feature of the 3820TG that I really like is its cooling system.

    The VT is available now. It is a nice little unit that is very similar in specs to the 13" MBP and is selling for under $700, $350 less than the MBP. The display will be no better than the Acer but it will cost a couple of hundred less than the 3820T and have superior battery life (10-11hrs). The trade off is the power of the CPU and GPU. It has an SU7300 and 210M combination. I like the VT, but I don't know if I would buy it over the MBP just to save 30%.

    I just noticed that did not have terrible things to say about your Dell XPS 1530. You are one of the few people on the planet who have not had constant problems with this model. If you liked the XPS you are used to a good keyboard and decent hi-res display. The MBP has a strikingly similar combination. It has a great display, good keyboard. The only reason to compromise on the display and keyboard is to accomodate the need for portable power.

    Bronsky:cool:
     
  8. hydralisks

    hydralisks Notebook Consultant

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    Ah, yes I read about the Timeline's double fan cooling system. Wonder how much of an effect it actually will make.

    I actually do have quite a few complaints about my XPS, but just choose to deal with them -_-. One of the most annoying problems is the poor heat circulation. The laptop generates a ton of heat at the palmrest area even under regular use (just browser + itunes + AIM) which is a real bother. The one thing I do like about the macbook is that it seems to stay relatively cool even from extended use. I wonder if the new timeline's cooling system will be able to match this temperature control problem. I do LOVE the xps's screen though but the keyboard is mediocre at best.

    The reason I was looking at the ASUS is because 1) *from pictures* it looks like it has a similar keyboard to the macbook (the one thing I really like about the MB is the spaced and very responsive keys) and 2) it has multitouch for the touchpad making it much easier to scroll around as I like to browse quickly.

    Anyway, any other options I should look at or are these pretty much the only competitive 13 inchers around? I'm willing to expand my budget if there are other budgets that meet my requirements better that offer significant improvement.

    Thanks,
    Kevin
     
  9. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope.

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    The twin fan system seems to be very effective. There are quite a few models in circulation and the cooling system has been tested with the I7-620M/HD5650 combination. Under stress test conditions, the I7-620M has been recorded as high as 87C (30C ambient temps) but it is stable at that temp. and never goes any closer to its max temp of 104. Even with the CPU at that temp, the GPU never goes above 71C under full load. The low GPU temps are due to the separate sink/fan. OC'ing doesnt seem to raise temps all that much either. There is a lot of room to OC the GPU.

    The only other 13" unit that might be worth a look is the UL30JT. I think the I5-540UM version is starting to find its way to outlets although I would prefer an I7-640UM in there. Max battery life with the refresehd UM series will probably be in the 10 hour range.

    Bronsky:cool:
     
  10. hydralisks

    hydralisks Notebook Consultant

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    After reading a ton of reviews, I'm heavily leaning towards a 13" MBP. I went to Frys today to check a couple units out today and I really just love the touchpad and keyboard of the MBP. Haven't really found anything that matches it yet. Also, seems like theres a pretty good deal - $999 for 2.4ghz, 4gb ram, 250gb hdd rolling around and the only thing I would need to upgrade is the hdd.

    The only thing I am concerned about is the weight. What's the average weight for a 13" notebook? The MBP is 4.5 lbs whereas I really would have liked a 3.7 lb unit like the UL30Vt. I wonder how big of a difference there is, considering my m1530 is 5.9 lbs and I find it pretty hefty to lug from home across campus.

    Lastly, I can still use any pc mouse on OSX right? (including the right click, middle click and any other peripheral buttons)
     
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