Hi everyone, i'm Tjarco from the Dutch, eh yes Netherlands. I've written down some thoughts here on the suddenly emerged issue of needing a new laptop and the difficulties that choosing one or finding the best the one comes with these days.
Last week my Macbookpro way to spontaneously died after 5yr of crisp clean experiences with Mac OSx. I was loving that fruit each day. The stability, the touchpad, the workflow with things as Spaces and programs like Keynote really gain Apple fanpoints from me. That i was able to jump, fall, throw and live with it, without any viruses or noteworthy crashdowns proved that Apple quality really is a durable investment.
But i started to bum out when i heard it was a known (motherboard/videocard) issue with 5/7yr old Mac's (planned obsolescence?) 5 years ago i hoped part of why I paid 2500$ for my Mac was that it would last longer than just 5 years. And sure it's possible to sprout it back to live, at the cost of half a new one.
So better buy a new one? hmm I don't really like the new Apples. There is something wrong with their core strategy at the moment imo. Well the customer-benefits-orientated one not the money-making strategy, they are doing a bit to well on that. With sneaky ways they are trying to try to lock you in buying nothing but Apple products. Or the way they release tiny updates every half year and seem to withhold other innovations (like the 1st Iphone which didn't had a camera! why Apple? Why?) well, just to make you long for the new version. Same thing now with the Retina display on Macbook Pro's with 125mb & 250mb memory drives? Next MBK pro release early 2013 will just have some bigger memory and lots of software updates probably, so have to wait for that if I want a new decent Macbook.
But what bums me out the most is that everything was working just fine, I really didn't need a new one and I could live with a 4000$ repair. Pc brands seem so much more durable because of the ease of which they can be repaired and the abundance of cheap aftermarket parts. Suddenly Mac doesn't seem like the most durable option. Especially since in the new Mac's nothing can be upgraded because everything inside is welded and glued together. Going back to Windows was before my Mac broke down last week completely out of the question. But now facing with this dillema, any other brand than Apple seems like the more economical choice especially when brands like asus, dell and hp are all releasing sturdy aluminium notebooks.
So am I looking for the impossible? A sturdy laptop with the user experience of a Mac, but preferably not a Mac. Running Mac OSx on custom laptop would probably ask to much script knowledge for me. (thoughts?) I am also looking into switching to Ubuntu, but i'm not sure how this will affect my workflow. (Any thoughts on this?) I switched to Apple because I like their software and how it subtly updates, in contrary to Windows that feel the urge to change everything every version.
So however I like Apple i've broadened my horizon again and looked into some other options. I would like to buy a laptop which I can use for at least 10 years straight, with some cheap hardware & software updates to keep it running smoothly. I'd prefer aluminium casing which can take a beating. I've been looking at the Lenovo thinkpad, or Dell Precision (2 harddrives option is really cool since you can carry allll your collections with you, but it's a heavy boy) also looked at HP-Elitebook and Asus and do think the new Vizio looks great as well, but it has a lot of first-gen flaws.
Than I noticed all the tablet PC's with flippable screens which would be awesome for the presentations i have top give to customers on site. But not sure if the quality of this innovation is already on a good level. Multitouch must be a standard, but think innovations in tablet PC's will improve a lot in coming years, so buying one now is not the right choice in my opinion unfortunatly.
A lot of choices and options but I can't seem to find the most ideal solution, that's why I came to this place, in the hope some of the experts can share their thoughts on this problem. Summing it all up these are my choices...
- Wait for newer Macbook with decent storage, but with the chance of needing 1000$ repairs every 4-6 years
- Switching to Ubuntu or uch Windows and finding a fast, stable, sturdy and yet cheap to update and repair laptop with can grow to become my trustworthy companion for a decade or something.
1) What is your budget?
2) What size notebook would you prefer?
d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen
3) Where will you buying this notebook?
Netherlands or Canada
4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
a. Like: Durable, Sturdy, Cheap repairable, Mac OS
5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
Might want to repair my own old macbook, or buy a new one.
6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook? Multiple programs running, tens of browser screen, graphic design and presentation software. or sessions with video editing or music software. - Hooking it up to other screens.
7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both? both, daily. heavy travelling and hooking up to other monitors
9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
As long as possible. 4hr +
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? I believe specs and promo videos so yes i would buy online.
11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista or Windows 7), Mac OS, Linux, etc. OS X has been great for me, love to run this on a custom laptop, Windows is mehhh, thinking about switching to Ubuntu/Linux
12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) Anything above 1000*1000 Preferably widescreen 16/10 - HD would be cool.
13) Do you want a Glossy/reflective screen or a Matte/non-glossy screen?
Matte/non-glossy if possible
Build Quality and Design
14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
Sturdy please, definitly prefer simplicity & aluminium (like Apple's) over all things with strange corners and things sticking out on the outside.
15) When are you buying this laptop?
If you help me making the best choice, pretty soon..
16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
Longer than 5 years, lets say 10 years, doing cheap updates on software and hardware to keep it running smoothly
17) How much hard drive space do you need; 80GB to 640GB? Do you want a SSD drive? 250GB is minimum, would love a extra TB so i don't need external drives anymore.
18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD Burner, Blu-ray Reader or Blu-Ray Burner? Not really, but cd/dvd reader is usefull sometimes
(Playing Devil's Advocate here; I have no love for Apple): As much as it feels that Apple's locking customers in, it's really not the case just yet. People can still do whatever they like to their OSX machines by installing from 3rd party sources (skipping the Mac Store) and doing whatever tweaks you'd like (OSX is based on Darwin, so if you know a bit of Unix/Linux command line you can manage). As for leaving off features, that's just one way to make money. Why install everything into the original iPhone, when Apple plans on releasing more (and people thus "have to" upgrade to the latest, shiniest toy)?
Anyway, onto recommendations. I certainly would *not* be comfortable with a $4000 laptop repair, whatever the OEM. You'd be much, much better off buying a new, modern system than repairing a 5yr laptop with outdated parts. That said, if you're looking to move away from Mac and OSX, you should check out business-class laptops. These include the Lenovo Thinkpad X/T/W series, Dell Latitude and Precision series, and HP Probook and Elitebook series. Since your gaming needs are not demanding (just Flash, it seems), you probably wouldn't need a workstation laptop like the Thinkpad W530, Precision, or Elitebook -w series. You should check out the Thinkpad T530 (with either 1600*900 or 1920*1080 display) or Latitude E6530 (1080p). The T530 will get 6-7 hours of battery life on the 6-cell, and 8-9 hours on the 9-cell (based on my tests of the W530 and my experiences with the W520 and 9-cell battery).
I'm a college student that's not too kind to his hardware, and after mistreating and out-right abusing my W520, I can tell you that these things *will* last. I've dropped it several times (both when shut-down and closed or open and running), dropped things on it (such as the heavy 170W power brick, from the top of a loft bed), crammed it between books in my bookbag, subjected it to non-trivial vibrations while biking off-road on a hilly campus, and the laptop still runs amazingly. I can't say that for cheap consumer-class laptops though; my old Toshiba Satellite, while it lasted two years, died after refusing to boot up one day. I treated that relatively carefully, and still it didn't last too long. As for aluminum, that metal can't actually take a beating. You drop a MBP on the ground, it will dent (at best); if you drop a plastic laptop, the plastic skin will be okay or it might have a minor scratch (I'm assuming a durable business-class laptop). Thinkpads have a rubberized(?) plastic skin with a magnesium roll cage on the inside to protect the mainboard and electronics (think about an off-road car with a roll cage and you'll know why this is important), whereas Dell and HP business laptops are made using some sort of alloy (can't recall off the top of my head). Certainly much more durable than the run-of-the-mill aluminum consumer laptop (that includes MBPs).
Whether or not Ubuntu will hinder your workflow depends on what you do with your laptop. Based on the sticky you filled out, it shouldn't (internet, some sort of office software, Flash). Unless your work absolutely requires Microsoft products like Office, you'll be fine. Installing it will be easy, and you can run it off the CD and not install it (LiveCD) to try it out before installing. I used it on my Toshiba for awhile and I had no issue with it, until I was required to use Visual Basic .NET and some other Microsoft software that doesn't have a Linux port (or doesn't have the same features). As for tablet PCs, the best on the market (my opinion) would be the Thinkpad X230T tablet, or the offerings from the HP Elitebook line (iirc, it's called the Elitebook 2760p?). They're durable business-class laptops and certainly do a good job at what they're designed to do, but you pay a price for it (more expensive than the non-tablet versions, and you don't get certain hardware like more powerful GPUs).
that made sense! getting used to the idea of working with ubuntu and wave apple goodbye narrowing my options down to
Hp Elitebook 8560w
or Dell Precision M4700
Might be all a bit overcapable for my intended use but I need to video-edit quite a lot..
Definitly want Webcam built-in and a Backlit Keyboard, Lenovo says it offers this features on some models but I can't find the specific model names with Camera & Backlit. I think the Elitebook is a bit on the to heavy side, without offering a second hard drive, so i'm tending towards the Dell which offers a second harddrive if i drop my optical drive for it though.. Can't find if Lenovo or HP can mount 2 harddrives.
A webcam and backlit keyboard are both options on the W530 (I know the keyboard is +$40, and iirc the webcam is~$15-ish? It used to be standard on the W520). You should be able to find the options when you configure a W530 on Lenovo's website. At 6.5lbs+, the Elitebook is definitely one hell of a brick, but it can accept a second hard drive if you remove the optical drive. Thinkpads have the Ultrabay adapters that you can use to install a hard drive into the optical bay; in fact, I have a NewModeUS Ultrabay caddy to hold my second SSD in the optical drive area. They also have stuff for Dell and HP laptops.
Each one of those have a touchpad and a point stick to use as a mouse. Touchpad on the Thinkpad is so-so, but the real beauty is in the TrackPoint nub, which not only is more accurate (in fact, I use it instead of cheap travel mice), but is also raised above the surrounding keys (both the Precision and Elitebook versions are recessed, making it hard to use imo (I've used friends' M4600 laptops a lot at school, since my university is a Dell shop). The touchpads on the HP and Dell are pretty good, but in my opinion the TrackPoint is better
One big advantage that Dell and HP have over Lenovo is that you can configure their workstations with 10-bit IPS panels (PremierColor and DreamColor, respectively), whereas you cannot have an IPS panel in a Thinkpad. Another plus for them is that the base GPU is the AMD FirePro M5950, which is a pretty powerful card and a better option if you do not need CUDA support or other nVidia-only features. To get the same raw GPU power, you'd have to get the K2000M in the W530, which is a good $200-odd dollars. Not to say that the K1000M is a wimp (it's definitely not), but in terms of gaming the FirePro would be more suited (if you happen to game a lot).