I hate laptops. In fact I have a statement that I repeat whenever anyone asks me to recommend a laptop:
“All laptops suck – buy what you like”
The purists will note that we haven’t seen a laptop in the market for over 10 years. Laptops were huge beastly things that harken back to the days of floppy disks and orange plasma screens. What we’re talking about of course, are notebook computers. The word laptop just rolls of the tongue better than notebook does, so I, like most people, will continue to misuse the word. Besides, I use it on my lap all the time. Thanks, I feel better.
At any rate, I found myself recently needing a laptop because my HP widescreen laptop blew a hard drive and developed an LCD problem that I couldn’t live with. I fixed it up as best as I could, and donated it to my youngest daughter who now uses it exclusively for important tasks like surfing Webkinz.com.
Being a business expense, and thus tax deductible, I decided to hunt out the best, most powerful machine I could get. I had the following requirements:
- 17 inch non-glare wide-screen w/ 1920×1200 resolution
- dual-core processor
- 4G RAM
- Non-squishy keyboard
- Sturdy case – metal if possible
That’s it. Doesn’t seem hard does it? I quickly discovered that it was. Most laptops on the market are disposable pieces of crap. Anything under $1000 seems to be made of thin plastic with toy keyboards and low-quality parts. The good side of this is that for $500 you can get some serious horsepower and RAM. I considered this because the alternative was a $3000 solution. If a laptop lasts me about three years on average, I’d be saving money if I just bought a $500 laptop every year and ran it into the ground.
The non-glare aspect of my requirements killed a LOT of contenders. The other thing that killed most laptops under $1000 was the non-squishy keyboard requirement. The keyboards on most laptops suck. Sure some have full keyboards with number pads and a lot of other cool features, but type on them for more than a few minutes and you’ll feel the cheapness of them. Cheap keyboards fail me. Nothing will make me want to hurl a laptop through an open third story window like a failing keyboard.
I’m a working consultant, and I’m also a writer. I Can type 130 words per minute, so I need a keyboard that can keep up with me and won’t fail after typing 10,000 words per day. Additionally, since I often have to sit in odd places while I’m working, the glossy screens that are so prevalent don’t work for me. Sit near a window with a glossy screen and you’ll know what I mean.
I am also a photographer, so a quality wide screen is important to me. As a writer I like the widescreen so I can put two full pages side by side. I’m spoiled, I’ll admit it. My HP laptop, though widescreen, was only 1280×960, which was damn-near useless for me. It looked fabulous watching movies, but for real work, it left me cold. I need pixels, and I need a lot of them.
Luckily, and a bit surprisingly, the dual core processor and 4G RAM requirements were no big deal. I quickly narrowed my choices down to two contenders: The Lenovo W700ds and the Apple Macbook Pro 17″
Loaded the way I wanted, they were both around $3000. I had used Lenovo laptops in the past, and was excited at the prospect of getting one, until I started reading reviews. Apparently, Lenovo had changed out the best feature of the business class laptops – the keyboard. Additionally, there were some reports that the sevice from Lenovo had gotten pretty bad. The days of killer support from IBM was gone. For $3000, I want excellent support.
I’ve had my Apple Macbook Pro 17″ non-glare laptop for abour four months now, and I like it more each day. It routinely get’s over seven hours of battery life, the screen is magnificent, and the keyboard rocks. I didn’t like the keyboard at first. There are no insert keys, no home/end/pgup/pgdown keys, and some other niggles, but it’s not squishy, and it’s kept up with me admirably.
This Macbook, is in fact, the first laptop that i’ve ever had that doesn’t suck. The case is aluminum and is rock solid. The screen is magnificent. The keyboard is wonderful. Even the trackpad is great, though I use my Logitech wireless mouse 90% of the time.
I had to learn about OSX, which I’ll write about later, but even if I need Windows XP, I bought Parallels which works wonderfully.
I’m a convert. My next computer purchase will likely also be a Mac, even if I have to buy one used.