in Hardware

New Laptop Time

As regular readers will remember, I ordered the first generation MacBook Pro within hours of Steve Jobs’ keynote. That was January 2006 and at the time the spec – 2 GHz Core Duo with 2GB of RAM – was monster. The promise of dual booting OSX with Windows in a machine only an inch thick was irresistible. The reality was somewhat different, partly down to how my real world usage differed from my original expectation, and partly my disappointment in first-gen hardware.

Lenovo X300The first issue? I don’t use OSX! My MacBook Pro spends 99% of its time booted into Windows XP – as beautifully designed as OSX is, I never did manage the transition from a Windows power user to an OSX user. Also the hardware suffers from a number of first-gen issues: processor hiss, LCD whine, power-connector fraying and not least: incredible heat dissipation via the metal chassis. I don’t need quite the power I thought I did since my gaming tastes have changed; time was I’d want to play the latest FPS such as Unreal Tournament and CounterStrike, or RTS like Rise of Nations, so I needed a decent gaming GPU. Now I do much of my gaming on consoles or on my beast of a desktop machine: the laptop is just a meeting/office/email machine.

With that in mind it is time for something new, something with a low voltage, high performance Core 2 Duo, something designed to run Windows and something that won’t render me infertile if I use it on my lap.

I have a shortlist of new machines that meet my new criteria:

  • Low voltage, high performance Core 2 Duo.
  • At least 2Gb preferably 4Gb of RAM
  • Windows XP if possible
  • Small form-factor (MacBook Pro or smaller)
  • Resolution around 1440×900 (might have to be slightly less)
  • At least an 11″ widescreen
  • Gigabit ethernet, wireless, bluetooth and built-in 3G data
  • Solid State Disc (64Gb)
  • Excellent battery life
  • Light!
  • I’d like an optical drive

Discounting the MacBook Air (which style-wise I lust after but couldn’t use day to day) my shortlist is:

Lenovo X300 (link)

1.33 kg
318/231/18.6
Core 2 Duo SL7100 1.2 GHz/2 GB/64GB SSD
13.3″/1440×900
Intel X3100
DVDR/3xUSB2/Fingerprint reader
Gigabit/Wireless/Bluetooth
4 hour battery
3 year parts & labour
£1820

Sony Vaio TZ32VN/X (link)

1.24 kg
Size
Core 2 Duo U7700 1.33 GHz / 2 GB RAM / 64 GB SSD
11.1″ WXGA (1366 x 768) X-black LCD with LED technology
Dual Layer DVDVGA Camera/Fingerprint Reader
Gigabit Ethernet/Built-in 3G/Bluetooth/Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n
Up to 6 hours battery life
£1787 ex VAT

Dell XPS M1330 (link)

1.8 kg
318/238/22.1(to 33.8)
Core 2 Duo 2.60 GHz/4GB/64GB SSD
13.3″ / 1280×800 White-LED
128Mb GeForce 8400M GS
HDMI out/2xUSB/8in1 card reader
DVDRW/Fingerprint reader/0.3mp camera
Bluetooth/Wireless/3G Card
1 year base warranty
£1548

Toshiba Portege R500-12S (link)

less than 1 kg
283/215.8/19.5(to 25.5)
Core 2 Duo U7700 1.33GHz/2 GB/128 GB SSD
12.1″/1280×800 LED
Intel GMA 950 shared 256Mb
no DVD/SD Card
Gigabit/Bluetooth/Wireless
3 year international warranty
£1599

So… thoughts? I’m leaning towards the Lenovo or Vaio for portability, but the Dell’s power is tempting…