Laptop Advice

Few topics evoke such numerous and passionate responses as the question “Which laptop should I buy?” I have seen a couple of pretty good discussions recently on different lists, so I thought I would give people an opportunity to compile some thoughts here (available to those Googling for advice).

What’s my favorite laptop? Well, I’ve owned an IBM ThinkPad, Compaq something-or-other, Zenith, Toshiba Satellite, Sony Picturebook, Apple iBook and two Apple Powerbooks (both 15″ models). Which do I like best? No surprise, but the Powerbooks have been the best overall. They are very well constructed with great features and a very nice screen. If I were a PC user, though, I would use a ThinkPad, no questions asked. My IBM was very tough, and I’m sure it is still in use somewhere in the world (I sold it on eBay a couple of years ago). My Sony was probably the coolest in terms of wow-factor, but it was a little too proprietary for my taste (Sony writes a lot of their own drivers for their hardware). I probably wouldn’t buy a Sony now, although I continue to believe that they make some of the coolest laptops around, and I wouldn’t discourage the purchase of a Sony, as long as you don’t intend to try to run Linux on it. My Toshiba was great, but big, plastic and heavy, and my Compaq and Zenith were too old to be relevant to a modern discussion.

But don’t rush out any buy a new Powerbook just yet. Make sure the screen and warping problems have been fixed first. I have the very last model of the “old” Titanium Powerbooks, and it’s solid as a rock because the form factor has been tweaked and revised over probably three or four years. The new Powerbooks (though clearly superior in features, hardware, etc.) have some screen and warping issues that Apple needs to work out. Once I’m sure the issues have been fixed, however, I will probably start keeping my eye out for a new 15″ Powerbook.

So my questions to you are:

Which laptops do you like best? Why? What kind do you have? What do you think of it? What kind do you wish you had?

Oh, and don’t forget to take the new survey, too.

19 Responses to Laptop Advice

  1. mike says:

    IBM Thinkpad R40… I would have liked to get a T40, but didn’t have the scratch.I love my thinkpad. Like you said it’s rock solid. What I love MOST about it, though is its solid Linux compatability. I run SuSE 9.0 on it 24×7 and find all of the laptop specific features (wireless, sleep, cpufreq switching, etc) work much better under linux than Win XP.

  2. Nicolas says:

    I just got a Dell Inspiron 8600 with the WUXGA screen and 7200 rpm hard drive. It’s a charm. The fast drive makes ALL the difference.

  3. John says:

    I still love my old Apple G3/500 Pismo laptop. Although i don’t do any real development on it, I still use it to test my work and to surf the web from the comfort of my couch using Apples original Airport.

  4. RevB+ Powerbooks are the way to go. My RevB 12″ is solid, with no manufacturing deficiencies… my RevA Titanium had all the revA issues (loose battery, flexy keys, etc).No one does portable quite as well as Apple. If I was doing PC, it would definitely be IBM, or possibly Sony (though their build quality seems to have suffered recently).Cheers.

  5. Hans Omli says:

    Love my new Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC. It’s a much more portable alternative than my Dell Inspiron 8500 WUXGA, but is still a workhorse. Even though tablets have been out for quite awhile now, it’s still turning heads.

  6. Brajeshwar says:

    I have an IBM Thinkpad R40 and I am using it for everything I do on a computer these days. Goooooood!

  7. My trusty old 15″ PowerBook is the best laptop I’ve ever owned (and I’ve had a variety of both Mac and Windows laptops over the last decade).

  8. Rob Brooks-Bilson says:

    Right now, it’s my IBM Thinkpad T-30. I’ve got 1GB RAM, a 60 GB HD (that isn’t a typo), built in wi-fi, and I love it. It’s reliable and not to bulky. I’m planning up tpgrade to the t-40 sometime this year as I’m looking forward to the extended battery life on that model.

  9. I also have an IBM R40 series ThinkPad… Screen quality is decent unlike every other feature which are incredibly good for the price. Not a single problem in 7 months I’ve been heavily using it.

  10. Scott Boms says:

    I’ve been quite happy with my 15″ 800 MHz Titanium Powerbook. It’s nice and speedy (1GB RAM) has a sufficiently fast drive for what I’m using it for and is pretty good for colour – though I have noticed whites and light colours are starting to get lost. It’s a couple years old now so maybe the screen is starting to die. Not sure, but it’s still a great machine and gets the job done every time. I wouldn’t mind a new one.I’m still not sure about the 17″ model though – it’s just soooo big and I can’t see comfortably lugging it around on a plane or to and from work. They sure make PC users gaze in amazement though…I’m a Mac geek so no PCs for me!

  11. JB says:

    I’m on my second Sony VAIO.Had the first one for 3+ years. Other than replacing the battery I had zero problems

  12. Hi Christian,You should take a hard long look at Voodoo Laptops. Great machines, very fast, reliable and stilish. This are not your everyday laptops thats for sure! I own a Voodoo Envy m:750 painted in red with a custom tattoo on it. check them out:

  13. Chris says:

    I bought a Dell Inspiron 1100 about 6 months ago. For an inexpensive laptop, it is perfect. True, It does not have the best video card, nor the fastest processor, but I get about 4 hours of battery life out of it and so far it has been able to do everything I ask of it. With the exception of one thing: it is a pain to install Linux onto as there is a bug with the video and the bios. Other than that, I would recommend Dell to anyone.

  14. Mark says:

    I really like my Dell! I like HPs too.I was a bench tech in a different life time. I worked on several different brands of laptops. I gotta say that Apple and Dell are the better ones for working on and IBM was BY far the worst. For some reason IBM uses tons of different sized screws to hold everything down. I bet some had about 40 – 50 screws when complexly disassembled. This for the most part makes a good strong laptop, but you gotta trust your computer tech you take it to for service. It is very easy to put a longer screw into a shorter hole and fry something or just to leave 10% of the screws out. There was more then one time I had to disassemble an IBM to fix a problem one of my guys made.

  15. Boujin says:

    I do like my new dell 8600. The notebook has great battery life (I average over 5 hours on a single charge). The keyboard has a little personality — spongy on one side, firm on the other. The WUXGA screen is outstanding: bright, clear, and expansive. Overall, though, a top performing notebook.But I do have to say the Alienware Area 51-M is awesome!

  16. Todd says:

    I would recommend an alienware laptop, but currently Studio MX 2004 and Intel 8580 video drivers have a conflict and no one seems to be able to resolve it. Lots of finger pointing every which way.

  17. vv says:


  18. Sia says:

    I am still confused should I go for Latitude 300x or IBM think pad T 41.

  19. Jack says:

    I’ve had a few laptops in the last ten years but now I only buy IBM ThinkPads. My current laptop is an R40, my second from this model (two different employers), and I absolutely love it. I opted for the 15″ screen and have no complaints there but I do wish it had better speakers.