Laptop Bleg

8 August 2008 at 9:48 am 10 comments

| Peter Klein |

I’m in the market for a new laptop. My current model is a Sony Vaio TR3 and I want to stay in the ultraportable category (under 4 lbs., 12″ or smaller display). For now, I’m sticking with the WinTel platform (sorry, Teppo!).

Sony’s current offering in this category, the TZ, has the right combination of size, weight, and style, but it’s not quite as powerful (in RAM or clock speed) as some alternatives, like the Asus U2 and a few models by HP and Toshiba. I’m not particularly looking for a tablet, though I wouldn’t rule it out. The Lenovo X series is nice, but lacks the Sony’s built-in optical drive. Any suggestions?

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. josephlogan  |  8 August 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Peter,

    If you absolutely must hew to the Wintel platform–and I urge you to give serious consideration to why this is, especially as your current decision will lock you into one or the other for a couple of years–the August issue of Wired has a page that takes on this question. Off the top of my head, I think the Lenovo did well.

    Personal experience, though–any media drive at all turns out to be less necessary than I would have thought. I’m rocking a slightly modified MacBook Air right now with Microsoft Office and seamless access to anything in the Wintel world. And it’s stylish and doesn’t get viruses. Problem is, though, no one (and I include myself here) can really know the difference until they try it.

    But good luck with that X–looks like a good machine.

  • 2. drtaxsacto  |  8 August 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Peter – Why not do a solid state MAC AIR and install Parallels on it – you can then get a Wintel machine that is reliable. I’ve had an air for six months and it is the best laptop I have ever had.

  • 3. bobvis  |  9 August 2008 at 8:30 am

    I have an X-series and haven’t missed the optical drive one iota. I think I did need one once, but it’s as simple as sharing a drive on another computer.

    If you really want to have a dedicated drive, There is one available that you can plug into the computer. It is both small and light. I didn’t want to spend the relatively modest amount of money to get one though.

    I got the tablet version because it had far better battery life between the chip it used, the 9-cell battery, and some other stuff. I calculated the price differences and figured out that I was really only paying about $150 more for the tablet feature, which I thought was reasonable for something I might end up using a lot.

    The main advantage of an X-series–or any IBM/Lenovo is that it is built terrifically well. If you put any measure of abuse on any machine other than an IBM, a Toshiba, or the better Apples, your machine may not end up lasting as long as you had hoped. I worked for a consulting company for a number of years, and the other machines usually died quickly. (We didn’t have any Apples, but they seem to be well built too–especially the powerbooks.)

    Once I became a grad student, I went straight to IBM. The Sony is prettier, but I’d rather have reliability.

  • 4. josephlogan  |  9 August 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Listen to drtaxsacto. He has your best interests at heart.

  • 5. Peter Klein  |  9 August 2008 at 1:16 pm

    It’s a Cupertino Conspiracy!

  • 6. stephan Kinsella  |  10 August 2008 at 12:13 am

    get an air. I’ve been so happy with mine and with my switch to Mac. 3lbs AND a full size keyboard and 13″screen.

  • 7. tf  |  10 August 2008 at 1:06 am

    Peter: See — everyone’s switching to (and highly recommending) the mac!

  • 8. Peter Klein  |  10 August 2008 at 1:09 am

    Teppo, they’re ganging up on me! And besides, I don’t look that good in a black turtleneck.

  • 9. Tim Swanson  |  10 August 2008 at 4:41 am

    I’d personally grab any laptop that uses Splashtop tech. It’s an instant-on mini-OS that is so useful for streamlining productivity:

    Many of the laptops sold by Asus come with it.

    The other option is to buy a Centrino 2 branded laptop (the tech just came out a month ago) from And I’d stick with a regular HD and pass on the SSD for now.

  • 10. REW  |  11 August 2008 at 11:43 am

    Peter, it is really rather pitiful to distinguish yourself by holding on to Wintel technology. Perhaps you could adopt the mock turtleneck along with the Mac Air as an incomplete denial of SELF. You could still use a Gatesian approach to presentations, even with superior hardware, if that helps.

    Buy the Mac Air. I’ll buy you the external drive.

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