Going Mobile :: Looking For A Laptop

by derek on April 3, 2008 · 32 comments

With my first blog conference coming up in May, I don’t think it would be very convenient to try and lug my current desktop system to the conference.
Given that SOBCon offers a good deal of hands-on interaction within the mastermind groups, I would really like to have a machine with me to capture my work. Therefore, I am looking to purchase a new laptop that can be used at the conference and when I travel in the future.

What Do I Need In A Laptop?

To be honest, I really do not need a state of the art machine as I will use this at the conference and the few times that I travel each year. In addition to that, I imagine it will be used from time to time to write blog posts or surf the Interweb from somewhere other than my office.
There are no plans to have the new laptop replace my existing desktop as my primary machine. With that said, there are a few options that I would prefer not to skimp on such as memory since insufficient memory can really turn a machine into a dog.
Based on this criteria, I have been looking at relatively inexpensive machines and would ideally like to keep it under $1000 or as close as possible. Thus far I have narrowed it down to a few machines, although I always welcome additional feedback.

Apple MacBook

Apple MacBook

Being a lifelong Windows guy, I have always believed (and might have said but nobody can prove it) that I would never own a Mac.
However, I am beginning to question myself on this opinion and believe it could be a great machine for my purposes. Macs have a great reputation and there are quite a few bloggers using them, so I can see this being a viable machine.
Coming in as the most expensive of the machines I am looking at is the MacBook with the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, and 160GB hard drive @5400 rpm. This machine comes in with a price of $1299.00.

Dell Inspiron 1525

Dell Inspiron 1525

The other night I spec’d out an Inspiron that was pretty loaded for a price around $750 – I’m kind of regretting the fact that I didn’t pull the trigger as there was a discount code in effect until 5am the next morning.
As you can imagine, the price is now a fair amount higher for a similar machine but I wasn’t ready to make the purchase at the time. At work we use Dell machines and I have two Dell machines at home, so I am very familiar with Dell.
The cheapest of the three machines, this Inspiron 1525 has the 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM, and 320GB hard drive @ 5400rpm. One feature that this machine adds is a built-in webcam, which might be nice for making a few video posts on the blog. This machine comes in with a price of $899.00.

Lenovo ThinkPad T61

Lenovo ThinkPad

A friend of mine mentioned that he has a ThinkPad for work and has been quite impressed, although he uses a Mac at home so what does he know. ๐Ÿ˜‰
I’m not very familiar with the ThinkPad, having never actually used one myself. The specs appear to be fairly comparable and I have read a few positive reviews of the this line of ThinkPad laptops.
The ThinkPad has the 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard drive @ 7200rpm. This machine comes in with a price of $963.00.

Other Considerations

Initially I was contemplating an Asus Eee PC but the small screen size and really low resolution are cause for concern. Even though this isn’t going to be a primary machine, I am not sold that these issues will not become a nuisance over time.
With the need to make a decision relatively soon, I feel pretty confident that one of the machines mentioned above would make a suitable choice for my purposes.
Since I have been a lifelong Windows user, I kind of like the appeal of entering into the world of the Mac – although it might take some time to get used to the machine. By the same token, I am much more familiar with a Windows machine and would likely feel more comfortable using one at the beginning.
I’d like to turn this over to the community to get some feedback on what laptop you would purchase if you were in my situation. As a reminder, my goal is to spend under (or close) to $1000 and I don’t need all the bells and whistles – just a solid machine for blogging related work.

[poll id=6]

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Cheray April 3, 2008 at 10:32 pm

I would go with the Dell the built in web cam could come in handy for you at the conference so all you have to do is point and shoot so to speak and don’t have to worry about the hassles of an external cam and wires. Dell still builds good solid machines.
Dude You’re Getting a Dell!
Ok that was lame but I couldn’t resist.
Joe Cheray’s last blog post..Two Free Frames for Paint Shop?Pro

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Damien Riley April 3, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Sarah bought a Dell about 7 months ago and it has been NOTHING but trouble. Mostly with the power supply. We’ve had 3 replaced and yesterday the latest one burned out.
We went Dell simply for the financing. If you have the means, don’t buy a dell.
Damien Riley’s last blog post..My Piece of Land

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Kelvin April 4, 2008 at 12:04 am

Hm, I’m just surprised that a guy in a tech field doesn’t own a laptop. Then again, I was like that for quite a while as well. I’ve toyed around with the idea of getting a Mac as well so I can learned about it and use software not available on Windows, but then again, I’m still so much more used to Windows and know about so many programs that I can use. Ah, decisions, decisions.
Kelvin’s last blog post..Today, We Celebrate

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derek April 4, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Lol, I know what you mean. Before getting my two desktops at home, I had a laptop but it turned into a bookend. I also had one at work but replaced that with a desktop as the laptop couldn’t keep up very well with running a full local dev environment.

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Nicole Price April 4, 2008 at 2:07 am

I have used 2 dell machines in the past, and have never had a reason to complain. Heard their after sales service sucks, but I didn’t really need it.
Nicole Price’s last blog post..Totally Wacky Gift Ideas

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Home Recording Studio April 4, 2008 at 5:19 am

Derek, I have voted for the MacBook.
If you do buy something else, please, please do not buy one loaded with Windows Vista. You will regret it. If at all you can possibly manage it get it with XP.
Please ask anyone else who bought a pre vista loaded laptop and you will get the same advise.

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Chris Gray April 4, 2008 at 8:52 am

Yes, I have had no luck with Vista either — slow as a dog. Thinking of reverting my laptop back to XP at this point.
Chris Gray’s last blog post..Stuck on the ladder.

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Eva White April 4, 2008 at 7:40 am

I personally would love to own my own Apple Macbook.
Eva White’s last blog post..The China-Tibet Conflict

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Futon-Matt April 4, 2008 at 8:54 am

Last year I bought a Toshiba Satellite and I’ve been really happy with it. It’s a bit heavy, but very reliable.

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Mike April 4, 2008 at 9:08 am

I have the Asus Eee PC and love it. When I browse, I hit F11 to run Firefox full screen and everything is just great and super light and inexpensive.
Mike’s last blog post..Getting Married On Carnival Cruise

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derek April 4, 2008 at 8:08 pm

I am very tempted by the Eee PC but I have a feeling that the laptop will get more use than I am expecting, which would eventually drive me nuts with the small screen.

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Michael Kwan April 4, 2008 at 12:46 pm

The trouble with the Dell is that it’s a 15.4-inch widescreen, making it a fair bit bigger and heavier than the other two. It’s also interesting that you listed three different sizes. If you’re aiming for portability, the Macbook is a good choice. For a more “business”-like look, the Lenovo is good.
I have a Dell Inspiron 640m myself and I’ve had no trouble with it… except it’s heavier than it looks.
Michael Kwan’s last blog post..Microsoft Canada Introduces the Zune

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Joe Cheray April 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Just say NO to Vista. When my brother gave me his Vista PC I couldn’t wait to figure out how to switch it over to XP without him really knowing about in case he ever decided to be an Indian giver.Windows 98 and XP are the only two OS that Microsoft put out that I have had good luck with.
I actually wouldn’t mind a MacBook I keep hearing how Macs are so much better for digital designers. I guess I am stuck in my ways though.
Joe Cheray’s last blog post..Two Free Frames for Paint Shop?Pro

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Steve Elliott April 4, 2008 at 3:53 pm

I’m running perfectly well on a Dell Latitude D600. Got it from work when they were carrying out some updgrades and has done me proud.
Nice and light, good battery life, everything I need.
The IT boys installed Vista for me but it was too radical a change and slowed the system down, so I am back to XP Pro – very stable.

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derek April 4, 2008 at 8:12 pm

All, I really appreciate the feedback thus far. I’ll be honest that the concerns over Vista have me doubting the Inspiron – at least keeping Vista on it.
I’m starting to sway towards giving the Macbook a try, partly to have fun with something totally new and to stay away from some of the issues mentioned with Vista.

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ms danielle April 4, 2008 at 8:16 pm

yea i hear really bad things about vista. i have a macbook and the only problem i’ve had is the battery. i’m going to get it replaced soon, but other than that it’s awesome.
if you go with lenovo or dell, i’d also say go with XP. you can get a discount on lenovo with the link i gave you ๐Ÿ™‚

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Home Recording Studio April 5, 2008 at 9:03 am

Apple will replace the battery without any problems.

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Furniture Store April 5, 2008 at 12:16 pm

Thanks so much for doing all that legwork for me. the husband and i were talking just the other day that we need to go in for a laptop, in addition to, not instead of our current desk top. so we shall add all of this information to our next discussion, thanks!

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pauletet April 5, 2008 at 7:29 pm

I rather go with the cheaper and more useful one than a priceless yet offering just same features as the cheaper ones.

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Tyler Ingram April 6, 2008 at 8:16 am

If I were to pick one I would go with the Macbook. I’ve always wanted one. If I didn’t want to go the mac route our work has been using Dell’s for 5 years and we personally haven’t had any issues with their laptops. Insprion or XPS.
I voted for the Mac though!

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Suburban Oblivion April 6, 2008 at 5:11 pm

I have a Dell Inspiron and, umm..it blows. Had nothing but problems with it. My last laptop and our desktops were/are all Compaq’s, and we’ve ever had a problem with them. Glad to see I won’t be the only SOBcon newbie, looking forward to meeting you there! ๐Ÿ™‚
Suburban Oblivion’s last blog post..No, Really, Who ARE You as a Blogger?

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derek April 6, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Ugh, that is the kind of thing that concerns me with the Dell. While I’ve had pretty good luck with Dells both at home and at work, I’ve heard so many horror stories – although I guess that can likely be said about just every manufacturer.
Cool, always nice to hear of another SOBCon attendee! Look forward to meeting you there.

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Get Camping April 8, 2008 at 6:21 am

I got a sony vaio laptop last year and its very slick. I do like the look of the MAC laptops though, very appealing and seem to be getting alot more popular in 2008.
I have a DELL desktop and I think there customer service is fantastic.
Get Camping’s last blog post..Contour Lines Added to Google Maps

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Cesar April 9, 2008 at 12:30 am

I would go with Dell, the price is not too high for that specification and I have until now good experience with Dell.
With 3 Gb RAM and 320 Gb hardisk you will have a fast laptop and enough space.
Cesar’s last blog post..Yu-Gi-Oh 5Dโ€™s 1 English sub

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buy laptop skin May 3, 2008 at 1:45 pm

i’d prefer a macbook ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰
buy laptop skin’s last blog post..PURCHASE LAPTOP 2008 GUIDE

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Michael@Pink Laptop July 9, 2008 at 8:21 am

I know this suggestion might come in too late, but in case anyone who need suggestion is reading this post, I would like to suggest the Studio model from Dell. This is the latest model line from dell which sits between the Inspiron and XPS lines. Cost around $799 for 15″ and $999 for 17″ version. Google for the review for this laptop, and you will find that it gets mostly positive feedback.
Michaels last blog post..Pink Laptop Case: Hardshell Case for MacBook

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Lenovo ThinkPad August 20, 2008 at 4:52 am

Go with the Lenovo ThinkPad or the Dell

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Laptop Reviews December 28, 2008 at 9:09 am

I would go with the Dell laptops. As, they are best configurations and they provide on-site warranty.
Laptop Reviewss last blog post..Lenovo Ideapad U330 Laptop – Review, Price and Features

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Tonic February 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Yeah i seem to prefer dells aswell. Because of the customization options.
Tonics last blog post..Hosted IP-PBX or own IP-PBX solutionโ€ฆWhatโ€™s better for you?

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John April 1, 2010 at 4:08 am

Before you go out and buy a DELL 1525 i would stop right there. I bought one a few months ago and the motherboard died out on me. This company repaired it http://www.webmax.ltd.uk, apparently it’s a very dodgy laptop.

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Leoan@Laptop For College December 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

The Macbook is the truth. Very creative laptop I can say! And when you move to Mac you will realise how GOOD it is!

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