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posted by Dopefish on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the moore's-law-still-trucks-ahead dept.

Question for the lentils out there: What makes and models of laptops are good these days? Traditionally, you could just get an IBM ThinkPad if you were willing and able to pay extra for quality, but judging by reviews, they aren't as consistent as they used to be. A 'nice' laptop has to get a lot of things right: fast internals, sturdy case, quality keyboard, excellent battery life, and good heat management, to name a few. Are there any manufacturers that sell machines worth buying anymore, or do you have to compromise?

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ko on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:32PM

    by ko (3999) on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:32PM (#26690)

    I purchased a T5xx series Lenovo (Quad core i7, fairly loaded) two years ago for grad school. It wasn't cheap, but it has been a fine, fast machine and works well with Linux (Sound, Video, WiFi, Bluetooth, Hot keys, sleep mode, etc.) and Win 7 without any real fuss to set things up. I would highly recommend one, if the budget allows.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by moondrake on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:53PM

      by moondrake (2658) on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:53PM (#26697)

      I do not agree.

      Using Thinkpads (partially because of their education/research programs which makes it easy to buy them OSless) for many years now and feel the quality is degrading.

      My current one is a T410 (currently power button broken, have to remove keyboard to boot, middle mouse mousebutton broken off, BIOS acts funky with intel 520 SSD. Had not so many problems with older series...), but the new T540 models are just terrible:

      1) a freaking clickpad instead of real physical mousebuttons. I want 2 sets of real buttons!
      2) Braindead keyboard layout
      3) MUCH more difficult to self-service the machine

      For more on Lenovo TP quality, see here [lenovo.com]
      They are just becoming a cheap apple ripoff.

      But the worst thing is that there is not really a good alternative.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by moondrake on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:57PM

        by moondrake (2658) on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:57PM (#26700)
      • (Score: 1) by chiefnx on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:07PM

        by chiefnx (3888) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:07PM (#26705)

        ^ This.

        However I have a sneaking suspicion that Lenovo laptops are still the best of an increasingly bad bunch. Would love someone to prove me wrong though.

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Rune of Doom on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:14PM

          by Rune of Doom (1392) on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:14PM (#26862)

          I agree.
          I'm posting from a relatively new X220T Thinkpad. (Best machine I could find that did not have a chicklet keyboard and did have a pointing stick.) It's not as good as my old Thinkpad, but it's been a pretty decent machine. In not quite a year of use, I've lost two LRF, and a couple keys (including the power button) no longer have exactly the response I prefer, but still work fine.(To the point where acquaintances looks at me like I'm nuts when I try to point out the differences.) One of the small, rubbery nubs that keeps the screen in place when closed cracked off and was glued back in place. I'm a pointing-stick or touchscreen guy (hate touchpads) so I can't testify about the touchpad quality. The machine has survived two major (3ft+) drops unscathed. There are definitely aspects where I'd like it to be a little better, but it's by far the best laptop I could find, and it has held up in conditions where friends' machines have died.

        • (Score: 1) by timbim on Sunday April 06 2014, @01:01AM

          by timbim (907) on Sunday April 06 2014, @01:01AM (#26891)

          Why does everyone have to write "this" after some post they're in agreement with? It's boring. And unnecessary. THIS!

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Bartman12345 on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:36PM

        by Bartman12345 (1317) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:36PM (#26721)

        a freaking clickpad instead of real physical mousebuttons. I want 2 sets of real buttons!

        Yeah, clickpads aren't great, but even worse still are those machines where the buttons are integrated into the touchpad. This has got to be the stupidest trend in current laptop design... when you try to click a button, 9 times out of 10 you accidentally move the mouse pointer at the same time so the click either doesn't register or starts to "click and drag". A school I do tech support for bought about 20 of these abominations, drove the kids nuts. I tweaked the touchpad settings as best I could and got some improvement, but it's still not great.

        So if you see a laptop with buttons that are not completely separate from the touchpad, do yourself a favour and just say NO!

        • (Score: 2) by mojo chan on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:14AM

          by mojo chan (266) on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:14AM (#27005)

          This only happens on the rubbish ones. On the good ones null the movement out. If yours is a Synaptics and you run Windows try updating the driver, as very old versions don't handle clicks very well.

          FWIW I have an NEX LaVie X and am very happy with it's touchpad and integrated buttons. Took maybe half an hour to get used to it. Click and drag works fine.

          --
          const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
      • (Score: 1) by Teckla on Saturday April 05 2014, @07:57PM

        by Teckla (3812) on Saturday April 05 2014, @07:57PM (#26805)

        I've been using ThinkPads a very long time (the company I work for standardized on them), and I have to agree that the quality has degraded a great deal. My current W520 has numerous problems (but that's just anecdotal, so I'll skip the details), and the keyboards are now far worse than they used to be.

        Setting aside my anecdotes for a minute, though, the company I work for keeps detailed information on their massive number of laptops. I spoke to some folks in the PC tech shop, and they showed me the undeniable trend of ThinkPad laptops toward mediocrity. The spreadsheet doesn't lie, and the company has switched over to Dell. If ThinkPad isn't going to sell quality anymore, there's no reason paying extra for it.

        • (Score: 1) by David_W on Sunday April 06 2014, @01:53AM

          by David_W (3469) on Sunday April 06 2014, @01:53AM (#26909)

          If ThinkPad isn't going to sell quality anymore, there's no reason paying extra for it.

          That's kinda where I am too... I have a T410s. It runs great, but there are a bunch of little things wrong with it that add up to great annoyance... Trackpoint barely works, speaker cover coming off, cracks near the corners of the LCD, k key on the keyboard sometimes decides not to work... It isn't bad, but considering how much I paid for this thing, I could probably have gotten 2 or 3 cheapies that I just toss when they start acting up and come out the same or ahead. That just seems really, really wrong...

      • (Score: 1) by ArhcAngel on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:27AM

        by ArhcAngel (654) on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:27AM (#26919)

        The 400/410/412 were pretty awful for a ThinkPad. The 430 has mostly restored the line but the 440 looks to be going in a lot of different directions. Lenovo knows they can't rest on their Laurels while their competition innovates so they must walk a fine line between innovation and reliability. They have made numerous mistakes recently but look to be genuinely working to correct them. I'll still take a ThinkPad over most any laptop available today.

        • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Sunday April 06 2014, @08:53AM

          by isostatic (365) on Sunday April 06 2014, @08:53AM (#27000) Journal

          Wake me when they fix the keyboard.

          While the t410 is no where near as good as the old IBM ones, it's streets ahead of the rest. My screen broke on my last one though, put in replacement bolts but ultimately the plastic gave way.

          For me money is no object for a laptop. It costs about $200k a year to keep me working, a good laptop is nothing in top of that.

          I have a 15" 2011 macpro too, but rarely use it - the screen is good, the build is good, but they keyboard is bad, and suffers from the mis placing of @, it's over the 2 key like a common American keyboard. Urghh.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by resignator on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:11PM

      by resignator (3126) on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:11PM (#26766)

      I own my own tech shop and the only Lenovos I get in for repair are simple jobs like a bad stick of ram or a dying hard drive. The worst offenders are Gateway, Acer, and HP by a large margin. I constantly have one or the other in the shop and it is rarely a cheap fix.

      Macs are great if you want to pay out the ass but make sure to get the extended warranty. $350-500 for a new logic board isnt fun to dish out.

      My top pick overall would be the Lenovo G710. For $600 bucks nothing beats a 17inch display, intel core i5, 8gigs ram, and a 1TB HD. It has all the standard bells and whistles like bluetooth, wifi, dual layer DVD burner, etc. You could literally buy 3 of these for a mac of the equivalent value and it wont cost your first born to repair it.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:30PM (#26831)

        The guy in this thread who touches the widest variety of machines on a day-in-and-day-out basis has still not been up-modded.
        The first-to-post thing remains a problem with Slashcode-using sites. 8-(

        -- gewg_

        • (Score: 2) by buswolley on Sunday April 06 2014, @12:05AM

          by buswolley (848) on Sunday April 06 2014, @12:05AM (#26874)

          I suggest that all posts occurring in the first 10-15 minutes of a new story begin with a mod deficit, or a no up-mod flag flown.

          --
          subicular junctures
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:33PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:33PM (#26691)

    If you want a great gaming machine at a great price - Lenovo y510p - Dual 755m graphics chips in SLI (core i7, 16gb ram, 24g ssd/1Tb platter, backlit keyboard, 15.6 display) all for around $1350 out the door straight from the Lenovo website. Battery life wasn't a concern for a gaming machine (maybe 3 hours on a charge) but it's sleek compared to traditional desktop replacements and you used not to be able to touch that level or performance without hitting a $2000 range or more from Aliens or other gaming laptops.

    • (Score: 1) by linsane on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:23PM

      by linsane (633) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:23PM (#26710)

      Alienware m14 rocks but you might as well forget about actually having a battery at all :-)
      Back in the real world I have personally always bought an aftermarket larger battery as when on the road I get fed up with always hunting for power sockets and even when an 8+ he battery life is advertised it always falls short. Thus anything with an integrated battery is knocked off my list straight away. Not looking at you at ask, Apple

    • (Score: 1) by mgcarley on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:08AM

      by mgcarley (2753) on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:08AM (#26916) Homepage

      I would concur that the specs on the Y510p are great value for money, but I personally ended up getting an HP Elitebook and upgrading the RAM and platter HDD to an SSD at the last minute.

      So far, I'm not regretting my decision (though, I'm not much of a gamer, so...)

      --
      Founder & COO, Hayai. We're in India (hayai.in) & the USA (hayaibroadband.com) // Twitter: @mgcarley
    • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:43AM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:43AM (#26945)

      Who's down-modding posts like this?

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:43PM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:43PM (#26693) Homepage

    Years ago I worked as a laptop repair tech for a company who won the contract to do warranty repair for Best Buy, and all I can say is that you'd better buy a brand that has a good reputation for out of the box quality. If your laptop goes to warranty repair, we would replace the clamshell with another half that was off a bit on the color, we'd super-glue screws in their holes when the standoffs came out, forget screws entirely if they were internal; basically, we'd fix your computer with used parts that often didn't even match the original color(which were common as colors, but not worm, would change subtly from year to year).

    We got a lot of stuff that the Geek Squad should have been able to fix, like OS reinstalls and malware removal, and of course we rummaged through your hard-drive and looked at all your sick porn, even the stuff you thought you hid well. The best stories from desktop land were a roach infestation and dead lizards. The best laptop story was the single mom who wrote this big old letter about how people say she's a bad mother, put in the same folder as her self-taken webcam nudes.

    My knowledge is admittedly dated and incomplete, but back in the day at least the breakdown of the brands I knew went something like this:

    • Sony - Flimsier than the others but also super-easy to fix
    • Toshiba - Difficult to work on, but generally more reliable
    • Fujitsu - Not. Even. Once.
    • Dell - Easy to work on, but saw them the most. Though I don't know if it was because they had more of the market. Their consumer customer service is piss-poor and ordering parts is damn near impossible because their reps barely know English. I ordered a laptop hinge from one and only got a hinge screw.
    • HP - Easy to work on, also had at the time the best online support for locating and ordering parts (HP Partsurfer). Just pay attention to your warranty period, if you're even one day out their customer service in the Philippines will fuck you hard and fast. Call them "maganda," they like that.

    Of course, all that is written from the perspective of somebody who can fix laptops, but because of the warranty horror-stories mentioned above, out-of-box quality is important.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by gallondr00nk on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:19PM

      by gallondr00nk (392) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:19PM (#26707)

      The best laptop story was the single mom who wrote this big old letter about how people say she's a bad mother, put in the same folder as her self-taken webcam nudes.

      Being a good mother is mutually exclusive to taking naked pictures?

      At the risk of sounding holier-than-thou, I've done the odd bit of laptop repair and resale as well, and never felt the urge to look in the personal parts of anyones drive. It's like being trusted to housesit and then going through their underwear drawer. There's nothing to stop you doing it, it's just a shitty thing to do.

      Besides, most of the stuff I got was so fucking dreadfully configured I couldn't even bear to spend the time using it enough to find their porn. I want to backup and format them as quickly as possible.

      As for new laptops, Elitebooks have a decent reputation as being the closest thing to a modern IBM TP. Toughbooks are hardy as well. Myself, I wouldn't buy anything without a free Hardware Maintenance Manual, so even if stuff broke, at least you'd stand a chance of replacing it after the warranty ran out. Lenovo for all their faults still produce one, as do Dell. Others might do as well.

      For battery life, keyboard and build quality, I'd go second hand with a ThinkPad X200.

      • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:29PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:29PM (#26713) Homepage

        The humor was that both the letter and the nudies were in the same folder. She might not have been a bad mother, but the presentation strongly implied that she was. As far as your recommendations, they are much appreciated (as I'm also looking to buy a new laptop and found this discussion welcome). As for being a snoopy asshole, well, that was years ago and frankly anybody who trusts their personal information to a bunch of underpaid kids is asking for it.

        A note about maintenance manuals - if a manual is not available, user teardowns (complete with pictures) on many different models are available on the web, so that should help with a self-repair if no manuals are available.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:00PM

          by hemocyanin (186) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:00PM (#26732) Journal

          Oh come on, how does she become a mother if she won't get nude. Sure it's possible, but not really convenient.

          Don't be a prude. Besides, having a letter and a picture anywhere on the same hard drive is essentially the same as having it in the same folder considering how trivial it is to search an entire drive with simple tools.

          • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:35AM

            by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:35AM (#26964)

            "Besides, having a letter and a picture anywhere on the same hard drive is essentially the same as having it in the same folder considering how trivial it is to search an entire drive with simple tools."

            Huh. Until now it has never occurred to me to search for .doc files while rummaging through somebody's computer looking for porn.

            --
            🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:25PM

          by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:25PM (#26828) Journal

          The humor was that both the letter and the nudies were in the same folder. She might not have been a bad mother, but the presentation strongly implied to judgemental busybody hypocrites that she was.

          FTFY.

          --
          Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:32AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:32AM (#26940) Journal

      "forget screws entirely if they were internal;"

      Somebody got me with that recently. I'm standing at a 250 ton injection molding press, listening to the tech tell me about how screwed up the control screen is. I troubleshoot a little bit, and decide that just maybe a ribbon cable might be loose or something. I dismount the panel, a matter of removing 4 1/4-20 nuts from behind. I pull the panel outward, and the control panel literally flies in three different directions. Of course, I caught and held the central, heaviest part, but the screen fell onto the work table, and tore the connecting ribbon in two.

      Gather up all the pieces, to discover that out of fifteen internal screws, only five are present. The protruding plastic bits that the screws were supposed to screw into were simply gone. Took the damned thing to my shop, and played around for nearly two hours before I had a solidly assembled control panel ready to be remounted.

      I HATE stupid lazy shits who can do this kind of work!

      http://www.rimsoft.bg/int/downloads/manuals/Van%20 Dorn%20OEM.pdf [rimsoft.bg] Like most literature, this isn't especially informative, but it gives you a vague idea what I was looking at.

      --
      We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by mojo chan on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:24AM

      by mojo chan (266) on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:24AM (#27007)

      I used to do laptop repair too, but this was going back a few years. Anyway, might as well throw my experiences in:

      Acer - Good value, cheap replacement parts available direct, reasonable quality.

      Sony - Mostly well built but the parts are extremely expensive and hard to get. We were quoted £180 for a keyboard!

      Toshiba - The western models didn't used to be up the standard of the Japanese ones. Mostly reliable though.

      Fujitsu - Well made, but very business focused so not popular with consumers.

      Dell - Fairly shitty, low quality and all annoying custom parts. The only good thing is that the parts are at least easy to get.

      HP - Avoid at all costs. For about three years they were using nVidia chipsets almost exclusively. This was at the time of the massive production problems nVidia had where the chips would de-solder themselves after a while due to heat. Basically every laptop HP made during that period, except for a few business models, failed around the 1.5 year mark due to this fault. HP were dicks about fixing it as well, and tried things like releasing a BIOS update that underclocked the GPU to make it last longer while downgrading the hardware you had paid for, or running the really loud fan at max all the time.

      Lenovo/IBM - Lenovo's consumer grade stuff wasn't so good, but their Thinkpads were excellent. People say they are not as good as they used to be, but you still get excellent full service manuals and can order any part you need. They are a little be expensive but worth it.

      Philips - Whored their name out to PC World, but actually has nothing to do with the real Philips. Avoid at all costs.

      Acer - Generally pretty good but parts can be a bit expensive and hard to get.

      Samsung - Didn't see many, parts were okay.

      NEC - Very good quality stuff. Not cheap but worth it.

      Panasonic - Toughbooks are probably the best laptops money can buy in terms of reliability, but unfortunately they are not popular outside of Japan which makes parts hard to come by.

      In terms of general failures the biggest one was hard drives, by far. After that it was accidental damage, like smashing the screen or spilling stuff on the keyboard. If you travel a lot or even just move the machine around much it is probably worth considering replacement parts cost, just in case you damage it. Either that or make sure your home insurance covers it.

      --
      const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:41PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:41PM (#27070)

        Acer - Good value, cheap replacement parts available direct, reasonable quality.
        [...]
        Acer - Generally pretty good but parts can be a bit expensive and hard to get.

        Kinda cofusin'!

    • (Score: 1) by khakipuce on Monday April 07 2014, @10:02AM

      by khakipuce (233) on Monday April 07 2014, @10:02AM (#27361)

      I've had a Fujitsu for a few years now and it is great, much better than the HP it replaced and none of the pre-installed cruft that tends to come with these things

  • (Score: 1) by The Burnaby Kid on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:50PM

    by The Burnaby Kid (3353) on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:50PM (#26695)

    I bought an aged Lenovo Thinkpad T61 for under a couple hundred bucks. It runs Ubuntu and works great.

    Can't speak for the newer models, but my next machine is going to be a Lenovo as well.

    • (Score: 1) by Leebert on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:08AM

      by Leebert (3511) on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:08AM (#26931)

      Can't speak for the newer models, but my next machine is going to be a Lenovo as well.

      Don't bother if you're making your decision based on the T61; Lenovo's been jumping the shark like The Fonz on a Hayabusa.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Nerdfest on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:59PM

    by Nerdfest (80) on Saturday April 05 2014, @03:59PM (#26702)

    I bought one of these (a Bonobo) as a development/gaming/general use machine as I wanted to put my money where my mouth was and support a company that didn't force me to pay the Windows tax and supported Linux. I paid a slight premium for it, but am immensely happy with the machine. I'm going to buy a 17" lower end machine of theirs for my female-unit as she doesn't do gaming, and the price is pretty reasonable (female-unit uses Linux as well). No problems so far. great machine, good support if you have questions. I'd like to hear from others about some of the other "Linux laptops" out there.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by DarkMorph on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:28PM

      by DarkMorph (674) on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:28PM (#26829)
      I have a System76 Gazelle Pro. It absolutely rocks. Of course I removed the pre-installed Ubuntu and installed Gentoo on it. With something as powerful as the i7 CPU there's virtually no excuse not to compile packages in Linux if "it takes time" was the only complaint or obstacle. The vendor is also extremely helpful; before my purchase I had issued queries to them about warranty and changing the stock OS. They answered everything in a timely manner and did more than I expected them to overall actually. They behave in your favour even beyond what is promised or required. Even after purchasing, I issued questions that were hardware/driver related, and despite the fact they only officially support Ubuntu they still responded with information about the kernel I needed to know to properly get my mouse touchpad's features working. Based on my communications with them I get the feeling they are very friendly with power Linux users.

      Great laptop, and apparently a great company too. I did a lot of research online as well and found extremely little negative feedback in general. There were minor grievances with older models but that's about it. If I recall, they also have an engineering team that contributes to open source to ensure low-level software is solid on the hardware they sell. I recall there being a bug in upower that was fixed by their team and other laptop models benefit from the correction, not just their own.

      For an amusing comparison I had my hands on a brand new Toshiba Satellite. The bundled paperwork and such, including a seal on the plastic packaging, if you read it carefully, tells you about spyware pre-installed on the Windows OS on the machine, which will attempt to transmit info as soon as you go on the Internet for the first time. Their warranty also declares itself void if you tamper with the configuration of the pre-installed OS. If that's not all, the PSU blew out less than five minutes after using it. I didn't even have time to reboot from the system setup to boot a Live CD. Even a friend of mine from Japan says that Toshiba products these days have really dropped in quality.

      These crazy license agreements and shady warranties these days make me really appreciate a company like System76. I really wouldn't want to buy a laptop elsewhere at this point. My first laptop about a decade ago was an Asus model that came with no OS. (I won't pay for Windows, ever.) It was all right but it definitely had hardware issues. BIOS had bugs; booting the Linux kernel with APIC support caused zany issues; booting with a USB mouse attached hard-locked the system, and lastly, after a few years it had hard-locking issues due to overheating. I had to force the CPU to run at 800MHz so the temperature would be low enough for it to operate. 100% load at the full 2GHz would lock the system within minutes due to heat. (Temp approached 85-90C if I recall.)

      Long story short if price is not an issue, consider System76. I cannot find even one reason to vote against them. If the time comes to buy another laptop I'm heading straight back to System76 to see what they have in stock.

      Other comments I'd offer would be about the business line from Dell. I once heard their business higher-end line was solid, but I have no personal experience with that. This was several years ago and I don't know how they have been these days. I hear their support services have become poor but that seems to be true with all the big names all obsessed with outsourcing anything they can.
    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:37AM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:37AM (#26966)
      You wanted a Linux gaming system? Heh.
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 0) by takyon on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:01PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:01PM (#26703) Journal
    Get an ultrabook [slickdeals.net]

    I prefer Asus, hate Dell.
    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Nerdfest on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:38PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:38PM (#26722)

      I have an older Acer S3 and like it very much. The one thing I'd recommend for an ultrabook though is to get one with a replaceable battery. After 2 years, mine is down to about 45% max charge and it's going to be inconvenient and expensive to replace.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by grub on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:05PM

    by grub (3668) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:05PM (#26704)

    Waiting for the howls of 'fanboy' to die down... There we go, thanks.

    I've owned many, many laptops over the years and in 2011 bought this then-new MacBook Air, my first Apple laptop. Nearing my third year with it and an possibly considering a refresh myself, though perhaps to a MacBook Pro for more horsepower.

    Even this little Air has enough jam in it to run VirtualBox with XP, Win7, OpenBSD 5.4, Ubuntu Linux and Bodhi Linux; though, of course, not at the same time.

    The build quality is excellent, the battery life superb, it's just a great laptop.
    --
    Trolling is a art,
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Nerdfest on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:23PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:23PM (#26709)

      I think there's even somewhat decent Linux support for it these days. The problem is that when you buy one, Apple gets money and they've been a very bad entity for the future of computing.

      • (Score: 1) by grub on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:23PM

        by grub (3668) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:23PM (#26745)

        Considering it's Unix under the hood, anything you need to connect to other *nix machines is there or can be easily installed. OpenSSH, X11, VNC, etc.
        I've moved a bunch of my shell scripts over and most work with very minor mods. If you're a unix-head, they are great.

        --
        Trolling is a art,
      • (Score: 1) by HiThere on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:35PM

        by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:35PM (#26774) Journal

        My problem with Apple, as with MS, is the EULA. I cannot agree to it. Back around 1998 I was quite pleased to have my wife use Apple...then there came this security upgrade with abusive changes in the license. I still have the computer, and there's some software that won't run on anything else. But it never touches the Internet.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:39AM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:39AM (#26967)

        The problem is that when you buy one, Apple gets money and they've been a very bad entity for the future of computing.

        That 'bad for computing' company finally proved to the industry that laptop resolutions can be higher than 1920 by 1200. I've got work to do.

        --
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Tork on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:24PM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:24PM (#26711)
      I just wanted to add that since 2008 I have purchased five Mac laptops ranging from the low-end to the high-end. Every single one of them is still fully operational and in active use today. I have also purchased a number of Dell, Toshiba, and even a Compaq and not a single one has managed to live this long. I paid a premium, but I'm well ahead.
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 1) by siwelwerd on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:36PM

      by siwelwerd (946) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:36PM (#26719)

      I also love my Macbook Air. I wouldn't have shelled out the money myself, but this is a work laptop, so they paid for it. I am hugely impressed with the light weight and minimal size. I don't need a separate laptop case to lug around; it goes in a soft case inside of my briefcase, along with books, notepads, pens, umbrella, etc. I think my briefcase itself weighs more than the computer. Processor power is not a concern for me (I am mostly reading PDFs, email, and writing tex documents), so the Air has plenty for my needs.

      I like it so much, I am thinking of replacing my wife's dying Mac Mini with a Macbook Air.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by unimatrix on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:02PM

      by unimatrix (1983) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:02PM (#26735)

      As much as people hate on Apple around here, they are one of the few manufactures left making quality laptops. It's interesting because my wife's company are replacing their ThinkPads with MacBook Pros because the last 2 batches of ThinkPads have had quality issues. In the past 13 years I'm on my 3rd Apple laptop. Started with an iBook that lasted 4 years. Then replaced it with a 12" PowerBook that lasted me 7 years and now I have a MacBook Pro that's going on 3. I still recommend buying Apple Care for those first 3 years. It saved me a laptop with the Powerbook after a spill from an overhead luggage bin. And with this machine I've had one keyboard replaced due to a key sticking. (I'll admit I'm hard on machines) But that was I took it in to the Apple Store at 6PM and had it back by 11AM the next morning.

      At home my wife buys off the shelf computers from big box marts. Last HP laptops she has bought have lasted at most 18 months before a wireless card went out or something else broke.

      • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:10PM

        by Nerdfest (80) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:10PM (#26740)

        Part of it is luck too. I know several people with MBPs (these were the models from about 4 years ago) that have had no end of problems. Most did get AppleCare though, so they did get fixed or replaced. It does add to the cost though and should be factored in, and the inconvenience factor is still there. I think they are a little better put-together than equivalently powerful machines at half the price, but individual component failure is about the same.

    • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:15PM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:15PM (#26741) Journal

      I was waiting for this. I'm not an apple fanboi, but there is no question in my mind that Apple makes excellent laptops. I still have a MacBook Pro, six years old or more, doing daily duty in my office as an extra workstation for our office assistants. It took up that duty when I upgraded to my current MBP three or four years ago, which is still going strong even though I bought it as a refurb from Apple's store.

      Basically, CPUs have gotten so fast that if you aren't a gamer, a computer can be perfectly useful for years and years -- everything basically depends on the build quality around the CPU. And while Apple may have some philosophical demerits, its laptops are well built, quiet, come with a real CLI and the ability to run a whole bunch of X11 stuff, will do virtual machines just fine, and when you decide you want to watch Netflix or YouTube, you don't have do anything like enable shady repositories hosted in Latvia and then spend hours futzing around with config files, then replace various components in your system because there just isn't a driver. I've been through all that. I love Linux for doing real work, but let's be honest, it's totally hit or miss depending on your hardware, for kicking back, having a beer, and watching some cat videos.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by goody on Saturday April 05 2014, @08:16PM

      by goody (2135) on Saturday April 05 2014, @08:16PM (#26809)

      I have both a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro. They're both the best laptops I've ever had, both from an OS and physical hardware standpoint. I used to think Apple hardware was too expensive and was a ripoff, until I started using one.

      Last year I got a Lenovo Ideapad. I'm a bit disappointed with it. The keyboard flexes and the display is mediocre. The touchpad requires way too much force to click. The MacBooks make it look like a clunker.

      On the Macbook Pro I run Linux and Windows 7 in VirtualBox VMs, often running both simultaneously. It's hard to tell they're not running natively when going full screen.

      It's hard for me to get excited about any Wintel laptop these days after using Macs, even laptops running Linux.

      • (Score: 1) by kc99 on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:03PM

        by kc99 (1039) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:03PM (#26859)

        I used to think Apple hardware was too expensive and was a ripoff, until I started using one.

        Ditto. After buying my first Mac in 2010, I have transitioned to an all-Apple ecosystem. I've never been more content...due in large extent to the quality of the hardware. This, coming from a previous die-hard Linux user.

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:43AM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:43AM (#26969)
        One of the things aobut this line of laptops that never seems to get mentioned is that the Apple power brick is very small. Also, it's the same one they use on their entire product line. At work if I need to borrow a power plug there's like 5 people ready to hand me one. I've got 3 different Dell, 2 Toshiba, and a Compaq power brick sitting in a box somewhere that'll never ever see the light of day again. Oh... hah... a friend of mine got a gaming laptop. He wanted something really powerful yadda yadda yadda. I kid you not, the power brick on it was bigger than the one for the XBOX 360. He had to buy a new laptop bag to accommodate it. Yikes!
        --
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by mverwijs on Saturday April 05 2014, @08:29PM

      by mverwijs (2457) on Saturday April 05 2014, @08:29PM (#26812) Homepage

      I bought one just for the battery life. And the weight. Great machine.

    • (Score: 2) by Daniel Dvorkin on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:22PM

      by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:22PM (#26827) Journal

      B-b-but Macs are just PCs built with commodity parts that are exactly the same as the ones in everyone else's machines! You're just a trendoid fanboy who can't resist Steve Jobs' reality distortion field from beyond the grave! Apple tax! Only idiots who don't know anything about computers will have anything to do with Apple's walled garden!!! You're probably a latte-drinking metrosexual urban liberal warmist too, aren't you?!?!1111

      --
      Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
      • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Sunday April 06 2014, @12:35AM

        by Nerdfest (80) on Sunday April 06 2014, @12:35AM (#26881)

        Macs are fine ... it's the iOS devices that are the problem, and unfortunately are from the same company.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mmcmonster on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:32PM

      by mmcmonster (401) on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:32PM (#26832)

      Sorry. Only have one data point.

      I purchased an aluminium MacBook (not a MacBook Pro) in the few months they sold it late 2008.

      I've been waiting patiently for it to die. My wife and I use it quite regularly -- an average of 1-2 hours a night.

      Finally, about a month ago the mouse click started getting a little less sensitive.

      So I went to the Apple Store to buy a new Mac Book Air. Was getting eager to get 5+ years of speed improvements. I made the mistake of mentioning to the salesperson that the sensitivity of the mouse click was the problem with my current one.

      So he had me make an appointment with their 'Genius Bar' peeps to look at my Mac Book. They took it to the back and played around with it. They brought it out and the sensitivity was back to normal. Apparently a screw had gotten loose and they were able to tighten it.

      Now my wife won't let me get a new one because it's working fine.

      Bastards.

    • (Score: 2) by mojo chan on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:39AM

      by mojo chan (266) on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:39AM (#27009)

      I considered a MacBook when I last bought a laptop (last year), but ended up with an NEC LaVie X instead.

      The specs of the Air don't seem to be that great. I wanted a 13" model with i7, but the screen is only 1440x900 compared to the full HD 15.6" display of the NEC. It has a low end i7 as well, and a crappy Broadcom wifi card (although it is AC, mine is only N but it is an Intel). The Macbook's run-time and battery cycle lifetime seems to be lower as well, despite weighing nearly as much. On top of all that it cost more too.

      The MacBook Pro wasn't too bad spec wise but the price was astronomical. I'm not saying these are not nice laptops, but there are better spec and better value machines out there. FWIW I was also considering some of the ASUS Ultrabooks and the NEC LaVie Z.

      --
      const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Drew617 on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:20PM

    by Drew617 (1876) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:20PM (#26708)

    Agree that current T-series are a few notches below the best ones - the click pads are an annoying regression - but I still think they're among the best available. The design has always been sensible and (as with cameras) I'll never understand why shiny metal cases have been equated with "professional." Check out any five-year-old MBP, HP Probook, Dell Latitude: it's likely to be scuffed, dimpled, stretched, pushed in at the corners like a paperback book. Whereas a plastic case will retain its form right until it actually fails, which doesn't generally happen on Thinkpads. Their keyboards have long been the only membrane boards I'm happy to use.

    However, I think some of the bitching I see about Lenovo these days is because they're also producing $399 models, and people incorrectly expect these to be of the T-series standard. A decade ago, this wasn't a problem.

    Depending on what you need, perfectly nice Intel Core generation stuff can be had for $100-200 used which is a screaming deal compared to a $300 netbook at Fry's.

    If Lenovo doesn't do it for you, I carried an i5 HP Probook at my last job and it was perfectly nice. Easy to maintain, standard-ish components (think Linux drivers). The metal (titanium? magnesium?) case got bent out of shape in my briefcase and the keyboard sucked, but they almost all do.

    In general, for personal use, I've found that I'm better served by buying off-lease enterprise-grade stuff instead of whatever mid-priced consumer gear is available.

  • (Score: 1) by Daiv on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:30PM

    by Daiv (3940) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:30PM (#26714)

    I'm still using a Late 2008 Macbook Pro 15". C2Duo 2.5 Ghz, 4gb ram, 500 Gb rust drive, bootcamping Win7 and VirtualBoxing everything else under the sun. Bought it refurbished in 2009 and it's been worth every penny. I'm on my 2nd battery, though.

    I'm not a spec-whore and am pretty patient, so I don't need a speed-demon. I also don't play any PC games newer than Civ IV (main reason I still have Windows on there) and do all my other gaming on my PS3 and Vita.

    Anything out today should be pretty fast for anything anyone is doing, it's going to come down to who has the durability. And as others have mentioned, Lenovo seems to be going downhill, but in my anecdotal experience, still has the more durable of notebooks. Several of my cronies have models from the last three years and all seem to hold up fairly well.

    • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:21PM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:21PM (#26743) Journal

      Civilization is some of the best heroin. Once a year I go on a week long binge.

    • (Score: 2) by hatta on Thursday April 10 2014, @04:42AM

      by hatta (879) on Thursday April 10 2014, @04:42AM (#29258)

      Civ IV is very well supported by Wine and has been for years.

  • (Score: 2) by michealpwalls on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:34PM

    by michealpwalls (3920) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:34PM (#26717) Homepage Journal

    I think ultimately it comes down to how you're going to use the laptop.

    I have this ASUS K75DE [asus.com], which I paid $700+taxes for. I use it extensively for work/college (Programming/Web Development) and some gaming on occasion.

    It came with Windows 8 but is currently dual-booting Windows 7 and Debian 7.4 quite nicely without issues.

    I think it has high value at that price.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Zenc on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:46PM

    by Zenc (3152) on Saturday April 05 2014, @04:46PM (#26726)

    for making a living, you may want to consider purchasing through Dell Small Business. Especially if you travel a lot with your computer.

    Pay a couple hundred extra bucks for the damage and service warranties and when something goes wrong, they'll send a tech out to your current site on the next business day. He'll have the parts and make the repairs and it's all covered by the warranty. Zero out of pocket.

    The warranty basically pays for itself the first time you use it and that's just accounting for parts and labor. The ability to get your laptop back into service almost immediately can be of tremendous value. Both financially and in peace of mind.

    There are, of course, plenty of things to criticize about Dell and its computers. But if you're not looking for the cheapest, or the fastest, their Small Business offerings may be something to consider.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @10:42PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @10:42PM (#26854)

      Pay a couple hundred extra bucks for the damage and service warranties

      I'm so ancient that I remember when quality was something by which companies lived or died.
      "Extended warranty" would have been ridiculed.
      Back then, there were actually Consumer Reporters [wikipedia.org] on TeeVee who would tell you which products stunk on ice.

      With Big Media having sold their souls to corporations (bad review == no income from ads), you will never get that kind of honesty from the presstitutes and corporate-friendly propagandists that have existed since Reagan and the demise of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.

      Media Consolidation is another element is the disappearance of veracity in media; when the vendor and the advertiser are one and the same, expect lots of truthiness.

      Regulatory Capture (aka The Revolving Door) has been instrumental in neutering gov't as well.

      Lewis Powell (a whore for the cancer industry, later a SCOTUS judge) should be very proud of his "accomplishments". [google.com]

      I grieve daily for my country and, by extension, my species.

      -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:58AM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 06 2014, @05:58AM (#26973)
        To be fair: "Best Price" and "Highest Quality" are mutually exclusive terms. You may want to think about that for your future purchasing decisions... because everybody else did and now you're living with the consequences of it.
        --
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
      • (Score: 1) by Zenc on Sunday April 06 2014, @06:15AM

        by Zenc (3152) on Sunday April 06 2014, @06:15AM (#26975)

        I'm no Spring Chicken, either. I do recall a day when "Quality" seemed to matter more.

        No company has disappointed me in this regard more than Sony. Their fall has been nothing short of tragic.

        But no matter how glorious of a past I misremember, no one offered a 6 year on-site Accidental Damage warranty as standard fare.

        Not even Craftsman. You still had to sweep up the remaining parts of whatever tool you were misusing, hitch up the buckboard (or at least bumpstart the Corvair), and visit the catalog store in town.

        But yeah, you don't make it in mainstream media (or Govt) these days without being a shill for someone. On the other hand, "Trust Us" just doesn't cut it anymore as both Govt and Business are beginning to discover.

  • (Score: 1) by Twike on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:02PM

    by Twike (483) <lure@comiclisting.info> on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:02PM (#26734)

    I have a group of gamers(tabletop and pen and paper RP) which decided to try to get into the modern age. We including myself found a decent ebay deal, on the order of $150 each, for some used Fujitsu Lifebook T5010s. They have served us well, though with linux on them the buttons on the monitor don't operate correctly(I can't bother to fix), the scroll on monitor doesn't operate at all, and it was a pain to get the fingerprint detector working. They had previous use, and it's apparent in some minor wear. They have a pen digitizer on the screen, which makes up for no trackpoint equivalent in my opinion, and the rotation works well most of the time(they convert to tablet-style by screen rotation and lid closure). I second old thinkpads, though I don't have one any longer. I also bemoan the presence of trackpads, I'd rather the keyboard be lower and have a trackpoint instead of a trackpad.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Peristaltic on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:04PM

    by Peristaltic (3122) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:04PM (#26737)

    I bought my wife an Asus several years back; it never completely failed, but what an incrementally failing POS it was- there was always some issue such as the DVD popping out at the slightest touch, the screen blinking, etc. I have an MSI GE 60 for my personal daily driver which works well but it's flimsy.

    After getting rid of the Asus, I bought my wife a Dell Latitude business-class laptop, and I'd like to steal it from her. It's solid and fast with a nice screen and keyboard layout. My laptop purchased for me at work is a Dell Latitude also, and that thing is still working without a hitch after 4 years of real abuse. The only complaint I could think of for either of the Latitudes might be weight, but that's never been a factor with me.

    I'm planning on giving this MSI to my son, then I'm buying myself a fairly high spec'd Latitude for myself in the next month or so.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by xiox on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:51PM

    by xiox (692) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:51PM (#26753)

    It seems that all the cheaper laptops have terrible screens. It's crazy you can buy budget phones and tables with higher resolution. Why can't someone produce a reasonably priced laptop with a reasonable screen that is better than what you could get a few years ago?

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by etherscythe on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:54PM

    by etherscythe (937) on Saturday April 05 2014, @05:54PM (#26754) Journal

    Depending on exactly what options are available to you (i.e. are you buying locally or online?), as a repair technician I recommend checking for the following features:

    -easily accessible hard drive cage (you do NOT want to have to do a full teardown to do an SSD upgrade/drive replacement)

    -easy access to RAM slots for upgrade

    -removable battery

    -Windows 7. Even if you intend to install Linux, Windows 8 notebooks have a tendency to have locked-down Secure Boot features which, though they can be "disabled", do not always work like you want them to. Particularly if something goes wrong, the BIOS/boot hotkeys can be a nightmare. Microsoft expects you to boot Windows, click the power menu, hold the SHIFT key, and click Restart in order to select a boot device or access the BIOS. If the OS gets hosed, you're in trouble. Sometimes you can induce a boot menu by forcibly powering down in the middle of boot, but on some systems the menu is missing options, at which point, you're screwed. Don't risk it! Get a machine designed for Windows 7 with regular hotkeys at the boot screen.

    Also, if you want to be buying Windows 7 on your next build, now is the time [microsoft.com]. Windows 7 stopped shipping to the retail channel in October, and this coming October will see the end of OEMs preinstalled with Windows 7. You'll pay a premium for Windows 8 Pro if you wait too long and try to use the Downgrade Rights (Core Edition does not qualify), and it will be an inferior experience all around (see hotkeys above, possible driver issues as well).

    --
    "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
    • (Score: 1) by Immerman on Saturday April 05 2014, @08:36PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Saturday April 05 2014, @08:36PM (#26814)

      Lets add an easily accessible fan (or intake filters) to the list too - unless you live in an industrial cleanroom you'll likely need to access that far more often than any other component in your laptop. Of course I'm not sure there are actually any laptops in existence that make it *easy* to reach the fan, but there are certainly some that make it so horribly difficult that you are tempted to replace it completely (the fan OR the laptop, depending) rather than just wiping off the built-up mung.

      • (Score: 2) by etherscythe on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:55PM

        by etherscythe (937) on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:55PM (#26839) Journal

        That's pretty much a lost cause for the average layman. Most times I just use an air compressor and blow through the exhaust vent on my clients' machines. A small can of compressed air could do a decent job. It's amazing how people don't think of notebooks as collecting dust.

        That said, if you could manage to locate a machine where the fan doesn't require a complete teardown, that would be amazing. But I've yet to see one other than the no-name or low-visibility brands (Averatec I think was the name), and none made more recently than maybe 10 years ago.

        --
        "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @11:45PM (#26869)

      Windows 8 notebooks have a tendency to have locked-down Secure Boot features

      Properly named, this would be called Crippled Boot.
      You've probably heard about Matthew Garrett's mjg59 "shim" and other problems with getting Linux going on boxes that ship with Visduh8.

      That's not the half of it.
      Crippled Boot will even cripple Windoze. [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [techrights.org]

      The technology that you want is Open Source firmware. It is called coreboot . [google.com]
      (At this point, even Legacy BIOS is preferable to UEFI with Crippled Boot; if your laptop has a super-gigantic disc, CoreBoot is definitely the way to go.)

      Crippled Boot is simply another anti-competitive move [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [techrights.org] on the part of the (dying) Borg.

      .
      You've probably also heard about Samsung's incompetence in implementing UEFI and how that left boxes bricked.[1]
      Several other manufacturers have screwed up their UEFI firmware implementations as well.

      [1] Yes, "bricked" is the correct word; these boxes had to be sent back to the factory and they had to be repaired by someone with soldering gear.

      -- gewg_

    • (Score: 2) by mojo chan on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:41AM

      by mojo chan (266) on Sunday April 06 2014, @09:41AM (#27011)

      Do Panasonic sell Toughbooks where the OP lives? In Japan they are called Let's Note. Rugged as hell but still good looking and not too bulky. Excellent support. Windows 7 is available as an option. Expensive but worth it, and you can often get really nice second hand models as companies upgrade their fleet.

      --
      const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
  • (Score: 1) by airman on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:07PM

    by airman (289) on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:07PM (#26761)

    After I encountered many problems with nearly all brands (including Lenovo), I settled on an inexpensive clevo [clevo.com.tw], planning to replace it as soon as it's broken. Well, it's quite a while now, I'm still waiting for the thing to fail. And Linux compatibility is near-perfect.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:38AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06 2014, @03:38AM (#26943)

      Agreed - my current Lenovo is having build-quality-related issues and they just don't make a unit that I'd want to buy today. Clevos have great specs, screens, and prices.

      Time to go whitebox.

  • (Score: 1) by rduke15 on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:35PM

    by rduke15 (4039) on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:35PM (#26773)

    My X200 is getting old, and I was also wondering what I could buy next. Before that, I had a X31 which lasted over 7 years. I don't think this 4 year old X200 wil last so long. And it's time for a more powerful machine anyway.

    But are there still small and light machines with a full keyboard (8 cursor keys, not 4 like on Macs and many other notebooks, PrtScr, Ins and Del, AltGr)?

    • (Score: 1) by bequalsa on Sunday April 06 2014, @01:20AM

      by bequalsa (2107) on Sunday April 06 2014, @01:20AM (#26898)

      Same here, I'm worried about how long my X200s is going to last. I'll probably suck it up and get another X series, despite the 'updates'.

  • (Score: 1) by kbahey on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:01PM

    by kbahey (1147) on Saturday April 05 2014, @09:01PM (#26817) Homepage

    I have a followup question: almost all current PCs/Laptops now have secure boot and UEFI. How does that affect installing Linux on them? Would Windows 8 wipe grub, or prevent any other OS from booting?

    • (Score: 1) by dargaud on Monday April 07 2014, @08:49AM

      by dargaud (364) on Monday April 07 2014, @08:49AM (#27338)
      Boot, get into the BIOS, disable UEFI, insert Linux CD/DVD/USB, install. Done in about 10 minutes. Of course if you also want Win on it, you are better off running it in a virtual machine anyway.
      As to the original question, I recently got a lite HP SpectreXT Ultrabook, Linux runs perfectly on it but I had to pay the MS tax. And also a much beefier and bigger Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed (the option is really well hidden on their site). Buying Dell was basically the only way I could get a QWERTY keyboard in a non-querty country; and other options.
  • (Score: 2) by ngarrang on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:02AM

    by ngarrang (896) on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:02AM (#26913) Journal

    Being the "computer expert" at my company, I guess asked this question often. I have the questions to ask to help them.

    1. Are you going to be playing advanced/very graphical games, or doing 3D modeling, or modeling nuclear bomb explosions?

    If the answer is "no", the the choice is easy. I recommend they buy a refurbished laptop. This type of user is looking to read e-mail, and other functions through a web browser. Maybe type up some documents. Upload pics from their camera and post them to FB. An older laptop like a Dell Latitude E6400 is more than sufficient. Loaded with 4GB or 8GB of RAM, coming with Windows 7 already installed, they will be more than fast enough this kind of productivity. And being refurbished, they have already been vetted (ie, did not have a motherboard problem). And they are cheap. Cheap enough to buy one for every family member.

    If the answer is "yes", I still recommend refurb, but I point them to workstation-class laptops like the Dell Mobile Precision or Lenovo W510 I have in my office. They get a system with OpenGL acceleration for 3D apps like SolidEdge. There are other laptop options that have better DirectX acceleration.

    I simply always recommend buying refurb. The world has enough computers, and I advocate for using them as long as the system runs before turning it into e-waste.

    Don't like the Windows 7 that will come on the system? I have basic advice on Linux for them, with the caveat that I am not a Linux expert, just a user.

    Some simple things can make these older laptops fast and usable for years. Maxing the RAM out helps, but putting in an SSD makes all the difference in the world. Voila. Working machines on a budget.

    • (Score: 1) by Grishnakh on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:49AM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:49AM (#26924)

      I'm going to second the recommendation for Dell E6400. I've got two, and they're great machines.

      Don't get the E6420 or E6430, though. They suck; they're ugly, the keyboard layouts have been screwed up, and the screens are shorter vertically.

  • (Score: 1) by hendrikboom on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:39AM

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 06 2014, @02:39AM (#26921) Homepage Journal

    While we're talking about laptops, anyone know one that has an ARM processor and a wacom-grade touch screen?

  • (Score: 1) by guises on Sunday April 06 2014, @04:19AM

    by guises (3116) on Sunday April 06 2014, @04:19AM (#26955)

    I've had Thinkpads, a Macbook, a Motion tablet, several junkie cheapos, etc. The best laptop I've ever had, by far, was a Toughbook Y5. Really light, extremely durable, good keyboard (not as good as the Thinkpads, but decent), surprisingly good trackpad given its size, etc. They're really expensive if you buy them new, but you can get a used one on Ebay for plenty cheap.

    Installed OpenSUSE and it worked fine with two caveats: the audio worked over headphones, but not through the speakers. This was a SUSE problem though - the speakers worked fine in Ubuntu. The other problem was just that gesture support for the trackpad was Windows-only. It worked very well in its normal capacity, but it's a round trackpad and if you have the right (Windows) drivers you can scroll through documents by circling the trackpad.

    Anyway, had a drunk friend stand on mine and the screen bent but did not crack. Still worked fine. I don't think there are many other laptops that could make that claim. Just wish they'd put a decent GPU into one of their light "business rugged" models...

    • (Score: 1) by timbim on Sunday April 06 2014, @08:51AM

      by timbim (907) on Sunday April 06 2014, @08:51AM (#26999)

      Yeah those things are cool but insanely expensive.