singleagain saidI am looking at purchasing a new laptop. Any recommendations? Looking at spending $800-$1,000. Its for personal use only.
I would recommend looking at the new HP ProBook series, too. We've been using the HP NC6700-series business notebooks where I work for about a year now, and overall - minus a few bugs along the way - they've been a really solid mobile platform. Take a gander here:
More generally, here are some things I would recommend you keep an eye out for when looking through specs:
1. Core hardware
- Basically, *ahem*... AVOID CELERON.
Do not skimp on your CPU. It's easy to do, because a lot of people look at the "GHz" value and say "Well, these are the same. Why would I get the more expensive one!?" Essentially, they are NOT the same. If you're going to do this thing, my motto typically is "Go big, or go home." You're investing in a machine you want to keep for a while, and the CPU is probably the most important factor in the machine's longevity. Right now, there's little reason to go with anything other than a full-on Core2Duo (not Celeron) CPU in your laptop. AMD has some offerings you can consider, but AMD has been dealing with an impregnable performance hurdle set by Intel's C2D line. The performance per $ I just don't think is there with AMD's mobile stuff yet.
2. LED back-lit LCD's
- Simply, more even (and accurate) color presentation than traditional flourescents, less heat and power consumed (ie, longer battery and screen life). This will compliment well my section on display standard below, too.
3. Discrete graphics
- This is not really a "must," per se, but it's definitely something to opt for if you have the funds for it. I'll spare you the boring details (unless you just really wanna know, msg me), but general video performance goes *way* up with a discrete architecture, because the CPU of the laptop is able to offload pretty much all 2D/3D video rendering to it. That frees the CPU up for other important stuff, like showing the contents of windows, opening applications, saving files, etc.
4. Hard drives
- There are a few options to consider here. First, there are traditional "magnetic" hard drives. The semantics here are not important for you, but it's the type of HD that has been around for the past 25 years, and it is by far the cheapest. What I want to point out are the different common speeds: 4200rpm (rotations per minute), 5400rpm, and 7200rpm. The higher the RPM value, the faster the access/seek times on the drive, the (generally) faster the drive performance. There is also a newer type of magnetic disk that uses what's called "perpendicular" storage. Again, the term and details are probably not that important to you, but if you're asking representatives on the phone, or looking at spec sheets, keep an eye out for it. If you can afford it, go with a drive that uses perpendicular storage.
The other option for HD's is the newer SSD (solid-state disk). It is about 17x the cost per Gigabyte compared to the magnetic disks I described above; however, because it is essentially a giant USB drive (with key differences, but they're not that important for this lesson.
), there are no moving parts, and no latency inherent in moving a read/write head across magnetic disks. It's all electronic access, just like USB drives. Also, because of this, weight is *hugely* reduced, power consumption is nil, vibration and noise are completely eliminated (nothing to vibrate). Perfect, right? ...Almost. Some caveats: there has been evidence to show that as SSD drives are used, because of how they work, they actually begin to lose performance and capacity. It is not something that can't be worked around, and manufacturers do a lot to make sure that this is invisible to you the user. But be aware that it does exist. Also, there are two types of SSD's: SLC and MLC. Again, I'll spare you the details; you can look them up if you're curious. Esseentially, SLC's right now are better performing and do not degenerate quite so quickly as MLC's. The trade-off is that MLC's typically offer higher capacities.
Whew! Moving on!
5. LiPol Batteries
- Another important thing is the type of battery the machine uses. Traditionally, a lot of laptops have used lithium-ion batteries. There were several different generations of them, each made of a slightly different compound to improve efficiency. The latest iteration of this is the lithium polymer battery. I don't have all the tech details in front of me right now, but these guys were designed to address some of the lingering problems that older li-ion batteries had: degeneration over time, overcharging, heat dissipation, size/weight, etc. Keep an eye out for them as you're shopping around. I think a lot of your heavy hitters have already switched to these - Apple being one of them, I think - but it's something to watch out for.
6. Display Standard
- Something a lot of people skimp on is the screen standard the machine uses. It is essentially what determines the highest (ie, "native") resolution of the screen is. Typically, the higher the better. There's a good wiki article on it here:
Just to narrow it for you, I'd stick to something at least WUXGA, which has a native resolution of 1920x1200. If you're translating that into TV lingo, that's native "1080p" resolution.
The better the standard, also, typically the better your color rendering will be, as well. This is the part of the machine you're going to stare at more than any other part. It's better to go as high as you can afford, for your eyes' (and gorgeous video's) sake!
I think I've probably bored you enough. I could go on and on with this stuff. It's kinda' my thing.
But just be careful as you're shopping. There are a lot of acronyms floating around, and a lot of nuance behind each one of them that could hold HUGE sway in the economy of the decision. When it's all said and done, it comes down to what fits your budget, and what fits your needs. My list, I hope, will at least bring some terms ot the surface that you will see in your shopping and make you stop and think "Hmm...I saw that somewhere...I wonder what that is?" Don't be afraid to research stuff before you buy it! Don't trust sales people; most of them don't have a clue what they're doing/talking about. Not that ALL of them are bad, but very few actually understand what's behind the acronyms they throw at customers to dazzle them into the latest, shiniest thing on the shelf.
Hope it helps! Feel free to message me if you have any specific questions on stuff. Good luck on finding your perfect mobile monster! ^_^