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RE: OT: Laptops

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Scott -

To give you an idea of what would work for me is that a Pocket PC *almost*
works. The problem with a Pocket PC is that I would want to write Excel
macros and I am skeptical that the Pocket PC version of Excel has all the
functionality I need. I know that the Palm version was a joke.

I don't think I will be doing my serious CAD work on it. It would be an
occasional use item. Basically, it would be when I find myself away from the
office and bored to death or if I wanted to sit in front of the tube, but do
some light work at the same time. But, that doesn't mean I want it to run
like a 3-legged dog, either.

As far as processing speed, I fear that if it were much slower than my
desktop, I would get frustrated, but I would guess that I wouldn't want to
pay $1k for equivalent desktop speed either.

Thanks for the info on the P4 vs batter life info. I was leaning towards P4
until this, but now it looks like I want a Pentium-M.

I really want it light and to have a small footprint. An external CDRW would
be O.K. The 5 pound variety sounds much better than the 8 pound variety. I
wouldn't mind giving up some things (screen, etc.) to get the size down.

I would think that a 1280x800 screen would be O.K. I guess I need to go to a
store to look at a few before I decide. I think the visibility in daylight
might be more of a critical issue. I would hate to have to look at the
screen at a certain angle just to make things out.

Then there's the whole wireless issue. I have a wired router (Linksys) right
now with one port available. I would rather not toss that and replace the
whole thing with a wireless router, but that might be the best solution. I
do want to have the capability of using it while watching the tube (best
time to write and test macros). Also, my service manual for my motorcycle is
CD only. It would be nice not to have to print a page or two whenever I'm
doing a service. 

I would like to check e-mail and the web remotely.

I *think* I would like to have an exact copy of "My Documents" on each
machine and for them to "sync" easily. I can visualize that no matter how
many documents I think I might need, invariably, I will want one that I've
left behind. Right now, that's running about 2 gb (more or less).

I often run out of RAM. My desktop has 512 mb and I'm thinking of increasing
it. But, of course, I have everything open at the same time (2-3 acad
drawings, 6-16 spreadsheets, 3-10 word docs, Outlook that always needs to be
archived, etc.). That won't be the case on the laptop and my expectations
won't be as high. But, I can't see myself running less that 256 mb.

I cannot visualize wanting to print anything while I'm disconnected from my
network.

I currently don't do anything with videos or DVDs.

Mostly, though I don't want to have a Charley Hamilton experience. I would
like it to last three years or so and not to ever have to worry about
components failing.

Hope that helps. Thanks for your time.

And, no, for a change, you were not too verbose.

:o)

T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E. (CA #2607)
ALLEN DESIGNS (http://www.AllenDesigns.com)
San Juan Capistrano, CA

:-----Original Message-----
:From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu]
:Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 1:51 PM
:To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
:Subject: Re: OT: Laptops
:
:Bill:
:
:Do you want a internal CD/DVD drive?  Do you value speed or battery life
:more?  How much CADD do you plan on doing on it (i.e. what size screen do
:you want)?
:
:Questions like these will help some.
:
:If you really want "small and lightweight", then you could be looking for
:what some refer to as "sub-notebooks".  These are laptops that can be a
:little as about 3 or so lbs.  They typically will not have an internal
:floppy or CD/DVD drice, but will have an internal HD.  If so, then they
:will either come with external drives or offer the option of getting them.
:They will usually have at best a 15" screen but usually will have a 12" or
:13" screen.  You will usually "pay more per pound" (or power) for these
:sub-notebooks...in otherwords, you can get more "bang for your buck" with
:heavier laptops.
:
:There are some laptops in the 5 lb range that do include internal CD/DVD
:drives.
:
:Most laptops will be in the 7 to 9 lbs range (i.e. the "bricks").  Here
:the question will be what do you want for a processor, a screen, and
:expansion possibility.
:
:For processors, you can do Pentium 4, which is basically very similar to
:the processor that you can get in a desktop.  This will get you the best
:speed, but can be tough on the batteries.  There is the Pentium M, which
:takes a slight hit on speed, but does much better for heat dissapation and
:battery life.  Celeron will be the processor for the lower end laptops,
:but still will usually crank out enough speed for what you want.  And you
:can look at the non-Intel alternative...Athlons can get you close to
:Pentium 4 speed for less money (typically).
:
:Most laptops have 15" screens.  You can now get some laptop with 17"
:screens, which can help with CADD (but would probably be a waste for you
:since you don't seem to want a desktop replacement).  You also will need
:to decide what screen resolution you want (WXGA [1280x800], WSXGA+
:[1680x1050], WUXGA [1920x1200], etc).  You will also want to decide video
:controller/RAM.  Many laptops use part of the main system RAM for video
:RAM.  Others will have dedicated RAM just for the video card.  Most will
:now use 64 mb for video RAM standard, but it might be worth while (for
:CADD use) to get 128 mb.
:
:Then there is expandability.  Obviously, every computer now comes with USB
:ports, which can do most things in terms of expandability.  A FireWire
:port (also known as iLink on Sony laptops and 1394 on most others) can be
:useful, especially if you want to transfer video to the laptop (i.e.
:digital camcorder) or want to hook up an external HD or DVD burner
:(although some can be done with USB 2.0 as well).  Most laptops will be
:comparable on the issue of PC card slots, unless you go for a
:sub-notebook.  Some laptops still use the "expansion bay" system which
:will allow you to by different drives (extra HDs, CD burners, DVD drives,
:ZIP drives, etc) to use in them or even put in a second battery for extra
:working time.
:
:In terms of brands, IBM is known in general for their laptops.  They are
:especially known for their keyboards.  Obviously, Dell is another big one.
:Toshiba is the long-live, historical leader, but their image has suffered
:some in recent years from what I understand.  HP/Compaq are pretty good,
:but their support is attrocious (at least from my experience).
:
:FWIW, I have a Compaq with an Athlon processor.  It has a 40 gb HD (if I
:remember correctly) and I believe about 512 mb of RAM (64 of which is used
:as video RAM).  It is rather heavy (about 7 lbs not counting the power
:adapter).  Does have a built-in CD burner/DVD player.  I can get about 2
:hours of battery life even when watching a DVD (i.e. when travelling on a
:plane).  About 1 year old...paid about $1200 for it.  It can function as a
:desktop replacement for the most part (but did not get it for that or
:really use it for that).
:
:Hope that helps...and that I did not get too verbose for you.
:
:Scott
:Adrian, MI
:
:
:On Wed, 2 Jun 2004, Bill Allen wrote:
:
:> I'm looking for a laptop. I haven't had one in years (I think my last one
:> was a 386SX to give you an idea).
:>
:>
:>
:> I don't need a desktop replacement, but I would like to run everything on
:it
:> that I run on my desktop including AutoCAD, STAAD, MS Office, e-mail and
:> Internet.
:>
:>
:>
:> I don't want to spend a lot of money, but I don't want to under-purchase
:> either.
:>
:>
:>
:> I want something reliable and durable (might take it camping with me).
:>
:>
:>
:> I would like it to be small and lightweight.
:>
:>
:>
:> Any suggestions?
:>
:>
:>
:> TIA,
:>
:>
:>
:> T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E. (CA #2607)
:>
:> ALLEN DESIGNS (http://www.AllenDesigns.com)
:>
:> San Juan Capistrano, CA
:>
:>
:
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