Laptops

10 things to look for in a laptop


Laptops are all the rage. Once reserved for mobile professionals and elite executives, notebook PCs are replacing desktop computers in many organizations and homes. Driven by changing habits and the ease of locating and joining wireless networks, sales of laptop computers began exceeding those for desktop models in mid-year 2005. The trend shows no signs of easing.However, just buying a laptop doesn't ensure you automatically become an effective mobile computer user. In fact, the odds are you'll end up with a subpar PC if you purchase a model directly from many retailers' shelves.

Due to competitive pressures, many office supply and electronics chains aggressively market very low prices for laptop computers. The problem is, because of cost constraints, many of those PCs aren't well-equipped for most real-world computing. Here are 10 things to look for in your next laptop to help you choose a model that readily meets your needs.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download

#1: Operating system

Most PCs sold in office supply and major big box electronics stores come preloaded with Microsoft's consumer operating system. Deploying PCs powered by Windows XP Home or Vista Home Basic might not appear problematic, at least at first. In many cases, it may even appear beneficial. Why pay for the more expensive business edition if all you really need to do is write documents, crunch spreadsheets, send and receive e-mail, and use the Internet?

As so many organizations and users have discovered in the real world, the business versions of Microsoft's operating system offer many features that may well become necessities down the road. Many a client has found the migration from a workgroup environment to a client-server system complicated by the need to purchase new Windows XP Professional or Vista Business licenses (not too mention the time and cost associated with upgrading each user computer).

Microsoft's consumer operating systems typically don't support joining server domains. Nor have they readily enabled hosting remote desktop connections. For this reason, when purchasing a laptop PC, be sure it comes preloaded with the Microsoft operating system that will meet all your professional computing requirements.

#2: CPU

Laptop models advertised at attractive price points often don't have potent CPUs. When selecting a portable computer, buy a model with a CPU tailored to the rigors of mobile computing. Fail to do so, and you could end up with a PC that takes seven to eight minutes to fully boot into Windows, provides minimal battery life, and can't reasonably power the applications you use.

Intel's new Core 2 Duo CPUs (Figure A) perform exceptionally well. In addition to packing considerable processing power, these chips use less energy (resulting in improved battery life) and generate less heat than previous Pentium CPUs. Laptops featuring these chips (2.0 GHz and higher) should meet most users' computing needs for the next three or four years (the timeframe in which accountants amortize information technology assets). Figure A

Intel's Core 2 Duo CPU is a potent CPU that's the favorite of many road warriors.

#3: RAM

Many Windows Vista laptops are marketed as having a full 1 GB of RAM. While 1 GB of RAM works well for most Windows XP installations, it typically isn't enough to enable a Vista system to work smoothly. Any users planning to run multiple applications simultaneously on a Windows Vista laptop should consider loading the notebook with 2 GB of RAM.

While most users don't think of themselves as power users, 2 GB of RAM should be the norm for individuals planning to maintain multiple Office application windows while surfing the Internet and checking e-mail. Anyone planning to edit digital photographs or play more advanced games on a Vista system should also upgrade to 2 GB of RAM.

#4: Video card

Video performance is notoriously shortchanged on laptop computers. This is especially true for $500 notebooks frequently featured on the front covers of electronics and office supply store circulars.

Windows Vista operating systems, in particular, require potent video cards to maximize the system's many new features (including its resource-demanding Aero interface, translucent menus, and Flip 3D technologies). Windows XP computers that must power three-dimensional engineering and drafting programs also require strong video cards, as do gaming systems, regardless of OS.

When preparing to purchase a laptop computer, consider selecting a model with at least 128 MB of onboard RAM. If you plan to run drafting and engineering applications, video production software, or games, you should upgrade to video adapters with 256 MB of RAM.

#5: Ports

Many users assume that any modern laptop computer has numerous USB ports, as well as VGA, DVI, serial, and parallel ports. Those same users may learn a painful lesson; increasingly, in another effort at managing costs, laptop manufacturers are reducing the number of ports found on their PCs.

Budget notebook computers often ship with only a pair of USB ports, with no serial, parallel, or DVI ports and only a single VGA port (if a video port is even included). When purchasing a laptop, review the model's technical specifications and make sure that the chassis includes the ports you require. While most PCs now include integrated wired NICs, they don't always have PC Card slots, so that's an additional factor to consider before purchasing a new unit.

#6: Screen size

Carefully review your monitor needs before ordering a new notebook. You may think that a 17-inch widescreen display is just what you need. Ultimately, that may prove to be too big.

How's that?

Think about how you'll be using the laptop. If the computer will truly be used most often on the road, placing the notebook in a protective case, lugging it onto a cramped airplane, removing it for baggage inspectors, carrying it into a meeting room, and transporting it wherever else you go is made exponentially more difficult for each inch of display size beyond 12 inches.

Models with 12-inch displays are much easier to carry through doorways, into tight airline seats, and in coffee shops. They're also much lighter.

If your laptop will see only occasional travel, a larger model may be just what you need. But if not, consider purchasing a 12-inch model. You can always mate it to a 22-inch widescreen on your desk. Just be sure the laptop offers the correct ports to do so, as described in item #5.

#7: Integrated wireless

There should almost be a rule that any laptop sold today include an integrated 802.11g wireless (WiFi) adapter. But of course there is no rule, and not all models include one.

Make sure that the laptop you're considering includes the WiFi technology you use. For many, that will soon mean that the laptop includes integrated 802.11n compatibility. Read specifications closely to verify that the model you're buying provides the wireless connectivity you require.

#8: Integrated Bluetooth

Integrated Bluetooth technology used to be a luxury in laptops. Most users associate Bluetooth now with the wireless hands-free headsets used with cellular telephones, but Bluetooth is also growing in importance when it comes to connecting handheld devices to laptops.

Bluetooth technology enables synchronizing cell phone contacts, e-mail, calendars, and tasks lists wirelessly with a laptop. The same Bluetooth technology can also be used to add a wireless mouse to a notebook.

#9: Track pad

Most every laptop now comes equipped with a track pad mouse and corresponding click buttons. Some models include a simple track pad, while others include a track pad and an integrated pointer (usually nestled between the G and H keys). These so-called pencil-eraser pointers (Figure B) have long been popular, gracing everything from older Toshiba models to newer ThinkPads. Figure B

The "pencil-eraser" pointer (shown here in blue) is the favorite of many mobile users.

It's not important to choose a laptop computer that includes a sophisticated track pad and pencil-eraser pointer. Just make sure you select a notebook PC that features the pointing device you prefer.

Some models permit scrolling pages when two fingers are used versus scrolling within the currently displayed page when a single finger is used (such as with Apple laptops). Other laptops feature track pads that contain two separate tracking areas, such as are found on Compaq Presarios, for scrolling entire pages versus the contents of those pages.

Review the model you're preparing to buy to confirm you find its track pad agreeable. Even if you plan to use an external mouse, there are times when you'll be without it and the track pad is all you'll have.

#10: Battery life

Battery life is a critical consideration but not a deal breaker. When purchasing a laptop, if the only battery option doesn't provide the lifespan you require, you can always buy a second battery.

Many users, however, don't want the hassle that comes with carrying multiple batteries. In such cases, upgrade laptop orders to include 12-cell batteries (if available) instead of a standard six- or nine-cell battery. Bigger batteries almost always last longer, which is usually a key factor for mobile professionals traveling by air.

Just be aware that the larger cell batteries often have a greater footprint. In other words, they could violate a notebook's aesthetic look. But no one ever said functionality doesn't come at a price.

Summary

Laptops, increasingly, are decreasing in price. But a cheap laptop isn't necessarily a good laptop. Ensure that the laptop you buy meets your computing needs by carefully considering these 10 factors before making a purchase.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

75 comments
luvlieve
luvlieve

Thankx soo much for your input in regards to guidance for a new machine.. I am a nursing student and spilled H2o on my laptop. I was cramming and was running on coffee and no commen senst. It literally killed my laptop. Now, I am in the market for an new laptop.

rogerwhitt1
rogerwhitt1

too bad this reviewer made bias statements like ..."For this reason, when purchasing a laptop PC, be sure it comes preloaded with the Microsoft operating system that will meet all your professional computing requirements." for this reason the title should have been "10 things to look for in a Windows PC laptop" too bad Erik Eckel is so biased in reporting ...oh well i see some of the commenters mentioned MAC Laptop ... My advise is sell Macs and service the PCs ...

vinamra2004
vinamra2004

in my laptop ubuntu doesnot work fine. i am having Dell XPS 1530. having problem in ubuntu mouse dows not work correctly grafic driver crashes. fir nvieda 8600gt. but work fine in vista. its cool Vinamra www.decentblogger.com

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Perhaps a top priority for some. Not all notebooks are created equal in this regard. I have seen many toshiba notebooks with missing screws from the underside. If you need durability you need to go with a business class notebook not the average Futureshop or Bestbuy bargain notebook. I have an IBM p2 400mhz laptop at home in almost perfect condition, it's 10 years old and was used in a business environment. I also have toshiba notebook from futureshop etc. It is in pieces because it fell from a desk ONCE! It's corner is completely smashed along with the screen. If you need durability you have to do your homework, and you likely won't find it at the "big box" stores.

Eric.Talbot
Eric.Talbot

What about AMD Processors ? and battery life ? Perhaps model comparison would have been greatly appreciated ?

Lorax
Lorax

top 10 lists are for late night hosts. while my friends cry about blue screens of death, lost data and a constant barage of windoze security patches; i smile and shurg for my mac gives me blue skies, green fields and miles smiles. i broke the habit 10 years ago and have never ever looked back www.apple.com :-D

zbyte
zbyte

I see that you folks still live in a PC-centric world. Most of the recommendations listed here make sense and are good. However, in item #1 (OS), you don't even mention Mac OS X or Linux. Granted, you are not going to find many users with Linux on their laptops, but you will find many Mac users. In fact, in my neck of the woods, there converting like droves. The correct way to have presented this would have been to say: "Most PCs sold in office supply and major big box electronics stores come preloaded with Microsoft???s Windows XP or Vista; or Mac OS X. If you go with XP, make sure it is XP Pro....." That would have made sense. Specially since today's Mac will boot either Mac OS X or Windows. Capice?

Nodisalsi
Nodisalsi

In particular: fingerprint scanning. We can't always prevent theft but we can take steps to prevent the thieves gaining any kind of value from the stolen items. If a notebook cannot be used by someone who doesn't have matching fingerprints to you - then the value of the stolen item is considerably reduced. Because it cannot be sold intact. It would be crow-barred open to pull out the RAM, the HD (on which you will hopefully have encrypted your most sensitive data - and if you registered SW/OS with HW keys it may need to be reformatted) and the CPU. The display panel could only be used as a replacement - not an upgrade - and the motherboard is still locked with your credentials while the case is now useless. What I would like to see is powersupply elements and batteries which are locked so that they can only power up your notebook and none other. You would order replacement batteries from the supplier quoting your serial number.

lee
lee

I thought this article covered pretty much the good stuff - probably screen size converts to weight - but to me weight is very important as I donkey this thing through airports and motel lobbies.

mark.henderson
mark.henderson

How about a list of laptops that fit these specifications?

Ajax4Hire
Ajax4Hire

for microsoft. A good Laptop need good connectivity: Ethernet, Wireless and uuuuu telephone. Then it can Web, EMail and VPN to corporate network. After that, the laptop needs to be able to run the standard suite of Office software: Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation. THEN you can start to match up processor, memory, operating system, harddrive size and special ports for additional features. I miss the RS-232 serial ports on older laptops. Much of my work involves the slow UART to equipment for configuration and test. USB2Serial is ok, But why is a parallel port so important?!? I'm monologue-ing now; I'll stop.

InvisibleBoss
InvisibleBoss

We all might have various demands and wishes for a laptop. "Needs" should be seen whether u need "all" as "on the move", or at office(/home). Re. #5: The "old" serial and parallell ports seem to be gone at most models today. So also for the PS/2 ports. Normally, this is what u might need "stationairy", and not when traveling around (as you normally would not bring the "gadgets" with you). Which opens for a separate point in the list...-> #11 Docking posibilities Laptops with docking connectors can have a easy "snap on" access to separate monitor, wired network, the external USB/FW backup disk, printer, ext. (full size) kb/mouse and shared resourses at a network ++ Even though there are docking stations that can be connected to an USB port, - these are often offering less ports for "external gadgets and resourses. And they also get power from the laptop. As a "fully equiped" docking unit have "all types" of ports, even "duplicates", and they can have a separate power supply, which are nice, when you forgot ur laptop's supply at a customer. (Laptop getting power from the docking unit). Anyway, when back to (home) office, you connect ONE cable/port. Not a "million gadgets". Re. #9: Pads/numeric keyboard Today there are many alternatives, that are easy portable, to extend woth a numeric KB. A small unit (USB powered or battery), often combined with a calculator (switch), that easilly goes in ur pocket (calculator available), or in the laptop's bag pocket. These are both cabled and wireless. Check ur supplier! Re. #4/10 Be carefull before demanding high video perfomance. This is critical for battery time. High demand gives less time, or need of extra/bigger batteries. When runing laptop on battery, switch off the Bluetooth (and WiFi) function if you dont use it (on a plane), to save considerably time from battery. Also avoid CD/DVD in the tray if not in use, as browsing/opening files/folders always trigger the drive spin. MY NEXT BIG WISH in the computing world, is the invention of "wireless power"!!! Have a delirious week!

manjesh_2j
manjesh_2j

Its better to go for a 7200 RPM high performace harddisks ... the moment u switch on the laptop, 3 things perform like a heart, they are PROCESSOR, RAM, HARDDISK.. Even though the Processor and RAMis good..the performance might take a hit due to the poor performance of harddisk...better go for 7200 RPM disk or SSD Harddisk ...

jeezmah
jeezmah

Glad to see that the basic requirements of a laptop hasn't changed these 10 years despite the evolution of the multimedia appplications that people play on them now.

triniweb
triniweb

also it should be noted that the weight of the machine will affect the portability for many users, the largest variable affecting the weight will be the display size and the battery. The accessory options being non-integrated and swappable external components should be considered carefully because they may increase the bulk that needs to be carried around or as a benefit if they could be left behind when not needed. As an example you my find that many users with subcompact units 12.1 displays and such still need to carry a bag with *non-integrated component options that is the same size as another user with a 15.4 with integrated components *larger battery, optical drive, port adapters, expansion cards, portable mouse (just cause they hate that stick/knob thing), extra hdd for backup or expanded space since the cheaper stock hdd size was quickly outgrown. --- nevermind smaller machines tend to have more costly "upgrade" options, stock options on a bargain unit have a tendency to be just as meager, it becomes a series of tradeoffs between functionality and necessity. to me a laptop should be considered firstly on it's merit as a computer (cpu,memory,hdd,display, connectivity,useability) then the additional factor of mobility, since that is why it costs more than a desktop, (size, weight,battery life)

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

My lighter usually runs out of gas before my laptop battery expires. If you can use a USB port to keep your coffee warm, why not a cigarette lighter?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That's a gaming rig isn't it? Odd that it would give you grief unless it's an old notebook or old copy of Ubuntu. PCLinuxOS seems to be the favorite among new users these days for having better hardware support than Ubuntu. Mandriva One is my preferance for a drop in LiveCD (2008.1 currently) and is also a very good distribution for new users to start with along with very good hardware support. (I've Mandriva running against an nVidia 8800 gpu without issue. Shame nVidia won't release driver specs though.) Try either of those as it will take only a reboot with each liveCD to see if your hardware is supported. As for the url you included in your comment, we don't usually go for that around here unless it is somehow very relevant to the post. I'd recomment leaving it off or your likely to be flagged spam; and rightfully so.

zbyte
zbyte

Amen, my friend....Amen.

JCitizen
JCitizen

that have to run on Windows; I would have to see a VMware demo on a Mac or Linux laptop to see if emulation is practical. On desktop Macs I hear it rocks but it could be different on stodgy mobile units.

18th Letter
18th Letter

Not that I am getting rid of my Windows Notebook right now, I would like a MAC within the next 2 motns.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

It would improve security but manufacturers would most likely see it as one more opportunity to increase the bottom line. In other word, it's just another chance for the manufacturer to rip off the customer. It would be nice, but I wouldn't buy a laptop that supported it unless there was no other choice.

JCitizen
JCitizen

This unit is obsolete but what isn't in six months? It is a heavy 17in WXGA+ with Mobile Turion AMD64 processor. It has all the capablilities listed in the story line but I don't have any extra security hardware built in. A good carry case goes a long way if you use heavy laptops. Good solid unit that I have dropped several times and takes a licking. With Windows XP Pro 64 bit Edition it screams along really well. I don't even have balanced RAM installed and pf usage is still quite low. The only gripe is the substandard amount of RAM that the unit came with, but I don't think you can find a HP unit that doesn't have at least 1 to 2Gb installed now. I wished more lap units supported 4Gb but I don't see many affordable ones yet. Although I didn't check to see what Alienware has to offer, one of my Army buddies is using one in the field; and he says it rocks! Desert sand, mud, heat, you name it; just keeps rolling along.

dajames
dajames

I believe the guy who mentioned the problems of having to attempt to 'deal' with overseas support - help lines hit the nail on the head. So...I belive that listing in which country the telephone support is offered should be a key criteria to be listed. Further, how the LCD display is lighted.

kumpe70
kumpe70

I just got a dell inspiron 1721. The OS is the vista home premium. I work at a lawfirm and i've had no troubles connecting to the network or running any application they ask me to do. It has a 160 GB 5400 rpm HD. I have a 2GB ram. The processor is an amd turion 64 x2 1.8 ghz. It has all the ports described in the article and five usb. It has a seventeen inch screen. It weighs approximately 7.5 pounds. It has internal wireless. It runs very smoothtly. Transfers from one program to another without any problems. I've got a 256 mb video card. graphics for every game i have played so far have been very nice. Very nice laptop only problem is battery because of the large screen it kills the battery in about an hour and half. I have the nine cell battery. So i would highly suggest getting the 12 cell.

rclark
rclark

Gives following Windows Experience: 3.4 overall CPU 4.7 (L7500 Core2Duo 1.6GHz), RAM 4.8 (2GB),AERO GRAPHICS 3.4, BUSINESS 3D 3.5, DISK 4.8 (160GB 5400RPM) With this I purchased the dock which clips onto the bottom. Total weight with extended battery and dock is less than 5lbs. I just unhook the external monitor keyboard and mouse and take the dock with it. That lets me use the DVD drive if needed. Tiny screen though 12.1 (1024x758) multitouch. This gives the tablet the ability to host handwriting recognition. Works great, even in direct sunlight. Comm is 4965AGN with Bluetooth. Security is fingerprint, onboard crypt chip, and vista's bitlocker when you get ultimate. I had mine on order when it released. Now they are cheaper, but would do it again even at the old price. On the comment about the 7200 RPM drives. With a rating of 4.8, the drive on this system is not the problem. And the 7200 drives are small compared to the 5400 drives. I compromised and am glad. I've already filled up about half 80 gig. Virtual PC takes a lot of room. :} The graphics are the Santa Rosa Mobile 965 chipset, has an 800MHz frontside bus and very low battery drain. Even so, I don't get anywhere near the mileage advertized. About 2 hours of hard work and the system starts warning about the battery. If I turned off everything non essential and did not push the system, it might get 6 hours out of the extended battery.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I support some older equipment with DOS-based applications. Even from within a VM, they don't play well with USB-to-serial conversion. I still need the parallel port, too. I have one piece of specialty equipment that communicates using ECP. I don't work on it often, but when I do, I'm glad for the parallel port; 200MB pushes so much faster on ECP than it does at 9600 bps.

phertiker
phertiker

Look around at laptop manufacturers. What do they sell? Laptops with Windows preinstalled. What do most people use? Windows. And since OEM's seem to think that Vista is actually worth using, increasingly that's all you get. Getting a laptop that can run Vista, then, doesn't seem like a far-fetched idea OR advertising. However, I run Linux on all my machines and I still consider these CPU/RAM/etc stats the minimum for a machine to buy. This is not an easily (or cheaply) upgradeable desktop machine, and I want my laptop hardware to wear out before it's usability does. Not to mention the fact that you are paying a premium just because it IS a laptop. *Yeah, and why the heck is there a parallel port on this machine? Hmm, I'll just connect this Cisco access point to the pinky port.. oh wait! I can't.

glgruver
glgruver

I remember building a "free powered" transistor radio back in the '60s that actually derived its power by tuning in a strong local radio station and converting the signal into a power source to operate the rest of the circuitry. Although novel, this only generated a couple of volts at a few milliamps of current, certainly not nearly enough to power a laptop computer, but I am sure there are people working on this. GLGruver

manjesh_2j
manjesh_2j

Recently I purchased a 15.4" Wide Screen WXGA (1280 x 800 resolution) laptop, even though the screen is wide the supported resolution is less, and I end up using scroll bars to view many things.. so better go for a high resolution laptops ... and avoid the painful scrolling... WXGA (1280 x 800 resolution) WXGA+ (1440 X 900 resolution) WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050 resolution) WUXGA (1920 x 1200 resolution) with ALS

brian.mills
brian.mills

Perhaps the lack of cigarette lighter has to do with the fact that cigarette smoke and computer equipment don't play nicely together. I know, I know, it doesn't stop anyone from smoking around their computers, but it still doesn't mean the smoke isn't good for the system. Maybe they just don't want to encourage anyone.

rogerwhitt1
rogerwhitt1

Wow runs like a dream on the new IMac stuff that would not even run on the PC such as flashed based training from some 3 party domkoff outfit rns on the IMac with VM i am going to try running Trellix on it soon which is an underused excellent organizational tree building program

zbyte
zbyte

I hear you on the need to run Windows due to things like localized apps. The current batch of Mac dual boot either Mac OS X or Windows. Not simultaneously though. Since they both run of the Intel platform, there is no hardware excuse. It does not run Windows in emulation. It Boots Windows from the "getgo". Apple has been making laptops since 1988. That's more experience at it that anyone else (with the possible exception of the IBM Thinkpad-which by the way, IBM no longer makes, having sold that unit to Lenovo. I think VMware on a Mac would be a good idea if VMware allows you to run simultaneously with Windows.

zbyte
zbyte

You would use the same criteria you would if you were purchasing a Windows based laptop. You would consider your needs, software you run and how much horsepower you need. Based on that, you will pick the laptop that has the hardware critria to meet your demands. As far as the OS, there is but only 1 Mac OS. That would be Mac OS X (they just released their "Leopard" version or 10.5. There is no Mac OS home, or Mac OS Pro or Mac OS green; like there is in the Windows side. Just one OS, which is tightly integrated into whatever level of hardware you pick. Since the same company makes both the hardware and software, you just choose based on your requirements (power user, programmer, email/web surfer, etc.).

rclark
rclark

This is very close to what I have, and that should give similar windows experience index. You find this by right clicking on Computer, go down to properties. The screen will come up with a blue box that has a number inside it. That is your lowest figure of all components. Beside it is a hyperlink for the details. Left click on that. A screen will come up with the indexes for your cpu/ram/graphics/business graphics/disk. Please post these numbers so we can compare.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Your processor sucks the added power. Whlie it sounds like a decent laptop for your specific needs, to me, Dell just doesn't cut the quality of build and durability I've seen elswhere. Support is easy, but not helpful. They will send out parts no problem, generally different than the original parts, but are really bad on a diagnostic front.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

While many other manufacturers will build a cheapo laptop with 'interesting' specs (Dell, Compaq, HP etc.)IBM/Lenovo seem to focus more on business computing. Out of the box- The hard drives are generally smaller, the chipsets have less RAM, the sound cards are introdutory etc. WIth a few upgrades from Lenovo, a GOOD warranty upgrade (no less than 3yr. onsite). Lenovo makes a very high end product, the engineers build laptops with software that compliments the hardware for each model, unfortunately it is at a price. I love my Thinkpad and wouldn't think of buying anything but IBM now, but that will have to wait for the lottery.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I think that would fall under the graphics engine specs. In most cases, the native screen resolution and available high resolutions are directly proportional to the graphics chips used.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I think that would fall under the raphics engine specs. In most cases, the native screen resolution and available high resolutions are directly proportional to the graphics chips used.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

and the smoke wont bug it at all. Just wipe it down periodically and everything will be just fine :^0 Hmmm, I hadnt thought of a USB lighter yet...

JCitizen
JCitizen

I may have used the wrong word; simulation may be more acurate. Apple has been promising my brother to come out with at least simulators for industrial control for training aids in the class room. He would like to see direct control logic written in Unix 03 standard or anything to get off the ground. He is tired of having to use Windows to do GUI and other control apps and drivers for logic control. As I have said elsewhere; I have run into Mac based Motorolla chip architecture in newer Cincinnati Milacron machines. They even had Apple patent marks on them(marked Macintosh). So this type of thing could change anyway with competition.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Yes I am sure you are correct. For the external models there are supposedly battery backups for data protection; some may even use capacitors. I haven't looked at NAND memory architecture so I don't know all the choices. I would think the models that are sold as hard drive replacements would have a data protection feature; but there is really no reason to trust this until these things have been on the road a while. However I should have stipulated that I was intending to use the drive as a powerboost or RAM like paging solution, even though 120 gigs would be ideal, limiting the page size would still yield some efficiency I would think. Using the device in this way wouldn't require permanent memory capability, and would be a good test to see how reliable they may be for actual hard drive replacement. I do a lot of video so this kind of gizmo would speed things up and maybe take some of the pressure off the crappy Fujitzu that the HP was so kind as to supply. If static RAM is what you want it is still price prohibitive. My crusty memory tells me the cheapest was around $2000 USD and I don't remember how many gigs in size. Terabyte models run six figures mostly. I'd wager a bet that the interest in hard memory causes a drop in market prices in the not to distant future no matter which technology. Just last year I paid $100 for a 2Gb SD chip, now you can get them for under $16.

rclark
rclark

Ah yes. I beleive them. Unfortunately, out of a 24 hour period, the disk drive may be "ACTIVE" for a hour. So get a good read on the "INACTIVE" power consumption. The regular disk should have a small trickle charge that keeps the controller chip active, a buss charge but that is about it. The FLASH DISK would have that plus the trickle charge to keep all those little 1's and 0's static. They might be using static memory on the disk, which would make much more sense in an disk drive, but that has a much lower mean time between failures, so you would either gradually lose blocks of disk to useability, or you would have many more "Failure to Read" errors. I am sure they have either found a method of fixing these problems or the drives are DOA. My fear is that they mask it and we won't know about it until the drives are in general use and people either start complaining about the vanishing capacity, or about the vanishing battery availability.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Here is an example of the hype published on Sandisk's site; I am sure you would rather see more reliable information from a testing organization: [Power Efficient - Another advantage of SanDisk SSD UATA 5000 is its low power consumption rate compared to the hard disk drive: 0.5W during active operation versus 1.0W. This is particularly important to extend the battery life for the benefit of road warriors.] In this particular low end model they claimed access speeds/or should I say transfer speeds of 100 times the rate of rotational drives. Some say the only performance edge is heat reduction and noiseless operation. I am not advertising for Sandisk; there are a lot of companies out there making these kind of drives. The prices seem to be dropping rapidly in just the few months I became aware of them. Some 4Gb IDE models are $130+/-. I am thinking of adding one as a second drive to the slow pig Fujitzu that came with my laptop. With a 64 bit laptop you expect a little performance edge; especially in video; and one of these with SATA and XP64 or Server 2003 drivers/firmware should improve the lot.

rclark
rclark

I'd like to see the specs on the power drain curve compared with the disk access drain. Physical movement is always more expensive than static reads but on the other hand, a laptop disk drive sleeps most of the time and it coasts for a while after accessing. So the question is does the slow drain of memory add up to more or less amp hours than the spinup read cycle on the disk? I suspect the Flash Drives are more economical on systems that mainly stay plugged in but what about the laptop that goes on a trip where there is no power? Or kids who don't use it except twice a week for computer class? The reason I ask is my pda sucks juice in a steady stream. If I forget and leave it unplugged for a couple of days, it can get the battery level down to a point where it has to be reconditioned to accept a charge. I worry that a laptop that used that senario would have far greater power requirements and far less time to failure than the PDA. HP5555 by the way.

JCitizen
JCitizen

According to the specs I see on some of the more affordable ones(the prices are dropping rapidly); you can gain on power consumption and access time. Sometimes 100X the access time of a spinning HDD. I'm talking hard drive REPLACEMENT here for clarification. It does seem impossible there wouldn't be a hit on heat for notebook applications. Seems like a lead out for a heat sink would be in order. That wouldn't be too hard to modify on my model; the gain on power consumption would justify bleeding a little off on cooling.

rclark
rclark

I am eagerly awaiting them in a usable configuration. I worry that they will suck the life out of the main batteries though. And also, with that large a ramdisk, the heat output may be too much for laptops. Don't know yet. But the engineers will think on all of that and find a solution.

JCitizen
JCitizen

to get much service out of it; but if it is Vista ready you would think that would already be redundant. Imagine how that might perform now that flash hard drives are coming out. I see the price dropping rapidly now for these units; and they come in IDE and SATA configuration.

rclark
rclark

I don't know how much credence to give this index, but since it's new to me, I thought I would try and get some idea of what makes a difference. Your ram being faster and your CPU's the same with 200mhz each more processing power doesn't bode well for the index. There is probably some archane reason for the differences. My fronside buss is 800 mhz. That is the only thing that seems to be unusual about my setup that might be different on yours.

kumpe70
kumpe70

No I'm not using ready boost. I don't know why it performed so high there. Other than that and the graphics our computers are very similar.

rclark
rclark

Lenovo X61T Gives following Windows Experience: 3.4 overall CPU 4.7 (L7500 Core2Duo 1.6GHz), RAM 4.8 (2GB),AERO GRAPHICS 3.4, BUSINESS 3D 3.5, DISK 4.8 (160GB 5400RPM) Your Ram is way faster. The only reason my index is higher is my business graphics doesn't suck as badly as yours. That 965 Chipset. But for a graphics machine, mine still is disappointing. It should blow the doors off that part, the whole reason for going to to Santa Rosa was grapics capability in a laptop. Oh well. Are you using ReadyBoost?

kumpe70
kumpe70

My base score is a 3 CPU = 4.7 RAM = 5.8 Graphics = 3.4 Business Graphics = 3 Disk = 4.7 What about yours?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Not sure about the new models. The new rugged dell notebooks do have ballistic material, but that just means they are bullet resistant. Chances are a rifle round will go right through it. My old tough book survived a drop from atop my old work van and some serious road rash just fine. Once it was retired and I was put in charge of disposal, I tested the bullet resistance. The result was not very good. Rifle (.308) rounds went straight through from various distances. 9mm, .40 and .45 all either went through or were stopped inside the laptop, still enough to render it a paper weight. Either way it was fun! :)

rclark
rclark

They are nice. And the software is almost as good as a lenovo. But I just couldn't get around that tiny screen. The titanium?? and rubber shell adds little weight, but a lot of bulk. So it was about 3 inches thick. If I were still in the biz of going to war, that's the book I would take with me. It looks and feels like it could survive the sandbox. Might even use it as a jewel shield when running out to the field. Its that tough.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

gah.. I wish I could afford to upgrade my cf27 to one of the current monsters. Toughbook baby, toughbook. Once you've read email in the rain or felt that solid case, everything else seems flimsy. Well, the newer Thinkpads have a nice solid casing to them also.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

or just submerge it into any liquid to rinse it off.

hillwalker
hillwalker

If it's really rugged, you should be able to just hose it off. With salt water. Dirty salt water...