Mobile Buyer's Guide

by Jarred Walton on 7/11/2008 12:00 AM EST
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29 Comments

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  • theoflow - Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - link

    I know this is pretty much covered in the first line of this article, but I'm dying to see the new desktop system build guides.

    I've been out of system building for about 3 years and I'm somewhat clueless as to what direction I should go.

    ARG!!!

    LOL
    Reply
  • Rekonn - Sunday, July 27, 2008 - link

    "we understand the P-6860 is scheduled to be replaced in the future by another slightly upgraded model"

    Anybody know details on this?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, July 27, 2008 - link

    Yes but it's under NDA. I can tell you next month, and trust me you'll be impressed (again). Reply
  • Rekonn - Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - link

    Sweet, looking forward to it. Reply
  • Rekonn - Monday, August 04, 2008 - link

    Think I found it, the Gateway P-7811 FX. Available on August 14th for $1500.
    http://laptopcom.blogspot.com/2008/08/gateway-p-78...">http://laptopcom.blogspot.com/2008/08/g...y-p-7811...

    Now, how much better is a 9800GTS vs an 8800 GTS?
    Reply
  • steveyballmer - Sunday, July 13, 2008 - link

    .... If it can run Vista, it's good to go baby!



    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com">http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Saturday, July 12, 2008 - link

    I have a hard time with believing that the "mid-ranged" notebooks are between $1500 and $1750. It's like you pulled these numbers out of thin air and you neglected the $1K-1.5K segment altogether. $1K is where a decent modern laptop starts. Anything pushing $1500 is too much for many people to bother spending, while $1K is about right. I just got a Dell flier, the multi-page one with desktops in it too. The majority or main line notebooks start at $999, like the Inspiron. Granted, you can add options for a hundred here or there, but the starting price is $999 on a few different lines of their notebooks. I would have to say that this is the "mid-range" as they show a $999er right on the front page. You can shop NewEgg and find decent laptops that are older processors and so on for $500ish. So saying that $1500-$1750 is "mid-range" is complete bullocks. Mid-range is the budget minded market segment that wants something just a bit better than the bare minimum and it's what Dell caters to and always has. The mass market. Mid-range = mass market. Period. There's no argument against it. Budget does not = mass market. Budget = budget = those that have to watch every dollar. Remember mainstream America? Remember those that pinch pennies but still go to the fair? Yeah, us. The middle income folks. The majority of America does not live in poverty, yet. Thanks. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Saturday, July 12, 2008 - link

    Eek! They edited the article right after I posted. LOL Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, July 13, 2008 - link

    Um... no, we didn't. I had budget, then Entry-level, then Midrange, then High-end, then Dream since the beginning. As I mention in the intro, the price brackets are indeed somewhat arbitrary with plenty of overlap. I may call $1000 "entry" and $1500 "midrange", but regardless of the name I did my best to cover all bases from $300 up through $5000. As I mention on the Entry-Level page, $1000 will get you a LOT of laptop, and unless you want gaming (i.e. Gateway P-6860) a lot of people can stop right there - give or take $250. Reply
  • Jjoshua2 - Saturday, July 12, 2008 - link

    I think the 6-cell Wind is pretty cool. I pre-ordered one from buy.com and I was able to use a coupon that got me $15 off. Now I just hope it will get in-stock soon. Reply
  • fabarati - Saturday, July 12, 2008 - link

    Besides warranties, this article lacked Two major points that are often overlooked - and one not quite as oftenly overlooked -when shopping for laptops: Build, Screen and Battery.

    Build quality is very different from laptop to laptop. Generally business lines are better built than consumer lines, which are better build than budget lines. There are laptops that are built better than consumer laptops, but worse than business ones, etc. That's why a same specced Thinkpad T61 is more expensive than a HP DV6700 (typical consumer build quality) or any acer (crappy budget build). Or why a an XPS m1530 is a better buy than an Asus M50/51

    Screen is also overlooked. Nearly all laptop screens are horrible compared to desktops. They're all TN screens. The very, very best are at about desktop mid-range TN's level.

    Batterylife depends on more than just what specifications a computer and the battery has. It also depends on ACPI and bios coding, and what and how good the batterysaving applications that come with are. Almost ny new Asus (Santa Rosa or newer), with a few exceptions like the U2e, has horrible batterylife. Some have a hard time reaching 2 hours under normal usage.

    Then there are some small stuff that nagged me about this article, mainly performance things. Whilst the HD3650/9500m GS/8600m GT/HD2600 are not really powerful, even when not compared to desktop midrange alternatives, they are possible to game on. In fact, you'll get a pretty decent gaming experience, and it'll be portable. They are just usually run on lower resolutions (because many laptops they're in have lower resolutions) and lower (medium) settings. The fact that they can't run a game on all high does not make it un-gameable.

    Anywho, you guys didn't do too many mistakes, and had some Ok recomendations. Pretty good for beginners.
    Reply
  • jmurbank - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    I also agree buying a notebook should be based on quality, battery, screen or size. The so called guide is more like a price comparison than a real guide. A real guide will tell the reader to ask themselves questions what they need in the notebook or what they are going to use the notebook for in a certain environment.

    If the guide is realistically, budget notebooks can rise up to high-end prices after including extras. Let us see, my Dell Inspiron 1520 costs around $1700 after including some upgrades to suit my needs. After a corporate or employee discount from a relative or friend, it made it $300 cheaper which is $1400 for the final price.

    I would say I got a good notebook computer compared to the problems I am experiencing because it gets 4 to 6 hours of battery life for general tasks in either Windows and GNU/Linux with the use of the 9 cell battery, and nVidia GeForce8 8400M GS that eases multiple monitor setup and decent 3D performance in games. The upgrade to Intel WiFi 3945 helps setting up WiFi in GNU/Linux easier. The choice of a brighter display instead of a wide-angle high resolution display also helps the battery usage last longer since I do not have to use the full brightness. The lowest brightness is bright enough to see the screen. The glossy display is a little annoying while being around bright sources such as at the airport or outside. It is hot even though I picked a T7300 processor and stuck with 2 GB of DDR2-667 memory (two modules of 1 GB).

    I would gauge my notebook quality as 3.5, portability a 7, and size a 6.

    I would not care about what matrices design that the LCD is constructed. I would care more if notebook manufactures tells us consumers the LCD screen is 6-bit or 8-bit because there is a difference in the amount of colors. One is 18-bit color while the other is 24-bit color. If you think of not seeing 16515072 colors is something not to complain about, then people have a lot to learn. Not seeing 16515072 colors is color blindness.
    Reply
  • fabarati - Saturday, July 12, 2008 - link

    Ok, beginner was a bit of an overexageration. You're at an intermediate level. Reply
  • dblevitan - Saturday, July 12, 2008 - link

    I'm surprised the only mention of Thinkpads is the x61. The T series is probably one of the most popular laptop series created and are some of the sturdiest laptops around. Sure, they're not as flashy as many laptops but they have good performance, are reliable, and just work. And they're surprisingly inexpensive. Reply
  • Mafiacrime - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    http://www.mafiacrime.org/r.php?id=5320">http://www.mafiacrime.org/r.php?id=5320

    Come check out Mafia Crime!!
    Reply
  • microAmp - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    Yay for spam! Reply
  • SniperWulf - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    Or the P-6831FX for that matter? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    I suppose at 8000 words, I can't expect people to read everything. Check page 5 where I mention both (and page 3 mentions the 6831 briefly as well). I did after all give the 6831 a Gold EC award, so you can hardly expect me to forget about it. :) Reply
  • Gast - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    No apple notebooks? Even if you do have to purchace Windows, I consider them a contender. Esp with their support. (Yay for 2 lightning strike iBooks replaced @ no charge). Reply
  • microAmp - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    Did you skip page 6? Reply
  • Gast - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    I did. And I also missed the brief mention of the MacBook in the earlier pages. Shame on me for not reading the article close enough, much less the entire article.

    The entire article does kinda gloss on warentee information, which is where I see Apple truely shining. *shrugs* Fair review I'd say though.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    He mentioned that warranty should be something to look into, but might not have gotten into it due to the large number of options depending on vendor and specific warranty. Also some aspects of the warranty vary by person. I like the Thinkpad depot warranty - you will have a prepaid box within a day of calling, and typically will get your system back a day or two after shipping it. My sister is looking for a new laptop, and after she was without her current one for 3-4 weeks a few different times while Best Buy was doing warranty work, I figured the option to get it back quickly would be nice. Apparently she can't have stuff shipped to work though, so would have trouble with packages requiring signatures. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    I thought I made enough mention of warranties to get the point across, but in retrospect a lot of it got buried in the various sections. I've added a paragraph to the conclusion to emphasize the point, as I do feel it often gets overlooked. That's why I wrote a blog on the subject http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=31...">last December. Reply
  • EvilBob - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    Given NVIDIA's recent announcement of overheating mobile GPUs, I'm curious whether anyone knows which M-GPUs are affected. I would guess that some of these high end machines would be the most heat-susceptible, but does anyone have any more information? Reply
  • pepsimax2k - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    GeForce 8 series issues!!!

    was gonna post this in it's own thread but anyways... all G84 plus G86 core based 8 series GPUs may (though very likely do) all have very high failure rates. Basically everything up to and including 8600 I think, notebook and desktop; all of them.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/0...">http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/0...

    Nothing's been confirmed yet though, and inq are known to exagerate stuff, but I'd be wary of them until knowing better.

    HP have also extended warranties for a number of affected laptops (although not all, as I just got a dv9702ea not on the list but with an 8400M GS).

    http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?lc=en&...">http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/docu...cc=us&am...
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Sunday, July 13, 2008 - link

    Interesting, as a client's 8600 based laptop died just like all those people's did. HP fixed it for free though. Reply
  • toonces - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    Nice to see an article delineated into how most people buy notebooks.

    Timing is a little off though with the NDA lifting and Nvidia's 9800-series about to be launched in the next week or so.

    No mention of Puma either? HP just released a few models with the new HD3200 that put their integrated graphics slightly higher than an 8400GS/9300GS in performance.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    Is the HD 3200 really that fast? I thought it was more in line with 780G desktop chipset, which while faster than the other IGPs still trails modern discrete solutions. Then again, the low-end discrete mobile solutions are pretty anemic.

    9800M parts will be faster, but most of what was said here applies after the updates. Availability of 9800M will be the question - if it's like 8800M it will be two or three months after the launch before we see it.
    Reply
  • toonces - Friday, July 11, 2008 - link

    3DMark06 @ 1280x768

    dv5z (2.1GHz Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80, ATI Radeon HD 3200) = 1,599
    dv6500z (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, NVIDIA 8400m GS = 1,551
    M1330 (2.0GHz T7300, NVIDIA 8400M GS 128MB) = 1,408

    I know, it's only 3DMark but users of the tx2500z have reported playing Source games (DX9) on 1280x800, high settings, with steady 30FPS. Not bad for integrated I'd say.
    Reply

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