Mobility Overview

One of the fastest growing areas of the computer market is undoubtedly the mobile sector. There are many reasons for the increasing popularity of laptop and notebook computers: marketing, portability, and decreasing prices to name a few. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that laptops are becoming more prevalent in the computing sector has to do with performance. For a long time, it simply was not possible to get the same high level of performance in a laptop as it was to get in a desktop computer. Combine that with CPU performance that was doubling every couple of years, and spending a lot of money on a laptop that was going to be outdated in a year or two was something most people could not justify.

Lately, however, performance increases have started to trail off, and more importantly performance requirements have remained largely static for several years. Sure, there are some applications that can still use every ounce of performance you can throw at them, but for typical computer use any system built within the past three years is more than adequate, provided you have enough memory and storage. That is not to say that desktop computers aren't faster than laptop computers, particularly if you spend the same amount of money on both platforms. There are plenty of things you can get in a desktop that you cannot fit into a laptop chassis; quad core CPUs, dual 8800 GTX graphics cards, and three or more hard drives all come to mind. The thing is, there's a huge percentage of the population that doesn't need any of those components, and they will be far better served saving money than blowing thousands of dollars on the absolutely fastest computer parts available.

A lot of people still ask for advice on whether or not they should purchase a laptop computer, and if so what type of laptop they should get. Before you even get to the point of deciding what type of laptop to buy, you need to decide if you really need/want a laptop. Portability is still the biggest benefit of laptop computers, so if you don't plan on moving your computer around much (if at all), the major reason to purchase a laptop is gone. Most people can easily justify the desire for portability, however, so the second factor is whether or not you are willing to spend a bit more money for the privilege. If you put together a desktop and laptop system that are relatively equivalent in terms of performance, the laptop will definitely cost more.

Finally, you need to make sure you are willing to live with what is largely a closed system. You can add a few peripherals to a laptop - USB and FireWire devices, PC Cards or ExpressCards - but it is difficult to fundamentally change a laptop over time. With a few exceptions, whatever parts a laptop has when you purchase it will be there for the life of the laptop. You might be able to increase memory a bit, replace the hard drive with a larger model, upgrade the CPU, and in rare cases you might even be able to change out the graphics module. However, the display, keyboard, motherboard, audio, graphics, and chassis are almost always going to remain the same.

Because of the monetary investment involved, what this means is that you really need to make sure you're getting a laptop you will be happy with. If at all possible, you should try out a laptop model in person before you purchase it. Things like the keyboard layout, display quality, as well as the size and weight can become critical factors in determining whether or not you will appreciate a laptop over the long haul. Some of these areas are going to be a purely personal preference, of course, so what one person may love another person might hate, making it all the more important that you try to test out a laptop yourself rather than merely going by what others say.

Luckily, in some ways at least, figuring out which laptop you should get has become easier. Two laptops from different manufacturers that contain the same components should perform very nearly the same, so if you can determine which components you want and find a laptop that matches up with those requirements, that is often sufficient. Unfortunately, because there are virtually limitless potential configurations and because laptops are as previously stated mostly a closed system, it may not always be possible to find a laptop that matches your specific desires. At that point, compromises need to be made, and we would recommend upgrading your component selections if at all possible rather than settling for something less than you initially wanted.

All of this is good information to have if you're considering purchasing a laptop, and as we look at a couple of ASUS models along with an ABS notebook in this review try to keep this overview in mind. We will naturally look at how these laptops perform, and we will also look at the components and features of each one. The warranty, service, and support offered are also important. All of these factors along with price will ultimately determine whether or not we feel a laptop is worth purchasing, and who might be interested in a particular model.

Feature Comparison
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  • Ajax9000 - Sunday, January 07, 2007 - link

    Some of us want a highly portable computer that can can drive a big screen at home or work. For us, a 13" or 14" laptop with (say) a Go7700+DL-DVI is actually way more useful than a 17" laptop with DL-DVI. Gaming isn't a priority for us and the 17" is too big for good portability and just gets in the way when used with a big screen on a desk. Reply
  • tinus - Thursday, January 04, 2007 - link

    Why did you not include the Asus G1 laptop in the comparison, since you dislike the gpu on the G2 laptop? I would have loved to see a comparison between the A8js and the G1, since the only difference between the two ought to be the screen (both feature a Geforce Go 7700). Especially since you say that the screen on the G2 is so much better than that on the A8Js. If nothing else, I would much appreciate any comments regarding the G1 since i am looking a replacement for my current laptop, and the G1 seems to fit me perfectly. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 04, 2007 - link

    Unfortunately, ASUS sent me the G2P - as I've frequently commented, we basically review what we get. I don't know why, as the G1 seems better overall. G1 is a 15.4" though, so the display may not be as good - without seeing it in person, I can't say, although I can put in a request to ASUS to get a G1 for review if you'd like. G1 also comes with either a 1280x800 (YUCK!) LCD or a 1680x1050 (HOORAY!) LCD - but if they're both more like the A8J LCD than the G2P then it's still sort of a wash as to which is best. Reply
  • tinus - Friday, January 05, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the reply, but no, you do not have to request the G1, because I already found a review of it on another site, and they claim that it is the same screen as on the G2.
    And yes, the 1680x1050 screen would be perfect!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, January 05, 2007 - link

    It can't be the same display, as the G1 is a 15.4" LCD and the G2 is a 17" LCD. Now, if it's the same quality overall, that would be good, and hopefully that's what you meant. :) Reply
  • tinus - Sunday, January 07, 2007 - link

    Yea well.. you understand what I wanted to say ;) Reply
  • customcoms - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    on this page: http://anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=2899&am...">http://anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=2899&am...

    there is some mislabeling of the pictures (between the Asus G2P and the A8JS). It clear that this page is talking about the G2P but the article should still be fixed!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    This is the second image-related complaint, and again I'm a bit confused. Page 5 is definitely showing the G2P images, at least for me. I have no idea what you're seeing that convinces you otherwise, but please check it again and if you really aren't seeing the right images take a screenshot so I can figure out what you *are* seeing. Also, information on what browser and OS you're using could be helpful. Reply
  • yacoub - Saturday, December 30, 2006 - link

    I found this review article very worthwhile. That Asus "gaming" laptop, however, is a joke with that GPU. =( Reply
  • Tommyguns - Monday, January 01, 2007 - link

    I agree. Very happy seeing this review done. I've been looking at getting a laptop for awhile now and waited on the C2D's. Was gonna pick one up, but for the money vs performance, I was far too disapointed with the current GPU results. It seems there are reviews for all the desktop GPU's and graphed ect... but its impossible to get a clear understanding on the laptop side. X1600 was looking good. Perhaps a mass peformance testing of most of the current GPU's?

    Yeah, so basicly i am just really confused on how all these chips compare. Thanks for the review!
    Reply

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