(Pretty much) All laptops compared

2011-Feb

Education

This page will be useful to those who really care about what laptop they use. If you're the type who buys what's on sale and can access teh Internet, this page is not for you.

There are some things you can configure in a laptop, but most others are fixed. There are some things you'll care about, and others that review sites care about, but you won't. Use this page wisely and extract what's useful to you.

Manufacturers

Not widely known, most laptops in the world are produced by only two companies: Quanta and Compal. They manufacture notebooks for most big-name vendors.

Keyboard

Unless you use an external keyboard, you'll have to live with the laptop's keyboard. Some layouts can drive many people insane. Look for elements common to the keyboard you're most used to. In my case (standard 101-key American keyboard):

  • Is the Ctrl key on the outside, like on most keyboards? Lenovo laptops place the Fn key on the outside.
  • Is there a key (Esc) to the left of F1? Lenovo, again, moved Esc away, and all F# keys are offset one position to the left compared to the standard keyboard. When I want to press F2, I end up pressing F3.
  • Are the arrow keys of an acceptable size, and clearly separated? Dell Inspiron laptops make them half the height of normal keys.
  • Are Insert and Delete together (if you use Insert)? Dell Inspiron, again, places Print Screen between them.
  • Are there dedicated Home/End/Page up/Page Down keys, and arranged in some logical way? Laptops 13" (Sony VAIO Z) or smaller often overlay these keys on the arrow keys, and you have to press Fn+(arrow key) instead.

I found that a backlit keyboard is very useful in the dark, and will strongly prefer that a laptop has one. Some Lenovo laptops have a "ThinkLight" - an LED at the top of the screen that illuminated the keyboard. It works pretty well.

Multit-touch trackpads are also very handy (primarily for vertical scroll with two fingers), and most laptops nowadays feature them.

Battery

Li-ion batteries lose 20% charge capacity per year. The more you use the battery (using the laptop without the charger connected), the faster it wears down. There are shops that replace the cells in laptop batteries, which is usally cheaper (but performs the same) as a new battery (see http://www.batteryrefill.com/). You can also do it yourself.

Screen

First, decide the size: 15" or more for desktop replacements; avoid 14" and go for 13.3". If you put side-by-side a 13.3" Lenovo X301 and a 14" Dell E6410, the difference is negligible. You'll barely notice it. However, 13.3" laptops are usually at least one pound lighter than 14" ones.

Contrary to what most people think, a laptop screen is replaceable relatively easily, and one costs around $100. See laptopscreen.com for replacement screens (often in higher resolution than what the manufacturer offers) and how-to-replace videos. Other laptop screen vendors are ScreenTek and LCDs 4 Less.

Don't base your decision on the stock screen alone, if you're willing to do a little work and replace the screen with a better one. TBD: does this void the warranty in a visible way?

Glossy screens are a horrendous idea, aimed at the uneducated consumer who is drawn to shiny things. Outdoors, a glossy screen is almost impossible to see if the Sun is out. Even indoors, reflections can be annoying. See Screen: matte vs. glossy for a side-by-side comparison with pictures.

Buzzwords for glossy laptop screens:

  • Acer CrystalBrite
  • ASUS Color Shine, Colour Shine, Crystal Shine, Glare Type
  • Dell TrueLife™
  • Fujitsu Crystal View, SuperFine
  • Gateway UltraBright
  • HP/Compaq BrightView, Radiance
  • Lenovo: VibrantView
  • Sony XBRITE™, X-black, Clear Bright
  • Toshiba TruBrite™, Clear SuperView Technology

Alternatively, you can apply a matte film / screen protector

Some popular laptops screens compared - Apple wins, because they don't sell cheap laptops, and put a better TN panel in the screen. No Sony laptops were included.

Resolution

Business laptops have a resolution of 1400x900 for a 14.1" screen (e.g. the Lenovo T400) or even 13.3" screen (Lenovo X301). This is an excellent resolution, which I've used for years. Consumer laptops won't go beyond 1366x768, even for 15.6" screens. It doesn't look bad, but it's certainly under-utilizing the screen.

"It is somewhat true that it's difficult to spot the difference between 1080p and 900p on a 16" screen with naked eye" - ref. But beware of internally better quality for the 1080p display.

Graphics card

From http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=5636&p=3:

"Unless you are using 3d application, or are a gaming enthusiast, you're better off avoiding the NVIDIA graphics, which seem to be power hungry (up to 14 watt!) and fairly mediocre. With the i Core generation, Intel integrated graphics are greatly improved and very much capable of 1080P streaming." -- ref

"If you're not gaming on your laptop, integrated graphics are going to be fine. You'll know the graphics are integrated if it comes from Intel or if it's an ATI Mobility Radeon HD or Nvidia GeForce with a particularly low model number (usually if the second digit in the model number is lower than 3.) Integrated graphics offer the best battery life since they draw the least power."

"The argument for Nvidia: Most GeForces in Nvidia's 300M series support Optimus, which is awesome technology. Optimus is able to completely shut down the dedicated graphics and switch to integrated graphics built into every mobile Core i3 and i5, thus giving you the best battery life when you need it and the best graphics performance when you need it. Optimus requires Windows 7 and the notebook to support it, but it's pretty amazing."

"Optimus utilizes rule and detection based switching so it indeed does take the control away from the user." -- ref

"Finally, ignore advertised video memory. Manufacturers will advertise absurd amounts of video memory being attached to chips that can't use it. Video memory at 512MB is more than adequate for most mobile chips. Tip: you want to look at what chip is being used, not how much video memory it has."

Display outputs

DislplayPort is preferred, because with a cheap adapter it can be converted to HDMI, DVI or VGA, and it also carries audio and power. HDMI is DVI + audio. HDMI to DVI cables cost around $12 (6ft long).

CPU

The mobile Core i3 and i5 have the same TDP, 35W. Core i5-5xxUM outputs 18W.

"The i5-430M is an excellent chip. You can google benchmarks on it. The i3 is 30-40% faster than a C2D, and the i5 is quite a bit faster than the i3 because of turbo boost technology. It also gives better battery life than the i3 because it has speed step and lower voltage. It's odd that the faster chip gives you better battery life, but that's just another perk."

Core i5 vs. Core i7

Sandy Bridge

Noise emissions

Notebookcheck.com measures noise emissions. Values up to 36dB(A) are not annoying, as long as they are constant. If the fan keeps changing speed, that can become very annoying.

USB 3.0

In practice, from a given hard disk (Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000, 7200rpm, SATA 6 Gb/s) on an Asus EEE 1000HE, USB 2.0 limits transfer speeds to about 30MBytes/s. On a Core i3 Dell, eSATA allowed for up to 132Mbytes/s, and consistently for 60MBytes/s. Also, a read test with HDD Scan via a USB-connected enclosure produced a 25% load on the EEE's Atom CPU. eSATA allegedly doesn't eat anywhere that much CPU.

  • "the eSATA/Hi-Speed USB is about 5 times faster than usb 2.0 and usb3.0 is twice faster than eSATA/Hi-Speed USB."
  • "the benefit of USB 3.0 (increased transfer speeds) will pretty much only make a difference for external hard drives. Many external hard drives already have the eSATA interface, a much more common port on laptops (although not on all laptops). This interface will already let you transfer data at the hard drive's maximum speed, so USB 3.0 is kind of redundant." -- http://forum.notebookreview.com/what-notebook-should-i-buy/476825-usb-3-0-laptops.html
  • see also pro USB 3.0

There are ExpressCard adapters for USB 3.0, but they need extra power in order to power USB 3.0 devices. Look for one with a cable to draw power from another USB port.

Wireless

Go for the a laptop wth Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300. It has 3 antennas and increases bandwidth 50% vs. the Advanced-N 6200. Intel claims 7x higher performance vs. single-antenna chips. The Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250 has a bandwidth f 300Mbps over Wi-Fi, but brings WiMAX support (20Mbps down, 6Mbps up).

Broadband/WWAN

Pros and cons of an internal broadband card vs. a USB dongle

Hard requirements

  • no weird keyboard layout
  • quiet; no random fan spin-ups
  • illuminated keyboard (backlit or from a light mounted on the top of the screen)
  • multi-touch touchpad
  • 13.3"-14.1" LED backlit screen; matte, not glossy, but you can add a matte film
  • 4-hour battery (with Wi-Fi), or longer lasting
  • optical drive

Laptop search engines (aka notebook finders)

Most laptop search engines force you to select a single value from a list, e.g. a specific screen size. You can't search for any screen sizes, say, up to 13.4"; you must repeatedly search for 11.6" and smaller, then 12.1", then for 13.1 - 13.4". This is conceptually very, very wrong, but also very widespread. Worse, some retarded search engines force you to specify a notebook weight numerically, instead of letting you enter a range of weights you're fine with. Better search engines let you check multiple checkboxes. The only two that I know of are:

  • CNET laptop finder - you can drill down into features
  • Newegg's Power Search - flat checkboxes for core features, but not for more subtle yet crucial ones, such as glossy vs. matte screen
  • Gadget finder is a mix: single-value for some specs, checkboxes for others. However, it's the only search engine that lets you search for screen type (glossy vs. matte), backlit keyboards, and other subtle features. It also lets you edit the specs and add new gadgets, including notebooks.

Some manufacturers and retailers also have their own search engines:

Buying a laptop

  • Buy from Japan - special and new models
  • Call the manufacturer instead of ordering online, and see what you can negotiate
  • Refurbished laptops are often as good as new ones
  • You can also buy from the NotebookReview.com marketplace. Can easily see seller's knowledge and level of involvement with the forum. Many laptops are sold with various extras. Prices are a bit lower than eBay.
  • Avoid buying upgrades from the manufacturer's site if you are comfortable doing it yourself, because the manufacturer artifially inflates prices. Here are some examples from Dell as of 2011-02-22 for the Latitude E6410:
    • upgrade from DVD-ROM to DVD-RW drive: $50. Blu-ray writer on eBay: $225 (and you get to keep the DVD-ROM). Blu-Ray writer on Dell's site: $690 or $575. Note also that a Blu-Ray option is not directly offered as an upgrade.
    • upgrade from 6-cell to 9-cell battery: $72. 9-cell battery on eBay: $45 (and you get to keep the 6-cell one as spare)
    • upgrade from 320GB to 500GB 7200rpm Hard Drive: $100. With $100, you can buy a 1TB 2.5" hard drive, and you know which brand and model.
    • upgrade from 1GB RAM to 8GB: $320, when less than $100 will buy you 8GB of laptop memory

Ultra-portable laptops (netbooks)

Beware that due to an unscrupulous agreement between Microsoft and a few hardware manufacturers, ultraportable netbooks like the ASUS Eee PC that run Windows XP are limited to a maximum screen size of 10.1" (this will leave wide unused borders around the screen), maximum RAM of 1GB and a maximum HDD size of 160GB. Also, no multi-core CPUs are allowed. This is not the case for netbooks running Windows 7, which have no limitations.

Misc

Candidates

The best candidates so far: Dell E6420, Lenovo T410s, Sony VAIO Z.

USB 3.0 and backlit keyboard:

  • Dell XPS 15 - too heavy at 6+ lbs
  • HP Pavilion - 17"

Acer

Good selection process: drag sliders, one for battery life, one for screen size. Unfortunately, it doesn't work very well, in that will keep a series of laptops even if is has no matches.

Acer Aspire Ethos

  • large multimedia desktop replacements

Acer Aspire

  • all models with 4+ hours of battery are 15.6"

Acer Aspire Timelinex X

  • the only models that are supposed to last more than 4 hours are 11.6". Look at the Travelmate Timeline X series.

Acer Travelmate

  • the only moedls that are supposed to last more than 4 hours are 15.6". Look at the Travelmate Timeline X series.

Acer Travelmate Timeline X

Acer TravelMate TimelineX TravelMate TM8472-6012 ( LX.TW303.036 )

  • 14", 1366x768
  • unspecified Bluetooth
  • no weight spec (WTF)
  • no mention of HDMI, DVI or docking port
  • no mention of backlit/illuminated keyboard
  • DVD/RW
  • Core i5-520M

Acer TravelMate TimelineX TravelMate TM8372T-3602 ( LX.TX203.109 )

  • 13.3", 1366x768, 4.6lb
  • battery: 8 hour
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • no mention of HDMI, DVI or docking port
  • no mention of backlit/illuminated keyboard
  • DVD/RW
  • Core i5-450M
  • review
    • no webcam, no HDMI
    • port replicator
    • "There weren't any noise or heat issues with the Acer Travelmate TM8372T with the unit running fairly quietly, even with benchmarks running and never too hot."
    • arrow keys are half-height
    • "pretty loud speakers"
    • "decent viewing angles horizontally but not that great verticall"

ASUS

ASUS bloatware guide

ASUS A52F

  • only 1366 x 768 for 15.6" & 2.62kg

ASUS A52JC

  • only 1366 x 768 for 15.6" & 5.78lb

ASUS B43J

  • inferior to the P42Jc

ASUS B80A-B1

  • ?? matte screen, but 1280x800 [?? where did I find this resolution? it's not in Overview or Specifications]
  • "14.1" WXGA/WXGA+ Color-Shine (Glare-type),Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology"
  • LED-lit spill-prof keyboard
  • no Blu-Ray drive
  • no-name speakers
  • 2.46kg

Asus Eee PC 1000HE

  • owned since 2009-May
  • reviews
  • slow CPU but can handle Firefox with 20+ tabs open and playing MP4 movies at 1920x1200 via VGA output
  • Draft-n WLAN and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • cramped keyboard
  • good multitouch trackpad, with difficult-to-press buttons (the notebookcheck review gets it totally backwards)
  • matte display, but stupidly limited to 10.2" due an monopolistic agreement with Microsoft
  • audible, but not annoying noise emissions (32-36 dB(A), according to notebookcheck.com). Constant hum until load gets high.
    • BUT, the hard disk crackles quite audibly
  • 6h battery life while surfing on WLAN

Asus Eee PC 1201N

  • no backlit keyboard
  • 12.1", 1366x768, 3.2lbs, $500
  • Intel Atom Dual Core CPU
  • NVIDIA ION (GeForce 9400M) GPU

ASUS F6Ve

  • apparently discontinued
  • 13.3" 1280 x 800, 4.4lbs

ASUS F50Sv

  • 16" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS F80Q

  • 14.1" WXGA Color-Shine (Glare-type),Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology

ASUS G50V

  • glossy

ASUS G50Vt

  • the line/official model from asus.com
    • 15.4" WXGA+/WSXGA+ Color-Shine (Glare-type)
    • 15.6" WXGA Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS G50VT-X6

  • 6.18lb, no SSD option, discontinued
  • probably glossy screen

ASUS G51J-A1

ASUS G51J 3D

  • 15.6" HD (1366x768) LED backlight 120Hz screen with NVIDIA 3D Vision glasses
  • 3.30kg w/ 6-cell battery
  • get the G51Jx for the better screen in the same form factor

ASUS G51Jx

ASUS G51VX

  • 3.3kg

ASUS G53Jw

  • 15.6" 16:9 HD (1366x768)/Full HD (1920x1080)/HD 3D (1366x768) LED backlit,Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS G73JW-A1 17.3-inch Gaming Notebook

ASUS G73Jh

  • 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080)/HD+ (1600x900) Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS K40IJ

  • 14" HD (1366x768) LED backlight,Color-Shine (Glare-type),Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology

ASUS K42F

ASUS K42JC

ASUS K50AB

  • 15.6" 1366 x 768
  • 5.7lbs
  • very weak speakers, even at full blast

ASUS K50AD

  • 15.6" but only 1366x768

ASUS K52DR

  • 15.6" but only 1366x768

ASUS K52F

  • 15.6" HD (1366x768)

ASUS K52KB

  • Notice the single bar trackpad action button. No right click?

ASUS K52JR

ASUS K72DR

  • 17.3" HD+ (1600x900) Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS K61IC

ASUS-LAMBORGHINI VX5

  • 16.1" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type)
  • 3.5kg

ASUS M51A

  • 15.4" WXGA Color-Shine (Glare-type),Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology

ASUS M60Vp

  • 16" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS N10 series

  • 10.2" screen, glossy

ASUS N20A

  • 12.1" WXGA Color-Shine (Glare-type)
  • keyboard not backlit
  • DVD Super Multi
  • 1.85kg

ASUS N43Jf

  • 14" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlit,Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology
  • Blu-Ray DVD Combo - get a better model with a Blu-Ray writer
  • 2.40kg with 6 cell battery

ASUS N43JM

  • 14" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlit,Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology
  • Blu-Ray DVD Combo - get a better model with a Blu-Ray writer
  • 2.40kg with 6 cell battery

ASUS N43JQ

  • 14" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlit,Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology
  • Blu-Ray DVD Combo - get a better model with a Blu-Ray writer

ASUS N43SL

  • 14.0" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlit Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology
  • Blu-Ray writer, USB 3.0
  • 2.40kg

ASUS N43SN

  • 14.0" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlit Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology
  • Blu-Ray writer, USB 3.0
  • 2.40kg

ASUS N50V

  • no backlit keyboard
  • 15.4" with 3 display options: 1280x800, 1440x900, 1680x1050
  • the N50Vn has bad screen options: the 1280x800 is obviously too small, but LED-backlit, while the other ones are better for a 15.6" display, but CCFL-backlit

ASUS N51V

ASUS N53f

  • discontinued
  • notebookreview.com forums
    • Very very good sound with or without SonicMaster (I can't decide if on or off is better)
    • Sound: Fantastic.
    • "There is a high pitched whine from cpu", but there's also a fix if you just let the CPU run hotter
    • can install SSD
    • good viewing angles from the sides, but not so good vertical viewing angles
    • The bezel surrounding the screen is very shiny and a fingerprint magnet (as is the **single mouse button (see below))
    • Keyboard: I haven't noticed any flex
    • "Temperatures: I'm really impressed by how cool this is running. The only part that ever seems slightly warm is the fan and the bottom near the fan. I very much appreciate this"

ASUS N53SV

  • 15.6" @ 1920x1080, 2.7kg
  • Blu-Ray writer, USB 3.0
  • no mention of keyboard backlight

ASUS N61JV

ASUS N61Vn

  • 16" HD (1366x768)

ASUS N80Vc

  • 14.1" WXGA LED backlight,Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS N80Vn

14" WXGA LED backlight,Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS N81Vp

14" HD (1366x768) LED backlight,Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS N82Jq

  • USB 3.0
  • 14", 1366x768, 5.03lbs
  • high noise levels: "The fan's noise is always existent, no matter if in idle or under load. The fan never turns itself off. It whirs constantly and its level never sinks below 33.2 dB(A). Therefore it drowns out the hard disk's quiet clacking without ado. Based on an already idle level, sporadic processing tasks (internet surfing, moving small documents, opening Excel) cause the fan speed to increase to about 35 dB(A)."
  • "very load under load", "runs hot" - http://alatest.com/reviews/laptop-reviews/asus-n82jq/po3-110486941,30/
  • Costco has it with DVD/RW, no Blu-Ray combo
  • rubber finish => no fingerprints
  • average haptics for the keyboard and touchpad? -- http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Asus-N82JQ-Notebook.40165.0.html
  • narrow viewing angles

ASUS N82Jv

  • 14" HD (1366x768) LED backlit
  • Blu-Ray DVD Combo
  • 1 USB 3.0
  • 2.30 kg (with 8 cell battery)

ASUS N90Sv

  • 18.4 Full HD (1920x1080) Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS P42Jc

  • 14" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlit
  • 2.3 kg (with 6 cell battery)

ASUS P81IJ

  • 14" 16:9 HD (1366x768) Asus Splendid Video Intelligent Technology, "Vesa Like" (which seems to mean "Anti-glare LED Panel")
  • Intel Core 2 Duo, no Core i5
  • no Blu-Ray
  • 2.35 kg (with 6 cell battery)

ASUS PL30Jt

  • 13.3" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type), although notebookcheck says it's matte
  • 1.90kg. Get the Lenovo T410s, which has an optical drive.

ASUS PL80Jt

  • 14" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type)
  • DVD Super Multi
  • USB 2.0
  • 2.10 kg (with 8 cell battery), 10+ hours claimed battery life

ASUS S6F series

  • glossy 11.1" screen
  • quasi-discontinued

ASUS U20A

  • 12.1" WXGA Resolution 1280x800, LED backlight,Color-Shine (Glare-type),

ASUS U35F

  • 10h battery
  • no backlit keyboard, no ODD

ASUS U30Jc

  • 13.3" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type), 2 kg
  • no mention of backlit keyboard
  • 8h battery life

ASUS U33Jc

  • glossy screen
  • 13.3" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlight, 1.8 kg
  • no optical drive, SSD option or mention of backlit keyboard

ASUS U35Jc

ASUS U43Jc

  • brown bamboo finish
  • 14" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlight, 2.14 kg
  • no mention of backlit keyboard

ASUS U45Jc

  • glossy screen
  • no mention of backlit keyboard or SSD
  • newegg reviews: multitouch trackpad, runs quiet, replaceable HDD
  • - single-bar trackpad button (deal-breaker)
  • Slim, brushed aluminum design for easy, smudge-proof portability

ASUS U50F

  • no backlit keyboard, fingerprint magnet
  • 3.5 hours battery

ASUS U53Jc

  • 15.6" 16:9 HD (1366x768) LED backlight, 2.76 kg

ASUS U6Vc

  • glossy

ASUS U33JC-RX068V (Bamboo)

  • Color Shine screen

ASUS UL30A

  • 13.3" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS UL30VT-X1

ASUS UL50Ag

  • 15.6" HD (1366x768) LED backlight,Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS UL50Vt

  • 15.6" HD (1366x768) LED backlight
  • glossy screen
  • Amazon users report glossy surfaces on the UL50Vt-A1

ASUS UL80Jt

  • 14" HD (1366x768) Color-Shine (Glare-type)

ASUS UL80Vt

ASUS X71SL

  • 17" WXGA+ Color-Shine (Glare-type)

Verdict: no candidates.

Compal

Compal NBLB2

  • 6lb, 15.6" screen @ 1920x1080, super glossy, LED backlit
  • Blu-Ray burner
  • no mention backlit keyboard

Micro Express NBL5100

  • USB 3.0
  • 5.75lb, 1920x1080 glare screen
  • numeric keypad, no mention of backlit keyboard
  • optional Blu-Ray

Micro Express NBL50

  • no numeric keypad, but still not illuminated
  • no USB 3.0
  • 6lb, 1920x1080 screen
  • Blu-Ray, HDMI
  • no opiton to illuminate the kevboard, but you can buy a USB floppy drive

Micro Express NT40

  • 3.5lbs, 13" 1366x768
  • no USB 3.0, no optical drive

Dell

Alienware M11x

Dell Adamo

  • no optical drive? Sony VAIO Z is way better.
  • 3.97lb - even Lenovo T410s is better.
  • only 1.65cm thick

Del E4310

  • optical drive, including Blu-Ray
  • gets very hot with Core i5: "I have a Core i5 M540. Heat generation and dissipation is so bad on this machine a few minutes sustained usage will result in a 1.2GHz max clock speed (i.e. pitiful performance). It would be nice if Dell could explain why they ship such a high spec processor in a design that prevents the chip get anywhere near its potential. It is quite astonishingly bad. If this chip could not down scale its clock speed it would be dead within minutes. The only way I have found to get sustained high speeds is to glue two additional exterior cooling fans to the machine."
  • "Note also the screen viewing angle is very poor"
  • many other reports of heat problem from Dell's own reviewers

Dell Latitude E6410 - pick

  • pick, owners' thread
  • own
  • - "The E6400's USB PowerShare feature, in which one port could charge an external device while the computer is off, has been dropped on the new model.". That means you can't charge devices while the laptop is off. Confirmed and personally confirmed.
  • reviews
    • notebookcheck
    • below average illumination of 77%
    • "The Latitude E6410 supplies a premium, working suitable image in both shade and direct sunlight."
    • "annoying color changes and especially an increasing contrast loss already turn up at the slightest deviation from the ideal, perpendicular viewing angle on the vertical plane."
      • yup. Poorer viewing angles than the Lenovo T410, but that's not a big deal for my use case. ? Really? Check if you can see the yellow at this page
    • 6-bit TN panel with poor viewing angles and backlight bleeding
    • the notebook remained mainly silent in idle mode and simple office load. Every now and again, the fan started up at a still very low level of 32.7 dB(A) and ran for a few minutes to only finally fall silent for a longer time.
      • Even a consistent utilization of the main components in the stress test only increased the noise level to a still acceptable 35.5 dB(A). DVD rendering runs just as pleasantly quiet with 35.4 dB(A).
    • passive cooling option in BIOS
  • good keyboard layout: separate home/end/ins/del/page up/down just like on normal keyboards, but NO context menu key!; backlit ($50)
    • there are two types of keyboard for Dell laptops, one of which is flatter and better
  • 14.1" WXGA+ Anti-Glare LED Display (1440x900); no higher resolution option when customizing. The other one is 1280x800
  • compared with the Lenovo T410
    • Dell has worse ergonomics due to flat surfaces and hard square corners which can become unfomfortable or painful over time
    • blue LEDs are distracting
    • "the fan on the T410 is higher pitched than the e6410, and you can't really tell when the e6410 is at full throttle but you can always tell when the T410 is, and it's annoying"
    • much better and louder speaker
    • the touchpad is actually as good as a Synaptics
  • no longer sold with a Blu-Ray option. A separate unit costs $690 or $575
    • Blu-Ray burners available on eBay for $225
  • advertised weight: 4.2lbs w/ 4-cell battery, SSD and no ODD. 2.4kg ACTUAL weight (with 9-cell battery?)
  • Verizon/Sprint/AT&T WWAN
  • batt: 4-cell (37Wh) Lithium Ion battery with ExpressChargeT (optional) 6-cell (60Wh) Lithium Ion high capacity battery with ExpressChargeT (standard) 9-cell (90Wh) Lithium Ion high capacity battery with ExpressChargeT (optional) + 12-cell (88Wh) Extended battery slice (optional) - battery life of 19 hours "Alternately, there is also a battery for the modular drive bay available - 48Wh for 135 dollars." - http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Dell-Latitude-E6410-Notebook.32771.0.html
    • with the standard 6-cell batt (flush on the rear):
    • 115 minutes DVD playback
    • 5.5h without LAN, minimum brightness
    • 4.5h true-to-life WLAN surfing - vs. 2.5h of the Lenovo T410s
  • review: Sometimes the machine gets really hot. Too hot to touch. I would expect this when I'm running cpu intensive programs but actually it gets hot even when it's just sitting idle, or doing backups overnight.
  • "no overheating problem like many other laptops of Dell"
  • "famous high pitched sound"
  • review: This is the 4th Dell laptop I've owned, and the first one that appears to have random freezing issues that I have so far been unable to resolve with Dell. Supposedly they are replacing the entire system (2 months into things), but based on the amount of similar issues online, I suspect this is a deeper issue.
  • review: "there are 4 USB ports but if three are in use, the fourth one won't work"
  • review: The Alps trackpad is finicky (especially the right button), the keyboard and the body fragile. The top is plastic.
  • review: Nevertheless quiet, moderately warm and a good performer.
  • the keyboard flexes a bit while typing
  • "This laptop is well built and the keyboard is well built"
  • notebookcheck: good keyboard
  • "The screen is viewable in direct sunlight and the speakers remain crisp even at volumes loud enough to fill a small room."
  • "And the backlit keyboard- the best keyboard I've ever used so far- good feel."
  • "Doesn't run hot, Quiet"
  • "Touchpad could be a lot better."
  • dull screen
  • no context menu keyboard button! WTF.
  • $3013 with all sensible options maxed out. Select the "Essential" when configuring. The other options limit the max amonut of RAM, or start without letting you select a CPU, or enact some other ridiculous limitation.

Dell Latitude E6420 - pick

Dell Latitude E6510

15.6" FHD Wide View Anti-Glare LED Display (1920 x 1080) - Starting weight: 5.53lbs/2.51kg (with 6-cell battery)

Dell Latitude Z600

  • 14.5mm thin
  • 16", 1600x900
  • backlit keyboard
  • ODD is only external
  • 2MP webcam
  • starts at $2200
  • Intel Core 2 Duo

[Dell Latitude E6410 ATG]

  • All-Terrain Grade, ruggedized
  • 14.1" WXGA Wide View Outdoor Viewable LED Display (1280x800)
  • Starting weight: 5.49lbs / 2.49kg (with 6-cell battery)
  • 1333MHz memory will run at 1066MHz

[Dell Inspiron 14z]

[Dell Inspiron 15R N5010]

  • tested personally 2011-02-02; $630+tax from Staples
  • HDD ST9640320AS, Blu-Ray drive: HL-DT-ST DVDRW/BDROM CT30N
  • only 1366x768 for 15", glossy, a standard choice for cheap laptops
    • POOR vertical viewing angles. 20 degree off the perpendicular direction to the screen, colors begin to shift visibly: whiteout if you look at the screen from above, darkened if you look from a bit below.
    • 1600x900 aftermarket screen available
  • Blu-Ray drive, but makes a clicking noise when inserting a DVD (and possibly later)
  • - keyboard issues:
    • silly reassignment of Fn keys to perform laptop-specific functions (volume up/down, Wi-Fi on/off etc.) instead of doing those by pressing Fn+F#. Configurable from the BIOS though.
    • besides that, the F# keys are labeled a faint blue on black, and are barely visible in a well-lit room. The reflection of the screen on the glossy laptop finish near the hinge doesn't help. The visible labeling is for the laptop function keys (Wi-fi on/off, brightness up/down etc.). This shows how the laptop is aimed at those who don't know what F5 does.
    • odd placement of the PrintScreen key between Insert and Delete
    • narrow trackpad buttons, often annoying to hit with the thumb
    • the arrow keys are too thin, half the height of normal keys
    • after having used laptops without a numeric keypad for the past few years, the keypad is not only useless; it gets in the way. where I expect Backspace to be, there's now Keypad Minus.
    • there is no Break key (useful for Win+Break to get the Windows System properties, or Ctrl+Break in command line applications)
    • there is no context menu key (equivalent to right click on the focused control)
  • the only useful options that are configurable in the BIOS are the F# keys behavior and the boot order
  • fan randomly ramps up while the laptop is idling with no windows open, without any connection to CPU load. Process Explorer (minimized) shows a flatline CPU usage under 5% without spikes.
  • replacing the hard disk requires removing the keyboard and palm rest

Dell Precision M4400

  • 5.92lbs
  • 15" screen, 100% Adobe RGB

Dell Precision M4500

  • weight starting at 6lbs
  • 15.6" HD+ UltraSharp LED Display (1600x900) Resolution 15.6" HD+ sRGB LED Back-Lit Display (1600x900) Resolution 15.6" FHD LED Back-Lit Display (1920x1080) Resolution
  • Up to 16GB4 DDR3 SDRAM at 1333Mhz - 2 DIMMS
  • Blu-Ray, 256GB SSD

Dell Precision 6500

  • weight starting at 8.4lbs

[Dell Studio 14z]

Dell Vostro V130

  • 13" and only $400
  • 3.5lbs
  • only 3h of battery life; similar complaints mention between 1.5h and 3.5h
  • lack of Tech Specs at dell.com
  • no optical drive
  • Hyperbaric cooling, WTF is that. Users report it running cool and silent.

Dell Vostro 3500

  • 15" screen with only 1366x768

Dell XPS 14

  • glossy screen
  • weight starts at 5.35lbs
  • boasts cool speakers (JBL)
  • HDMI, Mini DisplayPort
  • only 1366x768?; no better aftermarket screens
  • "wavemax audio is impressive"; "the HP Envy sounds like a crappy laptop"
  • Blu-Ray burner
  • batt: Up to 5 hours, 23 minutes9 of battery life with 6-cell battery - 5.35lb / 2.43kg Up to 8 hours, 29 minutes9 of battery life with 9-cell battery - 5.72lb / 2.6kg
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • optional WWAN/mobile broadband, GPS, TV tuner
  • some 3DTV blu-ray software thing
  • 9-in-1 card reader, 720p webcam

Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS Studio 16

Verdict: Dell E6410, but the standard batt only lasts 5.5h (with Core i7 though), the screen is dull, and Dell doesn't put context menu keys on the keyboard

Fujitsu

Tablets and notebooks

LifeBook LH530 Notebook

  • 14.0" Crystal View WXGA HD Display
    • External Only: 1920 x 1200, 16M colors - finally
  • weight 5.07 lbs. with battery.
  • no mention of backlit keyboard

Fujitsu LifeBook S710

  • 14", 1366x768
  • same shit external resolution support as with the S760
  • no Blu-Ray, and not available as an accessory
  • 5.1lbs

LifeBook S760 Notebook

  • 3.44 lbs. with Weight saver, 3.73 lbs with Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer, 3.99 lbs. with Modular bay Battery
  • WTF resolution w/ external monitor:
    • Internal Display: Max. 1366 x 768, 16M colors
    • External Only: Max. 1600 x 1200, 16M colors
    • Simultaneous: Max. 1366 x 768, 16M colors
  • spill resistant keyboard but no mention of backlit
  • no Blu-Ray, and not available as an accessory or when configuring

LifeBook P770 Notebook

  • 12.1" anti-glare
    • Maximum internal display: 1280 x 800, 16M colors
    • External monitor display: (max.): 1920 x 1200, 16M colors - the S760 is ridiculous then
  • Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
  • "Approx. 3.0 lbs. with 6-cell battery and optical drive". Get the Sony VAIO Z.

LifeBook S710 Notebook

  • 14" High-Definition, Anti-Glare LED backlit display 1366 x 768
    • External monitor: 1600 x 1200, 16M colors
  • 5.1 lbs. with battery, optical drive

Fujitsu Lifebook T900 Tablet PC

  • 13.3", 1280x800, 160 degree vertical and horizontal viewing angles
    • External monitor resolution: 1920 x 1200, 16M colors
  • DVD burner only; no Blu-Ray
  • spill-resistant keyboard, but no work of backlight
  • starting weight: 4.78 lbs with modular weight saver --- get the Sony VAIO Z then

Verdict: no candidates better than Lenovo T410s, as of 2011-02-01.

Gateway

EC series

  • has only one model, 15.5", 5.29lb, but the battery is said to last 8 hours

ID series

  • 5.07lbs for 14", 5.5lbs for 15.6", unspecified resolution

Gateway NV5929u

Verdict: no candidates.

Gigabyte

Notebooks

Gigabyte E1425A

  • 14" WXGA HD 1366 x 768 LED backlight
  • ~2.4kg (w/ODD and 8-cell battery)
  • get the Lenovo T410s

Gigabyte E1425M

  • 14.0" WXGA HD 1366 x 768 LED back-light
  • ~2.34kg (w/ODD and 4-cell battery)
  • get the Lenovo T410s

Gigabyte E1500

  • 15.6" 1366x768 LED backlight

Gigabyte I1320

  • no optical disk drive
  • 1.5kg

Gigabyte I1520N

  • 1366x768 for 15"

Gigabyte M1305

  • two typos in the descripton, "flexiable bay", "DVD-Super Multi Dal-layer Drive"
  • 13.3" WXGA HD(1366x768) LED backlight
  • ~1.66kg (w/ battery), ~1.79kg (w/ODD and battery)
  • no word about Blu-Ray
  • docking station

Gigabyte M1405

  • 14" WXGA HD 1366x768 LED backlight - for this low resolution, get the 13.3" one
  • ~1.62kg(w/ 6-cell battery), ~1.75kg (w/ODD and 6-cell battery)
  • Slim-Body DVD-Super Multi Dual-layer Drive

Gigabyte Q1105M

  • 11.6" WXGA HD 1366x768 LED back-light
  • ~1.5kg (w/6-cell battery)
  • get the VAIO Z

Gigabyte Q1447M

  • 14" WXGA HD(1366x768) LED backlight
  • ~2.2kg (w/ODD and 6-cell battery)
  • get the Lenovo T410s

Gigabyte Q1447N

  • 14" WXGA HD(1366x768) LED backlight
  • ~2.2kg (w/ODD and 6-cell battery)
  • get the Lenovo T410s

Gigabyte Q1580L

  • 15.4" WSVGA HD(1280x800)

Gigabyte Q1585N

  • 15.6" 1366x768 LED backlight

Best candidate: M1305, no Blu-Ray drive. Get the Sony VAIO Z.

HP

From personal observation (2004), Brightview screens were equally reflective but less bright than TruBrite or Crystal View.

Laptop chooser

Current notebooks between 12.0" and 14.9"

  • HP G42t series - 14.0", 4.95lbs
  • HP Pavilion dv5t series - 14.5", 5.19lbs
  • HP Pavilion dm3t series - 13.3" 1366x768, 3.99lbs; external optical drive; backlit keyboard option, Up to 7.5 hours of battery life (6 cell)+++, ~$800
  • HP Pavilion dm4t series - 14", 4.4lbs
  • HP TouchSmart tm2t series - 4.17lbs, 12" multitouch tablet
  • the Envy 13 isn't listed (!)

HP dm3t

  • HP Mobile Broadband with GPS (Choose Verizon Wireless, AT&T or Sprint)
  • 160GB SSD
  • $1400 for all max options, no software
  • 13.3" diagonal High Definition HP BrightView LED Display (1366 x 768)
  • external optical drive
  • backlit keyboard
  • up to 7.5h 6-cell battery; no larger batteries, and no bay to swap another one in
  • 3.99lb. The Lenovo T410s has the same weight and an optical drive and a matte screen.

HP EliteBook 2540p - quasi-pick

  • [semi-pick]
  • 12.1", 1280x800 matte. 1.8kg, DVD/RW drive
  • review
    • "The noise volume is unobtrusive during normal use and the same goes for temperature gain."
    • looks ad built very solid
    • "Good loudspeakers"
  • reviews from HP's site:
    • "Not able to see [the display] in sunlight."
    • "Even with much calibration the colors no not show and seems like it is 16bit only."
  • HP Night Light direct keyboard illumination
  • DisplayPort, FireWire
  • only 2 USB 2.0 ports, no eSATA
  • ExpressCArd/34, FireWire
  • WWAN, GPS

HP EliteBook 8440w - semi-pick

  • configure-to-order
  • semi-pick
  • 5.3lb+ with DVD-ROM drive
  • no keyboard backlight but "HP Night Light" at the top of the screen
  • anti-glare display, option for 1600x900 for 14"
  • Blu-Ray
  • docking station
  • USB 2.0

HP EliteBook 8440p - semi-pick

  • semi-pick
  • weight starting at 5.0lb with DVD-ROM drive, but max memory 8GB vs. 16GB in the 'w' version
  • USB 2.0

HP Elitebook 8540p

HP EliteBook 8740w Mobile Workstation

HP Envy 13-1130NR

  • 13.1" Diagonal High-Definition LED HP Radiance Infinity Widescreen Display (1366x768)
  • In the PDF: Uncompromised video experience with high-definition(8) resolution (up to 1600x900) ! the PDF is fucked. It mentions 101 keys, while the Envy 13 only has 84. Probably copy/paste from Envy 15 or 17.
  • Wide/Symmetrical Viewing Angles: (60/50/60/60) for more flexible viewing options.
  • 3.74 lbs
  • apparently the optical drive is external
  • apparently no way to customize it from HP
  • apparently discontinued and only sold in the HP outlet
  • good keyboard

HP ENVY 14 series

  • [semi-pick]
  • review
  • 14.5" 1600x900 "Radiance" screen - glossier than usual, good brightness and black levels
  • 5.2lbs
  • most people report 4h15m on light WLAN surfing; 5h15m WLAN battery test (who?)
  • backlit keyboard
    • somewhat annoying layout, with F# keys moved to the background, and Insert separated from Delete by two keys
  • rock solid metal chassis
  • eSATA/USB combo, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI
  • slot-loading ODD; Blu-Ray?
  • Fan noise was moderate compared to similarly-sized notebooks, but average when compared to systems with similar hardware. At idle with the processor in Balanced mode and the graphics set to integrated graphics, the ENVY 14 had its fan running continuously at a slow speed at whisper levels. It was noticeable in a very quiet room, but blended in when you had more background noise. With the processor and dedicated graphics stressed the noise levels went up, but not higher than what we heard from the Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 with a similar configuration.
  • complaints about the touchpad

HP ENVY 14 Beats edition series

  • 5.69lbs
  • red backlit keyboard

HP Pavilion dm1

  • announced at CES 2011
  • 11", 3.4lb

HP Pavilion dv6tse (Select Edition)

  • glossy 15.6" screen

HP Pavilion d7v and d7vt Select Edition Series

HP Compaq 5310M

HP Mini 5101

  • screen artificially limited to 10.1"

HP TouchSmart tx2-1375dx (owned)

  • tester personally 2009-Dec
  • screen flips to transform into a tablet, with an N-Trig touchscreen that responds to both pen and fingers
  • screen: 12.2", 1200x800, matte/glossy (still reflects lights, but not as bad as full-gloss screens), grainy (because of the touch sensitive matrix)
  • - AMD Turion RM-75 CPU gets very hot even at low utilization and causes the (loud) fan to turn on often
  • - poor keyboard: not backlit; function keys are too small and without ambient light, difficult to see at the screen's own light, PageUp/PageDown/Home/End are moved to the top row
  • 2.2kg with battery (protrudes), DVD drive, remote control and pen/stylus
  • - comes with Windows 7 Professional and lots of bloatware

Verdict: No worthy candidates.

Lenovo

On "newer" ThinkPads, you can switch the fucked up Fn Ctrl via a BIOS setting.

Basic Lenovo laptop selector

Systems Reference PDFs, including laptops and withdrawn products back to 1987 - "comprehensive information on the features and technical specifications of Lenovo products." The specs are much more detailed than the web version, but obviously you can't link within a PDF to the specific model you care about. Online, there are some more detailed specs here (change the product), but not as detailed as in the PDF.

There are 7 "types" of ThinkPad 410s laptops: 2901, 2904, 2907, 2912, 2924, 2926, 2928. Each type has over 90 models, from A11 to RZ4 in the case of the 2901. Oh, and there's ThinkPad 410, 410s, 410i, and 410si. Enjoy the paradox of choice. The ThinkPad 410s, 410si overview doesn't list the specs from all these models. For example, there's no 8GB RAM option (which can be found in the 2910 RG1)

Avoid the Edge and SL series. The T and X series are superior in every aspect. Avoid IdeaPad also. All but one (the 12.5" one) have glossy screens.

Megamonster: dual screen, SSD RAID

Thinkpad wiki

Accessories

  • 256GB FDE SSD SATA 3Gb/s 1.8"(2.5" cover) accessory, can be used as the main HDD
  • 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Low-Halogen SODIMM 55Y3708 ann 06/23/09
  • ThinkPad Battery 42 (3-cell, bay)43 57Y4536 ann 08/25/09, Used in Ultrabay Slim bay.

!: "Ultrabay Slim Blu-ray Burner II (SATA) 43N3230 ann 06/23/09" accessory for the T410 and X201, X201s, X201 Tablet ??? are they pluggable only in the Ultrabase? That's is the case for the X201, which doesn't have a built-in optical drive * The T410s 2901 has a removable DVD drive, into which an extra battery can be plugged + Amazon has them used, $250 or so

Lenovo Essential series

Avoid completely. The T series is vastly superior.

Lenovo G530

  • 15.4 1280x800 glossy

Lenovo G450

  • 14.0 1366x768 glossy
  • DVD burner not removable
  • weight from 2.21kg

Lenovo G455

  • 14.0 1366x768 glossy
  • DVD burner not removable
  • weight from 2.2kg

Lenovo G550

  • 15.6 1366x768 glossy
  • DVD burner not removable
  • weight from 2.7kg

Lenovo G555

  • 15.6 1366x768 glossy, CCFL backlight
  • DVD burner not removable
  • weight from 2.7kg

Lenovo G460

  • 14.0 1366x768 glossy
  • DVD burner not removable

Lenovo G560

  • 15.6 1366x768 glossy, LED backlight
  • DVD burner not removable

Lenovo IdeaPad series

All smaller IdeaPads have VibrantView glossy screens

IdeaPad U260

  • Core i5
  • max 4GB RAM
  • no keyboard backlight, or ThinkLight
  • 1.38kg
  • batt up to 4h
  • no multicard reader
  • no optical drive
  • 12.5" 1366x768 anti-glare, LED backlight
  • webcam, only 0.3MP
  • HDMI

IdeaPad U350

  • 13.3" glossy
  • ULV CPU, also dual-core in some versions
  • no optical drive
  • no keyboard backlight
  • 8-cell batt up to 10h
  • hard disks "no removable", and 5400rpm

IdeaPad U450p

  • 14.0" glossy
  • fixed dual-layer DVD
  • hard disks "not removable", and 5400rpm

IdeaPad U460/U460s

  • 14.0" glossy
  • no optical drive
  • weight: 4.3lb
  • 's' is for switchable graphics

IdeaPad U550

  • 15.6" glossy

IdeaPad V460

  • 14.0" 1366x768 VibrantView glossy
  • loud speakers
  • switchable or GMA graphics

IdeaPad Y460

  • 14.0" (355.6mm) HD (WXGA 1366x768) TFT color, VibrantView (glossy); same for switchable graphics
  • Weight with optical drive and battery: 6-cell: 4.71 lb (2.1 kg)

IdeaPad Y460p

IdeaPad Y550/Y550P

  • 15.6" 1366x768 glossy

IdeadPad Y560

  • 15.6" 1366x768 glossy

IdeadPad Y650

IdeadPad Y730

  • 17.0" 1440x900 glossy, some 1920x1200, but all glossy

IdeaPad Z360

  • 13.3" 1366x768 glossy
  • DVD burner not removable
  • Intel Core i5
  • no multi-touch touchpad
  • no keyboard light
  • NVIDIA GeForce 310M
  • 1.3MP webcam
  • batt up to 4.5h

IdeaPad Z460

+! normal Ctrl, Fn placement; but no Ins key?! - 14.0" 1366x768 glossy - DVD burner not removable - no multi-touch touchpad - no keyboard light

IdeaPad Z560

  • 15.6" 1366x768 glossy
  • DVD burner not removable
  • numeric keypad

IdeaPad Z565

  • 15.6" 1366x768 glossy
  • Blu-Ray reader, no burning
  • no keyboard light

Lenovo T series

  • some have ThinkLight

ThinkPad Edge 13" 0196 (Intel)

  • no optical drive
  • VibrantView glossy display

ThinkPad Edge 13" 0197 (AMD)

  • no optical drive
  • VibrantView glossy display

ThinkPad Edge 14"

  • VibrantView glossy display
  • DVD burner, SATA 1.5Gb/s, 12.7mm high, fixed, not removable, tray-in

ThinkPad Edge 14" 0199 (AMD)

  • 14.0" (355mm) HD (1366x768) color, anti-glare
  • DVD burner, SATA 1.5Gb/s, 12.7mm high, fixed, not removable, tray-in

ThinkPad Edge 15"

  • 15.6" but only 1366x768
  • DVD burner, SATA 1.5Gb/s, 12.7mm high, fixed, not removable, tray-in
  • some anti-glare, some glossy
  • 5.32lb or more

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420s

  • available in April 2011
  • 4.14lbs

ThinkPad L412 4403

  • no ThinkLight
  • keyboard not backlit
  • max 8GB RAM
  • optical drive "fixed, not removable" and not Blu-Ray
  • anti-glare display

ThinkPad L412 4404

  • optical drive "fixed, not removable" and not Blu-Ray

ThinkPad L412 0530

  • optical drive "fixed, not removable" and not Blu-Ray

ThinkPad L412 0553

  • optical drive "fixed, not removable" and not Blu-Ray

ThinkPad L412 0585

  • optical drive "fixed, not removable" and not Blu-Ray

Lenovo ThinkPad SL410

  • 14.0" VibrantView, only 1366x768
  • no camera in any configuration
  • no Blu-Ray option
  • DVD burner not removable
  • no ThinkLight

ThinkPad SL510

  • 1366x768, some anti-glare
  • DVD drive not removable

Lenovo ThinkPad T400

  • discontinued

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s

  • lighter than the T400
  • keyboard still sucks: Fn and ctrl swapped, not backlit (but probably has the LED light from the T400)

Lenovo ThinkPad T410

  • all models have a weight starting at 5.0lbs. See the 410s for slimmer version.
  • but have a modular bay for interchangeable devices on the right side
  • 1280x800 or 1440x900
  • 6-cell batt: 6.6hr; 9-cell: up to 11hr; +slice bettery: 22hr

Lenovo ThinkPad T410i

  • Core i3
  • weight starts at 5.0lbs

Lenovo ThinkPad T410s 2901 - pick

  • pick
  • 14.1" 1440x900 LED backlit, matte
  • 4.8h quoted battery life (4.11 measured, with 1 WLAN page refresh per minute), and no option for larger battery that would stick out
    • "Noise levels were at a minimum even during stressful situations like constant back-to-back benchmarks."
  • "The battery design is much smaller to follow the trend of the thinner design, but it has the disadvantage of not sticking out the back to increase total capacity. Users looking for extended battery life have only one option... an additional multi-bay 3-cell battery." -- http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=5827
  • weight 3.94lb
  • removable "Ultrabay Slim" DVD can be replaced with extra battery for 7.9h life; and can take the Blu-Ray drive (buy separately?)
  • Core i5, 8GB RAM max
  • DisplayPort and VGA; no HDMI
  • ThinkLight can illuminate the keyboard in the dark
  • The F# keys are in the normal position, with a fat Esc key to the left
  • the Del key was made fat, and Ins was moved to the left
  • two USB2.0 ports, + one powered, another USB/eSATA combo
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 2MP webcam
  • multicard 3-in-1: SD, SDHC MMC
  • "The laptop is very quiet, and I also can not feel the temperature change after several hours usage."
  • "It's true that it's quite bright, however this comes at the expense of a very high black level, low contrast and virtually non-existent vertical viewing angles. Overall this results in a screen that only impresses at first glance, if even that. I have the multi-touch version and LT141DEQ8B00 panel" - http://reviews.lenovo.com/8923/996BA0BF589A40D489F5FC222AA15BDE_12F0696583E04D86B9B79B0FEC01C087/lenovo-thinkpad-t410s-reviews/reviews.htm?page=2
  • "My only slight complaint would be that the fan is loud and it runs often. It's not that big of a deal but you definitely hear it." - http://reviews.lenovo.com/8923/996BA0BF589A40D489F5FC222AA15BDE_12F0696583E04D86B9B79B0FEC01C087/lenovo-thinkpad-t410s-reviews/reviews.htm?page=2 ? TODO: ThinkPad bgn vs. Centrino Advanced vs. Ultimate: # Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000 # ThinkPad bgn Wireless # [add $20.00] Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 (2x2 AGN) # [add $40.00] Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3x3 AGN) # [add $55.00] Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250 ? TODO: # Integrated Mobile Broadband - Upgradable # Integrated Mobile Broadband (Gobi 2000 3G with GPS) ? TODO: no Blu-Ray option to be customized in
  • from a notebookcheck.net review of the touchscreen version
    • surfing with WLAN: 2h32m
    • very good maximum brightness
    • below average illumination of only 67%. Even worse is the contrast ratio: 95:1, which is considerably low. The cause is a very high black level at 2.99 cd/mý.
    • noise level: 32dB - 36.9dB @ 15cm distance; "the cooling system runs at a relatively constant level, with a quiet low frequency humming."
    • "The maximum volume is sufficient for use at work, and the sound does not get distorted. Mid range and high frequencies give a well balanced impression, but the sound has to make due without a sub-woofer and hence lacks bass, similarly to most notebooks."

Lenovo ThinkPad T410s 2904

  • like the 2901, but with 128GB SSD ! some versions have no multicard reader, some have no ExpressCard
  • option for switchable graphics, NVIDIA Quadro NVS3100M; also Optimus

ThinkPad T410s 2912

  • 160GB SSD
  • 1333MHz DDR3
  • no discrete graphics
  • multitouch screen version is heavier, 2.05kg, and 3mm thicker
  • multicard reader, SD, SDHC, MMC, MS, MS Pro

ThinkPad T410s 2912 switchable

  • NVIDIA Quadro NVS3100M
  • SSD max 128GB
  • WWAN

ThinkPad T410s 2912 Optimus

  • 3-in-1 multicard reader
  • WWAN upgradeable

ThinkPad T410s 2924 (Onsite)

  • DDR only up to 1066MHz
  • no multicard reader with integrated graphics
  • multicard reader with switchable graphics (!?)
  • not sure what the point of this version is

ThinkPad T410si 2901

  • Core i3
  • no multicard reader
  • avoid

ThinkPad T410si 2904

  • like above but
  • 160GB SSD
  • avoid

ThinkPad T420s

Lenovo ThinkPad T510

  • 15.6" HD Anti-Glare, LED baclkight

Lenovo ThinkPad W510

  • 15.6" up to 1920x1080 ! 95% color gamut
  • weight starting at 2.67kg
  • 1 USB 3.0
  • 256GB SSD; also RAID
  • multitouch touchpad
  • Core i7
  • Blu-Ray "Ultrabay" drive "accessory" - is that built in or not?!
    • apparently it replaces the drive, http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-ThinkPad-Enhanced-Blu-ray-Burner/dp/B00116ALCO

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

  • 11.6" HD screen

Lenovo ThinkPad X201

  • 12.11" widescreen
  • 2.89lbs
  • optical drive only in the UltraBase docking station

Lenovo ThinkPad X201 Tablet

  • optical drive only in the UltraBase docking station

Lenovo ThinkPad X300

  • 1.2GHz

Lenovo ThinkPad X301

  • Intel Core 2 Duo @ 1.6GHz
  • 13.3" 1440x900 anti-glare LED-backlit
  • saw one side by side with my Dell E6410 - the screen is almost as big; as in, insignificantly smaller. Didn't work on it, though, just saw it.
  • DVD burner, removable
  • DislayPort
  • ThinkLight
  • weight: 1.52kg (3.35lb), 6-cell batt, 5.5hr
  • Option Bay batt: 9.5hr
  • Verizon WWAN
  • USB 2.0
  • fingerprint reader, webcam
  • max 4GB RAM
  • multi-touch touchpad
  • 128GB SSD option
  • !!! withdrawn July, Sep or Dec 2009
  • no Blu-Ray option or accessory

Lenovo ThinkPad X301 27763PU

  • discontinued - WHY, OH, WHY
  • 3.35lb, optical drive, 13" matte screen
  • swapped Fn and Ctrl keys

Lenovo ThinkPad X1

  • "(Premium) 13.3" (338mm) HD (1366x768) TFT color, anti-glare display with glossy infinity Corningr Gorilla Glass"
  • - glossy
  • good viewing angles
  • backlit keyboard
  • 3.73lbs
  • no optical drive
  • no trackpad buttons but can configure two-finger tap to act as right click
  • "The fan did run during these times, but wasn't loud enough to distract us from watching media or to distract someone next to us from watching a TV show. Lenovo uses an "owl" fan which is designed to make less noise while spinning and offers five speeds so that it can adjust between a larger number of speeds."
  • 4h20m batt life while surfing, 8h20m w/ extended battery
  • "amazing sound"
  • RapidCharge Battery charges to 80% in 30 minutes

MSI

13"-14" notebooks

MSI FX400-063US

  • 14" 1366 x 768 glossy
  • 4.8lbs

MSI FX400-062US

  • 14" 1366 x 768, glossy
  • 4.8lbs
  • get the Lenovo T410s

MSI X350-408US

  • max RAM 4GB
  • no optical drive
  • no mention of backlit keyboard

MSI X420-004US

  • no optical drive

MSI X400-205US

  • no optical drive

MSI X400-204US

  • no optical drive
  • 3.7lbs

MSI CR650

  • 15.6"
  • USB 3.0 apparently

Verdict: no candidates

Panasonic

Rugged notebooks comparison

The F9 is the best mix among C1, T8, W8, 52, 74, 19, 31, H1, U1.

Toughbook 52

  • weight 7.2lb+

Toughbook 74

  • weight 5.95lb

N8, N9

  • no optical drive

Panasonic Toughbook F9

  • HardwareCentral review
  • 3.6lb
  • 14.1" 1440x900 matte
  • WEIRD: the Delete key is on the bottom row next to the left arrow
  • no DisplayPort, HDMI or USB 3.0
  • no webcam
  • no mention of backlit keyboard
  • 5h batt with WiFi on and normal work; 3h15m watching movies
  • spill-resistant keyboard
  • narrow viewing angle, 20deg

Panasonic Toughbook S9

  • 12.1" widescreen 1280 x 800 WXGA LCD, anti-glare, LED-backlit
  • integrated DVD-RW
    • no mention of Blu-Ray upgradeability
  • no mention of keyboard backlight
  • HDMI
  • 11 h battery
  • 3.0lbs
  • USB 2.0
  • no webcam

Verdict: no candidates

Samsung

Really uninformative website for the US market, with lots of missing specs, e.g. screen resolution and CPU speed for all laptops (!) and weight for some laptops. Comparison doesn't show USB 3.0 For more, but different (conflicting) specs, due to different markets, search for the model at * http://www.samsung.com/ae/consumer/computers-peripherals/laptops/r-series/NP-R580-JS02AE/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail&tab=specification (no Blu-Ray) * http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/laptops/NP-R580-JBB1US (Blu-Ray) (marked "NP-R580I") * http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/laptops/NP-R580-JBB2US (also marked "NP-R580I") * http://www.samsung.com/ae/function/search/espsearchResult.do?keywords=R580I&input_keyword=R580I - R580I doesn't exist

Samsung 9

  • announced at CES 2011
  • anti-glare matte display
  • 13.3" and 2.89lb
  • no optical drive
  • USB 3.0
  • backlit keyboard
  • no trackpad buttons, but the reviewer liked it despite that
  • non-removable battery, 6.5h
  • WiMAX

Samsung RV510-A01

  • apparently matte screen
  • though http://www.notebookcheck.net/Samsung-RV510-A08UK.41398.0.htmldescribes a related one as glossy

No HDMI port. Video review at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYy6zfenc00 shows no optical drive, and http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/laptops/NP-RV510-A01US doesn't mention any in the specs, but has a picture of the laptop with an open tray.

Nothing surprising, as Samsung's website is so uninformative it doesn't even list screen resolutions, CPU frequencies, or whether laptops have an optical drive.

Samsung RF510

  • "multi-gesture"
  • glossy screen, 1366x768
  • great sound, video review says

Samsung SF510-A01

Samsung NF310-A01

  • 10.1" screen
  • 9.4h battery

Samsung Q430-11

Samsung Q430-JU01

  • 5.25lb; Costco lists 4.7lbs
  • LIST THE FUCKING SCREEN RESOLUTION! 1366x768, of course, but do we have to go to Costco to see it?
  • $700 at Costco
  • no mention of keyboard backlight

Samsung QX410-J01

Samsung R440-11

Samsung R480

  • glossy
  • blu-ray
  • 5.07lb
  • Island keyboard: Type faster with fewer errors

Samsung R530-11

Samsung R540

http://www.samsung.com/ae/consumer/computers-peripherals/laptops/r-series/NP-R540-JS03AE/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail&tab=specification (no Blu-Ray) glossy Or http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/laptops/NP-R540-JSE1US, which says Blu-Ray? WTF?

Verdict: boycott lack of information; no strong candidates anyway.

System 76 - Ubuntu laptops

Lemur UltraThin

  • 13.3" HD WXGA Super Clear Ultra-Bright LED backlit (1366 x 768)
  • 3.4lbs
  • no optical drive

Toshiba

All laptops. 13 "lightweight" laptops between 13" and 14". No candidates better than the Lenovo T410s.

If you can't find a specific laptop's specifications on the Toshiba site (e.g. good luck try searching for U505 in their U500 series, try to construct the URL like this:

http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/
<series name>/, e.g. satellite-pro, but apparently that is ignored
<series model>/, e.g. U500
<model number>/, e.g. U505-S2010

Examples:
http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/satellite/U500/U505-S2010
http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/satellite-pro/U500/U505-S2010
http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/anycraphere/U500/U505-S2010

Toshiba Portege R700-ST1303

  • 13.3", 1366x768
  • customizable
  • max 128 SSD
  • no backlit keyboard
  • DVD SuperMulti Drive but no Blu-Ray option
  • "Fan runs too noisy and performance not good. I've had VAIOS every year for the past 10 years, decided to change, going back to VAIO." No mention of i5 vs. i7
  • port replicator for USB 3.0 with one really bad review

Toshiba R705-P35

  • DVD drive
  • 3.2lbs
  • 13.3" screen, 1366x768, LED-backlit, WiDi, TruBrite (=glossy)
  • 8h batt
  • HDMI and "RBG" port (WTF is that?)
  • no mention of backlit keyboard in any specs
  • no Blu-ray option in PDF specs
  • crap speakers?

Toshiba Satellite

Toshiba Satellite E205

  • backlit keyboard
  • 5.1lbs, 14.0", 1366x768
  • USB 2.0, but with eSATA
  • no Blu-Ray, and not customizable
  • glossy (collects smudges) but good keyboard
  • "sound quality was just mildly tinny"
  • "The E205's six-cell battery lasted 4:53 hours on the LAPTOP battery test"
  • $962+

Toshiba Satellite E305

  • Blu-Ray
  • USB 3.0, WiDi 2.0
  • 14" and probably 1366x768 - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2374974,00.asp
  • 5lb
  • not available until "Spring"
  • rightmost key placement

Toshiba Satellite Pro U500-S1322

  • interesting, multi-touch touchscreen and touchpad
  • backlit keyboard
  • battery only lasts 3.5hr
  • 4.74lbs
  • glossy screen as seen in all YouTube videos; however, not as glossy as the lid

Toshiba Satellite L640

  • "Our Satellite L640 laptop series comes with a 14" diagonal TruBriter HD LED backlit display"

Toshiba Satellite M640

  • 14" 1366x768 glossy
  • weight starts at 5.4lbs
  • backlit keyboard but "tile", which I hated in an Acer laptop

Toshiba Satellite U505-S2010

Tecra M11 series

  • 14" anti-glare, 1600x900
  • 7+2 laptops in the series, and their weight starts at 5.34lbs. Battery life ranges between 4.06 and 5.45 hours.
  • none have Blu-Ray as an option, nor do they mention backlit keyboards

Chat with Customer Rep as of 2010-12-12: "Alright after checking out the R700 none of them will have the backlit keyboard and blu-ray drive. I do apologize."

Verdict: no candidates better than the Lenovo T410s.

Sager

Notebooks

Sager NP3101

  • "All the while you will have the security of knowing you have over 3 hours of battery life to keep this state-of-the art unit operating."
  • 13.3" (16:9) HD (1366x768) LED-Backlit Display with Super Clear Glare Type Screen / 13.3" HD LED Display with Super Glossy Surface (1366 x 768)
  • No optical drive. No backlit keyboard.

No other candidates from Sager.

Sony

Specs

Compare the latest VAIO laptops

  • Z series: 13.1", 3.04lbs, 7h batt, starting at $1900
  • Y series: 13.3", 3.92lbs, 7h batt, no backlit keyboard, no optical drive, standard SSD, starting at $770
  • EA series: 14.0", 5.2lbs, max batt: 3.5hrs. No. Get a Lenovo T410s.

Sony VAIO A270

  • DVDRW, 17", 512RAM, 80GB HDD @ 5400
  • personally tested 2004-Dec: the hard disk died in the first few days; returned

Sony EA Series

  • 5.2lbs, 14" 1366x768
  • quoted battery likfe: Default Settings: Up to 3.5 hours w standard battery, 5h w/ high capacity battery
  • Blu-Ray burner option
  • HDMI out
  • no keyboard backlight (not mentioned, and not customizable)

Sony VAIO EB series

  • only one laptop, but configurable
  • 15.6" 1920x1080
  • 6lbs
  • high capacity battery option ($50)
  • Blu-Ray writer option ($150)
  • no keyboard backlight (not mentioned, and not customizable)

Sony VAIO S Series - semi-pick

  • "If you want a lower res panel, a standard SSD drive, and keep everything else, check out the Vaio S. "It's a bit heavier -still under 2kg- and only has a nVidia 310M, but, it has a lower res panel, so it looks enough. And it's cheaper!" -- http://forum.notebookreview.com/sony/536554-speculation-time-sandy-bridge-coming-ces-what-your-hopes-dreams-vpc-z-successor-4.html#post6930320
  • VPCS1390X Configure-To-Order
  • the VPC-SX9E model is quiet
    • "The hard disk is only audible when the fan turns off in idle. Then we hear the quiet whirring. The read and write heads are almost inaudible during activity."
  • 13.3", 1366x768, 2kg, DVD/RW drive
  • screen actually looks good, despite notebookcheck's review of a similar model
    • ~40-degree viewing angle, both directions
  • illuminated keyboard with good layout. Insert and Delete are together.
  • crappy sound, again
  • standard battery lasts 4:24 in WLAN surfing; 6:34 without WLAN
    • The Vaio S' six-cell battery lasted 4:27 on the LAPTOP battery test
    • "protruding replacement battery, VGP-BPL21, with 7500 mAh (490 grams)" available ($100)
  • no eSATA or USB 3.0
  • no Bluetooth 3.0?
  • port replicator/docking connector
  • multi-touch touchpad

Sony VAIO SR

  • discontinued
  • 1280 x 800
  • 13.3", 4.39lbs

Sony VAIO TT

  • officially discontinued, but various configurations still available online
  • 11.1", 1366x768
  • Blu-Ray, smallest notebook with ~
  • 2.87lbs
  • Intel Core 2 Duo / Centrino
  • get the VAIO Z. It's a tad heavier, but has Core i5 and better resolution.

Sony VAIO X

  • 11.1", no optical drive

Sony VAIO Z

  • no sound could be heard
    • err. This seems to have been the case at a tech expo, not in a quiet room.
  • VPCZ119GX:
    • matte, 1600x900
    • 3 USB 2.0 ports (no USB 3.0)
    • Blu-Ray drive
    • - narrow viewing angle
    • "When under stress, the Vaio Z will generate copious quantities of hot air. It's hot enough so that i would no leave my fingers too close of the exhaust area, so be careful"
  • "the screen's horizontal viewing angles are among the best we've seen" - http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/sony-vaio-z.aspx
  • "continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), the laptop ran for a pretty good 5 hours and 21 minutes in Stamina mode"
  • "The VAIO Z offered data rates of 44.3 Mbps and 29.4 Mbps, respectively at 15 and 50 feet away from our router."
  • see limitations
  • fan noise of a similar Z with Core i5
  • annoying keyboard and buttons. See the keyboard at Fry's, you do have to press Fn for home/end/page up/down

Sony VAIO VPCZ1190X

  • 13.1" LED backlit
  • 3.04lb
  • fuck, wtf: "Max. External Display Resolution via HDMI : 1920x1080"
  • HDMI, fingerprint scanner
  • backlit keyboard
  • Verizon WWAN option

Sony VAIO VPCZ122GX/B

  • on display at Fry's
  • no Blu-Ray

Sony VAIO VPCZ1390X - pick

  • pick
  • 256BG x2 SSD = $1300
  • 13.1" 1600x900 or 1920x1080, glossy but not excessively so (seen at Fry's) "1600x900, better than average quality, good colour and great brightness. 1920x1080, even better quality, a bit dimmer and better color reproduction -96% AdobeRGB-" - http://forum.notebookreview.com/sony/536554-speculation-time-sandy-bridge-coming-ces-what-your-hopes-dreams-vpc-z-successor-4.html#post6930320
  • Blu-Ray burner = $500
  • USB 2.0
  • Home/End/Page Up/Page Down are overlaid on the arrow keys ? can it read SDHC? A: yes ? can it power 1920x1200 monitor?
    • "Secondary video output not limited to the current crappy resolution."
  • everyone wants better speakers in a successor
  • "So many complaints about the plastic palmrest. And there's no clear manufacturing reason why it was necessary."
  • users report battery lasts for 5 hours or so
  • apparently can't upgrade the SSD, but!
    • yes you can "Standard sized SSD would be easier for us DIYers, but, going out of standard is what allows to go smaller and faster. As far as we can keep removing standard ssd cases and finding the connectors, I say it's fine."
    • http://forum.notebookreview.com/sony/536554-speculation-time-sandy-bridge-coming-ces-what-your-hopes-dreams-vpc-z-successor-2.html#post6924998
    • my own Z has a standard SSD
  • "proprietary graphics drivers that must come from Sony only." - http://forum.notebookreview.com/sony/536554-speculation-time-sandy-bridge-coming-ces-what-your-hopes-dreams-vpc-z-successor-2.html#post6926338
  • wishlist: "Dual monitor support. That you can't use two monitors even with a docking station is a showstopper." - http://forum.notebookreview.com/sony/536554-speculation-time-sandy-bridge-coming-ces-what-your-hopes-dreams-vpc-z-successor-2.html#post6926338
  • wishlist: "Sony needs to add an HDMI output (with audio), USB3 and 3.5mm audio on the next dock."
  • "No optimus though. It's still very glitchy. Why would you trade a perfectly working graphics switch for optimus which lets your computer decide? I'd like to have full manual control."
  • "I would really love to see an aluminum plam rest or a plam rest that won't wear out!"
    • "I to would like a palmrest that doesn't wear out quite quickly." - x2
    • get the silver one?
  • cons

    • crappy speakers
    • Short supply cycle -- you need to buy accessories immediately, because once a model is replaced, Sony no longer sells accessories. Sometimes supplies stop even before then (as with the old Z, where docking stations were no longer made while the last iteration of the Z itself was sold).
    • poor Linux support (so far)
    • Bad upgradability. Sony doesn't sell upgrade parts, only horribly expensive replacement parts.
    • It's not built to last. Peeling paint and lacquer, rubber feet falling off, wrist rests that discolour...
    • Few to no driver updates.
  • offset the read/write wear&tear of the SSD with "apart from being fast, Ive found the g-monster to be very reliable and does not heat up either."

Sony VAIO VPCZ13AHX/XQ - pick

  • pick
  • $4700, fully decked

Sony VAIO VPCZ14ZHJ, VPCZ14AHJ, VPCZ14AGJ, VPCZ14AFJ

  • released only in Japan as of 2010-Jan
  • still no USB 3.0
  • English keyboard available

Sony Vaio F

  • backlit keyboard
  • DVD burner
  • high-pitch noise problem solved, search youtube

The next SONY VAIO

  • USB 3.0
  • optical drive

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