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hizaguchi
July 23rd, 2006, 05:29 AM
Well, my frankenputer finally bit the dust today. Something is going on with the motherboard, or power supply, or something that is keeping the laptop from getting any go go juice. It has gone through 2 power cords (the "brick" keeps going bad) in the last 6 months, so I think this has been a while comming.

Anyhow, I'm looking at a replacement. I need something durable, and easy to carry around, and somewhat affordable. Good hardware support in Linux is a big plus since Ubuntu is my only OS.

I've never bought a laptop before (last one was a gift 4 years ago), so I'm turning to you knowledgable people to point me in the right direction. Right now what I'm seeing is that I can get a Core Duo with a gig of ram from Dell's pre-opened/refurb warehouse for around 600 bucks, or basically the same computer from Apple for $1100. Obviously the Dell is a better deal, but Macs are very sleek and sturdy and overall just a better package. I just can't decide if the superior design is worth nearly double the price. Plus I don't know what else is really out there. I looked at System 76, but as much as I'd like to support Linux I can't justify spending the Mac-level price for lower quality. And all the other big computer stores just can't match the deals from Dell.

Anybody bought a laptop that they're really happy with lately? Anybody point me in the direction of a tough, fast, cheap computer?

Edit: Also, the computer dude at work says that a Core Duo is definately the way to go. But I can pick up a Celeron or AMD based laptop at Best Buy or Circuit City for as low as $500 during the right sale, so I wonder how much performance difference there really is for basic desktop use. $100 saved is never a bad thing.

RAV TUX
July 23rd, 2006, 05:41 AM
Well, my frankenputer finally bit the dust today. Something is going on with the motherboard, or power supply, or something that is keeping the laptop from getting any go go juice. It has gone through 2 power cords (the "brick" keeps going bad) in the last 6 months, so I think this has been a while comming.

Anyhow, I'm looking at a replacement. I need something durable, and easy to carry around, and somewhat affordable. Good hardware support in Linux is a big plus since Ubuntu is my only OS.

I've never bought a laptop before (last one was a gift 4 years ago), so I'm turning to you knowledgable people to point me in the right direction. Right now what I'm seeing is that I can get a Core Duo with a gig of ram from Dell's pre-opened/refurb warehouse for around 600 bucks, or basically the same computer from Apple for $1100. Obviously the Dell is a better deal, but Macs are very sleek and sturdy and overall just a better package. I just can't decide if the superior design is worth nearly double the price. Plus I don't know what else is really out there. I looked at System 76, but as much as I'd like to support Linux I can't justify spending the Mac-level price for lower quality. And all the other big computer stores just can't match the deals from Dell.

Anybody bought a laptop that they're really happy with lately? Anybody point me in the direction of a tough, fast, cheap computer?

Edit: Also, the computer dude at work says that a Core Duo is definately the way to go. But I can pick up a Celeron or AMD based laptop at Best Buy or Circuit City for as low as $500 during the right sale, so I wonder how much performance difference there really is for basic desktop use. $100 saved is never a bad thing.


My wife just got her Fujitsu Convertible T4210 in. She and I love it.

A Convertible is both a Notebook/Tablet, she has used it in Tablet mode about 98% of the time.

I have used it and am convinced that a Tablet specifically a convertible notebook/tablet is the only way to go.

Therefore Apple is out of the question, they are still basing their computers on old notebook technology and as far as I know don't have a Convertible computer available.

I plan on buying a Notebook and I have learned that a Convertible is the only way to go.

They are not cheap especially from Fujitsu, but they are worth the money.

They work prefect with Ubuntu 6.06, I know because I loaded it on a friends computer.

I still have to install Ubuntu for my wife on hers.

RAV TUX
July 23rd, 2006, 05:41 AM
I'll post the specs here...

see pics of the computer here:

http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=213899&highlight=fujitsu

Here are the specs:

12.1" XGA TFT indoor/outdoor display with greater than 160° viewing angles

Intel® CoreTM Duo Processor T2500 (2 GHz, 2 MB L2 cache, 667 MHz FSB)

2 GB DDR2 667 MHz SDRAM memory (1 GB x 2)

NoteL S-ATA 150, 5400 rpm shock-mounted 120 GB Hard Drive

Modular Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer

Internal modem, 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN, and Atheros Super AG® (802.11a/b/g) wireless LAN

Max. Battery Life: 6.5 hours with main battery. 11 hours with main and bay battery

Fujitsu Extended Service Plans, 3 years on all 3 below:
International Limited Warranty Extension
This plan extends the support and service offered during the original warranty period, including technical support. This plan begins immediately after your original warranty expires. (Not applicable for those products covered under a three-year warranty period, only available in the USA and Canada.)

Executive Mobile Service Planą
Designed specifically for on-the-go mobile professionals or those needing an extra measure of coverage, our Executive Mobile Service is an available upgrade providing on-location repair service within the contiguous United States. After a telephone call, to determine if a dispatch is necessary, a trained technician will be sent directly to your location, providing added convenience, increased system availability and quick repair.

Screen Damage Protection Plan
Accidental damage to a screen is not covered under our International Limited Warranty and the cost to replace a screen could surpass your entire purchase price. Screen Damage Protection offers you the "peace of mind" that screens may be replaced, up to twice during a one-year period. (USA and Canada only)

Skia_42
July 23rd, 2006, 05:42 AM
Apple Laptops are dead sexy, and I know what you mean about System76. I have been considering getting a laptop for a while but I don not have a whole lot off money to drop on it, Dells are definatly the best price but you can't help like your selling out to the corporate giant and leaving good company's like System76 to die...

Ziox
July 23rd, 2006, 05:47 AM
i don't about core duo, from what i have been reading...both AMD and Intel is building a new structure for their Dual Core chips, which might mean big time clock gains...so...if you can just buy a decent laptop, and wait it out until the new chips come out, then that's what I (personally) would suggest

aysiu
July 23rd, 2006, 05:53 AM
I just did a price comparison, and I don't see how System76 is such a terrible deal, especially considering that it's built to work with Ubuntu:

I cased out a Pangolin and a Macbook, both with an Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, 60 GB hard drive, and one CD-writing/DVD-reading drive...

The Pangolin ended $1036 and then Macbook was $1099.

GuitarHero
July 23rd, 2006, 06:54 AM
That was his point. Mac prices for lower quality. Although I don't know where he got that rebranded asus laptops are lower quality than the apple ones. Rev A apple products notoriously suck, if you go mac wait for rev B(they are still on rev A right now). Asus is a very respected and high quality brand, which is where System 76 gets their products.

aysiu
July 23rd, 2006, 07:03 AM
I could understand going with Apple if you intend to use OS X, but...
Good hardware support in Linux is a big plus since Ubuntu is my only OS.

GuitarHero
July 23rd, 2006, 07:12 AM
There's an advantage of System 76. There are some reeeeally cheap deals on refurb dells though. dell.com/outlet

slimdog360
July 23rd, 2006, 07:21 AM
Ive got an IBM Thinkpad R50e, it cost me about $530 Australian. It works perfectly with linux, all the functions buttons work and not to mention that I think this is the only laptop Ive ever heard of where the battery life is the same if not better than when running windows.
It lasts for about 2 and a half hours fully charged, thats doing just normal things like surfing the web, using gimp and the occasional game.
specs
1.4GHz Celeron M
786MB RAM
14.1" display
edit: I forgot to mention that I also bought a D-link DWL-G650 wifi card for it and it works straight out of the box. Make that everything worked out of the box, except for the middle scroll button but there is a very easy fix for that.

prizrak
July 23rd, 2006, 07:30 AM
Apple and System76 are BOTH supplied by ASUS actually so there is little to no quality difference :) If you elaborate on what you want out of your laptop a little more I(we) could come up with more ideas. In general here is a run down.
The really really pricey (2500 or so) would be the Fujitsu that yozef mentioned, it's an excellent and highly mobile powerful machine but of course there is a price to pay for all that.

In the upper part of pricing the machine I just got Acer TravelMate C310 for about 1300-1400 (depending on the shipping you want to spring for) on newegg. Pentium M 1.7, 512MB RAM, 80GB HDD, 128MB GeForceGO. It's a convertible (both laptop and tablet) and is working well with Ubuntu. By well I mean all the ACPI is working OOTB, Wi-Fi, Tablet needed 5 mins of tweaking, card reader works, video works OK on OSS drivers awesomely on nVidia ones, basically everything but bluetooth and IR is working and the latter I just haven't been able to test since I have no clue where to even start to find programs that use it :)

Now under it you got the System76 machines, those work well obviously enough.

Asus, Acer, Toshiba, HP and ThinkPad's will all work with Linux with no/minimal tweaking. Dell's CAN work with Linux (got a friend running Gentoo on his) but that will require a bit of tough love.

Now as far as Celeron/AMD vs Pentiums go. AMD makes great mobile CPU's power wise but crappy on battery life. Celerons aren't very powerful in general and also suck on battery life. If you are doing just regular checking e-mail, going to the web, music/movies, some light programming the power difference won't affect you. Battery life is the biggest thing for laptops of course so a Pentium M should be the best choice.

As far as other specs, try to stay away from ATI solutions, they will require tinkering (unless it's a System76). If you have no need for video power (and unless you want XGL/Compiz/AIGLX/Gaming you shouldn't need much) try to get an Intel integrated solution as they work extremely well with Linux due to fully open specs. If video power is required nVidia mobile solutions are great but extremely hard to come by and more likely to be in higher end gaming machines.

P.S. If you don't mind post how much you are looking to spend it makes it easier to recomend things to you.

GuitarHero
July 23rd, 2006, 07:32 AM
Apple isn't made by Asus, they make their own hardware.

prizrak
July 23rd, 2006, 07:41 AM
Apple isn't made by Asus, they make their own hardware.

Not really, Apple outsources. The Power ones were outsourced to Asus the x86 might be outsourced to someone else. Apple hardware isn't unique or special in any way shape or form. The power architecture relied on a different chip but the rest of it was very much PC. Now there is no difference at all in the hardware.

GuitarHero
July 23rd, 2006, 07:42 AM
Its all in that cool apple look. Ive actually seen some sweet looking white asus laptops that caught my eye.

RAV TUX
July 23rd, 2006, 09:49 AM
Its all in that cool apple look. Ive actually seen some sweet looking white asus laptops that caught my eye.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on perspective Apple doesn't make Convertibles.

If you are planning on buying a laptop spend a little extra for a Convertible and I guarantee you'll Thank me later.

The old traditional laptops aren't really worth it.

I concur with prizrak, if price is a factor, then his recommendation may be your best option:



In the upper part of pricing the machine I just got Acer TravelMate C310 for about 1300-1400 (depending on the shipping you want to spring for) on newegg. Pentium M 1.7, 512MB RAM, 80GB HDD, 128MB GeForceGO. It's a convertible (both laptop and tablet) and is working well with Ubuntu. By well I mean all the ACPI is working OOTB, Wi-Fi, Tablet needed 5 mins of tweaking, card reader works, video works OK on OSS drivers awesomely on nVidia ones, basically everything but bluetooth and IR is working and the latter I just haven't been able to test since I have no clue where to even start to find programs that use it :)

P.S. If you don't mind post how much you are looking to spend it makes it easier to recomend things to you.

slimdog360
July 23rd, 2006, 09:55 AM
I think Motorola manufacture the Apple chips.

mips
July 23rd, 2006, 12:30 PM
Go with IBM/Lenovo !

hizaguchi
July 23rd, 2006, 09:29 PM
Ok, sorry if I wasn't really clear on what I want to do with the laptop. I want something that I can stick in my backpack and haul around with me wherever I go. I want to take it to class to take notes and do homework (mainly using OpenOffice and doing some Matlab stuff with Octave). Massive performance isn't really a big issue, but I do want to get the most for my money and preferably not be completely obsolete 5 years down the road (my current laptop is still OK other than being broke).

I read a thread a while back about System 76 laptops, saying they were not suspending correctly out of the box. If I'm going to pay as much as a Mac for one, I'd really like it to work completely. And as far as quality, well, they may be on the same page performance and component wise, but my wife has a Powerbook and I know how sturdy Macs are. Plus that new magnetic power cord would be incredibly nice for when my dogs trip over it. Little features like that translate to quality and survivability, and make the Mac worth more to me.

I appreciate the advice I'm getting so far, so please keep it up. I'm going to check into that Fujitsu laptop tonight.

I'm also seeing some really good deals on AMD 64 bit machines. Circuit City has an HP dv5000z for $700 that has a Turion 64, a gig of ram, a nice widescreen, and a DVD burner. But I'm reading about some problems with the Broadcom chipset (seems to be fixed in Dapper) and I know 64 big support is still sketchy, so I'm hesitant.

How bad is 64 bit Dapper? I know Flash and windows codecs are out, but that doesn't bother me. Otherwise though, is it worth it or should I go for dual core?

fuscia
July 23rd, 2006, 10:21 PM
here you go...

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/5e/Laptop-crank.jpg/250px-Laptop-crank.jpg

no wires to trip over and you can't beat the price.

prizrak
July 23rd, 2006, 10:40 PM
hizaguchi,
It seems like you would be more than fine with something in the 500-700 range. As far as wireless go I would try to get an Intel one. Just in general if you are getting a laptop then Centrino would be a way to go. Intel works very well with Linux. Suspend/hibernate works well on my Acer so I can assume it would do so on the others. Fujitsu, Sony, Toshiba, just about anything Japanese will have pretty decent Linux support since it's a little more popular in Asia than it is in the west. Another thing to look at is modular bays, alot of laptops with modular bays have an ability to run a secondary battery in them, which of course means improved portability.

hizaguchi
July 24th, 2006, 12:38 AM
Umm, so I went to Circuit City. Usually their prices are high and their selection is low, but I wanted to take a 64 bit Dapper live disk and test out some computers to see if one would work out of the box. 1 worked flawlessly, so I bought it. It's an Acer Thanks to those above who mentioned them being good quality in relation to System 76. It was $850 with a Turion 64 X2, a gig of ram, and a 120 gig harddrive. With the live CD, everything works out of the box except dri, but I know the ati card is supported by the fglrx driver. Now we'll jus thave to see how the install goes. :)

hizaguchi
July 24th, 2006, 03:31 AM
Installed 64-bit Dapper without any problems. Mostly everything working out of the box except the screen won't turn back on after suspend, which isn't a big surprise. And I'm not sure if both processor cores are working or not, have to look into that. Still though, incredible laptop.

prizrak
July 24th, 2006, 04:13 AM
Installed 64-bit Dapper without any problems. Mostly everything working out of the box except the screen won't turn back on after suspend, which isn't a big surprise. And I'm not sure if both processor cores are working or not, have to look into that. Still though, incredible laptop.

You need to install the SMP kernel for dual core.

hizaguchi
July 24th, 2006, 04:17 AM
That's what I thought, but is there an smp kernel for 64 bit? I'll check synaptic...

prizrak
July 24th, 2006, 04:42 AM
I think it would be K8-SMP not too sure tho, as I'm still a 32bit user :)

hizaguchi
July 24th, 2006, 01:02 PM
Ah ha, evidently all the 64 bit kernels are already smp. That was easy. :) So everything works out of the box except dri (which I think I need fglrx for) and suspend to ram. Gonna try s2 sleep today though if I get time.

64 bit Nautilus is a little unresponsive to my mouse though for some reason. Moving icons on the desktop is quirky and the Gnome theme manager got laggy on me earlier. I might end up being a 32 bit user before its over, too. :)

prizrak
July 24th, 2006, 04:15 PM
Yeah I hear 64bit is on the raw side still.