A Laptop Problem

(Warning: boring nerd rage ahead)

I need help finding a new laptop.

For the last couple years, I’ve have a Fujitsu P1610 (which replaced my stolen P1510). It should last me for another year or two, but I’m pretty hard on my computers. This one has started developing problems typical of an overused, aging machine — your standard hardware failures, screen damage, random crashes, unexpected hangings, paradoxical package syndrome, retrograde memory leakage, Hamitic keyboard, fan tearing, Indian screen burn-in, dysfunctional Haskell, LCD torsion, tab key thrombosis, trackpad sclerosis, dry RAM syndrome, scroll-wheel arousal, systemic rainbow failure, peristeronic disk fragmentation, hyperactive tilde key, heat-sink apricity, kernel duplicity, space bar plasticity, and cross-site chlamydia.

So I know that in the next year or two, I’ll be in the market for a new laptop. Here’s my problem: as far as I can tell, nobody makes the laptop I want. I really only have two criteria:

  1. Weight under 2.5 lbs
  2. Screen at least 1280 pixels wide

This isn’t an impossible combination. My current laptop fits it. The Fujitsu Q2010 fit it. The Fujitsu U820 fits it but is actually too small and light (the size of a CD case, with a 270 dpi screen!). The problem doesn’t seem to be technology. And, given the recent popularity of netbooks, it’s probably not lack of demand for small laptops, either. Everyone just seems to assume that if you want small, you also want a cheap and crappy display. Is there nothing between the netbooks and the Lenovo X series (which are a bit bulkier than I want)? Other than buying a laptop that is several years old (hunting down a Q2010) or has a touch screen that I don’t really want (the newer model of my current one, the P1630), do I have any options?

(Side note: I find it odd that there are so few laptops with high-DPI screens (>175)? Everything above 150 on that Wikipedia list is either a Fujitsu or a smartphone. Aren’t we supposed to be moving out of the era of pixels by now?)

140 thoughts on “A Laptop Problem

  1. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the Vaio T series… It’s slightly heavier than you requested (2.68 lbs), but very capable.

    I’ve got an older T-series — and am pretty sure my next laptop’s gonna be another T.

  2. Don’t buy a Toshiba r500, it’s really crap: lousy display, plasticy feel and poor service when (not if) you need to have it fixed (and the wifi under linux is shaky). The (lack of) weight is amazing, though, and I’ve heard better stories about the r600.

    I’ve seen too many troubled Vaios, so I’m staying away from them, no matter how nice their features sound. And sony has a habit of introducing proprietary stuff, which is no fun with *nix.

    IBM^WLenovo still makes decent stuff. I’ve yet to kill my x60s, and I’m never gentle with my laptops. I’ve looked for a replacement last month and it would have been either a x200 or a x301, but neither upgrade is big enough from my x60s/r500 combo to justify the price, even though the extra pixels are nice.

  3. I own a Lenovo Thinkpad X200 and love it. Its screen resolution is 1280×800 (12″), and it weighs something like 2.7 pounds with a 6-cell battery. If you turn off the wireless and use powerTOP, you can get 5 or so hours of battery life out of it. It’s tough as hell. Ubuntu worked out of the box.

    So: small, tough, with long battery life and a pretty nice screen. And the famous thinkpad keyboard.

  4. What’s wrong with the x200′s? I myself got an X30(yes, it’s old but it works… kinda). The best things with all the thinkpads is A) the little light on top of the screen and B) The trackpoint! Best thing ever to control a pointer imo. Touchpads just irritates me after I learned to appreciate the trackpoint.

  5. Funny to hear you’ve got a Fujitsu P1610.

    I had exactly the same question for myself at Xmas, and ended up settling on the 1610 as well which I am now using in the place of my Macbook Pro as a desktop/development machine/portable machine – everything.

    I got it in December very good condition and it had hardly been used by the previous owner, though sounds like I’ve got some hardware problems to look forward to.

    The macbook was a corporate purchase, but I go for older hardware as a rule when I’m paying for it myself – cheaper and often better linux support – pre-de-bugged.

    I find the P1610 incredibly good (running Xubuntu) and with the rotatable screen and screen keys working you can switch the orientation and do page-down/page-up so it makes a pretty good stab at being a kindle too for reading PDFs and OO docs.

    Because it’s so small I carry it practically everywhere, and yesterday when the trains were out, I could use it to brush up on Smalltalk and Supercollider manuals on the bus, though I hadn’t originally planned for two hours sitting around.

    The one issue with it is that the daylight readable screen doesn’t really work too well, and that’s one of the main reasons I paid a premium for it instead of getting a supercheap Atom netbook (though only $700 so can’t really complain).

    Also when I was running the Gnome version of Ubuntu it really was a bit painful as a resource hog, but Xubuntu runs way better for this spec.

    When I’ve got the touchscreen working I think I’ll have finally got to my perfect device! I’ll be travelling around Europe for a year from April, and I’ll be able to have a full-fledged computing life even when I’m living out of a rucksack.

    I’ll watch your next laptop purchase with interest ‘cos it sounds like we’re after exactly the same things.

  6. Asus U2E
    11 inch display with 1366×768 resolution. Also weighs just above 1kg.

  7. How about an Asus Eee PC 100HA?

    Technical specs:

    Preloaded w/ XP Home (worlds better than Vista, BTW)
    160GB HDD
    6-cell high-density battery pack (Up to 7hrs of life)
    Wi-Fi 802.11b/g connectivity
    3.19 lbs (too heavy by your rules)
    1GB DDR of RAM
    1024×600 screen resolution

    Here’s the link to it on amazon.com.
    http://www.amazon.com/10-Inch-Netbook-Processor-Storage-Battery/dp/B001GIPSAC/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1237567427&sr=8-1

    Take care now!

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  10. I haven’t ever commented before, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m eagerly awaiting this release, and that I’m sure you’ll get your money back once it’s released. Just make sure you get a lot of publicity going!

  11. I had the exact sme requirements as you:

    Try the vaio Z. 1600×900 in a superpowered 13 in laptop is pretty cool. I have it, and I’m having no trouble.

  12. Last time I started computer shopping, I was out of the country. This post clued me in to netbooks, and I wound up getting one.

    The only problem I have ever had with the size is while working on Excel spreadsheets, I feel very cramped. That was my one regret, until today.

    http://xkcd.com/657/

    Best regret ever
    Thanks

  13. In the early 2000s, desktops were more powerful, easier to upgrade, and much cheaper in comparison with laptops. But in the last few years, the advantages have drastically changed or shrunk since the performance of laptops has markedly increased. In the second half of 2008, laptops have finally outsold desktops for the first time ever.

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