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#1 ompa

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 11:13 PM

I finally got my laptop; I just changed this first post to be the review:

***Introduction***
As a soon-to-be college student, I was faced with the daunting task of picking which laptop I was to take with me into my decent into the infernal abyss of alcohol, otherwise known as college. I decided that I wanted a 14.1 widescreen, because 15 seemed too big and 13.3 fostered the use of an undersized keyboard. My choices ended up being the HP DV1000, the Sony FJ series and the Asus z63a. I strongly suggest you also look at the Asus line of laptops if you are considering the FJ. Especially the Asus W3V and Z63A. The HP just seems to be of worse build quality, so Iím hesitant to recommend looking at that.

***Reason for Buying***
The FJ170B just seemed to be of better quality than some of the other notebooks that I saw. It was mainly the build quality and screen that caused me to buy the Sony. I bought the laptop itself at Circuit City for $1349, and upgraded the ram myself.

***Customer Service***
I also decided to purchase an in-store warrantee, in fear that I might actually have to deal with Sony support eventually. Iíve had bad experiences, but I figured that the store warrantee couldnít possibly be as bad as Sonyís customer support.

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***Specifications***
-1.73ghz Pentium-m 533mhz fsb
-100gb 5400RPM SATA
-14.1 WXGA Eco-Xbrite
-DVD +-RW Burner
-Integrated Graphics (Intel GMA 900)


-512mb DDR 400mhz ram (I upgraded this to 1gb as soon as I bought it)

***Build Quality and Design***
The build quality on the Sony FJ170B is very good, compared to most other notebooks produced by Gateway, Dell, and HP. The outer casing seems to be made of Magnesium, and the inner cover (silver) is plastic. While not the same quality build-wise as say an IBM or apple, the FJ170 by no means feels cheap. The screen has to be pushed fairly hard in order for any ripples to appear. There is a little flex in the palm rests, and little to no flex for the keyboard. The computer itself is well-designed, and is very sleek. Keeping with the rest of the Sony laptop line, the computer itself is just plain good-looking.

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***Input/Output***
Left side: 1 USB port, 1 PCMCIA Type II Slot, 1 VGA port, 1 ethernet (network) port, one modem connection, and one 4-pin 1394.

Right side: 2 USB ports, AC Adapter, mic, headphone, video, and DVD double-layer burner.

***Software/OS***
The FJ170B comes with XP Home, along with more garbage software than I thought was possible. Also, there are more than a few unnecessary startup programs and services that need to be taken care of, but nothing that msconfig canít fix. After deleting at least 15 programs, streamlining the amount of programs and services, and defragmenting the hard drive, I was fairly pleased. A word of warning however; no matter how hard I tried, I was not able to get my boot time below a minute (although now I hibernate anyways). So if that for some reason is a serious issue for someone, either upgrade the hard drive or look at another computer with a record of faster boot times.

***Performance***
The laptop itself seems fast, but fast is more a relative term. Itís faster than my current 2.8ghz P4 desktop. Programs are quick to load, although as stated before, the boot time isnít the fastest. Itís around 45 seconds from cold boot to the welcome screen, another 12 seconds from the welcome screen to the first hints of a desktop, and another 10 seconds until the desktop is fully usable. So around a 1:07 boot time.
\/Below is taken from various online sources, as well as my own stuff\/

Sony Vaio FJ170B 1m 49s
Me olí HP a350n desktop P4 2.8Ghz 2m 07s
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 53s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 45s
HP Pavilion dv1000 (1.73 GHz Pentium M) 1m 50s
ASUS W3V (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 37s
Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M) 2m 10s
Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Banias Pentium M) 2m 28s


PCMark 04
Sony FJ170B (1.73ghz) Dell 700m (1.80ghz)*
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression 3.201 MB/s 3.319 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption 25.397 MB/s 26.885 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression 22.457 MB/s 23.432 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing 9.987 MP/s 10.59 MP/s
Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning 1610.185 MB/s 1788.771 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check 2.628 KB/s 2.726 KB/s
File Decryption 50.821 MB/s 53.759 MB/s
Audio Conversion 2330.911 KB/s 2475.156 KB/s
Web Page Rendering 5.239 Pages/s 5.463 Pages/s
DivX Video Compression 46.393 FPS 48.285 FPS
Physics Calculation and 3D 92.906 FPS 63.256 FPS
Graphics Memory - 64 Lines 481.938 FPS 358.814 FPS

TOTAL PCMARK04 SCORE: 3033 PCMarks

*Dell 700m information gotten off another 700m review on this site by Queshy.

***Display***
The FJ170B uses an Eco-Xbrite display, in contrast to the regular Xbrite displays used on the Sony S-series. The screen itself nonetheless is still fairly good, but it seems to me to have a smaller viewing angle than the regular Xbrites do; the vertical viewing angles are not the greatest. The uneven lighting is more pronounced when using a black screen; itís really not bad at all, and I didnít notice it until I actually started looking for such a problem. Also, as is probably obvious, the Eco-Xbrite cannot go as bright as the regular Xbrite. However, I find that low-level brightness on the FJ is just fine for most indoor places, except those with windows right behind you or really, really bright lights. The screen is glossy, so if youíre a matte-type person, you might want to shy away from this laptop.

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***Sound***
For a laptop, I love the speakers. While like most laptops, they lack bass, they can play at full volume without much noticeable distortion in sound quality.

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***Wireless***
Iíve had no problems thus far; no dropped connections, and I seem to get a strong signal. Unfortunately, the FJ170B does not come with Bluetooth or an IR port.

***Battery***
Straight out of the box, with no tweaks, the standard battery (It looks like a 6-cell) gets barely over 3 hours on medium brightness doing basic tasks and movies. However, after undervolting the laptop, I was able to get around 3:30 out of the stock battery on medium brightness. However, the route I took in the end was to purchase a generic extended battery for the laptop off of e-bay. I got what looks to be a 9-cell battery, and am getting around 4 hours on max brightness, which I would assume to translate to around 5-6 hours on low brightness. I personally use the laptop on low brightness, just because I think it works fine with most inside-surroundings.

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/\Ebay Battery/\

***Heat***
Originally, the CPU idled around 47 Celsius, and the hard drive around 34 Celsius. After undervolting, the idle temperatures of the CPU and the hard drive were 43 and 30, respectively. I was rather impressed with the results. The palm rests get mildly warm, but not enough to bug me. Itís definitely much cooler than the S400 series. The bottom of the laptop itself gets a little warm, but not close to the level that the Sony S-series gets to; although itís probably due to the S-series actually having a dedicated graphics card.

***Problems***
The DVD drive is loud as my 8-year-old cousin. Itís suprisingly loud, and Iím used to playing movies on a 7-year-old Sony Vaio. The viewing angles are not as good as I was hoping, but they are definitely within my comfort level. However, I strongly suggest looking at the laptop out in store to make sure that the viewing angles are acceptable.

***Conclusion***
Overall, the FJ170J is a great laptop. For the price (I got mine for $1349 at Circuit City) it offers quite a bit of functionality. It may not have top-notch components, but mainly gamers and graphical designers would need such power. If you are one of those two categories, I suggest a different laptop. For the rest of you, I can say that you will probably be pleased with the Sony FJ170

Edited by ompa, 14 November 2005 - 06:54 PM.

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#2 boltsniper

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 12:21 AM

I have a FS-series VAIO. 1.86GHz Pentium M with 1Gb or PC3200 Ram in 1 DIMM so I could add more in the future. I have been extremely pleased with it since I bought it. I paid $1050 new and it came with a fair amount of good software.

I was torn between the FS and S VAIO's. The S has a 13" screen ad weighs about 4 pounds. The performance of the two are about the same. In the long run I went for the FS for the larger screen 15.4" WXGA

I get close to 3 hours on the standard battery. It's definitely long enough so it doesn`t becoe an issue. Most places I have access to a outlet and I also carry a inverter for use in the car.

Dell's are good computers, but I just don't like Dell or Gateway. I think they are evil companies.

Turion is AMD's mobile technology and their counter to Intel's Centrino. Intel kind of has a corner on the mobile market but AMD is coming around.

Good luck making a decision. It's a tough one.
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#3 cxwq

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 01:06 AM

I'm typing this on an old (2 years) Inspiron 8500 and sitting next to Julie's 700m while it charges. I can't say enough good things about Dell laptops.

The 700m is a truly beautiful piece of equipment and can be had for $750 including the 3 year next day on site warranty. Watch the sales, $750 off $1500 comes about once a month!

If you go with Dell, don't buy your RAM from them, order a SODIMM from Newegg after checking the specs. You'll pay less than half as much and every laptop needs a RAM upgrade.


Edit: Almost forgot to mention, even though my 8500 has the upgraded 1680x1050 high res widescreen display, the *standard* 700m display makes me jealous. It's so sharp and bright I forget the screen is so much smaller than my 15.4".
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#4 ompa

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 08:12 AM

Bolt- what FS in particular do you have? I just hate the fact that I cannot find reviews for many of the FS series laptops online, and that the high-capacity batteries seem to cost about $225. Otherwise, I love the laptops themselves.

Cx- If you have any experiance: just through looking, how would you say the 700m res is compared to a modern sony laptop? If it's somewhat close, then I may be swayed to get a 700m. I definately appreciate the small size, and the keyboard I can get used to. However, even with a warantee, I'm still cautious about the whole You-need-to-pay-shipping if I need to have it repaired.

After looking into things a little more- the Acers may not be as viable as I thought. While I know it's a decent-to-good company, I'm not sure if I want to risk it yet. Both Sony and Dell have been good companies for as long as I remember looking at laptops.

Also, any thoughts on the Dell 600m?

~ompa

Edited by ompa, 29 August 2005 - 08:33 AM.

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#5 cxwq

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 08:42 AM

The 700m is a truly beautiful piece of equipment and can be had for $750 including the 3 year next day on site warranty.

If Julie's laptop breaks, they come out to our house to fix it. This is because I bought it from the Dell 'business' site which happened to have better pricing on that particular day.

Even their standard consumer 3-year service includes shipping though. You call them, they overnight an empty box and a prepaid shipping label to you. They also walk you through removing your HDD so you keep your valuable install and data.

I would say the appearance of the displays is comparable. Sonys are nice too, just (IMHO) expensive for what you get.
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#6 ompa

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 09:11 AM

Well Cx, I'll have to wait for that discount. If I stick a 2-year service plan and then the accidental as well, and with the regular amount of ram which I would need to upgrade anyways, it ends up to be around $1500 after rebates- which is still quite a shitload of cash. I hope you're right about the rebates, I'll keep watch.

~ompa
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#7 boltsniper

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 10:40 AM

Bolt- what FS in particular do you have? I just hate the fact that I cannot find reviews for many of the FS series laptops online, and that the high-capacity batteries seem to cost about $225. Otherwise, I love the laptops themselves.

It's an FS660. I opted for 1Gb DIMM of ram instead of the standard 512.

1.86GHz Pentium M 750
533MHz FSB
915 Chipset
1Gb PC3200 Ram
nVidia 6200 GPU
80Gb HDD

All the models in the FS series are pretty much identical and you could upgrade any of them to the specs of another. The options you have with it are:
Processor, 1.6GHz up to 2.13GHz Pentium M.
Ram, either 512Mb of 1Gb
HDD, 80Gb or 100 Gb
GPU, You have two options with the graphics card: Intel or nVidia. They both have 128Mb of video memory but the nVidia is a little more capable. It seems that the models in the 500 range (ie FS5xx) come with the Intel card and the models in the 600 range (FS6xx) come with the nVidia card.

Aside from those all of the FS notebooks are pretty much the same. I don`t know why they have 20 different models. Makes no sense.

Notebook batteries are always insanely expensive, especially high capacity ones. I`ve found that high capacity batteries really don`t last much longer than a well maintained standard battery.
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#8 ompa

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 10:44 AM

Alright- lastly, I just want to know WHERE on earth you found an FS for such a low price- My dad wants a place where he can purchase a service plan so I can get it repaired if necessary- but all those are usually in-store, hence they cost (at least for a laptop that you spoke of) around $1500-1600.

And thanks- even though I did have a preference for the Acers to start with, at this point I think you two have helped me narrow it down (with a little research as well) to the Sony and the Dell.

The battery life still bugs me... I know I'll probably have access to an outlet, but I really prefer if there was a battery that could bump the life up to 4 hours- I know the 700m is at least capable of that kind of thing. Yes, I know the screen is bigger on the Sony, but the smaller version of the Sony costs around $400 more than the 660, and upgraded THROUGH the Dell site I ended up with a cost of $1700 before the $300 mail in rebate, and that had a 2-year coverage on it, compared to having to BUY more coverage for the Sony.

Thanks for the help though guys, the reason I'm still considering Sony is because of the really comfortable keyboard and the extrodinarily nice screen.

~ompa

Edited by ompa, 29 August 2005 - 10:55 AM.

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#9 boltsniper

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 11:06 AM

Alright- lastly, I just want to know WHERE on earth you found an FS for such a low price-


ebay, my boy.

It was just an individual selling a NIB unit he had and didn`t want/need/whatever anymore.

Just keep a look out.

Mine was brand new, but before I ran across that deal I was looking at refurbished units, which run about $1100. There's nothing wrong with refurbished units. Half the time they are brand new anyway. Refurbished just means they took a trip back to the factory for god knows what reason.

Many stores, such as this one, offer extended warranties on refurbished units.

Edited by boltsniper, 29 August 2005 - 11:13 AM.

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#10 ompa

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 11:29 AM

Alright- last question for Cx- I found a site that gives me all the coupon codes for Dell. However, I need to know WHERE the hell to enter the codes, as it doesn't seem to be the e-values thing, and going through the notebook purchasing steps, I don't see a spot to put the code in.

Last questions, unless anyone has any more suggestions.

Again, thanks Cx and Boltsniper.

~ompa
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#11 cxwq

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 11:57 AM

You put the coupon codes in after configuring the laptop and before putting in your credit info. If you want the Dell, WAIT until they have the good coupon and you will save a lot. Check slickdeals.net every day and I guarantee you that within 2 or 3 weeks you will be able to get the 700m for well under a thousand.

I had a coupon for $750 off $1500 on any of several laptop models at the Dell Business Store.

To get the 700m (which was full price at the time, naturally) up to $1500 I added *only* the 2 year extended on-site waranty. Don't get the accident insurance unless you tend to drop things. Unless you spill a soda in it or crack the case open, the standard extended waranty is enough. Don't get the RAM upgrade because they want twice the retail price for it.

The 2 year extended on-site waranty was half-off after mail-in rebate. So that ended up covering tax plus a little bit extra. It came out roughly (I don't have the receipt in front of me) like this:

700m base model at the time: $1250
2 year on-site: $260 (now it's over $1500)
Dell coupon: -$750
Subtotal: $760
With Tax and $20 shipping: $842
Mail-in rebate: -$130
Final Price: $712

512MB SODIMM from Newegg: $45

Total cost to us: $757

This was about a month and a half ago.
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#12 ompa

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 01:06 PM

You two sirs are gods among men.

Bolt, although I really do like the Sony screens better, and I like the keyboards better, and I like how they look better, the Dell simply can kick ass in the battery life department, and from the looks of the coupons, the price-effectiveness department.

I thank the both of you, I've spent at least 10 hours looking at both models at this point, and with your input, I think I'll go with the 700m. Thanks guys.

EDIT: Crap. New model consideration- the HP L2005. It has a Turion processor, 1gb ram, 4200rpm 100gb hard drive, 12-cell battery standard, and a supposed 6 hour battery life. 14 inch screen. Here's the link for specifications and whatnot.

Any experiances with this? Comments? If not, I'm going with the 700m.

~ompa

Edited by ompa, 29 August 2005 - 06:55 PM.

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#13 Rambo

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 06:09 AM

Sorry to post late but, for those of you that don't know, don't go with HP for laptops: I got one and whenever the power went on, the HD wouldn't boot, so I sent it back and got yet another one, and whenever the windows booted up on this one it would freeze, so I gave them the big fuck you and asked for my money back. More specifically the Pavilion, and it wasn't just a fluke, similar things happened to both my friends with their Pavilions
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#14 boltsniper

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 11:32 AM

Wow, that sucks. I haven`t heard too much good about HP's. So Ompa, what did you end up getting?
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#15 ompa

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 11:35 AM

Me and my dad have decided to buy right after thanksgiving. Oddly enough, I'm still looking at HP- nobody I've heard of within the area (And I work at CompUSA) has had problems with HP laptops. I've seen maybe only a few bad reviews, and it's one of the cheaper options with a good service plan. The Sony is still under consideration, it's just the problem that Sonys have with new OS's, especially with longhorn and vista due out shortly.

So I'm currently leaning towards HP. I'll post as soon as I get it, along with my impressions and whatnot. Don't worry Bolt, sony is still under consideration if the price drops enough.

~ompa
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#16 boltsniper

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:03 PM

Windows Vista is a very hardware demanding OS. I know because I am running the beta version on my desktop. The optimal hardware for Vista is supposedly a multithreaded high speed CPU, 2Gb DDR3 RAM, 256Mb (or better) Display Adapter, SATA2 HDD. It runs OK on my desktop but you can definietly tell it could be much faster. Different from previous versions, Vista dumps much of the video rendering on the GPU rather than the CPU, hence the high end adapter required.

Anyway, I guess my point is that by the time you are going to be putting Vista on a notebook, you`ll probably be getting a new one.

Get whatever you think will work the best for you. In reality they are all probably just as good or bad as the next.
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#17 cxwq

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:09 PM

I concur. You're going to see a performance hit running Vista on just about any laptop currently available. The only counter examples would be laptops targeted specifically towards gaming - Inspiron XPS Gen 2 or equivalent. The obvious problem there is you're looking at a $3k price point.

Edit: just looked at that HP and noted that it has shared video RAM which will be a huge mistake for Vista.
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#18 boltsniper

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:11 PM

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#19 J cobbers

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:25 PM

On a compleatly different note, I've had a Dell Latitude D500 (nothing too spiffy but it gets the job done) for over 2 years now and I've abused it a great deal. I've had no major problems other than windows freazing up every now and then, which I blame on Microsoft and not Dell. I had to replace the power adaptor because the cord got frayed but Dell covered that for free.

My Girlfriend just got a new dell laptop for herself and it is pretty spiffy as well.
I guess my point is that Dells in my experiance are pretty solid.
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#20 ompa

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 02:47 PM

Well shit, didn't expect it to be THAT demanding. Eh, I plan to get a new laptop probably around 3-4 years from now, when it's an ole' dinosaur. My desktop though, once I build it, should have no problems running Vista.

I don't mind Dell, it's I'd like a widescreen and a nice screen. Dell for some reason just seems to have not as sharp screens. Or maybe it's just me.

~ompa
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#21 quasar

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 03:36 PM

Vista will run well on the Turion-based laptops since they support the 64 bit instruction set. However, it will be awhile before anyone will want to adopt it as their main OS due to driver probs, bug fixes, and the fact that most people have Intel chipsets that support the 32 bit set. Here's a great article comparing the two processors, the Pentium M (Dothan) and the Turion.

http://www.laptoplog...rticles/42/1/1/
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#22 cxwq

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 03:45 PM

Dell for some reason just seems to have not as sharp screens. Or maybe it's just me.

Make sure the particular unit you're looking at is running in native resolution. There are a lot of people and even stores which run laptops at non-native res which of course makes them look horrible.
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#23 murakumo32

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 05:52 PM

I recomend an Apple iBook. Mac OS 10 is much more stabler than window, plus they look kickass.
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#24 rylundo

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 05:57 PM

The thing is most programs are for windows.
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#25 cxwq

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 06:36 PM

I recomend an Apple iBook. Mac OS 10 is much more stabler than window, plus they look kickass.

Nothing against OSX, which is pretty slick if your applications run on it, but Windoze is actually pretty stable these days. It's fun to bash MS but unless you're running a server with mission critical apps, the difference between 15 day uptime and 100 day uptime is not significant.

Not to mention I can buy two comparable AMD/Intel-based laptops for the price of one Apple laptop.
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