Help me find a new laptop/notebook!
July 21, 2009 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Hi All, I'm looking for a new laptop to replace my Dell latitude D620. I thought I was well equipped to make this decision, but it turns out I was wrong.

The D620 has served me well for quite some time now, but the screen is flickering, colours shimmering and its (naturally) two months out of warranty.

This serves as my primary computer at home. I use it for the standard web browsing, email etc, but also I record multitrack music on it. So What I do care about:

* Price (dur)
* Processor speed (I don't have HUGE processor requirements but sometimes adding reverb, compression etc can chew up the cycles)
* Range of inputs (SD, USB, Firewire would be nice but not essential)
* Will come with a windows 7 upgrade when its available
* Reasonable hard drive in terms of speed

What I don't care too much about:
* Portability - I need to be able to carry it around from time to time but this isn't on the road with me every day
* Souped up graphics performance - I don't play games on it (other than Nethack and Crack Attack)

When I go looking, I find myself going from cheap options up to expensive options ($2,200 AUD) and then think "I don't need all that surely" and start all over again.

I'd love some recommendations. Thanks for your help!
posted by Admira to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it smells ok, I'd eat, I mean get a 13" MacBook Pro
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:27 PM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also I have read this post here which has been interesting and I'm considering a lenovo ...
posted by Admira at 4:30 PM on July 21, 2009

Your criteria aren't very restrictive: just about any non-netbook laptop on the market will meet your needs and fit your budget. You'll probably want something with a dual-core processor, as opposed to the newer ULV single-core processors that are beginning to show up in new models.

I recommend a ThinkPad (which is what I always recommend)... they're a little more expensive than equivalent Dell, but are very solid machines. FWIW, they're also the dominant PC laptops here at the computer science department where I study, which tells you something.

That said, I've only used the ultra-portable line (X series), so I don't have any experience with the larger models.

Lenovo is currently offering a free Windows 7 upgrade, when available, with purchase of certain ThinkPads. (Note: if you do buy from, look around for promotional coupons, you can usually find 10-20% off codes)

on preview: Yeah, Lenovo.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:54 PM on July 21, 2009

Lenovo/ThinkPad are the greatest laptops on the planet. If you can find one with the IPS display you be amazed. And nobody does a better keyboard. They're one of the few manufacturers that do the "INS/DEL, HOME/END, PGUP/PGDN" keys and the arrow "T" keys right. And by right, I mean not using some stupid alt-combination and not moving them around.

They're also the most well-supported brand for Linux-folk, as most of their hardware is Intel (open-source drivers).

And their built-in wireless doesn't suck.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:45 PM on July 21, 2009

I had a D610 and a D630 and I loved them both.

After one year, though, I would say that they were both terrible, horrible pieces of doggie doo compared to my 15" MacBook Pro.
posted by GatorDavid at 6:19 PM on July 21, 2009

Having recently helped two friends select new laptops--do you like the way it looks, is it a mainstream reliable manufacturer/assembler, do you like the display, does the keyboard feel good to you, is it in your budget and meet your basic requirements--if so buy it. This should be fun not a trip through a technological mine field. Be sure you like the display--that will be your primary relationship--looking at it.. If you do not like the display ( and to lesser extent the keyboard ) you will not be satisfied regardless of how technologically perfect it is. If after purchasing it, it is missing something you like or need, as long as it is not the motherboard/processor, you can always buy it. Enjoy
posted by rmhsinc at 6:31 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've had a ThinkPad now for a year and I'm very, very fond of it - I would recommend them. I've had a number of other brands of laptops but there's just something about this ThinkPad which is great.
posted by southof40 at 1:47 AM on July 22, 2009

I love the Latitude D600 series- pretty much perfect combination of size, power and portability.

I have a D830 now, and it's a little bigger (but doesn't seem to weigh any more). I would recommend it, with the exception of the graphics. I got the upgraded video card, and it is a touch sluggish. Fine for my needs, but might not be for yours.

I have no experience with the Latitude E series, but I would consider it. I suspect that it would fit your needs.
posted by gjc at 6:11 AM on July 22, 2009

I'd go for Lenovo. As mentioned in previous threads, I still miss my old Thinkpad 770.

The Dell D630 I currently have is miles better than the D610 I used to have, which in turn was better than the C600 I had before that. But the D630 has just had to have a new motherboard after 18 months, new battery and will probably continue to emulate Lee Majors for the rest of it's life. Dells suck.

Keyboards on the Thinkpads are just awesome.
posted by arcticseal at 10:23 AM on July 22, 2009

Dell Latitudes -- the E5400 replaced the D6xx line. They are great machines -- we just replaced our D620's with them. My ONLY complaint with the Dxxx lne were he hinges -- and so far -- the E series has no such hinge problem. Mine is pushing 6 months and the hingest are tight as new (compared to my 620, where they were wet noodles after a month).
posted by SirStan at 9:07 PM on July 22, 2009

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