Please suggest a non-mac laptop with great build quality and big HD for casual use for about $1000.
March 28, 2012 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Please suggest a thin/light laptop with great build quality and battery life for approximately $1000. An Ultrabook would have been ideal but I need at least 500gb hard drive and all the standard ports (more USBs, HDMI, Ethernet etc.) I don't need an optical drive. Also, I don't want a Mac. I would be using it mostly for watching movies, college work, surfing the web etc. but no gaming. Given these conditions which would be the best laptop I can buy immediately?
posted by libbrichus to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Asus ux21 zenbook? (watch out, the touchpad is *terrible* best turned off and replaced with usb wireless mouse.)
posted by smcameron at 10:37 PM on March 28, 2012

I just bought this Toshiba for $600 or so:

It's decent: reasonably fast processor, plenty of memory, good sized hard drive (although it's not fast). Keyboard is okay, touchpad is much better than a similarly priced HP I have. Screen is okay. Build quality seems fine. The form factor and weight are good (but not spectacular).

Only you can decide what's best for you. My favorite laptop at the moment is a Lenovo T420s due to the form factor, keyboard, touchpad size/weight and SSD drive. I'm willing to live with the smaller drive due to its speed, but it sounds like you have other priorities.

Good luck!
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 10:50 PM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: One to consider, Samsung Series 5 13.3" i5.

Or, Samsung Series 5 12.5" i3 smaller slower with longer battery life.

There are others in the "Samsung Series".
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:15 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

have you considered a convertible/netvertible? (the kind where the screen flips around to become a pen/touch tablet) though not super duper-light, the semi-recently discontinued hp tm2t goes up to i5 or i7, can prob be picked up on ebay for a song (mine was $600, with usb dvd drive incl.), and has all the ports you're looking for, a card slot, and a 500gb hd... the 'awesome' feature is the wacom pressure-sensitive screen (with really good palm rejection...unlike using a stylus with a tablet like the ipad, when you bring the pen close to the screen the touch feature shuts off seamlessly so you can rest your hand on it) that allows for note-taking (windows 7 has handwriting recognition built in...and it works) or natural drawing and painting in programs that support pressure sensitivity (photoshop, artrage, sketchbook pro, etc) if thats your kind of thing...the build is super-sturdy and the etched aluminum body is really slick. theres a bunch of videos of it in action on youtube to check out...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:36 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

My usual answer for "thin/light laptop with great build quality and battery life for approximately $1000" is usually an X series Lenovo Thinkpad, particularly the X220. Since the X220 only goes up to 320GB (but hard drives are easy to replace, or so I hear) and doesn't have an HDMI port, you might be more interested in the X130e (although I dunno if 3 USBs would be enough).

Also: laptop ship date is April 6th, which may not be immediate enough.

(Disclaimer: I haven't done much laptop-related research in the past year or two, so something better may have come out. I've just been lusting after that X220 for a while. Also, your priorities may be different from my own. )
posted by junques at 3:23 AM on March 29, 2012

Have a look at the ASUS Superior Mobility range. I recently puchased an Asus U36SD (though mine was the Australian version) which has 3 USB ports (2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0), a HDMI port, and ethernet. My version had a 160GB SSD, which was exactly what I wanted, but you can get configurations with a much larger standard HD. It is definitely thin and light, at just 3.6lbs (with the 8 cell battery), and 19mm thick at its thickest point. Assuming you are in the USA you can get the i5 version for less than $900 eg. here, here or here.

(Full disclosure: I got an i7 and it cost more than $1K, but I'm in Australia and computers usually cost at least 50% more here, even though our dollar is currently stronger...grrrrr! The i7 version doesn't seem to be available with the standard HD, but if you configured it that way through xoticpc it would cost you a bit over $1100. But it's unlikely you'd need the extra processing power for the things you listed.)
posted by Cheese Monster at 4:13 AM on March 29, 2012

IMO, if you're actually schlepping something around and running off of battery power, a full-size laptop is no fun. What's the 500gb drive for? Stuff you're actively working on, or content you want to access?

If it's the latter, and if you have an always-on internet connection, something like Plex, XBMC or StreamToMe running on any old PC is a great solution. You can stream your content to wherever you are (smartphone, laptop, someone else's computer, etc) and the quality is more than acceptable. That'd let you go with a netbook if you can get by with a usb hub and some adapter dongles.
posted by pjaust at 7:13 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

ultrabook, not netbook. My brain is stuck in 2009, apparently.
posted by pjaust at 7:13 AM on March 29, 2012

I just bought a Lenovo ideapad U400 for a bit under $900 including tax and shipping, and couldn't be happier with it. Looks great, fantastic build quality, 750GB hard drive, 2x USB 2.0 and 1x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI out, and has handled everything I've thrown at it so far. I couldn't find it at any retail store but it only took a week or so to have it shipped to me; not sure if that counts as "immediately" or not for you.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:26 AM on March 29, 2012

I just got an Asus K53V-E1 with a 15.6" screen, Intel i5, Sandy Bridge architecture, 6Gb hard disk, USB3 port, 6Gb RAM, DVD burner, WiFi, camera, etc. for $642.99.

Plusses - really snappy performance; lots of RAM; big hard disk; low price.

Minuses - weight 5.72 lb.; screen 1366x768, not 1920 x 1080; no supplemental battery or docking station; speakers suck; many keyboard keys in non-intuitive positions.

I'm quite happy with it, but you'll need something lighter and less clumsy for carrying around. My wife just got a Nook, which is perfect for that.
posted by KRS at 8:21 AM on March 29, 2012

@Lohmannn Did you read his question at all? A Macbook Air doesn't fit any of his qualifications.

I second the vote for the Samsung Series 5. 3 USB ports, 500gb hard drive with a SS cache, and an HDMI out, all in a portable package.
posted by troutforbrains at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2012

Your question is very similar to the one I asked a couple of days ago. I started out thinking I was probably going to buy Acer's $800 S3 ultrabook but instead I bought a $375 HP Pavilion DM1-4142NR. At the end of the discussion you'll see my reasoning and two other laptops that came in a very close second.

I wanted a very long battery life, a reliable laptop that wouldn't get hot or have a noisy fan, and decent screen and keyboard. In addition to the input I got here on AskMF, I read dozens and maybe hundreds of customer reviews. I also found the laptop tests on to be very helpful and credible.
posted by 14580 at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2012

I'm going to second the Lenovo Thinkpad X220, which is great for many reasons but especially because it is one of the only laptops available anywhere with an IPS display. I find this makes a huge difference for watching movies, and also makes everything nicer and more comfortable even when you're just browsing the web or writing text. You need to choose the "Premium HD" display option to get the IPS panel.

Unfortunately the X220 doesn't have a 500GB drive (the default is 320GB). If you must have the larger drive, then a Thinkpad T420 would be my next choice.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:07 PM on March 29, 2012

I have this Asus which I bought from the linked Microsoft store. It is wicked light, seems pretty snappy to me, and does everything I want. I think it meets your requirements. It looks like the price just dropped, too. I think of it as a poor man's macbook air -- and honestly I don't see how an air is any better other than the sweet apple form factor.
posted by fieldtrip at 9:59 PM on March 29, 2012

oh, it is $650 and weighs a mere 3.5 pounds, too.
posted by fieldtrip at 10:00 PM on March 29, 2012

Not sure if the OP is reading this still, but I'll throw my .02 in just in case...

I've been researching replacement laptops for the last month or so, and I have decided on the Lenovo Thinkpad X220.

As mentioned above, it doesn't have a 500gb HD, but the standard 320gb it does come with is a speedy 7200rpm (vs 5400 on most laptops). It has excellent battery life with the standard 6-Cell getting nearly 8 hours of real world run time and the 9-cell get 12+ hours. You can even go for the "slice" battery and supposedly get 24 hours of unplugged run time. The X220 is definitely in the Thin & Light weigh class weighing in at 2.9lbs with the 4-cell, 3.4 lbs with the 6-cell and 3.6 lbs with the 9-cell battery. It has processor options up to Core i7 if you want to layout the money, but it can be had easily for well under $1000 if you choose an i5 processor and poke around google for a coupon/code (Lenovo offers them all the time).

I would pony up the extra $50 for the IPS (labled as Premium HD) display, as it is much better for long term work and has much better viewing angles. As for HDMI, the display-port on the X200 carries both sound and video. You can get an adapter that converts display-port to HDMI for under $10. This one from monoprice is confirmed to work with the X220:

Google about for X220 review. It gets great marks from every review I've read.
posted by bionic.junkie at 11:55 PM on April 1, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I finally bought a Samsung Series 7 which I am incredibly happy with. It meets all my requirements (except it isn't as thin and light as I would have wanted)
posted by libbrichus at 2:07 AM on June 8, 2012

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