Every 5 years, it happens. Help me buy a laptop.
March 28, 2013 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Help me find the perfect laptop. Video/Windows 7/Video+photo editing/Reasonably speedy/SSD+Hard Drive/Bulletproof

I'm looking for a new laptop and was hoping for some help.

*there may be some travelling in my future, possibly by boat. Something very portable would be awesome
*Prefer Windows 7 if possible. XP is not an option due to some software issues
*Relatively bulletproof/problem free
*ideally energy efficient with awesome battery life
*I'd like to have an SSD + 500gb or so of hard drive space (I'm capable of swapping out hard drives, so if there was something that came with a small drive and an empty space, I could definitely upgrade as long as isn't too terribly complicated)
*As far as power, I'd like to be able to do basic video editing (cutting/splicing/color correction/etc) and run photoshop and lightroom (it would be really great if all this were speedy). Also running panorama splicing software, which in the past has made computers (Core 2) choke.
*better than average monitor that's able to be color corrected/profiled

I've had an Asus EEE for a while and that satisified a lot of this stuff (bulletproof, small, long battery life) but obviously was not up for video editing or photoshop. Something similar in those characteristics but a bit bigger and much more powerful would be perfect.

I was wondering about something from the Lenovo X series but not sure about the build quality.

I'm open to finding 2 year's ago's awesome computer on ebay if there is something to search for.

<$1000 would be good. <$700 would be awesome. Cheaper better.
posted by sully75 to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a specific suggestion, but I just wanted to mention there is a reddit subforum for laptop purchasing suggestions. They might give some good options, or you might see a previous question with similar specs:

posted by bluecore at 9:52 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'de consider a Thinkpad x230 - Its on the upper range of your budget, and you would probably have to put in your own SSD (mSATA) and upgrade your own ram (8 or 16 gigs) to stay under it, but:

- It has an IPS screen which is going to be way better for color correcting that your typical small laptop screen
-Thinkpads are still pretty bulletproof these days (which is why im sticking with suggesting them since it sounds like you keep your laptops a while - 5 years?)
-Portable and pretty powerful

On the downside - it only has the built in Intel Graphics card, and the lack of a discrete card is problem for photo/video editing. The intel graphics have come a long way, but Im not sure that they have come far enough for serious photo and video editing, but then again it will still be a fair bit better than your 5 year old graphics card.

You could also go less portable and go with a larger laptop - look at the Thinkpads T series for this probably, but if you are ok with a 14 or 15 in form factor and no IPS screen youll get a more powerful computer with discrete graphics at the same price or cheaper.

I'de look at refurbished versions of these as well, which will also have leftover previous run models at a decent discount
posted by McSwaggers at 10:05 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely consider a Thinkpad from the X or T series - but be very very careful if you look at anything Lenovo that's not a Thinkpad X or T.

I've got a mid-range X230 that I love - the upgraded screen is especially nice, and the keyboard is fantastic. Battery life is great, build quality is killer, and I've had no performance issues whatsoever in Lightroom (or with anything else).

It's worth noting, though, that the trackpad is an abomination if you're on Windows (strangely enough, it's fantastic on Linux drivers). But honestly I like the TrackPoint pointer better anyhow, so no issue for me.

Definitely check out the Lenovo outlet as suggested, and do some searching for coupons and such as well. Lenovo's prices are higher than most, but I've never had a problem finding 20-30% off through a coupon or employee pricing gig.
posted by Rallon at 10:46 AM on March 28, 2013

You may want to look at my recent question. My requirements weren't quite the same as yours, but the ASUS ZenBook UX32VD that I was considering seems to fit your specifications fairly well.

I would tell you how I'm liking my new ThinkPad T430s, but I don't have it yet due to a really impressive tangle of Italian bureaucracy. (It's probably not a good fit for you, though, due to the fairly mediocre non-IPS display.) For ThinkPads, T, X, and W series are usually regarded as the trustworthy ones. (Ws tend to be heavier, more powerful variants of the Ts.) From the reviews I've seen, it seems that the "Edge" series is to be avoided.
posted by pont at 11:41 AM on March 28, 2013

Sounds like you're looking for an Ultrabook, and almost any modern Ultrabook will do most of what you want. I'd buy a touch screen even if you don't need it now, if for no other reason than most touch screens are IPS, which tends to have great viewing angles and color accuracy. Laptop screens in the past have tended to be TN Film, which is terrible for color shifting, viewing angles, etc.

I'm with Pont - the ASUS Zenbook would meet pretty much all of your needs.
posted by cnc at 11:47 AM on March 28, 2013

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