Which mini-laptop should I buy?
March 14, 2007 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me pick between a Sony VAIO TX series laptop and a Dell D420.

Like some others before me, I'm going nuts looking at laptop specs. I've read a lot of the information here and I've narrowed it down to a couple of models.

Main draw - portability/weight. I'll be carrying it around and using it for document construction mostly (MS Word), powerpoint editing/construction and some surfing here and there.

Mac is unfortunately not an option right now.

Which would you buy with Vista on it - a Sony VAIO TX series (I really like the look of the 11-inch TXN25N) or a Dell Latitude D420 (12.1 inch screen)?

I keep getting told 42,000 rpm (presumably hard drive disk spin) is a problem, but I don't know.

Which one of these laptops should I purchase? If there is some other reasonable alternative that is as light (2-3lbs) and as small (11-12 inch screen) that's worth purchasing, that would be great to know as well.
posted by cashman to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm biased. If you have to buy something that's not a Mac I'd recommend a Sony, but I've probably owned 7 or 8 Sony computers over the years. (And half as many Macs)

I've had two TX series laptops (And a T before that) and I've loved them.

They are more than powerful enough to do what you have in mind. I use mine for software development and light design work and it rarely complains, but launching applications will be a little slow because of the hard drive. But I never turn it off (I sleep it) so I'm rarely launching applications. The screen is great and if I don't use wi-fi I easily get over 6 hours of battery life with the screen on full brightness. I've probably carried it a thousand miles walking on three continents and the portability is hard to beat. It's light enough that I never realize it's in my small shoulder bag.

I've never had a problem with any of my Sony computers , but if you should need service I've heard a lot of stories of woe from Sony repair dept.

I'm not sure about the current TX models, but previous ones only came with "Trial" versions of Office on them that would run for 60 days then you had to shell out the money for the real thing. Which seems cheap when you're dropping $2K on a computer.
posted by Ookseer at 12:01 PM on March 14, 2007

A 4200RPM drive is a bit slow, but not uncommonly slow among laptops, and you probably won't notice unless you're working with large files.
posted by mkultra at 12:12 PM on March 14, 2007

I'm not a fan of Sony computer hardware, mainly because it used to bitch getting it to work with Linux.

If I were you, I'd seriously consider looking at a ThinkPad X60s Ultralight.

I have a Thinkpad X30 and used it nearly every day until I recently got a MacBook Pro. I absolutely love that computer.

The X60s is, arguably, the best small form-factor in the world at the moment. Lenovo are actually doing deals on them up until St. Patricks day.
posted by ReiToei at 12:34 PM on March 14, 2007

Thinkpads have way better keyboards than Sonys do, which may be a consideration. COnversly SOnys will almost always have better displays. I'm not sure what Special Ability the Dell has, but I would guess that it's easier to swap out parts on them (with the Sony forget about it).
posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on March 14, 2007

Here's a review of the Thinkpad X60s, including video.
posted by ReiToei at 12:54 PM on March 14, 2007

Screen might be too small for you, and it's a tablet pc, which you may neither want nor need, but the lg c1 tablet pc is pure sexy.
posted by juv3nal at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2007

FWIW, In this thread I talk about my notebook computer shopping experience. I decided against Mac as well, but went with the Dell XPS m1210 (on its way to me now), and I bought it from the outlet store with a big three year warranty. If you scroll to the bottom of the thread, you will see the deal I got. (I only mention this because you are interested in a small screen).

From what I can tell from using Google, the Dell outlet store seems to fair well among those who have used it. Good luck.
posted by 4ster at 2:31 PM on March 14, 2007

Before you make a decision, I'd recommend going to a store and comparing the laptops side-by-side. The Sony TR/TX laptops have amazing LCDs- I've never seen a screen with better contrast/colors. The battery life is around 4-4.5 hours with the standard battery, 6-7 hours with the extended one.

If you're looking for something similar to the TX, check out the Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 or the Samsung Q35.

I personally don't like the X60 because it's bigger, yet has a lower-res LCD and no optical drive (but maybe neither are as important to you).
posted by helios at 2:44 PM on March 14, 2007

Oh, good lord. You're wanting Vista on a Sony or a Dell? That's possibly the pinnacle of suck.

Go for an IBM/lenovo Thinkpad or Fujitsu Lifebook as suggested above, and wait for at least for Vista SP1 to see if it turns into another ME.
posted by krisjohn at 3:09 PM on March 14, 2007

I have a Sony TX1XP; it's fairly good. Battery life of 5-6 hours, decent looking display with a nice high DPI (though the backlight LED's are a little obvious in this model at some angles, they're supposed to have fixed this), and good compatibility with Linux and FreeBSD (being mostly standard Intel hardware).

They're not the most sturdy of devices, though; they scratch fairly easily, the DVD tray is the usual flimsy crap, and I really wouldn't want to put much pressure on the lid. It's also a bit on the loud side, but not unreasonably so.

4200RPM disks are about as slow as they come, but par for the course with the 1.8" drives found in these laptops. If you've got modest storage needs, 32GB solid state disks are not far off, but I'm not sure how easy disk replacement is on these models.
posted by Freaky at 2:56 AM on March 15, 2007

Response by poster: The Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 looks great and I'm thankful for those of you who pointed it out to me. What about the Intel Core Solo Processor? Is that going to be an issue with processing speed?
posted by cashman at 11:17 AM on March 15, 2007

I would definitely look at the Fujitsu Lifebooks. Vaios have always seemed a bit over-priced for me.
posted by reformedjerk at 1:08 PM on March 15, 2007

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