A friend of mine (also a HAL-PC member) sent me an email asking me “what is the best laptop I could buy at any price, mainly for fast IInternet connection and wireless connection?”
Well, his question got me thinking and I started looking around for information so I could answer this question for everyone.
What I told him was that if he wanted a machine mainly for wireless Internet connection, then he should go to Micro Center, Best Buy, etc. and look for a name brand with a good warranty, check what’s loaded on the machine to see that it has the maximum memory, hard drive size, latest wireless, Bluetooth, graphics and a good DVD±RW drive.
Buying the “Ultimate Laptop/Notebook” computer is not the same as buying a new car, although I find many similarities. The models from the manufacturers vary in the features that they contain. You may find a gadget (feature) on a Nissan that you can’t get on a Cadillac or a Mercedes-Benz, or vice-versa. The same is true of computers, both laptops/notebooks or desktops.
I think a few definitions are in order at this point so that we are all on the same page. A notebook computer for the purpose of this column is a portable computer that weighs over 6 pounds and a laptop computer is a portable computer that weighs less than 6 pounds (the lighter the better, providing what you need is included in it). My logic here is that you really don’t want to hold a computer on your lap for too long if it weighs 9 pounds or more. Desktop replacement notebooks with large screens (17”) can weigh this amount and more.
My experience has been that a relatively inexpensive model might have a feature that is not on the pricey model from the same manufacturer, and vice-versa.
As you read this column, bear in mind that unless you have a laptop/notebook made to your specifications, there will not be a model that has all the features that you want and none of the ones that you don’t.
Basically, I told my friend to look for either: an Intel Core 2 Dual processor or an AMD 64-Bit Turion 64x2 processor; 2 Gigabytes of memory; an ATI (two card scalable Link) or a nVidia graphics card; an internal hard drive of the largest Gigabytes available (200?); the best DVD±RW he can get; integrated Bluetooth and 802.11 a/b/g wireless Internet connection and a 12.1” to a 17” screen (depending on the amount of weight he is willing to carry and support on his lap). If he’s not in a hurry, he can wait for the new 802.11 Draft-N Standard with Bluetooth 20+ Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) support.
Have you heard of the “ExpressCard?” It’s the next generation expansion slot for notebook computersfrom Koutech Systems, Inc. (www.Processir.com/KoutechSys). The ExpressCard is offered in three versions: the 1002E Dual Port FireWire/1394a card includes two 400 Mbps, 6-Pin FireWire/1394 a ports on an ExpressCard/34 module; the 1615E Dual Port FireWire/1394b (FireWire 800) ExpressCard includes two 800Mbps, 9-Pin FireWire/1394b ports on an ExpressCard/34 module; the 7004E FireWire/1394a & Hi-Speed USB 2.0 combo ExpressCard includes two 400Mbps 6-Pin Firewire/1394a ports and a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Port, using the latest PCMCIA interface. ExpressCard technology was designed to improve on the PC Card standard and to provide a high-performance modular expansion in a smaller size than the current PC Card products. ExpressCard works with Windows 2000/SP/Server 2003. They support PCI-E and USB technologies, making it easier to connect to printers, scanners, external DVD/CD writers, hard drives and RAID devices. ExpressCards can fit into either a Universal or 34mm ExpressCard slot. When an ExpressCard/34 module is inserted into a Universal slot, the internal guidance feature directs the module over to the connectors.
Well, it’s here. The MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. Apple Computer, Inc. of Cupertino, CA (www.apple.com) has the new MacBook Pro with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with either 2.16GHz or 2.33GHz. I haven’t seen a Windows machine in the stores with the Intel Core 2 Duo with more than 1.6GHz yet. Apple has both 15.4 inch and 17 inch screens with a full size Qwerty keyboard. It has FireWire 800, optical digital audio, ExpressCard/34, and gigabyte Ethernet to connect to peripheral devices. Users can host videoconferencing using its iChat software and iSight camera. Users can do their presenting from up to 30 feet away. The MacBook Pro also has an illuminated keypad with ambient light sensors and scrolling trackpad.
AMD is preparing its next set of processors due this summer and code-named Barcelona. Intel is already out front with its advanced Penryn chip, made from new materials that use hafnium-based high-k dielectric and metalgates to decrease current leakage and yield faster, more energy-efficient chips. This overcomes problems encountered in producing Intel’s 45mm processors. The Penryn somewhat refreshes the Core 2 Duo chip design with additional cache memory and new SSE4 instruction. The Penryn should ship in the second half of the year. No word yet as to what affect this will have on notebook computing though.
Chuck Horowitz, a HAL-PC member, can be reached at email@example.com for questions or comments.