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Re: Best "new" laptop

> thinkpad T21. (or T20)
> they're powerhouses, light (4.6 lb), have cd/dvd support, are super
> reliable, ibm supports linux on them (well, not winmodems and maybe not the
> internal NIC) and I've had a bunch of thinkpads w/ linux and they've been
> great. I've even got a 760-EL (p133) that I still use from time to time.

hmm, what's the nic say under lspci?  I hear that realtek has a minipci combo
where the ether is well behaved and the modem is incomplete/unsupported.

Anyways I have to agree that if you're buying from IBM - at least at the 
moment - you're at least supporting a company that cares somewhat about linux
users' opinions.

The question though, was (with some trimming):
>> I want to get feedback regarding "current" laptops on the market 

>> My goal here is to get the fastest, lightest, Linux compatible laptop 
>> with
>>        "thin" form-factor 
>>        long battery life
>>         horsepower to be a desktop replacement when docked

>> If you had an unlimited budget on which to spend on your "dream" Linux
>> laptop, what would you buy and why?

Dream 1:
I'd contact each of the major vendors, tell one of their highlevel sales
VPs about my unlimited budget, but that I won't be spending any of it until
(some near time frame, short enough to make the sales guy dream about his
quota buying his next vacation to Bermuda, long enough to make them meeting
my goal obtainable.  First guess without reseach: 4 months from Time T).
I will be buying a fleet of the laptops which meet My Requirements most 

Now that I have them hooked, I tell them which chipsets of current componentry
are my preferences for all the usual bullet point features.  I express an 
interest in some upcoming/there but not common tech such as the orinoco 2.4Ghz
wireless miniPCIs, firewire, etc.  And which sorts of misfeatures will 
disqualify his offerings from my consideration.

In an even more ideal world I can get the video vendors interested in a piece
of the same budget.  And other internal-peripheral providers.  I end up setting
up my own laptop fab and licensing it to a third of the major laptop vendors
and everyone has Good Laptops available by our definitions.  At this point,
even dream physics has allowed the fairy-dust oil to drip to the bottom and
the soap bubble breaks.

Putting the bubble pipe back down, 
Dream 2 
aka realizable fantasy:

Funny you should ask, but I just started looking again.  So as soon as I 
*really* know the answer, you folks might hear about it anyway.  In the 
meantime I am in the process of narrowing that down, and I'm sad to say,
a lot of it is process of elimination, finding which chipsets are heinous
and evading them.

(for those who might not feel like reading too long a message, a summary.)

I'm considering that new Apple laptop, but demo models haven't arrived at
my nearby store yet.

I'm interested in Crusoe, but not enough to deal with Sony baloney.

I have some picks from the latest laptop 'zine but haven't finished 
researching if they have any "gotchas".  I use my peripherals a fair 
amount so I'm not convinced that a 1 spindle design is right for me even
though that's what I'm looking toward.

My hubby told me to look at the Omnibook 900.

(okay now for the nitty gritty.)

I'm not exactly a sound expert myself so if someone can recommend which
(ahem) "popular" sound chips are actually easy to set up rather than a
nightmare, I'd appreciate it.

On my avoidance list for the moment, * = NO   x = avoid   - = prefer not:
     x  Sony. I think their machines feel flimsy, and their politics suck.
     *	winmodems any flavor.  while I recognize that 4 have an attempt
	at support, I'd rather the miniPCI slot be used for something else
	rather than waste circuit space.
     x	weird unsupported mouse features, eg "jogdial", sliding bar, etc.
	I think they'll all have some compatibility mode and I think ALL
	pointing devices suck, but I'd rather not have to live with screen's
     -	USB floppy.  Makes install a pain, such systems tend also to be 
	missing other things in an attempt to save motherboard space. 
	Laudable, but I've been hearing that interrupt sharing is giving
	some folks headaches.  
     *	screen smaller than 9 inches.  The PDA movement is gaining headway
	so -real- mini-notebooks are back in style, but I've gotten used
	to the magio and don't want to deal with a smaller screen than it
	has.  YMMV.
     x  Only one pcmcia slot?  I use two a lot.  If anyone knows of a
	laptop with 3 slots -- that's still made, I already know about
	the Magio! :> -- I'd really like to hear about it.  Note that
	good USB or firewire support can make this less of a deficiency.

I'm particularly wary of anything that uses the new buzz-phrase "legacy free" 
in their literature.  I suspect this is short for "might not boot off the 
floppy and we threw out those stupid parallel and serial ports.  We don't
bother to test our hardware's APM support because ACPI is the future so we'll 
be throwing APM out anyway."

I'm seeking out,  * = drool    x = that'd be cool   - = worth trying:
     *  SDRAM "instant" suspend/resume.  I've only seen one current model
	that provably has this.
     x	a -supported- Fast IR chipset.
     x  1280x1024 resolution ... I'll settle for 1024x768 if the screen is 11"
	or smaller.  Let's just say I use lots of screen space.
     *  video chipset that is -actually- supported by X 4.  I'm strongly
	interested in moving that direction, but since my current systems
	work, I'm not terribly interested in half measures or putting up
	with bleeding-edge vendor bull.  Wish me luck.  I think this is
	my pickiest feature request.
     x  2 or more USB ports (without being USB floppy)
     -  external floppy is fine by me, but it needs to be light so 
	I don't feel I should get a midsize instead, considering that I 
	*do* carry my peripherals a fair amount.
     -  firewire onboard the actual system.  
     x  Memory is more important than CPU, after all, I live on a 233 MMX
	for goodness' sake.  Skipping stright to Crusoe is tempting tho...
     *  It had better be tough enough to take what I've put the magio
	through so far.  If that costs a few ounces, that's the way it is.
		btw, I can get a milspec toughened "ultralight" (about 5 lbs 
		after armor) for just over 4 grand, shock absorbent and the
		works, probably would take bullets and still work.  But the
		internal specs would be the same as my Magio.  Do you get
		the feeling their certification process is a mite slow?

		For the curious, the model is called the SCOUT2.

		On this criteria I'm considering the new Apple laptop -
		display models are supposed to arrive at MicroCenter within 
		the next week or two.

     *  it has to have decent onboard disk space.  Or tell me the mm height
	required and if the machine is openable enough, I can fix that little
	problem on my own.  I had originally not thought much of this as
	firewire/usb extra storage is now easy to get and anyways, I have
	a PCMCIA/IDE controller bay.  But the fact is I do not usually carry
	this sort of peripheral except by appointment.  So I'd rather 10Gb
	than 6, and more would increase my ability to treat it as my primary
	system.  20 Gb would probably be plenty.
		btw: best 9 mm drives, anyone?  criteria - well behaved, then
			capacity, then price.  I might just buy one of these
			and not bother with a new laptop yet.
     *	I prefer arrow keys in a T configuration.the ctrl key wider enough 
	than the Fn key that I can feel the difference before hitting it,
	backslash above the Enter key/below the backspace, and Esc at the
	furthest top left.  This is the current case on my desktop keyboard
	and the magio, and I'd rather not have to fight with my own fingers.

     -  trackpoint/eraserhead  vs  glidepad.  All mice suck, but I only care
	that it is responsive enough I don't feel forced to get an external.
     -  dock.  I have too many possible 'home sites' to put up with dock
	shenanigans, the connectors get beat up, and features that only 
	exist at home are not worth a whole lot to me.  Gimme real video
	connectors on the machine, USB and cardbus and I'll never need docks.

Any of the regulars can tell you I'm pretty fond of my present system but,
I'm doing a bit more dev and web work, I could stand a newer CPU.

Hopefully these considerations will lead me to more than 3 models, because
my eyeballs have gotten picky, and I do have small hands, but there are

I picked up a copy of the latest LAPTOPS magazine, which also had some good 
articles.  (That's where I read about the Orinoco gadget for instance.  And 
some james bond/MI:2 style glasses-shaped monitor.  But I digress.)  

Of *course* right when I'd like to have it at hand it's gone missing.
But what I really bought the mag for is the chart in the back.  It's not
much, but it is a better effort towards noting some chipset details than
you'll get at your CompUSA or Fry's.  What's important is that there is
that, and there are two columns which will help you narrow down things
a lot:  its claimed weight, and the screen size.  If you select out 
everything that weighs less than 4.5 pounds (where 6 to 7 is average
for your "brick" style powerhouse laptop, and 8 actually not uncommon),
then start moving upwards from the smaller screen sizes eliminating them
by any other misfeatures. (For ex, the Cassiopeia at 1.8 pounds, is a wince
machine, the lince thing might be fun for some, but I'm not going there

Anyways I actually did this sort of thing enough to have written little
plus and minus signs at one edge, and I have a happy face mark on a 
few of them to tell me to check those out in more detail.  I really wish
I could find it now.  I bet it's in the car.

I am *deeply* considering just laying out a web page with a grid by features
so I have someplace to put my notes as I discover chipset data.  These 
darn magazine charts don't cut it and vendor specsheets are worse.

Comments other than "star, you type too much" welcome.  

* Heather Stern * star@ many places...

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