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Re: what laptop to buy

On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 2:22 AM, Daniel Dalton <d.dalton@iinet.net.au> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm having great difficulty in finding a laptop suitable for my
> needs. I'm vision impaired and a student, so primarily will use the machine for
> school, and at home.
> Here is what I'm looking for: good debian linux support, including wifi,
> ethernet, sound, and the general hardware of the machine.
> I'm looking for something fairly recent, so I've got half a chance at
> locating one in Australia, but any suggested models would be greatly
> appreciated. I'm looking for  something with a core 2 duro around 1.6
> ghz or more, and I want something with really good battery life, perhaps
> 5 hours or more. I have about $1,000 to spend give or take. Finally, I'm
> going to be carrying it around school every day, so portability is
> important to me.
> So basically it must have:
> - Good debian support including wiffi
> - core 2 duro 1.6 ghz or more
> - Good battery life 5 hours or more.
> I've been looking mainly at lenovo, hp, del, acer and maybe tosheba.
> Any suggested models would be greatly appreciated.
> Cheers,
> Dan
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)
> XqMAoIc7+DsdVSBi2TKwSnGleWZ+0wLN
> =Aips


When it comes to good Linux support, I always advise looking towards
the acquisition of an hp laptop, perhaps with an Intel GMA or other
sorts of Intel onboard GPU, (for people like yourself wo are not
interested in heavy duty graphics support) primarily because you will
virtually never have any problems with closed source graphic card
drivers (Intel's drivers are free software and are henceforth included
by the official Debian distribution). I have been especially pleased
by my 4-year old Pavillion laptop, which runs Debian smoothly @ 1GB of
ram and with a Centrino processor. It's construction is also pretty
solid and ergonomic, albeit based on PVC, which is not the healthiest
of materials (like most of today's laptops). HP is also very dedicated
to receiving and processing complaints about faulty hardware, and the
company has frequently made public announcements regarding free
substitutions of battery models that have been known to overheat, for
example. By buying an HP laptop you're also helping a company that
sponsors free software to an extent, they were among the main
contributors to the most recent DebConf ( http://debconf9.debconf.org/

There are a few downsides to my proposal, of course, the most notable
of which being that I'm not very sure what vision support you'd like
from a laptop's screen in order to assist you in your work. Perhaps
you're looking into a specialised system, with a 19'' screen at least.
Also, my HP pavillion has an integrated GMA graphics card which, even
though very helpful in the sense that I've never had to care about
drivers (for the reasons I've mentioned earlier in this mail), is also
quite weak. I can't run the KDE 4 effects from my laptop, but I used
to run some Compiz Fusion effects when I was running Ubuntu (desktop
cube, mainly). Of course this isn't a real problem, you can always get
an HP laptop with a strong graphics card. Nvidia cards work well with
Linux and the company provides well-functioning proprietary drivers,
I'd look into that after a friend of mine had serious trouble with the
discontinuation of ATI's support for his Radeon. I also noted your
need for a strong battery, yet I don't think any out-of-the-box HP
laptop (not any I have come across, at least) has such a strong
battery, you'd need to order a larger one yourself. This last
observation is very prone to error, though, due to my limited
knowledge of different battery types.

I see you've increased your budget, this could help you look into one
of those new pavillions with an i7 processor (if you REALLY want to
step it up) but you don't need such a strong machine for office work

All in all, I'd go for an HP laptop both because of the high-quality
of their pavillion laptops and because of their support of open source
and Linux, both financially and technically.


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