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Why I am piss-broke.

Sam P

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As some may already know, I've been in the market for a new laptop.


Having deliberated for the better part of a month, I've finally taken the plunge. Here are some of my thoughts...


I absolutely adored the Mac Powerbook G4s. Immaculate build quality, great engineering and very trendy. And according to EdR and others, it functions stupendously well, too. But alas, I had to shy away. Software was, by far, the biggest concern. There are just too many pieces of software I like (games included) which are not available on Mac. Worst still, I would have to give up my entire PC library of software and start back at ground zero. Going the Mac route just wouldn't have been a very cost effective decision, all things considered - especially when my nominal disposable income was at stake. But boy, I will have a nice Mac someday. They are built like Audis.


My priorities were portability, value, and good performance. I was very much leaning towards a 12" Windows book. I needed a notebook to lug from lecture to lecture and anything over 5lbs was just too much. It also needed to do well at things like Photoshop and provide decent power for light gaming.


My initial purchase was an Averatec 3150H. It had an Athlon M 1600+, 256DDR ram, 30GB HDD, CD-RW/DVD combo, 32MB video and 12" screen. Only 4.3lbs. On paper, it was exactly what I wanted. Best of all, it only cost me $1500CDN (pre-tax). Terrific value, considering what the alternatives were. Averatec is an obscure player in the notebook market, but having read some favourable reviews online I saw no reason not to give them a shot.


However, all was not so rosy. It didn't have integrated wireless and having to constantly deal with the PCMCIA card was a constant chore. 12" dimensions were tidy but the keyboard was abysmally bad. Keys were too tight with not enough stroke and placed abnormally so I made mistakes on every line. Adding insult to injury, when I did correct mistakes (and it was often), I never could get the backspace key, which was about the size of a small button. It was unpleasant, to say the least, and didn't flatter my already-marginal typing ability.


Several days later, I still hadn't gotten used to it. Also, though battery life was stated as 3.5 hours, in reality it was closer to 2.5 or so. I needed at least 3 to make it through a day of classes. So back to the store I went...


And returned wondering what the hell I just did. :shock: On an impulse, I dropped an additional $800CDN (on top of my refund, all before taxes) for a Gateway 200X.



Fresh out of the box, protective plastic cover still intact.


It was a possibly very foolish move, for it clocks in at 1.4Ghz, which isn't a much bigger number than the Athlon 1600+ I just returned. However, it's a Pentium M with integrated wireless and I couldn't be more thrilled with this machine. It's got a bigger screen (14") and thus room for a full-sized keyboard. The keys click properly and I can blaze away copying notes far faster than any human with legible writing. The bigger screen remains at 1024 x 768 resolution but is easier on the eyes. Scaling down to 640 x 480 or 800 x 600 also provided much better results than the Averatec did. Best of all, it has integrated wireless and it rocks. I can get a strong signal in just about every classroom and you can even turn the hardware off with a keyboard mounted button push. The button is also backlit with a very cool neon blue when activated.



Check out the row of buttons across the top of the keyboard panel. One of them activates the wireless.


It came with an additional, extended 6 cell battery and my running time is up to around 3.5-4 hours (6 hours stated). Ram is at 512DDR, Video is 64MB Intel Integrated, 40GB HDD, I've got 2 USB 2.0s, S-Vid out, Firewire, and a DVD/CD-R Combo drive. It's just a tad heavier than the Averatec at ~4.5lbs, but the bigger keyboard makes all the difference in the world. And it's still thin as a magazine!




Its also got some interesting features. A vent on the keyboard panel sucks air from above, then blows it out the side for cooling. It's much more efficient than other systems, which usually suck air from the bottom (AFAIK). It's especially an issue when you?re using it on your lap, which is much warmer (combined with the fabric of your clothing) than on a desk, impeding cooling. The Pentium M runs really cool, too.


I haven't done much gaming but what I've seen so far tells me its well up to the task of light playing. The LCD panel (which is a first for me) has not once corrupted visual quality with motion blur. It's also heaven for the eyes. No fatigue, no strain! 8)


Boy, this has gone on for far too long. If anyone's still reading, thanks. I just wanted to share my excitement. If you're in the market for a new notebook in the thin and light segment, don't look past the Gateway 200 series.



Does Photoshop pretty well, too.

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P.S. After about an hour on the phone with a very patient (and polite) Linksys tech, I also have a wireless network going at home. What freedom! I'm writing this lying on my bed.


It also opens the doors for an Xbox Live Sam P, because my HT setup is in the basement.


Once my wallet recovers, anyway...


/Me thinking about PGR2 on XBL.

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i got a dell laptop a few months back and i wish i had got it earlier. I love the mobility , not to mention checking who is on live if i am in my HT and such. I used to have to run upstairs, turn the box on, not see anyone on and then go back down



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Originally posted by CaptDS9E@Oct 5 2003, 11:48 AM

i got a dell laptop a few months back and i wish i had got it earlier. I love the mobility , not to mention checking who is on live if i am in my HT and such. I used to have to run upstairs, turn the box on, not see anyone on and then go back down



Also works great if you've loaded up a game guide online and don't want to print the bazillion pages of text so that you can have it next to you when you play.

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