After having a slight scare with the “h” key on my trusty Vostro 1400 (the key mechanism was binding slightly so that it had to be firmly pressed from the top to register), I began casually perusing the laptop market to see what was available.
Since I’ve had this laptop for over 3 years now, it is nearing the end of its normal service life. Lithium Ion batteries are only good for 3 to 5 years. Based on previous experience, I probably have about a year left before the battery stops holding a charge. Even though I could just buy a replacement battery, getting something new may be a better alternate (already have a fatigue crack near the ExpressCard slot).
Below is the list of requirements I have for a new laptop:
- 13″ to 14″. My current laptop, the Vostro 1400 is just about the perfect size for using as an actual laptop (lugging around to conferences, classes, meetings, etc.).
- <1.3″ in height (when closed). One thing I don’t like about the Vostro 1400 is it is a little on the pudgy side.
- “Generation 2” Core i processor or better. They get better battery life than the first generation of Core i processors.
- Performance equivalent to a Core 2 Duo X9000 (2.8GHz). While I don’t exactly need any more performance than what my current laptop offers (all the heavy lifting is to be done on the desktop), I certainly don’t want anything that is much less powerful.
- 6+ hours of battery life (low screen brightness, reading/editing code). This is the battery life I get with my Vostro 1400 and will not accept anything with less run time.
- 1280×800 or higher resolution display, and I prefer this to be 16:10 format (16:9 is pointless as all movies are wider yet so you will always have black bars). 16:10 screens are very difficult to come by these days, maybe we’ll see a rebirth of them in the future. This one is quite important, I will not go to a screen with less than 800px in height.
- Preferably an IPS panel, without a glossy screen.
- Not a Toshiba, Lenovo, or HP. Lenovo and HP have special requirements for add-on hardware (I have a Intel Ultimate-N 6300 card in my Vostro 1400 and I want to bring this to my new laptop). And, I have had bad experiences with Toshiba in the past.
- Backlit keyboard. This is essential, even when I “know” where the keys are on the keyboard, typing in the dark while riding in a vehicle isn’t easy on the Vostro.
The ultrabooks look interesting. Though none of them have 16:10 screens. Performance wise, looking at notebookcheck.net, the Intel Core i5-2557M found in the ultrabooks is comparable with the X9000 that I currently have (even though they rank it lower). Speaking of which, their list is quite good for getting a general feel for the performance levels of mobile CPUs, and they include some desktop CPUs in there for reference.
[end of transmission, stay tuned]