Bill Conant" />
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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Get technical: Improved PCs show users love

This morning, when you looked at your computer, you knew there was something wrong. You couldn’t quite place what the problem was, but you knew that spark was missing -your computer had gotten old. You knew you could go on, faithful as always to your old computer, but then again, you also knew you could try some of this year’s sexiest machines and put your old clunker gently back in its case.

It doesn’t have to know you’ve found a younger computer. Let’s face it – your old lap-cooker is bulky. Who wants to be seen with 12 pounds of plastic in their lap?

To that end, if you’re looking for a sexy little laptop like the cool kids have but don’t want to shell out for a MacBook Air, look no further than any number of miniscule netbooks.

Ever since Asustek introduced the EeePC just under a year ago, more manufacturers have been releasing tiny laptops perfectly suited to checking email and browsing the Web, with some savvy business-sense as well.

Most come with some distribution of Linux as an operating system, and usually weigh in at less than 3 pounds. With screens under 10 inches (not to mention small keyboards), these easy-to-use laptops are cheap, quick and very good at doing what they advertise. The downside is that’s really all they’re good for – limited hard drive space keeps you from storing much on them.

Not your style? Well, if you need something a little more specialized, Lenovo has you covered.

For the graphic designer, architect, or engineer, this humble writer recommends the ThinkPad W700. Sure it’s got all the modern accommodations – an optional quad-core processor, up to 8 GB of RAM and a 1 GB dedicated video card – but it really stands out from the crowd by being the first laptop to have an integrated Wacom tablet right by the track pad. The screen is also capable of professional, hardware-based color calibration without any extra equipment, meaning your CAD drawings and Photoshop masterworks always come out exactly as expected.

It’s pricey – it starts at $2,978 and goes on from there, but if you’re serious about your work, it’s a great choice. Being a ThinkPad, it’ll stand up to almost anything you can throw at it (excluding baseballs – an unfortunate first-hand experience) and will last for years. Graduates might start finding a job willing to pay for one of these babies now – use the old "increased mobile productivity" line.

Too expensive, you say? Happily, mid-grade laptops now come with all the power you’ll need to run your office applications and your social life from your Facebook corner office.

Follow me, if you will, along Toshiba’s Satellite line of laptops. There are some nice machines here, to be sure, but the real gem is the L300. This 5.7 pound model is sure to have your needs covered with a 15.4 inch widescreen display, comfortable keyboard and enough connectivity options to keep you tied in wherever you drink your coffee. The battery life isn’t amazing – about an hour in a stress-test scenario and up to two hours under normal conditions – but most students will be plugged into the wall during class or while in the dorm.

The L300 is solidly built, comes with plenty of storage space and feels quick and responsive, even while running Microsoft Vista Home Edition.

It’s also well suited to most student budgets, starting at $589.99, with the fully kitted model still under a thousand bucks.

Now, for all of you who really want to get an impromptu Crysis session going in your English class, this has got to be the outfit for you: the Dell XPS M1730. Toting this baby around will garner you instant respect at your next LAN party and you’ll be the buffest gamer there, too – this thing weighs a hefty 8.8 pounds.

What it lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in performance – a dual-core processor, up to 4 GB of RAM, a 1920×1200 screen, hard drive space peaking at 640 GB and optional SLI enabled video cards (yes, plural video cards in a laptop) packing up to 1 GB worth of pixel-pushing heat.

And just for kicks, a full-on sound system with built in subwoofer.

This beast also packs a wireless-N adapter, which means you don’t need to plug into a wired network to frag that guy from Lithuania and maintain a lag-less game.

If your trigger finger is itching now, hitch your wagon to this $1,999 star and start racking up the points.

You know you want one. Don’t worry about offending your other laptop – this is our little secret and your old machine never needs to know.

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