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Old 2011-09-19, 21:25   Link #1
Urzu 7
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New England
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Brands of laptops: Good quality, ultra portable, good prices

I'm considering getting an ultra-portable, light laptop at some point in time. Something with good battery life, too. What are some good brands for this? I heard Acer is one to avoid, and that Levono is good (but can be pricier) and that Asus is good. Are these brands recommended? I don't need a very capable machine. Something in the $450-$650 price range is what I'm looking at.

When I say ultra-portable, I'm talking about small screens, slim, and light weight. Like 11" screens. I wouldn't really use the laptop for gaming, so cheap graphics cards are just fine. I'd primarily use it for web browsing on the go, and watching streamed content (like Crunchy Roll) and fansubs on it.

Also, a question, if I ever wanted to set the laptop down on a bed for an extended period of time, do I have to worry about overheating? Is that something I just shouldn't do?
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Old 2011-09-19, 22:34   Link #2
Random32
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Thinkpad X120e is my top suggestion. HP dm1z is a bit cheaper and performs about the same, but it has crap build quality, bad keyboard, glossy screen, etc.

If you can snag a Thinkpad X220 with a good sale/coupon, you might get it at the top of your budget range.

For an extra $50-$100 over your budget, a refurbed MacBook Air 11 is a very lightweight and thin laptop (2.5 pounds). I personally hate the Mac keyboard and aluminum feels solid, but isn't that durable when it really counts. Battery life is acceptable at best, and Windows will be extra cost and might not run as well. Not much beats it for thin and light if that's all that counts at the price you want though.
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Old 2011-09-20, 00:31   Link #3
justsomeguy
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For larger laptops, leaving it on the bed is not just bad for its ventilation, but a fire hazard as well. An ultraportable running on batteries might not generate as much heat to be a concern though.

Acer's quality varies, and build quality is cheap. You get what you pay for.
Asus and Lenovo are excellent.
Avoid HP, since their quality sucks, and they're leaving the market and unlikely to provide the servicing you will definitely need.
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Old 2011-09-20, 02:56   Link #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Random32 View Post
Thinkpad X120e is my top suggestion. HP dm1z is a bit cheaper and performs about the same, but it has crap build quality, bad keyboard, glossy screen, etc.
I mostly love my Thinkpad X120e - sleek, light, great keyboard (possibly the best on any 11 inch machine) adn pretty decent build quality (despite being all plastic rather than having a magnesium frame like higher end Thinkpads) all for around $400 for the version with the E-350 APU and six cell battery.

However... the CPU unit within the E-350 is a bit weak for the new Hi10P H.264 encodes some fansub groups are moving to. Even with the fastest playback software configuration I could put together, the machine will stutter for a split second here and there in a few 720P Hi10P bluray rips I have. That doesn't occur on my desktop machines.
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Old 2011-09-22, 00:05   Link #5
Urzu 7
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What if I was to invest in something of higher value. Let us say, $650-$800. It seems like the cheaper ones aren't really worth the money for the most part. Would something in a higher price range be worth it? Maybe a Lenovo or a Dell ultraportable?
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Old 2011-09-22, 00:26   Link #6
MeoTwister5
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You're looking for the Netbooks powered by Intel Atom processors right?

Asus, Lenovo and MSi netbooks are the way to go from my experience.

Netbooks were made for budget priced mobile computing. That is to say it's meant for low cost markets. If you're going to spend 650-800 might as well buy a mid range laptop because high end netbooks of the 650 price range (if one even exists) won't even reach the same performance of a similarly priced laptop.
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Old 2011-09-22, 01:13   Link #7
Urzu 7
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Netbooks and Ultraportables are two different things, actually. Look at the Macbook Air; it is a full featured laptop. It is an ultraportable laptop. Small and light, but a lot better than a Netbook.

Here is the a very portable laptop line by Dell: http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-n411z/pd.aspx

Those are pretty portable, but a bit bigger than some ultraportables (14" screens instead of 11" or so). But it is thinner and lighter than a lot of laptops.

Here is a place with many ultraportable laptops: http://www.buy.com/specialty_store_7...ops/65483.html
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Old 2011-09-22, 04:00   Link #8
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I saw the black Asus 1215B (the AMD E-350 1.6GHz variant) on Amazon for $300. Ultraportable, more powerful than a netbook, decent battery life, and cheap.

I find that the E-350 is more than fast enough for normal tasks that don't include gaming or anything processor-intensive, but like Fox said, it won't play the "Hi10" H264 encodes. I do have to wonder why fansubbers always choose to use the most insanely difficult to decode methods of video compression. The sort of people who download fansubs are also the sort of people who tend to use old hardware...

I barely download anything anymore. I'm too lazy to wait for torrents when I can just watch it on Crunchyroll, on my phone, in bed, or on the TV with an HDMI cable.
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Old 2011-09-22, 06:43   Link #9
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Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
Also, a question, if I ever wanted to set the laptop down on a bed for an extended period of time, do I have to worry about overheating? Is that something I just shouldn't do?
depend where the ventilation is. obviously you don't want to cover it up. i tend to use small book to raise the laptop little bit so it have some breathing space
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Old 2011-09-22, 19:39   Link #10
Urzu 7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
I saw the black Asus 1215B (the AMD E-350 1.6GHz variant) on Amazon for $300. Ultraportable, more powerful than a netbook, decent battery life, and cheap.

I find that the E-350 is more than fast enough for normal tasks that don't include gaming or anything processor-intensive, but like Fox said, it won't play the "Hi10" H264 encodes. I do have to wonder why fansubbers always choose to use the most insanely difficult to decode methods of video compression. The sort of people who download fansubs are also the sort of people who tend to use old hardware...

I barely download anything anymore. I'm too lazy to wait for torrents when I can just watch it on Crunchyroll, on my phone, in bed, or on the TV with an HDMI cable.
I'll look into the E-350 and 1215B. It is too bad this new digital video format fansubbers are adopting won't play well. I guess I can just use it for fansubs that don't use it, as well as for streaming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RRW View Post
depend where the ventilation is. obviously you don't want to cover it up. i tend to use small book to raise the laptop little bit so it have some breathing space
I was thinking about that. Using a book can emulate a desk surface, so that should work with no problems, right? If that works, than I can just do that.
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Old 2011-09-22, 20:38   Link #11
Random32
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Maybe a Dell Vostro V131. Its a bit bigger (13" screen) and heavier (4lbs) than what you originally wanted, but its still fairly portable. Though not up to the same standard as Thinkpads or Latitudes, they are definitely better built than consumer laptops, there are also options for Standard Voltage CPU's and the base ULV is definitely much faster than the E-350 still.

If you are going to buy a E-350 powered laptop, I will suggest the Thinkpad X120e for build quality, durability, ergonomics, reliability, and a matte screen.

For the higher price range you suggested.
-Thinkpad X220. It starts very cheap (at least in the US) for a business ultraportable. Also, great build quality, very durable, Thinkpad gold standard keyboard that all the crappier keyboards are measured against, matte screen, epic battery life, fast as bigger laptops.
-Refurb MacBook Air 11. Much thinner and lighter than the other suggestions. The ULV C2D isn't exactly fast, faster than the E-350, not sure if fast enough for Hi10p though.

I sorta like the move to Hi10p. Smaller file sizes means quality that I can pack into less space.
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Old 2011-09-22, 20:50   Link #12
Urzu 7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Random32 View Post
Maybe a Dell Vostro V131. Its a bit bigger (13" screen) and heavier (4lbs) than what you originally wanted, but its still fairly portable. Though not up to the same standard as Thinkpads or Latitudes, they are definitely better built than consumer laptops, there are also options for Standard Voltage CPU's and the base ULV is definitely much faster than the E-350 still.

If you are going to buy a E-350 powered laptop, I will suggest the Thinkpad X120e for build quality, durability, ergonomics, reliability, and a matte screen.

For the higher price range you suggested.
-Thinkpad X220. It starts very cheap (at least in the US) for a business ultraportable. Also, great build quality, very durable, Thinkpad gold standard keyboard that all the crappier keyboards are measured against, matte screen, epic battery life, fast as bigger laptops.
-Refurb MacBook Air 11. Much thinner and lighter than the other suggestions. The ULV C2D isn't exactly fast, faster than the E-350, not sure if fast enough for Hi10p though.

I sorta like the move to Hi10p. Smaller file sizes means quality that I can pack into less space.
Okay, there are more models to look at. I'm not sure when I'll get a laptop. I was thinking of getting one, and if I decide to get one, I want one that is smaller rather than clunky, so I'm starting to look around at what is out there.

I'm sure the move to Hi10p is generally good, just not so for older hardware or cheaper laptops. But my desktop will run it great, I'm sure.
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Old 2011-09-22, 22:09   Link #13
0utf0xZer0
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I'd recommend either deciding you don't care about Hi10P and getting a cheap E-350 machine or that you do care and grab a significantly more expensive Core i3/i5 based design. So I'd avoid a refurbed Mac Air.

I considered the Asus 1215B but decided to go with the Lenovo X120e instead because I heard that the Lenovo was a sturdier machine with a better keyboard. I don't think you'd find an E-350 based X120e for $300 though, more like $400.

Looks like the Vostro V131 fixes the big things people hated about the V130: the weak Core 2 Duo CPU and small four cell battery. The V131 is available with a Core i3 and six cell. Not sure how good the build quality on Vostros (intended as small business machines) is though, some of Dell's consumer models haven't been very good.

The Thinkpad X220 looks expensive ($900 US) but I know people who got them for like $650 instead of the $850 Canadian base price through various promotions - there may be similar deals in the US. It also has a few nice options not available on most other notebooks, such as an IPS panel display ($150 extra?).

Battery life is probably around 5.5 hours on the 1215B and X120e, and likely at least a couple hours more on V131 and Thinkpad X220.

Intel has been trying to push PC manufacturers to make Macbook Air like "ultrabooks", which should combine light weight and high power - but most manufacturers expect to sell them for close to the limit of Intel's "under $1000" pricing scheme so they might be a little pricy for you.
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Old 2011-09-22, 22:19   Link #14
Urzu 7
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Okay, thank you for the info. I'm learning a lot more about what would be a smarter buy from the suggestions in this thread.
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Old 2011-09-22, 22:54   Link #15
Random32
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The X220 is a common sale item, so there is a good chance that a good deal will come by soon enough. Probably Black Friday if you are willing to wait that long. The IPS panel is a $50 upgrade in the US. If you happen to know anyone with IBM or Lenovo stock, Shareholder Discount brings the price down to ~$800 for the base configuration.

Vostro series should be around Thinkpad Edge in build quality. I heard good things about the build for the V131 though I can't say I've had any experience using it.
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Old 2011-09-23, 00:53   Link #16
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I was thinking about that. Using a book can emulate a desk surface, so that should work with no problems, right? If that works, than I can just do that.
i been done that for 1 year and have no problem.

just few thing. you only need ONE book (preferably small and hardcase) if you use 2 it become unstable. it maybe bit tilted but should be fine

obviously dont positioned your book to block ventilation
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Old 2011-09-23, 01:20   Link #17
Urzu 7
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What would be ideal for that is a hard cover book that is a big childrens book. Light weight because it is thin, big to support the base of a laptop.
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Old 2011-09-23, 01:42   Link #18
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What would be ideal for that is a hard cover book that is a big childrens book. Light weight because it is thin, big to support the base of a laptop.
that kinda work, but i prefer use one small book to make it slightly tilted. since bed is soft. it not effecting me greatly
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Old 2011-09-24, 01:16   Link #19
flying ^
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What if I was to invest in something of higher value. Let us say, $650-$800. It seems like the cheaper ones aren't really worth the money for the most part. Would something in a higher price range be worth it? Maybe a Lenovo or a Dell ultraportable?

how about... higher?

let's bump it up to $1200

the screen used in this ASUS alone is definitely worth it!!!
i'm sooo saving $$$ for this!

http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Slate-EP1...6843696&sr=1-2
just get a separate keyboard and you're good to go


.... or you can do it the hard way if you really want to stay in the $ 450-650 range like I did (last year)

Spoiler for :
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Old 2011-09-30, 10:00   Link #20
Dante of the Inferno
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Exactly how long do you plan on keeping your new computer, Urzu? The lower end models like the E-350 probably won't last for more than 3 years, especially if you use it everywhere. Furthermore, if such low-end ultraportables already have trouble playing Hi10p video, then it's unlikely that the problem is going to get any easier with whatever media comes out 3-5 years down the road.

Higher-end Lenovo Thinkpad ultraportables (or was it the IdeaPad ultraportables?) at least come with the Core i5 and higher (if you can find a European model), but the price is around $1000. In exchange, the build quality is high enough that it will easily last over 5 years of continual portable use. My Thinkpad is fast approaching it's 5th birthday and still going strong.

HOWEVER, if you've the patience to wait it out a while longer (and by that, I mean at least 9 months), Intel will have it's Cactus Ridge processors out (think new NEW Core series) with Tri-Gate technology and integrated Thunderbolt and USB 3 controller support. This will likely lead to a new breed of ultrabook that is not only far more comparable to modern laptops in capability, but also upgradable functionality (since it will be possible to run your computer on an external UPGRADABLE GPU, thanks to Thunderbolt).

But that's if you want your system to last a long time.


Flying: Can you upgrade the CPU as well? Otherwise, no sale. Even my 5 year old 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo outclasses it.
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