I never used to be very interested in any kind of mobile computing, including notebooks and laptops. Entering university really changed my perspective on that and now I'm using them daily.
My issue was that I never thought I needed a smartphone to be able to check my email between driving from my computer at home and to wherever I was going that would also have internet access. Well I got my first smartphone because my flip-phone died 2 weeks before my first son was born and I needed something now, and I've never looked back.
the funny thing is how my laptops have grown since I started using them. I started out with the mentality that my laptop should not rival the power of my desktop at home, where I'll be doing most of my work.
My first laptop was an Acer Aspire one, back before they were dual core. $200 gave me a full fledged windows xp system, when most netbooks were chromium or some low functioning linux derivative. 10.1" screen. I could run GZdoom and System Shock Portable on it. and take my notes in class. It was fun.
Then I needed something with a little bit more horsepower because I needed to do some assignments that required some processing. But not wanting to ditch the tiny netbook formfactor.
So I sold the netbook and upgraded to an ultraportable laptop, an Acer Timeline X. 11.6" i3 dual core with HT. 4 gb of ram. 64 bit. etc etc. Ran with that one for a year and a half worked really well. i had an actual 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the odd 1:2 that the aspire one had.
then I got a research scholarship and needed a computer I could do development on and actually have a screen that I could show things to people sitting beside me on without them having to lean in so close they could smell my breath. So I gave the Acer to my wife and went out and bought a refurbished Samsung QX410. Brushed aluminum, looked like a knockoff macbook pro (which went well with my classmates because every last one of them was an apple fanatic). i5 quad core with 4 gb of ram, a 14" screen and my first dedicated graphics card in a laptop, a Geforce 310M. It has served me well these last 2 1/2 years. I finally played through all of oblivion on it. Deus Ex 1 and 2, replayed. Developed a bit of software, mixed some music etc. But now its falling apart. (i'm actually typing on it right now)
one of the 3 usb ports is physically broken. Linux doesn't play well with the Nvidia Optimus drivers, or the touchpad. Half the time, and for no explicable reason, my up, down, del, backslash, and home keys just do not work (a real pain when it happens at boot and i'm trying to navigate grub). etc etc... I guess that's what I get for buying a refurb. It has served its purpose, and now it has to go.
Here's the thing though. Now I'm away from home more than at home, and the laptop I'm looking at to replace it is not some modest little thing that barely does what I need it to do. I'm not entirely sure it doesn't out perform my desktop. It's a pretty slick, monstrous little machine, and I really want it bad.
Here's my situation. I am finished my Undergraduate degree and I'm working on my own time to flesh out my research for Grad School before I apply in a couple of years. I want to know what I'm doing going into it and have it be a part of my application, rather than trying to figure it out when I get there. At the moment I am a night security guard at a rural hospital and I have a bucket load of free time at work. ( I walk around the place a half dozen times a night and then sit in my office on my laptop working on my research or playing games ) So I use that time as much to my advantage as I can. I would like some help making my decision, because it might just be a bit over kill, or maybe I can get something similar from somebody else for a better price. Or maybe there is something out there that is a perfect fit and I just can't find it.
What I need:
- 1920 x 1080. I've found that anything lower than a 15" will not have this. 1366x768 is getting a little crowded.
- Touchscreen, if I'm running windows 8.
- A high end i5 or mid range i7 - I'll be doing a lot of realtime audio processing, and I honestly don't know a thing about AMD procs anymore.
- >= 8GB ram.
- Large HDD, An SSD would be nice, but I'm one of those guys that held onto their CRT until about 2009 and I'm not convinced I need to switch yet, plus I need storage. 750GB - 1TB would be sufficient. Although a hybrid setup wouldn't be scoffed at.
- Dedicated graphics. something decent that I can run modern games on medium settings with a nice framerate.
- High Speed I/O ports. What I REALLY want is something with Firewire 800 or something with Thunderbolt that could use a breakout cable and support firewire. I don't WANT to need this, but companies like Avid, MOTU, and Pre-sonus are just not getting the message that firewire is dead, and the audio world should move on. I can work around this if possible, but it would be a strong factor in steering me toward something.
Looking at my list, it would seem I want a MacBook Pro, and I would triple-boot it with Windows 7 or 8 and Ubuntu Studio, but no touchscreen, and at $2500+ No thanks apple. My budget hovers around the $1000 mark. +/-
This is what I have picked out as my possible contender:http://h20386.www2.hp.com/CanadaStore/M ... L&sel=PCNB
it has everything I want except for Firewire or Thunderbolt, and the stuff it does have it has in excess. and Best Buy has it here for $1099. Feels good to me, and maybe I can play a bit of LA Noire without a 400ms mouse lag and 12 fps.
I need it for working in some rapid prototyping programs like Max/MSP and PureData. Some visual programming like Processing.org. Hardware prototyping with Arduino, Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone. Enough graphics hardware to keep up with my visualizations (that are computed real-time) and of course some gaming. I'm also playing around in a 3D game engine trying to make my first game in my spare time, what little there is of it (think UDK). Being able to do some recording with it is a big plus, Thus the firewire. But if that isn't possible then at least I can do some mixing on it with Cubase or Ardour.
Let me know if you have some hidden gem somewhere that I haven't found. And share your story of Laptops that seem to get bigger and badder every year.