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Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!

by sids / July 9, 2004 1:52 PM PDT

I have been researching over the past few months on what kind of a laptop I want to buy. I have looked at an Apple, and a PC with both Intel and AMD motherboards. And have decided that I wanted a PC with an Intel motherboard. I was basically looking for a desktop replacement as the laptop will mostly be plugged in my dorm room, there might be a few days when the weather is nice outside and I might go out and enjoy the Wi-fi facility on campus.
I was looking for a P4 3.0+GHz with HT technology, 512+RAM, and a DVD RW.
I am presently debating over a Toshiba A75-S226, Dell 9100 and the Sony VAIO PCG-K25. (I have been blown away bith Sony's XBrite LCD's!!)
Are there any other laptops that I must checkout? And which is the best option amongst the above 3?

Discussion is locked
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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 9, 2004 10:45 PM PDT

Before you look at Sony, examine their support website and if it still is as it was lats time I looked, driver downloads were sparse to none. Even changing from XP Home (supplied) to XP Pro can be frustrating as Sony has an "attitude" that you must use the product as supplied with the OS as configured .... forever.


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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by sids / July 10, 2004 6:03 AM PDT

Thanks for the tip Bob!
Do you reccomend looking at any other desktop replacement notebooks?
And amongst the 3 I had mentioned which one would you suggest buying?

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 10, 2004 9:14 AM PDT

Toshiba is changing how they do repairs (see post in this forum) so your downtime will drop from weeks to days. And we have dozens of Dells in the office. Dell gets a little blackeye because of so many buyers, and they outsource gaffe, but we've never had a big problem with them.


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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by KenSanramon / July 10, 2004 8:04 PM PDT

If you insist on a heavy 17" LCD desktop replacement with a Pentium 4M chip I would recommend the Toshiba.

However, Pentium M Centrino machines are the best bang for the buck if you are a college student and have decided not to buy an Apple.

I recommend either the Compaq X1000 series (I have an X1360US) or the HPZT3000 series (these 2 are twins and differ in cases only) or the Toshiba M30/M35 series.

The Toshiba M30 series (1999 online -- they had it at Frys Electronics this weekend for 150 off or 1850 with a DVD burner and their new Trubrite screen technology which is similar to Sony Xbrite).

Both of these have a 15.4" widescreen LCD, 3.5 - 4 hours of battery life using wi-fi 100% of the time or better battery life if not using wi-fi (but similar for DVD's or less for intensive games).

Also, the Toshiba weighs only 6.2 pounds and the X1000/ZT3000 weighs only 6.5 pounds.

Both of these can easily be carried around in a notebook backpack that will hold a 15" screen.
The 15.4" widescreen is great for watching DVD's in the dorm or even outside as well.

Unless you are a heavy gamer either of these machines will suffice. You can get at least 32mb dedicated video or 64mb dedicated video on both.

see for the Compaq and HP or for the Toshiba forums (and Dell if you must).

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by sids / July 11, 2004 4:15 AM PDT

Thanks for the highly educational email Ken!

I looked up the TruBrite screens for Toshiba and was disappointed to see that they offered those screens only for the M30/35 models and not for the A75 series with the P4 with HT technologt processors that I was looking for!

Have you heard any reviews about the Sony support?

Do you see either the any new models coming up or the prices of notebooks lowering further in a few months say by the end of August. And would the release of XP SP2 affect the price of notebooks (I think its being released on Oct 15,'04!)?

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by KenSanramon / July 12, 2004 4:00 AM PDT

XP service pack 2 is an interim upgrade mostly for security issues not a full blown Windows upgrade as Longhorn will be probably in 2006 or later.

You should be able to order a CD or download this when it comes out so don't wait for that if you find a computer you want now.

Yes, the Toshiba Trubrite screen just came out and I am only aware of it on the M30/M35 series Centrino (with the 1.7 Dothan Pentium M for 1999).

Whatever you select, get as much DEDICATED video memory as you can as you cannot upgrade this in a laptop and this is very important for demanding games and other video issues. I have 32mb dedicated and this is fine for DVD's and some games but 64mb would be better and some machines just out have 128mb dedicated video memory (that may be on some of the large 17" desktop replacements if you want that.

The Toshiba M30/M35 with the 1.7 Pentium M Dothan has the new 2mb L2 system cache, 3.5-4 hours of battery life and 64mb dedicated video and the Trubrite. Toshiba does not offer customized ordering so their only model right now is 1999 as it has a DVD burner (adds 150-200 to cost over CD-RW/DVD ROM).

Note that the Compaq X1000 series Pentium M (Centrino laptop I have (and its sister HPZT3000 series in all black) have customized ordering online so you can get exactly what you want and get a better chip and video and a smaller hard drive and memory (which can be upgraded more cheaply later) to get the pricing down even under $1500 (and closer to $1200 in some cases) if that is what you want.

HP/Compaq (HPshopping) also has a $100 rebate on custom orders through 9/1/04 and a $50 instant coupon right now.

Also, see for Toshiba postings (and Dells) and for the Compaq X1000/HPZT3000/HPnx7000 (all same base machine).

But if you really want a desktop replacement with a 17" LCD Toshiba is probably the best and HP has one also.

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by sids / July 12, 2004 7:36 AM PDT

Thanks for all the info especially about the Video memory, I had no idea that you could not increase the memory after buying the laptop. I will definitely keep that in mind!

I was looking at Compaq and HP models which have this 'BrightView' introduced in their displays. I personally haven't seen their new screens, but I am thinking that this would be something similar to the XBrite/ TruBrite, right?

Also do you have any reviews about Sony / Compaq and HP/ Toshiba support? I have heard that Dell offers the best support, how true is that?

And how reliable are HP and Compaw notebooks compared to Dell and Toshiba?

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by sids / July 14, 2004 1:44 PM PDT

What do you think about the customer support/ support provided from HP/ Compaq? Is it any better compared to Sony?

Which company would you reccomend buying form? I am looking for a desktop replacement notebook with P4-M and HT technology? Any specific models I should take a lot at?

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What is customer support?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 14, 2004 10:37 PM PDT

It needs defining. Some get rather upset that support may not be freely given to connect up a printer or to remove a virus.


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Re: What is customer support?
by sids / July 15, 2004 8:45 AM PDT

By support I meant the avalaibility of drivers avlaible to change systems and other updates?
And also customer support that is if you have problems on your notebook and need help.

I meant the support from the hardware area and the software area too!

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You may find such lacking.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 15, 2004 9:31 AM PDT

"By support I meant the avalaibility of drivers avlaible to change systems and other updates?"

Sony was very bad in this area. To check if they improved, simply check their website for what drivers you can get for each OS.

"And also customer support that is if you have problems on your notebook and need help."

To drive down costs, the support seems to be limited to issues brought on by only what the vendor supplied. Virus, Worms, Parasites and more are not helping the support call load and some don't cover this except to have the owner reload from the restore CDs. You may not like that answer (from their support), but it is what I read daily.

"I meant the support from the hardware area and the software area too!"

Wouldn't that be great! Let me find an example. Must like your car, the maker of the car will not drive out and fill your gas tank for you or change that flat tire. You still get to do all that.


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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by KenSanramon / July 12, 2004 9:27 AM PDT

Keep in mind I stated the video memory is not upgradable not the regular system RAM.

Dell, Toshiba, and HP/Compaq all have a 1 year standard warranty and the same issues with support -- that being that much of the consumer level support has been sent overseas. Also, your laptop will be sent overseas (at least for HP/Compaq -- it is made and repaired in China).

Apple has the best repair/reliability record per Consumer Reports recently in 2004. Dell is outstanding for desktops but I just have seen a lot more complaints with their laptops.

I think you will have a similar experience with Dell, Toshiba, or HP/Compaq (as they are all large well established companies -- you risk more buying with a smaller vendor like Asus -at least in the US).

I didn't know about the HP/Compaq Briteview screens but that must be similar to the Sony Xbrite, the Fujitsu Crystal View series, and now the Toshiba Trubrite.

Toshiba came out slightly over the others (they were reviewing notebook reliability/service not desktops where Dell is clearly better overall) in Consumer Reports (after Apple) but you can read bad experiences by certain individuals with Toshiba, HP/Compaq, Dell, and Sony.

So, the main thing is hopefully try a friend's laptop or go to Circuit City, Fry's Electronics, Best Buy, etc. and try the keyboard and view the LCD displays.

Another thing. The Compaq X1000/HPZT3000 series has 2 things going for it. They have a a button to turn off the touchpad so you don't hit that when typing and jump the cursor. Also, the touchpad is centered under the spacebar. Some notebooks (including other HP/Compaq models) have the touchpad centered on laptop base but not centered under the spacebar and this can cause ergonomic problems when typing.

But if you use an external mouse as many people do this will not be as big of an issue.

Again, HP/Compaq allows you to order custom online (and Dell does of course also- that is their entire business) but hopefully try out the laptop keyboard and display you want somewhere first.

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by sids / July 12, 2004 11:15 AM PDT

Thanks a lot Ken. I am amazed with your knowledge about laptops.
If you don't mind answering I had one non-laptop based question. Do you work for CNET or any other computer based company or is it just that you are into computers and know a lot about it?

Thanks again for your help!
Will keep you updated on what I decide. I will hopefully have a laptop in my dorm by the end of August.

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by KenSanramon / July 13, 2004 3:59 AM PDT

No, I am not employed in the computer industry. I purchased a X1360US Compaq Notebook myself in late May 2004 (part of Compaq X1000 series Centrino).

When I first started looking, I was not aware of the dedicated video versus integrated video (dedicated is much better) and the other component criteria when building a laptop (5400 rpm hard drive is much faster than standard 4200 rpm hard drive, etc).

I bought mine at Circuit City so I could try out the keyboard, etc (this model is well known for keyboard feel along with IBM's which are even better) and be able to return it easily if I had a lemon.

But if you carefully research the X1000 and notebookforums websites I gave you (latter has Toshiba, Dell, and others) you can see custom configurations those people have chosen to get the best combination of price and performance.

Many students seem to get less hard drive size and memory as those can be upgraded more cheaply later easily.

But you should select the CPU and video memory now as those are not easily upgraded (video memory can't be upgraded at all).

You will get the same warranty coverage either way but custom allows you to get the machine that suits your desires exactly. The only drawback is that there is a delay in shipping it so you have to keep that in mind when ordering it.

If you end up buying an Intel Centrino branded laptop (with a Pentium M cpu) I recommmend that you get at least a 1.6 Pentium M Dothan as that is the new release and has double the L2 system cache (speeds up retrival of frequently accessed information like web pages) of the older 1.5 Pentium M and lower Banias Pentium M.

Soon, the 1.5 Pentium M will move from Banias to Dothan also but at this point a 1.7 Pentium M is definitely a Dothan and a 1.6 Pentium M should be a Dothan (at least it is at HPshopping) but may not be yet everywhere.

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by sids / July 13, 2004 5:08 AM PDT

Are you happy with the Comap notebook that you have? How has their support service been?

So apart from the following things do I need to keep any other things in mind while configuring my notebook?

1. 5400 rpm in a HDD is much faster than a 4200rpm.

2. Video memory cannot be later upgraded AT ALL!

Do you have any views on what RAM I should get? I do plan to use it a bit for gaming, and digital music editing, is 512 RAM good enough, or does 1GB boost the system by a lot?

Thanks much.

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by KenSanramon / July 13, 2004 6:46 AM PDT

It depends whether cost or features is your bottom line.

I ordered a retail (prebuilt- not custom) X1360US (X1000 series -- HPZT3000 series is the same except for case colors)with the original Banias Pentium M 1.4 mhz.

The few issues I have had with the machine were all resolved by downloading the current system bios and video card bios from the Compaq website (which is free). I found out about these issues and how to resolve it from the message boards I have already referenced. I came very close to getting the Toshiba M30/M35 series but the Compaq cost me less. And, now I find this forum extremely valuable.
Anything you can fix without sending your machine back is preferable as you keep the machine and they can end up damaging the case, etc. But all larger companies have a 1 year warranty to cover issues that you cannot resolve with software updates.

I paid $1299 after rebates for my laptop (X1360US can still be viewed at but it is out of stock and this exact model may be replaced) with a 1.4 Pentium M, 4200rpm 60gb hard drive, 32mb dedicated graphics, 512mb RAM, and CD-RW/DVD ROM (15.4" widescreen.

If ordering custom you can get a 60gb 5400 rpm hard drive for about $50 more and a 64mb dedicated video memory for about $50 more but this is going to increase you cost somewhat.

So, it is whether you want to keep the price around the level I paid with the standard setup or pay a bit more to upgrade the hard drive and or video.

I would start out with either 512mb memory or 256mb memory if you really want to save $. You can upgrade memory easily later at a lower cost by ordering Crucial memory (from website). Only 1 slot is easily accessible but if you order 256mb the 2nd slot will be empty. If you order 512mb custom specify 1 slot (1 dimm) and then the 2nd slot will be empty. I got 2 256mb dimms which means I cannot upgrade memory (as it was prebuilt) without taking another out but 512mb should be fine for all your uses with Windows XP unless you are doing video editing.

Video editing would be better with a desktop anyway as you would have 2 drives instead of 1 and it is cheaper to get a DVD burner in a desktop. If you order a DVD burner in this laptop it will add another 150-200 more to the cost (the standard configuration most people have and that I have above is a CD burner with a DVD read only drive for playing movies.

Again, you can see how various people have decided to configure their machines at the forums I have referenced.

I would recommend getting at least the 1.6 Pentium M Dothan if ordering now as it has 2x the L2 system cache (2mb instead of 1) unless you either find a model like mine at a very good price or want to minimize your cost.

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Re: Best avlaible desktop replacement notebook!
by Macattack15 / July 16, 2004 2:37 PM PDT

17-inch Powerbook 1.5ghz 128 megs graphics ram, 5400RPM hdd

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Have you consider Acer Aspire 1710?
by Melati Hitam / July 16, 2004 4:53 PM PDT
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Re: Have you consider Acer Aspire 1710?
by sids / July 17, 2004 3:19 AM PDT

I have friends who own an Acer and have been quite disappointed with their customer support! So I am not looking at a Acer! Thanks though.

I am presently looking at the HP models which come with a TruBrite screen. Anyone have any views on their customer support, in terms of the company answering calls, and solving hardware based problems? (Or anything in general about HP?)

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How hardware problems are solved.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 17, 2004 5:09 AM PDT

This area seems to be "pretty good." But beware the downtime as the unit gets shipped around and keep track of when it's out of your possession since in some states, the time that the machine is in the shop, extends the warranty that many days.

What will get some upset is that many calls ask the owner to restore the laptop with the factory CDs. While this is a proper request, why it creates so much ire is that most owners were never told that hard disks are just TEMPORARY STORAGE. We only lose what we didn't backup.

Some won't like that you have to reload the restore CDs to get some items fixed.

So far, the PC machines have been doing a very poor job of diagnostics.


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Re: How hardware problems are solved.
by sids / July 17, 2004 7:26 AM PDT

Do you have any personal views on HP/Compaq customer service compared to others?

Have any of your friends/ relatives had any good or bad experiences with HP/Compaq?

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My Acer service.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 17, 2004 5:12 AM PDT

My CDRW drive failed in about month 3. A call to the repair desk was possible after I registered my machine on the web and it went very well. The technician only had me do a few "tests" and offered to send me a new CDRW. It showed up in 2 days and the Acer is now 4 years old.

I can see that some will not want to register and if they don't, will fall onto a very painful merry-go-round ride of no one knows you or your machine.


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Re: Have you consider Acer Aspire 1710?
by jdnest / November 20, 2004 12:15 AM PST

I own an Aspire 1710 and have had no problems with it for the past 5 months. Their support staff has answered my calls very quickly and has resolved the few problems I have had.

I use Director, FCS , and Premiere Pro, all which are processor-intensive applications; this notebook has handled it all without a glitch! GREAT MONITOR TOO!

If I had to do it all over again, I would buy this notebook; it's a great machine.

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by ksoiehawo / July 17, 2004 5:00 AM PDT

GeForce 5600 128MB
DVD +/- Burner
Windows XP Media Center Edition

-I don't know if this is available in the states, it might just be canadian

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by sids / July 17, 2004 7:12 AM PDT
In reply to: TOSHIBA P20

I think Toshiba has a similar model in the states called the P25! The only reason I am opting for a similarly configured HP/Compaq to a Toshiba is 'cos of the new TruBrite screens they have.

You should go to see the diference in real life, the new screens avalaible in Sony, Fujitsu, HP/Compaq and the Toshiba M30 are simply spectacular. You don't want to buy one without that!

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by runner / July 17, 2004 1:17 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: TOSHIBA P20

I have seen both the HP TruBrite screen, and the Sony version of it, and they are both unbelievable! I too am looking for a laptop with this type of screen and was wondering if it comes in any other resolution than the 15.4" WXGA (SXGA+ and WUXGA). The SXGA+ and WUXGA are more expensive due to their higher resolution but are they also TruBrite, even though this isn't specified in their names or descriptions?

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by sids / July 17, 2004 1:54 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: TOSHIBA P20

So are you HP screens exactly as the Sony extra bright screens? I have seen the Sony ones, but haven't got a chance to personally go and check out the HP screens.

I am pretty sure that all of Sony's models come with the XBrite screens. If you are looking into Sony then I will reccomend the TR series which has a Pentium M processor, and also comes with an Integrated Camera [CMOS 370,000 pixels (VGA 640x480)]and internal microphone.

I am not so sure about the HPaq models as they read Brightview only for the WXGA resolution! You might want to check out the higher resolution screens at circuitcity or bestbuy!

I also found this Sharp laptop(Actius RD3D) which comes with a 3-D screen.

The Sharp Actius RD3D is the world's first autostereo 3D notebook. Sharp Corporation's TFT 3D LCD technology makes it possible to view eye-popping 3D images without special glasses.

The touch of a button switches the display back to 2D viewing for standard applications such as spreadsheets, photo editing or email.

Oooooooh Yeahhhh... thats the future of screens!-- right thurr

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Compaq X6000 series PC
by Chaser / April 18, 2005 12:08 PM PDT

Any one have views on theCompaq X6000 series PC.
Looks good to me

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I have X6000
by ehellgren / April 28, 2005 11:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Compaq X6000 series PC

If you search for this model here you can see 3 of us have posted are likings of this laptop. Im really happy with mine as I did a custom order over the web back on Feb 1st and have been using it since feb 10th or so. No issues to report which includes taking to Las Vegas for work in which I carried on board the plane via samsonite sport back pack. With that back pack and did not have any complaints carring it around. The laptop itself has been awsome as I have used it everyday since it was delivered. I totally recommend it to anyone in the market for a desktop replacement in a 17" form factor. Now Compaq offers the new generation P4 with 2 meg cache. You would think that even the HP ZD8000 would have gotten more rave reviews from users, but Im blown away on how many users complained on support and issues with the PC.

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