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Help...Notebook needed for a pilot...

by mmchargue / August 23, 2004 4:07 PM PDT

I am shopping for a notebook, and I have managed to narrow down a few parameters that I want...
Centrino (for the battery life and weight savings, and integrated wireless)
under 5.5 lbs. max. / preferably thinner than 1.1 inches
internal DVD ROM/CD-rw

As a pilot who commutes and spends an enormous amount of time on airplanes (as a passenger...), I primarily want the ability to watch DVD's on longer flights.
I am a very light user for all other tasks. I do nothing more than basic email and web surfing. I rarely even use business tools like MS Office.
But my old desktop has died, so I want this machine to be my home computer as well, even though i am only home 2-3 days per week...When at home, I would rather be on a laptop anyways, particularly with a wireless router setup to check basic things online.
FInally, my concern is also $$, of course... I would really like to find something under $1300, going up possibly as high as 1400.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, not only in terms of potential models to buy, but also what specs would be enough (not overkill) for a simple user like me...Just email, some websurfing, and DVD's on the plane...No games or business use...
Thanks in advance...
Mike

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Re: Help...Notebook needed for a pilot...
by KenSanramon / August 24, 2004 4:29 AM PDT

You can easily get under the $1300-$1400 range with the Compaq X1000/HPZT3000 (when ordering custom with $100 eebate through 9/1/04, possible 12% employer EPP discount, 5% Fatcash discount, etc (see X1000forums.com) and the 15.4" widescreen is great for DVD's but they are 6.5 pounds due to the 15.4" widescreen (Pentium M Centrino).

Believe it or not, it is more expensive to get a smaller LCD (14.1" is still business standard) as they are in the business and not consumer lines.

You might like the 13.3" Fujitsu models - the only drawback is they have integrated (Shared) video but if you really won't play games or use other demanding programs these are nice. They are made in Japan and are at Fry's Electronics (Southwest) or online. They have the Crystal View Screen technology similar to Sony Xbrite --but you are probably looking at $1500 at least.

The HPnc6000 (business line) 14.1" LCD is 5.5 pounds and has everything the models above have except a firewire port and they are lighter (Pentium M) --they have a 1 year international warranty due to the business line category so that might benefit you (could have it repaired worldwide). See the Cnet 8.5 review. For this model you have to go to HP.com and select business notebooks not HPshopping.com where the consumer lines are.

Toshiba has the 14.1" Toshiba Techra (business) line and they have 10% off online on all custom order notebooks.

If you order a HP/Compaq or Toshiba you can save $ by only ordering 256mb of RAM and then adding your own 256mb (less than $50) or 512mb (80 or less if on sale after rebate) RAM stick yourself in the user accessible 2nd slot -- only 2 slots on notebooks.

You might want to go even smaller and lighter if you really are using it heavily on an airplane but then if you are using it also at home you would need an external keyboard and/or monitor.

One of the 14.1" LCD's above would be the best compromise for all around use if you don't want to plug in extra stuff all the time at home (the smaller the LCD the more likely the keyboard keys will be smaller and more cramped).

Also, consider the IBM's (online) as they are extremely durable, have great keyboards, and have a good reputation (but that is out of your pricerange as well).

I think you could get a HPnc6000 though for around or under $1500 if you get the 256mb of RAM upfront.

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Re: Help...Notebook needed for a pilot...
by mmchargue / August 24, 2004 5:05 AM PDT

Thanks for the advice...
one more question..? How important is the new Dothan Chip (715,725, etc.)?
I was looking at the Gateway 4520GZ, which I've been told has the older 705 chip...
It is only 5.5 lbs,1.1" thick, 15" screen, 512 mb RAM, 60GB, Internal DVD/CD-rw, and is on sale at BestBuy for $1250...
THIs notebook appears to fit most of my parameters for price, weight, and use...but should I worry about the older 705 chipf or watching DVD's and basic surfing and email, or anything else to worry about with a Gateway...I know they are downsizing their business...

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Re: Help...Notebook needed for a pilot...
by KenSanramon / August 24, 2004 6:44 AM PDT

I have the Banias (original Pentium M Centrino standard) 1.4 Pentium M (1 Mb L2 system cache) in my Compaq X1360US (6.5 pounds, 15.4" widescreen).

The 705 Banias 1.5 you are looking at is essentially the same as mine but just a minor tick up in mhz.

The key element the Dothan cpu introduced was doubling the L2 system cache from 1mb to 2mb.

If you are ordering custom (HP/Compaq or Toshiba or Dell) you would only be paying a small difference (only $50 from 705 Banias 1.5 to 725 1.6 Dothan for Compaq X1000/HPZT3000).

This extra cache would show up in more frequently accessed web pages, etc being stored in the on chip L2 cache (which is faster than RAM).

But, no, it is not a huge difference so if you like the prebuilt Gateway notebook then you will be happy with that. I am not sure if the Gateway has dedicated video memory or shared (dedicated is better as it does not use system RAM and it is much better for games, etc) but for web surfing and Microsoft Office it is not a big issue.

Also, Best Buy has 1 year no interest financing this week through Saturday (it was 2 years no interest on any Intel chip 2 weeks ago).

Thus, perhaps you could end up going up a bit in price and you won't have to pay it off for 12 months.

Note, HP/Compaq also has a 1 year no interest program if you order custom online (and their are many discounts as I mentioned before).

I recommend that you look at the Toshiba M35S456 if you are considering Best Buy. This weighs 6.2 pounds to the Gateway 5.5 but it is fully loaded with the 15.4" Trubrite LCD (you have to see this screen -- similar to Sony Xbrite). It has a DVD burner/CD-RW (multiformat -- HP/Compaq is DVD+ only, 512mb RAM, the 1.7 Pentium M 735 Dothan, 64mb dedicated video (you may not need it but it is not upgradeable so it is still nice to have it and it does not use system RAM) 80gb 4200 hard drive, 54g/b wi-fi, etc.

This is $1850 on sale (as DVD burner is worth $200 more than a CD-RW/DVD ROM alone) -- but perhaps you might consider that if you could get it for 1 year no interest at Best Buy.

Go to Circuit City.com and read the reviews there for this model (put Pentium M -- Centrino) cpu into the filter to bring up only Pentium M notebooks. They have many enthusiastic reviews for this model already.

Even if you dedide to get the Gateway, look at the Trubrite LCD to see if you like it or not. It is a dramatic sharpness improvement (a thin layer makes the LCD extremely sharp and vibrant) and many manufacturers are introducing these now (Sony Xbrite, HP Briteview, Toshiba Trubrite, Fujistsu Crystal View)..

So, you would move up from 5.5 to 6.2 but that easily fits in a notebook backpack (Targus, etc that hold 15") and you get the 15.4" widescreen.

I have read that the 15.4" widescreen is somewhat better than a 15" square screen on airplanes as the LCD is not as tall (it is wider but shorter in height).

Also, if you are watching DVD's you will not want to go back from a 15.4" widescreen once you see a DVD on it (especially that Toshiba Trubrite).

My Compaq X1000 is very similar to the Toshiba M35 series but it does not have Trubrite so in that scenario you would likely be ok with the Gateway.

Getting the prebuilt Toshiba M35S456 defers payment, gets you the 1.7 735 Dothan and stil has a decent weight.

You could pay less for my Compaq X1000 or HPZT3000 ordering online (and get CD-RW/DVD ROM to save $200, order 256mb RAM only and add your own later) but that moves you up to 6.5 pounds (but moves you down in price --- you can easily configure one for your needs in the $1200 range or less after the $100 custom order rebate through 9/1/04 and using the HP 1 year no interest program.

Also, see notebookforums.com for Toshiba and Dell comments and X1000forums.com for comments on the Compaq X1000/HPZT3000.

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