April 27, 2006

Curious George: Small laptops I'm looking into getting a smaller laptop for writing and web development. I've been looking at the 12" iBook, and some of the smaller PC laptops as well. Any suggestions for useful, portable laptops?

One of the problems I'm running into is dealing with Intel's new CPU designations. The last time I went computer shopping, it was pretty easy what with the simple GHz ratings and all. As a second part to this Curious George, does anyone have a Rosetta Stone for figuring out what the Intel designations mean?

  • A lot of the best small laptops are only in the Japanese market. Check out Dynamism and Akihabara News.
  • I'll second un- on checking the Japanese market for really small, powerful laptops. And from what I've seen/heard around the net, Dynamism is a good place to buy. Check on warranty with them, though. For my part, I'd recommend either the 12" iBook or Powerbook. In fact, if you don't need the latest and greatest, you can save some money by getting one refurbed from Apple's site. That's where I got mine and I've not had any problems (save the logic board issue, which apple fixed in 3 days, incl. shipping time). What's more, after 4 years on the orginal battery I still get upwards of 3.5 hours battery time on my iBook, better if I'm not hammering the hard drive or, I don't know, finding aliens or something. (of course, YMMV). Also, rumor has it that Apple will be discontinuing the 12" ibook, so the last batch should go on sale soon. If it's true. Of the PC ilk, I might suggest the Sony Vaio or, if you fancy yourself a running, jumping, climbing trees writer/web-dev, check out the Panasonic Toughbooks. As for Intel's (or AMD's, for that matter) CPU designations, I can't be much help. I'm out of that field now, so much of what I knew a year ago is now useless. I did, however, find this. Hope this helps.
  • I just got a 12" iBook a few months ago and I love it. It needed another stick of RAM, but other than that it's been great. Small, light, doesn't feel like I have to baby it. On the cons side, the keyboard isn't the greatest (a bit loud). If I were buying today, though, I'd wait for more MacBook Pro models to be released.
  • I'm on a 12" powerbook, purchased about 5 months ago.. GREAT little machine.. I hardly ever even bother booting up the iMac any more..the powerbook does all I want it to do... plus, of course, Macs are cool! All the kids at starbucks tell me that! :)
  • I'm on a 12" powerbook right now too. And I make websites on it. It certainly does make you conscious about screen space.
  • i'll echo the japan comment; toshiba has some good experience in the small laptop area. also, ibm does a thinkpad x series of ultraportables. thinkpads generally get great reviews, and everyone i know with a thinkpad is happy with it (it's the only laptop for which i can say this), running either windows or linux or dual-boot. one issue i've had with a small sony vaio is that accessories can prove costly. an extra battery, for example, is about twice as expensive as it would be for a more standard model.
  • On the PC side, you pretty much cannot go wrong with Toshibas or Dells. Stay the hell away from Celeron processors, they're cheap shit. The Pentium Ms are designed specifically for laptop use (they burn less energy), and now they've got the core duo systems, which I don't know much about (not a hardware guy, sorry), but they appear to be the Next Big Thing. Last time I was at Best Buy, their big fancity-shmancity laptops had 'em.
  • Thanks for the comments! I'd pretty much decided on a 12" iBook as an excuse to bring a Mac into the house, but it's good to know people are having good experiences with them.
  • Another 12" iBook here, the first generation of iBooks with the logic board failures and the keyboard with the letters that have all rubbed off. I hear the new ones are a bit more reliable. :P
  • this Panasonic W5 gets a glowing review.
  • If you can wait just a bit, the intel iBook (renamed???) will be out and they will give you the capability (with Boot Camp) to run Windows XP or OS X.
  • I've played extensively with a friend's 12" iBook and yes, they're nice, reliable (at least this one has) and portable enough. On the Windows side, had for several months a smallish Vaio on loan; great design, comfy keyboard, and came with built-in firewire and video-out. It was roughandled a couple times and it came out on top; great screen also. Of course, Sony's snobbery holds true, all accesories and their propietary formats (damn those MemorySticks to hell!) are way more expensive than similar ones from other brands.