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Laptop Recommendations For Developers

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Please post any comments you may have on recent laptop purchases/evaluations. Specifically, I'm looking for developer targeted systems. Any information about multiple-monitors and laptops would be appreciated too.


I've always used Compaqs until this last purchase. I bought an HP Pavillion 5270 with 128meg Ram, 20 gig HD, PIII, 15 inch screen. I wanted something with 15 inch screen. I'm finding this laptop to be rugged and a gem. My only complaint after the fact is that it comes with Windows ME installed. I'd recommend getting an HP model with Win 2k. Otherwise, major cost savings on this model. Oh, it has ability to run external monitor simultaneous with laptop screen - good for presentations. Peter Diotte

Be sure to try out your potential purchase before buying. Specs alone don't describe the equipment. I was also leaning toward a Dell Inspiron, but after using one for a while, I couldn't get past the fact that it just felt awkward. I ended up getting a Sony XG-29K, and have been very happy with it. The keyboard just feels better - YMMV. -- Ed Leafe

When looking for 1600 resolution, be sure to verify that it's done without scrolling as some machines achieve 1600 resolution by expanding the desktop and letting you scroll from side to side. The Dell Inspiron 8100 has a real 1600 desktop, and I'm told the high-end IBM machine does too. -- Cindy Winegarden

I'm going to get a Dell Lattitude 8100 sometime this month. I think they're great, and everyonw that has a Lattitude or an Inspiron recommends them (I saw alot of Dell Insprions at DevCon). IBM A series were also highly recommended. -- Mike Helland

I'm upgrading my Inspiron 7500 this month. I agree with Mike, Dell has good machines with excellent prices and I've also selected an 8100. Make sure you get the excellent 1400 X 1100 screen (really good for developing with props window beside form designer) or the new 1600 X 1200 screen. Also make sure you get a firewire port so you can handle digital inputs- 8100 has one. Also go for the inbuilt modem/network model, costs only a few $ more. Finally, be aware that the 8100 is not a small machine, so if you need a lightweight, consider something else. -- John Ryan

I Love my Dell also, I have a Inspiron 5000. Also when buying any Laptop, buy as much Memory as you can afford, I would even sacrifice some CPU speed for memory. Most laptop harddrives are considerably slower than desktop drives so they are much more likely to get I/O bound rather than CPU bound. --JacobBruner

I just purchased an IBM A22p with cd writer
I needed a 1600x1200 screen for some dubugging of large screens. The screen is awesome and the 1 gig speed is incredible. THe 30 gig drive seems pretty fast compaqred to my IBM 770 ED.

For development purposes, the only thing I haven't done is install NT2000 on it. Otherwise, I can't think of anything it needs. The package is lighter than my 770 and the accessories take less space. For the money, I couldn't touch it in the other companies by the time I added DVD, 128 meg additional ram and a spare battery.

I have a DELL Inspiron 8000 with two online batteries and 1600x1200 resolution. Excellent machine! -- Alex Feldstein

I have been using Winbooks for several years now with no problems. My latest is a J1 with W2000-no problems noted yet.(especially since you guys showed me how to get fpd26 to run on it--Thanks) David Brandon

Thanks for the feedback everyone, we're going with the Inspiron 8100. I love the idea of using an external monitor in addition to the LCD Panel as an expanded desktop. - William Fields

I'd recommend double-checking you will be able to use extended desktop with W2K (If that's the OS you're planning on). It is not supported on some chipsets with W2K. I have a 7500 with ATI Rage Pro mobility. When asked why one cannot get extended desktop to work on this machine under W2K, Dell points to ATI, ATI points to MS, and MS points to Dell. Here are some quotes: (and please refactor this garbage out of here soon) - ?lc

The Multi-monitor feature you refer to is known as “dual-display”, which takes advantage of the Windows 98 “Extended Desktop” feature and makes use of a second, independent display controller within the ATI RAGE MOBILITY or LT Pro. It allows the display of different images on any two of its supported outputs (LCD, CRT and TV).

The "Extended Desktop" feature is supported in Windows 2000 for multi-adapter configurations only (i.e., you need two graphics cards, which can only be offered in desktop systems), and NOT in single adapter, dual CRTC configurations (such as RAGE Mobility). Currently there are no known plans for Microsoft to add this feature in a later version of Windows 2000.

Support for the Dual Display feature is currently limited by the Windows 2000 OS. For the time being, Win Me is the most recent OS which will offer this feature.

ATI Win 2 K

And here's dell:

Extended Desktop is the ability to "stretch" your Windows desktop across multiple monitors, effectively using each monitor as a unique and separate portion of the desktop display area. This functionality was introduced in Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) and was fully planned for Windows 2000. Several pre-release versions of Windows 2000 did have full extended desktop support. Unfortunately, as Windows 2000 was developed, Microsoft decided to de-feature multi-monitor support for single-adapter /dual-controller video solutions as part of the Operating System. Single-adapter /dual-controller video is often found in portable computers, including Dell Inspiron and Latitude systems with ATI-based video solutions, including the ATI Mobility M/M1/P, Mobility 128 and Mobility M4. This type of video solution uses a single video adapter with multiple video controllers emulated in driver software, rather than a single adapter for each video controller (as commonly found in desktop systems).

Although Windows 98 SE and Me (Millennium Edition) do support extended desktop with a single-adapter /dual-controller video solution, this functionality is not natively supported in Windows 2000. Microsoft originally planned to add this support in a service pack release for Windows 2000, but all Windows 2000 efforts have been dropped, focusing instead on developing it for Windows XP Professional (NOTE: At the time of this writing, Windows XP Home will *NOT* have native support for extended desktop). It should be noted that Windows 2000 does support extended desktop using multiple video controllers with single-adapter/single-controller solutions. This type of hardware configuration is only possible on desktop systems or portable computers with docking stations that allow for PCI-based video solution expansion. This functionality has not been tested and is not supported on Dell Latitude products with the C/Dock solution.

Extended desktop is possible on a portable computer with a single video adapter, but it must be configured as a dual channel controller by the manufacturer. The only other means to support extended desktop with a single-adapter/dual-controller configuration on Windows 2000 is a separate program/applet that ignores Windows 2000 operating system limitations and emulates extended desktop itself. Neither of these are available with Dell's current ATI-based video solutions. There are no plans to support or implement this functionality on any of Dell's ATI-based video solutions. Future products from Dell may support this functionality.

Go with Dell and get the 3 year on-site next business day warranty. Then it doesn't matter if it is good or not. You get it repaired the next day. I have had 5 Dell machines with 2 of them needing repairs. Dell was prompt and quick with the parts and the GE Service tech was there the next day to put the Fedex'd part in. - MichaelMeer

I am using an old Latitude CPx series with a 500mhz processor and 512 ram, while this is not a powerhouse it gets the job done. I have it connected to a C-dock II docking station which has a full size PCI slot which I have added a Matrox G400 to drive the monitors. The OS is windows 2000 server. I would like to upgrade but none of the options out there have a docking station which can match this one.
For those of you wanting win 2000, 2k server supports dual monitors. Depending on what you are developing this substitution should work fine.
I think I am going to try the inspirion 8100 and forsake the docking stations... but now I have to fork out for 2 lcd's..... Brian

Category Hardware Category Open Questions
( Topic last updated: 2004.06.05 01:33:34 AM )