Last month I finally decided to upgrade my laptop. I’d been running the old Toshiba since 2007. At the time it was a powerhouse. It still served me well right up to the end, when a BSOD finally forced my hand. I probably would have upgraded in the next few months anyway.
I’d been window shopping for a new laptop for quite some time. What stopped me from pulling the trigger was that I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. First and foremost, I wanted a laptop that was light and small and had long battery life. I also wanted it to be as powerful as possible. It’s like saying you want a Hummer with the gas mileage of a Prius. It aint gonna happen. You have to compromise somewhere.
I initially was pretty set on buying a souped up HP Envy 15. Total cost would have been just over $2,000, but I would have gotten a quad core processor with 6GB of RAM and a 1080P LED screen in a relatively sleek laptop. Of course, the battery life wouldn’t have exactly been stellar and I was hoping to be smaller than 15″. My old laptop was a 15.1″ and it just felt a little too big and bulky to cart around with me.
Once I got the BSOD, I researched a ton of laptops. I like a lot of the Sony models, but each one I liked was missing a feature here or a feature there that was a deal breaker. During my search, HP came out with their new line of laptops. Initially this threw me for a loop because I had this massive spreadsheet with models that no longer existed, but after doing some more research I eventually settled on one of their new Ultra Portable HP dm4t laptops.
I added quite a bit to the base price of $729. My eventual cost was just over $1200, but boy was it worth it. I upgraded to an i5 dual core, 6 GB of RAM, and a 7200 RPM hard drive. It’s not exactly equivalent to a top-of-the-line desktop, but it more than suits my needs. The portability really sold me. 14.1″ LED screen, 4.4lbs, and only 1″ thick. The estimated battery life is 6.5hrs, which is way more than the other comparable laptops (even though I take those estimates with a huge grain of salt).
I used the laptop for 2 hours of legit work the other day and still had 71% battery left. This is a HUGE deal for me. I love to work out and about at coffee shops and I absolutely hate hunting for outlets.
The laptop also has HDMI out, which is pretty standard these days. To compliment it, I picked up a Acer P235Hbmid Black 23″ 5ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor. At the time it was on sale for $179.99.
When I’m home, I’ve moved to using a 2 monitor setup. I primarily like using one monitor (you know, because you can only focus on one thing at a time and I hate distractions), however having the laptop monitor available for smaller secondary things like Skype conversations is convenient. My old setup had a 1280 x 800 laptop resolution with a 1680 x 1050 monitor resolution. The new setup has a 1366 x 768 laptop resolution and a 1920 x 1080 monitor resolution. It’s a 12% increase in total screen area, which might not seem like a lot but every little bit helps when you’re programming.
It’s only been a few weeks, but I’m extremely happy with the purchase. This has been my first extensive use of Windows 7. I personally didn’t hate Vista with a passion like the rest of the free world, but I am very impressed by the interface improvements and some of the under-the-hood improvements in networking and device recognition.
The keyboard is amazing. I love typing on it. The one downside is the touch pad, which I think is a major step backwards (I may be in the minority who thinks this, but the red button was the best touch pad ever, used it on my laptop all through college). This new HP one is all one big button for both scrolling and clicking, which seemingly should work, but I have a ton of trouble trying to click and drag. Mike has 2 computers with this same new touch pad and he hates it too. Thankfully I carry a wireless mouse with me so it’s not something I’ll ever use regularly.
Here are a few quick pics as compared to my old laptop. You’ll see just how much thinner and smaller it is. I picked up a new case to reflect that. It’s over 2lbs lighter, almost a 33% difference, which is very noticeable when I’m out and about all day long.
I also picked up some Moleskine notebooks. I always carry my laptop, charger, mouse, and a notebook for doodling ideas or wireframing new projects. Most of the time I program I’m working off of a wireframe or some pseudo code that I hand wrote.
As an aside, getting set up was super easy. When you base almost everything in the cloud, it’s a matter of downloading Firefox, syncing Xmarks, and setting up Thunderbird, Skype and a few other programs, and everything is exactly the way it was on the old computer. Gotta love it.
I’m in the process of setting up a sweet new home office in my apartment. Once that’s complete I’ll post some pictures of the entire set up.