My laptop has reached the four year birthday and I’m ready for a new one. Every computer and laptop I’ve owned I’ve pushed beyond it’s capabilities from day one. I will never forget the first computer my husband and I bought “together”. Within three days, I’d filled the 2 gig hard drive, the largest one available at the time. He went to work and bragged to his co-workers that his wife had overloaded the hard drive before the end of the first week. Some weren’t sure what he was talking about so they just nodded and acted like they knew. The others were left with their mouths hanging open at the thought, and envy, of having access to a 2 gig hard drive.
As a photographer, writer, and designer – especially as a photographer – I can fill up a hard drive in no time when I’m photographing or editing images. A few months ago, my husband brought home a little present for me, just to spoil me and show he cares. It was a 750 gig portable drive by Seagate. Hmmm. That’s a man who knows how to please. I added it to my stack of an 80 gig, 250 gig, and 400 gig portable drives.
I used to build and test drive computer systems, building by hand one of the early “suitcase” portable computers with a monochrome amber monitor and a fold down keyboard. Part of the ancient history of Lorelle’s claim to fame for breaking things and explaining how I broke them so the developers and designers could learn how to fix them. I’ve had just about every type of computer built, from old magnetic card typewriters to Apple to Mac to state-of-the-art laptops, and it’s time for another one.
So I’m thinking about replacing this laptop that I’ve hauled all over the world with a new one. This thing has been bounced and brutalized by airlines, TSA, and international airport security checks so many times, I think it speaks 18 languages. On one trip, when it was still new, it was seized by Israeli security at the airport as we were flying out of the country for a short trip. We were told repeatedly that it would be padded and carefully handled and probably be at the airport in Oklahoma by the time we arrived. And for reasons that still baffle us, we believed them. Dumb us.
I picked it up 5 days later as I got on another airplane to fly to a conference. It was in an unpadded and unprotected white box, with lots of banging and bouncing room, with the sides punched out from the banging and bouncing. I’d been on the phone with the airport three to ten times a day since our arrival and they kept saying there was no laptop from Israel there. According to the information on the box, it had indeed arrived the same day as our flight, though not in one piece.
Scarred, battered, and with two cracks in its casing, it keeps on ticking. It’s a Gateway. I’ve bought Gateway since nearly their conception, ordering hundreds of Gateway computers for clients over the past decade. While this one has taken a licking and kept on ticking, I think it’s time for Gateway and I to part company. I’m not sure, but I haven’t been happy with the last two models. I just hate leaving the best ever customer support and service I’ve found anywhere. Their products had always been top notch and way ahead of the competitors in technological advances. Unfortunately, according to news reports Gateway didn’t make a showing at all on the national and international sales in the end-of year sales.
Yet, there are a couple of new Gateway ultra portable laptops luring me in their direction, now available at Best Buy and other store fronts as well as online.
In the past, my husband got my hand-me-down computers. I’d beat the snot out of them and then he’d get the hand-me-down when I got the new toy. Last Christmas, he finally bought his very first very-own laptop – without consulting me. I was traveling. A Hewlett Packard wide screen laptop, the one that tries to squeeze two monitors into one and ends up with a rectangle. He loves it and hates it, sometimes more hate than love. He wishes now that he’d asked for my help. It’s too big and doesn’t travel well and has a fan that you have to shout over. It overheats and the battery is dead, unrechargeable within 4 months, which means it can’t run off the fabulous looking docking station that clutters the kitchen table permanently. Since it won’t run in the docking station without a battery, we put it on the table and it runs too hot, buckling the cheap veneer. But it does what he wants and he avoids traveling with it if he can.
As a full-time blogger and web consultant, my computer is my gateway to the world and my work. While I’m not quite as bad as she is, sometimes I think I agree with Liz Strauss that I live inside my computer. So I’m nervous about my next laptop purchase.
I miss the days when computer manufacturers came to me to test drive their new technology. SIGH.
Starting the Computer Laptop Hunt
So I’ve started the hunt. I found an article from Frugal for Life that says the best time to buy a computer is April. No reason is given. I wonder why? I don’t know if I can last until April.
What I want is something that weighs nothing, has a huge ergonomic keyboard for my weary fingers, a screen the size of the side of a barn, ability to hook up to everything bluetooth, WIFI, projectors, televisions, VCRs, DVDs, and whatever else they come up with next, the biggest hard drive in the world, the fastest CPU possible that expels no heat at all so it won’t burn my legs when I’m using it as a real “lap” top, dozens of USB, Firewire, media cards, and every input possible, and… did I already say that it had to weigh under three pounds? Less than one pound would be even better, but I’m a realistic notebook computer shopper.
I think that’s a reasonable request. Don’t you?
What I would really like is the next generation of Palm handheld computers to use with my wireless keyboard. I love mine, Palm T. It’s small, light, powerful, flexible, capable, but limited as it was one of the first steps into handheld computing. Why did they stop making them? And why has handheld computers dropped off the computer technology landscape? So far, not a cell phone/handheld computer can compete with the power of that old Palm T – at least in capabilities and flexibility, not speed and storage space.
Still, I write my blog posts on the airplane with my ancient Palm T, even with its tiny memory and limited storage capabilities. It takes a licking (literally) and keeps on ticking. It’s the best thing for reading books, though! Wow! I’ve found nothing better, including Kindle, for book reading. Ah! Don’t get me started on that subject! It’s the only way to read books. Ah, skip the laptop. Palm or whoever, come up with a better handheld computer.
Okay, so what do I really want in my next power blogging laptop?
- Light weight – under 5-6 pounds (2 kilos).
- High speed action for games and running multiple RAM sucking programs at once.
- High speed and RAM for graphics.
- Cold temperatures – not heat generation.
- The largest hard drive capacity possible.
- A secondary hard drive.
- Bluetooth, WIFI, and all wireless capabilities with a huge range, with the ability to turn them off with a button.
- Not Vista. (In reading reviews of new computers and laptops, many are scoring a computer lower if it has Vista installed.)
- Not Apple.
- Touchpad with sensitivity, scrolling and hot spots.
- Durable keyboard with laser embedded and sealed keys. I tend to wear mine out really fast.
- Lots of USB and Firewire connections at top speeds.
- S-video and other digital media inputs and outputs.
- Ability to run without the battery on.
- Ability to run without the battery present.
- Ability to turn off the battery without removing it from the laptop (save battery life when hooked to AC.)
So the hunt begins. And I have to decide fast. After lugging my current monster laptop around San Francisco recently, I’m done with it. My laptop case weighs more than my suitcase.
What is the best laptop for a top blogger to blog with – with all the capabilities of a powerful desktop that will not be the only thing she can carry-on an airplane due to new weight restrictions? Got any recommendations?