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10.0 General questions
Will the notebook be used only on a desk, and rarely be moved? If so, then a heavier "Desktop replacement" notebook might be ok for you. These models tend to be larger, heavier, consume more power and run for a shorter time on batteries. Battery life may be insufficient to watch a complete DVD. These might range from 6-10lbs. These notebooks often have desktop processors in them, either because they are less expensive, or because the fastest, most powerful processor is a desktop one. (ex. fastest P4 processor, vs. low end desktop P4) This type of notebook tends to run hotter than a portable notebook. This may result in more cooling fan noise.
Will the notebook be carried as luggage regularly? If so, a more portable notebook may be in order.
I can attest to a 5lb notebook starting to feel heavy after a couple of hours at an airport, or on the subway home after work. A Pentium M processor or other "mobile processor" would fit in to this class. "Centrino" notebooks also fall in to this class. (see Centrino FAQ)
Portable notebook processors are designed to run on lower voltages, run cooler, and have longer battery life. Watching two DVDs may be possible, depending on model/manufacturer and battery capacity.
User GDATL has a very infomative post here:
»[Notebooks] AMD 'Anything' vs Intel's M-Series
One up and coming name is Sager, which seems to have a very loyal following. There are also lesser known brands that offer good machines at a decent price.
Some of the premium brands may appear to cost more, but include much better warranties and service (not to mention reputation) than the discount brands. That doesn't mean one is better than the other. Quite the contrary: many discount brands offer a tremendous features to price ratio and have excellent reputations in service and support.
However, it does pay to research exactly what is offered in terms of features, price, warranty and after-sales service when considering a particular machine. Brand is not nearly as important as finding the best mix of features you want at a price you're willing to pay, knowing that the company will help you for a reasonable amount of time if there is a problem.
Some of the latest notebooks feature a 16:10 ratio wide-aspect display. The associated resolutions include: -
XGA = Extended Graphics Array
SXGA = Super XGA
UXGA = Ultra XGA
"W" Prefix = Wide
WVA = Wide Viewing Angle
Native Resolutions and Image Scaling
Keep in mind that when purchasing a notebook, selecting the unit with the highest resolution may not always be the best choice. Flat panel monitors, commonly referred to as fixed matrix displays, operate best at their native resolution. An XGA LCD panel for instance, has 1,024 pixels in each horizontal line and 768 pixels in each vertical line. CRTs on the other hand, have a very large number of scalable pixels that allow it to display many different resolutions.
If a user purchases an extremely high resolution panel and decides to lower the resolution, the image quality is negatively impacted. For example, in order for an XGA panel to operate at 800x600 resolution, the image must be scaled up by 1.28x horizontally and vertically to fit the panel. Since 1.28 is not a whole-number increment, interpolated algorithms or "scaling" must be performed on the image. The image is stretched and distortion occurs. This scaling method results in somewhat blurry and fuzzy text.
The best way to select notebook LCD is to view it in person. Choose the highest resolution that you're comfortable with.
For Windows operating systems, a "large fonts" option is available in the Advanced Display Properties. This will enlarge icons and fonts, making it more readable at high resolutions. To scale the entire user interface, a third-party software solution may be better. For instance, Portrait Displays offers a product called Liquid View which scales the user interface including toolbars.
Here is a thread that has some good information:
»[Notebooks] Is it true that Sony?
Most lower end (or even the super-mobile) notebooks don't have a dedicated GPU. Instead, they have intel integrated "extreme" graphics, which is DX7 level hardware. No pixel shading. This usually results in substandard gaming.
However, more and more midrange and Desktop-replacement notebooks are beginning to feature gaming GPU's that have been modified (usually with clock gating) to lessen power consumption when the GPU isn't being used for gaming.
Game-worthy mobile GPU's:
Geforce 2 go (aging, but okay) DX7
Geforce 4 go DX8 (the 4x0 series is DX7)
Geforce fx 56xx go DX9
Geforce fx 5200 go DX9 (marginal performance)
Geforce fx 6800 go DX9 »nvidia.com/page/go_6800.html
Mobility Radeon 7500 DX7 (also aging, but okay)
Mobility Radeon 9000 DX8.1
Mobility Radeon 9600 DX9
Mobility Radeon 9700 DX9
Mobility Radeon 9800 DX9
Mobility Radeon X800: ati.com/products/mobilityradeonx800/in..
While this list isn't complete, it does give a general idea.
ATI Mobile cards: »ati.com/products/mobile.html
Nvidia Mobile cards: »nvidia.com/page/mobile.html
typo corrected 11/20/04
updated 01/01/05 thanks DSLarggggg
updated 02/12/05 thanks Nerdtalker
1. Intel Pentium M based Processor
2. Intel 855 Chipset Family or the Mobile Intel 915 Express chipset.
3. Intel Pro/Wireless Connection
In order for a notebook to be labelled as having "Centrino Mobile Technology", all three components must be available in the notebook. It is a common misconception that "Centrino" is a processor, but it is the combination of the three components listed above.
Centrino Duo Mobile Technology
This is simply an extension of the existing Centrino platform. A Centrino Duo system includes the Intel Core Duo or Core 2 Duo Mobile Processor, the newer 945 Express chipset, and the tri-mode Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG adapter.
For more processor information please see:
»Notebook and Laptop FAQ »What processors are commonly used in notebooks?
Many notebooks ship with 4200 rpm hard drives, these can be a bottleneck, slowing down any processes that rely on disc access.
Although it is possible to upgrade your notebooks CPU, it is not recommended. It will almost always void your notebooks warranty.
As with any upgrade, always check with the manufacturer before attempting to upgrade any components.
It was the intent when the first notebooks ("laptops") came out, for them to be mobile computers. Today people find many other reasons for owning a notebook. A large reason is still of course mobility. Business men/women, travellers and students find that being able to easily transport their computers has great benefits.
Coupled with a wireless internet connection, many people love the freedom of surfing the net wirelessly and being able to do so in a variety of areas away from their work desks.
Students will find that a powerful notebook can replace their desktop for almost all of their needs, while taking up a fraction of the space.
Notebook and Laptop FAQ »What are common notebook LCD resolutions? Native resolution?
There are many terms out there when choosing a notebook screen with each one of these terms corresponding to a different screen resolution. Below is a list of commonly used terms and their resolutions.
The higher the screen resolution the one more can see on their screen. However, the higher you go in screen resolution, the smaller the text will become. This can be rough on those without perfect eye sight. You should keep this in mind when making a purchase for a laptop screen.
XGA - 1024x768
Dell has a more in-depth analysis and pictures on the benefits of a screen with a higher resolution.
Usually Turion technology requires the following:
(1) AMD 64 Turion Processor
(a) ML family: 1.6Ghz - 2.4 Ghz TDP: 35W
(b) MT family: 1.6Ghz - 2.2 Ghz TDP: 25W
(2) AMD Supported Chipsets (integrated graphics)
(3) Wireless and Bluetooth (optional) connectivity
For Option (1) and (2) Low power consumption should be your main priority.
It's very hard to find a MT-based laptop for some unknown reason. But if you were to look into low budget laptop, and does not see a need for 64-bit computing in the near future, it might be a better idea to look for Sempron Mobile CPU for faster speed. Ie. It's much more cost effective to chose a Sempron 3300+ (2.0Ghz w/ 128kb cache) over ML-28 (1.6Ghz w/ 512 cache.) Not only that, you would also see a lower power consumption 25W vs 32-35W.
Currently, ATI is claiming a larger portion for AMD-based laptop due to its higher performance integrated graphic Radeon Xpress 200M.
Sis chipset consists of an integrated Mirage 2 Integrated Graphic.
Via chips consists of an integrated Unichrome Pro Integrated Graphic.
Out of these 3 integrated options, only ATI is able to offer more graphic performance than Intel Centrino Solution. Also, all 3 options will consume more battery power with ATI leading the pack.
There are also real GPU for the laptop segment (full-size), the only two competitors are ATI and Nvidia in this segment.
As for wireless connectivity there are chipset makers for wireless. Battery life performance is important, but in a wireless laptop the user will probably want a better reception range from their wireless hotspot rather than saving 5 minutes of battery life (worst case.) Broadcom and Atheros power consumption is lower and has a wider reception range than the Intel's solution, suprisingly.
Personal Recommendation for long battery life: (1) Sempron (3000+/3300+)- MT-32+ Turion, (2) ATI Xpress 200M, (3) Broadcom chipset.
There are other factors such as LCD size/power consumption, HD configuration, and memory configuration that makes a big difference in battery performance. But that is another topic.
DSLR thread: »Acer puts Active X hole on laptops
Link to patch: »Re: Acer puts Active X hole on laptops