Laptop Business 2006

Ok, I know that I just purchased an IBM X41 Tablet last fall, but I am in the market for a new laptop again.

No, nothing wrong with my computers... I am just going to be giving the X41 to my younger sister so that she can use it during Law School the next few years. I wager she needs it more than I do, and I still have my older Dell laptop, PC, and Mac Mini, so I have no shortage of computers. Yes, I am a nice older brother.

Why am I giving her the X41 instead of the other machines? Because the X41 is new and still has its 3-year warranty. There is no way that I am giving my sister a machine out of warranty because if anything goes wrong, I will get the phone call... and we all know what long-distance computer troubleshooting can be like... ;-)

All it means is that I must re-evaluate the ultraportable landscape again.

Unfortunately, it seems that Dell's design philosophy for its Latitude Ultraportables no longer match what I am looking for. I do not want a widescreen LCD on the business-class Latitude; if I wanted widescreen LCDs for movies, I would choose the consumer-class Inspirons. PC Card slot and SD memory slot are necessary now, for my smart card reader and digital camera memory. And packing it all into a real ultraportable package (2.5-4lb, 1" thick) is important. Sigh... I do like Dell machines, especially their a la carte software setup, but their hardware design seems to go in a direction that no longer match what I want.

Toshiba appears to still go with the R200, which while sleek and more business-minded, it is also demanding a price premium for last year's hardware (Pentium M instead of Solo/Duo, 4200rpm HDD). I may enjoy the fashion, but not at the cost of basic functionality. I am willing to trade-off some hardware functionality for a fashionable ultraportable form factor (like the fastest CPUs, discrete graphics, or 1600x1200 LCD panels), but not for last year's functionality. Gotta have standards, you know. ;-)

Apple, HP/Compaq, and Gateway are pretty much out of the picture because I have never seen a system from them that simultaneously satisify the price, functionality, reliability, and customizability ratio. I am always amazed at how Apple manages to pawn last year's hardware at premium prices and still get away with it - gotta love their marketing and spin-machine...

So, I guess that leaves me with IBM (oops, Lenovo) for the this purchase. I am debating between the X60S and the T60P... because on the one hand, you have the classic ultraportable X60S with all the usual features and this year's hardware refresh (Duo, 7200rpm HDD) while still retaining the standard XGA resolution, PC Card/SD Memory, and now 3 USB 2.0 ports... and on the other, you have the classic power-machine T60P with all the top-end Vista-ready hardware (Duo, 7200 HDD, discrete graphics) while sporting a 1600x1200 LCD. I don't know... 1600x1200 is a really attractive resolution, especially for me to PPTP into my work machines. I have been really spoiled by my dual 1600x1200 and 1200x1600 monitor layout - having screen real-estate really helps my work efficiency.

Hmm... I guess I will just have to toss a coin... :-)