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Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:04 am
by Skippman
I'm going to be going to Australia in 2010 for 3 weeks and am gearing up for the trip over the next year. Part of the gear I'm going to need is a new laptop/tablet.

My current laptop is an E-Machine M6805 based on the Athlon 64 bit 1.8G chip that I've had for about 3+ years. It's been a reliable machine but the battery no longer holds a charge at all, it's heavy, and man does it get hot (stupid AMD 64bit chip!). So it's time to move up to a new unit. The problem is here in St. Louis we have no major electronics stores that carry anything but HP laptops it seems. I was at Best Buy and asked the sales rep if any of thier units had biometric locks. His response? "What's a biometric lock." I promptly spun on my heels and walked out.

I've come up with two lists of perameters. List one is things the laptop MUST have. List two are features I'd LIKE to have but can do without. I'm hoping some of you out there have done some shopping and have some good input for me.

1.) Optical Drive Internal - This rules out the Mac Book Air
2.) Good battery life (more than 3 to 4 hours)
3.) Weigh less than 5lbs (less than 4lbs preferable)
4.) Built in 802.11G WiFi (N is not required as my network doesn't have it)
5.) A hardware driven Biometric lock (can not be dependent on OS)

1.) Tablet functionality. (Excellent for watching movies on cramped flights)
2.) BluRay drive.
3.) Bluetooth (for a mouse)
4.) Webcam w/ Mic
5.) GPS functionality
6.) Media Card reader, SD in particular

You'll notice no where in this list have I talked about processor, GPU, RAM, or hard drive space requirements. Fact is, my current laptop still exceeds most of my needs in terms of power and storage. Anything contemporary will be more powerful than it so it should still meet my needs. Mostly this will be used for storing and uploading photos, checking e-mail, and watching movies while on the road. Light and compact are my two biggest requirements as I'll be carrying it with me for about 3 weeks on the trip and a 8lbs+ power house that eats battery life isn't going to do me any good.

I've looked at the tx2500z series from HP and it seems to have most of the things I need but battery life is questionable and there's no BluRay player option which may not be a huge factor as I'll likely rip the movies I want to watch to the hard drive to save carry weight. So, any advice?

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:16 pm
by dicecca112
You'll be hard pressed to find a tablet with blue-ray

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:08 pm
by Alathald
Not sure what size you're going for but the Clevo TN121R looks promising if you what a smaller (12.1") form factor...

You'll have to do a bit of research on the battery life but it's only missing BluRay (like Matt said, good luck finding that) and GPS built-in. ... PRID=11149

Also you might check out Tablet PC Reviews, they have a list of some of the most popular tablets down the left side of the main page and reviews of many more.

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:18 am
by Skippman
Yeah, I figured the BluRay player thing was a pipe dream. Like I said, I can always rip my DVD's to ISO's and store them on the hard drive. I'd probably be mostly watching MKV files while on the road anyway and save the movies for my home theater when I get back.

I'll look into that Clevo. I did look at that HP tablet and it doesn't seem all that bad. I should have bought at 14.1" Toshiba Satellite they had at CompUSA before it went out of business but at the time the battery on my eMachine was still holding a charge.

The GPS thing I knew would likely be a problem. I didn't know if they made any tablets with them built in for people who work in the field a lot. I can always fore-go that in favor of my hand held unit.

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:20 am
by Alathald
After looking a bit more (I had looked at this Clevo before but didn't remember everything about it) it seems that the Clevo TN121R does have an 8cell battery option, just that AVADirect doesn't have that listed (might contact them).

Eurocom, while a tad more expensive, does offer the TN121R (rebranded though) with a BluRay option for an extra $545, again though no mention of the 8cell battery.

Also the TN120R is the same model, just in white, so keep that in mind if researching the tablet.

Great, now you got me looking at laptops again... :axe:

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:12 am
by Skippman
After comparing specs more and more the HP tx2500z seems to be the best value It's small, comes with 3G of RAM, has an AMD GPU over the low end Intel ones, and can be had for just at $1K while any of the Lenovo, Dell, or other brands I've looked at START at $1500.

I wish I knew someone who had one so I could try it out for a day. I can't decide if the tablet thing is going to be as useful as I imagine it to be or it's just going to be gimicky. I can't help but think it'd be much easier to wrangle in an coach airplane seat than a true laptop.

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:01 am
by Alathald
I was thinking of getting a tablet myself but decided to just get a 12" notebook instead as I doubt I'll ever use the tablet function myself...I settled on an MSI 1221 because it's known to work well with Linux. I was going to get a Clevo M72R but decided against it because of the SiS graphics. You can see my thought process here if curious...has a bit of good info on ultra-portables.

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:43 am
by Skippman
I'd been considering running Linux on it as all I'm going to use it for is word processing, maps, MP3's, and spreadsheets. Does Linux support the tablet interface very well? How does it handle Biometric locks?

Re: Helping picking out a tablet/laptop.

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:07 pm
by Alathald
It seems to work fairly well with the HP tx2500, just have to jump an extra hoop or two because the ACPI on it is newer and a bit twitchy with the current kernel. And yes, as far as I know, Linux fully supports both fingerprint readers and tablet functionality. How-To Install Ubuntu on a HP tx2500

Be sure to post up a review if you do get that notebook, I still haven't purchased a laptop yet and I've heard the ATI onboard graphics rocks socks compared to the Intel onboard.

EDIT: just discovered there's a new kernel out so maybe it has a fix for the ACPI issues.