Mental Ward

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My New Laptop

It's been awhile since I went computer shopping, so I was in for a surprise when I started looking around for a new laptop.

First, some background. I'm a confirmed Macophile, and love my three-year-old dual-core Intel MacBook Pro to death. It's my main work machine, and has never let me down. But I needed another laptop, and for various reasons, decided to go with Windows Vista. One big factor was that I wanted a machine with lots of power and RAM to run serious virtualization. It needed to have at minimum a dual-core proc, 4GB RAM and 200GB hard drive. And, most importantly, fit into my limited budget.

With specs like that, I knew a Mac laptop would be far out of my price range. Considering that an equivalent MacBook Pro would be more than $2,000, and closer to $2,500, it just wasn't an option in this case. Editor in Chief Doug Barney eviscerates Apple for this type of confiscatory pricing, and he's dead-on correct.

In the end, after much looking around online and in stores, I bought this HP Pavilion from my local Best Buy. It's simply impossible to beat the value: dual-proc, 4GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, Vista Home Premium, and, as an added bonus, 64-bit power.

In the process of this, I learned how behind the times I am. When I started looking, I had no idea that a laptop like this would be sub-$1,000, let alone sub-$700. Just amazing.

I spent a healthy portion of last night setting it up. One of my first downloads was Virtual PC 2007. I've quickly learned that a number of programs won't work in a 64-bit environment, so using VMs is a necessity. Two key programs I'd like to see upgraded to 64-bit immediately: the Cisco VPN client and VMware's virtual infrastructure client (Update: My bad. VMware does have a 64-bit Windows client now. My information was old). On the Cisco side, I have no hope whatsoever; it has never seemed to care much about its VPN client, and I don't expect that to change. On the other hand, I expect VMware to be more responsive, although that has yet to happen.

I set up my first VM with 32-bit XP SP2. It runs well on this laptop -- in fact, better than the same OS runs in Fusion on my Mac. That should be expected, with 64-bit performance. I assigned 1GB RAM to XP. I'll be adding various Linux and other OSes in the future. So far, I'm quite happy with the HP. I love the recessed, polished-metal trackpad, and the webcam is a nice bonus; it's been on Mac laptops for years, and is starting to become ubiquitous on PCs.

A great laptop for less than $700. I'm still shaking my head.

Posted by Keith Ward on 10/16/2008 at 12:48 PM


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