The 13″ Laptop

I grew up with IBM ThinkPads. They left me with a burning desire for quality, style, and full featured laptops without sacrificing a slim design. As covered in a few previous posts I have yet to find a manufacturer that offers the elegance, style, quality, support, and functionality that Dell provides. Apple has style but little function, Lenovo has function, but little style. Sony has function and style but little support. Dell is truly the best of all worlds. Since I’ve made the switch from IBM to Dell, I haven’t looked back. Now that IBM has sold their personal computers to Lenovo and support has gone down the tubes as well as the great designs that ThinkPad’s used to have, I know I bought into the right company. I use a lot of different computers. I buy and borrow different computers for short periods of time to get the job done. I always have my eye out for something that may be useful to me but I always have my own “main” laptop. Until a few weeks ago that laptop was a Dell Latitude D820 which continues to perform 100%. A few weeks ago however, I did purchase a new “main laptop” the problem was, I continue to have difficulty with my NVidia card that shipped with the computer and essentially has rendered the computer useless until I resolve the problem. My main laptop has always been a 15″ and the Precision 4600 I purchased is also a 15″. That may change soon however, due to some personal reflection.

A few years back one of my cousins was getting married and we flew out to NJ to attend the wedding. On the plane ride back, one of my other cousins was going to come to Grand Forks for a visit and while we were in the airport my dad, my cousin, and I all pulled out our laptops to work for a bit. My cousin works for IBM and owns a Lenovo x301 ThinkPad. I remember marvelling at how small the computer really was. When we got back to Grand Forks, I jumped online and ordered myself a Dell Vostro 1350 (I think that’s the model). It came and while it was nice to have a slightly smaller computer, I really didn’t think it was anything to write home about. During my last semester of college, I purchased another computer that I needed to run some specific software. To the people that know the inside joke, please don’t leave any “obvious” comments below, but feel free to have a laugh at my expense. It just so happened that it was a 13″ laptop and due to a defect in the operating system, I wasn’t able to configure the laptop not to suspend when the lid was shut.

When I went back to my main laptop I found myself slightly disappointed at the extra weight and the extra size, so off to dell.com I went to order a Dell V130 laptop. I have written an entire review about the V130. If I could pick a laptop throughout my life that jumps out as the best money I’ve ever spent. The V130 goes somewhere towards the top of the list. It only cost me about $350 and performed great. The only problem was, after dropping it about 50 times, a drill falling on it, running into with my desk chair, falling off the dash of my car. The webcam has developed a loose connection.  Before the comments roll in on care for your computer nonsense. I needed a computer that could go with me anywhere and I didn’t have to baby it, and it has served that purpose valiantly.

On my recent trip to Philadelphia I brought both my V130 and my Precision M4600. After using the V130 for so long, and then going back to the M4600 I almost wanted to cry. No longer, did I have my nice small laptop that went with me everywhere, was always convenient. I found myself headed to a restaurant and saying “I should use my new laptop”…ahh…I’ll just do it when I get back I don’t want to take it with me”…”Well, maybe I’ll just take my 13”

Upon my return to Grand Forks, I resumed working on some of the projects I had been working on. One involves Ulteo which is a application delivery system which in order to test I need to be able to run three virtual servers in addition to my host operating system. To do this I needed both  Intel Virt. support and better than the celeron processor that was in my V130.

After careful consideration I am trading my M4600 for a Dell Latitutde E6320. The laptop arrived and it is more than I expected. I don’t know what computer the people who have written such poor Dell reviews lately were using but it certainly wasn’t my laptop. This laptop is well built, it looks slick. The keyboard is similar to what I would have expected from my old IBM ThinkPad’s. They have an aluminium back that is a black brushed steel that screams a mix of elegance & nerd instead of the silver aluminium that is all the rave these days.

I can proudly say I am 100% happy with the E6320 it runs Fedora 16 like it was the factory installed operating system, and as is becoming tradition for me the factory hard drive is sitting inside the original box. The computer was never powered up with it. This computer confirms a nagging truth I have been trying to avoid.

I have learned four very important lessons in the past few months.

1. I need a dock connector, life is just too easy with one and too difficult without it.

2. Never again will I listen to the people who say the Prevision is a “better” laptop than the latitude. It supports more RAM and a higher screen resolution but with the problems with the video card, the extra weight, the truck size power supply, the off centred keyboard, it makes for a poor laptop and a great desktop replacement.

3. From now on my laptop will say Dell on the back or I won’t own it. I won’t go into details but if you know me, you know what I’m talking about when I say certain other brands offer similar priced products but deliver a cheap performance.

4. When I am using my 13″ I never miss a 15″ laptop but when I’m using my 15″ I really miss my 13″.

The 13″ laptop is the ideal laptop for the computer hacker/enthusiast.

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