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Portables Programming

Best Developer's Laptop? 672

Posted by kdawson
from the work-horse dept.
s31523 writes "I love my current laptop, but unfortunately on my last trip the primary LCD went bonkers. It's an older Gateway (2 GB RAM Intel Pentium M 2.0 GHz, ATI M7). There are a handful of features I love about it: [1] Hot-swappable drive bay, with several components that can go in: CD/DVD R/W, extra battery, floppy drive, extra hard drive, memory card reader, etc. The extra battery option is especially appreciated — I can go 4-5 hours on battery power. [2] Docking station / port replicator: I like having my home setup with keyboard, network, and dual screens (a necessity). [3] It runs Linux. OK, I'm a wus, I actually have GRUB command three different OS's: Windows 98 (I have really old embedded software compilers that only run on 98, and yes I have tried every trick in the book to make them run on Linux), Windows XP Pro, and Ubuntu. I'm trying to find a replacement setup that offers the same flexibility and a little better performance. I am open to change as well. So, I ask Slashdot: What is your pick for best developer's laptop under $1,200, considering the features above?"
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Best Developer's Laptop?

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  • Multi booting? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:41PM (#29629297) Homepage

    Who can be bothered with that.
    Any new laptop is probably going to have a bunch of cores and hardware virtualization, so put ubuntu on that, and virtualize XP and 98.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shikaku (1129753)

      Wine is making a lot of headway, but a neat helper program allows you to install things easily and with a pretty good GUI called http://www.playonlinux.com/en/ [playonlinux.com]

      It uses scripts that has their own format to install Wine with a special setup that's taken care of by PlayOnLinux and the script. I think it's a great idea, and all that's needed is more scripts.

    • Re:Multi booting? (Score:4, Informative)

      by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @04:20PM (#29629711) Journal
      Any new laptop is probably going to have a bunch of cores and hardware virtualization

      I agree - using a virtual machine is nice, but be sure the CPU in your laptop supports it. Start by looking here [intel.com] and make sure. Virtual machines suck without hw support.

      You'd be surprised how many mainstream laptop CPUs do NOT have virtualization support, especially many of the "Sunday Ad" bargain machines.
      • Re:Multi booting? (Score:4, Informative)

        by limaxray (1292094) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @07:01PM (#29631011) Homepage
        Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe all AMD CPUs include virtualization extensions. I know my cheepie $400 AMD HP machine does and I do quite a bit of work in a virtualized XP instance without issue. The machine is certainly a commodity laptop, but it serves me very well for developing on the go (not that I'd ever actually recommend one to someone)

        The stock 2GB of RAM can be a pain at times (but doable) so I'd suggest at least 4GB if you want a comfortable virtualized development environment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Who can be bothered with that.
      Any new laptop is probably going to have a bunch of cores and hardware virtualization, so put ubuntu on that, and virtualize XP and 98.

      Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see that the submitter mentioned what type of development he's doing. If he's trying to do game development, virtualization may not be ideal for him. However for anything else I'd agree with you - except I'd personally choose a Mac as my "root kit" (as opposed to a rootkit I guess) and run VMware-based instances of Windows, Linux, et. al.

      As an aside - anyone have experience with how well the EFI-enabled grub (or any other bootloader that can run on a modern Mac) works?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Aphonia (1315785)

      you're going to probably need to virtualize win 98 at this point anyway - i cant even get it to boot on my MSI K8MM-V + Sempron machine - you'll probably need to try something newer for it anyway.

      VMWare works nicely for this as does virtualbox. Plus if seamless virtualization actually works on your host OS, its pretty smooth.

  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:44PM (#29629331)
    All the Java developers at my work used Apple and I found this odd. When I asked one, they mentioned that it was built on BSD so they could use shell commands that they were used to on other Unix based systems. My wife had one and is a system administrator and found it very easy to VNC, SSH and manage most of her servers from her Macbook Pro.

    I gave it a shot and have been able to do Objective C, Mono development, LAMP dev and just about everything without any problems. There effectively is not any language or environment that is left out and Eclipse and Subversion work as great as they do on my Linux box.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rawg (23000)

      I love mine, and the 6 hour battery life can just about get me through the whole work day without wires.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sunderland56 (621843)
      Sounds great - except for the "under $1200" requirement. Haven't you been watching recent Microsoft ads on TV??
  • Thinkpad T-series (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toppavak (943659) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:45PM (#29629341)
    You can easily get one that will fit your budget of $1,200. The ultrabay drive is hot-swappable and you can get a Li-polymer battery to slide in there for extra staying power. Also, Lenovo has kept Thinkpad customer service to essentially the same level of quality that it was under IBM which, in my experience, has been nothing short of fantastic.
    • Re:Thinkpad T-series (Score:5, Informative)

      by tuffy (10202) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:52PM (#29629413) Homepage Journal

      ThinkPads also sport a 3-button trackpoint, which is very handy when running X11. In addition, it's not hard to find ones with compatible video and wireless cards.

    • Re:Thinkpad T-series (Score:5, Informative)

      by swanriversean (928620) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @04:16PM (#29629685)

      I use a Thinkpad X61 and it is fantastic (Ubuntu + virtualized XP).
      (Previously I had a T43p which was also good.)
      For your price requirements and the fact that you like the second battery, I would definitely go with a T series.
      It is not just the customer service that is good, the quality is top notch. I've dropped both laptops on tile floors (the T43p twice) with the worst result being a bit of chipped plastic through which you could see the METAL body on the T43p.
      Docking station is superb as well (I used it for both, but it is especially great with the X61).

      I have also recommended the SL series to some family, but don't have personal experience with it.

    • Re:Thinkpad T-series (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2009 @04:54PM (#29630039)

      Just picked up a Thinkpad T400 and it is nothing short of amazing. Advantages over the macbooks:

      * Matte screen w/ WXGA+ LED backlight (new Macbook Pros are all glossy)
      * Extremely easy to swap out or replace hardware (new macs have improved this, but not as easy)
      * Price (I used the Lenovo IBMEPP site + E-coupons) literally saved over $1100.00 off reg price! (payed ~ $1350.00 loaded)
      * Thinkpad keyboard - still one of the best in the world IMHO
      * Good Linux or BSD hardware support
      * Easy to dual-boot (if necessary) or you could run VM software
      * Excellent battery time (i'm using a 6-cell battery) with a script to extend Linux battery life

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zippthorne (748122)

        Glossy v. Matte is not a definitive advantage either way, IMO.

        Glossy has some very interesting advantages offsetting the reflection problem. Reduced glare for one, which lets glossy screens have darker blacks. They also are easier to clean, although they are quicker to show the need.

        I have a Macbook and an old Toshiba with a matte screen, and the screen on the macbook is much more useful when, say, outdoors as long as I don't have the sun directly at my back and I don't wear a bright shirt.

        If I were look

      • Re:Thinkpad T-series (Score:4, Informative)

        by honkycat (249849) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @07:42PM (#29631237) Homepage Journal

        * Matte screen w/ WXGA+ LED backlight (new Macbook Pros are all glossy)

        Not any more. Matte is available on 15" and 17" at this point.

      • Glossy and Matte (Score:4, Informative)

        by Fallen Kell (165468) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:50AM (#29632663)
        Someone hasn't been keeping up with Apple's products it seems. After the outcry in the beginning of the year with the glossy only displays on the MacBook Pro's, Apple actually listened to their customers and brought the option back. You can get matte on the 15" now as well. The 17" has always had the matte finish option and never lost it even with the switch to the unibody design (unlike the 15" which did become glossy only). The 13" is the only one which does not have a matte option, but I don't see that model as being pertinent for the poster's requirements (aside from cost). For development work, you want that larger screen so you can have multiple files or applications open next to each other for writing code (like the program's design document, or API, or even a test window, etc.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jeffstar (134407)

      I'm on my second R series. The first one was an R51 and lasted over 2 years on the road and lots of days on construction sites or in oily dusty industrial settings. The LCD started to get vertical lines on it which were multiplying. I always used to pick it up by the LCD though. It is still going strong (nearly 4 years old now) with an external monitor and ubuntu.

      I'm on an R61 now and I think it is pretty solid as well. Runs ubuntu great.

      I agree with another poster though that the software lenovo loads o

  • How about repair? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Progman2000 (626305) * <djohnson@NospAM.progman.us> on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:50PM (#29629387) Homepage

    Sounds like the Gateway/MPC 450-series laptops to me. The problem is usually the video system of the motherboard. Are you open to simply replacing the motherboard? Look at http://mundocorp.com/ [mundocorp.com] or http://blueraven.com/ [blueraven.com]. Either will sell you the parts or do the whole job for you.

  • To Mac or Not (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kagato (116051) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:52PM (#29629407)

    I go to a lot of developer forums. Be it stuff designed in Java, PHP, Ruby, etc, there is one common thread I've noted of all the developers that present. 8 of 10 presents will use a mac. I switched a few years ago and couldn't be happier. I have VM Ware. Many people use VMs to run various windows versions, I like to use it to run Linux VMs that I eventually move off to other machines. Works fantastic. No need to reboot.

    Now, if the OP is a .net person, well, Mac may not be for them. But there's something nice about being able to pop a BSD style terminal window.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Paeva (1176857)

      I work for a company that does .NET development (with a product that doesn't even work outside IE), and yet about 1/4 of the developers use a MacBook (including myself).

      They're pricey, but I figure that the cost is really very low considering I use it all day every day. Even if you're just going to run Windows in a VM or Boot Camp most of the time, MacBooks are very high quality machines.

      If you don't *have* to run Windows, MacBook wins hands down if you can afford it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by brxndxn (461473)

      The reason I could never take MAC seriously for any sort of business is lack of docking ports..

      My old machine (loved it).. IBM T41p.. still one of the best laptops ever made - though out-dated

      My current developer machine.. Dell Precision M4400.. 2.53ghz quad-core.. not huge, durable, RGB LED 1920x1200 screen, docking port, display port (can present using display port to dvi adapter), XP 64bit.. great for virtualization

      It drives me nuts to see how often MAC gets recommended as a laptop.. Sure.. it's the nice

      • Re:To Mac or Not (Score:5, Insightful)

        by markmcb (855750) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @04:54PM (#29630045) Homepage

        no corporation should ever consider using laptops that don't have docking ports.

        This advise is just silly. I work for a large corporation (10K+ employees) and Mac is fully supported in every area of the business (along with PCs/Windows). I know it's really hard to plug 3 cables into the very accessible ports on the side of my computer every morning when I get to work, but somehow I manage.

        So, let's not say "no corporation should ever" about anything. There are tradeoffs with most anything. Where you may want a dock, other people like me couldn't care less (I actually prefer not to have the extra hardware on my desk).

        I think in general the "Macs are bad for business" argument died about 5 years ago. It's simply not true anymore. On the contrary, I find myself far more productive on my Mac. The computer I had before at the same company was an HP NC6220 running XP. It was a nightmare.

    • by Medgur (172679)
      Ugh. Macs.

      Disclaimer: I've been a Linux user since 1994.

      For my recent position I decided to try full-time development on a Macbook Pro. Things have been... Less than pleasant.

      I'm not used to a single application taking down the entire system, or frequent and unpredictable focus-switching. Those irritants came quickly, in the first few weeks. Common dev apps like the Cisco VPN, P4V, et al, behave very poorly in a Mac environment. Not an indictment of apple, for certain, but still a real irritant you
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SigILL (6475)

        there's no clear way to define a per-device mapping

        System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Modifier Keys, select keyboard to apply to. I've had per-keyboard mappings (one for my macbook's builtin keyboard and one for my Model M) since 10.4.x (Tiger).

        Hope that helps.

    • Re:To Mac or Not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ThousandStars (556222) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @05:20PM (#29630265) Homepage
      I switched a few years ago and couldn't be happier.

      This has been true for a while, and even before Apple switched to x86; see, for example, Paul Graham's March 2005 essay, The Return of the Mac [paulgraham.com]:

      All the best hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs. My friend Robert said his whole research group at MIT recently bought themselves Powerbooks. These guys are not the graphic designers and grandmas who were buying Macs at Apple's low point in the mid 1990s. They're about as hardcore OS hackers as you can get.

      The reason, of course, is OS X. Powerbooks are beautifully designed and run FreeBSD. What more do you need to know?

      I got a Powerbook at the end of last year. When my IBM Thinkpad's hard disk died soon after, it became my only laptop. And when my friend Trevor showed up at my house recently, he was carrying a Powerbook identical to mine.

      For most of us, it's not a switch to Apple, but a return. Hard as this was to believe in the mid 90s, the Mac was in its time the canonical hacker's computer.

      A 13" MacBook will fulfill some but not all of the requirements listed by the OP (the major missing one being a dock) for $1,200, and it's relatively easy to virtualize and/or dual boot all three major OSes (Windows, Linux, OS X). What more is there?

      • MacBook Docks (Score:3, Informative)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

        A 13" MacBook will fulfill some but not all of the requirements listed by the OP (the major missing one being a dock) for $1,200, and it's relatively easy to virtualize and/or dual boot all three major OSes (Windows, Linux, OS X). What more is there?

        BookEndz [bookendzdocks.com] sells a line of docks for Apple laptops but they look kind of clunky to me. Thanks to the USB hub in my display and bluetooth all I have to plug into my 13" MacBook when I sit down at my desk are the power cord, the Mini DisplayPort connector and the USB root connector which takes all of five seconds so I never felt the need to shell out €€€/$$$ for a dock. What really annoys me about the new MacBook Pro line is the built in battery, 7-8 hours of wifi enabled battery life are IMHO

  • In general... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by postmortem (906676)

    From my personal experience, if you want to have efficiency:

    1. You will need as much screen estate as possible. Coding against spec? Against existing code? Against requirements? Writing tests against code? In all these cases you would want to have at least 2 windows open in parallel
    Thus resolutions such as 1680x1050 or 1920x1080 are desirable. Don't go for 1280x800 unless portability is #1 goal.

    2. Compiling ... Compiling ...
    Investing in faster CPU will pay off in both short and long term. You won't be able

  • Easy: ThinkPad. (Score:5, Informative)

    by outZider (165286) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:58PM (#29629485) Homepage

    ThinkPad has the hotswap bays, excellent Linux support, excellent hardware support and turnaround from the factory, and there's always a 20% off coupon floating around. You can get a T series laptop with discrete graphics and well equipped for that $1,200 you're willing to spend, and probably far less. Not only that, but you generally get higher resolution displays than you get with Dell or Gateway laptops.

    As for your Windows 98 installs -- why not use VirtualBox?

    • Value Line and save. (Score:2, Informative)

      by NoYob (1630681)
      Lenovo has a "Value Line" [lenovo.com] that has the features that you need. The link has a comparison chart with the "Thinkpad" line.

      If you can, why not save a few bucks and get the "Value Line" or be able to spend the extra money on more RAM, peripherals, etc.... or beer? I see a few features with the Thinkpad line that may be unnecessary for a developer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by outZider (165286)

        The Value Line lacks the nice ThinkVantage tools like System Update, gets rid of the Trackpoint in most cases, the spill free keyboard in most cases, and the keyboard and trackpad aren't as good. As much as I enjoy saving money, playing with a VL for a few minutes convinced me to continue buying ThinkPad.

  • I'm typing this response from a Thinkpad R500 :-)

    Thinkpad docks are solid and have been around a long time, as have hotswap bays; some stuff like memory card readers are already present. Ubuntu works very well with both suspend and hibernate, many models support dual monitors via the dock (I think mine supports dual external monitors via the VGA and DisplayPort connectors, but haven't tested more than one external monitor; according to documentation two external monitors via the dock aren't supported), and

    • I am also typing this from a T500 -- I am running Ubuntu 9.04 on it and I keep having problems with the graphics. The laptop comes with an ATI Mobility Radeon and the default driver doesnt deliver proper 3D performance and the proprieatry driver causes problems and X crashes.
      The keyboard is ok, but not the good quality any more that oler Thinkpads had to offer.
      Also, Lenovo does not offer to sell the laptop without a forced Windows license.
      Another problem at least in my country is that Lenovo does not offer

      • I'll admit I have yet to hear anything positive about AMD/ATI's proprietary Linux driver, and it's been a while since anyone seemed to say nice things about the open source X.org driver either. Mine has integrated Intel graphics, and it works great; I can't play 3D games, but a) I program on this laptop, not game, and b) it runs Linux; how high should your hopes really be?

        I previously had a T21, and yes, the keyboard was a little better - I guess your mileage may vary how much worse you think it is.

        Also, I

  • Laptops, notebooks, netbooks etc all have their uses. (I am using one now while I watch TV). They seem to suffer from a couple of problems though...

    1. They are generally underpowered or expensive.
    2. They have cramped keyboards
    3. small screens
    4. You use them in un-ergonomic positions

    Most of these problems are irrespective of the OS or make. These things are designed for specific uses, portability etc. If you want something to do your regular work on, get something with a full sized keyboard, mouse & screen. L

    • by istartedi (132515)

      All of these problems are easily solved [flickr.com]

      My laptop has enough power. If I wanted more, I could get a "desktop replacement" laptop; but I'm fine with what I've got.

      When I'm not going mobile, I plug in a keyboard. I can even drive the classic AT keyboard you see in this picture, via adapters which aren't expensive at all.

      I've also plugged in an auxilliary monitor.

      My chair (not pictured) is not fancy, but it's comfortable enough for me.

      As you can see, I've even got multimedia speakers plugged in. I watch vi

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Hm? Laptops are more expensive. But cheaper than a laptop and a desktop. Presumably the guy wants to have the option of taking the thing with him.

      Laptops aren't underpowered for development work. They're underpowered for hard core gamers but that's about it. If you find your laptop is underpowered for development you really should be considering what the users of your code might be running it on.

      My notebook (MBP) has a full size keyboard, except for the numeric keypad. I've never used the numeric keyp

  • So, I guess, you would want the laptop to come with Java preinstalled [apple.com] (if you a Java Dev), or PHP / Apache [apple.com] installed, if you are that way inclinded. For source control, best make sure it comes with a mainstream SCM software, something like Subversion [apple.com] and hopefully the same company will create an IDE that supports it out of the box [apple.com], while at the same time recognizing that alternative IDE's are out there [apple.com] and provide support and assistance to those who want to use it. Of course, been a developer laptop, ha

  • I've loved my HP HDX series laptop. Now, it's probably the largest laptop you will ever buy, but for development it is awesome. It has an 18.4" display, built-in blue ray ROM, and two internal hard drives and an e-sata port for a hot-swappable external. I can easily run two virtual machines at the same time on it (using Vista as the host operating system) and there's enough screen space to arrange your development environment however you want.

    If that is too large for you they also have a 16" version of the

    • by pz (113803)

      I've loved my HP HDX series laptop. Now, it's probably the largest laptop you will ever buy, but for development it is awesome. It has an 18.4" display, built-in blue ray ROM, and two internal hard drives and an e-sata port for a hot-swappable external. I can easily run two virtual machines at the same time on it (using Vista as the host operating system) and there's enough screen space to arrange your development environment however you want.

      If that is too large for you they also have a 16" version of the laptop.

      As for its portability, I have hauled it all over Europe via backpack (using one of the giant Rick Steves traveling backpacks). It worked for me, but I'm young and didn't have to walk miles with it or anything. It was just small enough to be used on all the flights I've taken on so far. If it was any larger you'd have to be in business class to use it without interfering with others.

      The base 18" version comes in at around $1200.

      Each to his own. My laptop, that I use for development, has one major criterion: it must be light, because I carry it around with me everywhere. Less important criteria: it must have a full-sized keyboard (so no netbooks). The sweet spot with those two criteria are things like the HP Elite series, such as the 2510p that I have right now. Not the fastest notebook around, and lacks many of the hot swapping features that the OP requested, but when I need stuff that the OP listed, I am invariably sitting at

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @04:18PM (#29629697) Homepage

    But as most/many people know, a virtualized Windows9x installation often doesn't work particularly well. In VirtualBox, it all but doesn't work at all because of the way "idle" time is handled. (I don't recall having much trouble using VMWare workstation long ago however)

    Virtualizing instead of multi-booting is a far better idea for me. I use Windows XP on rare occasion and I definitely don't like taking my Linux down to run another OS.

  • For professionals? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by juventasone (517959) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @04:31PM (#29629827)
    There are surprisingly few professional notebook lines with a proper dock available.
    • Dell Latitude
    • HP Compaq/Elitebook
    • Lenovo T-Series

    Any of these I recommend over home/gaming/entertainment equipment.

  • I ask Slashdot: What is your pick for best developer's laptop under $1,200, considering the features above?"

    The problem I have with this is the price. I too wanted a new laptop for development, and photography. After making a list of requirements, from a fast CPU to a fast and large hard disk drive, I looked at a bunch of laptops. The cheapest laptop I found that met the requirements was more than twice as expensive. Prices have come down since then and if you have an open mind on the hardware and softw

  • My setup is a little different then what the OP is looking for, but it works well for me, in case anyone else is interested.

    For 300 euros, I bought an Asus Eee 1000HE several months ago. The honest 6+ hrs battery life plus its weight makes it truly ultraportable, since I don't need to carry any cord or brick in my backpack. The Ubuntu Netbook interface works well on the small screen, and the CPU is efficient running Linux, & Firefox, etc. Skype audio/video doesn't work well I find (the Ubuntu Skype vers

  • Acer Aspire One (Score:3, Informative)

    by Like2Byte (542992) <Like2Byte@yahoo.TEAcom minus caffeine> on Saturday October 03, 2009 @04:55PM (#29630051) Homepage

    Couldn't be much happier. When I'm in the office or home I hook up my USB keyboard/Mouse, my large monitor and 500G backup drive (for nightly backups of my subversion DB.).

    When I'm out and about the long extension cord comes in handy. So does the two hour battery life. Sure, there are times when I really need to plug in and I can't so the trick is to keep your battery full (charge overnight) and when I hit the cafes I wait for the tables near the power plugs to empty out and jump on those tables. I've not had any problems. YMMV depending on location.

    The small size really does mean portable. I've got 160G HD, 1.6G Hz ATOM CPU. Unless your compiling multi-million line projects, I find mine rather comfy. I built the entire boost library in ~1.5 hours.

    Now for the killer: less than $300.00!! My last LT cost me almost $3,000.00 but was a PITA to lug around. It's still a fantastic machine but it's been relegated to the special projects heap. If this LT goes, who gives a crap. remove the HD, copy the data from the it (if it didn't make the nightly backups), buy another cheap-ass LT and move on with life.

    It runs linux fine. I've been playing with SLAX lately (still a little flaky from a USB key, though) and it's exceeded my needs there, too. The Atheros WIFI card works great. (My HP never got the WIFI working.)

    The only draw back I have with the device is its small screen resolution: 1024x600. Yes, that's six hundred.

    Now, I've not done it but a friend of mine tells me his son runs WOW on his. I wouldn't run games as there isn't much in the way of cooling for the LT - no bottom fans. Just a large intake vent on the front and a exhaust port on the LHS.

  • by DrDitto (962751) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @05:16PM (#29630233)
    I use both high-end laptops. Both have 15" screens.

    MacBook Pro advantages:
    + much brighter screen
    + Nicer OS w/ native Unix support
    + trackpad is way better if you use trackpads

    Lenovo Thinkpad t61p advantages:
    + 1920x1200 resolution fits *alot* of code on one screen
    + better build quality-- yes, I think the build quality is better than the macbook pro
    + its got the trackpoint (aka nipple) if you don't like the trackpad
    + much better keyboard
  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@@@ema...il> on Saturday October 03, 2009 @07:50PM (#29631267) Journal

    I just bought a new laptop to replace the mobile workstation our school gives us (HP nw8240 for the 2005 class; now you know where I go to school!). While that computer was, even to today's standards, pretty freaking fast, I had no warranty on it and saw that the LCD was going at some points.

    Instead of waiting a few months, I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade two weeks ago. I was deliberating between a non-unibody Macbook Pro, a Dell Precision M-series and a Latitude E-series. Since I commute and am moving around a lot, I really wanted a computer that could take a bit of a beating and hold a decent charge, all while still being not being as powerful and svelte as my old machine.

    In the end, I landed up getting a Latitude E6500 with the Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (P8600 - 2.4GHz with 3MB L2 Cache), 2GB of RAM (though the eBay ad advertised it as having 3GB...bastards :p), 80GB SATA hard drive, nVIDIA Quadro NVS 160M 256MB discrete graphics (not good for Crysis, but good enough for a non-gamer like myself :D), 15.4" LED WXGA LCD and an integrated webcame (VERY IMPORTANT) for $695 shipped.

    This thing is awesome. Scratch that; it's FREAKING awesome. It runs Windows 7 like a Cadillac, looks damn good, has THE perfect keyboard (no, really...it's really, really good) and is pretty light (something like six pounds). It's 6-cell battery usually lasts me 3.5 hours, which is perfect for me. Thus, doing development work on it (right now, I'm working on projects in C, though I mainly do a good amount of scripting and am learning C# in the future) is just fantastic. You might want a bigger LCD; they have a WUXGA LED screen available, which I hear is phenomenal. I personally wanted something with a lower-resolution, as I hardly use 1920x1200 anyway (and most mobile graphics cards can't push that many pixels smoothly anyway when under load).

    To add, I can get the fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth module and LED-backlit keyboard from Dell (more like from eBay) when I need it. Oh, and it came with a 3-year limited warranty, which isn't business-class, but it's perfect for me.

    In short: Macbooks are still overpriced, and AppleCare still comes separately. My Latitude does EVERYTHING a Macbook would do (yes, it even runs OS X successfully)...while looking just as good and with more AWESOME.

  • A Thinkpad (Score:3, Informative)

    by amn108 (1231606) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @09:03PM (#29631629)

    The best developers laptop is a Thinkpad. End of discussion. There is a Thinkpad model for everyone, and they have the most open-source friendly hardware. There is not a single other manufacturer which provides similiar features in a package as appealing as a Thinkpad. As far as I am concerned, and I have tried to use everything from plastic-fantastic to Dells to expensive Vaios, there is only one option for a serious developer. A used Thinkpad T42, which is in my opinion made for developing software, is to be had for something like $200-$250. A new Thinkpad T400 costs $1000, and a T400s, its slimmer brother and IBM/Lenovos most expensive offering these days, is about $1300.

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