Monday, April 21, 2008


I am going to go ahead and convert "You See This?" into my own personal "You Comparison Shop Comput4rs!" I am headed back to grad school in the fall (btw, I visited Stanford's campus last week and loved it, I am headed there unless Columbia MBA accepts me) and need a new computer. Well, I need a new computer system and I am hoping for recommendations from my geek mentors.

I am not convinced that a single all-purpose laptop is the right approach for me anymore. If I get everything I need* (note: need = want) like Bluray DVD / george foreman grill drive, 18 TB RAM, 4 PT HD, 12 USB ports, etc. then the laptop is too big to carry around. If I slim it down to something I would feel comfortable lugging around, then it is a nightmare to work on for a long time.

So I am trolling for ideas on what to do. I am tempted by the following:
- new small portable notebook (thinkpad, apple, dell, hp...)
- new desktop (dell, or the ilk)
- a networked storage solution (hp)

The problem is that is at least $4,000+ worth of stuff.

I assume that you readers are more tech l33t than me--so my question is what do you people do? What sort of solution could I get for $2,000 that would:
- give me a super portable notebook to take to classes
- let me work comfortably on papers as well as watch movies, stream music, etc.
- allow me to trash my 3 or 4 USB backup drives (that never seem to work that well anyway)

I am not set on buying a desktop and a separate storage solution--maybe combine the two? I don't know, just thought I would put this out there. Anyone know of super deals on laptops?


Tom said...

Is the regular macbook small enough for your needs? Feed has one, they're nice with XP. HP is coming out with a new ultra-portable that is ultra-cheap in the same vein as the Eee laptops from Asus. So I'd go with One of those three options for the laptop (the macbook may be the only one with a DVD drive). Then roll your own desktop - it's super fun. I just installed a new 500 GB hard drive yesterday and was so happy to be able to pop open the case and mess around in there. You can build an awesome system for 1000 bucks and some time (which to me is fun). If you don't want to spend the time doing that, don't spend more than about 600 bucks on a generic desktop, add your own RAM afterwards to boost it up to 2 GB, then get a nice monitor and a ~$150 graphics card.

Andrew said...

Yeah, it's important to understand your needs. More important, however, is how you like to work. I'd start with a couple of simple questions -- do you prefer regular-sized keyboards or laptop keyboards? Do you want a mouse or do you prefer a touch pad? Since those are the two things you're going to use most often, if you get them right then you'll be well on your way towards getting something you'll be happy with. When I write lengthy stuff (like this comment, for instance) I prefer to have a good keyboard that makes a positive "click" sound when you hit the keys and has a bit of resistance. I like full-sized optical mice with two buttons and a scroll wheel. Having those things generally means having a desktop, and indeed my main computer at home in the studio is now a desktop instead of a laptop (although the laptop is doing great as a Reaper slave to host plugins). I like laptops though for less time-intensive activities, so it's nice to have one around. Anyways, that's how I'd approach the question. The technical details (what's inside and how much) can be figured out after you've nailed down what sort of platform you want.

Kaahl said...

Very wise. I really only need mobility and backup capability. I have about 100 gigs of data I lug around and want to keep--too much to put on a laptop drive generally. I think the right answer, however, is to ease into it--start with a new laptop and some networked RAID storage. I am super paranoid about losing my junk.

Feed said...

I was on the west coast for 2.5 months with the macbook as my only computer, and it worked out great. I love the new keyboard, actually, to the point where I still prefer my laptop for coding. Storage space and the mac tax (I even gave in and paid extra for black...) are the main issues, and of course replacing that silly OS with XP. I haven't looked recently, but you could probably get an equivalent pc laptop for a fair amount less, most likely sacrificing battery life, style, and dual os capabilities.

Kaahl said...

yeah, i am really tempted by teh macbook air or the black mac, but I can get a decent laptop for $1000 and a decent desktop for $800--the total price of a new airbook. There price point is just a smidge too high.