Why I Will Never Purchase Another IBM Laptop

Yes, that’s right. I will never, ever purchase another IBM laptop. Before you tech purists come and shout at me, I *will* note that IBM was purchased by Lenovo, so I can’t purchase an IBM laptop even if I want to. But still, I won’t purchase another IBM based laptop.
Five years ago, when I first started into the laptop game, IBM had the edge. They were so far ahead, it wasn’t even funny. Toshiba’s and Soney’s were fragile creatures, made as much out of fairy dust and butterfly wings as anything else. The cases were thin, and the plastic was crappy. Del, while they probably made laptops at that time, was mostly off the map. The IBM laptops were things of large, heavy cases; they had some brick to them, yes, but the brick like attribute they had to them was strength. However, IBM was called by the lure of smallness. Over the years, they got smaller, and more fragile. On the other hand, the Toshiba’s got metal, and better cases. They got better drivers, and better hardware. Faster discs! More memory! A better CPU! Longer lasting battery! A nicer keyboard! These ambassadors of Japanese technology call out to me, and the call has become impossible to fight off.
You see, while Toshiba and others have been improving, me and my IBM’s have been showing the truth of a classic chestnut: familiarity breeds contempt. The shorter battery life grates on me. I want to install Intel drivers for my wireless card, and I become frustrated with the IBM driver’s stubborn will to hang on. The IBM update process becomes more and more annoying. My battery begins to have trouble charging, requiring me to shut down and remove it once a week. I have to purchase USB sound cards, because the IBM soundmax sucks so hard. The thinkpads have no windows key. The function key they do have doesn’t allow use of a virtual number pad, so I have to buy a ps2 number pad. My disc drive breaks, and while IBM is nice about replacing it quickly, it is still a bother. It all adds up, like the conversations in a large room, until the pounding echoes of irritation make me need to run away, and find somewhere with more mental fresh air. Maybe, just maybe, another laptop company can lead me through the smoky haze.
The question, then, becomes: lead me to where? Allow me to drool; let’s go laptop window shopping! First off, we’ve got the Systemax™ Vigor Intel Based Semi-Rugged Build to Order Notebook PC. It’s not a well known brand, but the military uses them, and anything you can use while about to get bombed can’t suck too bad. I do use my laptop outdoors, indoors, and everywhere and anywhere in between; rugged is a huge pro in my mind. I’d love to stop using a good fifth of my brain to worry about babying my laptop in every new and unfamiliar setting. It doesn’t seem to say what sound card these things have, but that’s not a huge deal as I’ve already purchased a USB sound card. Just so long as it has something, no matter how crappy, for those times when I don’t want a USB dongle. The battery life, according to some quick googling, is about equal to a similar IBM (not the best). It is a build to order model, and by the time I add all of the crap I need (a 40 gig drive is nowhere even close to the area of near enough), the price jacks up to a rather disheartening $3,086.96CAD. Topping it all off, I find the “all American!” systemax marketing extremely offensive. If this company is so against the international market, I would suggest they don’t sell internationally; as a Canadian, I for one don’t appreciate that all American horse shit, especially as posted on the website of a Canadian retailer. To make a long story short, I will not be purchasing from Systemax. Adding to the irony, according to Patrick of tbrn, apparently systemax is part of the same overall corporation as is Tiger Direct. He also observes that systemax laptops run extremely hot. Nick is supposed to have worked with systemax machines, so I may check with him for more information.
Okay, scratch one laptop. The next little pretty that caught my eye was the Acer Ferrari 4005WLMi AMD Turion 64 Mobile Technology ML-37 2.0GHz 802.11b-g Wireless Bluetooth 15.4-inch WSXGA+ 1GB DDR 100GB HDD DVD±RW Windows XP Pro SP2 Notebook PC. Pant, pant, pant, breathe, breathe. Couldn’t we have had some punctuation somewhere in there? I’m tempted to never use pronouns to refer to the Acer Ferrari 4005WLMi AMD Turion 64 Mobile Technology ML-37 2.0GHz 802.11b-g Wireless Bluetooth 15.4-inch WSXGA+ 1GB DDR 100GB HDD DVD±RW Windows XP Pro SP2 Notebook PC throughout the rest of this paragraph. You weren’t trying to read this out loud, were you? Anyway, back on topic. As anyone who’s talked to me about computers for more than ten seconds knows, I’m a huge AMD fan. AMD has had the technical edge, in my opinion, for years. Now they’re the first to have a mobile 64 bit chip. The main problem with this laptop, though, is that it’s a wide-screen. That makes it much too wide for my purposes, and anyway, I don’t want a wide-screen for anything. Also, according to Maria of tbrn, and Andre Louis (also of tbrn), Acer laptops tend to have reliability issues. This disqualifies this laptop from the running, I think.
Breaking news! Continuing in the tradition of unrelated things intruding into my entries, my koss headphones just died. I only purchased these about two months ago, so I should have warranty; we shall see how the claim process goes.
Right, that was quick. It’s just a matter of mailing in the headphones to an address about an hour from me, and getting another set, no questions asked. I’ve got an extra headset on, and I’m ready to keep rockin’ through the laptops. Neither rain nor snow, nor wind nor hail…etc, etc. I may be postal, but I’m not the postal service. Viewing things as a brand oriented consumer, one brand that’s always done me well in the scanner market is HP. But how are their laptops? Well, the best I could find was the HP Compaq V4325CA Intel Pentium M 735A 1.7GHz 802.11bg Wireless 15.4-Inch WXGA 1GB DDR 80GB HDD DVDRW CDRW Combo Windows XP Home Notebook. You know, I’m starting to wonder if these under punctuated item names are a tiger direct thing. Anyway, with a price of $1321.99CAD, this is definably middle of the road. It’s got a good amount of ram, but it’s widescreen. It could use more drive space, and I don’t really see anything that causes it to stand out above the fold and make me desire it despite the disadvantages.
So, continuing on the brand theme, let’s finally take a look at a Toshiba! Unfortunately, what we’re also going to do is run up against the limitations of tiger direct’s stock. I’ve heard good things about the A7, but tiger direct doesn’t have those. The closest I could find is a Toshiba Tecra A3 Intel Pentium M 1.73GHz 802.11bg Wireless 15-Inch TFT 512MB DDR 60GB HDD CDRWDVD-ROM Windows XP Pro Notebook PC. Middle of the road. But then, I’ve seen Toshiba’s, I know people who are pleased with them, and I could always change computer stores. The real issue I have with laptops is that they all seem to be going widescreen! I don’t want a widescreen laptop! A laptop is supposed to be portable. Why do we want to make them wider than they already are? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!
If you’re still with me, you’ve now taken a brief look at all of my top contenders for a new laptop. Before I close out the entry, I’d like to give a few shout outs: tbrn and staff, because they rock. Also, most of them read my livejournal. Crazy Cathie’s Chronicals, because she’s my mom, and she’s also been known to write interesting fiction on occasion. Steve, for the laptop fanfic idea; I may use that at some point. And that, I think, does it. Come back tomorrow for something non-technical: I’ll be taking a look at three recent wars in contrast, and thinking about when war is justified, when it isn’t, and how to tell the difference.

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