Dear lazyweb, notebook research help please.
So I am planning on buying a new notebook in the coming months to replace my aging Thinkpad R50, which was purchased in January 2004. Appart from having to replace the 30GB hard disk that came with it, (I use a bigger HD in it now anyway), and getting the motherboard replaced out of warranty due to a failing GPU chip, it has been a wonderful machine. Well built, good sturdy keyboard, deacent battery life, and deacent performance for what I've needed it for. I am very pleased it has lasted me 5 years, which a lot of my machines tend to do, mainly because I make sure they do. But the time has come to move to something better.
So dear lazyweb, I am looking to get a notebook with the following list of requirements, and things that would be nice to have but aren't important. A note to all who read this, I am more likely to consider viewpoints from people based in Australia, as I only intend to buy locally, for warranty reasons. I'm also aware that the list of requirements below is longish, but any pointers to anything that may suit these requirements would be welcome.
- No Windows: I will only ever use windows in a VM anyway, which is rare in itself, so no point in getting software I don't use.
- If the notebook has an OS, it must come on optical media: I detest recovery partitions, as they are more trouble than they are worth, at least for me personally.
- Well built: Bar one drop, and a few bumps, the external casing of my Thinkpad R50 is undamaged. Its not falling appart, no cracks, no broken latches/hinges. I travel a lot, and use the notebook around a lot at home and when I am away, so it has to withstand a lot of use, and while I treat it as gently as possible, one sometimes cannot avoid the occasional bump. I am willing to pay more for good build quality.
- Multiple lid latches: I've had one or two notebooks in the past with only one centre latch for the lid. Needless to say it didn't last long. My current thinkpad has 2 controlled by one lever, and they still work as well as when I bought it new.
- ExpressCard slot: I've never had a laptop that hasn't had a PCMCIA slot, so I don't want to not have a card slot for expansion. I've used PCMCIA in the past to add Firewire/faster wireless cards for example, and with 3G gaining popularity/usage, I may want to use a 3G card. (I'll never use USB for networking if I can help it.)
- Good battery life: I think this is a given for everyone looking for a notebook.
- At least 14" screen, but no bigger than 15". While I don't use the screen a lot, I do occasionally use it for magnification, so a larger screen is more useful in that respect. I don't want something as big as a 17", as that then makes the laptop more bulky and heavy, and harder to carry around.
- Monitor connector: I think all notebooks have them, but just to be sure.
Things I'd like, but not fussed if I don't get:
- No modem: I'm never likely to use a dial-up modem, and if I ever think I would need one, I'd get a USB modem.
- Line-in jack: Since I'm into music and recording, it is nice to have a stereo line-in jack to do some on-the-spot recording if I need to, without having to take a second sound card with me to do it. In the notebooks I've had previously, only one has had line-in, so I suspect my chances of getting this are low, but it would be nice.
- Wireless 802.11N: When I bought my ThinkPad, I decided to get wireless, all be it 802.11b, since g wasn't around. I'm thinking that if I can get the latest wireless standard now, I'm less likely to have to get a wireless card in the future, if I should need a faster wireless speed. Again something I don't have to have, but would be nice.
- FireWire: I prefer to use FireWire for disk drives, as it uses less CPu when doing big file transfers. I also may consider a FireWire sound card for portable recording in the future.
As for no Windows, I'm willing to consider a notebook with No OS/Linux, if it also matches my other requirements. I must admit I have been pondering a MacBook Pro, as I don't mind OS X, being a *nix, and the lesser of two evils, and newer versions still being able to work on older hardware etc. However, I'm open to all options, and considerations. Colour I don't really care about, but would prefer a silver/black combination. I also don't care if the notebook supports a docking station, as I'll never use that functionality.
So any advice/tips/pointers would be most welcome.
UPDATE: One thing I forgot to add was that I would rather a mat screen, as opposed to a glossy screen.
UPDATE 2: So after reviewing Thinkpad T61/T61P specs, I realized that these notebooks are not using penryn chips. Normally this would be ok, however since I'm likely to use audio apps on this machine in its lifetime, and since SSE4 is supported by penryn chips, as well as applications eventually supporting it, I'm enclined to lean towards the T400. However, it seems the Lenovo AU website doesn't allow me to customize the options for the machine beyond office software. If anybody is able to customize one of these machines through the Lenovo AU site for things like disk space, RAM etc, please let me know.