Non-gaming laptop with high-quality screen?

brettjrob

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Aug 3, 2008
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With my four-year-old Inspiron 6000 in shambles, I'm looking at laptops again for the first time in quite awhile.

Because I now own a powerful desktop, I am not interested in gaming on whatever laptop I purchase. It will largely be used for school and general browsing/music/etc., with occasional photo editing, perhaps. However, the extremely small keyboard/screen size of netbooks doesn't appeal to me, so I'm really looking for something in the 13-15.4" range.

Battery life, durability, and portability are my biggest priorities; screen quality is not far behind. I am rather dismayed to see that matte screens (which I have on my Inspiron) seem almost nonexistent these days, since I use my laptop in the car quite often. I fear that today's ultra-glossy screens will have glare bad enough to render them unusable in the sunlight. Therefore, I'd especially appreciate being pointed towards models which either have matte screens or some other form of glare resistance.

In addition to the glare concerns, I'd also like to have reasonably high pixel density. In other words, 1280x800 on a 15.4" model is not going to cut it. I figured 1440x900 on a 14.1" screen might be a sweet spot, but read somewhere that 1440x900 panels tend to be low-quality; any truth to this?

As for budget, I'd like to keep it around $800, and certainly no higher than $1000.

Thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to help me out here!
 

Joe Average

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I'd say look into the Dell Latitude E6400 lineup. Damned things are amazing with ridiculously long battery life, great screens, full feature set, powerful too. ThinkPads are still great machines, but I've taken a liking to Dells over the years - and at one time I hated 'em but I had good reason because they sucked. But that's changed and now they're solid reliable hardware.

The E6400 series starts at about $649 or so and goes up, but keep the Dell Outlet in mind also - their factory outlet for refurbs, etc... same warranty, ridiculous amounts of savings. You can get the extended 9 cell battery and get clear to 15 hours of battery life; get an SSD and it can stretch to 19 or so they claim... amazing.
 

repoman0

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Not to always recommend the same thing (what I own) but it seems to fit you perfectly here - Lenovo T400

-matte screen - 14.1" 1440x900 LED panel is flawless and one of the brightest I've seen on a notebook
-5-6 hour battery life on standard 6cell battery with integrated graphics, 70% screen, wireless on
-one of the best built notebooks out there. Once I stick an SSD in this it will seriously be indestructible (within reason of course)
-average portability for this size range, which is overall pretty good.

If you ever want to do graphics work then you can get the models that switch between an ATI discrete mobile card and Intel X4500 integrated to save battery life. Works surprisingly well with no glitches for such a new proprietary design

edit: ^the latitude machines and this should be in the same league, up to personal preference.
 

brettjrob

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Aug 3, 2008
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Thanks for the great suggestions, guys - I hadn't even thought to look at the business models.

I ended up going with a Latitude E6400 from Dell Outlet. Even with a healthy set of upgrades (250GB 7200RPM HD, Quadro graphics card, 1440x900 LED-backlit matte display, backlit keyboard, etc.) it was only $820 after applying a coupon. The battery life sounds wonderful on these things. I'll have to reserve final judgment 'til it's in my hands next week, but after much research I'd highly recommend going this route to anyone else with the same general needs I listed in my original post.
 

Joe Average

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I'm sure you're gonna love that E6400, and for that price... damn, nice deal. The Dell Outlet has some ridiculously great deals if you're paying attention, but of course you have to "buy it now" basically because if you don't, someone will snatch it right out from under ya. I've seen statistics that show on average there's over 100,000 people sitting there hitting F5 to refresh their browsers almost 24 hours a day at the Dell Outlet, so... when you see a good or great deal, ya just gotta do it, instantly. :D
 
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