We just couldn’t resist answering this latest question, because it comes from a reader named Avram (no, it’s not a relative), who is entering a graduate program in IT this fall and needs something powerful enough for programming, but portable enough to carry around campus without recharging it constantly.
Avram, who also told us that he does not play games, writes:
I will be entering into a Masters program in Information Systems in the fall. I need a machine that has raw power, lots of memory, durable, a battery life with longevity (my last two laptops burned through their batteries in a matter of months) in as compact and portable form as possible. Also I am really into music so I have about 20 gigs of music (and growing) that should probably be accounted for.
In order the things most important to me are:
Things I willing to give up:
Size of screen
Price (my price range will be about 600-950)
Clearly, you need something with decent power, but not necessarily gaming-level graphics. More importantly, you should be getting at least 5 or 6 hours of battery life and the screen size should be 14-inches or less. A good keyboard for typing all those notes or maybe writing code and scripts could help too. Obviously, you’ll need the added networking features of Windows 7 Professional too.
For your budget and needs, our first choice is the Lenovo Thinkpad T410, because you can configure it with a powerful processor, an extended battery, and a hi-res screen. Though Lenovo is currently selling a base config of the T410 for under $800 (with a coupon you can find at LogicBUY), you may need to up your budget a bit to get all the best options. If you can squeeze in the extra funds, we recommend you buy the T410 with the 9-cell battery (which should give you about 6 hours of endurance), a Core i5 CPU, a 7,200-rpm hard drive, and the 1440×900 screen in that order of importance. On a side note, we noticed that Lenovo.com doesn’t seem to be stocking the 1440×900 screen right now, but some third party vendors are selling a configuration called the ThinkPad T410-2518JU which has pretty much everything we just mentioned, but is a couple hundred above your budget.
In addition to the T410, we also like the HP EliteBook 8440p, which costs around $900 these days and lasts about 4 hours and 41 minutes. The13-inch Toshiba Portege R700 is a good, lightweight choice that lasts over 6 hours on a charge.