Well, that time has finally come. Although it seems to get by for casual use and I won't know for sure until I try a 802.11a compatible card (to see if 54 mbps can help matters at all), it appears as though a old Thinkpad 600 that I'm trying to ressurect is simply out of gas. At least in terms of running Windows. Yes, it runs Windows XP Service Pack 2 and all other updates. But not quickly. And now that I've grown accustomed to some snappier performance in the newer notebooks I've been using, I think it's time to retire this system (or load Linux on it.. which is probably what I'll do). But, I need to replace it because we still need a workhorse notebook that my wife can use for her job. But we both prefer the pointing stick on the keyboard (in Lenovo/IBM parlance, the "TrackPoint") versus touchpads that (a) give me slight RSI and (b) are the reason I'll never own an Apple notebook since Apple doesn't offer a pointing stick in any of its configurations. Compared to the old days where so many notebooks had pointing sticks, they seem to be a rare breed.
So, I'm turning to you, ZDNet's audience, for some insight here based on your experiences. The basic requirements are as follows:
- Fastest possible processor -- I'm a big virtual machine fanatic now that I've been using VMWare's workstation product for a while. So, in a notebook, in the interests of battery life, about the only choice here is Intel's Core Duo. Non-mobile processors drink to much battery power. After being exposed to AMD's Turion in the Acer Ferrari system that I've been using almost every day for the last few months, I won't buy another Turion-based notebook. Perhaps other notebooks do better with the Turion. But I've got a bad taste in my mouth given how slowly this runs a couple of virtual machines simultaneously and how noisy the fan gets as it attempts to keep the processor from overheating.
- Pointing stick - already explained
- Not a desktop replacement, but... OK, I don't need a big honkin' notebook with a display that rivals the big screen TV that Vito across the street has. So, please, nothing that qualifies as a desktop replacement based on its size. But, weight is a concern for me personally. Having had back surgery once already, my preference is not to go under the knife again because of a notebook computer.
- Lots of memory with room to grow: I don't know how much memory it takes to fully accomodate a fast processor running three or four virtual machines simultaenously. But I do know that I'll need it.
- Decent hard drive: 80 GB at the low end but probably more to accomodate some dedicated drive space to each of the virtual machines that I'll be running.
- Multimedia bells and whistles: I do a lot of multimedia stuff. Everything from viewing all sorts of content to editing it to burning it. So, it should have a good sound sub-system, decent output options, and the ability to burn DVDs.
- Built-in Bluetooth support: as much as I hate Bluetooth, I have to have it (in addition to built-in a/b/g WiFi support).