Desperately seeking: New Core Duo notebook with pointing stick

Desperately seeking: New Core Duo notebook with pointing stick

Summary: 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.

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TOPICS: Laptops
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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). 
The gating factor in most cases is the pointing stick.  It's something I'm not willing to do without.   So, that instantly puts any of Lenovo's Thinkpads (but not the 3000's)  that statisfy the other criteria in the running. I also noticed that Fujitsu's E8210 Lifebook appears to fit the bill.  It appears to be the only one of Fujitsu's offerings that has a pointing stick.  But, proving that there's just sumthin' about 'dem notebooks, the high-end 8210 with Intel's Core Duo T2400, 1GB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive runs a whopping $2,044.  The Thinkpad T60 which is relatively close to what I want (but not exactly) is $2,099. What is it about notebooks? Are the best always going to cost around $2,000 no matter what happens with Moore's Law?  I don't get that. 

Topic: Laptops

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11 comments
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  • Snap

    I've been through the same process. The T60 was the closest match.

    Only alternatives are to build your own, and/or try to componsate by:

    Increasing your knowledge of keyboard shortcuts, thereby reducing your need to reach for the 'nipple'. This is of very limited use on the web.

    Use a mouse - not very practical most of the time.

    Reduce your need to use a laptop for lighter purpose i.e. use a windows mobile or ultra-portable. I've decided to get the new Nokia in an attempt to do this.
    Fandorin
  • Dell Latitude

    The Dell Latitude D series all have pointing sticks. I've been using Latitude notebooks for years, and have been very happy with them. The newest models will support up to 4GB memory and 100GB disks. Bluetooth and DVD burners are optional. I've done video editing on Latitudes, so I don't think you'll have multimedia problems.
    diane wilson
    • Latitude Ds all the way

      I recently purcased a Inspiron 6000, a fancy one, and then my father comes by with the D810 his work just gave him, almost same specs, but they seem much more rugged, and lighter too... Has both pointing stick and touch pad. I'd never use a point stick, but having the option is always nice.
      etheran
  • I agree, I have never used a touchpad that works.

    They are all hard to use and very sensitive. One little touch with your thumb and the cursor jumps and you start insterting text somewhere else. I had a Toshiba with pointing stick and just loved it, so much so that I never used a mouse with it.

    With my HP, I leave the touch pad turned off and use a USB mouse.

    Next computer, I will be SURE to buy with only pointing stick!!!
    DonnieBoy
    • I have never used a pointing stick that works

      I hate 'em! Slow, awkward, badly-placed. They're always a distraction from whatever it is that I want to point at.

      To each, my own.

      Seriously, choice is good, and both devices have a moderate learning curve. I prefer a mouse, but not enough to pack one along when traveling. If pointing sticks disappeared, I'd never miss them, and I don't have the thumb problem with touch pads, although I do understand the issue.
      diane wilson
  • HP 8230

    look at the 8430, it has alot of the thing your looking at, but still around $2000.00.
    dmacintire
  • HP 8430

    look at the 8430, it has alot of the thing your looking at, but still around $2000.00.
    dmacintire
  • For your system 2K is priced right.

    The problem is you are looking for a Lexus at a Yugo price. You want high end editing capabilities, the newest processor, lots of memory, 80 Gig hard drive at the low end, Bluetooth, DVD burner and you want less weight. Each one of these items adds $100-$200 to the price of a laptop. A system like this 5 years ago would have topped $5000 easy. At 2K you are getting a very killer laptop. I just bought a Dell Inspiron E1505 with 1G, basic video/sound, 40Gig hard drive, DVD player (not burner), a Solo processor, Wireless but not Bluetooth, 15 in widescreen, plus the Inspiron is heavier then the average laptop. I got this for about $700. A desktop PC I bought 10 years ago that has a fraction of the power was $3000, Moore?s Law is alive and working.

    The first time I priced a Dell Laptop with all the ?Bells and Whistles? I was way over $2000. I just stared to cut what I really didn?t need and the price fell dramatically. Just a side, I know several people that went high end on adding audio-video capabilities to a PC and all they do now is watch TV on the PC, I could buy a 15? color TV at the thrift mart for $10 that would do the same thing. Make sure you are going to use what you buy. I always buy small and add when I need to, not what I think I will use. It?s like going to supermarket when you are hungry, every thing looks good and you buy way more then you need. Wait till the hunger sets in and then buy, I am positive you will save money in the long run.
    jim.casey@...
  • yes

    The answer is yes. High end laptops will alway be priced at the high end.
    My question is why are you running VM on a laptop?
    multiple and or different OS or as a protective screen. Just curious.
    rog1130@...
  • Are you serious?

    Are you seriously avoiding Turion machines because of one experience with the Acer machine? I'm sorry but that seems extremely short-sighted. I had a bad experience with a Toyota Corolla I rented one time but I didn't write the car off for good. In fact, I own one now.

    My point is, while there obviously aren't as many Turion machines out there as Centrinos, you're narrowing your options because of a grudge. I'm not trying to get all new-age on you but I'm not sure your mindset allows for a balanced viewpoint/opinion.
    stevie_skoal
  • Summary of the 4 brands to pick from

    1 Dell, 2 HPs, 1 few Fujitsu, and last, but not least, the Thinkpads. This is good to know. It would be nice if there we a better list for those who are out of touch like me(touchpad impaired if you will).
    jasonataylor