The Quest For A Sturdy Laptop

A coworker and myself are looking for laptops in the “desktop replacement” class. That means fairly fast computers sporting plenty of RAM and dedicated graphics cards. That means prices in the 1500 ranges. These are all Fisherprice plastic concoctions, however, and therein lies the problem. Can it really be true, that only Apple makes truly sturdy laptops? No, I will not just buy a 2500 dollar laptop, even if it is prettier, sturdier and smells better; for that amount I’d rather get a slightly used Toyota.

Is it the metal build quality that jacks up prices? I’ve used the XO (the 100 dollar laptop) and it is plenty sturdy even, so I know it’s possible to build a computer whose keyboard doesn’t break when you type antipathy. Even so, it seems only Sony, Lenovo and Apple has gotten this and at their prices I might as well get the Mac the Toyota. I find it both frustrating and mindboggling that only three laptop makers in a fierce market have discovered that “durable” is a boon, so help me out here: is there a sub 1500 dollar laptop with the above specs and sturdy build quality?

15 thoughts on “The Quest For A Sturdy Laptop”

  1. Jared says:

    I got my 2.2 Ghz MacBook Pro for $1299 as a student (it was on sale as new models were coming out and actually, that was not a “student” price, sale was open to the public). IMO, that’s the time to do it if you decide to go the Apple route. Unfortunately, I can’t speak for any other brands, but I hope that offers some help.

  2. Yes it is true, Apple is the only company that makes a quality product these days. Don’t make the mistake and think you can do better. I did and now I have a VERY large paperweight.

  3. Joen says:

    You guys are actually making me nervous. Everybody says “Mac”, despite the price, and I thought I had decided on PC.

    Not even a Thinkpad?

    1. Jenny-fa says:

      Dude, ThinkPads suck. In my experience, Windows machines tend to match the quality of their respective operating systems — that is, they pretty much all suck.

      There is a reason why Macs are all the rage these days.

      Sorry. 😛

  4. If you do go for a PC, I’d wait until you get Windows 7 with it. I’m running the beta now (on a macbook), and it’s much nicer than Vista and XP (in most respects).

    On thinkpads: I’ve heard they’re sturdy, they feel sturdy, but have a wierd nipple and look turdy.

    But why not buy a motercycle instead? 😉

    1. Also, a mac would allow you to do a two-finger scroll (in both OS X and Windows). So, you heard what jared said, kidnap a student!

      (Like the new ‘skin’ for your site, btw.)

    2. Joen says:

      Good advice. Knowing is half the battle.

      That two finger scroll thing isn’t the kicker for me. PCs have scroll features as well, usually dragging one finger along either the right side vertically or the bottom of the trackpad horisontally, scrolls. Plus, since it’s a desktop replacement, I’d prolly have a screen, a keyboard and a mouse to connect it to, when I’m at work.

      The multi touch is nice, tho I have no idea whether that’d work in Windows. Also, I’ve been using StrokeIt for so long that I’ve had the benefit of gestures before even the iPhone came.

      James John Malcolm: If you do go for a PC, I’d wait until you get Windows 7 with it. I’m running the beta now (on a macbook), and it’s much nicer than Vista and XP (in most respects).

      That means waiting until at least July where the “free uprade” program starts. Not sure I can wait that long.

      James John Malcolm: On thinkpads: I’ve heard they’re sturdy, they feel sturdy, but have a wierd nipple and look turdy.

      The nipple, I find, is actually better and faster mouse emulation than I find the trackpad is. Perhaps not as precise, but the thinkpad has a trackpad for that. So the nipple is actually a boon. The turdyness isn’t so bad either, actually, one of the downsides of owning a mac is that people who see you with one will automatically classify you as one of those young urban hipsters who are writing on their scripts while sitting at starbucks all day.

      I find that this strip explains exactly what I mean when I say “urban hipster”. If I have a thinkpad, I’m in the clear.

      James John Malcolm: But why not buy a motercycle instead? 😉

      While I am an organ donor, I don’t plan to donate just yet.

    3. Joen says:

      James John Malcolm: (Like the new ‘skin’ for your site, btw.)

      Thanks.

      I’m reskinning so often these days, just to “get things right” that I’ve stopped talking about it.

    4. I know what you mean re: Young Urban Hipsters; it is a slight downside. But then again, with a ThinkPad you’ll be classified as one of those “business turds” 😉

      Oh, and I can happily report that the multi-touch does work in windows. I’m using it right now in fact!

      Of course, the only thing that counts in the end is if your happy with your machine or not.

    5. Joen says:

      James John Malcolm: But then again, with a ThinkPad you’ll be classified as one of those “business turds” 😉

      I’m not so sure, I don’t think Thinkpads have that kinda brand recognition amongst the laymen.

      James John Malcolm: Oh, and I can happily report that the multi-touch does work in windows. I’m using it right now in fact!

      Including the “hold two fingers” right-click?

      James John Malcolm: Of course, the only thing that counts in the end is if your happy with your machine or not.

      That, and the price. Don’t forget the Toyota.

    6. Joen:

      Including the “hold two fingers” right-click?

      Including the “hold two fingers” right-click.

      Joen:

      James John Malcolm: Of course, the only thing that counts in the end is if your happy with your machine or not.

      That, and the price. Don’t forget the Toyota.

      Well, yes, “happy” refering to all parts of the equation (and car).

    7. Joen says:

      The coworker mentioned in this post has just opted for a Thinkpad T61P, 14 inch. I will most likely wait for it to arrive (which means 2 days), get a feel for it, and probably buy such a one.

  5. Jose says:

    Hello Joen,

    I’ ve bought the dell xps 1300 laptop and been really happy with. Powerful enough to do 3D renderings and works with big after effects files. It had a Nvidia trouble but they fix it extremely fast.

    Note: I own a macbook too, then I’m not in the apple-pc bullshit battle 🙂

  6. Kong says:

    I’m on my second broken thinkpad in 6 months, and I’m seeing piles of parts only thinkpads on ebay. Many of them have the exact same problems, like dead screens or 1 dead RAM socket. I thought IBM was the sturdy, serious computer where all those cheapos at Best Buy were for idiots, now I’m thinking IBM/Lenovo is anything but sturdy. My friend brought over her brand new, thousand dollar Toshiba and I hate that thing, the touchpad is insensitive, the touchpad buttons require significant force to push down.

    And it was my first experience with Windows Vista and boy does Vista suck!! Why the hell does microsoft keep reinventing the wheel with new versions of Windows and Office? Everytime they do we all have to learn to use it all over again in their new but not improved way. If I had bags of money I’d get into Macintosh stuff but my experience with Mac is that they are a money hole, you have to have the new OS to use the new program, you have to have the new program to use the new OS..on and on ad infinitum. Plus I just hate the cheesy “personality” of mac stuff.

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