Guide to Notebooks: August

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I haven’t covered notebooks before as this is a big topic and don’t buy many, but with the model change to Dothan, they are becoming pretty interesting. Given the performance improvments of the new Intel chips (AMD doesn’t play in mobile much), you should probably wait until notebook folks swap to the new 7xx series of chips.
Background and Information
Intel’s up to date roadmaps . The changes Intel makes are the biggest variables in buying notebooks particularly. Here’s a great summary by the Inquirer that makes it much easier to figure out what the giant is up to. Also great for historical reasons to figure out what they have been doing in the past. Relevant facts on “notebooks”:http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=17053
Dothan is a big deal, with it, “Anandtech”:http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=2129&p=6 shows that a Pentium-M 744 or 745 (2GHz and 1.8GHz respectively) beats a Pentium 3.2GHz and equals the Athlon-64 3000+ in Business Winstone (e.g, typing in Word and Excel). That means for general purpose processing, notebooks have finally caught up. A fun machine to build would be a desktop that used this chip instead of the power hungry desktop Pentium Prescott or Northwood if you just wanted to build a Shuttle for business as an example.
* In july 21, they quietly announced the 733 and 723 according to “Digitlife”:http://www.digit-life.com/news.html?106917 and “The Inquirer”:http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=16665, a 90nm Dothan but with just 2MB cache running at 1.1GHz and 1.0GHz respectiviely.
* In Q3, they’ll deliver the 723, the first 90nm Dothan with 2MB cache (I’m using a 745 right now which is a 1.7GHz 2MB cache Dothan and it is a screamer)
* In Q105 they’ll introduce a 2GHz 2MB ULV chip which is pretty amazing.
Ultraportable or Mini-notebooks
If you have to buy right now, then there are pretty much only two choices.Well, given we’re going on the road alot, I’m looking at a bunch of mini-notebooks. Ludwig used one in Europe and liked it. I think one with a DVD drive would be just about perfect. Here are the choices:
* Sony VAIO PCG-TR3A. Has everything but battery life. I owned an earlier version five years ago and the main issue is that it was just sloooowwwww. Now it has a 1GHz Pentium-M so I’m curious what speed is like. Also back then the battery was just terrible, but now it looks reasonable. Cnet Asia has a “roadmap”:http://asia.cnet.com/reviews/hardware/notebooks/0,39001749,39184367,00.htm that doesn’t have any mini-notebooks so hopefully this model won’t got away overnight. There is also a TR5A that is $3K because it has 1GB of memory and a DVD RW drive.
* Fujitsu Lifebook 5020D. This is very similar but has a longer lasting battery as reviewed by “Maximum PC”:http://www.maximumpc.com/reviews/notebooks/review_2004-05-06.html.
* Fujitsu Lifebook “P7000”:http://www.computers.us.fujitsu.com/www/productbridge_pseries.shtml This model has been replaced by the P7000 which uses the 713 processor which is exciting as its a Dothan based system although it only has a 1MB cache. The P7000D uses the Atheros 11gab chipset so is about $100 more expensive.
These are two in category. They have the same performance essentially, so it is the side issues. “Ars Technica”:http://reviews.designtechnica.com/review831_main4153.html likes the Lifebook as does MaximumPC as well.
So if you can wait, wait for Sony and Fujitsu to update to the 733 and get that for best performance and lower power. These notebooks are so underpowered, that will make enough difference to wait.

2 Replies to “Guide to Notebooks: August”

  1. I have an older model Sony that is similar to the TR-3A that runs at 800 mhz. The screen is not as nice and it is lighter as it does not have a CD RW, etc. However, it does me well on short trips when I don’t lug my Thinkpad T30 2.4 mhz. Got this with a CD-RW Sony add-on for $800 on ebay over a year ago. I liked the Fujitsu but aftermarket parts from non-Fujitsu suppliers are hard to get … and the list price is pretty fixed just like the Sony with very high costs even on a used basis.

  2. I used to have the original Sony PictureBook from five years ago now. It didn’t have CD-RW and it was good for lugging. The CD-RW add-on is very expensive and my biggest issue was that if the Windows dies, how the heck do you boot the thing up.
    I’ve also had the Toshiba no-CD version and had the same problem, so now although it weighs more, I think getting a CD-RW is pretty important.

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