In June 2009, I purchased a Lenovo T500 laptop. I selected it because it was, at the time, near the top-of-the-line for specs - T9400 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, upto 8GB RAM, 7200rpm hard drive, DVD burner, 15" screen and a dedicated graphics card. I also was able to get an open-box model at a very reasonable price. At the same time I also upgraded the RAM to 4GB with a purchase from Newegg.
After 21 months of use, I can't say enough good things about my T500. Durable. Flexible (I have dual-booted from VHD a couple of times and it's nice). Still fast. Basically, a rock-solid laptop. I've traveled with it a couple of times, and while it does have a bit of weight that comes with it, I haven't found it to be overly heavy when traveling thru the airport. Performance has been outstanding - I can have multiple browser windows open, along with a couple of apps like Word, Excel, maybe Acrobat, and I cannot notice a discernible performance hit on any of the applications. Of course, I use Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, so that could help in that department. I also tend to refresh my Windows install every 6-9 months, or else whenever I try out things like installing the IE9 beta on top of the Windows 7 SP1 beta and it blows up my browser. ;)
I have another 12 months or so of the 3-year factory warranty left, so I'm not driven to find a new laptop yet. But at the same time, I am driven to see what's out there. Why? I want a portable, or semi-portable, self-contained lab environment. Even if I bumped the RAM on my T500 upto 8GB, I still could "only" run two or three VMs (Hyper-V R2, of course) at any given time. That doesn't allow me much of a test environment to have going.
What am I looking for in my next laptop? Quad core (probably an Intel i7), room for LOTS of RAM (16GB minimum), and enough storage to keep 6-8 VM's local on the machine at any given time. The storage piece is an interesting one for me. Do I go with a larger 5400rpm hard drive, a slightly smaller 7200rpm hard drive, or an SSD? The hard drives keep the cost down and provide roomy storage space, while the SSD drives up the price for less storage but pays off with maximum performance. The models I'm looking at include a Lenovo W510, an Acer Asprire, and the HP Elitebook 8740w (which a friend has and recommends unequivocally). I obviously have a sweet spot for Lenovo, who's ThinkPad's I've used off-and-on for the past 6 years, both personally and professionally, and have yet to have a single problem or failure. The Acer gives the features I'd like at a good price point, while the HP Elitebook walks in and flexes a lot of muscle, for a price. All have multiple glowing reviews, so it may come down to which one "feels" right.
Whatever happens, I'll be sure to put it thru its paces and report back here. It's something I'd like to do more often, as well as just blog more about my profession and experiences in general.
Until next time, thanks for reading!