UPDATE 6/11/2012: Within a couple hours of using, I was 90% sure that I would be returning it. I made a major assumption about all laptop hinges having a similar range of motion, and didn’t check out any of these in person before buying online. The battery upgrade I purchased actually makes the problem worse because it raises the back up probably an inch, which effectively makes it a pain in the neck for me to use.
Settled being the keyword. I have an awesome desktop setup at home, so this laptop is a desktop replacement that I will use mainly for SQL presentations and cerfing. I’ve only had one client that made me provide my own hardware, so I don’t ever expect this to be my regular development workstation. I had the following requirements on my wishlist: 15.6 screen, at least 720p resolution, 8+ GB RAM, 750GB+ HDD, Ivy Bridge, 3+ hours battery, upgradability, around $1K. Here were the contenders:
Apple – They have a great reputation, and I’m jealous of anyone that can afford to buy the Apple version with the specs I’m looking for. Not for me.
Dell XPS 15z – I had originally ruled this out when I read about some issues with battery life and upgradability, given the extra $ they charge when you buy it. Then, I brought it back into the mix when I read some very positive reviews, including battery life. In the end, I ruled it out based on concerns about longevity (http://www.anandtech.com/show/4711/dell-xps-15z-sincerely-flattering/7) and performance.
Sony VAIO SE – Researching the XPS 15z led my to Sony’s similar VAIO SE, and AnandTech’s review (http://www.anandtech.com/show/5722/sony-vaio-se-an-ips-laptop-for-under-a-grand). What I saw there was that there were a lot of laptops that performed way better, which led me down another rabbit hole.
ASUS N56VM – After reading this preview (http://www.anandtech.com/show/5772/mobile-ivy-bridge-and-asus-n56vm-preview/9), I really wanted this laptop. But, when I tried to go buy it online, found out it wasn’t out in the wild yet.
Thinkpads – The best laptop that I’ve ever had was a Thinkpad, so I checked into their lineup; the T Series and W Series. Both quickly got over $1K and didn’t have Ivy Bridge or 1080p.
Basically at this time, I got really frustrated because it felt like I had spent forever looking for a ‘good’ laptop, hadn’t gotten very far, and really wasn’t having a lot of fun being disappointed at every turn. I decided to go for pure value (assuming I get decent longevity), checked out the latest deals on http://www.logicbuy.com/ and went to the HP Site. Customized until I was reasonably happy and settled (there’s that word again) for:
HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition
• 3rd generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-3610QM Processor (2.3 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache)
• NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) GT 650M Graphics with 1GB GDDR5 memory [HDMI, VGA]
• FREE Upgrade to 8GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
• 1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
• 30% off 9 cell Lithium Ion Battery
• 15.6-inch diagonal Full HD Anti-glare LED-backlit Display (1920 x 1080)
• FREE Upgrade to Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner
After verifying that I could really buy this for under $1K (barely), I did do a little more research before I pulled the trigger, and it looks like it should be the right balance for me.