2009-01-12

My new laptop

I just bought a new laptop. Previously I was using a Sony VAIO TZ, specifically a TZ38GN:

  • 1.15kg
  • 11.1" screen, 1366x768 resolution, LED backlit
  • U7700 (1.33GHz) CPU
  • 2Gb RAM
  • 48Gb solid state disk
  • DVD writer

I bought this during a period where I was doing mostly email and web browsing and no coding, and it worked beautifully for that.  The screen was fantastic, and it was the perfect size.

However, when I started doing some coding, I began to find it a little bit wimpy: CPU a bit slow, not quite enough RAM, disk too small. Also when I'm at home, I like to use my laptop with an external keyboard and a large 24" (1920x1200) display, and the TZ would only go up to 1680x1050.

I also have an old Dell Precision M65, which I bought nearly two years ago:

  • about 3kg
  • 15.4" screen, 1920x1200 screen, not LED backlit
  • T7600 (2.33GHz) CPU
  • 4Gb RAM (but the chipset only allowed 3.25Gb to be used)
  • 160Gb 7200rpm disk
  • DVD writer

This has enough horsepower for coding, but after getting used to the TZ, I found lugging the Dell around to be a real pain, and the screen is much less nice than the VAIO's.

I ended up using the Dell at my desk, and the TZ elsewhere.  But having things divided between two machines started to be a real pain, so I wanted to find something with the power of the Dell (at least when connected to a monitor) but the size and weight of the TZ.

I ended up choosing a Sony VAIO Z, specifically a VGN-Z26SN:

  • 1.46kg
  • 13.1" screen, 1600x900 resolution, LED backlit
  • P8600 (2.4GHz) CPU
  • 3Gb RAM
  • 320Gb 7200rpm disk
  • DVD writer

They had another model (the Z27), which was 25% more expensive, and offered a 2.53Ghz CPU, 4Gb RAM and a Blu-ray drive. I suspected I wouldn't be able to use much of the extra 1Gb RAM, and I didn't have much use for the Blu-ray drive, but the deciding factor was that, bizarrely, the Z27 didn't come with a proper Thai keyboard.

The VAIO  Z cost me about 80,000 baht (about US$2250 at today's exchange rate), which is not as unreasonable as VAIOs usually are.  By comparison, I think the TZ cost me about 100,000 baht (mainly because of the SSD), and the Dell was about 180,000 baht (it was a very high-end machine at the time).

Overall I'm reasonably happy with it.  The screen is great and the battery life is OK, although not as good as the TZ's. The keyboard is OK, but I wish it was backlit. Also it doesn't have separate Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys: you have to press the Fn key in conjunction with the arrow keys. It only has two USB ports, which means you will probably need a USB hub. I discovered one incredibly annoying feature: although the CPU has virtualization support, the BIOS prevents you from enabling it.  I can understand Sony's not supporting virtualization in the sense of not providing support if you have problems when you use it, but it's hard to accept a policy that actively prevents a customer making use of an important feature of the hardware they have bought.

I am afraid I don't have any useful information about how well Linux runs on it, because I have been using Vista.  This might seem like a strange thing for me to do.  I'll explain in a separate post.

2 comments:

ichris.ws said...

still interested to hear about Vista :)

ivan said...

Have you gotten use to the non-dedicated PageUp PageDown Home End keys? Or do you never get used to it, and its always a bit inconvenient. If you do a lot of coding or reading documents that seems like it would be a hassle. Thanks.