Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Six Laptops That Don't Burn 140 140

digihome writes, "An exploding laptop can really ruin your weekend, so here's a review of six laptops that are unlikely to blow up." From the article: "We evaluated everything from battery and air vent temperatures, AC power draw and battery life to performance and price... What we found is that there's a real difference among those notebooks that know how to take the heat without sacrificing performance."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Six Laptops That Don't Burn

Comments Filter:
  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:49AM (#16945232) Homepage Journal
    Why not just buy one of the OLPC machines [wikipedia.org]? Price to performance and considering heat produced, nothing else can come close. I'm sure once Brazil and other countries start receiving theirs, we'll see them all over ebay for a bargain.

    Seriously though, this is a great list, except for the fact that the machines are pretty expensive. If I was to blow that type of money on a laptop, I'd probably go for the Toshiba. But until then, I'll stick with my $500 Dell laptop. Sure it's a little bit slower (1.8Ghz I believe), but the battery is too small to catch anything on fire.
    • by sinij (911942) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:13AM (#16945796) Journal
      Imagine having to crank two things at once, your laptop and .... well you know.... heat generated by you will be quite considerable.
    • by kcelery (410487)
      if you notice the C in OLPC, its not for adults.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Fred_A (10934)
        It's before you become an adult that your cranking is the most intense... Well usually, although I realise that this being /., your mileage may vary...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mspohr (589790)
      One of their criteria was "best performance for the buck" but they chose a bunch of expensive laptops.

      My 1.7GHz Dell 700m barely gets warm even after prolonged use. The fan rarely even runs so I can't measure the "exhaust temperature". Battery life close to 3 hours (twice that with the big battery- NOT Sony). Also has dual display Intel chipset so I can run an external display for twice the desktop real estate. Cost was less than $1000.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:54AM (#16945266)
    Sony's name isn't on the list.
  • Twinhead? Uh, no. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:56AM (#16945278) Homepage Journal
    Any article that actually considers a laptop from Twinhead as a viable option loses all credibility, even if it does come last. They're junk. My most recent experience with a single Twinhead laptop involved two new hard drives, new RAM, a flakey power socket, a hinge that barely works and a battery pack with a failed cell (it splutters if you have the battery connected.) Prior experience involves machines that didn't come with the right bits and didn't recognise their own floppy drives.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by presidentbeef (779674)
      My most recent experience with a single Twinhead laptop involved two new hard drives, new RAM, a flakey power socket, a hinge that barely works and a battery pack with a failed cell (it splutters if you have the battery connected.

      But what about the heat output? The convenient volume control wheel on the front edge? The "magnesium screen lid and bottom case with an attractive finish that looks like carbon fiber"?!

      You didn't address the important stuff!

      :)
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I have to agree with parent post. Twinhead laptops are very disappointing. I own one and using it right now (model E14AL if you care) and only had problems with it. It killed two RAM in the first 3 months, then had to replace the motherboard, dvd drive died last month, plastic case is of very bad quality and get scratched very easily (can scratch it with your nails!), and now my the screen fixations are going away. After one year of use, I'm about to buy a new laptop, as I fear it's going to die soon and co
      • by Fred_A (10934)
        But what about the heat output? The convenient volume control wheel on the front edge? The "magnesium screen lid and bottom case with an attractive finish that looks like carbon fiber"?!
        Not to mention the astounding 2h47 of battery life (which probably means a bit under 2h under real life use) ! Third best in their test ! Amazing !
        Some day you're going to be able to actually be able to carry laptops around without their power cord...
    • by owlman17 (871857)
      I'm not too sure about the new Twinheads but my 1998 Twinhead was a workhorse. It was a P266 with 32MB RAM and a 3.2GB Hard Drive. It had Win98 and dual-booted into Mandrake 7.0. I used it primarily for programming. The battery died in 2001 and the CD-ROM drive in 2003. Otherwise, it was still going strong. It has endured a lot of (minor) falls. It wasn't until late last year till we put it out to pasture. We only did this because the LCD's hinges were starting to break off.

      It was pretty strong for me and s
  • by SwabTheDeck (1030520) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:56AM (#16945286)
    Am I the only one getting this article rendered as though the CSS was written by throwing the keyboard down the stairs? (Firefox 2 on Linux)
    • by c_forq (924234)
      It is because the link is to the "printer friendly" version, if you go to the normal version it looks normal, but they do that annoying one-paragraph-per-page thing so it spans seven pages. Normal version here. [crn.com]
  • Danger (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cheese-cube (910830) <cheese.cube@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:02AM (#16945324) Homepage
    Lithium fires like those that occur when a laptop battery explodes are extremely dangerous. Just watch this video [blogspot.com].
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Lithium fires like those that occur when a laptop battery explodes are extremely dangerous. Just watch this video.

      This video took about a minute from "smoking" to "apeshit." My laptop would be flying across the room by that point, no longer on my lap...

      -b.

      • Given the right conditions I believe that a lithium can just go off without even being switched on. Imagine if you left your laptop on at home when you you went to work. You'd probably come home to a pile of ash instead of a house.
      • by magarity (164372)
        My laptop would be flying across the room by that point, no longer on my lap
         
        If you're in economy class when that happens then across the room would just delay the inevitable. Might as well just keep it on your lap and get it over with.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm posting this from my sweet Sony Vaio notebook powered by the everlasting Sony battery and I%&#@+++ NO CARRIER
  • misleading summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbc1920 (730236) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:04AM (#16945340)
    I don't get how having a cool notebook translates into a battery that doesn't blow up. As far as I remember, the whole battery recall was because of a slight possibility of an internal short in LiIon cells. This had everything to do with manufacturing process and perhaps gravity, and nothing at all to do with the rest of the notebook. To suggest that these products avoided the recall because of their design is ignorant. They avoided the recall because they sourced different batteries.

    Granted, a cooler notebook will result in longer batteries, since heat will reduce the effective capacity over time. That is the only advantage, from a power standpoint.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think the type of notebook does effect the chances of the battery burning. Toshiba said their notebooks don't have this problem despite using the same batteries because they're designed differently. Here's an article with a bit of info about the toshiba recall. http://www.csd.toshiba.com/cgi-bin/tais/su/su_sc_d tlView.jsp?soid=1501060 [toshiba.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by msormune (808119)
        Well of course they will say that, it's very good advertising. "Look we made our laptops better, they won't burst into flames!". And if a Toshiba laptop bursts into flames, they will say "Well, we were wrong about the design just like everyone else, let's just make a recall like the others". Toshiba has nothing to lose.
      • Even a notebook of the notorious models had about a .00001% chance of blowing up, which is a pretty unlikely occurence.
    • by rachit (163465)
      Of course the heat of the laptop affects the chances of internal short.

      You see, heat ~ energy

      According to Einstein, energy = mc^2, there fore energy ~ mass

      And mass causes gravity. By your own words, gravity was the cause of the short, ergo heat caused the short.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am already a big fan of Panasonic's Tough Book series. The fact that they earn high marks in yet another review, power consumption and heat dissipation, merely cements my opinion of them as a top choice notebook.

    I would previously recommend ThinkPads, but even before moving to Levono the quality was waning. The only thing the ThinkPad has that is superior is a longer warranty. Always buy the longest extended warranty possible for a laptop if you actually take it back and forth to school or work. The failu
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      I would previously recommend ThinkPads, but even before moving to Levono the quality was waning. The only thing the ThinkPad has that is superior is a longer warranty.

      Just pick up a T23 or T41. Should run Linux fine and you'll pay under $300 used for the first, under $500 for the second on EBay. If it conks out, replace it with another $300 notebook.

      -b.

      • by astrashe (7452)
        I have a T21. $208. :)

        I use FreeNX to pull up my home desktop, and it works beautifully.
    • by Grail (18233)
      I'd buy a tough book over a MacBook Pro, except for the fact that the ToughBook video uses shared system memory (ie: it won't run WoW fast enough to play). Even my PowerBook G4 12" (may it rest in peace) had a separate video card (sure, it was a really crappy video card).

      The toughbook fills my other requirements: wireless networking, and being able to withstand being used.
    • It was a 12.1" one, compare to the 15" CF-51... despite the hard-drive supposedly being surrounded by the shock-absorbing protective stuff, even its seeks would send out shrill rattles amplified by the magnesium case. I didn't expect the optical drive on such a tiny laptop to be quiet, but the sheer grinding racket it made was alarming, not to mention painful. Thankfully, I wasn't dumb enough to buy a $3000 laptop from a place without a decent return policy.

      The bigger laptop mentioned in the article migh
  • No joke. My IBM thinkpad has died from too much abuse. I'm either going to have it repaired, or get something new. So, how hard is a Linux install on a toughbook CF51?
    • [url:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_obvious]
  • Dell XPS M1210 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NerveGas (168686) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:24AM (#16945456)

        Yeah, Dell has bad press lately. But that particular model uses a Samsung battery, not a Sony model. Very low draw, very good thermal characteristics. I've accidentally put it in my bag (which is a VERY snug fit) while running apps that kept it from entering standby several times - even after running in a sealed bag for a couple of hours, it's still running nice and solid. The bad and laptop were warm, but not at all hot. Having a Core Duo, 2 gigs of RAM, built-in mobile broadband, and still getting 5 hours of real-world runtime out of it are pretty nice, too.
    • by kjart (941720)

      I've been looking at the M1210, but the one thing that has kept me away is the screen. I find high gloss LCD's to be fairly annoying in general and though I've never used one on an extended basis, the few times I have tried them I've found the glare to be overpowering. If the M1210 had an option without the glossy screen I'd probably already have one.

      What is your experience with the m1210?

      • by devo4040 (993696)
        I have to say that I don't even notice the high gloss of the LCD on my M1210 any longer and as the thread started said the thing works really well. I am able to get around 7 hours of battery life out of the extended battery which comes in really handy when I'm in the field all day trying to trouble shoot. Plus the high gloss is good for one thing, when the computer is powered down or in standby it works as a great mirror to make sure you don't have anything stuck in your teeth before talking to the attrac
      • by NerveGas (168686)
        Glossy screens do suck. You do get used to it, though. The M1210 was the only machine that met all of my needs, so I took a chance on the screen. Now that I've used it for a while, I don't really notice unless there's sunlight glaring off of it. Had they used a non-glare screen, though, it would be perfect.

        steve
        • by kjart (941720)

          Glossy screens do suck. You do get used to it, though. The M1210 was the only machine that met all of my needs, so I took a chance on the screen. Now that I've used it for a while, I don't really notice unless there's sunlight glaring off of it. Had they used a non-glare screen, though, it would be perfect.

          Cool, thanks for the info. My thought process is basically very similar to what you're describing. I just find it hard to bite the bullet on a bigger ticket item when there is one glaring shortcoming (s

  • All notebooks are safe just put 4-inch FANS around it for extra cooling.
  • forget battery (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Tinn-Can (938690)
    Heat doesnt matter if the stupid thing has a crappy little 1280x800 screen... thats just sad... What is up with all the new laptops having that? My 4 year old $1000 laptop runs a 1400x1050 on a 15" screen but I can't find anything like that anymore that isn't over 2 grand.
    • And "the masses" just want it to say "wide screen".

      A "wide screen" must be better than ANYTHING in a old fashioned 4:3 ratio, right? That's Sooo 1990's!

      Yeah, I liked my 1400x1050 screen too, but true hi-rez takes a back-seat to watching the latest video in the correct format...

      • by NerveGas (168686)
        Wide-screen displays also fit notebooks better. Since it has to fold against a keyboard, and a keyboard is wide, they pair together nicely.

        I look at it this way: My laptop is just big enough to fit a decent keyboard and touchpad. And the display is as large as can be used without adding more depth and bulk to the laptop. It works for me.

        Yes, my notebook is a "paltry" 1280x800, but that's on a 12" screen. Higher resolution wouldn't really be very useful.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      What is up with all the new laptops having that? My 4 year old $1000 laptop runs a 1400x1050 on a 15" screen but I can't find anything like that anymore that isn't over 2 grand.

      1400x1050 on a 15" screen (for that matter anything above 1024x768) is useless on a 15" screen unless you have bionic eyesight. For us mortals, 800x600 is sufficient. If you need finer resolution, you're better off with an external monitor.

      -b.

      • by skiflyer (716312)
        You've misconfigured your OS if higher resolution means smaller font size.... and in regards to photo/video... zoom in. Higher resolution means you have more to work with, not that everything is smaller. (1400x1050 in a 14.1" for the record.)
        • back in the real world (IE windows) apps are generally designed in terms of pixel counts, so if you mess arround with the windows font size the effect in many apps is horrible.

          also even if we assume the OS and aps are designed to allow scaling like this we run into another problem

          Scaling bitmap images by an ammount other than an integer scale factor generally results in either blockyness of a loss of sharp edges. This is essentially why the image on an LCD monitor running at non-native resoloution ranges fr
          • by skiflyer (716312)
            Who suggested messing with the Windows font size or scaling bitmap images by an amount other than an integer scale? I was referring to adjustments to DPI to fix problems with, oh I dunno, DPI issues.
            • ok so what setting do you propose i change if the high resoloution i've selected makes general text/images in dialogs menus toolbars etc on my windows box too small?

              how will using that setting avoid the problem of text that has a larger size (measured in pixels) won't fit properly in existing pixel designed dialogs?

              how will using that setting deal with images that are too small too see without ugly scaling?
              • by skiflyer (716312)
                Set the DPI to be accurate for your monitor. Things will work. What's confusing? This will have none of the above mentioned errors unless you're running programs which are custom drawing fonts based on pixel heights, which I don't think I've seen in Windows well, ever.
      • >For us mortals, 800x600
        Not for this one, 1600x1280 on a 15inch and wishing I had more. There's no such thing as too much screen real-estate.
        Heck, I can't think of anything I could do at 800x600, I haven't had a PC at that res in the last ten+ years. Even my old Atari Falcon back in 1992 had 1024x800.
      • by dfghjk (711126)
        The standard for displays (which is already outdated by the way) is 100 dpi. Notebooks can go higher because they are typically viewed closer. Even Macbook Pros (which aren't high resolution) exceed 100 dpi.

        Meanwhile, your "sufficient" 800x600 resolution equates to 67 dpi at 15". It may be sufficient for you but not for anyone not legally blind. I have no problem using 150 dpi screens on notebooks and I use a 204 dpi screen at home. I even own a a 4.5" WinXP ultraportable that offers 1024x600 resolutio
    • by Jerf (17166)
      They are hard to find, but it can be done.

      You can customize a Dell E1505 right now with a 1680x1050 screen for well under $1000, though you'll probably want to bump that base model up a bit.

      In previous months, I've seen it where if you pick the lowest model of the laptop at the customization screen, you won't be offered the higher screen res, but if you start with a higher base customization you will be offered better screens. This seems to come and go.

      I have an earlier model of the E1505, called the "Inspi
  • Am I the only one who finds the mere topic of this review more than a little startling? Back when I used to read PC World as a kid and drool over the PII w/ MMC, I never would have dreamed of being worried about the pyrotechnic features (or lack there of) in a computer. Strange times.... I think I might still prefer a computer marketed "with math co-processor" to one that "won't blow up as much as the other guys'"
  • I've got a Toughbook tablet PC at work and I've got to say, it's an incredible machine (build wise). I've dropped it at least two times from table height onto a hard floor with just a small scratch in the corner. It's really hard to justify the price though. The only reason I needed it at work is because I mostly do field support of industrial control systems, and the 500 nits screen is much easier to read than the crummy 180 nits you find on most laptops. Oh, and the battery lasts about 5 hours to boot!
    • by MBC1977 (978793)
      I'd definitely concur. We use Toughbooks in Iraq and other combat zones, and the little suckers don't break at all. (Heck, I've even chucked one at somebody... but nevermind that ;). Seriously though, the only issue I have with Toughbooks is the fact that hardware-wise they are always behind the curve by about 4-8 months (in terms of processors, memory, etc.)

      But other than that, Toughbooks are simply grunt-proof. lol
  • Just like when buying any other product these days, my number one concern when buying a computer is "It won't explode, right?". Now I can be sure to not get shafted by craft sales representatives trying to sell me explosive goods.
  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:59AM (#16946046) Homepage Journal
    This P-P-P-Powerbook [slashdot.org] won't burn [p-p-p-powerbook.com].
  • Does anyone know how accurate /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state is? The article talks approvingly about 22W of power, but my ACPI reports:

    jerf@localhost ~ $ cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state
    present: yes
    capacity state: ok
    charging state: discharging
    present rate: 1239 mA
    remaining capacity: 5708 mAh
    present voltage: 12232 mV

    which by my calculations is 15W. This is on my lowest display setting and an idle CPU, but no other extreme power saving efforts (hard disk spinning, wireless on, etc.)

  • In other news... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Six iPods that don't eat your face

    Six engineers that aren't cannibals

    Six lamps that don't blind you

    Six Slashdot articles that aren't racist

    Six pillows that don't give you cancer

    since when is laptops that DON'T do something NEWS?
    as if the NORM for laptops today are ones that BURN?
  • My 5150 has a classic design - the main air intake is underneath. When you put it on your lap, your legs cover the intake, the fan goes nuts and after a while the CPU and/or mobo does a meltdown. I'm on my 3rd mobo/cpu. Whenever you call with a hardware issue their first question is 'are all the rubber feet on?' because if they're not, you can bet its overheated jus sitting on a desk.
    For good measure it also sucks up all the crud and deposits on to the heatsink/fan reducing their effectiveness.
    • by Jorkapp (684095)
      I've got a 5100, and it's the same story. All my rubber feet are missing, so I usually use a DVD case to prop up the back end.
  • You'd expect an article headed 6 laptops that do burn not 6 that don't - like it's news some aren't going to explode.
  • I was sure that would be at number one.
    1. Panasonic Toughbook CF-51
    2. Jetta Jetbook 9700P
    3. Velocity NoteMagix L80
    4. HP Compaq nw8440
    5. Asus F3Jv
    6. Twinhead Durabook D13RI
    "Best" Choice: Panasonic's Toughbook CF-51
  • but I couldn't get past the first paragraph.

    Terrible sentence structure, a lack of comparison specs, the summary is seriously lacking, and what is up with those right hand nav bars all over the place?
  • I think I'm safe... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jridley (9305) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:13PM (#16951298)
    since I don't even carry a battery in my laptop. After a couple of years I realized that I never use it when I'm not near an outlet anyway, so I just took it out and left it in the bag. I suppose it could burst into flames there...
  • They're all high-end Intel Core CPU laptops. If they want to pick out some laptops that actually run cool, rather than merely having lots of fans and heat sinks, they should have included some based on VIA Antaur designs.
  • A company called Altair is making a lithium battery [altairnano.com] which does not use graphite. The graphite component of Li-Ion batteries is the catalyst for thermal runaway, leading to fire and explosion of the battery.

    Their energy density is currently equivalent to NiCd or NiMH, still a bit lower than standard lithium batteries. They are mostly targeted at the hybrid and electric vehicle industry. I think they could be interesting for laptops, too. These batteries can be safely charged or discharged at much higher rate

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks

Working...