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Desktop Replacements and the 11 Pound Pencil 252

Marco Ramius writes "Tom's Hardware Guide has an article up entitled 'Unwieldy Laptops or Portable Desktops?' in which the author lugs an Alienware Area-51m desktop replacement to a 32 hour LAN to assess what advantages and disadvantages desktop replacements have over desktops themselves." They also have a related article entitled The Case of the 11 Pound Pencil where an office adopts a desktop replacement solution to unsatisfactory ends. Both interesting looks at appropriate uses for hefty hardware.
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Desktop Replacements and the 11 Pound Pencil

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  • Shared devices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:50AM (#14866174) Homepage Journal
    When my old Sony VAIO died, I cried. It had no CD-rom, no floppy, and was so thin and tiny that it went everywhere. It barely had any ports. When I needed to burn a CD or connect a peripheral, the network or USB gave me the option, which I rarely used. Now that Sony is on my hit list, I couldn't find a decent replacement, so I bought a reasonbly tiny Compaq (yes, shudder, but it works great) until someone releases a real "on the go" laptop that works well.

    I always get aggravated the the market for desktop replacements is to totally replace everything you'd do on a desktop. For me, I prefer a memory stick over a CD-R. I don't need video outputs, and the need to shove every port into a portable machine doesn't seem cost or space or energy efficient.

    How many of you with desktop replacements are really using all the options built into it? Hasn't the Internet mostly reduced the need for all these external connection points? For me, I set up a private WiFi AP at every location I visit, and I never have to worry about anything but battery life (I hate plugging my laptop in even to the AC outlet).
    • Hence why I bought a 12" powerbook. but now basically any 12" under 5 pound computer is great.

      Try something like the Acer tablet. If tablet's would just drop in price a bit I might even switch to using windows once in a while.
    • Re:Shared devices (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JanneM ( 7445 )
      I've used a Panasonic R3 for over a year, and it's womderful. Less than a kilo, good keyboard, 1Gb memory, and (in practice, with Ubuntu Linux,) 6-7 hours battery life.

      Oh, and there's no fan. None at all. When I unplug it, the harddrive spins down and it's _totally_ quiet.

    • Re:Shared devices (Score:5, Interesting)

      by joekampf ( 715059 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:56AM (#14866224)
      I am a consultant. I spend 8 - 10 hours at a client, then go home and work for another 3 or 4 hours. I have a HP Pavilion zd8000. It has enough horse power to run WebLogic, MQ, Apache, Oracle, Eclipse, and any other office productivity software I need to get my work done. It is heavy, yes. But to keep that much software in sync between home and work would be almost impossible. I never worry about performance, the screen is wide and gives me the ability to have lots of windows open. The only anoying thing is the power brick. Although I just might invest in a brick for home and at work.
      • I saw weblogic, I saw HP and I saw "power brick"

        I'm in the same boat only I'm in IT and our HPs are the massive 9600s. We haven't actually given them to our consultants yet because we're afraid of a revolt over the weight, but they're the only solution we currently have to the revolt over the poor performance of our current laptops.

        Power vs. Weight. What do you do? In our case, like yours, this is no pencil replacement issue.

      • Count me in for HP, I have the older zd7280 and its a beast. 11 pounds and a 17inch wide screen, its heavy to carry and tricky if I DO use it on my actual lap.

        BUT holy cow, it is a beast in terms of power as well...I use it for everything from development to gaming. I loved my old laptops but I was sick of getting a "transit" laptop rather than a full blown desktop replacement.

        On the other hand...carrying the thing to work and everywhere I go daily does keep my arms nice and solid.
    • Re:Shared devices (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mark Hood ( 1630 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:01AM (#14866252) Homepage
      I agree, there's a lot of people *cough*managers*cough* who get the top end, desktop replacement 'because their role demands it' and then lock it in the drawer at night when they go home. If that's how it's used, get a desktop.

      I have a Thinkpad T42 - and I use the modem, built-in wireless, built-in network, PC-Card slots, both USB ports, headphone & mic sockets & CD/DVD drive almost daily.

      The only things on this that I don't use are the PS/2 keyboard socket and parallel port. The CD-Writing is rarely used too, but has saved my bacon a couple of times on-site (if I had an external writer, Murphy tells me I'll leave it at home when I need it most).

      So while a lot of people can work with a laptop with minimal features (or even a desktop) some of us really do use the 'desktop replacement' features to their utmost. Once I get back to the office, this laptop slips into the docking station and works seamlessly with a nice big external TFT, keyboard and mouse, USB hub, network connection, etc.

      Not to say I wouldn't prefer it was lighter, but it's far from the one in the linked article!

    • I have an MV Ixius (http://www.go-mv.com/ [go-mv.com])

      17" widescreen, 3.4 ghz p4, dvd-burner, geforce 6800 go, 1 gb ram, 80 gb hd (7200 rpm) and a _REALLY REALLY_ crappy soundcard (my ooold 16-bit soundblaster sounded much better)

      do i use all the features of this laptop? no

      do i move it around? not really

      is it good for applications that require a lot of cpu/io/mem and for games? yes, very much so

      it's good to be able to move it around, although i almost never (when i go somewhere, i take my 15" powerbook)

      and oh, btw, the
    • Re:Shared devices (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rakishi ( 759894 )
      There are a lot of small 12" notebooks, with no cd-rom drive and limited ports, google for subnotebooks. They're in the 2 to 3lb range. Smaller ones have a smaller screen.
    • When my old Sony VAIO died, I cried. It had no CD-rom, no floppy, and was so thin and tiny that it went everywhere.

      Which is why that if ever these hand cranked $100 laptops appear in a commercial version, I will be first in line to get one. They're going to be insanely useful things - imagine not having to lug cables or anything else except a paperback sized box for browsing and word processing whenever and wherever you liked - on the beach, in a coffee shop, on a train. Sling it into a bag, crank it up

    • In my office where I work, the trend is now to buy Dell D610 Laptops with Docking Stations. The D610's aren't paper thin, but they're relatively light and are pretty good. When the users are here at work, they have their docking stations with plenty of ports as well as a keyboard, mouse, & monitor. They can then just undock and take the laptop on the road no problem. It's the best of both worlds in my opinion.
      • I'm writing this comment on a Dell D610. :)

        They do offer good performance for a reasonable size (perhaps one of the best regular style laptops I've ever used), but it's just not in the same league as those old viao picturebooks. Those things almost fit in your pocket. Sure the screen was some obnoxious resolution (1024x400 or something, you had to scroll it up and down) and the battery life was crummy unless you had the extended battery bar attached, but man, those things were portable. You didn't need
    • I have a Fujitsu Lifebook P7010. Its great. It weighs 3.1 lb (~ 1 kg), but manages to squeeze in a 1.2GHz Pentium M, 1Gig RAM, ABG WiFi, 100GB HD, and even a DVD burner! Check it out, its a great deal, both portability and almost full desktop functionality. Before this, I had a Toshiba Portege, but like your Sony, no media drives, and basically the only IO was a single USB port.
    • I have a laptop I use for browsing, chatting and mailing primarily, with a splash of occasional simple graphics editing or programming (though I usually just walk over to my desktop machine, the laptop resides in the living room).
      For purposes like this, WiFi and an array of USB ports would suffice. I use about 2GB of the 6GB HDD. Neither the floppy nor CD ports get much use. I only use one of the PCMCIA slots for WiFi. The 800x600 screen (It's an old P3/600 machine) is a bit small though, and if the TV-Out
    • You're not looking hard enough. Just about every laptop maker has a model in the ultra-portable category: 12" screen, no optical drive, about 4 lbs (some close to 3 lbs), and pretty decent battery life.
      • Looks like he's describing the ThinkPad X series.

        41 = Old, but cheap, and with usable power
        60 = New, fast (it's actually a Core Duo), not cheap
        60s = New, fast (Core Duo again), smaller, and also not cheap
    • and the need to shove every port into a portable machine doesn't seem cost or space or energy efficient.

      Which makes me wonder, why not have just one or two 'mother' ports and a peripheral that you can plug in to give yourself all the others you might need? Maybe that's what USB is supposed to be, but I look at my machine and USB doesn't seem very 'universal' to me. Video, sound, network and other stuff still on other ports. Is such a mother port impossible?

    • In the process of trying to determine whether my current Diamond Mako (a relabeled Psion Revo) is going to have to be replaced. (The battery-recharging system in these has a tendency to fail. This is the fourth one I've owned.) The only ports it has are a power input, a (proprietary) serial port for data transfer, and an infrared port I've never used. But it has all the functionality I usually want to carry with me (e.g. a QWERTY keypad), and because of its size (it makes even a 12" PowerBook look like
  • by amcdiarmid ( 856796 ) <{amcdiarm} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:50AM (#14866179) Journal
    of how NOT to do an IT project. (No talking to end users before implementation, questionable usage of laptop, wrong choice of laptop for use if OK, and no benefit to effencies or data retention.)

    The Desktop Repleacement Laptop, is an interesting read: The machine held up in the LAN Party (E.G. Extremely heave use) for the first 2/3 of the party, then started giving some errors that they have seen in desktops as well. The Machine itself appears to be a desktop shoehorned into a LARGE laptop case.

    While personally, transportable computers are anathama to me. (I don't want anything over six pounds (3Kg.) If you really want to run fraggers that most of my machines will choke on... more power to you. No, literally - remember to bring an extension cable.

    my $.02
    • It's a great example of a total lack of properly implemented project management. And unfortunately, it's exactly the type of crap I see at my own job every day :(. Here they want to buy software to fix process problems. They don't understand that you have to have a well defined process, and then you can try to make that process better (if possible) with software. The really irritating thing is that we have some very skilled people here who know the 'big picture' of how to use IT to improve processes, bu
  • Come again? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:52AM (#14866191)
    "they have had something of a mixed reception among IT professionals."

    Since when did any "IT Professional" ever consider purchasing a fucking AlienWare machine? A laptop that has "a little alien head on the back"? Or is someone trying to convince me that gamer kids should now be considered "IT Professionals"?
    • Probably since Alienware's website mimics Dell's and also sells business, professional, and government desktops and servers.

      I saw a rumor a few days back about Dell buying Alienware. I saw this website a few months back and assumed the same thing.
    • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:34AM (#14866509)
      Since when did any "IT Professional" ever consider purchasing a fucking AlienWare machine? A laptop that has "a little alien head on the back"?

      Well... Maybe the guys who work at SETI ;)
    • Grow up..... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Horus1664 ( 692411 )

      My Alienware laptop has been doing stirling service for more than two years. They use high grade components with good build quality and the highest performance in a laptop at the time, just what I was looking for.

      I've been an IT professional since well before it was 'trendy'.

      My question is why would someone NOT buy a laptop because it had an alien head on it ?

      • Support and service. I've had an Alienware notebook in for repair for nearly a year now, because it has a bad screen inverter and the part just plain wasn't available and Alienware wouldn't give the customer the time of day because it was out of warranty. Interestingly enough (timing wise), she just brought in an inverter she was finally able to find on eBay yesterday. We'll see how that goes.

        At any rate, while this may not be the norm, I've heard horror stories about Alienware refusing to support their equ
    • Re:Come again? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:41AM (#14866562) Homepage Journal
      If you work at a company casual enough to permit employees to wear Thinkgeek apparel and have various tchotchkes/toys/etc at their desks, a little alien head on your laptop doesn't seem so bad. Most of their "business" offerings have pretty muted styles compared with their gamer machines.

      If I were a sales guy, whipping out an OMGGAMEZ0RD00D laptop might look a bit professional, especially when the Quake "humiliation" sound plays instead of the usual "ding" beep. For IT folks in an office it's no worse than lugging around a Dell 8000/9000 laptop.
      • I think the problem with the little alien head is not so much a matter of atmosphere as to the message it sends. Alienware charges a premium price for hardware that is optimized for game playing, not business productivity. You see an IT person with such a machine, you've got to wonder about somebody's priorities.
    • Especially considering they're just Uniwill generics with a little alien head on the back. You can get the same damn laptop from half a dozen other vendors for less money, and stick your own alien on it.
  • by Mark_Uplanguage ( 444809 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:52AM (#14866198)
    ...George Carlin's [wikipedia.org] theory of stuff. I have a desktop computer at home, and then I go on vacation with my laptop, which I leave in my hotel room. I leave my hotel room with my PDA, which I leave in my car. My PDA stays in the car, and I bring a pencil and notepad to the park where I scribble my deep thoughts [wikipedia.org].
  • Typical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pheonix ( 14223 ) <slashdot.ibloviate@org> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:55AM (#14866211) Homepage
    This happens all over. I've fought with more small businesses about spending a little bit of extra money to test a "solution" now rather than scrapping a "solution" later than I can count. It's absurd, and it's something I'd assume advanced business degree wielding managers would understand. As a result, many places I've worked have had their own versions of 11# pencils... like printing one copy of a several hundred page document for each region to be mailed to a print shop in that region so that photocopies can be made...

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:55AM (#14866218)
    With almost everyone having having highspeed internet. Which seems to counter act the old problems of Lag. I mean it is not like the old days of 1995 where you needed to connect the computers up to a Hub or a Null Modem cable to play these game. Because the average rate of house to house comunication was 14.4k. If you are a gamer just get a mega system with more wires then there are bacteria on your keyboard. Save the laptop for "Professionals" who need to do less System intensive applications and whos poor computer perfomance will not bother other people.
  • Duplex Printers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AnonymousPrick ( 956548 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:57AM (#14866232)
    FTFA: Why, oh why didn't they spend a few thousand dollars to buy for enough duplex printers like HP's 1320 for each office?

    He also mentioned showing them how to flip the page.

    I have an old HP 682C. When I first got it for a Windows 95 system, HP's driver had a duplex feature built in. When you selected duplex printing, it would prompt you with a picture showing you exactly how to flip the pages around and insert back into the machine to print on the other side.

    Now, on XP, I have to use the MS driver. It doesn't have a duplex feature so I have to do it manually, remembering that when printing even pages only that I have to set the "print in reverse order" check box. Sometimes I forget and waste a tree. And for some wacky reason, I just can't get MS Word to do this correctly. It's like it ignores the check boxes or something - Arrg!

    My point is: doesn't HP's drivers come with this "manual" duplex feature anymore? That way, these folks on really tight budgets can get a much cheaper machine and still print "duplex" without having to remember or read notes on exactly how to position the paper. Yeah I know, it does seem like an incredibly stupid thing to deal with. But when you have a lot of shit going on, it's really easy to screw it up.

    • My point is: doesn't HP's drivers come with this "manual" duplex feature anymore?

      Yes. I use it all the time on my PSC2410 (two years old?) under WinXP. Go to Properties | Finishing Tab and check Print on Both Sides and uncheck Automatic.
    • They may but from what I remember, it can lead to a lot of problems when using the printer heavily in a shared environment. The last printer my office used that did this "manual duplexing" didn't block other jobs so even though you knew exactly how to orient the page from the picture, you still had to make absolutely sure that you were flipping your page and not someone else's. You also had to make sure that the job about to be duplexed was yours and not somebody else's.
    • I've got a small hp1012 (1112? 1011? I'm not home now so i can't look at it to tell specifically) that has manual duplex.
      I never use it, however, because I almost always use scrap paper that has already been printed on one side. I'm sure that the people at the university library think I'm weird but whenever I'm low on paper I just grab handfuls of paper out of the big pile of printouts that people never picked up.
    • HP has always had weird issues with their software, drivers in particular. Once I upgraded a driver, and discovered that I no longer had access to my envelope feeder. Obviously the new driver didn't have a correct list of my printer's capabilities!

      But I always hated manual duplexing. One misfeed and you've wasted half a ream!

  • portable ENIAC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ExE122 ( 954104 ) * on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:58AM (#14866237) Homepage Journal
    First of all, I'd like to say that I don't even own a laptop. I'm the last of a dying breed.

    Having that said, I'd like to say that I agree with this article. I think a lot of laptop use does not offer any benefits. I also think a lot of laptops are overkills.

    • Back in college, I took a software engineering class where I was the only student without a laptop. I also go the highest grade in the class. The laptops were distractions. I saw people using instant messenger, playing video games, reading slashdot... (cricket, cricket). I thought it was a complete waste. They didn't offer any "educational benefit" whatsoever.
    • My dad works as a plumbing and mechanics inspector in one of the richest counties in America. This is funded by the county government. They have provided him with a Sony 4 megapixel digital camera, a Samsung Blackberry PDA, and a Panasonic Toughbook laptop. Now his job is to make inspections to ensure there are no code violations (this is the complex part). He then takes pictures with the camera, puts them on the laptop, and emails them to the office. He then uses his PDA to update the status of the request. While I'm sure this is a very effective system, he doesn't need a $40,000 twelve pound laptop that can survive a two-story drop, works underwater, and can render 3D graphics in 2400x2000 resolution.

    Now before anyone goes jumping down my throat, I'm only saying that most people don't seem to understand that buying the biggest, most expensive laptop isn't always the right choice. I don't expect a lot of those people to be reading this article right now, and I do think that laptops can be used effictively and efficiently by people who know what they are doing. I just think that 90% of the time, this is not the case.
    • Re:portable ENIAC (Score:2, Informative)

      by MrFlibbs ( 945469 )
      The main point of the article is not that laptops aren't useful, but rather that the type of device used is this case (a large laptop) was not well-suited for the job at hand. In fact, this is only one of multiple major shortcomings the article sites:

      1) A large desktop replacement laptop was chosen when a thin and light laptop or PDA would have been a better choice.

      2) The PDF files required duplex printing when the office had only single-sided printers.

      3) Users weren't adequately trained on how to manage t
    • by zenmojodaddy ( 754377 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:25AM (#14866430)
      You're right, a Toughbook is way too much for your dad's job. In order to prevent this shocking misuse of equipment, I hereby volunteer to take it off his hands. I know, I know... it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.
    • Back in college, I took a software engineering class where I was the only student without a laptop. I also go the highest grade in the class. The laptops were distractions. I saw people using instant messenger, playing video games, reading slashdot... (cricket, cricket). I thought it was a complete waste. They didn't offer any "educational benefit" whatsoever.

      Good for you. Now, when you have 3 people in a group project trying to share what they did have fun loading each other's stuff on whatever computer y
      • Re:portable ENIAC (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Knara ( 9377 )
        Isn't this what CVS and it's relatives are _for_? Keeping the source code on your laptop without checking it in somewhere is a great way to lose your project the day before it is due, in my experience.
    • While I'm sure this is a very effective system, he doesn't need a $40,000 twelve pound laptop that can survive a two-story drop, works underwater, and can render 3D graphics in 2400x2000 resolution.

      I'm pretty sure someone out there does, though. King Kong, maybe.

      Back in college, I took a software engineering class where I was the only student without a laptop. I also go the highest grade in the class. The laptops were distractions. I saw people using instant messenger, playing video games, reading sl

    • Re:portable ENIAC (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Slack3r78 ( 596506 )
      Actually, your father's situation is exactly what Toughbooks are designed for. From the city's perspective, it's less expensive to pay a 50% premium for a ruggidized notebook once than to pay to fix or replace it later if it gets damaged.

      Given his job (from what you've described) requires being in active construction sites, it's not inconceivable that accidents happen. If you've never worked in government, IT managers have a tendency to overspec equipment anyway, so if they're going to pay a premium, from a
  • by quokkapox ( 847798 ) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:01AM (#14866251)
    My desktop replacement notebook does just what I need it to do, it replaced my desktop. Plus it's mobile. I spend 90% of my time using it near an outlet anyway, so the brick just goes everywhere with me and the machine itself. Combined weight with brick and targus case is ~15 pounds. Battery lasts about an hour unless you try something ridiculous like transcoding and burning a dvd.

    The nice thing is, the 2.8 GHz processor and constantly running fans literally warm up the entire room where I happen to be working and provide a pleasant, white-noise droning all the time. My hands stay nice and toasty because there are built-in handwarming areas. Plus I can keep my coffee reasonably warm by resting it on top of the power brick.

    All in all, no complaints from me.

  • by rhesuspieces00 ( 804354 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:02AM (#14866258) Homepage
    In the final third of the LAN, however, we began to notice increased instability that was not allayed by restarts. All the games we played would switch to the desktop, though strangely not crash entirely, at random intervals. This was an annoyance, needless to say, and damn well fatal during one or two of our more infamous matches.

    We can only put the instability down to sheer wear and tear.

    Wait a second. This machine got a positive review. I'm sorry, but I don't see how instability after 24 hours of usage on a brand new machine can in any way be considered tolerable unless usage involves throwing large blunt objects at the thing. What am I missing here? I can think of a lot of processor intensive tasks that take longer than 24 hours to complete, and I *really* do not want to see any instability while they are in the middle of running. Are my expectations out of line here?
    • I can think of a lot of processor intensive tasks that take longer than 24 hours to complete, and I *really* do not want to see any instability while they are in the middle of running. Are my expectations out of line here?

      Maybe. If you're not designing nuclear weapons(*) or doing CGI for a major motion picture, I'm not sure why your processor is working overtime for more than 24 hours. And if you are doing those things, I don't know why you'd use a notebook.

      (* If you are doing this, please don't gripe th

    • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:54PM (#14867165)
      Ever been to a lan-party? I don't know this one in particular, but the last one I attended took place in a gymnasium and had about 200 participants. After about 20 hours we had to have doors open and bigass fans running to circulate cool outside air inside for two reasons:

      1) The stink
      2) The gymnasium AC wasn't buit for 200 people each toting a 300 W rig. That's about 60 kW of heat being dumped into the air constantly.

      We hit temperatures of abut 35 deg C (95 F) in the middle of the gymnasium before the doors were opened.

      I wouldn't be surprised if this was part of the problem. Using a computer in a non ventilated hot area will make it difficult for it to be stable if it's only designed to be used in "normal" temperatures. Doesn't matter if it's a laptop or a desktop at that point.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:03AM (#14866271)
    The gaming fun and festivities began with a round of Counter-Strike Source, went through various strategy games, and was interspaced with bouts of Unreal Tournament 2004 and various single-player games along the way. The machine was in motion for 32 hours straight.

    Was this done by one person or a group? From the article you would think that the guy sat there playing games for 32 hours straight.
    If it was just one person, this marathon gaming feat should be immediately entered into The Guinness Book of World Records. [guinnessworldrecords.com]
    There are currently no entries for marathon LAN gaming.
    • There are currently no entries for marathon LAN gaming.

      If there was, it wouldn't go to someone playing 32 hours straight. It would go to that Korean man who died after playing for 50 hours. [BBC News [bbc.co.uk]]
    • You haven't been to many LAN-parties, have you?

      Yes, people (mostly kids) DO go upwards of 48 hours without sleeping, showering, eating or even keeping their intake of liquid up.

      Exhaustion due to lack of sleep, dehydration and low levels of blood sugar (is that correct?) is a real concern for those running the party.

      32 hours doesn't sound that extreme to me, when I attended The Gathering '93 and '94 we kept it up in the same manner. We didn't game much though, mostly coding and using their über 1.5 Mbit
  • firewire? (Score:2, Funny)

    by iotaborg ( 167569 )
    It's great to see that a laptop with 2 cd drives, 4 usb ports, etc etc still does not have a full-fledged 6-pin firewire port.
    • Re:firewire? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Veldcath ( 591080 )
      Sadly, I doubt you ever will see a 6-pin Firewire connector on a notebook. Firewire is falling out of favor, becoming a "video professional only" connection. Not only that, six-pin means... powered. And we all know how power-hungry notebooks already are these days. Can't be powering devices off them as well.

  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:17AM (#14866367)
    With the large adoption rate of LCD monitors for desktops and the use of USB/Firewire on both laptops and desktops, the difference between the two is getting smaller and smaller from a usage and space standpoint (and even from a price standpoint). I've even seen some of the low end Compaq desktops using a keyboard that is basically an external laptop keyboard, shallow buttons and all. I haven't used a desktop for regular daily work in about two years. Even though I used to loathe laptops, I don't really miss using a desktop as much as I thought I would. In fact, last year I bought my first laptop for home use. I use it to play games and browse while my old desktop is connected to the TV as a media player and my older desktop sits in the basement largely unused (might make it a MAME/emu gaming machine or a file/print server). I don't think the desktop will ever die out but with laptops being about as cheap as desktops nowadays I can certainly see laptops becoming (if they're not already, I have no idea) the primary computer that families buy for their home, especially if they have a wireless Internet setup.
    • Perhaps more importantly, the percentage of people who need a desktop's power has diminished greaetly over the last five years. For most purposes -- web browsers, office tools, simple to medium scale development -- the processor's speed and the interconnects simply don't matter much. At the same time, operating systems are now pretty stable. For basic tasks, the amount of additional benefit one gets from a desktop over a laptop is declining. Around the time the higher clocked Pentium III's hit, computers be
  • RAID array! (Score:2, Funny)

    by syd2000 ( 318027 )

    From TFA:

    ...there's even a RAID array!

    Wow, how'd they pack all those drives in there?
  • One computer. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:27AM (#14866442) Homepage Journal
    I know that this is a shocker but many people only have one computer. For those a desktop replacement laptop can be a good option. I know that many of us have at least a whole room dedicated to their computers but we are the minority.
    For some home users the fact that they can just put it into a desk drawer when they are "I know this part will shock you all" not using it is a big plus.
    What is even more strange is some people don't think that computers are an attractive part of their home decor and want them out of site when not in use.
    That ideal set up is a small light notebook for portable use and a desktop for heavy use but for many they have to find a one computer solution.
    • I know that many of us have at least a whole room dedicated to their computers but we are the minority.

      I know I do, it's referred to in hushed tones around the household as "The Temple" and smells of incense and candles.
  • I think a better compromise is an SFF using eSATA drives. I have an iDEQ 200N ( AMD Althon XP) and iDEQ 330P ( AMD64 x2 ), and I can use eSATA to 'share' the i386 operating system. I can even carry it with me, and use it whereever. This is an option for Linux, but it's not possible with some OS like Windows that don't like you to swap motherboards, etc.

    I run an internal AMD64 build of ubuntu on the 330P, and load the i386 as a chroot. I also have a windows and OS X development enviroments under the Linu
  • The cure for the 11 lb pencil is the one ounce Hipster [43folders.com] PDA.
    My laptop and Palm have been sitting in a drawer since I started using a Hipster...

  • Two Words: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:40AM (#14866552)
    Link Whore.

    Now, I now we all need to pay for our precious little websites somehow, but if the real estate is 90% advertising and 10% "original content" -- and a one-page article is spread across five, I stop reading...well, lately I don't even start. The advertisements wouldn't bother me as much if people would just keep the article all on one page. You know, we do have these things called "scroll bars," so we don't have to load the same 1MB of crap five times just to find out what happened to sister Debbie's "11lb pencil."

  • perfect for iMac (Score:5, Informative)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:43AM (#14866579) Homepage Journal
    This is the scenario for an iMac.... replace a tower + screen with a small footprint all in one. Laptops don't make for great desktop replacements... they are too cramped, not ergonomic... display is too small, etc. etc. for day to day office use. They are even less expandable and upgradeable than an all in one type pc, the list goes on.

    iMacs are wonderful for desktop use and relatively portable when it comes down to it... ie: you can move them around by yourself... all the connections are easy to get to, they have built in wireless so no need to rewire or extend the network to a new space.. if you have a wall port for ethernet no problem... built in speakers and headphone jacks for privacy... the new ones have the built in iSight for video conference and all have a built in mic for audio conference. New ones have bluetooth built in for use with wireless input and for synching up your pda with entourage or ical....

    Bonjour is a god send for IT... just buy a printer that uses zeroconf and you'll never have label another ip address on it again just 'add printer' and pick bonjour , voila.. the printer shows up and will work without special drivers, though you may want to download them for extra features for special people...

    So many nice things to say about the combo of OS X and iMac for office use.

    • by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:56AM (#14866668)
      The majority of people I know who use laptops as desktop replacements have add on USB keyboards and mice they use at their desktop. With an iMac, you can't pick up your work machine, do a few hours work on the plane/train and get set up in a client's office in a minute: you have to have an extra laptop, which means duplicating files and setup.

      Centrino laptops these days are powerful enough for most things (I can play BF2 on mine with decent graphics setttings) and have at least 3hr battery life in normal desktop usage
      • Do they also dock them into a display as well?

        I wasn't talking about people who travel... was talking about office workers... those who work in offices 90% of the time. The other 10% they can take a company laptop with them. For those who do travel to various extra office meetings a lot whether long distance or down the street.. of course a desktop replacement is a good choice and with all the peripherals as well...
        • One office I worked in had docking stations with keyboard, mouse and 19" CRTs on many desks. I agree that many laptop displays are quite poor, although they are improving rapidly.

          That said, the main advantage of having a laptop as your main computer is that it doesn't matter where you are, your entire work environment is right there, with no synchronisation problems and no software licence problems.
  • There's a couple of users that really benefit from DTR's. Programmers and web developers heavily benefit from the WUXGA screens. Graphic artists require fast GPUs and dual core CPUs for rendering. Hardcore gamers simply require the best of everything.

    I'd be hard pressed to find anyone else that could find the new 11lb DTRs useful. I have a sager 9750 and it suits my purposes perfectly (I'm a web developer, programmer, graphic artist and gamer). I do transport the machine, but rarely run it off of the b
  • Well at least the luggables are cheaper than buying a new place. I generally prefer the white box PCs I've built myself because they can be upgraded as necessary very easily. But now, I'm facing the problem of needing to carve out another room in my place. So I'm thinking of desktop replacements that can be used anywhere in the house and turning the white box machines into servers and putting them in the closet. If I upgrade the home network as well, I might even be able to use the laptops as decent remote
  • The 3.6 GHz of Pentium 4 power is desktop standard, and the mobile GeForce 6800

    Or buy the Aurora M7700 [alienware.com], which is the same thing but with an Athlon 64 X2 CPU. Significantly less heat and way better performance. That would be much less likely to overheat than the P4 version. Plus bringing a recently purchased P4 machine to a LAN party is a good way to scream "CLUELESS!" to your fellow gamers.

    Better yet, get the same Clevo D900K [amdboard.com] notebook without the expensive bling from a vendor with a less elaborate market
  • We all want to have it all, but like every other area of life, choosing a notebook involves choosing between incompatible choices. You can have small, thin, and light, or you can have powerful and robust. There doesn't seem to be an option for an ultra-thin, ultra-light notebook with a top-of-the-line processor and long battery life.

    My personal leaning has always been towards the small/lightweight side of the equation. After all, I'm much less likely to lug around a 15x17", 15-pound behemoth that runs on ba
  • If someone would make one of those old clamshell style handheld pc's with a 3/4 size keyboard, wifi, and a decent sized hardrive, I would snap it up in a minute. Something like the NEC 900 [necsam.com] with the current windows mobile os on it would be a killer app for college students. The ability to have an instant on device you could easilly type on to take notes in class and be online with (hell, throw in mp3 player and video too) and it would be a nice alternative to lugging around a heavy laptop that takes forever
  • The review sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danimrich ( 584138 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:34PM (#14868285) Homepage Journal
    I like the second article, but the first one really sucks. Sorry, but it does.

    -No mention of the performance other than that it was okay for the LAN party.

    -The reviewer says that the pictures don't really show the size of the machine. Well, why doesn't he take some pictures of the device instead of using photoshopped stuff that probably came from the manufacturer's press office??

    -He talks about the weight and the battery life, but provides no information about it (apart from saying that it's heavier than a monitor).

    Okay, maybe the reviewer was stll hung over from the LAN party. But then, why doesn't he wait until the next day to write a sensible review?
    This review is nothing more than a feel-good piece of writing that does not provide much more info than what could be gleaned from the manufacturer's web site or a store. It's more like an ad-even though he mentions the problems that arose later on.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?