Why I don’t buy big name laptops any more

There are tons laptops out there which you can buy.  HP and Dell are the biggest sellers in laptops these days.  However for the last couple of laptops that I’ve purchased I’ve stayed away from the major brands.

My last laptop was an Acer Aspire 5610, and my new laptop is an Asus UL50AG.

My Acer laptop was a tank.  Hell my wife accidentally ran it over with a car, and the only problem the laptop had was that the screen was cracked.  I was able to plug in a monitor and copy all the data off of it over the couple of days after that without issue.  The monitor was replaced thanks to Best Buy’s Accidental Damage replacement policy.

But with a new year comes new toys, and it was time for an upgrade to a 64bit machine since the Acer only had a 32bit processor.

The Asus is a total new direction for me. This time I went with an ultra-light laptop.  It weighs in at just 4.2 lbs and is 1″ thick and I’ve seen it run for 5 hours on a single charge.  But there is a heck of a lot of performance in this little package.  It comes with 4 Gigs of RAM which I’ve already upgraded to 6 Gigs, and I’ll be going to 8 Gigs later on.  It has a 64bit processor, and I’ve got the 64bit version of Windows 7 installed along with 64bit Office 2010, SQL Server 2008, VPN software, all the Twitter and IM software that one could ever want.  I’ve got Windows Live Sync, Carbonite, Interguard and Laptop Cop (Interguard and Laptop Cop are my companies products so they are installed for testing purposes, so I usually have beta versions of them installed) all running in the background.

Now since there isn’t actually anything wrong with the Acer and the Asus has a slower processor in it (it has a 1.4 Ghz Centrino 2), I’ve re-purposed the Acer as a portable VMware server.  It has been reformatted with Ubuntu on it and has VMware Server installed on it and it is now my portable data VMware machine so that I can do demo’s, presentations, etc without slowing down my new laptop.  I tried putting VMware ESX 3.5 on it but it couldn’t find the NIC, and Hyper-V 2.0 only support x64.

Depending on how things look next year, and depending on how much use the VMware laptop gets (having the two laptops did give me an excuse to buy a new laptop bag) I may buy a new laptop next year just to be a VMware laptop (this gives me a free try run at it).  My hope there will be that I can put vSphere (or Hyper-V, but I’d prefer vSphere since I know that better) on it so that I don’t have to run Windows then run the VMs inside of that.  Running it under vSphere would also give me the ability to start and stop the VMs from my main laptop without needing to log into the VMware machine’s console, as I already have all the vSphere tools installed thanks to my normal job.  It is going to be tough getting the guys at Best Buy to let me drop in the vSphere DVD to see if installer can find the NIC and hard drive of their machines.  If anyone has gotten ESX or vSphere to run on a laptop please let me know what model in the comments (or via Twitter if you don’t have an account here and don’t want to create one).

But I’ve veered off topic here.

I moved away from the big laptop companies for a couple reasons.

1. Cost: The name brand laptops are expensive.

2. Finding drivers: Like all good geeks I like to format my laptop and get rid of the crap the vendor installs since I know what I want better than they do.  Getting all the drivers from HP and Dell can be a pain.  Acer didn’t make it all that easy, but Asus included 2 DVDs with the laptop. The first the was the restore DVD to make the laptop all factory fresh, and the second was the driver and utility install disk which had all the drivers and extra software. I just checked the boxes for what I wanted installed and click install.  It rebooted a few times during the process, but installed everything automatically.

I know that in the past the non-big brand laptops where not up to par with the big name laptops.  However I can say without a doubt that these Acer and Asus laptops are up to just about any job that you give them (or at least that I’ve given them so far).

Now my last laptop was an HP, and it was kind of a crappy laptop.  When I bought it it was a brand new laptop, and I ended up with one of the first ones off the assembly line.  It was a 17″ desktop replacement laptop and weight in at like 100 lbs or so (probably only 10 or so, but it was still insanely heavy).  The laptop used so much power that it would only run for like 30 minutes on its battery, and when the CPU was running at full speed it would actually use more power than the power supply could output and the battery would actually drain while plugged in.  This was pretty much the last straw for the big name laptops for me.  Especially with how happy I’ve been with the smaller companies laptops recently.

Now if Acus or Acer (or anyone else for that matter) has a laptop that they’d like me to put through the passes let me know.  So far I’m only able to review the equipment that I buy, and I’m not exactly made of money.



2 Responses

  1. “it would actually use more power than the power supply could output and the battery would actually drain while plugged in”….. You are missing the point with this purchase. Now you have a laptop that works and you are robbing your readers of endless entertainment. Your old gear was more fun (to us). 🙂

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