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Im thinking of replacing my HP Pavilion dv5-1004nr with Acer Aspire AS5738-6444, I'm a CS student... so im torn between screen size (liking the 15in and decent gpu.. but it weight nearly 8 pounds and battery can barely last 2 hours in power saver mode) and wanting something portable to carry to classes/take notes ect (3 pounds and up to 8 hour battery life of the acer)

what would you guys suggest? acer any good? i love my hp keyboard..

(or have links to other good laptops, im aiming for 600$ range?)

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Had to space out first url so i could post. –  defn Jan 24 '10 at 21:00
    
Fixed the links for you. –  ChrisF Jan 24 '10 at 21:20
    
I would not go below 13 inch screen size if you want to use an IDE comfortably... and the more RAM the better... –  Felix Jan 24 '10 at 21:35
    
Thanks Chris. Thanks Felix, I really haven't had a chance to try my tools on a smaller screen so dont know what to expect. Ill keep that in mind :) –  defn Jan 24 '10 at 21:47
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I'm making this community wiki, since there is no "best" answer –  Ivo Flipse Jan 25 '10 at 10:00
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6 Answers 6

i'd say the Acer "Timeline" 1810TZ is fairly balanced, light and yet powerful enough to do some decent work on it (unlike your average Atom-based netbook). the battery life is outstanding and it suits your budget.

enter image description here

  • Processor: Intel Pentium Dual Core ULV SU4100
  • RAM: 3GB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 250GB
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Screen: 11.6" LED WXGA CrystalBright display.
  • 3.08 pounds
  • Over 8 Hours of Battery Life
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Yes, but the specs actually include (on the version i linked) 3.1 pounds 4 Ram 320 gb harddrive –  defn Jan 24 '10 at 21:09
    
@defn - the specs in your link say 6.16 lbs and battery life "up to" 4.5 hrs (mind you, in real life scenarios this turns out to be significantly less) –  Molly7244 Jan 24 '10 at 21:35
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+1 I have this, and it's superb. The "8 hours" claim is really not an exaggeration, and it works reasonably well for programming on a train. Plus, it also doubles as a home theatre PC. –  sblair Jan 24 '10 at 21:40
    
O sorry Molly, I linked the wrong one, the one i meant is the 11.6" version though –  defn Jan 24 '10 at 21:45
    
@defn - i'm a bit at a loss here, which version do you mean? got any links? :) –  Molly7244 Jan 24 '10 at 21:49
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I've been using Thinkpad X61 for some time now (12", ~1.5kg, ~6h on batteries, 4GB of RAM). For general programming with IDEs I just use an external monitor (and external keyboard/mouse) with docking station. But the internal screen is enough for me to code in non-IDE environments or at school. I actually never code much at school, making bug fixes at most.

If you often need to have full IDE in class, 12" is too small.

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Any thoughs on an external monitor, keyboard and mouse? My default configuration is a large LCD (24", 1080p) and a wireless mouse and erogo keyboard.

For programming, this is ideal since I can have a large IDE with all the debug windows, a keyboard with extensible macros and a mouse that I can actually controll.

When I'm on the road, I can still program, but usually end up in one-note or word/excel anyway, so the small screen doesn't affect me as much.

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It is highly dependent on your tolerance to crampedness and exactly how much portability you want. I know people who can't code on anything other than a dual screen / external keyboard setup, and one who does actually code a little on a netbook (but only so he doesn't need to take anything bigger along).

For me the perfect balance was a 13" model with a high-res screen - a bit on the heavy side at 1.8 kg, but a spacious fast keyboard, and lasts 3.5-5 hours with careful use of backlight. Not posting the exact model because it's not in this price range, but there are plenty of 13" out there that should be OK.

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I've been using an ASUS 1000HE to program for about a year or so now (I use it at home or on the road; I use a desktop at work).

Yes, it's a 10" screen with a 92%-sized keyboard, with a N280 Atom and 1 GB RAM, but it's been perfectly adequate for what I need. I use VS2008, Expression Blend (although that is a bit slow), FlexBuilder/FlashBuilder, and Photoshop. I have to close/minimize almost all "dockable" windows to get a good view of the source, but that helps me focus more on the code. Compile times are decent, though not as good as a faster dual-core with more RAM, of course.

The only thing I add is an external mouse. It's only a couple of pounds and would have been perfect for school (if only it had been available then). It does the job when you need to be mobile.

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I have been using an Acer Aspire 4720Z for hobby/evening programming. It's perfectly capable for web development and serious Java coding, including running up my application engine and GUI interface. But I find the keyboard too cramped and a little frustrating - I use a split type keyboard in my office and for work. It also had a real virtual RAM thrashing problem until I put in 2GB of RAM.

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Huh? Why was this downvoted? It's not like it's wrong in any way! –  Lawrence Dol Feb 18 '10 at 2:37
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