Vikram's "Muse"

“And this one thing is what gives the confidence, however out of place this confidence might seem, to be absolutely unworried about the permanence of this bond. How can you somehow lose your reflection?” - Vikram

In search of the perfect notebook (Updated 6/10)

Everyone knows that I am a big Tablet PC fan. From the time when I worked with MSR on ink related stuff and the early Tablet teams I have championed Tablets. I even started one of the first tablet software companies – and toted around the CalTech campus one of the earliest TC1000 tablets released in North America. Even today, I still treasure that early TC1000 – even though my primary work machine is a Toshiba M200.

I am now on the lookout for my next mobile computer. My search for the ideal phone did reach a nice waypoint recently. Being in WindowsMobile allowed me the privilege to test and use some of the best mobile phone devices in the market – at the moment my device of choice is the slim, swanky and yet functional HTC StarTrk. What is left to be decided is what my next laptop should be.

Here is what my ideal machine would look like – features:

  • 1.6+ ghz core duo (solo okay for smaller machines)
  • 1 GB Dual Channel 667Mhz+ DDR2 RAM, Expandable to 4gb
  • 12+ inch High Resolution screen (SXGA+ for 4:3 or WSXGA+ for wide), 13.3” widescreen preferred
  • Weight below 4.5 lbs (can stretch to below 5 lbs for screen and inbuilt CD drive)
  • Dedicated Graphics (Geforce or ATI – 128MB inbuilt memory)
  • Comfortable (close to full size) keyboard (18mm keypitch)
  • 4 hours of real world battery life (expandable to 6 or 8 with extended battery)
  • Swappable optical drive (swap with extended battery or weightsaver)

The first 5 of these are must haves for me.

So, why is it that I started off talking about my love for Tablet PCs? It’s because I am now forced to seriously consider not getting a Tablet as my next laptop. There are no tablets that are out in the market that meet these requirements – and none in the very near horizon. The M400 is pretty much the only true vista ready choice that even comes close. I am not happy with getting a heavier machine than my present M200 – and with the integrated graphics it’s all set to fall out of my list. I will keep updating the following list as I get more time and info. You can also see what my current leanings are.

Currently leaning towards:
Dell XPS-M1210 for meeting many of the reqs (or an Asus W7J if only I could find it somewhere).

If it was a tablet I would have bought it yesterday. I would have seriously considered the Asus R1F if it were available (or even if a concrete release date was set and I had a chance to preview the specs). It would be very sad if I had to go for a non tablet notebook due to the non-availability of good Core Duo tablets. So my current short list (considering only available machines) is: Sony SZ280/Asus W7J followed by M400. If I could consider rumored machines – I might look to the Asus tablet and potentially the upgraded Lenovo tablet. Nonetheless, what would win my heart is the smallest (light weight) core duo tablet that has dedicated graphics (and can run Vista glass comfortably).

Rumored: Stuff I am very excited about (but vaporware or not is unclear)…

Asus R1(F?) : Asus’s much anticipated widescreen 13” convertible (Core Duo, due out in Q3 2006?) – I would buy this if I had a way to demo it and pre-order. Saw this post over at PC Perspective about the R1 making an appearance at Computex. They have pictures and claim that it will have integrated graphics. They also have a picture of the Asus R2 UMPC. Other news on this tablet is that it has passed FCC certification.

  • Intel Core Duo chip
  • 13.3 Widescreen display
  • Up to 4GB of RAM
  • 80-120 GB SATA HDD
  • TPM security chip
  • Modular bay (optical drive or extended battery)
  • Memory card reader(4in1)
  • Toshiba BT Software stack (not too happy about this)
  • Supports S-Video out (Doesn’t guarantee a dedicated graphics card though)

Acer Ferrari 1000: Announced – no date yet

  • AMD Turion 64 X2
  • RAM 2 to 4GB
  • 12.1” widescreen CrystalBrite
  • ATI Radeon 1150 graphics
  • 1.7 kg (3.75 lb)

Dell XPSM1210: Update: This is now out and available starting around $1300.

  • Core Duo 1.66+ Ghz
  • RAM 2 to 4GB
  • 12.1” widescreen (1280×800) WXGA
  • Nvidia T7400 graphics
  • Internal Super multi Drive
  • 100 GB SATA HD
  • 1.98 kg (4.37lb)

Fujitsu Lifebook T4200 Convertible

  • Intel Core Duo Processor T2500 (up to 2 GHz, 2 MB L2 cache, 667 MHz FSB)
  • 12.1″ XGA active digitizer indoor/outdoor display (1024×768)
  • Intel GMA 950 Integrated Graphics
  • Upto 2 GB DDR2 667 MHz SDRAM memory
  • 80 GB S-ATA 150, 5400 rpm hard drive
  • Modular Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
  • Bluetooth + Wifi
  • Integrated Fingerprint Sensor, embedded TPM, dedicated Smart Card slot, Memory Reader
  • Main battery: Lithium ion (6-cell, 10.8V, 5200 mAh) (Upto 11 hours using modular bay battery)
  • 11.5″ x 9.3″ x 1.1/1.4″; approx. 4.3 lbs (with weight saver)

Lenovo/IBM X61t : Lenovo’s supposed X40 tablet successor (Core Duo) . No news or details on whether it even exists.


Here is the longlist of contenders:

M200 Convertible (Current notebook)

  • Intel Centrino 1.8Ghz, 1 GB RAM, 50GB, Nvidia Geforce graphics, 12.1” SXGA+, 4.4 to 4.6 lb
  • Runs Vista (does run glass – barely)

M400 Convertible (Tried and wasn’t impressed, Runs Vista Glass)

  • Intel Core Duo 1.66+
  • Integrated Intel Graphics (Vista Glass ready)
  • 12.1” SXGA+
  • Upto 4GB RAM
  • Built-in Optical drive
  • Wi-Fi and bluetooth
  • Upto 5 hour battery
  • Weight: 4.5 to 5.0 lbs

X41 Convertible (Runs Vista, Great portability at the cost of performance, Needs 1GB+ RAM to be usable)

  • Pentium M 1.5Ghz
  • Integrated Intel Graphics
  • 12.1” XGA Screen (1024×768)
  • Upto 1.5GB RAM
  • Upto 60GB Hard Drive (4200 RPM!)
  • 6.3+ hours of battery
  • Wi-Fi
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs

Asus W7J (Excited about but would like to find a unit to try)

  • Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz T2300 – 2.16 GHz T2600 chip
  • 512MB -1.5GB DDR2 533 MHz
  • 60-120 GB SATA HDD
  • 13.3 WXGA display
  • NVidia GeForce Go7400 graphics with 128MB vRAM
  • DVD Super Multi Drive
  • 1.3 Megapixel Camera
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • 6-cell 53Whr or 9 cell 80 Whr Li-ion battery
  • Weight: 1.95kg (4.3 lb) (Should try a W3J too – bigger)

Sony SZ2 series (Excited about but have heard negatives about quality and performance)

  • Core Duo 2.16Ghz
  • Memory 1GB+
  • Dual Video – Geforce AND Intel Integrated Graphics
  • 13.3” Wide Screen WXGA
  • Around 6 hours battery
  • Weight: 1.6 kg (3.53 lb)

The Rest:

Acer 3200:

  • Core Duo 1.66+
  • 12.1” widescreen WXGA (1280×800)
  • Intel Integrated Graphics GMA 950
  • Memory upto 4GB
  • No Optical drive
  • 1.5 to 1.65 kg (3.63 lb)

Asus W5F:

  • Core Duo
  • Memory upto 1.5 GB
  • 12.1” widescreen WXGA
  • DVD Super Multi Drive
  • Intel Integrated Graphics
  • 1.6 kg (3.5 lb)

LG T1 Express Dual

  • Core Duo 1.5Ghz
  • Upto 4GB Dual Channel memory
  • 14.1” WXGA+ (1440×900)
  • Intel Integrated Graphics
  • Fingerprint
  • Inbuilt DVD Super Multi Layer
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • 6 or 9 cell battery
  • Weight: 1.9 kg (4.19 lb)

Panasonic ToughBook W4 (expected to be upgraded to Core Duo)

  • Pentium M 1.2 Ghz
  • Upto 1GB memory
  • Intel Integrated Graphics
  • 12.1” XGA
  • Built-in Optical Drive
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs

Lenovo x60

  • Core Duo, Integrated Graphics, 12.1” XGA, FingerPrint, 3.6 lb


SZ Series Comparison

Review of SZ Series

Review of Asus v6x

XPS M1210 appears on the horizon

Most of this information has been gleaned from various laptop and tablet enthusiast sites: Coreduonews, TabletPCBuzz, TabletPC Review Spot, What is New, GottabeMobile,Small Laptops. They are responsible for all the exciting news AND the vaporware 🙂


4 total comments, leave your comment or trackback.
  1. Olangu
    Nov 2nd 2006

    Have you considered the Toshiba Tecra M7?
    Dedicated graphics, 14.1″ 1440×900, core duo, dvd.

  2. A bit too heavy at over 6 lb.

  3. Olangu
    Nov 2nd 2006

    The LG TX-A2MSV and the new 12″ acer ferrari both have dedicated grapics in 12″ form. Both of them are way better looking and more slim than the XPS 1210.
    But none of them are tablets nor do they have built-in dvd.

    I hope this blog will evolve as i too are in search for a

  4. Yeah, they look nice. I ended up with a macbook pro (15″) and my trusty little fujitsu 1050p for now as my notebooks. One is a nice vista machine and the other is an ultra-portable tablet. I will wait till after vista for any svelte and capable tablets to come to market.


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