Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life)

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I am looking for a laptop.  It has to be a Dell because that is what
our company supports with their employee purchase plan.

I am going to use it primarily on personal trips.

I want good battery life, screen size, display performance and good DVD
player performance because I would like to watch movies on flights and
possibly in vehicles.

I don't need exceedingly high computing performance because most of my
computing will be email and internet surfing.

I would like Wi-Fi (802.11) for connections in hotels.

I would like any features (phone modem, ethernet, etc?) that would
allow me to connect to the internet easily in hotels.

I think I would like to have blue tooth to interface with equipment on
trips, but I am not convinced of this.  One use would be to connect to
a cell phone, but I could do that with a cable (I do it that way now).

A 40 GB hard drive is more than adequate.

I would like the cost to be below $1500 unless there are features that
push this higher that are STRONGLY recommended.

I would like it to be as light as practical, but this comes after
features and cost.

I would like any suggestions as to features that would enhance the use
of this laptop for my application that I have not mentioned.

I am concerned that XP is now several years old and a new operating
system might be close to being released.  I could wait 6 months or so
for that.

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life) wrote:
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You checked the Dell web site ?

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What do you mean by "good" screen size ?  Large ?  Large screen means
large laptop, hence a little cramped on airplanes.

I have a Latitude X300 at work, which is definitely not large: 12
inches, 1024x768.  I get two hours out of the regular battery, but
there is an extended life battery that's good for five hours.

The CD/DVD drive is in a docking base, which doesn't increase the
footprint but adds to thickness and weight.  The drive can also go
in an external drive bay that plugs into the USB port.  I never tried
to watch a DVD with it so I don't know about image/sound quality
and impact on battery life.

ISTR that the Latitude line is for businesses and the Inspiron are
the consumer models.  You may get a better price on an Inspiron.

Basically, browse the Dell site for candidates and google for reviews
to find out about things like battery life.

pa at panix dot com

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life)

Thanks for the reply.  I am going to go to the Dell site, but since it
has been several years since I have purchased a laptop, I thought I
would get a running start.  For example, you mention looking at
Inspirons vs the Latitude laptops and describe the typical Latitude
configuration.  That is probably good advice for me because I think I
should have most of the features integrated.  Someone else mentioned
looking for  a P4M Centrino (sp?) because it has less power
consumption.  I figure that if I keep getting this feedback, I will be
a more knowledgeable purchaser when I do get on line.  I guess I am
also looking for the "sweet spot" on hard drive capacities and
processor speeds (best amd most for the least).  Since this changes by
the week, I would be interested in what any of you say about this at
this time, in mid-March 2005.  I am also interested in any knowledge of
impending release in replacement of XP as the operating system.

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life) wrote:
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- You're already having a lot of your choices made for you by
restricting yourself to Dell.  There really isn't that much to learn.
I would suggest you start looking at the Dell site immediately, and
ask questions here if you have them.

- Not all Latitudes have the media base thing.  Just the small, ultra-
portable ones.  I'd say you can generally "feel" the difference in
quality between a Latitude and an Inspiron, but that's pretty much
just my opinion.

- Pentium M (not Pentium 4 M) is what you want.  Centrino is an
Intel marketing name for a laptop that includes a P-M, an Intel
Wi-Fi (802.11) chip, and a certain Intel chipset.  With Dell, there's
only a few non-Pentium M choices available, and they should be

- Hard drive capacity and processor speed sweet spots are pretty
much immediately ascertainable on the Dell site.  For example,
for a particular laptop, I see that it's $10 to go from 40GB to
60GB, but an additional $40 to go from 60GB to 80GB.  That's an
easy call.  But presumably you have use for all that space,
right?  If not, save the $10 and stick with the 40GB.  More
HD space does nothing if all you do is watch DVD's.

- The replacement for Windows XP will not be available until
2006 at the earliest.

- The only thing that might cause any confusion is the video chip.
You don't mention playing games at all, so I'll just recommend
that you stick with the Intel integrated graphics and not be
tempted by the cool-sounding video cards like the Radeon 9700 Pro
and GeForce FX.  Those cards will only do anything for you if you
want to play intense 3D games.

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life)

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What's the diff above?

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life) wrote:
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P4M is, as the name implies, a P4 with changes made to help extend
battery life, lower heat output, and improve general mobile
performance, e.g. it runs at a lower voltage.  However, the P4 is
a heat monster (heat from a CPU = wasted power = wasted battery life),
and the P4M is simply not a good choice when the P-M is around.  The
Pentium M is actually more closely related to the P3 than the P4.  
It runs at lower clockspeeds, but is more efficient so a 2.0GHz P-M
can perform at levels comparable to 3.0GHz or higher P4s.  And the
P-M was designed from the beginning to be a mobile processor, and
thus have lower heat output and other features to allow longer
battery life such as a low-power cache.

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The P-M is really simply the best choice for truly mobile performance.  
If you basically want a desktop that you can easily move around, (i.e.
battery life is not a concern since you're running it plugged in all
the time) then the P4-M (or A64, which is not available from Dell)
might be a better choice.  But if the intended use is playing movies
on trips, battery life is obviously a primary consideration.

I don't know much about the Celeron M, which appears to be available
on a few Dell laptops.  It seems to be based on the P-M, with less
cache and a lower FSB -- typical Intel tactic for Celerons.  As
I said, I've never seen any performance numbers for the Celeron M,
but it actually may be a very good deal.  I just don't know enough
to say.

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life)

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Thanks so much for that info!!

Reason I was asking abt it is cause has
some pretty good prices on older IBM Thinkpads.  One
(T22) has a Pentium 3..... and another (T30?) has a
Pentium 4M. Hence the question.

I probably will in all actuality use the laptop more
like a desktop..... but still I might wanna get a PM
based laptop anyway.  Decisions, decisions.

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Yeah I was wondering abt the Celeron M as well.

Anyone else have real life experience with Celeron M
laptop as compared to Pent M?

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life)

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How come?

Re: Best Dell laptop for trips? (w/wi-fi, dvd, battery life)

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Heat problems.  My nephew has a Dell 8500, which is not a Pentium M and it
has heat issues, which shut it down often.  It's a pain in the neck.  And he
cleans out the fans and everything.

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