We all have different preferences when it comes to laptops. Folks who travel a lot usually go for a small and light model – maybe even a tiny ultraportable like the Asus Eee PC. The problem with tiny laptops is that you can’t squeeze in a lot of performance in such a small frame. From a web designer’s perspective, they are nigh on impossible to work with because of the limited screen resolution.
To get a resolution of 1440×900, you need to step up to at least a 14-inch laptop, and above that, 15 inches or more. It’s usually worth the portability tradeoff however, if you want to work with the laptop comfortably for any longer periods. Of course, if you have gotten used to working with dual 22-inch high-resolution screens, no laptop will feel very comfortable by comparison, but the desktop replacement segment is possibly the best choice for web designers because of the larger screens and better ergonomics. But I digress, on to the Top List:
10. Acer Ferrari 5005
Acer is a company known primarily for its cheap, lower-end laptops, but the Ferrari series is a notable exception. This one is a 15.4-inch laptop with a very pleasing 1680×1050 resolution – comparable to a standard 22-inch desktop LCD. It also has a decent dedicated graphics card from ATI and a 2GHz AMD Turion processor. Unfortunately, AMD’s Turion CPU is not nearly as fast as Intel’s Core 2 Duo, and the Ferrari models are usually overpriced.
Official Homepage: Acer Ferrari 5005 Homepage.
9. Apple MacBook Air
Apple’s MacBook Air is probably not you first choice for developing web content, but it’s a really nice-looking piece of hardware and I couldn’t help including it. It fits in a standard interoffice envelope but is still a relatively capable 13-inch (1280×800) laptop thanks to its unique Core 2 Duo processor, not to mention the new OS X. However, even though Apple recently made some price cuts on its MacBook laptops, it’s still expensive.
Official Homepage: Apple MacBook Air Home.
8. Lenovo ThinkPad R61
It’s quite the opposite of the MacBook Air, but possibly in a good way. Lenovo builds rugged and trustworthy notebooks that last. They may look (very) uninspiring, but if you’re looking for a workhorse with a solid build, Lenovo is one of the best alternatives. The R61 is a 15-inch laptop with a decent 1440×900 resolution. If you’re no Windows fanboy, you can also get this one with Novell’s SUSE Linux distribution preinstalled.
7. Fujitsu Lifebook 8410
This is another office workhorse with a solid build plus lots of ports and connectivity. Just like the Lenovo, it’s not a lot of fun to look at, but neither will it break when you look at it, as you expect some cheap laptops to. The aluminum LCD cover provides protection, but also some extra weight. Unlike the aforementioned Lenovo, it’s built on the latest Intel Core 2 Duo platform, and you can get it with a dedicated GPU, but a shortcoming of the Lifebook is the screen resolution – 1280×800 is barely acceptable for a professional 15.4-inch laptop.
Official Homepage: Fujitsu Lifebook 8410.
6. Alienware m15x
Alienware claims that its m15x is the “fastest notebook ever,” and they are probably right. It’s primarily aimed at gamers, but it will naturally perform any other task with ease as well. You can configure it with the fastest components in the world, and if you want it all you’ll have to fork over about $5,000, which of course is just ridiculous. It starts at $1,500, however, and you can configure it with a 1900×1200 screen, which is really impressive for a 15.4-inch laptop.
Official Homepage: Alienware m15x.
5. Dell Inspiron 1525
It’s obviously a major step down from the (also Dell-owned) Alienware, but in terms of value and affordability, the Inspiron 1525 gets an A+. In its basic $499 configuration it’s not much to look at, but for just another $100 you get a dual-core 15-inch laptop with a 1680×1050 screen. Another plus is that you get to choose your own color or pattern. The build is solid enough and it’s not as much of an eyesore as Dell’s laptops used to be. The only major downside is that you can’t configure it with a discrete GPU.
Official Homepage: Dell Inspiron 1525.
4. Asus C90
Asus’ C90 series is a different approach to laptop computers. For example, it uses standard desktop Core 2 Duo CPU’s that can be overclocked all the way up to 2.93GHz with the help of included “Turbo Gear” technology – something you rarely, if ever, find in anything but Asus laptops. The 15.4-inch display is powered by a quite capable Nvidia 8600M GT GPU and offers 1680×1050 resolution, and it’s all very reasonably priced. The drawback of using desktop components is power consumption and battery life. Don’t expect to use it on long travels, at least not for long.
Official Homepage: Asus C90.
3. Sony Vaio VGN-AR590E
The Vaio laptop with the sexy name VGN-AR590E is absolutely gorgeous and a fine addition to any web designer’s desktop. Its 17-inch screen puts it firmly in the desktop replacement segment or “luggable” segment if you will; it weighs just over 8 pounds, so in other words you’ll probably not feel like bringing it along on your daily commute. There’s no lack of added features – it sports a Blu-Ray drive and an 8600M GPU from Nvidia, plus Sony’s patented xbrite screen. As you’d expect, it’s also quite expensive. Sony laptops usually are, but that’s somehow justified by the excellent 1920×1200 resolution screen, which looks stunning.
Official Homepage: Sony Vaio VGN-AR590E.
2. Asus m70sa
Another Asus laptop, but this one is built from the ground up with mobile components, and powerful ones at that. At its heart is a 45nm Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, from the latest generation. The screen is 17 inches and 1920×1200, backed by an ATI GD3650 GPU with 1GB of dedicated video memory. It’s also fitted with 4GB of system RAM to keep those Photoshop sessions fast and efficient. Another nice feature is the full terabyte of hard drive space care of the dual 500GB hard drives. If it’s a desktop replacement you’re looking for, there is little not to like about the Asus M70.
Official Homepage: Asus m70sa.
1. Apple MacBook Pro
With excellent performance, a long battery life and a completely flawless design, Apple’s MacBook Pro still holds the throne as the most user-friendly and powerful laptop for web designers, or just about anyone to be frank. It’s available with either a 15-inch 1440×900 screen or a 17-inch with the full 1920×1200 resolution. With the new OS X Leopard, Apple’s Multi Touch touchpad, plus the latest Intel Core 2 Duo CPU’s, you get a laptop computer that can rival or surpass most desktop computers.
Official Homepage: Apple MacBook Pro.
Tech Specs: 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo ; 667MHz frontside bus and main memory ; PCI Express architecture ; 100GB 5400 Serial ATA hard drive ; ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256MB memory on 16-lane PCI Express ; ExpressCard/34 slot ; Dual-link DVI, VGA adapter included ; One FireWire 400 port, two USB 2.0 ports ; Optical digital and analogue audio I/O, built-in microphone and stereo speakers ; Slot-loading SuperDrive ; Illuminated keyboard, scrolling TrackPad ; Built-in AirPort Extreme (802.11g), Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, and Gigabit Ethernet ; Mac OS X Tiger with iLife ’06, featuring iWeb.