Choosing new laptop for work. advice.

As I am normally OK with choosing computers for other people (lol) but for me this is tricky!

I have a budget of about $2500-2600 - the laptop I want is namely on desk plugged into external k/bd / monitor etc but I want to bring it home on w/end etc. (monitor is part of the 2500 budget - a nice LG 24" is fine)

My main "wants" are - 8GB RAM (or more!) - highly prefer a SSD (but most SSD's in laptops are only 120GB or 240GB as RAID - which is quite small) - HDMI out preferably - i7 prefer but i5 will do. A dedicated 1GB grafix card. Win7Pro. Generally even at home it will be plugged into external HDMI monitor so screen size not totally critical - but the 13" netbooks are toy-like for me.

I narrowed it down to a Toshiba:

http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php!z=p&p=NBKTOS1984832S&name=TOSHIBA-SatPro-L850-i7-3610QM-SSD-Built-in-NEW-IVY I would pair this with a "dock" (about $300 - dock is not critical but I like this Toshiba dock as it requires a single USB3 connection - the HP ones have to be "docked" into a docking station which I have had issues with in the past. (breaking etc)
OR;

http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php!z=p&p=NBKHNB1975076SD&name=HP-ProBook-4540s-Dual-Hard-Drive-i5-3210M-2.5GHz-8

and a HP dock :([[wonder if the Toshiba dock can be used for the HP!]]

I am not "hard" on my gear - and don't use for games etc. One of the IT guys frowned and said Toshiba were "consumer" and would not last and recommended HP. But the HP has their own dock thing I don't like and the fingerprint / eye scanner thing. nuisance.

As I am a Mac fanboi - I REALLY wanted a MacBook Air but they are only dual core and while I dig their sexiness. and I can prob get OK to get one - they are around the $3000 with 8GB RAM and 13.3" model. Even a MacNut like me thinks it is poor only have 2 USB ports and no EtherNet as std.

I do like the Sony's but their model numbering / naming is strange and spec wise they SEEM weak. I went through their site and could not work out what one to look at.

I am def against ASUS and not keen on Acer. Having had first hand experiences with rellies of both in the last 3 mths.

So any thoughts out there in TM-land!

Thanks for reading.

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 5:06 pm

I was after a laptop with pretty much the same criteria as you. After weeks and weeks of research I went with the Macbook Pro 15" (Retina). It's the only machine that was powerful enough to do what I need to do for my job as well as being very light and portable with a decent IPS display. I run Win7 on it @ 1920x1080 with no problems at all.

But might be a bit out of your budget. And the 13" has no dedicated graphics.

Also, don't rule out Asus. Their laptops mid to high-end laptops are extremely reliable. Just too bad bout their sub $1000 range.

geek_suicidemonkey, Nov 25, 5:12 pm

Why are you needing a dedicated graphics card! You can't mix docks. If I was you it would be a Probook that ends with P or W or Elitebook rather than Probook S, I don't even think you can dock the ones that end with S. You do not need to use the eye or fingerprint scanner if you do not want.

If you want a decent work machine then your options are pretty much Dell, HP, Lenovo or Tosh.

geek_pjal, Nov 25, 5:15 pm

Thanks for the "not mixing docks" (I was just curious tho) - dedicated graphic "nice" but not critical but will be driving a 24" LED screen. and almost every web site is graphics intensive.

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 5:18 pm

That was me posting above. I currently have an Elitebook 2560p which when docked in my office I run a 22" 1080p screen and a 20" 1600x900 screen and it does it with ease. The 2570p is now out that has HD4000 graphics rather than HD3000. You will run a 24" LED screen with ease on intergrated. I have an Intel 330 series SSD in mine and its a pretty snappy little laptop.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, Nov 25, 5:25 pm

Thanks pyro!

Can u tell me where u sourced your one from please! and what it cost! I am guessing u retrofitted the SSD!

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 5:38 pm

Intel HD 4000 graphics (integrated on Ivy Bridge CPUs) will easily drive a couple of displays and handle any website

geek_suicidemonkey, Nov 25, 5:43 pm

Mmm - does that EliteBook have bluetooth! for BT mice and keyboards! Just reading the specs off the HP site and am guessing u have to specify the BT model!

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 5:44 pm

Mmm - does that EliteBook have bluetooth! for BT mice and keyboards! Just reading the specs off the HP site and am guessing u have to specify the BT model!

By this I mean I don't want to have to plug a dongle in to use a wireless mouse.

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 5:44 pm

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 5:47 pm

Mine was purchased from gen-i not sure on cost sorry. Yes I retrofitted the SSD and installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 pro to remove all the pre-installed stuff. Yeap that would be an excellent work machine, add about $150 for a decent third party 120GB ssd, or some of the HP's had them factory fitted.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, Nov 25, 5:51 pm

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 5:53 pm

Arh yeap, in which case I think it will be a different docking station. My one is different to what is on the bigger HP's ,it docks from the side rather than the bottom.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, Nov 25, 6:02 pm

Darn darn - can't have everything - now am a bit worried that the screen size makes it not so good for casual standalone use (fussy bugger that I am!).

I like the idea of the side docking.

What is your battery life like!

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 6:11 pm

USB3 port replicator sounds like me. not sure if they are in NZ tho.

More I think the EliteBook 2170 sounds like the best one for my circumstances!

Thanks everyone.

geek_groovebox, Nov 25, 6:21 pm

It's pretty rare that I use it unplugged to be honest but at least 3 hours I'd say.

The beauty of the proper dock is that is power too, where as with the usb 3 one you need power and usb3, not a huge deal but still if you are docking and undocking a lot it can be a bit of a pain.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, Nov 25, 6:21 pm

usb port replicators (docking stations) were a disaster at work. Too glitchy. I'm not sure proper Toshiba docking stations are much better. people are easily "confused" by them.

geek_gibler, Nov 25, 6:28 pm

Yeah we found the Tosh R700 horrible for docking, hard to dock in the first place then they wouldn't automatically change to external screens. The HP docks just work.

geek_pyro_sniper2002, Nov 25, 6:35 pm

Look at the Lenovo T and X series too

T is 14 and 15" - http://shopap.lenovo.com/nz/en/products/laptops/thinkpad/t-series/ X is 12.5" - http://shopap.lenovo.com/nz/en/products/laptops/thinkpad/x-series/

BTW the good screens on the Lenovos are the 1080p 15" on the T530 and the 'Premium HD' option on the X230 - all the others are mediocre

Also the screens on the Elitebooks tend to be pretty poor too, especially the smaller ones

geek_vtecintegra, Nov 25, 9:58 pm

I got a lenovo thinkpad t530 about a month ago - ended up picking the 2nd model (better graphics afaik) and basically picked most of the higher end addons (love backlit keys) - 8gb ram, i7 3520 2.9ghz - 500gb 7200rpm and swapped dvd drive for 1gb 5200rpm, 1920x1080 display

added a dock that has usb3 + a vga that lets me power the laptop screen, display port to hdmi external and vga to another external monitor. including all that and a carry bag was around $2800 incl. gst -

the laptop feels nice and solid although i've had people comment that it doesnt make a good fashion statement (personally don't care).

+1 for lenovo thinkpad

geek_zrawnsley, Nov 25, 10:03 pm

This ticks all the boxes and then some. Docks with the e-series port replicator which is pretty well equipped.
http://www.trademe.co.nz/computers/laptops/laptops/dell/auction-537221320.htm

geek_bluecambridge, Nov 25, 10:10 pm

Can't you swing a retina MBP13! :-)Or perhaps look in the refurb section for an old one under budget!Eg 13" pro with 2.9 i7 dual core, 8Gb, 750Gb for $1999!

geek_tillsbury, Nov 25, 11:37 pm

Lenovo here. Good quality for very few dollars.

geek_hakatere1, Nov 26, 7:50 am