That all being said, I have started my online laptop shopping in earnest. Again, nothing will be purchased until May at the earliest (and probably more like August, since I'll be in Maine for seven weeks this summer), but it's enjoyable to look around and see what's out there. My criteria were (a) must be tiny and light, (b) must have kick-ass battery life, (c) must be faster than my current computer (1.4 Ghz, 512 RAM), (d) must have a DVD burner, and (e) must have a nice dose of that 'ooh' factor.
Here are the finalists. (Apologies to all those who aren't 'computer people' and would like me to just shut up about my laptop already.)
Top Contender #1: the Sony TX. It's the lightest and smallest of the bunch (2.8 pounds, 10.7" x 7.7" x 1.1"), with crazy battery life (7.5 hours!), cool external media controls, and every connectivity option out there. Plus, it's a Sony, meaning it would sync up effortlessly with my (Sony) digital camera. It also earned an Editor's Choice over at CNet. Cons: the processor is (a) slow and (b) not a Core Duo, the hard drive is small, and the specific model I wanted has just been recalled, leading me (and Dad) to believe that there must have been something seriously wrong with it. I'm waiting to see what the next Sony release will be.
Top Contender #2: the Sony SZ. It's the second-lightest one (3.7 pounds), and has a Core Duo processor (meaning it's fast), as well as lots of RAM, a huge hard drive, and even a built-in camera. The battery life isn't as great as the TX, but is still pretty good, around 5-6 hours. Cons: size-wise, it's 12.5" x 9.3" x 0.9", which is still almost as big as my current laptop. Granted, weight is more important than size, but I really wanted something smaller than this.
Has a shot: the Dell Inspiron 710m. Probably the maximum of what I would accept, size-wise - 11.7" x 8.5" x 1.5" - but it's well-known that you can't beat Dell for quality. There's a reason all the university computers (and so many of the student laptops that I see in the union) are Dell. This one doesn't have Core Duo - yet - but several of their models do, so that leads me to believe that it may be coming. And the processor is way fast even without it. Cons: it's a little heavier than the top two, at 4.1 lbs, and you have to buy the high-capacity battery to make its life equal the Sony SZ.
Out of the Woodwork: the Fujitsu Lifebook P7000. I unexpectedly stumbled across this model last week. It's very small (10.3" x 7.8" x 1.3") and light (3.2 lbs), and since the battery is 6-cell instead of 4-cell, the life is amazing - they claim you can get up to 11 hours! Cons: exactly the same as the Sony TX - the processor is slow and the hard drive is small. Also, this thing is expensive. And it's a Fujitsu. Not the most well-liked brand. And I don't trust that. Generally, when it comes to laptops, following the crowd is not such a bad thing.
Outside Chance: the Apple 12" Powerbook. Can you believe it? I'm looking at a Mac! But it caught my eye in the union today, so I thought I'd check it out online. It's the second-smallest of the lineup (10.9" x 8.6" x 1.2"), and it's certainly very sexy. The specs are good, though not eye-catchingly spectacular, and the hard drive is 5400rpm, which is fairly rare for ultra-portable laptops. Like the Sony TX, CNet gave it an Editor's Choice. Cons: it's the heaviest of the bunch, at 4.6 lbs, and the battery life sucks - Apple claims five hours, but CNet reviewers say they're lying and that it's closer to 3. Also, the DVD burner is only single-layer, and the processor isn't Core Duo (yet). Not to mention, it's a Mac. You know how America Online is like "dumbed-down internet" for people who can't handle the real thing? Well, Macs feel (to me) like dumbed-down computers, for people who can't handle Windows. But everyone I've talked to who owns one claims they'll never go back. So I don't know. I'll consider it, but I don't think it's likely that I'll switch if these are the best specs Apple can offer me. We'll see what happens in the next few months.
At any rate, if anyone has anything to offer in the way of PCs versus Macs, or one brand versus another, I'm grateful for any help I can get.
Other News of the Week: I got a 98 on my French test, the Wolof midterm is postponed until after break (woohoo!), my Utrecht transfer credit is about 90% worked out, and my foot, inexplicably, is feeling better. Don't count me out of that River Run just yet.