Right now, I've got two computers: a moderately powerful desktop, and a very small and portable laptop which isn't terribly powerful. Until I started grad school, I basically used the laptop only for business trips, so it didn't really matter that it didn't work great for anything beyond email/browsing/writing. Now, though, I'm spending four days a week at school, some of them in the lab and some of them moving around the campus. I've been trying to use my laptop for this, but it's really not working for me. My laptop isn't powerful enough for me to make it my primary computer, and so I'm constantly transferring files back and forth which is a giant pain in the ass. It also means that I can't do certain kinds of work (mostly programming and design stuff) at school, at least not easily. Suckage.
I've tried for the better part of a year to make this work, but it just isn't working for me. I think that means that I need to get a laptop which I can use as my single, primary, central computer. If anyone has ideas of other ways to deal with the problem, then please suggest them - I'd rather not buy a new laptop unless I have to.
Assuming I have to buy a new laptop, though, I have a choice to make, and I could use some advice from you guys. All the choices have some kind of downside, and I'm being super indecisive. Heeeelp!
Option #1: Buy a Toshiba. maastrictian has one and he loves it. The brand has a good reputation and all his experiences have been super-positive, so I like the idea of getting one. The Tecra M2 falls right at the top of my price range, but it's pretty much everything I'm looking for in a laptop (1.8 GHZ Pentium M, 1GB RAM, large HD, moderate-size screen, light, durable). On the other hand, either of the Dell choices are cheaper, and one of them is equally buff. The main reason to buy Toshiba is because I trust the brand. I love my Dell desktop, but for laptops, Toshiba seems to have a better reputation.
Option #2: Buy a Dell. Dell currently has a $300 discount on any new computers, which makes their m600 model a little less expensive than the Toshiba one. It's got almost exactly the same specs, though it has a slightly better screen but also weighs a little more. It's also at the top of my price range, and I'm not sure whether the price difference between it and the Toshiba should be what makes my decision.
Option #3: Buy a Dell through Columbia. This is the real complicating factor. Dell has several Columbia-specific details, including an m600 which has most but not all of what I'm looking for, for extremely cheap. I can get a slightly less buff processor (1.6 instead of 1.8 mhz) and only 512MB of memory (which, I guess, can be upgraded later), and get the rest of what I'm looking for at literally half the price. After the Columbia discount and the $300 discount, I could pay for it by selling my existing laptop and desktop box at eBay prices, which would be good. They also have a 6000 model for about the same price, which has a full gig of memory but is also heavier and still has the crappier processor. I'm just worried that I'll save some money now, but I'll end up paying for it when I have to get a new laptop in a year or two.
FYI, if I buy a new laptop, I'll be looking to get rid of my current laptop (Sony Vaio V505AX, highly portable, great for email/web/word processing) and my desktop box (Dell, can't remember the specs, but still quite buff despite being several years old). If anyone on my friends-list is interested, let me know and we can discuss price (anywhere from free to market standard).