Tag Archives: computers

Performance for Photography

I came down to the United States without my desktop, only my Dell XPS M1330, which is going on 2.5 years. Since purchasing it, I’ve done some upgrades to keep it performing at an acceptable level. The original floppy keyboard was replaced with a firmer version, the RAM was upgraded to 4GB and perhaps the key, the Hitachi 120GB hard drive was swapped out for a Patriot Warp 32GB SSD, and then a Kingston 128GB SSD.

I always thought it would be games that would be the thing that forced upgrades down the road. Quite unexpectedly, it turns out that photographic work brought my computer to its knees far before any games did (which I really don’t play anymore).

Intel’s Lynnfield launch gave me the perfect opportunity to get some great performance at a much lower price than the Bloomfield i7’s. For under $500, I put together an i5 750, 2x2GB DDR3, Radeon 4350, GigaByte mATX P55 board, and an Antec NSK1380 case. I repurposed the Kingston 128GB SSD for the desktop build, and stuck the old 120GB hard drive back in the M1330. For $500, I now have a substantially more suitable platform for photo editing. Next up will be to get another 4GB of RAM. Photoshop and Capture NX2 take up a heck of a lot of memory.

To take advantage of all that power, I picked up Scott Kelby’s Photoshop CS3 book for photographers. I’ve dabbled with Photoshop here and there, but never truly learned any formal techniques. Getting great out of camera photos is a wonderful thing, but I have to admit, most of my shots need some form of post-processing help. I’ve already tried a couple things from the book (very effective tips), and I now have one image post processed on the new computer with some new techniques. This photo is from a few weeks ago.

Upon further reflection

User Experience – SSD – Patriot Warp 32GB

Introduction

During the NCIX Boxing Day sale, I picked up a Patriot Warp 32GB SSD for $50 after MIR. While I had read all about the stuttering issues associated with the JMicron controller-equipped MLC SSDs, I reasoned that for $50, the potential benefits outweighed the risk of a crappy user experience.

Boy, am I ever glad I went ahead with that purchase.

Patriot Warp 32GB

It’s been about 3 months with the SSD installed in my Dell XPS M1330, and for over two of those, I’ve been running Windows 7 Beta. I’ll save the Windows 7 discussion for a later time, but I’ll say for now, if this is the direction of the computing experience for the next couple years, I welcome it with open arms.

Many new solid state drives tout extremely high transfer rates, sequential reads over 200MB/s and writes well over 100MB/s. While these speeds are a couple times faster than a good 7200RPM drive, it’s the random access times that really put the SSD on top. With sub 0.5ms seek times, it’s easily an order of magnitude less than hard drives. In typical productivity work, linear transfers of large files back and forth isn’t the focus. Instead most of the interactions with applications and files involve many small transactions, which at first glance, seemed perfectly aligned with the benefits of solid state drives.

JMicron – Performance Killer

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. The JMicron controller used by the vast majority of MLC solid state drives was utterly poor at random reads and writes. Furthermore, the built-in request cache is quite miserly, somewhere around 16KB, compared to 256KB for the Intel controller, used in the much more expensive Intel MLC drives. With poor random read/write performance practically no buffer to mitigate the issue, most of the ‘budget’ MLC drives became an order of magnitude worse than spinning hard drives when it came to some of the things that are most prevalent in standard computing use: web browsing, instant messaging, email. When the request buffer became full, nothing could happen and performance would drop off a cliff. Windows would freeze for seconds at a time.

JMicron JM602

So, with all the issues I just mentioned, you’re probably wondering why I went and bought one of these performance crippling drives, right?

Because everyone was in agreement on one point, when they work, they work hellishly well.

Solid State Drive Tweaking

I wasn’t on the bleeding edge of SSD adoption, so there were plenty of resources aimed at mitigating the detrimental effects of these drives. The OCZ forums were an especially active area of experimentation. Their first MLC drive, the Core was received with anticipation due to its very low cost, relative to SLC drives. However, the poor performance resulted in a significant outcry by the community. As a result of the commotion, there are posts like Vista 32/64 SSD Windows Registry tweaks. The main objective of these tweaks was to reduce the number and frequency of random reads and writes and deeply queued requests that caused the stuttering.

The work flows I use my laptop for aren’t highly multitasked. While I may have many applications open at once, I rarely perform multiple strenuous things at once. For example, I don’t compile code while extracting gigabytes of archives and encoding videos. Most of the time, my actions are focused. Consequently, the causes of stuttering wasn’t very prevalent in my use case. Still, I didn’t bother trying the system out without the tweaks. My first order of business after installing the OS was to disable indexing, SuperFetch, and apply the registry tweaks mentioned. I could have gone further, such as working with Windows SteadyState, but didn’t want the tweaks to get in the way of how I used my computer.

Performance

We’re finally at the section that really means the most of all, overall performance. With the tweaks applied, it’s good, it’s very good. The Dell XPS M1330 the Patriot Warp currently resides in used to have a 120GB Hitachi 5400RPM drive. Here’s an ATTO bench of a 2+ month old system with the SSD.

Patriot Warp ATTO Benchmark

Compared to the Hitachi 5K160 drive it replaced, it’s slightly slower at block sizes below 8KB; however, whereas the Hitachi topped out at around 35MB/s for sequential reads and writes, the Patriot continues on through to 130MB/s read and around 80MB/s writes. What does this mean in terms of real world usage?

In terms of launching applications, my laptop (1.8GHz Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM) is now significantly faster than my desktop (2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, WD 640GB 7200RPM), with both running Windows 7. Here are some example application load times, timed from the launch until the application reaches a usable state.

Adobe Photoshop CS3
Desktop – 6s
Laptop w/ SSD – 3.5s

Microsoft Office PowerPoint
Desktop – 2.6s
Laptop w/ SSD – 2s

Microsoft Office Outlook
Desktop – 4.5s
Laptop w/ SSD – 2.5s

Internet Explorer
Desktop – 2.5s
Laptop w/ SSD – 1.5s

The difference can be significant. Furthermore, typical usage is more fluid, and applications are a bit more responsive. A friend, upon using my laptop for a few minutes got the feeling that the applications he was opening for the first time were already open somehow. It was as though he were simply switching applications and not launching them at all. There’s a sense of instantaneity.

While I applied many tweaks to improve performance right after installing the operating system and didn’t have a baseline to compare to, I was still able to witness first-hand the impact they had on the system. A couple weeks ago, I noticed extremely frequent stuttering in Firefox. At first, I couldn’t understand it. I thought it might have been caused by the performance degradation claims made about solid state drives. However as it turns out, SuperFetch and drive indexing had both been re-enabled. After disabling the two features, performance was back to normal again and stutters became so infrequent they no longer affect everyday usage.

Moral of the Story

What should you take away from this user experience? Solid state drives, even budget MLC ones, have the potential to vastly improve system performance. With the tweaks applied, stuttering is no longer an issue on my laptop. If there’s one thing I regret slightly is the anemic size of the SSD I purchased, 32GB, but for the price, $50 after MIR, I can’t complain about that much. The experiment was a huge success and I’m looking forward to upgrading my laptop to a larger SSD and my desktop to one.

Newegg Canada Launch – Massive Fail

I was pretty excited about the Newegg Canada launch, hoping for great shipping rates and a wide selection of products at low prices. Instead, what we get is expensive UPS shipping from their warehouse in the United States and above average pricing on products overall. I’m pretty disappointed. I’ll be back to shopping at NCIX/DirectCanada for the time being, as plenty of others will be doing as well. Come on Newegg… That’s no way to carve out a market for yourself.

New Venues for ‘Desktop’ Computers

There’s a lot of talk of desktops dying out and laptops taking over. The trend is in place, with crossover between notebook and desktop sales either having already taken place, or will take place sometime this year, depending on who you talk to. I can easily see why this is the case – a laptop can be useful in many more situations, and with computing power at where it is, laptops are hardly the overweight, underpowered machines they were 10 years ago. Many of the existing desktops, or even the desktops you can buy for $400 today are more than adequate for the vast majority of users, who browse the internet, write emails and edit word documents.

So is a laptop with a dock the answer for the future? I don’t think so, but I also don’t think the existing desktop market is viable. Dell’s recent announcement of the closure of its Austin, Texas desktop manufacturing plant is just another sign that desktops are no longer the dominant computing product they once were (and of course, that the operating expenses just can’t compete with outsourced operations in Asia). I believe there is still potential growth in the desktop computer market, just not in its current state; vendors are simply not approaching it in a way that attracts consumers. Very few people need to upgrade from a Core Duo to a Core 2 Quad. The incremental benefit isn’t justifiable.

Computer Upgrades
How many people are making the jump?

I’ve mentioned this a few times in the past: computers are quickly becoming a status symbol and decoration in the home. Beige-boxes and boring designs were acceptable in the past, but with desktop internals being the commodities they are now, differentiation has to occur, literally, outside the box. If anything, Apple has shown everyone the power of branding and aesthetics. Performance doesn’t sell the vast majority of computers anymore – it’s price, ease-of-use, style, etc. Have you walked down the desktop aisle of your local big-box technology retailer? Despite some gloss here and a rounded corner there, the vast majority of desktops are still just big boxes users try to hide under a desk.

ASUS’ success in the Eee PC shows that consumers are willing to overlook performance as a trade-off for the ‘cute-factor’ and portability, especially in a machine that is designed to do trivial tasks. And let’s be honest here, most of the tasks performed by the vast majority of the computer-using population are trivial. Why not move desktops in the same direction?

Throw out the word ‘Desktop’

Let’s throw the word ‘desktop’ out the window. That’s the first step to expanding the market. ‘Desktop’ implies, well, deskbound. We want a computer that we’re not ashamed of putting out in a public place. Is the computer something you place in your living room as a piece of art? Let’s put a low-power, small form factor machine in the study. Let’s also put one in the home theatre, and let’s put one in the kitchen. These machines would be cheap, very cheap. If a full-sized, dual core PC with a big hard drive can be purchased for far less than $400 (at Dell Canada, $309 buys you a dual core Pentium E2160-based desktop), something with a dual-core Atom (or similar) in a small form factor design should be priced even lower.

To ride the multimedia (especially the high-def craze), use the concept of the Windows Home Server. Tuck a box of hard drives in a closet somewhere and stream all the content you want to the small client boxes around the home. It keeps the media content centralized and at the same time, keeps the size of the computing devices small, possibly equipped with nothing more than a 2.5″ hard drive for the operating system and applications.

Windows Home Server
Microsoft’s onto something here; just replace all the connected devices with thinner clients.

Of course, there will still be a market for powerful, full-sized desktops. Computer enthusiasts, gamers, and content-creationists will require more computing performance than the average user – but that’s exactly the point – the average user doesn’t need that sort of power.

Potential solutions on the horizon

I’m interested to see what ASUS ends up doing for its already-announced Eee desktop PC. HotHardware recently published a supposed image of the device and it looks very sleek, certainly very different from most traditional ‘desktops’. If it’s priced appropriately, I think it will be very successful. People will buy it to replace their existing machines, not because it’s more powerful (in fact, it’ll probably be less powerful, if anything) but because it’s something they can place in the living room and use as a conversation piece the next time the neighbors visit.

Alleged ASUS Eee Desktop PC
Could this be the ASUS Eee desktop PC?

The Apple Mac Mini and Apple TV are similar to what I’m proposing here, but each has a fatal flaw. The Mac Mini is far too expensive (relative) and the Apple TV is too functionally limited (I’m not counting the hacks that 99% of the population wouldn’t even consider), not to mention the fact that, despite rapid growth, OS X is still a niche and unfamiliar platform for most.

Wrap Up

Give me some nicely styled, $250 (or less) computers around the size of the Wii, and I’ll show you a heck of a lot of interested customers.

No, this is no April Fool’s joke. 🙂

Vista Hosed Thanks to Linksys WMP300N

A wireless card should never do this to a computer.

Vista hosed due to Linksys WMP300N

Furthermore, it shouldn’t mess a computer up so badly that even Windows repair or System Restore can’t fix it. But that’s exactly what a recently-purchased Linksys WMP300N wireless card did. In fact my desktop’s Vista installation is so far gone, I have no other choice than to perform a complete re-install. I’m using my laptop currently – I’ll get around to reinstalling Vista when the new computer parts I ordered get here, but that’s another story. (Remember the downsizing post a while ago?)

Following Linksys’ recommendation, I downloaded and installed the Windows Vista driver from their website and proceeded to install it before plugging in the wireless card. At the appropriate prompt, I shut down my desktop and installed the card. Attaching the three-wire antenna was painful enough – the plugs are the screw-type and are placed so closely together that only child fingers could easily screw them on easily. That was the easy part.

Booting the computer back up, I was greeted with the Windows is installing new hardware dialog, which I assumed was the correct behavior. A few moments later, the device drivers were correctly installed. Unfortunately, at this point, explorer.exe locked up. Furthermore, attempts to ctrl+alt+del led to the entire desktop background to fade, in Vista’s “I’m no longer responding to your actions” manner. With a completely frozen system, I had no choice but to push the reset button.  What a bad idea that was.

Long story short, my registry is corrupt and System Restore wasn’t able to complete. Meanwhile, I have a non-bootable machine, thanks to this Linksys WMP300N wireless card. Reading around on the web, I can see that I’m not the only one running into problems with this card on Windows Vista. Linksys, don’t plaster a Windows Vista compatible sticker on the box if it has this many problems! I don’t know how you even managed to get those Vista drivers approved. Where is your QA department? Seriously, I was happy I got a good deal on the card, but it was definitely not worth the pain I’ll have to go through to fix my computer.

Recommendation? Don’t buy the WMP300N if you’re running Windows Vista. Not until Linksys gets its act together in any case.

Lenovo x300 – The No Compromise Laptop?

When the first inkling of the Lenovo x300 appeared on the web, I doubted that Lenovo would be able to get the weight down to the rumored 3lb range. Given the seemingly no-compromise design (plenty of ports, a WXGA+ resolution LED panel, while keeping quite thin), I was surprised at the quoted weight.

Fast forward to today and Lenovo’s now selling the x300. The reviews are in (and they are most favorable to say the least) and I’m glad to say, I’ve been proven wrong. The 3lb weight of the laptop is very real, albeit with the 3 cell battery and no optical drive. Still, even with the 6 cell battery and a DVD drive, it’s only about 3.4lbs. That’s very impressive. The LED screen seems great, the 3 USB ports (amongst other ports) is more than adequate, build quality is top notch like other ThinkPads, and there’s a full-size keyboard. Could it be the perfect laptop?

Granted, the thing’s over $2500, in large part due to the mandatory SSD I’m sure, but that’s the premium you pay for an almost no-compromise machine

I say almost no-compromise because it did make one compromise, a compromise that’s something of a deal killer in an ultraportable – battery life. That’s a major area of weakness, especially since at 3lbs, Lenovo’s targeting the highly mobile. With the 6 cell, one can expect between 3 and 4 hours of battery life under light to moderate use. The LED backlit panel and SSD contribute to making that even longer than it would be otherwise. I believe a major culprit is the choice of CPU, the Core 2 Duo L7100. At 1.2GHz (dual core), it’s well within Intel’s ULV performance range, but unfortuately has a TDP of 17-20W instead of 10W like the ULV’s. It’s apparently the same type of SFF processor that’s used in the MacBook Air – except much slower. It shocks me that Lenovo is stuffing this power-hungry CPU inside the laptop, since the same performance could have been achieved with an ULV processor. And it’s not like Lenovo is gunning for bargain basement pricing. At the $2500-$3000 range, I think most potential buyers would easily eat the additional cost of a ULV processor if it meant improved battery life.

So in the end, the no-compromise competitor to the MacBook Air has made possibly the worst compromise of all for an ultraportable. Unless Lenovo does something about the battery life, the Sony TZ will continue to sit at the top of my laptop to-buy list.

Note:  If you’re not too concerned about the battery life and think the x300’s the laptop for you, here are a couple more incentives to buy.

Canadians: Visa has a deal with Lenovo for some savings, and now, you can save an additional 6% with the coupon: CAXSAVE4RX. Visit Lenovo through the Visa Perks website and the cheapest x300 comes out to around $2430CAD before taxes.

Americans: Again with Visa – you can save an additional 10% on top of the standard promotional price if you pay with your Visa. Just use USXTRIPLESAVINGS when checking out. Visit Lenovo USA’s site through Visa promotions to access the savings. The cheapest x300 configuration comes out to about $2180US before any taxes.

HP Compaq 2133 UMPC Inbound?

It may have one seriously thick bezel, but if it turns out to be real, the HP Compaq 2133 UMPC will have addressed just about every single issue I had with the ASUS Eee PC in my short time with it. And as I guessed, the device is built around a larger, higher resolution display.

HP 2133 UMPC
Image courtesy of Engadget

Some information of a possible UMPC from HP leaked out yesterday via CNET’s Crave blog, where the comments leads one to believe the device will the targeted at a low price point, while addressing some of the problems people have had with the ASUS Eee PC. From one of the HP staff:

…you won’t even need to consider this purchase. You’ll buy it like a handphone without a thought…

So what were some of the problems I had with the ASUS Eee PC and how does HP rectify them?

  1. 7″ screen too small and 800×480 resolution too low – HP is fitting the 2133 with a 8.9″ LCD, but more importantly, a 1366×768 resolution (although even standard WXGA, 1280×800 would suffice). We’re talking nearly 3 times the resolution of the Eee PC’s display.
  2. Keyboard is difficult to use – And that’s where the thick bezels come in on HP’s rumoured offering. They’ve been able to fit in a keyboard that is 95% the size of a standard QWERTY keyboard. Compare that to Sony’s TZ series laptop, which manages to fit in a keyboard about 90% of standard size. This number also gives us a peek into the overall size of the HP 2133 – probably around the same footprint as a Sony TZ, which isn’t bad at all.
  3. Power consumption/Battery life – The ASUS Eee PC doesn’t have terrible battery life, far from it, but at a bit over 3 hours of web browsing, it’s also not befitting of a super-portable device that’s supposed to be on the go with you, where ever you happen to be. But if you need to use it for more than 3 hours, you’ll have to bring along a power adapter, which hurts the proposition. HP is targeting improved battery life with its 2133 UMPC.

The main issue will be how HP chooses to price the device. Anodized aluminum, a high resolution display, and gigabit ethernet don’t seem to place this in the bargain bin, which conflicts somewhat with the comment by HP staff. I’m more than willing to be pleasantly surprised though. Less than $600? I just may take them up on one.

On a somewhat related note, Hewlett Packard reported Q1 earnings that surpassed analyst expectations (again) and full-year forecasts were also raised. It seems like the well-diversified tech giants, including IBM, HP and Microsoft, are finding success in the difficult economic environment, while more focused companies, such as Cisco, Intel and Google are running into some trouble.

Revisiting – Dell XPS M1330 or Latitude D630

I’ve been given the unique opportunity to analyze my laptop purchase choice in the Dell XPS M1330. The other laptop I was strongly considering at the time was the Dell D630, a 14.1″ laptop from Dell’s Latitude business line. My dad was issued one from his place of work and I’ve had a chance to take it for a quick test run and pore over its details – physical, performance, power consumption and the like – for several days.

First, let me go over what made me consider the D630 in the first place. As part of Dell’s Latitude line of business laptops, it has very good build quality and the materials used imbue a sense of solidity. Especially enticing was the 3 year, next business day onsite warranty service. As a university student, having onsite warranty could be very useful – there’d be no need to go laptop-less for weeks for service, if something were to go wrong. Finally, the price was very reasonable.

Configuration

Let me get this out of the way first. The D630 I have in front of me is a very different beast from what I would have purchased. Armed with a Core 2 Duo T7700 and a 160GB 7200RPM drive, it would have been more than I was willing to spend. Obviously the sheer power makes me slightly biased against the T7100 and 120GB 5400RPM drive in my M1330. The secondary modular bay battery is also a nice touch, adding more battery life without sticking out the front like the 9 cell for the D630 does.

At the time, for the same price, I could have purchased a slightly faster D630, and then only because I received such a good deal of my M1330, else the comparison would have been even more lopsided. However, more importantly, the D630 would have come with a 3 year warranty, compared to the 1 year of the M1330. So the trade off I had to make was slightly lower performance and build quality and less warranty for a slightly more portable system with better battery life and a more aesthetically pleasing design. I’ll touch on performance and battery life first.

Battery Life

Now more than ever, I realize I need a laptop not for performance but for mobility and battery life. The extra performance I could have had with the D630 at the same price as the M1330 wouldn’t have been worth the decrease in battery life. Based on some quick testing, the D630 I’ve had a chance to work with has idle power consumption of 15.5-16W. My M1330 idles at 12.5-13W. Granted the D630 has more power-hungry components, it’s also running Windows XP, as opposed to Windows Vista, so it’s quite likely the numbers for the M1330 could be lower under Windows XP. Taking both component and OS differences, and fudging around with the numbers a bit, we’re still talking about a 15-20% battery life deficit for the D630.

On the other hand, the D630 does have a modular bay, which can accept a secondary battery. Plugging that 48WHr bay battery in the D630 takes the combined capacity up to over 100WHr, which should easily make up for the difference in power consumption compared to my M1330 with the 9 cell battery. Plus, the media bay battery has the added benefit of not protruding from the laptop, unlike the M1330’s 9 cell.

Portability

All this talk of adding battery capacity brings me to my next topic, portability. In terms of physical dimensions, the two laptops are quite similar. The M1330 is a bit smaller – almost 1 inch less wide. The D630’s thickness is fairly uniform throughout, while the M1330 is wedge-shaped, sloping down from the back to the front. Towards the back, the two laptops are nearly the same thickness, but the M1330 becomes quite a bit thinner at the front. Keep in mind this is with the LED-backlit panel with the M1330. With the regular CCFL panel, the M1330 may very well end up a bit thicker overall than the D630, which is somewhat surprising. The hinge design of the M1330 allows the display to sit lower to the desk, meaning the panel is almost an inch less high than the D630 when open.

Latitude D630 versus XPS M1330
Latitude D630 versus XPS M1330

Comparing the M1330 and the D630 both with 6 cell batteries and an optical drive, the D630 does feel a bit heavier. According to Dell, the D630 in that configuration is just about 5lbs while the M1330 is around 4.3lbs. I could notice a small difference as I hefted each laptop, one after another. However, I’ll admit I’d be hard pressed to actually notice a difference if I wasn’t able to directly compare them side by side. Still, with the configuration outlined above, the D630 would only be able to provide 3-3.5 hours of battery life, while the M1330 should do close to 4. That is significant.

Quality versus Aesthetics

Let me qualify the following discussion by saying that I don’t believe the M1330 suffers from poor build quality. Far from it. There were undoubtedly initial problems with things such as the uneven base and fit and finish. However, the materials used are top notch and the laptop feels quite solid overall. It’s just that compared against a business laptop like the Latitude D630, it pales in comparison.

The main gripe I have with the M1330 is the LCD lid. Because the LED backlit panel is quite thin, it is prone to flexing. When I carry the laptop, I am careful not to put much pressure on the lid itself with my hand. There’s already some signs of physical wear towards the top, near the webcam where the panel has flexed into the touchpad, causing a groove in the bezel. I’ve ameliorated the problem somewhat by placing two small spacers at the front corners of the laptop, lifting the panel slightly above the chassis when it is closed.

The D630’s panel, on the other hand, is absolutely solid. The magnesium alloy lid protects the screen well and is not prone to flexing at all. There’s no need to be cautious when carrying the laptop. The lid doesn’t flex in the hand. Given the thin lid of the M1330, I think Dell should have considered a stronger material than the thin plastic currently being used. It would impart a sturdier feel when carrying the laptop and would stiffen up the lid, preventing or at least reducing flex.

Latitude D630 versus XPS M1330

Clearly the M1330 and D630 aren’t aimed at the same target market. Where the D630 excels in build quality, the M1330 sparkles in its attractiveness. It’s all the more obvious as I placed the two laptops side by side. The D630 is all business. Aesthetics have clearly taken a back seat to build quality and usability, although that’s not to say it’s ugly. It’s just that day in and day out, the M1330 that sits on my desk is still one of the prettiest pieces of technology that I own.

Latitude D630 versus XPS M1330

Am I Second-Guessing My Choice?

Now that I’ve had a chance to try out my other laptop choice, do I still think I made the right choice with the M1330? It’s a slightly less resounding yes, but the answer is still yes.

With any choice, there would have been compromises. The question is what compromises would I have been willing to make. By far, portability and battery life are my two top priorities. In terms of size and weight, the M1330 and D630 are quite similar, but when it comes to battery life, the M1330 with the LED backlit panel wins the day. For certain, I would have preferred a stronger LCD lid in the M1330 and the added peace of mind of the 3 year next-business-day warranty, but I take care of my computers and I doubt I’d keep the laptop for 3 years anyways (knowing me, 1 year will be tough enough).

For me, the M1330 was the right choice, and even having used the D630 for a little while, I stand by that decision. I hope my discussion of the two laptops’ similarities and differences will help those who are faced with the same choice as I was. Consider your priorities; they may not be the same as mine.

As for me, I’m already eying the leaked E-series Latitudes. The rumoured LED backlit displays, light weight, physical appearance and Latitude build quality could be just the thing I’m looking for in my next laptop.