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May 23, 2007



This is not what you wanted to hear, but you should at least have a look at the iBooks from Apple, and then go buy a notebook. Yes, they have a bigger form factor than you are used to, but they have great screens, excellent longevity (my MacBook is 5 years old, has been around the world 4 times, and runs just fine), and are very good price/value. But I will grant you the Vaios are eyecatching, and the fact that they are SOO tiny is cute.


You might consider taking the same step we are about to take. After years of PCs we will buy our first Mac (a MacBook) in June. The specter of VISTA drove us to look and we like what we see.

PS Ask yourself why it is that neither Intel nor Dell management has yet rolled VISTA out within their companies.


I would gently prod you towards a MacBook Black with 2 GB RAM-- while they aren't the lightest laptop out there, the battery is reliable (3+ hours no problem). Thanks to the Intel based processor I run a number of PC software directly in the beautiful Mac OS X environment with Parallels for Mac Desktop's "coherence" mode. There is something amusingly anti-establishment about running a workhorse, typically-PC software (like SAS) in the delightfully user friendly Mac environment. It's like having your cake and eating it too.

Piaw Na

Thinkpad X60s from Lenovo. Extremely rugged, light (3.1 pounds), and fast and snappy.

Having tried a Mac Mini for a year now, I'm unimpressed with the Mac's reliability (had to RMA one within a month), and the lack of software.


Thinkpad T60s and X60s are great, depending on how much you're striving for portability. They're very stable and solidly built, and the only Windows-based laptop I'd recommend.

Justin Rietz

I second the X60. I had a X30 for 2 years which I originally bought used. It made it around the world, and more impressively, took a beating from my 2 year old on a daily basis. With the extended battery, I got 6 hours out of it.

If you want something bigger, say around 5 pounds but with a 14" screen, check out the Thinkpad T60.

I highly recommend getting the IBM / Lenovo warranty. In fact, I am more comfortable buying a used Thinkpad with 1 year warranty on it than I am buying a new laptop of any other brand with a 1 year warranty.


Thinkpad X61s or Apple Macbook/Powerbook, No other choice.~~given experience of using over 5 mainstream notebook brands include VAIO.


Another vote for MacBooks - I actually choose to use my own (running Windows under Parallel) for work rather than use my work-supplied machine, because it's just that much better.


Can't compete with the Macbook!


My Thinkpad has also served me quite well. But be kind to the battery by running it all the way down and recharging it all the way whenever possible!

Macbooks are great too. It looks like everyone is in agreement so far!

L Monasterio



It's been a few years, but I thought my Toshiba Portege, one of the first 2.8-3.1 pounders was very nice.

I am hopeful to buy just zero to one more laptops before I am able to ditch laptops entirely and just use my cellphone.

Give me a linux based cellphone, running X, 8Gb storage + SD Cards, and either a docking port or USB/Bluetooth network access and I'll be all set. 5oz. OpenMoko?


I do not know much about computers but I have been using a Mac OS X:
for about 5 years. It survived several trips, coffee, curry etc, a few falls and so far never died on me. You can find similar information about laptops from Wikipedia.


I'll also recommend Thinkpads of any flavor. They'll take a beating and will last a long time.


I had a Vaio and also died on me. I am very happy with my Fujitsu, very light and reliable. The technical support is great.

Gerardo Esquivel

I also have a VAIO and it has worked perfectly fine for a number of years. I'd just get a new one.

Maybe you are doing something wrong with your laptop or maybe I don't work as much as you do!

Nice blog!



Here you go!


The World's Thinnest Notebook

"less than 0.7 inches thick—about one-quarter of an inch thicker than Motorola's (MOT) iconic cell phone, making it the world's thinnest notebook. And at 2.25 pounds,


It's like jewelry," says Omer Kotzer, a creative director at Ziba, a firm renowned for consumer-electronics design (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/11/05, "Sirius Radio's Radical Handheld").

And like cell phones, which come with different ringtones and in different colors, this laptop also strives to be a personal fashion accessory. The computer comes with a diary-like folder that attaches to the laptop via magnets. The folder, available in different colors, also functions as a wireless charger for the device. One side features a screen made of material devised by E Ink, one of the recipients of investment by Intel Capital. It can display a picture, the calendar, or your schedule for the day.

"It was inspired by traditional stationary," Kotzer says. "It ties back to premium stationary that used to be bound in beautiful leather." A special shoulder strap, matching the folder in material and color, can be attached to the laptop, turning the computer into a makeshift courier bag."

(It really said purse, but I prefer to believe it said, courier bag)


I would highly recommend the Lenovo (IBM) ThinkPad X60s. I've had the X31 for the last 3 years and I have loved it.


Dani Rodrik

Thanks a million for all the suggestions. I love the Macbook, but it is too heavy unfortunately. And I checked out the ThinkPad X60s, but it does not have a CD/DVD drive--which I am afraid is a must. Am I being too difficult? I'd love to have more views on the VAIO and on the Fujitsu, which looks quite interesting. Thanks again.


I would get any computer that used by some of the big consulting firms (e.g., Deloitte, E&Y, etc). The reason is that these computers get the crap beat out of them on a daily basis, are used about 15 hours per day, and get mangled..and they still start up every time..I am using a Dell Latitude D600..had it for two years..and have beat the hell out of it and it buzzes around like new

Dave Meyer

One of the Panasonic Toughbooks might suit your needs, particularly if cost isn't really a concern.


I've had friends who've been pleased with them, but never been able to afford one myself.


I'd go for a MacBook or a Thinkpad. I own the latter and I'm very satisfied with it. By the way, I guess there are several versions of x60 since some of them do have a CD/DVD player.



Let me take a different tack. As computers, even ultra-portable laptops are increasingly commodity products, why not go to the source and remove layers of marketing?

Highly customizable laptops in many configurations from Asus (a Taiwanese assembly firm).




Forgot you wanted ultra-portable. Asus u-p models are found here:



Vaio G-body, weight less than 1 kg and the battery last for 8 hours, I just dont know if they sell in the US but here in Japan I think is the best option.


here a little information about the Vaio G-body


You asked for more comments.
Between us, I and my immediate family (wife, sisters, daughters) have bought eight Sony Vaio notebooks in the past nine years--and one T40 ThinkPad. All of them are still working. Sony build quality has always been good, in my experience. For driver software and support, though, other companies do better.
I say, buy whatever model from any mfr that offers the form factor, features and specs that you want--and plan to replace it in 2-3 years with a better, faster one.


You can add the X6 UltraBase to the Thinkpad X60s, which gives you a CD-ROM. It also enables you to include a second battery, which then gives you up to 11 hours runtime on battery. When the UltraBase is attached, the X60s is slightly thicker but I would still call it an ultra portable.


I too recommend ThinkPads. Well-built, long battery life (if I optimize my usage, I get over 4.5 hours on the standard battery), and I personally think they look pretty snazzy. To be fair, though, my machine experienced some problems within a few weeks of purchasing it. To make a long story short, I had to box it up, ship it to them, and wait a week for its return FOUR times before I received a working unit. I do not have much confidence in their customer service or the competence of their technical support staff (I have worked in tech support for several years).

Since then the machine has been very reliable. If I had to replace it, I would get a T-series or Z-series. As far as Macs go, this might spark some debate. I think they look great and are fun to play with, but I have two friends with PowerBooks that I've worked with Apple to fix. Honestly, I'm not that impressed. At my local Apple store (Cleveland, OH), I know of 4 people (myself included) who have received poor service there. In each situation, it was suggested that we should purchase replacement products rather send our items in for repairs. Compared with the kind of (many) warranty options you find with ThinkPads the (one) warranty option from Apple is not very enticing.

Nurhisham Hussein

Regarding the comment from Alex about running down the battery - that's a no-no. LiIon batteries don't suffer from the memory effect, unlike previous battery technologies.

Running them down fully does three things, two of them bad - (1) Reduces battery lifespan as LiIon batteries are rated by full charge/recharge cycles; (2) Potentially damages the battery cell chemistry; (3) Resets the charging circuitry. Only (3) does any good.

So the optimal strategy for maximum battery lifespan is to keep your laptop on power as much as possible, with a run down perhaps once every couple of months or so just to recalibrate the charging circuitry. I'd also add that high temperatures are also hazardous to battery lifespan so you should put on as many power saving options as possible (e.g. throttle the processor, reduce screen brightness) that's compatible with your laptop's typical workload.

Nurhisham Hussein

Oh, and I'd endorse ThinkPads as well - they're built like tanks and the keyboards are one of the top two in the business, even if they aren't as sexy as a Vaio or MacBook.


MacBooks are quite reliable and quite comfortable: no need for antivirus and and quite easier to use...

So another vote for it!

I could also addd that without having to run a PC on your MAC (which works perfectly) you have Stata and LateX versions for Mac that work just fine!

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Sony Vaio , weight less than 1 kg and the battery last for 8 hours,I think its a beat deal........

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I'd go for a MacBook or a Thinkpad.


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I do not have much confidence in their customer service or the competence of their technical support staff.
I'd also add that high temperatures are also hazardous to battery lifespan so you should put on as many power saving options as possible that's compatible with your laptop's typical workload.

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You need to look for a Toshiba laptop, theese are cheapers than another ones.

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the optimal strategy for maximum battery lifespan is to keep your laptop on power as much as possible, with a run down perhaps once every couple of months or so just to recalibrate the charging circuitry.


my Dell is 5 years old.fun

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It is always horrible to get the laptop down especially with the battery problem; I believe we should always seek for quality in everything. For me laptop is important, but thankfully with Forex trading, I am fine even through my smartphone, as here i work with OctaFX broker which present me cTrader mobile platform, it allows me to do trading from my smart phone and I never worry even if my computer or laptop takes a pause for some time.

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