Which laptop should I buy? I get this question a lot, from CNET readers, friends, neighbors, friends of friends, and assorted relatives. Makes sense, since a large chunk of my workday is spent reviewing laptops.
I typically respond to this inquiry by first asking about one's intended purposes for a new laptop. Gaming? Serious design work? Heavy travel? Just getting on the Web at home? Then my follow-up question: how much do you want to spend? My line of questioning undoubtedly frustrates the questioner, who is looking for a single laptop recommendation from me.
Since there is no one answer to this question, I thought it might be helpful to tell you which laptop(s) I would buy should I be in the market today for a new laptop.
The last laptop I bought was my first Apple product outside of an iPod when I bought a white MacBook on Black Friday last year. I bought it because I wanted to dive into the Mac OS to gain a deeper understanding than what I got from the brief periods I spent on Apple's platform when a Mac passed through CNET Labs. And I liked the idea of using iLife to manage and edit my photos and videos.
I've been pretty pleased with it so far, other than the fact that I have had to send it in for repair--broken mouse button (thankfully, I called a few days before the warranty expired).
But if I were do it again and had roughly $1,350 to spend on a laptop (I bought my MacBook last year for $1,348), I might buy two. Instead of one, general-purpose 13-inch laptop like the MacBook (or the $1,099 HP Pavilion dv3510nr, which I may have selected over the MacBook had I been given the choice last year), I'd split my purchase into home and away models. I'd want a 10-inch Netbook for travel, whether it's around the corner to the coffee shop or across the country for business.
Then I'd want a roomy desktop replacement for home entertainment, a system I could use to store, manage, and enjoy my multitude of media: music, movies, photos, and home videos. … Read more