"Awesome deal"4.5 starson by IanCT
Pros: 17" Glossy Tru-Brite Screen, 200+GB HDD, 3GB RAM, 10 Key, Awesome keyboard layout, Dual SDHC/MS card reader, handy volume wheel, wireless toggle switch.
Cons: Battery life, but you can get an aftermarket 7400mAh battery online for under $100. Stock battery is 4000 mAh and with battery management set to Power Save and screen brightness at medium, you can eek about 2.5 hours on a full charge.
Summary: I bought this laptop in passing at a local BestBuy store for $499 on sale. After I read some decent reviews online I went back and purchased the last one in stock.
The battery life is lacking (my only complaint), but I only need the machine for portability between locations. As I said above, you can get replacement non-OEM batteries at nearly twice the capacity but I can't attest to their quality as I have yet the need to purchase one.
I wanted the 17" for PhotoShop, and it runs CS2 very nicely coupled with my wireless optical mouse. The screen is crisp and bright.
CPU performance is surprisingly good for this processor. DVD Playback (using PowerDVD 8.0) is quite good, no skipping - and SlingPlayer runs just fine over the wireless. The bundled Toshiba DVD player software is poor quality, it skipped and the color quality was diminished. Playback on PowerDVD was exceptional.
I have no issues with this machine. I even play Unreal Tournament 2004 on it with no problems.
It even has a DVD-DL/RW burner with LabelFlash (NEC's version of LightScribe). I have yet the need to use LabelFlash.
If you get this laptop, you will get every bang for your buck.