Laptop Advice Needed

I am looking to buy a laptop, and need some advice. Right now I am running a Sony Vaio VGN-TX1XP – a small form-factor laptop, that has served me pretty well. That was, until a few months back. An hour before I left for the airport to the UDS, the keyboard stopped working. This resulted in me buying a stupid external keyboard and carrying it round with me. You can see the size of the laptop and its ridiculous external keyboard here:

I quite like this smaller size of laptop, I can put it in my little Ubuntu over-the-shoulder bag. But, this keyboard is doing my head in, so I am thinking of alternatives.

So, this is what I absolutely want in a laptop:

  • Small form-factor, sturdy.
  • Dual core, good amount of RAM so I can run virtual machines fine.
  • Very good battery life – I am happy to buy a fat 5-hour battery pack.
  • Decent 3D performance – a decent Intel card would be preferred so I can run the free drivers, otherwise no preference.
  • Large hard drive – at least 100GB.
  • Two USB ports, Firewire, external VGA that works with a projector. :)

And a few nice things, not essential, but nice:

  • Hardware buttons for volume up/down.
  • Built-in webcam.
  • Built-in mic.
  • Built-in keyboard light.
  • Built-in SD card slot.

Naturally I would want all of the hardware to be supported in Linux, specifically Ubuntu – and this includes things like the Firewire port. :)

I would like to get this for no more than £800 if possible.

Some of you may suggest the EEEPC, but having used it, it is not quite as powerful as I want, and the projector support will be a problem due to its strange resolution. If I could get a more powerful EEPC with a normal screen resolution, and a little bit bigger, that would be perfect. Then again, that would be my current Vaio. :)

Of course, if someone from a laptop vendor wants to donate me a laptop, I am not going to hold you back. :)

  • Marco Campos

    The Lenovo Thinkpad X61s is nice… meets most of your demands…

  • http://philippictito.blogspot.com Tito

    The Dell with Ubuntu suits msot of your needs. I bought one and I’m damn happy with it. It isn’t a small form factor mind.

    *Sturdy: Check *Dual core: Check (upgrade) *Good amount of RAM: Check *5 Hour battery: Check (Upgrade) *3D: Free Intel *Large HDD: Check Four USB ports, I can’t remember Firewire. There is probably one though. *External VGA: Check *Volume buttons: Check *SD Card slot (Also takes MMC, etc.): Check

    £800 will nab you one easily. http://www.dell.co.uk/ubuntu

  • Seveas

    I use a dell d420, works perfect. They replaced it with the d430 though (more ram/cpu/disk), works fine as well :) It’s small, has the extra-time battery pack, sturdy, and all intel. Does firewire too ;)

  • Peter

    The Dell m1330 pretty much fits everything you covered. Not sure about the keyboard backlight. And I think the UK store has it on special at the moment. Very configurable. Up to 4Gb RAM, 7200/5400 HDDs, LED Backlight LCD, and 4, 6 or 9 cell batteries.

  • http://blog.compuniversal.com Alex

    Hey Jono i have a computer retail company, if you want it u can email to me & i can give u a good price only if u r going to use Ubuntu on you laptop :razz:

  • charcourt

    ThinkPad X-series maybe? Not sure they’re quite small enough for you, but they’re rock solid machines and well supported under Linux.

  • Swistak

    You should consider something like Lenovo T61. I’ve got another question. What’s the yellow round sticker in the middle of your friend’s laptop.

  • http://sayamindu.randomink.org Sayamindu

    If you are comfortable with 13 inch systems, I would recommend the Dell XPS M1330. From the Dell UK site, choose the cheapest option they are giving for the M1330, upgrade the processor to T7500 (you might need the VT extensions which come with it for virtualisation), and go for the 9 cell battery. I’ve also got the LED screen with mine, and I’m really happy with it. The only thing you won’t get with this one is the built in keyboard light.

  • http://blog.markvdb.be Mark Van den Borre

    Why not get whatever a core Ubuntu desktop developer uses? I bought a Dell Latitude D420. It was perfectly supported, even in Dapper, when the hardware was rather new. When I saw what people used at UDS, I knew why…

  • Adam M

    I use a Satellite A130 running Gutsy, and I love it. Taking a quick look at the Toshiba site it looks like the U300 Series has 13.3 inch WXGA screen, Core2duo, Intel graphics, and wireless networking. I’m in the US but the UK site says starting at £599.00.

    Toshiba may not sell notebooks with Linux installed but they do at least acknowledge open source software. I’ve had good luck with the two Toshiba laptop’s I’ve owned, both in terms of wear and Linux support. http://linux.toshiba-dme.co.jp/linux/index.htm

  • Jay

    Have you checked out the Darter Ultra at System76? Won’t have the price tag of a EEE but, even at the default build it, I think it has about everything you are asking for. http://www.system76.com

  • Brad Johnson

    Take the leap to a Thinkpad X Series laptop. I don’t know of anyone who really owns one who doesn’t love it.

  • http://luciocorrea.wordpress.com Lúcio Corrêa

    Get a MacBook Air! LOL

  • http://kdubois.net Kevin DuBois

    I recommend the thinkpad x series. Compact form factor, decent processing power, the spec you want (except for a webcam). The Intel gm965 runs compiz-fusion beautifully, and they’re known for battery life. I own an X61 tablet and couldnt be happier. Plus every component pretty much is intel with open source drivers.

    p.s. see you at penguicon in a few months :-D

  • http://eugen.kiev.ua Eugen[Kiev]

    new MacBook Air from APPLE!!!!:razz::razz::razz:

  • Tom Mann

    Tito +1

  • Dan

    Sounds like a Thinkpad T6x (with a Intel 950/X3100) to me. Swap the CDROM for a 2nd HDD, or if you travel, use the inside disk and put a 8cell battery in the back and a 2nd one in the CDROM space. Works fine here, but on an old T42. I would never buy sony hardware, sony repeats NetMD every time they build a piece of hardware. Dell is okay too. The T61 includes a card reader and a IEEE1394 – for, aehm, £700-800, i think.

  • Mack

    Tito’s sounds like a good deal. You definitely do NOT want to buy a HP. Ever. For any reason.

  • Martijn

    Get an Eee with 15 8G SD cards. That’ll get you up to the 100G storage easily, it has decent 3D performance (at least in the Ubuntu install I put on mine), it’s TINY (but you know that..).. I hear these Lugradio guys are giving one away! :P

  • Saua

    This very moment Steve Jobs presents the new MacBook Air, which pretty well fits your spec (except that it seems to come with 80Gig max).

    Of course noone knows yet how well it runs any kind of Linux ..

    http://www.apple.com/macbookair/

  • http://www.hopelesscom.de Pharao

    get a MacBook Air ;) (scnr – they just announced it)

  • http://so.nacreo.us Nathan Eckenrode

    I was across the table from you in that picture. I had my laptop and my 2 yr-old daughter. My laptop is a Fujitsu U810, which is an incredibly small form factor. All Intel chips, works quite well with Ubuntu, I have even got the touchscreen working with not too much effort.

    Caveats, it only has 40 GB HD, and one USB port but it works quite wonderfully as a presentation/travel machine. I personally leave the majority of my older documents (ie ones I am not working on right now) on a server that I can ssh into.

  • Weeber

    I don’t know if your current laptop meets all the ‘nice things’ (I roughly doubt it) but my HP dv2423la does it, it is 14″ tho. I recommend you that if you can afford another VAIO of the same series go for it. I know I would’ve done if I could.

  • http://wiki.ubuntu.com/FabianRodriguez MagiCFab

    Don’t forget to look at: http://webapps.ubuntu.com/certification/list/?category=Laptop

    Not sure if any of those are as small as you’d want, though.

  • Timo Aaltonen

    Probably not in your price range, but Lenovo Thinkpad X-series is pretty well supported on Linux, and the X61 I have lacks only the built-in webcam and mic from your list. Built-in 3G/UMTS is optional, and works great :P

  • http://www.happyassassin.net Adam Williamson

    I can tell you what not to buy – Lenovo’s non-Thinkpad line. I got a Lenovo 3000 V100 a year or so back. Specs are wonderful, price was right…and it overheats and auto-powers off (hitting 100 celsius!) if you run the CPUs at full load for more than three minutes.

    Worthless junk.

  • Henry

    Lenovo Thinkpad X61s. Not as small as your vaio, but fulfills all your other criteria.

  • http://weblog.obso1337.org seele

    I’m using a Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 which I really love. Fujitsu has a number of Ultra Portable laptops in the U.S. store. Unfortunately I don’t see them listed in the U.K., so you would have to coordinate with an American friend to get one ;)

  • Alex

    I have a HP dv2500t that fits your description almost perfectly. The one thing it lacks is a built-in keyboard light. I am quite satisfied with mine, which has an Intel X3100 graphics chipset and an Intel 4965 wireless chipset. Gutsy works pretty well, but Hardy has a few issues due to its use of EXA, which needs TTM in order to have decent performance. In short, if you don’t care too much about Compiz, it’s great.

  • http://www.beardendesigns.com/TheFixer Stephen

    If it’s just the keyboard and you’re otherwise happy with the machine, what about just buying a replacement keyboard (off eBay?). That’s what I ended up doing after my toddler ripped one of the keys off my wife’s laptop, and it only cost me $35 and a few minutes with a screwdriver.

  • http://www.bigredradio.com bigredradio

    I am kinda in the same boat. I have a Fujitsu Lifebook Series B. It’s still going, but not for much longer. Here is what I am considering (other than a 13″ black macbook). http://www.superwarehouse.com/Lenovo3000V200_0764/07642BU/p/1500718

  • sbdep

    The eeepc allows you to use the external video at resolutions other than the built in screen. I think it will then cut off or scroll the display on the laptop, while showing fullscreen on the projector. Although I agree with you about the performance of it being to slow for your intended purposes.

  • Torsten Rahn

    Get a Thinkpad X60/61s. Next time you spill/break/headbang your keyboard you can order a new one that does fit actually.

  • http://www.happyassassin.net Adam Williamson

    bigredradio: see above. I would expressly advise not buying that, unless you never run your CPUs above 5% utilization. I have no reason to believe it doesn’t have the same problem as its predecessor, the V100, which I have.

  • chris

    The Eee PC can do higher resolutions on external monitors.

  • Johan Bilien

    How about a macbook air? :)

  • Miles Prower

    Grab a Asus EeePC.

  • kiwi

    Macbook + mini-DVI->VGA adapter? (+ some tweaking in ubuntu + a sticker to hide the logo.)

  • http://www.the-space-station.com/blog Christopher Denter

    You absolutely want a Dell XPS M1330! Trust me.

    I got mine yesterday. 13″ 2,2 GHz Core 2 Duo (Intel T7500, 4MB Cache) 3 Gig of fast RAM per default I bought mine with Intel X3100 Graphics, but Nvidia 8?00 GS is also available 160 Gig HDD (Smallest size available) I got a 9-cell-battery which lasts 5:30 hours.

    I immediately removed Vista and installed ubuntu. It works like a charm. Everything. Period.

    The best: Dell is going to ship this machine with ubuntu preinstalled this month or so. Probably next month. The guys on the phone said it. Read my blogpost about it. I’ll soon blog again.

    regards

  • http://blog.chaoz.org Gerrit
  • http://mattjones.me.uk mattj

    I can assure people that outputting to external monitors on the eee works well, I am using it with a 15″lcd when I am at home. (This is running ubuntu, but I believe it works in xandros as well.) If the monitor (presumably projector as well) is plugged in during boot, it automatically clones the display, at the native resolution of the monitor. You can also just restart X and it will detect the new display.

  • http://jimmac.musichall.cz Jakub Steiner

    macbook air? ;) (if you can skim on the ports)

  • http://ywwg.com Owen Williams

    Check out the Dell XPS M1330. It’s a little lighter and thinner than the ubuntu-preloaded 1420, which is a little clunky. It’s not ULTRAPORTABLE, but it’s small enough. I’m planning to get one.

  • http://maxolasersquad.com/ Maxo

    Have you considered trying to fix the keyboard? I have done it on two laptops. It was as simply as opening it up (ok, that part wasn’t so simple) and unplugging and plugging back in the keyboard connector. On two seperate laptops I was able to fix keyboard problems this way.

  • Jack Malmostoso

    Dear Jono,

    a few months back I bought a new laptop from a Swiss vendor (www.littlebit.ch) that fulfills pretty much all of your requirements. For 1800CHF (roughly 800£) you get:

    13.3″ Screen, 1280×800 Core2Duo T7500@2.2GHz 2GB RAM Intel GMA965-X3100 Intel WiFi 4965 b/g/n 160GB HD 3 USB ports, 1 Firewire, 1 E-SATA External VGA working out of the box Built-In Microphone Built-In Webcam@2MP (which unfortunately does not work -yet- with linux) Built-In SD slot Total weight ~2kg

    The battery that came with it is pretty slim and gives me slightly less than 3hrs (it’s a 55Wh and on battery I run around 19W, you do the math), I am not sure if it is possible to get a fatter one. Oh, and btw, I bought it without operating system!

    I run Debian Sid AMD64 on it, without a hitch (webcam aside).

    Littlebit calls it Sepia X35, but in fact it’s an Asus Z37E: if you see a vendor selling a notebook based on the same Asus barebone, know that you’re on the good track.

    Hope this helps!

  • Evan

    Slightly out of the price range you mention, but if nothing else suits your fancy, check out the ThinkPad X61. It’s tiny, I never worried about plugging it in at UDS/Allhands (with the extra battery), it runs compiz just fine (i965), and it has a built in SD reader, volume buttons, 3 USB ports, and a firewire port.

    The Lenovo Outlet Store occasionally has some really good offers, but I couldn’t find a link to it from the UK site. Also check out some of the deals websites as they keep pretty good track of discounts and promotional codes that are not always widely publicized. I used fatwallet.com and managed to shave roughly $500 USD off the cost of mine when I bought it in November, but I’m not sure how US-centric that is.

    I’d also suggest buying your memory after market as it was significantly cheaper for me to do so.

    Hope that helps.

  • http://www.happyassassin.net Adam Williamson

    maxo: sssssshhh. Jono has an excuse to whip out the plastic. This excuse is perfectly good enough if you don’t go ruining it! :)

  • Lucky

    I am also looking for a notebook now so I will seriously watch your blog to see suggestions. I have quite the same needs you do. I was wondering how mac could handle ubuntu ? Apple release a new macbook air. 13.3″ but only 3 lbs. 2 GB of ram, and core2duo. 5 hrs of batteryl life. Counterback are, only one usb port (but replicators exist) up to 80 Gb hard disk. (if you don’t buy the 64GB SSD) Maybe the price start at 1800 $. Don’t know how it supports Ubuntu.

    As I live in Switzerland, at http://www.littlebit.ch (rench and german only) an asus laptop which is called sepia x35. which I can tune to have up to 250 GB of HD 4 GB of ram Intel chipset x3100 / core2duo 2,4 Ghz Without Vista installed for 1934 CHF ~1900$ (starts at 1550 $)

  • http://elwoodicious.com James

    I’m a big ZaReason fan (I own a BigLap) as there prices and support are solid. They have a 13.3″ notebook that looks like it meets your requirements –> http://www.zareason.com/shop/product.php?productid=16159&cat=0&page=1

  • Travis

    I’m running gutsy on a 14″ HP dv2000t and it rocks. All hardware is supported including the webcam. Here’s it’s specs from 1 year ago: Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Duo T7200 (2.0GHz/4MB L2Cache) 14.1″ WXGA BrightView Widescreen (1280×800) 128MB NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) Go 7200 HP Imprint Finish + Microphone + Webcam 2GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm) FREE Upgrade from 80GB 5400RPM to 120GB 5400RPM!! Super Multi 8X DVD+/-R/RW w/Double Layer Support Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Network w/Bluetooth No TV Tuner w/remote control High Capacity 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery

  • http://room-303.com/blog/ Patrys

    I’d start by visiting a laptop service point and asking the kind people there to reflash your BIOS in the old machine. Fixed the same keyboard dead problem for me on two machines.

  • Robert

    hi,

    I’m running Ubunru on Dell Vostro 1400. Solid platform, really cheap and the ONLY thing I haven’t worked out is the internal microphone (external works). Dual Core 2.2Ghz 2Gb RAM 160GB HDD Intel 965 (the new one) Intel Wireless working bluetooth, fireware Crystal Brighte LCD 1400×900 DVD+-RW DL reasonable size factor not so light, but this is because the 9Cell battery which keeps me running for about 6 hours just fine silent resume/hibernate/sleep all works! working integrated webcam (skype very ok). touchpad that works very nice

    I had some HP’s NC4xxxx (also very good but expensive), Dell Lattitudes (I do not like those as they are not so solid – crapy touchpad buttons!) and I really like this one.

    best regards,

    robert

  • Ken

    The Eee PC can output normal resolutions over the VGA port. 1024×768 if I remember right. I have one, but no projector!

  • jtin

    Just in time for… the Macbook Air? : p

  • ormiret

    I’ve got a Dell D420 that meets most of those requirements (and the ones it doesn’t would be met by the D430 that replaced it). With the 9 cell battery I easily get 6 hours (and a bigger wrist wrest). Everything works with Ubuntu. Requirements it doesn’t meet: no webcam, no keyboard light and the built in mic sucks (I haven’t seen one in a laptop that doesn’t). Might have to compromise a bit on RAM or HD to get it under £800 though.

  • http://blog.compuniversal.com Alex

    I have 10 Asus Eee PC 4G 7 inch C-M 900MHz/ 512MB/ 4GB/ No ODD/ Linux with camera for sale, $390 + Tax i live in San Jose CA

  • http://technomancy.us Phil

    I just got a 12-inch Thinkpad, and I’m quite amazed by it. It’s about as sturdy as you could imagine, has a really crisp keyboard, gets great battery life, and works as a tablet to top it off. The non-tablet X61 is also an excellent choice. I would be hard pressed to get anything other than a Thinkpad in the future given how my last two laptops have performed.

  • http://wildbill.nulldevice.net WildBill

    Jono, Sounds like you just described an X-Series Thinkpad to me. I’ve got an X60 that I think is the greatest thing since sliced bread – the only thing it doesn’t have from your list is the webcam. Oh, and it’s a lil more expensive. But it’ll go the distance. And Ubuntu runs like a freaking TOP on it.

  • Julian

    My Thinkpad T61p is 14.1″, 4Gb RAM, 100Gb 7200 RPM HDD, 2.4Ghz Dual Core, NVIDIA Quadro FX 570 M (faster than the top of the line 8600 M GT in most benchmarks) runs Debian Lenny like a song (w/ sid’s 2.6.23).

    It has 4.5 hours battery life, runs at 35C most of the time and is light for a 14.1″.

    It’s a total pleasure to type on. Magnesium alloy roll-cage makes it a very solid machine, albeit punishingly expensive in the U.K.

    These guys take 4days to ship to the U.K from the U.S: http://stores.ebay.com/thinkpadusa and accept EUR Visas ;) I saved EUR1200.00 buying through them and only paid EUR80 import tax..

  • http://janneinosaka.blogspot.com Janne

    You want a Panasonic “Let’s Note” series machine. They come from very small (10.4″ screen – same class machine as your Sony) up to A4 size. Recent editions have dual-core Intel CPU’s with Intel 3D graphics, 1Gb RAM (2Gb max), loong battery life (the R6 is rated for 9 hours), and everything works just fine with Ubuntu. The R6 and earlier were fanless, so the machine is very, very quiet (I don’t know if the R7 has a fan but I won’t be surprised if it too is without).

    The only thing missing is that the standard machines have 80Gb disk, not 100; and there’s no firewire (add a pcmcia card for it if you really need it). The R6 does not have an optical drive; this is part of what makes it so small and light (less than 1kg). The larger models do.

    Oh, and they’re part of their “toughbook” line, so they’re made to be sat on, dropped, and so on; they even have water-proof keyboards lately.

    Me, I got the “special edition” R6 – 160Gb disk, 2Gb ram, and it’s all-black. I bought it this fall, not because I actually needed it – my previous R machine is still working – but only because “limited editions” don’t sell for very long and I just really wanted a black one ^_^ The Panasoinc line is really amazing; this is my second one now, and my third one in another three or four years will be the same, as long as they still make them.

    Panasonic only sells them in Japan, unfortunately; but here’s a company that resells them, with lots of info in English (I have the black one to the right): http://www.icube.us/product_detail.cfm/product/Panasonic-R7/model/CF-R7.cfm

    And another one: http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Panasonic-Lets-Note-R7-B-CF-R7BW5AJR-ToughBook_W0QQitemZ320204607703QQihZ011QQcategoryZ42205QQcmdZViewItem

    Here’s the Japanese site for the machines (perhaps less helpful): http://panasonic.jp/pc/products/

  • http://blog.chatonka.com Andrew

    I suggest the Lenovo X61t tablet. I ordered mine with 1g of ram and bought another 2gig stick from newegg for $50. Just make sure you go with the non 3945 intel network card (you have a choice between that and the 2200). That thing is TERRIBLE.

    Small: Check (12.1 in screen) Battery: Check (6-7 hours with 8cell) Weight: 4.2lbs with above battery (3.8 with smaller 4cell) HD: I have a 120gb SD Slot: Check! Hardware buttons for volume up/down.: Check

    No camera (but there is a mic) or backlit keyboard. It also has a fingerprint reader that works wonderfully with the fprint software (google it).

    Price… This might get a bit pokey. I got it for $1300 (customized it quite a bit) with rebates on oct 31.

    It is a beautiful laptop, as solid as any IBM I’ve seen (some have said lenovo has dropped quality, but my experience is quite different). I love the touch screen + digitizer, it has a c2duo and is blazing fast. Kubuntu hardy running with kde from svn, all works well, including kwin with opengl. Battery life with heavy use lasts me the entire school day, and it recharges quite quickly. The ac adaptor is also quite small, and all ports are on the sides (I like that). Comes with 3xusb (one on left, 2 on right with lots of space), firewire, vga (works with xrandr. I used “xrandr –output VGA –auto” and BOOM I had a projected screen). It’s small, includes a ‘nub’ mouse pointer instead of a trackpad (again, which I love. Quite easy to move from typing to moving the mouse). The keyboard is fantastic as well.

  • Clare

    I bought a HP 4200 a year ago. It has a 12″ screen. No external drives. It’s under 5 pounds. But it doesn’t have some of the features you want (dual-core processor, large hard drive etc). So far I am impressed by the quality of the hardware. HP may have some newer small laptops that fit your specification. It does not hurt to check them out.

    When I bought this HP laptop, the salesperson steered me away from the Lenovos. :roll:

  • http://www.davyd.id.au/ Davyd

    I’m thinking of getting a Toshiba Portege R500. I currently have an R200, which works excellently out of the box on Ubuntu.

    The R500 comes in an 800g (!) configuration with a solid state drive. They claim the battery will run for 10 hours.

    Alternatively, talk to Garrett.

  • http://digitasaru.net Joseph

    Do the System76 boxes fit the bill? I’m thinking about them for my next notebook, whenever the Penryns are released.

  • http://tarunaai.blogspot.com Onkar

    ibook G4 machines are not available from Apple anymore. But if you are ready to buy second hand machines then you should consider it. Satisfies all of your needs except hard disk (30 GB) and battery (3.5 hours). Works very well with Ubuntu.

    Now something that comes close to iBook G4 is Macbook. It will satisfy all your needs but I am not sure how easy it is to install Ubuntu on that machine.

  • http://www.cannon-linux.co.uk Dick Turpin

    You could of course just replace the keyboard. I replaced the keyboard about 6 times on my Dell CPxJ (Known fault with that model) if you get me the part no: I’ll give you a price :smile:

  • wolverian

    While it might be too large for you, the 13″ Dell XPS M1330 is a pretty good compromise between power and size. It’s 1.7 kg (3.7 pounds). You can select Intel or Nvidia for the GPU, and the optional LED-backlighted display isn’t very expensive. It comes to about 1300 euros in Finland, probably much less in larger countries. :)

  • Chris
  • http://ppires.wordpress.com Paulo Pires

    What about a nice Apple Air? :-D

    Or an Asus Eee PC?

    Cheers, PP

  • Pooli

    A Dell XPS (you choose the size) is what you’re looking for. http://www.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx/xpsnb?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

  • http://www.aigarius.com/blog/ Aigarius

    How about the new MacBook Air? :twisted: http://www.apple.com/macbookair/specs.html

  • http://www.glendale18.f2s.com Jon Pritchard

    Sony have the worst build quality and reliability of any PC/Laptop maker. It was a mistake to buy that.

    If you want a good, sub-notebook, you’ll need to pay for it.

    I can only but suggest the Thinkpad X series, you can pick up a second hand one on eBay for a reasonable amount. You should look for X60/X61. They satisfy most of your requirements. (Dual-core, good amount of RAM and HDD space, firewire, 3xUSB, SD reader). Plus for £900 on eBay you can get this with a 3-year warranty, amongst the best in the industry.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ThinkPad-X61-Laptops_W0QQitemZ220191668204QQihZ012QQcategoryZ177QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

  • http://blog.adamsweet.org/ Adam Sweet

    Maxo: Yes, I told him this myself, just get a screwdriver out and make sure the ribbon cable is seated correctly at both ends. I’ve done this before myself, though as it turns out it was the ribbon cable itself that was faulty. As Adam Williamson says though, the excitement of a new purchase always outweighs the practicality of fixing the old machine if you can afford it.

    Jono: Ade had a small Samsung which was very nice, all Intel and ran Compiz no problem. I don’t know what his specs were but it would be worth asking him.

  • Patrik

    DELL XPS M1330 is what you want!

  • http://tonyyarusso.com/ Tony Yarusso

    If you can hack some way to get it shipped from the US, the System76 Darter might work for you, although I believe the battery life is 4 hours, not 5. The next option that comes to mind would be a Lenovo ThinkPad, X-Series.

  • Frank

    I’m also voting for a Dell XPS M1330. That’s a very nice Laptop which runs great with Ubuntu. I know of some Ubuntu people (ubuntuusers.de) who use it, and I’ll be one of them next week :)

  • Ricardo Cerqueira

    How about an ASUS notebook: http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=5

  • http://www.justuber.com/blog Chris

    Hey Jono,

    You could try replace the keyboard. Check out eBay to see if there are any going cheap. I had a similar problem with a Dell, changing the keyboard sorted it out.

    Chris

  • me

    You heard of MacBook Air :roll: ? I’m not sure if I like myself but it’s certainly small. Otherwise, why nt get a regular MacBook?

  • Henning

    I have the new Acer Aspire 2920Z which does have all the features you want (Intel GMA 3200, Dual Core, 12″, Webcam, SD Slot) and runs nicely with Gutsy. Only standby does currently not work but I hope, Hardy will fix it. See http://global.acer.com/products/notebook/as2920.htm for more information and http://spicifer.blogspot.com/ for tips on installing .

  • Sweetshark

    Levono Thinkpad – nothing comes close to it. Still best hardware around. Excellent keyboards, robust frame, not to heavy, good components (easy to find something that works nice with linux). The only drawback is the pricetag. But the Thinkpad is to modern laptops, what the Model M is for desktop keyboards. It is worth it.

  • http://blogs.howtogeek.com/jatecblog Jake

    Unless you are really wanting a new laptop, you may just want to replace the keyboard. I’ve replaced the keyboards in a Dell and HP laptop with no problems. My current laptop is great if you are wanting a new one, and I can vouch for excellent Linux support: Dell Inspiron 1501.

  • Griff

    I am running a Dell Vostro 1400 with the Intel chipset. Video, sound, wireless, SD, webcam all work out of the box with Fedora 8. I have a 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, with 4GB RAM and 160GB HD. Including 3 years 4 hour service (in the US) I got it for US$1400.

  • Aaron

    I’m vary partial to the Lenovo (IBM) laptops. The T-series are more what I’d buy for home, but I have one of the 12″ X-series on my desk at work right now and it’s great. For having such a small size, the keyboard is really quite usable. The ThinkPad (not 3000) series are tough machines, they have very ridgid frames and most have stainless steel hinges. (which is great because I’ve broken hinges before on a Compaq, was basically just afterward) I surprising amount works in Ubuntu on these out of the box. The only exception I’ve ran into is the wifi drivers, which weren’t available without downloading a windows package until recently.

    You really don’t want an Eee PC if you plan on doing much typing on it.. It’d be fine for the occasional or extreme portability, but I can’t imagine coding on it..

    Good luck! -Aaron

  • matt lee

    See if you can pick up a second hand Thinkpad x series on eBay.

  • http://www.namsisi.com Adam Lindberg

    I’m thinking of buying something similar and what I found so far that seems to fit my needs is the Dell XPS M1330. It’s in the upper class of size and price for you, I guess, but it has really good reviews and seems very linux capable out of the box (at least with Ubuntu).

    Cheers!

  • http://www.pittle.org/ Ali Servet Dönmez

    Infact, why not replacing the keyboard like Chris said above or what about the new Macbook Air? Kidding, eheh… Cheers.

  • Jon Cooper

    I highly recommend either the Toshiba Rxxx series, or anything HP. Both are well made, well supported in Ubuntu and featureful :smile:

  • Anonymous

    As a previous commenter said, you don’t need to use the eee’s non-standard resolution on the external output. Just output 800×600 or 1024×768.

  • Stu

    I tried my eee pc on a work projector and it worked fine.

  • http://dlai.jafu.dk dlai

    What about the system76 laptops?

  • Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér (mjjzf)

    I agree with buying one of the 12″ HP laptops. I bought one of those for my wife – and I tried giving it a live CD to chew on (on an external drive, BTW – it is not built in). The CD (which was Wolvix) found everything, no problems whatsoever. And they are very sexy.

  • asshat

    “The EEE pc”

    good enough for the linux loving peons… but not for Jono Bacon :mrgreen:

  • Erik

    I would recommend a Dell 430 with the big battery ( around 5-6 hours with LCD brightness on low level) . Ubuntu runs fine on them.

    I’m very happy with it. It’s a mix of enough performance and weight. You can get a so called media base for all possible outputs.

    Check that out.

    Greetings E

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Simon Mackie

    I have a Dell XPS M1210 (the earlier version of the M1330 Patrik mentioned) and it’s great. Small form factor, tough, well designed and pretty light.. If I was to replace it now I’d probably look at the M1330 or a small Thinkpad depending on cash.

  • Aron Stansvik

    I’m running the FSC Amilo Si1520:

    http://www.fujitsu-siemens.com/home/products/notebooks/amilosi1520.html

    It’s working great with Kubuntu and meets all the demands you put except the “very good battery life”, as well as some of the wishes on your “nice things” list. I see now that since I bought this one, they have come out with a slightly bigger model in the S series with better battery life, the Si2636. I can’t say anything about Linux support on that one though.

    Good luck!

  • http://shot.pl/ Shot

    Definitely consider, if not simply go straight for, a ThinkPad X series – if you can find a cheap X60/X61, go for it, otherwise either X40/X41 (warning: slow 1.8″ disks!) or a used X30/X31.

  • http://fabsh.com Fabian A. Scherschel

    Another vote for the XPS m1330. What an amazing machine! I’ve been running Debian-based distros (Ubuntu, Mint & Debian testing) on this thing for weeks now and everything works amazingly well. I wrote up a detailed review here: http://fabsh.com/blog/5

  • jemma

    I have just purchased a DELL LATITUDE C400 and unfortunately it doesn’t have a disc drive I’m wondering if this Dell Latitude D400/D410 External Media Bay (PD01S) will be ok to plug in to my laptop

    If you could please reply asap that would be great jemmaLallsop@hotmail.co.uk

  • jemma

    I forgot to add that i need to be able to upload software, upload cd’s and download onto cd/dvd etc

  • Steve

    I can recommend the Toshiba Portege R500. It’s very thin, light (at under 1kg), has a great 12.1″ screen and DVD+-R. Currently running alpha 5 of Hardy Heron – everything seems to work out of the box except the SD card slot. Virtualisation can be enabled in the bios (I read that it’s disabled in your Sony, and not easy to enable without a lot of hacking).

  • Styj

    If u r really into small factor pc, try sony tz series. its tiny

  • Anonymous

    Toshiba R835 is the one of the best choice to get in the category it is lightweight and offer you everything which you need in any laptop.

  • Anonymous

    Toshiba R835 is the one of the best choice to get in the category it is lightweight and offer you everything which you need in any laptop.