All Purpose Laptop Roundup

Our friends at PCWorld just compiled their list of “Top 10 All-Purpose Laptops.” Top of their list is a Gateway, er, Acer, laptop that costs $1300. The least expensive laptop is a Toshiba Satellite A215-S4757 for $1000 and the most expensive is a Dell XPS M1330 for $2179. I wondered why none of the new laptops in the $650 range made the list until I checked the Test Report for each laptop. PCWorld uses WorldBench 6 to test each laptop, and the first test is how fast the machine runs Adobe Photoshop CS2. If you don't run Photoshop on your laptop, this test may be a bit of overkill. The second and third tests they run check how fast the machine runs Autodesk and renders images with DirectX. While I'm sure this stresses the laptops and gives interesting results, that's certainly overkill for the 99 percent of us who never run Autodesk, especially on a laptop. To me, this seems like a car magazine rating each vehicle based on performance at 120mph when we can never get over 60mph in city and suburban traffic. If your laptop must crunch audio, video, or drawing files, you need horsepower. If your laptop crunches a few numbers, text documents, and runs e-mail and a browser, you're a typical user who may value saving a few hundred dollars. Buying “all purpose” machines based on serious audio and video manipulation speeds will certainly force you to spend more than necessary. Unless you're willing to pay hundreds of extra dollars on the chance you'll need to render architectural or mechanical drawings in Autodesk, of course.

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