Laptop comparison and recommendation
I helped my parents select a new laptop to replace their aging desktop system. I analyze four low-cost options and make a recommendation on which offers the best bang for the buck.
FeedbackBy Preston Hunt, 08 February 2002

Laptop comparison and recommendation for my parents

In this document, I compare the various options for a low-cost desktop-replacement laptop for my parents. They currently have a "home made" desktop system (300MHz Celeron running WinXP) that I built for them 5-6 years ago. They are looking to replace it with a laptop, not for the mobility reasons that a laptop offers, but because they don't like how much space the desktop system takes up with its monitor, keyboard, speakers, etc.

As such, the things they wanted in a new system included:

All-in-one compact package, but not necessarily lightweight (notebook-as-a-desktop-replacement)

CD-RW drive

Integrated modem

USB 1.0 support

Either track-point or touch-pad (they will probably add on an external mouse anyway)

Floppy drive

256MB or greater RAM

The things they really didn't care about included:

Integrated Ethernet

USB 2.0 and Firewire support

DVD player

Hard drive size

Video card

Screen size (at least 13.3" screen and 1024x768 resolution)

Models considered

Dell Inspiron 2650C (the "C" is for Celeron models; the regular 2650 has a Pentium 4)

IBM Thinkpad R40

Best Buy vpr Matrix

Toshiba S103

Comparison chart

IBM Thinkpad R40 Dell Inspiron 2650 Toshiba S103 vpr Matrix
Info cnet, ibm zdnet, pcmag, cnet
Cost as configured $849 ~$850-950 $650 $1000
Shipping Free Free Free Free
Tax (Florida) ~$60 $70
Processor 1.2G Celeron 1.6G Celeron 1.5G Celeron 1.8G P4
RAM 128MB 128MB 256MB 512MB
LCD 13.3 TFT 14.1 TFT 14.1 TFT 15.0 TFT
Video Intel 830 ATI 16MB Radeon 32MB
Modem Yes Yes Yes Yes
LAN Yes Yes Yes Yes + 802.11b
HD 20GB 20GB 30GB
Weight 6.55 lbs 6.9 lbs


The vpr Matrix offers incredible value for the money. It was a pretty easy decision. I'll update this document with field results at a later date.

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