New Windows 8 Laptop - Part I

So I recently decided to replace my home desktop system with a laptop.

My home desktop was also a media center PC, and it had worked quite well for a couple of years. Unfortunately, the cable company made some changes to their analog service, and my PC was only tuning in up to channel 30. I tried a few methods to get my PC to record the digital channels, but none of the information I found seemed to work.

Ultimately, it was just easier to get a digital DVR from the cable company and retire my media center PC. I had already been thinking about switching to a laptop for some time, so I started researching my options.

My home systems have always been Windows-based. Windows 8 had recently been released. I had tested out the pre-release on a virtual machine, and even read a few reviews and opinions. It really wasn't looking promising for Windows 8. The user interface was going to be a significant change from previous versions, and for the first time in my life I looked at switching to Apple. Honestly, it seemed as though switching to OSX would actually be easier than switching to Windows 8.

After looking at the MacBook Pro options, I discovered the "Apple Tax" was alive and well. In fact, it seems like it's higher than ever before. I was eyeing the 15" MacBook Pro. The Retina model starts at $2200! Ouch! I looked at the regular 15" model with the optional high-res (1680x1050) screen. Even that starts at $1800. Configuring it the way I wanted pushed it up over $2500 (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a VGA adapter).

Needless to say, I started looking at my Windows options. After some digging, I came across the Dell Inspiron 15R Special Edition, a laptop with a powerful processor and a 15" 1080p display. I wasn't too sure about the video chip (Radeon 7730M), but otherwise things looked quite good. While reading reviews of that model I saw a reference to the Lenovo Y580. Some research into that model revealed a machine with good reviews, good specs, and a good price.

The Y580 has the Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5400rpm hard drive, Nvidia GTX660M 2GB video chip, Blu-ray drive, HDMI and VGA, bluetooth, and more. It is also very easy to open up to access the hard drive, add RAM, and even add a mSATA SSD. Just a few days before Christmas, the price went down to $950! I added a blue Lenovo laptop bag to the order for another $35. A couple weeks later, I found a Crucial M4 256GB mSATA SSD for $180. I even ordered 16GB of high-speed RAM for $60. The total price, including taxes, for everything was less than $1400!

I know that someone will get defensive about build quality or other aspects of the MacBook, but honestly, I'm getting a laptop with better specs for over $1000 less! I don't know about you, but I can forgive some shortcomings for $1100, and in the next part I will endeavour to be honest about those shortcomings. Also, I have already shared my own opinion about the tired, age-old Mac vs PC argument.

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