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Choosing one laptop to buy out of the vast array of options that are available can be difficult, so, as a starting point, it can be useful to try and choose a laptop manufacturer from whom you can then choose an individual laptop model. Two of the largest laptop manufacturers are Dell and Lenovo. Dell has become well-known as a purely online retailer - they have no physical stores and can only be ordered from online and over the phone. Lenovo did not exist until fairly recently- 2005. Originally they were a branch of IBM, until Lenovo purchased IBM’s laptop branch in 2005 for $1.75 billion.
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A Basic Comparison
Dell is better known for budget, low-cost computers, although they have recently introduced higher end laptops and desktops. This was made possible by their acquisition of Alienware. It is now possible to order high end Alienware gaming laptops from Dell. What makes these laptops different is discrete video cards. So the budget end of the Dell line is made up of the Inspirions, small colorful laptops starting at just $399, whereas their highend line is made up of their Alienware laptops, starting with the M11x at $899 and going all the way up to the M17x at $1999.
Lenovo is well known for the Thinkpad and Ideapad lines - which existed for years under IBM and now are owned by Lenovo. These lines are well known for their excellent keyboards. The ThinkPad is synonymous with its trackpoint, a small ball, placed in the center and, sometimes below, the keyboard, which is used to control the mouse. Some hate it. Some can’t live without it. Many of their more recent models come with both a trackpad and a track ball.
Ultimately your choice will reflect personal preference. The Dell vs. Lenovo laptop debate has been going on for quite sometime now. There is one case where you absolutely should go for Dell. If you want a serious gaming laptop, then Alienware (and therefore Dell) is for you.
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The Netbook Question
Another arena where Dell and Lenovo compete is the netbook market. Dell offers the Dell Mini and Lenovo offers its IdeaPad laptops. The Dell mini line used to have 3 different screen sizes, but has been cut back to just the Dell Mini 10 Netbook. This netbook has been greeted with positive reviews and starts at just $249. The Dell Mini features an 1.66 GHz Atom Processor and an integrated video card, which simply is not enough for real gaming.
The IdeaPads from Lenovo can offer more power, but at a higher price. Their U Series Ideapads can have up to a Intel Core 2 2GHz processor, which is miles ahead of the Mini’s Atom. This comes at the price of a larger device: starting at 3 pounds with an 11.6" screen instead of a 10". Of course the larger size could be seen as an advantage to some who enjoy typing on a larger keyboard and taking advantage of more screen space. The definite negative is the price. The U-Series laptops start at $699.00 without an upgrade to the 2.0Ghz Core 2 processor.
Having said that, you don’t necessarily want a netbook. The positives are that they are small, lightweight, cheap and powerful enough for basic tasks. But there are plenty of negatives to counterbalance them. They are small enough that typing can be uncomfortable and reading larger documents on the screen is difficult. Also, if you plan to do any media related tasks such as watching HD movies or playing games, an netbook probably isn’t a good choice for you as they simply do not have enough power.
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Ultimately your choice of laptop (or netbook) will be based on personal preference. The most important thing is to educate yourself. The only points where I can outright recommend Dell are for lower end, budget computers - a market that Dell always has, and likely always will, dominate, or their high end gaming laptops from Alienware. The Dell vs. Lenovo laptop debate has no end in sight.