What’s the Best Large Screen Laptop?

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Laptop screenWe did lots of research and the Gateway NV7915u (available at Best Buy for $599.99 at the time of this writing) is by far the best value on the market we found for a large screen, 17″+ laptop. Benchmark scores show the processor way outperforming its AMD Turon II competitor (and as a nice surprise, our laptop shipped with an i5!).

The two main competitors to this laptop we considered were the Gateway NV7316u ($579.99) and the HP Pavilion dv7-3165dx ($779.99). We also looked at a Toshiba and Dell, which were far inferior.

Out of all 3 laptops, the NV7915u (this one) performed the fastest on processor benchmarks.

The primary advantages for the NV7915u large screen laptop are:

  • Intel Core i3 processor (we got an i5, maybe you will too) – both these processors far outperform the AMD Turion II.
  • Faster system bus, more cache memory, and faster (DDR3) RAM
  • (Compared to Gateway) RAM expandable to 8GB (as opposed to 4GB) – this will come into play several years from now when you need more power and RAM is cheaper.

Pluses for all of these large screen laptops:

  • HDMI output – you can use this to hook your laptop up to HD TV or Projector for movies, etc.
  • 4 USB ports
  • Energy Star qualification (most laptops should have this by now)
  • Good keyboards/ touch pad/ sound & speakers
  • Windows 7 64-bit: Windows 7 is solid, uses resources better than XP and way better than Vista. 64-bit processing has a significant performance advantage, particularly with multitasking (parallel computing) – just be sure to buy/download 64-bit software (will also run 32-bit software if no 64-bit version is available).

Disadvantages of the NV7915u:

  • (Compared to HP) Lesser battery life (6-cell as opposed to 8-cell battery), 2 hours instead of 5+. Note – you can always buy a better battery down the road.
  • (Compared to HP) Slightly slower hard drive (5400 RPM instead of 7200)
  • (Compared to HP) No blue-ray support
  • No ATI graphics card (although benchmark tests show that for every day PC (office) tasks, the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD actually outperforms the ATI. So, the ATI card advantage is primarily for 3D performance/ gaming, etc.)
  • (Compared to HP) HP has slightly better LED screen

As a sidenote for Gateway laptops – this is our first Gateway purchase (we build desktops from scratch), and we’re pleasantly surprised with the smoothness of the initial setup/ installation. In addition, Gateway labels all its included software (in add/remove programs you’ll see each listing appended by “Gateway…”, so you can easily remove it, although it’s not nearly as bothersome as all the junk Dell stuffs onto their PC’s (under strange, cryptic names that you have to Google to find out what they are).

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

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11 Comments on "What’s the Best Large Screen Laptop?"

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Anonymous
Anonymous

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a large screen (or any) laptop is to make sure that your chosen laptop has enough plugs and connectors to accommodate all of your needed equipment. Sometimes it is not possible to know exactly how many plugs and connectors you will. In this case, just make a reasonable guess.

You may have already thought about this one when examining the screen itself, but also consider the screen resolution. Certain sizes will generally have a set level of resolution. However, in some cases, this can be modified and adjusted. For example, a 13 inch laptop screen will have a resolution of 1280 x 800. This is not bad. For me, personally, this is comfortable on my eyes. As you move up in size, generally the resolution will increase. This means that while you will have more space to play with, everything will still become smaller. Since I wear glasses, this is not really good for me! This is the main reason why I tend to stay away from the larger screens. It is also why I would prefer two 15 inch screens to a single 20 inch screen. If I were to go with a bigger screen, I would certainly adjust down the resolution so that things would be easier on my eyes. This is also especially true if you are spending a lot of time on your laptop.

Consider the type of hard drive you want. In most of the laptops today, everything is incredibly reliable. This is true with the exception of the hard drive. This is the one thing on the machine that will fail. There is no question about this. The only question is when and how much data will you lose once this happens. Also, think about how much pain it would cost you to lose all of the data on your hard drive.

One of the more recent innovations in laptop technology is the solid state drive. This is a really cool type of hard drive. There are no moving parts in this one. This makes it incredibly reliable. It also adds considerably to the cost. Most laptops will not include this type of drive. It will need to be an additional modification. Also, most of these drives come in rather low capacities. So, you may not be able to find one that is big enough for your storage needs. If you can find one large enough, it might not be affordable.

Think about the battery life of your laptop. This can vary quite a lot. Personally, I have never had good luck with batteries. Even when I was assured that a battery would last for hours, I might get 2 or 3 hours out of it. I have even had a battery which did not work at all. So, try and see if you can actually test the battery out before you buy the machine. Obviously, one that is promised to last for 8 hours or more is best.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The first thing to realize when you are considering a large screen laptop or actually any laptop for that matter, is that most modern machines will likely do an acceptable job for whatever purpose you have in mind. I suppose that there are a few applications which may require some high performance features or even hacks or modifications. But, I think these uses are really few and far between.

Just as an example, maybe you are gamer. This may require that you have a high performance graphics or even video card or capabilities. In this case, a standard off the shelf solution may need a few additional modifications. In my case, as a stock market trader, my main concern is being able to connect my laptop to several monitors at the same time. For trading purposes I love being able to look at 3 or 4 different charts and points of data at the same time. This is one of the few times when an off the shelf solution will not work. At the same time, all it took was a new card and a slight modification to the plugs in the back and on the side.

The point is just that even if you do have a very specialized need, it is likely able to be accommodated rather easily and effectively. This also means it will not take much in the way of extra cash.

The first factor to consider is likely the actual screen size. What exactly a large screen means to you may be different than what it means to me. So, think about how large a screen you actually want. For some people, this may be 20 inches. Others would be fine with a 16 or 17 inch screen. Still others may find that they do not even something that big. Look a bunch of different laptops before deciding this for sure. Different screens will display data and information in different ways. Make sure that the screen you are enthralled with is comfortable to use and easy on your eyes.

The screen also will determine a number of other factors about the laptop. It will also greatly influence the size of the keyboard. You can either start with the keyboard or with the screen. Once you have decided upon a certain size, you will be stuck with the other element. So, if you really like that 16 inch screen, just make sure that you are ok with the keyboard which accompanies that screen. It may not be tremendously comfortable on your hands, but you must choose between hands or eyes. I am not aware of anything that makes modifications to either of these elements.

The next thing to consider is the type of software and other equipment you will be using. In my situation this means that I will be using several monitors, a USB connected phone and a few odds and ends. Maybe you will need a few more (or a few less) USB connectors.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Think about the size and weight of your new laptop. Remember that this is supposed to be a portable computer. If it feels like you are carrying around a truck, then the purpose of the machine may be defeated. Unfortunately, the main determinant of the size and weight of the laptop is the screen size and the battery. Most likely, the larger the screen and the higher capacity the battery have the heavier and larger the computer will be.

One of the funny things that strike me about laptops is that they were designed for the purpose of being moved. The whole idea was that you can close the thing up and carry it around with you. Certainly this is still a use that most people take advantage of. However, one of the more ironic trends I see is that many people have actually dumped their old desktop models and now use the laptop as a non traveling computer! In other words the laptop has actually become the new desktop computer.

This is even true in my case. Since I do a lot of work from a home office, I really do not have a need to constantly move the computer from place to place. It has essentially become a stationary model for me. This is even truer when you consider that I actually have connected it to several actual desktop type monitors. This makes it much easier on my eyes and posture when I am examining charts and reports. For me, a much better mobile option is using little USB click drives as storage devices. Then, whenever I need to work on a project at a new computer or a different place, I just take the USB with me and then it is like I am working on the same computer, without all the unpleasant side effects of having to play the disconnect and remember which wire went where game.

Another thing that I have been wondering about is looking at laptops from the point of view of an IT or computer support professional. I have many friends who are in this game, and I even have a fair amount of training as a computer technician. They all tell me that they think laptops are really a huge support nightmare. If you have ever tried to repair a laptop, especially if the problem is hardware related, it can be an absolute pain. Sometimes there is just not enough room to get in there and replace the needed parts.

Also, there are even many things which the users get frustrated with. Probably the top of the list is the battery. It seems that no matter what is said or promised, battery life never lives up to expectations. Also, it can be frustrating constantly setting it up, looking for a wall outlet and then having to take it down and get ready for transport again.

The bottom line to all is to find a machine which meets MOST of your needs.

Anonymous
Anonymous

There are also additional features which are important considerations when choosing the best laptop for your situation.

The trackpad is not a huge factor, but something to consider nonetheless. Just make sure that it feels comfortable and is very usable. The more common options are either a little ball located between some of the keys or an actual touch pad located on the bottom of keyboard. Personally, I think the pad provides a better feel and is easier to use.

Take a look at the keyboard. Of course, the size of the keyboard is really determined by the screen size, which most people would consider to be more important. If you want a full sized keyboard, then you will need to find something with a larger screen. If this is the case, you should also be prepared to give up some portability. The main thing is just to make sure that the keyboard is comfortable for your hands and is easy to use.

You should also probably consider how you will be using the laptop. If this is meant to be a stationary computer that you will use mainly at home, this will entail a different decision making process than a machine which you intend to take with you everywhere.

Personally, I have a large screen laptop at home that I sue for stock trading activities. Therefore the most important things to me were finding something that would support being attached to multiple monitors and having a good ergonomic design, since I am using it every day.

Actually, ergonomics should be a very important factor for everyone who plans to spend a lot of time on their laptop. The basic problem with laptops from this standpoint is that since they are designed more for their portability, you tend to give up a lot in the way of good ergonomics. Generally, you need to make a trade off between having a comfortable position for hands, wrists and arms or a comfortable position for your body, especially the back, neck and head.

You could elevate the laptop keyboard. This will serve to improve your posture and lessen the strain imposed upon your back and neck. In combination with the proper screen resolution and back lighting this could be a great solution for maintaining your posture while using the computer. On the other hand, such a position is likely not going to be very comfortable for your hands, wrists and arms.

Personally, I have chosen a comfortable position for my hands. Then I just use actual full tv screen sized monitors. The laptop screen is not really used. This gives me good posture and I am able to see the screen with much less eye strain than would normally be entailed with such a set up.

Obviously, the screen size is important and can influence several other areas of concern (such as weight, the keyboard size and even how portable and heavy the machine is).

Anonymous
Anonymous

A key factor to consider when deciding upon a laptop is the amount of memory. My advice is to get the most amount of memory that you can afford. I have always found that the old saying is true. You can never have enough memory. Having more RAM memory will allow you to open and use more programs simultaneously without slowing down the computer. As a general rule, this is one of the first customizations I make to any new machine. I try to double the amount of memory it comes with. The one caveat to this is that you should make sure your new laptop can even accept a memory upgrade; many cannot.

Another factor that I look at is the processor speed. This is another area that is dependent upon your purpose. If you are a hard core gamer, than my advice is to get something with as fast a processor as you can find and afford. Otherwise, most modern laptops will come with processors that are already plenty fast. If you want something blazingly fast, than look at a laptop with at least a Gigahertz and maybe even something with multi-core processors.

Also think about the battery life. Consider how you will be using the laptop and your lifestyle. Do you need to have a battery which will last for 3 or 4 hours at a time? Or, would you be all right with something that needs to be recharged more frequently? Of course, you always have the option of buying extra batteries. This way, you can replace them as one is low and then recharge once you are close to a power outlet. Of course, it can also be challenging recharging several batteries with only one laptop. Some of the best laptops today have batteries which can last for 8 to 10 hours, so there is probably something to fit whatever type of schedule you have.

Look at the screen backlight. Not many laptops even offer this, but the ones that do are really nice. I promise that once you have used a machine with and LED backlight you will never go back to one without. To my mind (and most experts and technology reviewers as well) this offers a better picture, is more durable and I believe it also even consumes less power. In fact, I have read that the LED light will most likely outlive all of the other laptop components. These lights make the picture look sharper and do not add much to the cost. To my mind they are a no brainer addition.

The graphics card is probably only something to worry about if you are using the laptop for hard core gaming activities. If this is you, then you also want to make sure that your system will be able to support multiple monitors and a graphics card which can control all of them. Some other options that may warrant a closer look at features similar to the graphics card are attaching multiple monitors to the laptop (typical with stock traders or financial analysts).

Anonymous
Anonymous

Also consider the weight of the laptop. If you are going to be carrying this around with you everywhere like I do, then you want something that feels comfortable when you pick it up and carry it around. Probably the heaviest aspect of the laptop is the battery. A longer battery life generally equates to more weight. Of course, you could also purchase a back up battery or two. Then again, this will add a fair amount of weight, so you will need to balance these two issues and come to your own decision. The size of the screen and whether or not you include a DVD will also affect the weight of your laptop. Personally, I will usually go for laptops that seem to be in the middle range of weight. To me these feel the best compromise between portability and performance and weight.

Finally, we come to the display and screen itself. The smaller laptops seem to have at least 8 or 9 inches. Personally, this is way too small for my taste. While I do not find that I need something 17 inches or above, there are those of you who may. Anything above about 12 or 13 inches will feel a lot less portable. In fact, as I tested out a few laptops, I found that the larger ones were more difficult to travel with and use in a variety of settings. If having a larger screen size is very important to you, there are a number of additional options you may want to consider. You could attach this to a desktop model and use that screen. Or, you may get a special card or attachment that allows the use of multiple monitors at the same time. I know a lot of stock market traders who have set ups like this. Of course, the larger the screen size you choose, the heavier your laptop will become. It will also become less and less effective as a truly mobile computing solution.

Also consider the screen resolution. This is the most critical factor in determining how much information you will actually see displayed on your screen. The higher the resolution, the smaller the images on your screen will appear. Of course, at a higher resolution you will be able to fit more information on your computer screen. The best advice I can give here is to really take a look at various machines and their different resolutions. Determine how much time you spend in front of the machine. Since I spend almost all of my working life in front of my laptop, I usually choose a machine with a fairly high resolution. I find this seems to be most comfortable on my eyes for long term use.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I remember years ago when laptops were first becoming the in thing. Actually, if you had a laptop it meant that you either had too much money or were just another tech geek. Now, it seems that everyone has such a machine. In fact, my own main personal computer is a 17 inch laptop and I take it literally everywhere I go.

Another factor today is price. The cost of most laptops has dropped considerably over the years. It is no longer an advantage to buy a desktop if your primary consideration is price. Probably the only downside to a laptop today is the fact that you actually have too many options. Choosing can be quite a job.

While the article was primarily focusing on the screen size, this is really just one of many factors to consider when choosing such a computer. Personally, the screen size would never be my overriding consideration. Instead, I would want to look at a number of the basic components and then possibly a few advanced or additional features.

The first basic component to consider is the hard drive. Actually, you may even want to start out your search by really giving some thought as to how big a hard drive you need. Think about what you want to use the laptop for. Will you be downloading music and video from the internet? This kind of activity will obviously demand a much larger amount of storage space than someone just wanting to do some light browsing.

Most laptops have hard drives between 100 and 500 GB. This is much smaller than what you could find on a high performance desktop computer. To be frank, this is probably plenty big enough for even the most intensive music down-loader. If you still want even more capacity, find yourself a nice external hard drive or even a portable USB memory stick. This is something I have used for years and it is a great way to carry around a large amount data very easily. There is also newer higher performance solid state drives which have decent capacity and are noticeably faster than the normal drives. They also use much less energy and can help your battery to last longer.

Anonymous
Anonymous

This simple, straightforward, and relatively unbiased article gave me a great understanding of what to expect when looking to purchase a large screen PC. I liked how the article listed the preferred choice that the authors made, as well as the detailed explanation of what made that the best choice for their needs. I would definitely say this is a good source of information on the subject and the authors seem to be at least knowledgeable although not necessarily experts in the field. I say this because there are a lot of personal opinions inserted and not very much jargon.

That said, I felt that I trusted the authors because they wrote of the personal research they did on the subject that seems similar to the kind of research you or any regular person might do if you were searching for a large screen laptop for your home or personal use.

The authors of the article make the assumption, it seems, that the large screen laptop is being used at home to satisfy personal computing needs rather than business needs, which is an interesting assumption. I also would have appreciated a list of a few of the reasons why a large screen laptop is beneficial, since they seem to be pricier than standard screen laptops and do not have any features like extra memory. I assume that for watching movies, or doing work with Photoshop or web design might necessitate a large screen laptop, but then what other features would you need in order to optimize for those different uses?

Perhaps those questions are best answered in another article, however. Of the PCs tested, I was glad to know which was the fastest, which had the most RAM, and what features in general come with a seventeen-inch screen laptop. I also appreciated that the article let you know what features were not important enough to change the purchase decision the authors made themselves that nevertheless were better on the brands that were not chosen. So if you happen to value one of these other features more than the ones the authors put emphasis on, you get that information from the article as well.

As far as my personal opinions go, I am a firm believer in Macs, and I would have liked to see how Mac compared to the PCs the authors chose in the article. Prices for Mac are always higher, and that did play a large role in the decision making process for the authors. However, since they were sensitive in listing the advantages other brands of PC offered, it still would have been nice to see, for the price, whether Mac really offered any advantages in any areas and if so what those advantages might be.

This is an informative piece and a “Thank you” to the authors is definitely in order. The information they provide is quite useful in helping to select a large screen laptop that you know you will be happy using for years to come.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I think 17” are too much. Size does matter when you want to travel. It would be kind of difficult to carry around that big a volume. So a 17” laptop is only great for people who don’t intend to carry it around too often. In my opinion, a 15” display like you see on the Alienware M15x is perfect. Not too big, not too small.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I was all set on purchasing a large screen LCD (bigger always seemed better 😉 but now I’m taking a serious look at the new “Notebook” or “Netbook” or whatever they’re called fad and thinking it might be handier to have a smaller, slimmer laptop that is more light weight and easier to carry around.

It’s funny how for a while it was cooler to have a smaller cell phone, and now all the touch screen phones (iPhone, HTC, Droid, etc.) are battling over who has the larger screen size.

If I had the cash, I would just get an iPad…

Anonymous
Anonymous

17 inch laptops are bulky and not suitable for journeys in my view. No wonder we see smaller ones, ie. Tablet PC (like Ipad) and of late Samsung Galaxy. Anyways, thanks for researching big screen laptops.

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