The complete desktop replacement, done right this time. There is no better time to buy a 17 inch laptop today as a portable "desktop replacement." The term has been coined in the early 2000's but true desktop replacements have been prohibitively expensive until recently, as much as $6-$7,000 for a high end desktop replacement PC. Today, a 17 inch wide screen, high resolution laptop can be had for under $800. Big difference. You will be able to work well and you will be able to play well with this machine. And it is portable.
Producers and models. While there is only one Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch model, there are numerous PC producers offering maybe altogether a dozen or more 17 inch laptop models. The sizes range from the exact 17 inch to more popular 17.3 inch, measured diagonally. The top producers include Apple, Asus, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, HP and Gateway. Besides the design and the looks, of course, you want to look for a relatively high performance processor and a matching amount of memory. 64 bit operating system is a must for future memory upgradeability. All models have their own special characteristics but we like Dell Studio on the PC side and we like MacBook Pro on the Apple side. This is the only 17 inch laptop Apple makes, so if you must go with Apple, this is your choice.
Advantages. The biggest advantages of 17 inch laptops are: The ability of actually getting your work done. With a wide 17 inch screen, you can have two applications open side-by-side, which is great for research if you are a student or in corporate. For a break, a 17 inch laptop will play a mean game with its awesome screen and solid sound, at least on many models. The big advantage also is, no matter what people say, that the 17 inch laptop is highly portable, so you can have the power, the view, the sound wherever you want to be.
Disadvantages. With larger size it becomes more difficult to safeguard a laptop. When you bring it to Starbucks, it will hang over the small round coffee table and be vulnerable to accidental bumps. It will be heavier to carry, not just because its own larger weight but also as you have to pack it in a bigger case, bigger bag or a bigger backpack. And, last but not least, one of the main disadvantages is relatively short battery life. Without an extended-life battery, if you get to three hours of up-time, you are in luck with a 17 inch laptop. The high processing power, and a big display consume a lot of electricity.