Posts Tagged 'toshiba'

Right, That Laptop

Let me help you up off that cliff. Where were we? I bought a laptop. I thought it would be difficult to balance my not-so-demanding computing needs and my wish to shop earth-consciously. It turned out to be pretty simple. The steps:

1) Set a target price. I didn’t want to spend more than $750, based on some tooling around a couple of online retailers and my personal financial goals.

2) Asked the Gentleman Friend for recommendations on brands, and tech websites. He’s quite into this sort of thing, so it was tough reminding him that I need a lot less machine than he does. A lot like trying to buy bike gear from an Intense Biking Person, when really you just need a Huffy.

3) Waded into the Green-Tech rankings. I checked EPEAT first. This was a bit of a mistake, since EPEAT rates individual machines. Greenpeace rates manufacturers overall, so i should have started with them. The model I ended up with is actually not rated at the EPEAT site yet, but the manufacturer has gotten silver and a few gold ratings for all of their rated products. The EPEAT Criteria are here. Models are rated on how well the company reports materials used and avoids some hazardous chemicals, among other things. Manufacturers have to mreet 23 basic criteria to get Bronze, all the basics and 50% of the 28 optional criteia. Gold laptops need 75% of the optional criteria as well as the basics. Toshiba, Dell, HP, and Lenovo all make has Gold-rated laptops. My price limit eliminated a good deal of the gold models. Not that they’re expensive, it’s just, $750 is not very much to pay for a laptop.

I checked Greenpeace next. Apparently, they do much more than harass whaling vessels. Their rankings deal with chemicals, reporting on materials, and takeback recycling options that companies offer. Toshiba gets top rankings, along with Samsung. Dell, Lenovo, Nokia and Sony come in “second”. Greenpeace found room for everyone to improve, though, of course.

Given how many different machines EPEAT needs to review to get their rankings to be really useful, I think Greenpeace might have the better idea ranking by manufacturer’s overall practices. So I decided to decide by that. Toshiba, Dell, and Lenovo seemed to rise to the top of the rankings where I was looking. Toshiba and Dell turned out to be a bit much for my budget. Plus, I’m no tech snob, but I’m a tech snob about Dells. They’ve got Linux models now, and they are doing good work with ecoing-up the ante, but I’m a tech snob about Dells.

4) I decided. I found out the good things about Lenovo just in time. After some research at newegg, I had picked an Acer and a Lenovo. Seduced by the 17 inch screen, I almost opted for the Acer- until I saw the Greenpeace rankings. Ah-ha! Thank you Greenpeace, for quantifying my principles for me. I opted for the 15 inch Lenovo. It was no longer for sale. What? I had to look around again, but I found a less-expensive, and less fast (2GB vs 3GB RAM) Lenovo Y510 at MicroCenter, which is a less-ubiquitous kind of Best Buy, as far as I can tell. And I pick up my new little $620 friend tomorrow morning, since he was in stock.

I’m excited, but I’ve also decided to switch to Linux myself this time around. So I’m anticipating a few glitches before I get the hang of Ubuntu. I’ll keep my old computer around for a few days while the helpful GF gets me through that. Which is really just a way of saying that you’ll have to find out how I’m eco-disposing of my old rig in a couple of days! Back over the cliff, now. Hang tight.

Wrap Up

As my early gift to you all, a few stories to help you while away your last workday before Christmas:

The Energy Bill was signed into law yesterday morning, so a decade from now cars will be more fuel efficient, appliances will be more energy efficient, and we’ll be driving more on ethanol. I remain less than thrilled about the final draft, but hey, it’s better than the Energy Bill we used to have. ZDnet reports on what the legislation will and won’t do, and what it means to regular people.

Toshiba is installing one of their tiny nuclear reactors next year in Japan. It would fit in my living room with room left over for a sofa or two, and provides energy for half what it costs to pull it from the grid here in America. They’re billed as “fail-safe” and “totally automatic”, which is always what people say in those sci-fi stories about three paragraphs before the thing fails catastrophically. Before we get all NIMBY (or rather, NIMLivingRoom) about it, let’s take a deep breath and remember that nuclear power is the most inexpensive, reliable, efficient source of renewable energy out there right now, except for that whole thing where we have no idea how to deal with the long-lived and very dangerous spent fuel. Actually, why haven’t I been writing more about nuclear power? It’s pretty interesting. Chew on this, and I’ll have more later.

Finally, click around this Wired slideshow on 2007’s “10 Craziest Ways to Hack the Planet”. In pictures and short summaries, they detail how a few scientists are proposing radical solutions for fixing environmental problems. Not enough agricultural space? Build skyscraper farms. Too much sunlight warming us up? Let’s seed the sky with clouds/shoot giant mirrors into space. Environment not soaking up enough carbon? Let’s invent new kinds of trees or fertilize plankton! Some proposals are interesting in their just-crazy-enough-to-work panache, but a few hit that why-would-anyone-ever-consider-that-ever chord. At the end, the scientists all throw back their heads and laugh maniacally. Not really, but they do end on perhaps the craziest- and only ongoing- world hack of all: our effort to change the balance of the planet by dumping gimongonourmous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

I’ll be away for a while for the holiday, so have a good one.

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