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the dell 8600 (nvidia version) is fantastic. it just works very well. using mandrake 10.0 and previous.
touchpad *and* usb mouse works. plug the mouse in/out and its still works. screen is widescreen and very good. dvd and cdrw works in linux. sounds is detected and just works. hard disk is big and fast. i can do about 4 hours of X based typing work ... wiothout a recharge. gkrellm correctly shows the battery/AC status. no magic confiuration required. even the wireless centrino ipw2100 works very well.
i haven't tried tv-out or xinerama with a second display, not have i tried suspend/resume ..
the hardware is solid and well built. and it has takena few knocks and continues to work.
and there is plenty of on-line support and reosurces if you need to get things like the "addiitonal volume" buttons mapped etc etc ..
the only hting i had to configure was the extra-wide dosplay and modelines ... but cutting and pasting from on-line reosurces.
and if you use windows - dell have a very well supported and logical system of online repositories. goopd stuff.
let this be an example to lesser vendors.
sony vaio i hear is very proprietary and a pain to get working.