I wrote this about a month ago originally. I have since replaced the machine in question TWICE. First was with a lemon from ibuypower.com, and then a sweet little Sony notebook, the VGN-SZ370P. Anyway, read on, and try to keep that timeline in mind throughout...
I killed my laptop a few days ago, then brought it back from the dead. Oddly enough, I think this was the same process that killed my old laptop (Sony PCG-FR130, man I wish I still had that one), but I had no idea at the time.
My current notebook/laptop is a POS. It's a Sony VAIO PCG-K33. Here's a rundown of the specs, the claim, my initial reaction, and then the reality of the situation:
3.06GHz Pentium 4
Initial: Holy crap, a 3GHz P4 for $1200? NO WAY!
Reality: Dynamically downshifts as the machine heats up or starts multitasking, seldom runs above 1.8GHz, and more often runs at roughly 200MHz.
ATI IGP 345M Video with up to 128MB shared memory
Initial: ATI? Ok, worth a shot. I had a Nvidia Geforce 420 Go 16MB before, so with this much memory, it should smoke!
Reality: Integrated video = crap for multimedia/gaming. Shared memory sucks even more than integrated video, in my opinion. The overall performance was abysmal over time, and the heat buildup would cause the machine to hang periodically.
512MB Infineon RAM
Initial: Ooo, Infineon. They must be good if their name is plastered on the outside of the machine.
Reality: Is Infineon good? I couldn't tell, and sharing it dynamically with the video card means the VRAM doesn't have the pep that dedicated VRAM has.
Initial: Good enough for now. I don't need a DVD-RW yet.
Reality: Works for the most part. Sometimes had trouble reading discs. Probably heat-related like everything else.
60GB Hard Drive
Initial: Seems like plenty of room for my games and music.
Reality: At 4200RPM (not published), you could go make lunch while you wait for programs to load.