Should I pay more for a 17 inch laptop?

I’m going to buy a laptop soon. Tell me about your experiences with fifteen inch and seventeen inch laptops. Is the increased monitor size worth it? How much less inconvenient is transportation?

All input is appreciated.

Edit: I’m also interested in whether “high definition” monitors are worth it.

I love mine. It’s nice to have the extra real estate for multiple windows, gadgets like clocks, calendars and weather info, and it really pays off when watching TV shows or movies. Don’t know if the extra bulk would be a problem for you as I don’t carry mine around much. But on those occasions when I have, it hasn’t been much of a problem.

If it’s your only computer that rarely travels then bigger is better. If you travel with it constantly then weight is a big deal followed by size. I consider my 15" to be on the heavy side for travel. My work laptop had a smaller screen and it was supplemented by a larger monitor. It was much lighter to carry around.

Higher resolution allows finer detail when reading small text which reduces eye strain.

In addition to the extra visual space, my 17" has a NUM pad, which I use often. It’s bulky, though.

The only place I carry mine is to the car. I use a Crumpler messenger style bag and the bigger the computer, the bigger the bag, and the more crap I can carry in it. I like the screen size, the numeric keypad, the fast hard drive. Mine is an HP that I got in 2006 I think. The problem that came up is the display/lid is a clamshell and my little girls got in the habit of grabbing it from the corner to open and adjust it and I think the size and flex of the display helped pop one of the corners open near one of the hinges. I had to send it in to get fixed under warranty. I’ve been happy with it otherwise.

My wife’s new 15.6" laptop has the number pad, so that, at least, is a wash.

I’ll echo most of the comments in this thread. I have a 17 inch that I don’t travel with often. If I do, it is by car. I subscribe to a lot of sports broadcasts online, so the larger screen really comes in handy for watching sports and streaming movies from Netflix.

Agreed with the others. If it’s a desktop replacement where you want some mobility, but you’re only planning to move it around once in a while, bigger is better.

If it’s an actual laptop (if you already have a desktop and this is your second computer, if you travel a lot for either business or pleasure, if you want to take it out and use it at the coffee shop a few times a week), frankly I paid a little extra to get a quality 13.3" a few years back - I think even 15 is a bit too big to use as an actual mobile computer.

Had a 17" laptop when I worked in IT, and it was my primary work computer that went home with me every day and went on trips (personal and business.) It is great to have the extra screen space, as I generally had at least two remote desktop sessions always open plus Outlook, Word or Excel docs, Explorer, and any number of utilities. BUT, it was one heavy SOB and if I could have gotten away with a smaller screen, I would have made the switch.

These days I would look into the smallest laptop that would work for travel needs and then have either a desktop system or a docking station with full size monitor for at home/work use.

A 17" laptop is an ungainly beast if you carry it around a lot. Also, they tend to not work well on one’s lap – too big to balance easily, too power hungry to use away from a power outlet, and lots of hot spots on the sides or bottom. But if you plan to use it at a desk or a table, and won’t move it very far or very often, they’re pretty good as a reasonably portable desktop. And you will appreciate the extra screen size.

When I was shopping for Laptops, the 17 inch ones were actually cheaper for the same hardware as a 15 inch one because of the inconvenience factor of having to cart it around.

I second this advice. I have a 17" laptop and it’s a pain to carry around. Small is good when you travel. Then spend the money you save on a port replicator, nice keyboard, mouse and monitor for home use.

I went for the 17" behemoth, mostly because it also serves as my only DVD player and because I like to mess around with Photoshop, and both seem easier on the bigger screen. I love the extra size, but as others have said it is quite power-hungry and a bit unwieldy. I ended up buying a special backpack to carry it around - not many ordinary backpacks will carry a 17", even some of the ones labeled “holds up to a 17” laptop" didn’t work when I tried it (might be different with different computer brands though). I carry it in the pack all the time, either walking or on my bike. I’ve carried it through airports and so on that way too. I don’t find the weight or size to be annoying at all when it’s on my back, but if I had to carry it in a shoulder bag I’m sure I’d be suffering. I am a grad student, so I can look like a lazy shlub all I want, but I understand that in a business environment it might not be particularly appropriate to carry a backpack.

For me it made sense - I needed a computer to do certain things and couldn’t afford to get the docking station or a seperate desktop. When I do use it I’m pretty much always near a power source. It depends what you want to use it for.

Only downside I’ve found with the 17" laptop is that the cat gets miffed that there’s less room on my lap. Even though I use it at home, I prefer the 17" laptop to the 15"-laptop-with-the-external-monitor-at-home-approach because you can’t really stretch out on the couch with an external monitor.

I tend to use my laptop for photography and programming, so all the screen real estate I can get is not enough.

I have a 17" laptop. I wish I’d gotten a 15" because it’s too heavy and too big. I suspect, though, that a guy of at least average height would probably have less complaints about the size that I, a short woman, do.

My computer is an Acer laptop with an 18" screen. It weighs about 11 lbs. I don’t find it inconvenient in the least, but I’ve never had a laptop before. It’s great for watching movies (has high def so that’s cool - we don’t have a high-def tv) and playing games (has great specs which is why I chose it) and I take it with me places all the time.

The only drawback is that everyone is always gawping over how big the screen is. Oh, and it gets really hot when I use it for gaming - so I use a wire lap desk rather than resting it on my lap or on the bed.

ETA: Oh, and I am child-size, but 10 lbs is nothing. I don’t understand why so many people find a laptop over 5 lbs a burden but according to all the laptop reviews I have read, this is a major factor in purchasing…

Just today I bought a 17" laptop from (If this is any day other than today (Friday the 19th of Feb.,) you won’t see the laptop, woot is a “one deal a day” type website.)

I like the larger screen because:

  1. I won’t be carrying it around a lot. It’s mostly so I can use a computer in a room other than my bedroom, where my desktop is. I’ll experiment with taking it to work so I can use it on my lunch break and not have to trek from the lunchroom at one side of the hospital to the computer lab in the medical library at the other end after I eat to whittle away the rest of my lunch hour, but if it’s too bulky for that, I won’t mind.
  2. Larger screen means larger keyboard. I make approx. 1000 types per sentence with a small 15" screen-sized keyboard. my fingers get in the way of each other and all Hell breaks loose.
  3. This model has a Blu-Ray drive, so it will be nice to watch the movies on larger screen when I’m not near a a TV to plug it into (it also has HDMI out, how cool is that?!)

When you take your work home and it’s a 1/4 walk to your car you’ll understand. Computer plus paperwork plus carrying case gets heavy.

NO, it is not worth paying more. IME you won’t need to pay more for a 17". They are heavy, bulky beasts, and not fun to lug around, so users who frequently carry thier laptops avoid them, so there is a reduced market for them. This means they end up as overstock/closeout deals frequently, where you can often pick them up for less than a similar spec 14 or 15" machines. (Note reference above)

I made the mistake of getting one of these “good deal” 17" laptops for my first laptop. Two people who later asked my advice on laptops failed to heed this lesson, and later confided that I was right. Like me one ended up buying a smaller computer within a couple of years, the other never had the laptop with him when he needed it. SWMBO (grudgingly) took my advice, got a 14" and now covets my netbook. I think I may have heard her say that perhaps I wasn’t totally wrong on the weight issue.

Now you say “It’s not that much bigger”. Well, that bigger screen needs a bigger backlight, which burns more juice, which needs a bigger battery, possibly a spare battery which needs a bigger charger…a couple ounces of display weight end up adding a pound or more to what you need to carry. Not to mention, that the bigger laptops often use faster chips which eat more power and add to the above.

If you use it for travel, or take it to the office daily, you will probably end up hating a 17". If you mostly leave it in one location, or move it from room to room in your house, then they are fine and the bigger screen IS nice, just not worth the weight if you are looking for a true portable.