The title says it all. The theme of the present discussion is: do you think it more cost and end-result effective to purchase a high-powered ultraportable, in other words a light, small laptop that you can use on the move but that doesn't sacrifice, due to it's size, things like performance and the like, or a cheaper netbook, which can do nothing more than web surfing, essay and report production, along with the very occasional and light (usually older) game (Samsung NC10 reports show it can handle things like Unreal Tournament 4, GTA Vice City and almost certainly Rome: Total War) coupled with a high-powered gaming rig to maintain in a static situation at home.
Examples of high-powered ultraportables are things like the Sony VAIO Z Series notebooks, which, aside from being quite pricey (~£1450, $1850 or €2000 for mid-to-high-range models), display all the desired characteristics an ultraportable could possess at the present moment (top-end models can sport Intel Core 2 Duos with up to 2.66GHz processing power, 4GB DDR3 RAM, Sony's Hybrid Graphics system which allows one to swap between an internal graphics unit for lower process-hungry endeavors and discrete external nVIDIA GeForce 9500 graphics, as well as HDDs ranging from 160 to 320GB or SSDs with 128GB or slightly more, and a wealth of further, more frivolous specs. Check, for more info on one of the models in this range: [http://www.trustedreviews.com/notebo...n-Notebook/p1]
There are also the upcoming ASUS S121 [http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/06/a...st-512gb-ssd/], the Dell Vostro 1310 [http://www.trustedreviews.com/notebo...n-Notebook/p1] and XPS M1330 [http://www.trustedreviews.com/notebo...-XPS-M1330/p1] dishes, as well as Samsung's Q310 [http://www.trustedreviews.com/notebo...n-Notebook/p1]
You can also look at 12.1" options, as well as 11.1" for ultimate portability. The downside on these solid and visually appealing ultraportables is their high cost. The Dell Latitude E4200 [http://www.trustedreviews.com/notebo...a-Portable/p1], for example, is retailing for (inc. VAT, and without the top-of-the-line-array) ~£1750.
There are those who will prefer the Mac dishes (MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Pro), which also tend to be on the expensive side of things, even if their prices have been known to drop slightly in recent times.
All in all, the high-powered ultraportable market, unless you're looking at less powerful processors that make even casual gaming with the supplied GPU a difficult task (vd. HP Pavillion dv2 and dv3 subnotebooks), offers a very expensive option for business execs (supposing they are successful, this shouldn't be such a deterrent, however) and especially university students and professors, as well as traveling salesmen and the like. The gaming facet of such systems, is, furthermore, of limited use and playability, simply because it cannot be denied that it must be uncomfortable (heck, on my 15.4" ASUS V6J it already presents hindrances) and generally less appealing, due to such things as small mice, keyboards and bad sound quality, not to mention the proximity of the keyboard to the screen, the heat dissipation and usually loud fan noise when a demanding game is being played.
One the other hand, there is the option of a netbook, which, in my humble opinion, is still far from the price it should be at (say $150?), a Samsung NC10 costing around £399 presently and the upcoming NC20 having been announced as costing £475 or so. These prices are ludicrous for machines that use 1.60GHz processors, internal graphics, 1GB RAM, and possess 160GB HDD space. Meagre though the general specs that run throughout the netbook range, no matter what the manufacturer (excluding the upcoming NC20, which does innovate insofar as the processor's brand (no longer the Intel Atom but the Via Nano processor) but in terms of GHz remains on the same page), are, their price is still certainly high.
Nevertheless they are still cheaper than the high-powered ultraportables, even if for +$100 or $200 a much better laptop, albeit of a larger size, can be purchased. However size is of the essence here, as well as overall weight and portability. It is, in the present technological clime, superfluous to look for a machine that won't be able to accompany you comfortably in your travels and movements, that is, if you seek such an item.
There is then the addition of the gaming rig PC, which presents much more modest and accessible pricing for incomparably higher performance. A computer with an Intel i7 Nehalem 920 processor, coupled with triple-channel CORSAIR 6GB RAM, a SAPPHIRE Radeon HD4870 GPU with 1GB of memory, a 1TB WD Caviar hard-drive and a 21.1" FullHD Acer monitor, as well as a Coolermaster COSMOS (ultra-silent) chassis and CORSAIR 750W (80%+ certified) power supply and rudimentary Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboard and mouse, as well as a Samsung DVD-R/RW DL 22X (w/ Lightscribe) drive retails, from newegg (an American online store) for ~€1170 (and that includes the motherboard to support the i7, which is still quite pricey).
These prices will surely drop, and the wonders one can achieve with such a rig, if for example a BD player is added, include a whole host of activities such as image-editing if one is into such maneuvers, gaming of the highest order (BioShock, Crysis, Empire: Total War and such) at maximum specs, and watching movies in High Definition.
Not to mention the added comfort of having the keyboard close at hand, comparably less noise coming from the chassis, and a significantly better visual experience due to the quality of the 1080p-capable screen.
The pricing of the netbook and PC combined reaches something like €1500, if a €400 netbook is selected.
Such a price, for something like a high-powered ultraportable, would mean one of lesser specs, and restrict one's gaming extravaganzas extensively.
The verdict on my end is that the latter combination is preferable to one single small subnotebook to handle everything.
What do the more tech-savvy members of the board consider to be the better choice, considering portability and access to gameplay and movie-watching, keeping in mind an overall economic price?