Thanks largely to this forum I recently purchased a Sager NP5797 after some serious shopping around.
I program automation equipment mostly in the field and I work with hi-level graphics for touchpanels, I needed something that shows I mean business as well as performs like I mean business.
The Sager NP5797 offers both and right out of the box I could tell this was the right purchase, despite the cost.
The orange trim shows a little flash without being over the top and its distinctively different than other machines on the market.
One thing I noticed almost immediately is the top of the display, once you remove the heavy duty shipping plastic is that its far smoother than it appears, so it picks up finger prints easily, these fingerprints are difficult to wipe off, after 2 days it took me 10 minutes of polishing to get it looking right again, not a big deal but if you need to show up with a clean machine to make an impression it could get in the way.
What's in the Box:
The box it came in was fairly large, much larger than I expected, the laptop itself was in its own box inside the larger one and there was also a box which contained the included carrying case. The carrying case had the AC Adapter and power cord as well as the warranty policy (I got the three year) the windows vista booklet, a small bag with an RJ11 telephone cable, a tiny plunger with what looks like heat sink transfer goo (not sure yet what thats for), a DVI male to VGA female adapter (nice since there isn't a VGA output), another package contains my Win7 coupon, a Win Vista recovery CD, a CyberLink DVD Suite CD, a Device driver & Utility + User manual CD and finally a 200 page user guide (glove box size).
The look and feel of this machine is awesome, as stated the orange trim really gives it some pizazz without going over the top. As I mentioned the top picks up finger prints easily and are difficult to clean off. Otherwise this is a very attractive laptop. No noticeable flex if you pick it up from a corner with the lid open, the lid opens and closes easily, the battery pops in and out easily, judging from previous designs I have used compared to this one, these things will remain easy to operate after the machine has "worn in" nor will they start undoing themselves without your intention (unless you pop the battery in and out All the time). Also to note, in the pictures the "carbon fiber" look around the keyboard looks cheesy, but in reality its a nice textured feel not glossy or cheesy looking at all.
The picture quality is awesome, the screen is impressive and is one of the primary reasons I wanted this laptop. After 5 minutes my eyes had adjusted to the 1920x1200 resolution (over my former el cheapo 1366x768) and my old laptop screen was starting to look like 640x480 on a 50" screen.
Image quality is spectacular and the colors are very bright and true. Working with Adobe CS4 is much easier now as well as a whole host of other applications.
The keyboard is nice and is easy to type with. I have not yet found a way to change the hotkey functions at the top of the keyboard but I have not tried yet either. BUT there is one massive glaring problem with the keyboard. Of the last 3 full size keyboard laptops I have either owned or had in my full time possession, the number pad on the right had the decimal at the bottom of the number pad... this one has an enter key where that decimal would normally be located and the decimal is actually at the top. Try typing in several IP addresses with this thing, it will take forever! I really wish Sager had paid attention to this detail because I cant even find the time to re-learn how to use this number pad in an application where its safe to do so without taking valuable time. The only workaround I can see is to remap that enter key to be a decimal but I would lose the enter key over there which is just as habitual.
Steve defined the F keys and the extended Function keys nicely in his review, it would be silly to reiterate those as they are all accurate.
The touchpad is very cool, the textured feel gives nice tactile feedback and helps the user "feel" their way around the screen, however I had one like this a while back and I did wear the texture out of it after about a year, from a human interaction perspective I dont think that would matter though because after that amount of time you have adapted nicely to the dimensions of the touchpad. Its controlled by Synaptics software too so its totally and completely customizable, scroll zones, hot corners, speeds the whole nine. I am still getting used to the click buttons but I have noted that the left click seems a but stiff, I am hoping after a little time it will loosen up some, I tend to use the outside edge of the button and the best "click spot" is to the inside. I also thought the fingerprint reader would be obtrusive but I have barely noticed it.
I started using the quick launch bar a long time ago so I rarely have a need to use additional hotkeys but I would like to remap the buttons to keys that I would like and so far I have not seen a way to do this easily. Of the three at the top, the left starts default email, the middle takes your current page and sends it to your home page or launches and goes to your home page, the right one does "silent mode" for your fan, I would be cautious about this as it seems to simply drop the fans speed by about 50% or more.
The LEDs were also covered nicely by Steve@NBF so I wont reiterate however, its a difficult habit to get into to look for the caps lock indicator in a new place. When you are typing its OK but your forearm covers it up. Not a really big deal but part of my job is identifying human habits and how to handle them or change them, I tend to notice these things.
The unit ships with onboard WIFI and Bluetooth. Nice, easy, convenient and typical.
There are a pair of speakers built in and they actually sound pretty good for a notebook. There is a built in subwoofer in the bottom but its nothing to write home about (what do you expect for 2" at 2 watts?) I have not hooked the outputs up to anything yet but I believe it would sound nice if you were running this machines audio to an expensive audio setup.
Input and Output Ports
All the audio ports are on front, not a huge problem if you dont need to use them often but it could get pretty annoying for someone needing to use them often.
It has a built in webcam but I never use one so I dont really care about it, I did fire it up to make sure it worked and it had some contrast issues, though I light my desk from behind my head so thats not entirely fair.
The right side has two USB ports and ethernet and modem connection as well as a TV input jack, for a righty this tends to be annoying because the wires get in the way of your typical outboard mouse location.
There is only the DVD rom on the left side.
There is a single USB port on the back along with an HDMI, DVI-D and SATA port next to the power port.
I end up sitting on the floor alot in my work (mostly because in construction areas there aren't any places to sit) so I will sit cross legged sometimes and prop my laptop on the floor and lean it against my shins and work that way, with the power plug in the back the laptop teeters around left to right, its gets so annoying so quickly that I end up sitting straight legged with it across my lap. Why is that a problem? Because I cant sit still even if I have to.
The bottom has three ports, two for ventilation, one is the subwoofer. There is a nice momentary lock for the DVD Rom with a secondary shove switch to push it out, the battery has a momentary lock as well and the battery only pops out if that lock is switched and you intentionally pop it out with your finger (easy to do) Much easier than other laptops I have had which required contortions, swearing and threats to pull the battery without the aid of a passerby.
I have not invested the time to run any benchmarks, I offer a more human perspective
However, if any of you know anything about Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, its a real processor killer, if you had a large theme park and all the detail settings were maxxed out you could barely scroll through the park much less enjoy your little creation, this machine runs it at 1280x960 with the settings at max and with the exception of the fan being a little noisier its doesnt even jitter across the screen.
Size and Weight
The size and weight is nice and one of the main reasons I went with this unit over the upcoming NP9850. At just over 9 pounds this laptop is comfortable on the floor, on the couch or in bed, its not awkward with the exception of crossing your feet but thats nothing new for average laptop users.
The size is perfect for the power, everything is positioned really well making it easy to work with from any normal seated position. Though it does tend to get a tad warm on the right thigh.
Heat and Noise
It is a little bit noisy, its doesn't sound like a jet or an old AC unit mind you but its not the quietest fan on the planet. A minor tradeoff considering the power of the unit as a whole, the amount of heat that is taken away from the keyboard and the general efficiency of the cooling system as a whole. Put it like this, if you are looking for a powerhouse in laptop form you already know its going to be somewhat noisy, this machine does no more or less than that.
Battery life is not the greatest, though it does recharge fairly quick, I have had it out doing compiles and uploads on battery for about 45 minutes before I started scampering back to the AC Adapter. Be aware that compiles for the software I work with are pretty intensive sucking alot of juice from the batteries, so I wasnt disappointed by the 45 minutes but I was hoping for better.
I specifically requested not to have any freeware or anything else installed on this machine which was not absolutely required to run all of its components.
Other than the inexpensive but sturdy and convenient carrying case and the AC Adapter... nothing else came with it.
Big screen with high resolution
lots of power
colorful without being gaudy
awesomely engineered design, feels sturdy and tough
lots of power
stays relatively cool
rotten number pad layout
port locations not the greatest
a little noisy
Overall this is exactly the kind of machine I would love to have, if the cons I listed were changed that would be great however to put it in perspective, the unit staying relatively cool is almost certainly a result of engineering the ports to their locations, this also affects the noisiness, knowing that heat is the enemy I willingly accept these tradeoffs to have a machine which will still be running two or more years from now because it manages heat better than anything else I have ever used.
The screen is big and awesome, I cant get over how nice it looks and how much more stuff I can see at once on it, I cant wait to get my new 24" ELO to pair them up. I already hooked it up to my big screen and its beyond awesome.
All in all this machine is totally badass and I am stoked to have it as my own even though I dont do alot of gaming these days I look forward to the occasional fragfest with no lag and eye candy settings at max.