I would like to start using bitcoin more for day-to-day transactions. However, it takes way too long to keep my wallet up to date to be practical. I am using Bitcoin Armory, though I have had this problem with every bitcoin wallet software I have tried so far.
I don't have a super powerful machine, 64 bit OS, 8 core CPU @ 1.6 GHz each, 6GB RAM, Radeon 6570m GPU, no SSD. My laptop becomes noticeably slower and almost unusable when the bitcoin software is running. Thus I have to turn it off when I need to use my computer. But if I leave it off for 12 hours, it takes on the order of 12 hours to resync.
I feel like I MUST be doing something wrong. Does everyone using bitcoin really have a 24/7 dedicated box (possibly in the cloud) to keep their wallet up to date? This isn't practical for me at all, especially since it takes longer and longer to sync each time as the number of transactions per day increases.
Note: for security reasons I am not willing to use an online service that holds my wallet.
How can I make using bitcoin more practical? I have heard about using clients that don't download / maintain the full blockchain, but doesn't this defeat the purpose of being able to verify the transaction ledger myself?