Buying a laptop?

Discussion in 'The Computer Room - Computer Talk' started by Cruentus, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    I'm going to buy a laptop. I've used them for work before, but I have never bought one of my own. So, I have no idea what to look for here.

    Can anyone tell me (as if I am a total ignoramus on the subject) what to look for, starting with RAM and GB?

    Here is what I would like to be able to do with it...

    1. Create documents and print (so latest MSW obviously).

    2. Internet (fast access), WIFI.

    3. Play DVD's, music, and webvideo's without trouble.

    4. Use a live webcam, and connect via phone line with someone else and talk with them while using the webcam (no idea how to do this, but would like to be able to do this).

    5. Would like a good amount of memory, w/ capacity for upgrade.

    Budget: Don't worry about it. Basically as inexpensive as possible while accomplishing my goals. So, If I can accomplish my goals within a 6-900 range, then don't tell me about a 1500 dollar deal because I won't be interested.

    Can't think of anything else right now, but this seems pretty straightforward.


    So... can any of you tech savvy geniuses help me out? :)

    Advice greatly appreciated, thank you! :ultracool
     
  2. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    I'd go for the latest generation PowerMacs, C. They are virtually bombproof, because they're built on a Unix core; the OS runs effortlessly and you can get into the OS core environment and do all your work with Unix applications, if you like (and I like! :D) You can run superpowerful god-like editors such as emacs, do incredible commercial-production mathematical typesetting with LaTeX, and the microprocessor it runs may now be the fastest commerically available; I think it was at one time.

    They aren't cheap—the top o' the line comes in at a tad under $3K for the 17in MacBook Pro. But definitely give these machines some consideration. One thing about them: they don't break. I've had my current G4 Powerbook for around 4 years now and there's no sign whatever that it's in anything but great shape. My previous laptop was a Toshiba that I configured as a Linux box; it lasted all of 16 months before it needed a new hard drive, and it died completely at around two years—to the surprise of none of my tech aquaintances. So the extra $$ is definitely worth it, and more, I'd say...
     
  3. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    And here in lies the problem:

    I fail to see the difference between, lets say an HP - Special Edition Pavilion Laptop with AMD Turion™ 64 X2 that I saw at Best Buy and a powermac, other then about 2 G's, at least as far as it applies to MY NEEDS. I just don't know what all that other stuff is going to do for me; I really question the use I will get out of it and if it will be worth 3 grand vs. a grand. Not to mention, the indestructableness of the laptop isn't going to make me spend an extra couple of grand because technology is always changing. I assume that I will have to at least upgrade an existing system or buy a whole new one within about a 3 year period, give or take, anyway.

    So, what I really mean to say if it wasn't clear in my initial post is that I am looking to get the best bang for my buck. It's not that I can't spend 3 Gs on a laptop, it's that I am not so sure I want to if I can get something else that will perform the operations that I need for less...
     
  4. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Just about any new laptop on the market can do what you list. However, the difference in price is proportional to how long you are likely to have it before the technology frustrates you. If you're interested in watching a lot of videos, I'd recommend going with the best machine you can afford to get the best performance and most longevity out of the machine.

    The new $750 computers are roughly equivalent to the $2000 machines from 2-3 years back.

    Another factor is screen size, screen quality, weight. Cheaper laptops tend be clunkier, heavier, with lower quality screens, batteries, etc.


    A laptop is, by its nature, portable. As such, it runs a higher risk of breakage.

    However pay close attention to how well it is guaranteed. How long is the warranty? What needs to be done to get service? What does the service plan cover?

    Some companies, such as Dell, offer plans that cover any damage the laptop may incur...whehther the hard drive dies, or the dog knocks it off the table, or coffee gets spilled in it. Others will only warranty a malfunction where there is no associated physical damage.

    Note how long the warranty is for. A 3-year service plan is strongly recommended. Most new laptops are guaranteed for a year. Some plans can be extended to 3 years, others can't.

    On-site service, where a technician is dispatched to your home, is the best option for service. This option is also the most expensive. Less expensive plans involve carry-in or mail-in service.

    Many of the cheaper laptops have service plans do not guarantee a turn-around time for warranty repair. If the plan does not explicitly guarantee a repair turn-around time you may be without your computer for several weeks, especially if needed parts are backordered.. Make sure the time is guaranteed.
     
  5. Doc_Jude

    Doc_Jude 3rd Black Belt

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    My warranty on my MacBook is 3yrs, with accompanying Tech Support, for something like $180 at purchase. That & my renter's insurance covers my laptop. Keep that in mind.

    I've had my MacBook for a year and had no problems whatsoever. NOTHING. Unlike my friends who buy Dell or Sony or HP. If what you mentioned is really all you need it for, then go for the baseline MacBook and upgrade the RAM aftermarket yourself if you feel the need. Shop around, you'll spend a few hundred more than other models with comparable memory/RAM, but esp with the the new OSX version, you will definitely see your money's worth down the road. From what you said, 120gig / 1gig RAM will probably more than do it. Hell, 80gig memory might do it. Go to your local Apple store, tell them what your needs are. & shop around if you like.

    One thing to remember... laptops are made to be portable. If you're going to be using it as your primary computer, getting a USB mouse and keyboard for home use will extend the life quite a bit.
     
  6. newGuy12

    newGuy12 Master of Arts

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    Okay, I wish to jump in. Right. You want to have at least 1 GB of RAM on the board. Don't go with less. Why? You wish to do video streaming, and will need it. Also, if you go with Vista, it is very bloated, very poorly coded, and will need all of that horsepower just to get going.

    Now, if you go with the Mac, remember that you are buying quality. Quality in everything. Freaking built to last, period. You are also paying for the brand name, paying to be "cool". But, the MAIN reason why you may wish to consider the Mac is because it runs a SUPERIOR Operating System. Yes, as 'Exile' said, it runs the Darwin kernel, the FreeBSD code runs parallel, and yes, you do have the command line available to you, FreeBSD style!

    Exile, you are the BEST!

    Um... I am a fanboy of Richard Stallman, I LOVE him, but I do not use his editor, I use the vi editor because I am 31337!!! I will forget that you mentioned the emacs!!!!!! Hahahaha!

    Also, Cruentus, if you go with an HP, consider the business class laptops, because they are rowdy, they have a stronger housing.

    One more thing, if you do not go with the Mac, consider the Lenovo line (they used to be IBM, still built to specs). I have a co-worker who got one. He had a problem, and the Lenovo people just sent him a replacement part, no problem.

    Enjoy your hunt for the laptop, it is like choosing a sword! You must feel comfortable! You must try out the keyboard and see how it feels to your hand!!!




    Regards,

    Robert
     
  7. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    There's another factor as well: the ease of moving among applications on a Mac, including applications run in the Unix core level and applications built way on top of that core. This is something that Apple has gotten so good at that I doubt that any competing OS will ever be able to catch up (and is the main reason why they survived in a market where Microsoft's competitors have routinely gone down over the past three decades plus like infantry at the Battle of Verdun). Everything shakes hands, everything works in tandem. That's a good part of the price of any Mac, and one which is probably a bargain at any price.
     
  8. newGuy12

    newGuy12 Master of Arts

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    Haha, forgive me but I'm feeling a little silly here...

    Think of the Mac as a suppressed MP-10 H-K, EXCEPT that it also is as rugged as a AK-47 from Russia, rugged both hardware AND software! So, you can throw it down in the mud, cuss it, pee on it, and then leave it for three days, and come back and... rock-n-roll!!!

    w0000!!!
     
  9. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    :rofl:

    Silly, maybe, but absolutely accurate!
     
  10. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    lol... thanks guys for the info and the creative comparisons. :uhyeah:

    I will take this all into consideration as I shop. Any other advice is also appreciated!

    :)
     
  11. Shicomm

    Shicomm Purple Belt

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    ok , the mac freaks are right at a lot of points but they also go over the budget...
    Face it ; a nice macbook will do over $1k easy... so i think a macbook ( how nice it can be ; and it's really nice , trust me ;) ) is out of the run here.
    So a nice regular notebook will do ; there loads of machines around in various qualities.
    Brands to ignore: acer and all those 'cheap' aldi machines.
    Why ? Well let's just say quality and warranty are not on top of their lists... ( and i guess you want your machine to last for at least 3 years right ? )

    Brands to get: asus and compaq
    Why ? They're sturdy and have good quality components.
    It will be a tough job to find a low end model of those ( a nice asus will easy do $900 ) but trust me , it's worth it.
    ( edit: just found a usa based store that sells an asus for under $900 ;) Check it out: here )

    I get angry people in my store all the time ; thinking they get a nice cheap deal of those "really cheap bargains" but end up with very expencive repairs because the word "warranty" suddenly is out of range...

    ( as far as i know sony is out of the 'to get' list just because they're over your budget. I know about the European and Japanese pricing a bit but have no clue about American pricing on hardware. You might find a nice sony under $1k. That would be a great deal since sony's look good and give great product quality on their laptops :) )
     
  12. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    My best friend is in the computer business and fixes things as well as sells them. Based on discussions with him in the past I would not get a Dell! [​IMG]

    I have an HP and it is great!
     
  13. tahuti

    tahuti Orange Belt

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    Any laptop in past 3 years can do what you require.

    All brands break and need repair, and check store policy on returns especially 30days returns.

    Decide how big laptop you need, if you just need desktop replacement than big screen/heavier laptop might be good idea, but if you are like in sales and you need to carry it with you all the time, lighter laptop is better.

    What style of pointing device you prefer, touchpad or accupoint(pointing stick in the middle of keyboard), if not sure go for both.
    Before using unit examine distance between accupoint and lcd, especially if you are in habit to put ac adapter on top of screen and you squeeze it in the bag, that might cause permanent "target" in lcd)

    Do you have any friends with laptop around you, if you loose your AC adapter.
    Usually adapters with cylindrical connection are easier to find as generic than those that use 3 or 4 pin connection.

    How long do you plan to use laptop?
    Cheaper laptops usually come with 1 year warranty (don't forget that some credit cards give you additional 1 year), 3 year is preferable (seen also option with 4 and 5th year). Another trick is to buy extended warranty almost at the end of manufacturer warranty, before it expires. Regular warranty usually doesn't cover wear/tear, drops, liquid spills, plastics.

    Some manufacturers also have Accidental coverage, which I do recommend if they have it, where they will repair or replace unit in the case of liquid spills, dropped unit (here is Dell example http://www1.ca.dell.com/content/top...care_svc?c=ca&cs=cadhs1&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=anavml ) I had once 4 customers in a row that brought brand new laptops,3-7 days old, with broken screens (left pen when closed screen, sat on laptop, James Bond movie hacker "I am invincible" wannabe with umbrella, run over by car). Cost of repair for motherboard/lcd is approximately half price of laptop.

    Liquid spills are usually easy to spot and those can be annoying to customers, but I can open machine and see how plastic changed color in connection with liquid, not to mention smell of bottle of red wine that was broken in laptop bag or got computer from company with message doesn't boot, I was asking myself what is going on with keyboard couldn't remove it, it was literally glued to mainboard with coffee.

    Additional warranties for spyware, data recoveries, depends on your computer knowledge and value of data.

    Examine hinges and latches, go with what your instinct says, some designs are more prone to breaking than the others.

    What type of service options you have on-site or depot, carry-in or mailing (usually they send box).
     
  14. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    Tahuti,

    Thanks for the info, man. Question: Do you work somewhere where you deal with this all the time? Like do you sell or repair laptops? Just wondering because you seem knowledgable and like your speaking from the perspective of someone who works with this all the time. I might want to ask you about a specific product as well, if that is cool...

    Thanks again,

    C.
     
  15. Kreth

    Kreth Grandmaster

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    I've had great luck with Dell, HP has some nice models as well. I love Thinkpads, but they tend to be a bit pricier than other brands. I'm not a big fan of Sony, or *shudder* Acer.
     
  16. crushing

    crushing Grandmaster

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    We use Thinkpads where I work. I agree with Kreth that they are probably pricier, but they are pretty rugged, and I haven't had any problems with mine.
     
  17. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Well according to people in the know they all advise me to stay away from Dell as they use a lower quality of parts. Still having said that since I own a business with a ton of computers some of the Dells have been okay and some have not. Thest best ones I had were hand built by my friend who just so happens to be a Budo Taijutsu guy. These computers have all the best parts. [​IMG] Still I think that anyone buying any computer should realistically hope to have up to three years of use anything else is icing on the cake. [​IMG]
     
  18. newGuy12

    newGuy12 Master of Arts

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    Dell desktops can be very good for a typical user who does not need extra performance, in my estimation. But, steer clear of Dell laptops! Unless you plan to go for the XPS line (NOT the Inspiron line).

    Like Kreth said, IBM (now Lenovo) is one good laptop. Even the entry level laptops they have are impressive. The higher end ones I *think* still have that clicky keyboard, the truly Legendary Keyboard, but I cannot confirm that.

    Also, you *may* find a used Mac if you look. Just an idea.

    I had someone give me a Dell laptop (an Inspiron) once that no longer worked. The display would fail, giving a very weird video output. I fixed that by cleaning off the jack which affixed to the video output of the motherboard (it was embedded).

    As I was researching fixes for this, I of course came across Dell's community forums. Man, you should have read some of the bad-mouthing that those people had to say about Dell's way of doing their support for laptops!

    I also have a buddy who is a true Geek, no joke. He is a UNIX admin! He has a business grade HP laptop that he loves to show off. He says, that laptop is one FINE laptop! But, its the business grade HP, not the entry level HP.

    I was just hoping that you would avoid the Windows world, because that is the lowest common denominator. The Windows is very fragile, very poorly designed! If you use an alternative to that, you will tend to be able to ride hard on the Net and not get any trouble. That is my fanboyism, though, and I will shut up now. This is a good thread!
     
  19. tahuti

    tahuti Orange Belt

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    Don't want to defend Dell, but from customer perspective they were the least stringent with warranty policy compared to Toshiba, Compaq... If you could deal with technical support. On the other hand, UPS courier was asking how good are Dell computers when he was delivering like 60-100 boxes, replacement parts, per day.

    Now comparing some manufacturers you can always find model that is kinda neglected "economy" class. They would even put screws directly in plastic instead of having nut. Those computers work as throwaway when warranty expires, at least I knew a company which was buying either top of the line as work machine or those throwaways as backup.
     
  20. Doc_Jude

    Doc_Jude 3rd Black Belt

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    If you're thinking MacBook, consider this...

    http://www.ifixit.com/

    Such a miracle.123
     

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