Confused! Need help w/laptop selection & online tech services? XP vs 2000?

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deiger

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Hi,

I'm a long-time PC user in the corporate/high-tech world, but have never had to purchase a home PC (always used my work laptop). I'm in the market now for my first home PC and am DREADING the selection process and service issues! Any help is greatly appreciated.

I am trying to narrow down which laptop to buy (with which config) and potentially if there's an online tech support service that's worth it's membership fee. I'm absolutely terrified of not having my 24x7 tech support from work! Not that i'm clueless, but when wierd stuff starts happening, as it always does, it's nice to have a helping hand to figure out what's going on without a huge "on hold" time, or incompetent help.

FYI, while I work in high-tech, and am pretty computer-savvy, I am not capable of building my own computer.

First, some background:

My current work laptop is an IBM Thinkpad T40, with

Total of 512MB memory
40GB Hard Drive
8x DVD
Cisco Aironet 802.11b Wireless
V.92 modem
32MB Video SGRAM
Sound Blaster compatible 16-bit stereo built-in speakers
USB Port
256 MB USB Memory Key
Port Replicator
Win2K Configuration

I've been basically happy with this config, as I mainly use office apps like Word, Excel, email (currently Eudora, but will be switching to Outlook), IE, ppt, photo software (ofoto, photoshop) etc. I am not a gamer, but could see the potential for needing a PC capable of home video editing.

I did some quick online research, and Consumer Reports suggests the following minimum config (Do you agree?):

Target configuration:
For everyday computing (word processing, finance, Web and e-mail, some digital imaging and games), be sure the computer has at least: 2.2-GHz Pentium 4 Mobile, 2.7-GHz nonmobile processor, or the equivalent • 15-inch XGA display • 30- or 40-GB hard drive • CD/DVD combo drive • 256 or 512 MB of RAM • 32 MB graphics processor.
Price: $1,200 and up.

Step-ups:
For serious digital imaging, step up to 60-GB hard drive, SXGA+ display. • For video editing: 3-GHz processor or the equivalent, 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM, 60-GB hard drive, DVD writer. • For extreme gaming: 64-MB gamer-class graphics processor.

Their top rated PCs were:

If you want a desktop replacement:
1 Gateway $1,775
Gateway 600, 2.4-GHz P4 Mobile, 15-in. XGA

2 Toshiba $1,900
Toshiba Satellite Pro M15-S405, 1.4-GHz Centrino, 15-in. XGA

4 Dell $1,300 (DOESN'T HAVE 2 CARD SLOTS)
Dell Inspiron 5100, 2.66-GHz Pentium 4, 15-in. SXGA+ A CR Best Buy


"The Gateway (1) and Toshiba (2) are excellent overall. The Dell (4) is a CR Best Buy. All three are worth considering because they come with a good warranty. The Toshiba has a very user-friendly way to fine-tune its power requirements. "

Coming in number three was:
IBM ThinkPad A31 2652, 1.9-GHz P4 Mobile, 15-in. SXGA+ $1,830

Do you agree with their ratings?

Also, I've been using Windows 2000. Have no clue about XP. What should I get? What's the diff and what do i get with XP that 2k doesn't do/offer? Are they both equally stable? Do I need XP professional vs home? (I am very used to the corporate PC environment, and "cutesy" PC stuff kinda drives me nuts).

Another big question for me is how good is the tech support? Any comments on Dell vs Gateway vs Toshiba vs HP etc?

What about a service like askdrtech? (http://www.askdrtech.com/home/home.asp)

Again, any help is appreciated!

Thanks,
Diane
 
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