New Laptop Ideas

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Tadtheo

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Oct 6, 2007
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Hi,
I am thinking about purchasing a new laptop but am stumped as there isn't a huge range of decent laptops in my price range that I can find, but I could just be looking in the wrong place.

Here's my criteria:
- $1000, $1150 tops.
- Not a huge gamer but would like a laptop that can handle a mid size game.
- 13" screen would be best, for uni.
- Would prefer a HP, Compaq, Asus, Sony, or Samsung, but open to other brands provided they have a good track record.
- Considering spending a little more, and getting a Mac, but the additonal costs of the software has put me off.
- CD/DVD drive, would be helpful. (I know some 13" laptops have dropped the DVD drive).

By the way I live in Australia, so my price will probably be a little cheaper for you Americans. :)

Any Ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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I will give you my opinion.I think the biggest thing is buying one that offers good customer support.I bought 3 HP's and turned out on the model i bought,dv9000 there was a major design flaw in that model.Of course I didn't know that till later.One died just after 1 year warranty was up.After some research found out that happened to alot of people and there is a class action lawsuit against them.I think any company has a few models that had some design flaws.Buy an extended warranty,on a laptop 1 year is not enough.I read toshiba has good customer support.This is just my opinion.Do your homework and dont rush into any buying decesion.
 

Tadtheo

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Oct 6, 2007
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Thanks for your thoughts, I have a Compaq C700 now, and yes it does have a huge design flaw... It overheats... Thanks again.
 
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I would stay away from HP (Compaq). Seems like most overheat. Have one now that I won't use without an exterior cooler fan underneath it.

Recently bought an Acer 7736Z from Walmart.com for around $600 with extended warranty. Really satisfied with it. 17" screen, but you might find one you like there that better fits your specs.
 

calvin-c

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I was really surprised that you said there wasn't a huge range of decent laptops in your price range as I found the opposite. Then I read that you live in Australia.

I just bought a 14" Toshiba Satellite (L645D IIRC) from Walmart for my wife. I ended up returning it only because she decided the screen was too small-but this was after I'd stripped the bloatware & installed our own software so I did get some experience with it. I was impressed in many ways, but not by Toshiba's support. (Although I didn't talk to them, so my opinion is really about their support website than about their support techs.)

For <$500US this was a decent laptop. It was good enough for everyday use although not for intensive gaming (or heavy-duty processing work, e.g. programming-but I do the programming & my wife does bookkeeping & word processing so it would have been fine for her, if it had had a larger screen).

This was something of an impulse buy. I knew I needed to replace her laptop 'soon' and knew roughly what I wanted, and this looked like it'd fit the bill for a good price. Since then I've been doing more research so I've upped my requirements a little. I don't really have a specific recommendation for you since we're looking for a larger screen (15.6" minimum) but here's my thoughts on other criteria.

First, CPU. The minimum I want is either a Core i5 or an AMD Phenom II Triple-Core. The Core i5 has Turbo mode which the i3 doesn't, and it seems to just beat the pants off the Athlon II for little more cost in the final machine.

Next, HD. I'm still trying to figure out how much RPM affects performance. One drawback to the Toshiba was the 5400RPM drive. I don't think it would be a deal-killer, but I'd really prefer 7200RPM. Size isn't all that important-even most netbooks seem to have 160GB these days, which is really plenty unless you're doing video work or something like that. (I use an external drive for data so, when I checked my PC for reference I found I had about 150 programs installed but used less than 50GB of disk space.)

RAM. It's got to be upgradeable to 8GB, but I really don't want to pay for that much up front. Basically I want the upgradability to 'future-proof' the laptop although I could be convinced either way. (Sometimes I've bought a machine that's upgradeable then, when I needed the upgrade just decided to replace the whole thing. So that can go either way. I'm just enough of a pessimist to believe that if I buy a machine that *isn't* upgradeable then it's not going to be very long before I run into something that makes me want to upgrade it.) Minimum of 3GB, DDR3.

Graphics. Can't stand the Intel GMA integrated graphics even though it now comes with 64MB dedicated. IMO it slows down Windows even without playing any games. (At least with the Aero interface. I'll admit I never saw a performance hit under XP that I could attribute to this so I'll assume that if I disabled Aero I could get decent performance-but I like Aero & don't want to disable it. So I'm crazy-it works for me.)

Anyway, minimum graphics I'll consider is the integrated ATI Radeon Mobility HD 4250 with 256MB dedicated, up to 1.4GB shared. Not that I consider that great, but at least it doesn't get in the way of Windows. How much better I'd go for depends on how much extra I'd pay for it. In custom-build configurators I've seen upgrades to the Radeon HD 5650 with 1GB dedicated for $175US. Too much, IMO, as we're not heavy gamers. But I've also seen some that offer the Radeon HD 5450 with 512MB dedicated for $75US. I'd probably choose that, if it's available.

So those are my thoughts on criteria & I'll note that what I'm finding, with that criteria, are 17" notebooks under $850US. And since screen is a major factor in costs (not *the* major factor, but definitely one of them) I'm sure you can find equally good 13" notebooks for less, or better ones that are still within your price range.

I do like HP, BTW. Their support website seems better than Toshiba's & their techs seem fairly good too. (As noted I didn't use Toshiba's techs, only their web site.) How the PC's are set up is largely personal preference, and by default HP's seem to have more bloatware than Toshiba's, but I found http://forum.notebookreview.com/ website that has a forum specifically for HP. It also has one for Toshiba but what I like about the HP forum are the model-specific step-by-step instructions for either removing the bloatware or doing a clean install of Windows 7. It greatly helped my set up my 1st Windows 7 laptop last year-an HP dv7 with a Core i7-720QM processor. It's a great laptop but, sadly for you, out of your price range. (But only by a couple of hundred dollars. Last November, when I got mine, HP was offering $500 on many custom-built systems, including the dv7. So if you can wait a few months....maybe.)
 
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My opinion is dell is the best. Acer is the cheap crappy stuff, along with compaq. Hp is also good. my opinion is this laptop

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?oc=dndom13&c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19

its a dell (very good record and reliable)

-$950
-intel i5 (2.4 ghz to 2.66 on turbo) i believe its a quad core
-6 gb ram
-64 bit windows 7
-500 gb hdd
-14" widescreen HD
-very good webcam (the one on my dell mini 10v is amazing and better than other full laptops from other comps)
-1gb dedicated video card
-DVD burner
-1 year lo jack
-bluetooth in addition to wifi
-HD audio
-6 cell battery (5 hr 15 mins battert life)
-cost 29$ a month
 

calvin-c

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When looking beyond the brand name, into the components, I've found Acer to be very competitive with Dell's Inspiron line. Don't know anything about their support-they own Gateway now, as well as eMachines, and the last time I dealt with Gateway their support was awful-but then so was Dell's the last time I dealt with them. (I got more support from Dell's Community forum than I did from their support techs.)

From the specs I think Dell's Studio machines are superior to Acer, and comparable to HP-but a little more expensive. So, IMO, the choice among these comes down to support & there seems to be opinions all over the place on that. IMO HP has better support-but then you're already at the best support site I know of so it might not make too much difference how good the company's support is.
 

Tadtheo

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138
Hi,
Thanks Calvin-c for your in-depth explanation, it will be duly noted for my purchase.
Atnerzig, I agree with your opinion on Acer's, and that Dell is incredible for the money, but sadly, is unavailable over here, and anything comparable is around the $1200 mark.

After considering my options, I am really leaning toward the bottom of the range Macbook Pro. But anyone I ask who has a Mac, seems to be a fanatic, and can't really give me an un-bias opinion. So, is their someone out there who can give me a brief list of costs and considerations that I would need to consider, if I spend the extra cash to get a Mac?
Also is there any costs involved or anything to consider if I were to Dual Boot Windows 7 on the Mac?

What do you think?

Thanks!
 
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the computer i chose is under your price range by 100, but it is a very good laptop with dell quality. look at the site.
 

Tadtheo

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Joined
Oct 6, 2007
Messages
138
I understand that, but Dell doesn't sell this particular laptop in Australia, and anything comparable over here is around $1200.
 

calvin-c

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As I understand it you need to buy a copy of Windows 7 (probably retail) to dual boot it so that would add to your cost. Also make sure you include the cost of whatever software you need to buy, whether it be Mac or Windows. My understanding is that most Mac software is still more expensive than the comparable Windows software. And even more so if you're willing to settle for 'equivalent' software (e.g. OpenOffice rather than Microsoft Office).

BTW I don't have a Mac. AFAIK the Mac adage is still true-if you can do it, then it's easy. If it's hard, then you can't do it at all. IMO it's a matter of how much you're willing to learn. My own preference is for something which increases my flexibility while lowering my direct cost even if it requires spending more time 'tinkering' with it. That's an argument for Linux, BTW, but that's not feasible with my job.
 
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I have a small Macbook - about three years old. It's ok for traveling because it's small and light. Runs hot - to my thinking anyhow. And sometimes the wireless "Airport" balked at hooking up to a hotel wirless. For running any kind of program that requires decent ram and power, I wouldn't go for anything but a Macbook Pro and they are expensive. I'm still running Tiger onmy Macbook. Leopard on my Mac Pro seems to slow down and develop problems after awhile and needs a clean install.

I switched to the Mac when I bought those two and I haven't found the software a problem, though I missed some of my windows programs at first. There isn't as much out there but a lot of it is is good and what I bought wasn't more expensive after the initial switching. Most smaller programs like utilities are reasonable and there are good free ones also.

Mac has advantages but I'm not sure they outweight the different advantages offered by Windows. Now with Win 7 out, I need to update my equipment and am seriously thinking of switching back.

For you, unless you don't need much power, It doesn't seem practical since you can get more under the hood for less money.
 
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