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So... I need a new laptop computer.


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#1 Overstreet

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 08:59 PM

I'm investing in a new laptop computer soon, something that will be the hub of all of my film writing, fiction, and Web updating.

This will be a HUGE help for Looking Closer, as I can only update the site from my home-based PC these days, and with wi-fi I'll be able to update on the run.

No, I'm not getting a Mac. I don't have the time to learn how to use one, and frankly, the Web and Word and FrontPage (I know, I know) are the programs I'm familiar with and comfortable with.

What I want to know is this:

What's the best laptop in the 1200 - 1600 range?
What's dependable? What's a good price? What sources have you found to be the best for laptop deals... sources that offer good service and warranty plans?

I do need a CD/DVD burner, but that's fairly standard now. I do need wi-fi. I DON'T need a huge movie-watchin' screen... I want it to be light and comfortable to carry all over town all of the time.

Help me.


#2 Josh Hurst

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 09:09 PM

I recommend looking into Acer's TravelMate series. I've been using the 6000 model myself for over two years now, and haven't had a bit of trouble with it. Look around their site a little bit and you're sure to find some good bargains.

#3 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 10:31 PM

FWIW, my dad strongly advised against getting a Dell, too, when my wife was looking for a laptop to buy me last Christmas; she got a Toshiba in the end.

#4 TexasWill

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 11:05 PM

QUOTE(Jeffrey Overstreet @ Sep 18 2005, 08:59 PM)
No, I'm not getting a Mac. I don't have the time to learn how to use one…


You don’t have 30 minutes? Seriously, Bill Gates has aped the Mac interface for so many years that if you know how to use Windows, you can use a Mac once you get oriented. And what’s even better is that it works a lot better than Windows and is rock solid.

QUOTE
and frankly, the Web and Word and FrontPage (I know, I know) are the programs I'm familiar with and comfortable with.


Word was originally written for the Macintosh in 1984 (and then eventually ported to DOS and Windows) and has generally been superior for the Mac platform except during a few very dark years in the mid-1990s.

Word has always been available for the Mac, so you won’t have to learn something new.

As for FrontPage, I actually own FrontPage for the Mac (they released it back in 1998), but Mac people hated it so much they discontinued it. You’re better off breaking that nasty FrontPage habit and using some real software. biggrin.gif

But even if you are afraid of the cost of getting new Mac versions of your old Windows software, you can have the best of both world next year (probably in January). Apple is moving to Intel chips in 2006 and they are starting with the notebook and MacMini lines. You will be able to run Mac OS X and enjoy all of its benefits but then install Windows on the system and run it NATIVELY if you restart. As you purchase updates to you software, you can leave the world of Windows insecurity and viruses behind.

QUOTE
Help me.


First you must want to be free of Windows.

Look at me! Only you can help you… biggrin.gif

Edited by TexasWill, 18 September 2005 - 11:05 PM.


#5 SZPT

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 01:13 AM

I'm with Will. I've been a Windows guy since the 286. I finally bought my first Mac in June, and in less than a week I was operating it as easy as if I'd always been on a Mac. I've got the Mac version of Office 2004 on there too.

And this Mac that I bought is a 2 years old iMac (a laptop in a desktop's body) that was on sale as is at Guitar Center. Every computer has its quirks, but I haven't had any major problems even with those factors. And I can play Command and Conquer Generals! I could never do that on my PC laptop even though it matched all of the game requirement specs.

#6 BBBCanada

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 02:57 AM

I use wi-fi so much that I don't have internet service. As matter of fact, I'm on wi-fi as I type this. The problem with wi-fi that I have experienced so far is that sometimes the signal is not so strong and at times just plain doesn't work.

Also, some place require an authentication code and though there is a wi-fi signal, you can't sign on. I use a Compaq Presario R3000 and I do EVERYTHING on it.

#7 Thom

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 09:30 AM

Jeffrey, you are a brave man to ask such a question. The answers are going to be split and, probably, all pointing in different directions but I do hope you will glean some helpful information.

I have heard a lot of great things regarding Toshiba laptops, but I had a poor experience with mine.

I have heard a lot of bad things about Dell and have had nothing but great experiences with the two I have used, and continue to use, for over 4 years.

I have also used the IBM thinkpad with good results.

All systems ran Windows, of course, and were all extremely stable. I am a windows user but taught mac to grade school students and was never really convinced to change platforms.

So far, no one has mentioned building it yourself, and that is what I would recommend. You get more bang for your buck. It isn't difficult, just time consuming.

#8 opus

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 09:37 AM

Yet another Mac recommendation here. My wife worked in a Windows environment for many years, but when she decided to start freelancing, she bought a 15" Powerbook - and she loves it. It has built-in WiFi - which works incredibly well and is so much easier to set up than on a PC - a CD/DVD burner, and a glorious widescreen display to boot.

Word runs just fine, as TexasWill pointed out. You'll never find a better Web browser than Safari. (And of course, there's always Firefox... and Camino... and Omniweb... and Shiira...) And you can kiss security holes, viruses, trojan horses, and all that muck goodbye.

Admittedly, a Powerbook is a bit more expensive - the 15" starts at $2000 - but I believe Apple recently upgraded their iBook line (you can get a pretty tricked out one for $1500). However, rumor has it that Apple might be upgrading the Powerbooks this week with speed boosts, memory upgrades, etc... so you might be able to get some more bang for your buck.

Edited by opus, 19 September 2005 - 10:38 AM.


#9 CrimsonLine

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 10:23 AM

I loved my iBook until it fell from a great height. sad.gif

Now I just like it a whole lot.

#10 The Baptist Death Ray

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 10:46 AM

1200-1600 range, I suggest a Compaq notebook with an AMD 64 bit chip.

AMD processors are *significantly* cheaper than Intel processors, put out less heat (which extends the overall life of the laptop) and are very fast. You don't need to get the 64-bit version of windows (it runs 32 bit applications just fine).

For that price range you'll get a good, solid laptop and won't really notice too much of a performance hit. My main advice, though, is to buy the extended warranty for whatever laptop you buy, because if something breaks on your laptop -- screen, bad memory, whatever -- it's very difficult to fix it yourself.

Also, beware -- laptops are addictive, writing-wise. Since I switched to a laptop for all my writing, I find sitting down in front of a "regular" PC to write a very difficult experience, and I can't really explain why...

Anyway, I specifically recommend this machine:

http://www.shopping....=computer_store

or this machine:

http://www.shopping....=computer_store

Edited by The Baptist Death Ray, 19 September 2005 - 10:47 AM.


#11 jcc

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 11:26 AM

At work I use a three-month old compaq nc8000 laptop. It gets the job done. And I'm glad there is a computer department to stay on top of viruses.

At home, I'm using an almost three year old Mac iBook with a wireless card. The Mac dances circles around the compaq.

After sampling both worlds, I'll go for another Mac when it is time to upgrade.

Not what you want to hear and this isn't meant as a "my preferred OS is better than yours." It's my preference based on the two machines listed above.

Clive

#12 opus

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 11:44 AM

QUOTE(The Baptist Death Ray @ Sep 19 2005, 09:46 AM)
My main advice, though, is to buy the extended warranty for whatever laptop you buy, because if something breaks on your laptop -- screen, bad memory, whatever -- it's very difficult to fix it yourself.

Also, beware -- laptops are addictive, writing-wise. Since I switched to a laptop for all my writing, I find sitting down in front of a "regular" PC to write a very difficult experience, and I can't really explain why...

View Post


Yeah, I definitely agree with both of these. An extended warranty is a glorious thing - I've taken advantage of mine twice, and it saved a lot of grief and expense.

And I love typing on my wife's Powerbook... just sitting in the comfy chair in our living room, pecking away at the keys with the wireless backing me up. It's very nice. I never thought I'd be a laptop person, and my next machine will most likely be a G5 tower, but I do love me some laptop.

#13 Sara Zarr

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 12:43 PM

I've always only had IBM ThinkPads and now I am completely spoiled and won't use anything else. They cost a bit more, especially after you add on your extra RAM and warranties. I got a T43 a few months ago, which I love. I've also had a desktop replacement model in the G series (way too heavy to carry around) and a couple of others way back in the nineties. (The nineties!!) For me it's worth it, in terms of reliability and support and ergonomics. But, to advise you more generally:

I recently spent two months shopping and comparing, because I thought maybe I'd go outside my little IBM world. My biggest recommendation is to go to the big stores that carry a lot of different brands and models and TYPE ON THEM. The way things look online vs. how they feel under your fingers varies greatly. Also, it gives you a chance to pick them up and get a feel for exactly what 4 pounds is, and feel how cheap and/or durable various brands are. Sadly, you can't do this with ThinkPads because they are only sold online.

To make myself feel better about spending over 2K, I remembered the words of my accountant - for every dollar I spend on something write-off-able, I am saving 40 cents in taxes. As this is the year I got my book advance and maybe the last time in the coming 3 years I will be able to afford to drop a stack of cash, I went all out - including the 3-year full coverage warranty, which accounted for about $300 of the 2 large. So take that into consideration, too. You can spend a few hundred less now and then want or need to replace in one or two years, or go whole hog and be set for a few.

#14 Sundered

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 01:18 PM

I recently made the same decision and invested in the new iBook. I had a Windows before that, but I was completely functional within a couple of days. And, trust me, the difference is quite worth it.

My iBaby is my great love.

#15 The Baptist Death Ray

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 01:43 PM

Apple notebooks are great, but if you're looking for something in the 1200 to 1600 dollar range, they're going to be a tough fit. Steve Jobs is overfond of his profit margins.

#16 TexasWill

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 02:18 PM

QUOTE(The Baptist Death Ray @ Sep 19 2005, 01:43 PM)
Apple notebooks are great, but if you're looking for something in the 1200 to 1600 dollar range, they're going to be a tough fit. Steve Jobs is overfond of his profit margins.


You get what you pay for... Apple has the lowest percentage of problems of any computer maker and the highest level of customer satisfaction.

PC Magazine's take on it

Furthermore, Mac users tend to keep their systems longer because they don't because obsolete as quickly. Now that may change since we are moving into the Intel world, but the prices may change as well.

Edited by TexasWill, 19 September 2005 - 02:24 PM.


#17 The Baptist Death Ray

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 02:45 PM

QUOTE
You get what you pay for... Apple has the lowest percentage of problems of any computer maker and the highest level of customer satisfaction.


"You get what you pay for" doesn't scale 1 for 1. You can get a laptop in the 1200 to 1600 dollar range that is more than adequate for everything Jeffrey wants to do -- and if that's what he's getting a laptop for -- primarily writing and maintaining web pages -- there's really not much reason to spend more.

The higher-end laptops are proper desktop replacements (i.e., you can use it in place of your desktop for pretty much everything) -- and if he wanted to add video editing and music recording then a 1200-1600 dollar laptop might be pushing it.

I spent about $1400 on my laptop, an hp paviliion zv5000 which is currently running Xandros Linux -- it functions as my primary machine: email, writing, drawing, browsing, web design, listening to music... My desktop exists solely for playing games and recording music. For a long time before I got the pavillion I wanted a powerbook, but ultimately I couldn't justify the price...

#18 opus

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 03:34 PM

QUOTE(Alan Thomas @ Sep 19 2005, 01:32 PM)
Symantec today published a study that the security benefits of a Mac may be illusory, especially with new types of worms that are more adaptive or OS-agnostic. I'll see if I can dig up a copy of it.

View Post


I think this is what you're talking about. Some of this is rather obvious - the Mac platform is becoming more visible and widespread, which naturally, makes it a lot more tempting to attack. And I suppose that there might be an OS X virus in the future (to date, not a single OS X virus has been reported). But... compare that to the nearly 11,000 Windows viruses and worm variants that have been detected so far in 2005 alone (and viruses have already been discovered for Vista, the next version of Windows - which is still in beta).

But keep in mind, it's Symantec who published this report, and they're not exactly an objective observer - 1) they make computer security software and 2) they don't really enjoy a good reputation in the Mac arena. So they do have a vested interest in making Apple users fidgety. Also, this isn't the first time Symantec has published such a report. And they've been rebuffed back then, as well.

Edited by opus, 19 September 2005 - 03:43 PM.


#19 Overstreet

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 03:54 PM

This is all very interesting and helpful.

One clarification: This won't be my first laptop. I've been using an hpPavillion for the last four years, and I've been very happy with it (except that I've replaced the battery THREE TIMES because it keeps losing its effectiveness.) I'm just looking for a BETTER one, and this will be the first time I've used it as my primary internet unit.

#20 M. Dale Prins

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 04:26 PM

So on a similar, but more frugal topic: I am looking for a laptop as well. But it needs to be cheap -- like, less than $200 cheap. (Obviously, this laptop will be used.) It won't be my primary computer -- I'm going to use it for nothing more complex than surfing the Internet and using a 6-year-old music composing program. Any thoughts on where I could find such a laptop, or recommendations on what laptops are likely to be in okay shape used?

Dale