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Laptop advice?

  1. Nov 1, 2006 #1

    JasonRox

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    I want to get a laptop, and that's what you're going to help me with. :tongue2:

    First, I'm not interested in used laptops merely because I like warranties, and the computer shops around here have some (short warranties) but I doubt they would back them up. So, in the end, you lose if something happens.

    Second, I need something cheap.

    Third, I need something powerful enough to do some programming, which is mostly (if not all) Maple and Visual Basics. It's not like it's going to need to be insanely powerful, but I don't want it to be just enough. I want a little more in case one day I require it because I have some big project and I need to run a program for long periods of time or whatever. Who knows.

    So, here is what I found that is relatively cheap in my area. (Not every store is around.)

    http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=88,89,90,4514&webid=654667&affixedcode=WW

    They might not have this one since it is in clearance. The screen size is irrelevant, but I do have a maximum weight of 6 pounds. I don't want to carry more than that. The hard drive is sufficient for my needs. The RAM is higher than my home computer (that doesn't belong to me). It has wireless, which I need.

    http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=88,89,90,4514&webid=651416&affixedcode=WW

    This is the one I'd like to get because it's the lightest and smallest. It's got more hard drive space, but everything else is basicall the same. (Smaller screen is irrelevant.) The exception is the processor. What's the difference? Which is faster? The brand is also different, and would that make a big difference on the quality? If yes, which is preferred in terms of quality?

    http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=88,89,90,4514&webid=667049&affixedcode=WW

    I'm hesitant to get this one because of the weight, but everything else seems better. The brand is familiar (better?). The RAM and Processor speeds are higher, so I'm assuming that makes it faster. I really hate the weight issue, so it would certainly have to be worth the extra $100 in many ways.

    Note: I want a 5 pound laptop, and 6 pounds is my limit. Of course, you can say it's only 0.4 pounds more, but really it's 1.4 pounds more than I want, which I can't bear.

    http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetail.asp?logon=&langid=EN&sku_id=0665000FS10073807&catid=

    How much slower is this? I doubt I'll get this because the sale ends tomorrow.

    http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/proddetail.asp?logon=&langid=EN&sku_id=0665000FS10081076&catid=

    Really cheap! Refurbished though.

    Any thoughts, comments or advice?

    Note: Money value limit is like $800CDN.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2006 #2
    I'd try and spend a few bucks more and get a macbook

    http://www.apple.com/macbook/specs.html

    I forget, are you a student? If so, you can get a student's discount that will not set you back alot more then 800 Canadian.
     
  4. Nov 1, 2006 #3
    I think that a mac is really not the best value for money.
    Just compare an Apple laptop with similar power and feature set of say a Dell, a HP or a Compaq. The Apple will consistently come out as the most expensive. Also additional memory and hard disk space is generally more expensive than with other popular brands.

    But that does not mean it is a good option if you like something that has a cool outside design and a nice built-in webcam, but of course you pay for it. :smile:
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2006
  5. Nov 1, 2006 #4

    JasonRox

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    I thought about the Mac before because they were on sale, but I personally do not like the layout or how it works.

    I'm totally content with regular computers. Plus, I doubt you can get one for $800CDN. The cheapest I ever saw was like $1200, and it was considerably slower.
     
  6. Nov 1, 2006 #5
    What bothers you the most? The lack of spyware? No need to reboot every half hour? The great compatibility with perifials? The stable and intuitive OS? The stylish look? The lack of virusses?

    Yeah, I can see why you wouldn't like it :biggrin:

    Seriously though, everyone has his own preferences. One last piece of advise, based on personal experience : stay clear of HP's. I haven't seen a single one that didn't have any major flaws after six months or so.
     
  7. Nov 1, 2006 #6

    JasonRox

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    Never really had a problem with spyware. I reboot maybe once a month or less (or never)! Never had a problem with viruses.

    I don't see the difference and I don't know where people going off thinking PC's are that bad. I don't even take care of mine at all and it's been running fine for awhile (don't remember when the last problem was).

    Anyways, Macs are considerably more expensive, and I really don't like the layout or functionality of it. It's almost like made for kids or something. I'm not a fan of all the flashy stuff it has.

    Anyways, thanks for the suggestions though. :biggrin:
     
  8. Nov 1, 2006 #7

    Moonbear

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    I'm not sure why you think Macs look like they're made for kids. I get the same impression about Windows. To me, the layout on a Mac looks more "grown up." But, that's personal taste, and since you're on a tight budget, it's also irrelevant. I'm also not sure if Maple runs on macs, or how well if it does. I know you can run Visual Basic on them.

    Have you checked if your university has any educational discounts available on computers? You might be able to get more computer for the price you're willing to pay if you buy through them, or through someone they have a contract with.

    Dell often has good deals on PCs for students, but I haven't seen their notebooks really hold up...they seem fine if you're going to use it primarily as a desktop and only occassionally travel with it, but if you're planning to really take it with you all the time, I haven't been very impressed with them.

    I also agree that the HP notebooks don't seem very good. The school here seems to have hornswaggled all the med students into buying HP notebooks, and it seems they're always having problems with them. Worse than the Dells. I haven't priced them in a while, but they used to be pretty expensive too.

    I haven't done any PC shopping in a while though, so I can only advise you on what I've seen other people groaning about.
     
  9. Nov 1, 2006 #8
    Monique found me a dell for $600 bucks :rofl: Its great, but looks like it's worth only $600 bucks. :rofl:

    Its a bit heavy too, but I dont care. I wanted something cheap cheap cheap.
     
  10. Nov 1, 2006 #9

    JasonRox

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    Dell has to be pretty good in my opinion, or any laptop. Maybe HP's are the exception.

    At our school you can "take out" laptops at the library. You have a 3 hour loan on them, which is awesome. They are ACER Laptops and they seem to be holding up to constant usage throughout the day, day after day. And apparently, that's a low brand laptop, which according to most people should have constant problems. But, all the laptops seem to be always available. (Of course, I'm sure they do maintenance from time to time, but then again having atleast 10 different students use a single laptop everyday, the thing must get dropped on average once a week!)

    Also, I have Dell products. The desktop computer I use is a Dell. I've kicked and knocked over the box plenty of times without problems. Never really had problems actually. (Box is underneath the desk where my feet are. :grumpy: )

    I also have a Dell Pocket PC that has taken a fair of abuse. I've dropped it and banged it so many times without a protective case! Stills works like it was brand new, but of course doesn't look brand new any more because of the chips taken off. But, according to rumours, Dell is suppose to be poor is this kind of thing. Yourself, Moonbear, suggest to limit the travelling use of a Dell. Why is that? I'm sure dropping a laptop is different from knocking over a desktop or dropping a Pocket PC, but I doubt the Dell laptop is more likely break over another.

    Heck, even my Nano iPod takes a beating. I actually had someone comment that they would have a heart attack if it was their iPod. This was after smashing it off the ground pretty badly (with no case). Yeah, I just picked back up and continued on. She commented later. Yet, I here people complaining that Nano's always break.

    My philosophy regarding getting a case is... why get it if it needs a case? It's an MP3 that will hit the ground and take a beating. Why make one that can't take it? So, if the iPod can't take a beating, then I don't want it. After putting a case on the thing, you can hardly call it a Nano with the size it becomes! It still works 100%.

    I know you're probably wondering why I'm even asking about the brand if I already seem to think most are fine. The reason is because I don't know which are really bad or what not, or even if they will back up the warranty.

    Note: My main concern is hardware (processor speed and such). I don't know much about which is best.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2006
  11. Nov 1, 2006 #10

    Moonbear

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    I haven't seen anyone have problems with Dell desktops, just their laptops. It seems things have a tendency to shake loose or something, because they will just have random problems of not starting up, and not just ones that are horribly abused (some people are harder on laptops than others, so if someone was clumsy enough to drop it often, or had a habit of just dropping down the bag the laptop was in, I wouldn't blame the computer for being abused), but these are people who are just giving it normal wear and tear, taking it back and forth to work daily.

    It could be an old problem that's been fixed too. I don't know anyone with a brand new Dell laptop. Who knows, maybe it was the overheating batteries taking their toll on them (those have all been recalled).

    Though, gee, an inexpensive laptop that is taking the abuse of being loaned out at a university sounds like a possible winner...unless they're horribly heavy.
     
  12. Nov 2, 2006 #11

    JasonRox

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    That's the problem. :frown:

    So, no comments on the processors?
     
  13. Nov 2, 2006 #12

    Moonbear

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    I have no idea on processors, so don't ask me there. I'll move this thread over to computers to see if you get any better responses there now that we know that's the main thing you want information on, and not general durability and such.
     
  14. Nov 2, 2006 #13
    I was never a big fan of Dell. HP has been my brand of choice and right now I'm using the HP notebook that I bought 6 months ago for university--still no problems. I have to stick up for HP here since a lot of people consider their computers as junk. It's true that they've had a history of making notebooks with keyboard issues (they claim to have fixed this on the newer-generation ones) but their customer service is good, price is good, and if you're into the business class notebook, theirs are great.

    With a desktop, an impact like that could cause something to loosen, like a graphics card, in which case you could open up the case, reseat it, and it'd be (hopefully) fine. Drop a laptop and you could be sending it in for a replacement. I've heard of people dropping theirs off tables and they've been ok, but still.

    It depends on what you plan on doing with your computer. Also, the problem is budget. $800 CAD is $700 USD, and while it's possible to get a nice computer for $700, it probably won't have the Intel Core 2 Duo.

    Jason, I recommend you visit this site: http://forum.notebookreview.com.
    Register, go to the "What Should I Buy?" board, fill out the FAQ and post it. Those guys should be able to recommend good things. It would help to be as specific as possible with what you plan to do with your computer and make clear your budget.
     
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