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Laptop recommendations

  1. May 12, 2007 #1
    I never bought one, or had one.So I know nothing about what's good and how much it cost.
    I need to buy one, not now, but soon(in a month or 2).Don't care a lot of much expect for I want the Disk to be more then 120Gb, and more then 1Gb of ram.As for The rest of the features, well I don't care that much.I don't want to pay more then 1200$.
    Is there anything good for that amount of money for the specs I indicated?
    any advice on a specific brand?anything to avoid?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2007 #2
    need more specific info on what you'll use it for. I'd hate to recommend some low-end model with integrated graphics and hear that you tried to install a 3-d game on it.
  4. May 12, 2007 #3
    I don't think I'm going to play games a lot (it means I won't try to play Halo 3)
    well i think most of the use would be for storing a lot of files, my university work, we do a lot of programming, electronic circuit simulations(I would want to install Linux on it, something like fedora core 7 when it's released), but nothing intense, the only intense thing I'm going to do is use it online, and play doom2.
  5. May 12, 2007 #4
    You should start browsing some PC manufacturers' websites and customize their different models to get an idea of what you can get for what price. I recommend HP, Toshiba, Acer, and IBM. I don't much like Dell, but you may.

    As a tip, make sure you buy the lowest amount of RAM with your computer from the manufacturer and buy the 2 GB from someplace like newegg.com. Most of the time, that'll save you money, since makers like to make RAM very expensive so people don't have to worry about installing it themselves.
  6. May 12, 2007 #5


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    For cost reasons, "storing a lot of files" isn't a good use for a laptop hard drive. A USB drive would probably give you twice the capacity for half the price.

    Anyway, you're probably looking at $1500+ for one that is relatively balanced and has more than a gig of ram. I have a Dell Inspiron E1505 and I like it a lot. You can do a custom build dry-run on Dell.com to see what kind of pricing you are looking at.

    My last laptop was an HP and it had a bad habit of killing hard drives for the year it took for the motherboard to fry itself... Just anecdotal, but that was my experience.
  7. May 13, 2007 #6
    Installing ram should be an easy thing on a laptop??, if it was desktop I can do it blindfolded, and isn't supposed that by opening the laptop the warranty will be void?
  8. May 13, 2007 #7
    Generally you'll not void the warranty unless you have to take the thing apart or remove labels. If you can install RAM on a desktop, it's not that much different for a laptop. You'll just have to locate the memory bay, maybe unscrew some screws, and just install.
  9. May 13, 2007 #8


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    The memory bay is always accessible via a small access panel on the bottom of the laptop.
  10. May 13, 2007 #9


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    Wow, I just checked the price difference on ram - an extra gig of 667 mhz ram from Dell is $200 while 2 gig from Newegg is $90.
  11. May 13, 2007 #10


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    I'm not sure which specific model they have, but I've been pretty impressed with the new Dell Inspiron laptops a couple of my colleagues have just gotten. However, if you're a Windows user, note that you can still get XP on the customizable models, but not the lower priced ones that are non-customizable. The one who got his with Vista installed has finally gotten fed up and is about to dump it and put XP on it. He's having too many compatibility issues with files transferred from XP (oddly enough, you can take things created in Vista and open it just fine on XP, but not so much the other way around, which is bizarre) and driver support seems to be non-existent for everything he needs to use (it's even refusing to recognize a variety of those little USB thumb drives).

    The downside to those is they are HEAVY!!! But, if you're looking for an inexpensive laptop, you're going to trade weight for price. The things I like about it are that the keyboard doesn't seem too cramped, there's a large enough area below the keyboard around the trackpad to allow you to rest your wrists when typing, it has both a trackpad and little mousey thing (I'm not sure what they're really called...the little button-looking thing in the middle of the keyboard you can use to control the pointer) so you can use whichever is more comfortable, USB ports on both the back and side, so you can attach USB devices to whichever side makes most sense for where you're working, and the screen is fantastic (I don't know how commonly available this is now since I haven't shopped for laptops in a while, but it's very sharp, and doesn't have that problem of directionality...you can view from any angle and it's still clear).

    I haven't done any comparison shopping though, so can just tell you I like that one, but can't say if any others offer the same features for less money, or other better features, etc.
  12. May 13, 2007 #11
    I went through some of the manufacturer's sites , and did some customization, found some good stuff well into my price range and specs wanted, I liked the Toshiba tecra A7-ST7712(after I customized it).
    But what I can't tell is whether something for the same specification but from Sony or Dell or HP, ect ect ,might be better (for a small variance of price).
    I just checked Dell Inspiron , it looks good, Weight is not an issue at all.
    The problem is really quality..
  13. May 13, 2007 #12
    What you can do is go to a place that sells those brands of laptops and look at them in person to help you make a decision. In general, I'd say Sony is very good quality, but perhaps more expensive than the others. Not sure about Toshiba. HP and Dell are pretty much on the same level of build quality.

    Also, read some online reviews for each company. If quality is what you really want, you'll be able to find out about that easily.
  14. May 13, 2007 #13
    Yeah! They really rip people off with RAM. For the future, you're better off buying from Newegg, assuming you pick a good brand. And you'll almost always save money.
  15. May 13, 2007 #14
    I'm tending to prefer Sony too, a customized version of Sony VGN-FE890 , is well in the price range, but just below the Toshiba in specs...
    I think I still have a lot of research to do..
  16. May 14, 2007 #15
    I research all of the time and let me tell you, researching for a laptop is HELL. The research I did is a bit outdated now, but it may still hold true. I'll describe a few of the things I learned in hopes that it will clarify things for you. This is by no means a complete guide to buying laptops though.

    First, you have to consider what you want the laptop for now and then what you will want to use it for in the future (before you even look at laptops). Laptops do not upgrade, aside from things like the DVD drive and the amount of RAM. Your motherboard, CPU, and RAM speed and type are all locked in, so the only way to upgrade would be to buy a new laptop. For example, if you will want to use firewire in the future with a digital camcorder, but not now, then you will regret it when you need it.

    I agree with z-component wholeheartedly. I highly recommend upgrading what you can from newegg rather than directly from the manufacturer (but make sure not to buy the cheapest parts, they will probably be crap). The parts you might want to upgrade include the RAM, CD/DVD burner, extra or larger battery packs - unless you can only buy the battery from the manufacturer! -, and probably a few other things that I can't think of right now.

    There are at least 4 major things that have a big impact on the price of a laptop that are not at all obvious when you first start shopping for laptops (aside from functionality and it's brand, which is a pretty obvious cost). I'll try to list the non-obvious things in order of importance:

    1. Where are you buying it from?
    -Let me say this first. If you buy a computer from ebay or a third party vendor on amazon.com, you might get it cheaper, but you risk buying a faulty laptop and you might have to deal with shipping costs and having to rely on the warranty to get the computer fixed. If you look at newegg.com or go to Best Buy for laptops, you can't customize them and they might actually cost more than what you could get it for directly from the manufacturer (especially at Worst Buy.. Err.. I mean.. "Best Buy."). You also won't see upgrades (or downgrades) that the manufacturer's website has available. You also might get roped into buying an extra battery from Best Buy for $300, when it probably only costs $100 from the manufacturer and only $65 from an independent company. Best Buy is also notorious for conveniently forgetting to list extremely important pieces of information on their little computer info cards. I've seen laptops that didn't even list the CPU speed. It's really just downright pathetic. Unless you want an easy way to take the laptop in if there are any problems, buy the computer online. I also recommend staying away from ebay, because you have no real way of knowing where the laptop is coming from and what may or may not have been done to it.

    2. Battery life
    -A centrino will cost more than another computer which is 3 times as fast that has twice the amount of RAM and won't be dual channel, but it might get 6 hours of battery life instead of the much faster computer, which might only get 1 hour. This is very important if you want to use it for school. If you're using it for storing lots of files and typing things and you don't want to have to chain yourself to a wall outlet everywhere you go, a centrino becomes more attractive. You will also be very limited with your graphics cards too though. No centrino will produce much in terms of processing power or graphical processing powers. Most games will be out of the question. There are dual core power saving computers now though, but their battery life is shortened a little.

    3. Size of the laptop screen.
    -Very large ones are a lot more expensive, so are very small ones. The small ones tend to be slower machines though because they are limited to only the smallest hardware.

    4. Weight and size.
    -A heavy laptop that is big and bulky will cost less, but might be a chore to lug around school all day. It is likely to have a lot better hardware in it for less though. A mid sized screen is the happy medium here. I ended up with a 17" widescreen, which I am thoroughly pleased with. It's bigger than a 15" and still fits in my backpack, unlike a 19".

    As a rule of thumb, before spending any large amount on anything to do with computers, including the computer itself, look for independent reviews (search on google for the reviews, or if it's on newegg use the reviews there). As a major rule of thumb, I suggest you completely ignore reviews where the person said "I got it and it rox!!!!!!!!". Look at the reviews of users who seem educated and who have had the hardware for a while now. Even an experienced user who has only had the laptop for 1 day is very inexperienced with their laptop and their review can only contain value if they speak about how much value the laptop has based on it's cost vs "what it can do."

    One last piece of advice: Never trust the people in the computer section at Best Buy. They are complete morons. Trust me on this one. They just want to make commission off of you and will tell you whatever they want you to believe. For example, I was told that my laptop battery would probably die within a year, so I should buy Best Buy's $350 1-year warrenty, because apparently batteries cost over $300 anyways. Yea right! I've had my laptop for over 2 years now, the battery is working fine. I bought a backup battery for $150 from the manufacturer, and that was the 12-cell battery, not the regular 6-cell battery, which was selling for $99 at the time. -- I've had equally hilarious encounters when they have offered their advice about hardware, ranging from graphics cards, to hard drives, to cd/dvd burners, etc. I'm not even sure if they realize how misleading the advice they give really is. Most of the time though, with the exception of the warrenty push, I think they are just really inept. Oh, I didn't buy the laptop from Best Buy and I no longer go there even for CD's.. lol
    Last edited: May 14, 2007
  17. May 14, 2007 #16
    I see it's really compromise from where I get , for what I have in it for how much I'm going to pay for it..
    one of my friends baught the Toshiba Satellite A205-S4577, about a week ago, going to see what he have to say, maybe I'd use it and see how it goes...
    The good thing is that I don't need it right now, I still have time to decide.
  18. May 14, 2007 #17
    You can't go wrong with a ThinkPad.
  19. May 17, 2007 #18
    except that it costs more than other laptops.
  20. May 17, 2007 #19
    True, but the R series aren't that much more expensive. Money well spent if you ask me.

    Usually you buy a laptop for a long time for at least 3 years or so. Therefore the bitternes of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price has faded.
  21. May 17, 2007 #20
    I'll make sure to check it out, thank you for the advice.
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