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Which laptop to buy


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#1
Lucy Loo

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Hi,

My PC's screen has finally given up. I want to buy a laptop instead of replacing the screen on my desktop and can network to it if necessary. I have no idea about laptops though.

I am not looking for the latest or greatest at all. I'd be satisfied if most of the usual specs were 5 year old technology but unfortunately i can't get just get the cheapest budget laptop deal because i do have a few restrictions.

I would like at least a 1280 resolution, 2 USB ports, DVD, ethernet, able to plug a mouse in, not too bulky and a decent battery life. To top it all off it has to look good and be reliable. It would also be nice to have more USB ports, wireless, be able to plug a keyboard in and DVD RW but i guess it wouldn't really be budget anymore.

On the other hand it could be a 500 MHz processor, with a 20 GB disk, 128 MB memory and a small screen.

I know a bit about PCs but as you can probably tell i know little of laptops and could really do with some advice. I'd really appreciate any tips or pointers that anyone can offer.

Thanks,

Lucy
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#2
Hemal

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Welcome Lucy to GTG :tazz:

You've come to the right place, not only have I been looking to invest in a laptop myself i have great recommendations for you that are great in technology with parts that will last you a long time and it is wallet friendly, first lets start off with a couple questions that will help me determine which laptop is best for you ;)

Is this for home personal use? Have you checked anything from a major company (i.e. dell, HP) Also hve you checked any local computer store for a computer that had your attention?

a quick recommmendation is this laptop which is a power house with everything you would want and i was personally looking at this computer, read the reviews and see if its right for you, then if you think its too much or too little please share and this will also help me determine which computer is right for you

Acer Laptop

Or any from Here

please not that these computers dont come with much support for problems that you face, most do have parts warrenty but do not match tech. support you recieve from a large company such as dell or others
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#3
gtippery

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I would like at least a 1280 resolution, 2 USB ports, DVD, ethernet, able to plug a mouse in, not too bulky and a decent battery life. To top it all off it has to look good and be reliable. It would also be nice to have more USB ports, wireless, be able to plug a keyboard in and DVD RW but i guess it wouldn't really be budget anymore.

On the other hand it could be a 500 MHz processor, with a 20 GB disk, 128 MB memory and a small screen.

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Well, "small screen" and "1280 resolution" don't go together, unless you mean 1280 on an external monitor (but you didn't want to buy a monitor?) and less, say 1024x768, on the internal LCD. If you really need 1280 built-in, it's not going to be small, and it's not going to be cheap.

But if you just need 1280 externally, you can get a used Dell, IBM, or Compaq (for instance) that meet your other specs for $200-350, possibly less -- depends partly on how much "reliablilty" assurance you get. It probably wouldn't have DVD-RW but some models have replaceable drives and can be easily upgraded, or you can use a USB external drive for probably about the same price.

A new machine would be $800+ most places, more for name brands with good warrantees. It'd have about twice the specs you mentioned, and probably a CD-RW/DVD-R at that price. But if you really want 1280, you'll be looking at top-of-the-line models, and maybe $1600-2400. That ought to get you the DVD-RW, 512MB RAM, a processor speed near 2GHz, and 80+GB of hard drive, plus XP. For a machine like that, I personally wouldn't consider anything but a top brand from an established dealer. I would consider putting a full gig of RAM in such a a machine a good investment.

If you've got USB, then you can of course add a mouse and keyboard. If you specifically want 2 PS/2-type mouse & keyboard connectors, you'll just have to look carefully. Some laptops do, some don't, some have only one.

More than 2 USB connectors is rare for space reasons, but a small external hub fixes that.

Decent battery life is iffy on used machines. If that's important, use some of the money you saved buying used to buy a new battery (usually $100-150). It's also nice to have a spare, even if it's only good for a half-hour or so. Be aware that even some new machines will only have about two hours of useful battery life.

Wireless can be easily and inexpensively added to any machine that otherwise meets your specs, using either USB or Cardbus. In which case, you might not need an Ethernet port; but if you do and it's not built-in, Cardbus ones are quite inexpensive and work well; USB ones are also available, but of course take up more space and may not be as fast. Still probably faster than whatever is on the other end of the connection, though.

A dock or port replicator is very nice to have, especially if you intend to use external mice, keyboards, and/or monitors. If you don't find a laptop offered together with one, at least check that they're available for that specific model of laptop. If it's not built-in to the dock, a second AC adapter makes packing up to travel with the laptop much more convenient.

An alternative is a USB-connected "replicator" that actually has its own printer, network, keyboard, etc. ports. They should work with any machine with USB.

You may find you only need an Ethernet connector when you're docked, in which case you may not have to get one for the laptop itself.


Just why exactly did you want to get a laptop, anyway? Portability, save desk space, like the looks, what? I get 'em 'cause I really do work with them in my lap. (So I also have to have some sort of tray to keep things cool. I found that my Thinkpad 600E's port replicator works quite well for that, but it about triples the weight...)

If you'll be travelling a lot with the laptop, or otherwise not using an external keyboard and mouse, make sure you like the way the built-in ones work. Something as simple as a nonstandard cursor-key arrangment can be very frustrating.

For pointers, I've used laptops with trackballs, touchpads, and Touchpoint ("eraser") pointing devices, and for most purposes, any will work OK once you're used to it. (In the case of the Touchpoint, this involved building a layer of callus on my right index finger...)

I do prefer the touchpads, especially if they support "gestures".

Be aware that there's a wide range of quality of sound reproduction with a laptop's built-in speakers, if that's of any concern to you.
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#4
Lucy Loo

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Thanks very much for all the info guys. It's great to know that there is such help out there 'cos i was spending way too much time making a decision on my own.

It sounds like there is no way i'd get a 1280 reolution on a budget 14 inch laptop and i'd really even like 1460 (is that right?) sooo ... I (think) i've decided to get a flat screen after all and i'll try and i'll look further into getting a laptop (yes gtippery, definitely one to sit wirelessly on my lap wherever i am) soon.

I had my eye on these amazing Acer deals for a while and am still considering one. I've seen a Toshiba Satellite SA 60 that i quite like too though for not much more. The specs for both are more than adequate except for this graphics card/resolution problem.

I would buy a used model from a friend but am not sure about buying it from someone i don't know. Is it not possible that something could be horribly wrong with it?

Thanks again.

Lucy
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#5
gtippery

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It sounds like there is no way i'd get a 1280 reolution on a budget 14 inch laptop and i'd really even like 1460 (is that right?) sooo ... I (think) i've decided to get a flat screen after all and i'll try and i'll look further into getting a laptop (yes gtippery, definitely one to sit wirelessly on my lap wherever i am) soon.

I would buy a used model from a friend but am not sure about buying it from someone i don't know. Is it not possible that something could be horribly wrong with it?

Thanks again.

Lucy

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You're likely to find that the reason there aren't any laptops with small, high-resolution sceens is that there aren't any small, high-resolution LCD's to put into a laptop.

Of course, a separate flat-panel (LCD or plasma) display will be cheaper than the same display built into a new laptop. And if you really just want a flat screen, high-resolution CRT monitors with flat faces are cheaper than flat-panel displays, but of course have weight, power, flicker, etc. disadvantages.

As far as buying used, if you can't buy from someone you trust (as a first choice), you have to get a good enough deal that you can afford to take chances. I've gotten decent laptops for from $600 to $30. I've also gotten ones that turned out to be unusable. (Due to me not reading the ads quite carefully enough -- nobody's out-and-out lied to me yet about a laptop, but it's happend with other eBay and want-ad purchases.) But even with those, I figure I came out ahead overall.

Good luck with your purchases, whatever you decide.
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#6
DHooper

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Here is a link for a Compaq Laptop:

http://www.shopping....=computer_store
(You need to click Customize)

With the follow changes the laptop will be $949 after rebates:

Processor
  AMD Athlon™ XP-M 3000+ (1.60 GHz/256K L2 cache)
Display
  15.4" WXGA BrightView Widescreen (1280x800)
Primary Battery
  12 Cell Lithium Ion Battery


If I were you I would get XP Pro, since its only $49 more. Hope that this helps.
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#7
Lucy Loo

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Thanks again for the help.

I went out and bought a Toshiba SA80 Satellite for 1200 CHF which i think is about 500 pounds or maybe 900 or 1000 dollars. It only has the 1024 screen but i am pretty happy with it. That is defnitely the first improvement i would want to make though.

I had a peek at the link with the customisable machines after having bought it but hey ho ... can't ever make a perfect decision, just a good one.

Bye,

Lucy
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