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Advice on laptop purchase


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#1
jgolight

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I have a PhD in English and need a laptop to do research, both in terms of accessing digital databases of texts, downloading PDF files, and lots of word documents, some book-length. I don't do much in the way of movie or music downloads right now, but I would like to have room on the laptop for pictures. I need it to be relatively light, though not at the expense of speed or memory, and I need a decent-size screen because I am bat-blind, probably at least 15"; 17" would be better. I would also like a relatively long-lasting battery because I will be using the computer on plane trips abroad and in libraries for long periods of time.

Problem is, I am totally baffled by the sheer quantity of laptops available. I love the look and performance of Macs, though my use of them has been limited, but they are expensive and I think they may be too much computer for what I need. They seem to be designed for designers. I'm not averse to PCs, though I have heard horrible things about Vista. I would love suggestions on a laptop that would meet these basic needs. Thanks!
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#2
stettybet0

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I'm not averse to PCs, though I have heard horrible things about Vista.

As a researcher with a PhD, you should be ashamed to base your beliefs on anecdotal evidence. :) Really, Vista, now with two service packs released, is a very good and stable operating system. However, that's kind of a moot point, as any computer with Vista purchased after June 26th qualifies for a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it is released in October, so you won't have to use Vista for more than a few months.

As for which laptop to get, we'd be better able to help if you could provide a budget. In general, for a smooth laptop computing experience, you want to look for a system with at least 2GB of RAM. In your case, since you'll be downloading large files, you'll want a 160GB+ mechanical hard drive, rather than a small (usually 16GB) solid state hard drive. For battery life, the more cells the battery has, the better.
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#3
jgolight

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I guess I shouldn't believe everything I hear, but for about one school year every student I had was complaining about Vista. I have heard about the upgrades available.

In terms of budget, I guess the less spent the better. I was thinking under $1000-$1200. I am glad to know about the mechanical hard drive, which is something I'd never considered before. Thanks for these suggestions!
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#4
stettybet0

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What do you think about this one? 4GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, 17.3" screen, and an 8-cell battery, all for $900 after mail-in rebate. The downside to it is at 8.6lbs, it's pretty hefty.
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#5
jgolight

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This one does look good; I will take a closer look at it and do some comparing with similar ones. Thanks so much for your help! I really appreciate it.
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