This is topic Do We Really Need Another Laptop Thread--Avaratec, Dell, Sony Vaio, or Acer? in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=2;t=031690

Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :

It looks like I might be getting a pretty nice tax refund this year, so I have decided (possibly in a egg-in-basket type fashion) that it should go toward getting myself a laptop sometime in the next couple of months.

Pretending that money isn't an option at this point, I'm working on a wish list of what I want/need out of my laptop:

-Windows (yes, I'm a slave to the beast)
-cable modem/wireless connection
-Ability to store/play music
-CD burner/DVD player
-A super-long battery length (this is important, I need something that can last for several hours of note-taking without having to sit next to the outlet)
-Word processing
-decent game playing capabilities
-Something thats relatively low maintenance, ie that won't crash and can stand to be carried around by a college student.
-a decent number of USB ports for externals (printer, etc)

The only brand that really comes to mind right now is Dell, and I've scoped their website out once or twice. The custom-builtedness of it appeals to me, but I find myself not exactly knowing what the best option is for some of the extra bells 'n whistles. Like, what's considered a good wireless card/sound card/etc? Also the less-than-helpful help center in India might present a problem down the road.

I've also heard (mostly from here at Hatrack) about Avaratecs. Rivka just got a new super-light one that she seems to be in love with. A super-light isn't totally necessary for me (though it might be nice), but I've also heard (I think from Jamie?) that Avaratecs can be dropped and dropped and dropped without any lasting damage, which is very appealing to my clumsy self.

edit: to add to my list a wee bit

edit 2/11: Thanks to some help here, I'm looking almost exclusively at notebooks with Centrino processors--they have wireless capability and they don't drain the battery so much, which sounds really good for what I want. I'm developing a serious lust for a Sony Vaio. I also checked out the BYU computer store today to see what they deal in. I can get an academic deal on a Dell, Gateway, and once in a great while a sony Vaio. As far as the sony goes, I got a guy's number and supposedly, if I just give him my specs, he can tell me how good of an academic deal I can get on it. *holds breath*

[ February 11, 2005, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: sarcasticmuppet ]
Posted by Jay (Member # 5786) on :
Dude, you’ve gotta get a Dell.
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
Averatec and eMachines both also do very good, very affordable laptops currently.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
They can be dropped and dropped, but not properly opened.

I opened mine one morning and the case cracked. o_O

Now I have to send it to get refurbished. [Frown] It isn't like a car, that when it's in the shop, you can get a rental.

I also needed to add that my Averatec runs very hot (as in, when you go to pick it up and put your hand on the bottom, you can get burned or it's enough hurt to cause you to let go of the computer and drop it BECAUSE you didn't want to get burned) and the battery life sucks eggs. I get at MOST 2.5 hours out of this thing. The little (LITTLE) Sony Vaio that I had could bust out about 4 hours of battery life.

[ February 09, 2005, 02:19 PM: Message edited by: mackillian ]
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
I do indeed <3 my Avaratec. [Big Grin] But as Jamie mentioned, it does run hot. And she's right about the battery life too. I'm thinking about getting an extra battery, but haven't looked into prices yet (or whether there are any extra-capacity batteries, as some laptop brands have).
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
emachines only has one model of notebook that I can look at it, and it looks pretty good. It doesn't seem to have much extra information on battery life (except that it's a 8-cell Lithium-ion). I assume how long it lasts depends totally on what machine it's in. It also uses an AMD Athlon 64 Processor. Is it just as good as a Pentium* for what I want to do, or is it different?

My desktop back in Arkansas was an emachine, so I'm somewhat familiar with them.

*Note, I'm assuming (probably wrongly) that the best processor available is a Pentium.
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
Would that be a Pentium III? IV? V? [Wink]

My Averatec has an AMD Athlon 64, and works just fine -- but I have no idea how it would do with gaming programs.
Posted by mothertree (Member # 4999) on :
My brother's eMachine seemed to spend a bit of time in the shop.
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
The Athlon 64 will be faster than most pentiums, and almost certainly any pentium at the same price.

[ February 09, 2005, 04:10 PM: Message edited by: fugu13 ]
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
Well, if I were in the market, I'd go for the Sony VAIO S170B1.

The kicker is cuz it looks purty and has a 13.3 WXGA screen for watching movies full-screen. But there are very practical reasons, too:
For any given weight and CPU speed, Centrino machines work the longest before the battery has to be recharged.
The WXGA format allows one to actually see two windows at usable sizes at the same time. Which makes comparing/transfering info between pages easier, or at least a lot less annoying.
256Megabyte RAM is good enough for anything one is likely to do, but it can be expanded to 1Gigabyte if you're into heavy-duty gaming/video-editing/etc.

Admittedly, I'd prefer a 1GigaHertz CPU in a Centrino machine over a 1.5GHz. All other things being the same, a slower CPU uses less power than a faster one, leading to an extended battery life.
For anything of use to me, CPU speeds so vastly outpace input speeds that buying faster CPUs is like buying a top end Ferrari: good for fantasy-bragging rights but pretty useless when ya'll get pulled over and ticketed for doing more than a third of top end.

Main thing to remember is that Centrino architecture is specificly designed to optimize battery life. For normal operations, the Centrino machines will last 2to3 times longer on the same battery size between recharges.

And if ya wanna pass up the Centrino, at least get the CPU designed for the Centrino system -- the PentiumM and the PentiumIIIM -- the slower the better. Most of the power is eaten by the CPU.

The PentiumIII and PentiumIV (as well as their competitors and lower-priced alternatives) look like you're getting more bang for the buck speedwise, but it's at the cost of a greatly reduced time between battery recharges.
And they run a LOT hotter -- especially the PentiumIV -- than the PentiumM and the PentiumIIIM. Which can cause greater wear&tear on your machine, not to mention your lap.

[ February 09, 2005, 07:00 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
How often do you use your laptop away from an outlet for over three hours at a stretch, aspectre?

I ask this because while WEIGHT has always been a concern of mine, due to the fair amount of traveling I do, a battery life of over two hours has always been kind of incidental. Even if you're running from class to class and using your laptop the whole time, three to four hours of battery life is typically more than enough.
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
About four hours would be ideal, I think.

The Vaio is looking tempting, but The Acer has almost the same specifications for about 400 dollars less. It's also heavier. Hmmm *ponders*.
Posted by HollowEarth (Member # 2586) on :
Have you ever tried taking notes on a laptop? In my experience the people that claim to do this actually spend most of their time on instant messaging or the internet, and they are notorious for not having notes.

It does come in handy if your professor uses PowerPoint, but then printing the slides is just as effective and probably takes less effort to take note than doing them in PowerPoint (on top of the slides that is.)
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
I rarely take actual notes on my laptop. I actually rarely take NOTES, but still.

I agree with Tom, that weight is a huge issue. I'd rather have a smaller laptop and shorter battery time than a heavy laptop with a long-ass battery life. Battery life doesn't mean squat when you don't want to lug it around anymore.

You can also get external batteries, though I haven't had the greatest success with them. Actually, I did with the Vaio, which didn't need them that badly unless I was spending the day traveling by air. The averatec needed it desperately but managed to suck them dry faster than its own battery.

The duct tape on my LCD case does blend in nicely with the gray tones of the case overall.
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
The Vaio may be a good choice, then. I'm currently using my roommate's Dell Inspiron 1000 and it's pretty hefty. She's always saying what a pain it is to lug it around.

How well does a Vaio hold up when it's actually being used? Someone once told me that it's kinda squirrelly, and has a tendency to need fixing a lot.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
which one are you looking at?
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
Vaio S170B1. What aspectre linked to.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
This is what I had

It's about the size of a hardback book. Very cool little machine. Light, small. Doesn't run wicked hot and has a long long battery life.
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
How long did you have it, and why don't you use it anymore?
Posted by Farmgirl (Member # 5567) on :
Acer is a dirty word. Don't even use it in the thread title.

I've never seen such pieces of crap as some Acers I worked on. One place I worked bought 20 Acers -- 10 were dead out-of-the-box and had to be sent back. The others didn't live long.

They are cheap because they are cheap.

Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
I had it for a year. I don't have it anymore because it committed computercide and jumped off my coffee table to the floor two feet below. Had some significant damage.

I ended up selling it to the first grenme who was able to resurrect it to meet his own needs.

Don't drop computers two feet when they aren't made for withstanding clumsy people.
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
That's a thing to consider. Crud.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Well, the macs are pretty clumsy-proof.
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
they're also macs.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
I said that once. I am slowly moving to the lighter side.
Posted by TheTick (Member # 2883) on :
You know, I just avoid dropping my notebook. Works pretty well. [Wink]
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
*sigh* the coordinated ones just don't understand... [Smile]
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
My notebooks attempt to commit computercide ALL THE TIME! [Mad]

It's them, not me, I swear.
Posted by Rappin' Ronnie Reagan (Member # 5626) on :
they're also macs.
Weren't you talking about getting an iBook a while ago?

[ February 12, 2005, 12:05 AM: Message edited by: Rappin' Ronnie Reagan ]
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Posted by Rappin' Ronnie Reagan (Member # 5626) on :
No, the one who hasn't come over to Apple's side. [Razz]
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Oh, yes.

She should.
Posted by quidscribis (Member # 5124) on :
I agree with the Acer comments. I had an Acer that I nicknamed the Craptop. It went in for repairs over a dozen times in the first year. Once, it was in for repairs for a month, came home, didn't work out of the box, so I sent it back for more repairs a half hour or so later.

Every single piece of hardware on that thing was replaced at least once with the exception of the case. Motherboard x3, hard drive x4, battery x2, power cord, memory chips, CD drive, display, keyboard and touchpad. Seriously. It was the worst piece of phlegm I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with.

By the time the thing was stolen a couple of years later, I had a repair file on it over an inch thick. I'd dealt with people all the way up to the vice president, and it still didn't work properly until the day it went bye-bye. And Acer, even while fully admitting that it was a lemon, refused to replace it because it wasn't included in my warranty. Even though it would have cost them about 1/5 as much to replace the whole thing rather than to keep fixing the thing.

It originally came with a one year warranty, but with every new piece of hardware they replaced, the warranty was extended on that piece of hardware. So they were still attempting to fix it a year and a half past warranty.

It never worked properly. Ever.

Don't. Buy. Acer. Ever. [Wall Bash]
Posted by sarcasticmuppet (Member # 5035) on :
Acer is definetely out. Gads.

And apples are expensive, and I'd have to learn an entire new operating system. The only reason I want one is because they look cool, which isn't a very good reason.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Don't forget klutz-proof.
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
You mean mack-proof, which is several levels stronger. [Big Grin]
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Hey, I wasn't nicknamed Grace for the right reasons.
Posted by Ryuko (Member # 5125) on :
Me too!!! (high fives mack)

(loses balance)

(falls down stairs)

Posted by quidscribis (Member # 5124) on :

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2