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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Laptop help...Anyone?

   
Author Topic: Laptop help...Anyone?
Shaygirl
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I am in the process of getting a laptop (in preparation for my first semester at a legit four year) and I need help.

What should I look for? I am low budget, so it can't be too pricey or extravagant, but needs to have basic functions (run ms word, play dvds, stream BBC dramas etc. [Smile] ) and be durable.

Does anyone have particular brands that they like? Are there any particular things I should be looking for? I am really lost in this world. The basic laws of theological magic don't seem to apply well to this situation. [Frown]

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LDWriter2
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I'm not sure about all of that but it would seem like most laptops could do ms word and play DVDs well. The streaming part I'm not sure about. But Wallmart had some good prices a while back.

Like two hundred dollars on a special sale. On a nice purple one at that. But that was long while back. Their prices, however for just the basics, could be still good.

Oh, if the Best Buy near you is going out of business maybe they will be having a sale.

Most of the better laptops are pricey, unless you go for a used one. I got one for $300 two years ago. It can do all that I need it to do.

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Utahute72
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Staples had some screaming deals on Toshiba laptops back around christmas time. If you can wait that long black friday has some great deals. Watch the local ads. Costco and Sam's clubs if you belong are sometimes good spots, Costco in particular has a very liberal return policy. I found a pretty good deal for my wife on a Dell on QVC, what sold her was the switchable cover, but it was an I5 processer.
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Robert Nowall
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quote:
Oh, if the Best Buy near you is going out of business maybe they will be having a sale.
I was thinking of doing just that---they sent me an e-mail yesterday announcing one of their stores nearby was closing. Sad, but usually they get cleaned out fairly fast.

There seem to be several in the three- to four-hundred-dollar range at several stores...I don't know, of course, whether they're any good, or if they'll do what you want 'em to do...

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Crystal Stevens
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I would never buy electronics of any kind from Walmart, and I shop there at least once a week... sometimes more. Walmart doesn't back up their electronics products with any kind of warranty. They don't service what they sell either or can tell you much about the product if you're looking for specific information on special features... unless someone working in electronics just happens to be knowledgeable about it. And even then you could very easily get misleading information. It's happened to me more than once.

I shop at Best Buy for my electronics needs. Their personnel are trained to know the product and answer any questions you may have. They also have a computer service department right in the store. I can't back up every Best Buy, but the one I shop at has bent over backwards to answer all my questions. I've spent a good thirty minutes (sometimes more) with them explaining things and making recommendations on what would suit me best when it comes to my computer needs... or anything else that I might not know much about and am interested in purchasing even when I know absolutely nothing about it. They've explained it all and in language I can understand.

As for laptops; I just bought a new one in January at Best Buy. It's an ASUS, and I love it. My last computers were Dell. No more. I'll go with ASUS from now on. My cousin put me on to it. She's a college professor and has the same one I have. We're both very satisfied customers. I have no idea how much you want to spend on a laptop but thought mine was very reasonable at $399. I also purchased and three year warranty that you can buy on top of the purchase price. For the quality and performance I get with my ASUS, it was definitely worth the price.

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LDWriter2
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Should have thought of Costco, I have seen good prices there.

And I've only been to Best Buy a couple of times--I just bought a monitor and speakers from them, looked at their digital cameras a while back-- but I would agree with what Crystal said about them.

The one near us is staying open evidently. They are always busy-too busy for me- but so was our CompUSA which I liked better.

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Shaygirl
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@Crystal Do you know what specific type of ASUS? I've heard good things about them too, I am willing to spend up to $500. How much was your warranty?
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Crystal Stevens
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quote:
Originally posted by Shaygirl:
@Crystal Do you know what specific type of ASUS? I've heard good things about them too, I am willing to spend up to $500. How much was your warranty?

It says notebook PC X54 on the box it came in. Then Model X54C, which might be the same thing. <shrug> I can't remember how much for the warranty. Sorry about that. And they do charge for programming and any anti-virus you might want installed.
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Osiris
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@Shaygirl, I've had a long relationship with ASUS. I've been using their components to build my own desktop PCs long before they got into the laptop business. I consider them one of the best makers of windows laptops. I used ASUS until I bought my Alienware laptop, but I still recommend them highly.

You should be able to find a laptop well within your budget. If you go to the following website, you can search for an ASUS laptop within your specifications. Just use the sliders to change the price range and select ASUS from the manufacturer menu.

Newegg.com

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LDWriter2
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For a name I haven't heard of before ASUS sure is popping up a lot lately.

I think I turned down one of their monitors because I didn't know the name. It was a name close to theirs anyway.

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Shaygirl
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Thanks guys...I think that I'm getting the swing of things now. [Smile]

Just a general tech-ignorant question...
What's the difference between a laptop and a notebook? Is it that they just aren't capable of doing as much, or is there something else?

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Osiris
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There's no real difference between laptop and notebook. The bigger difference is between laptop and netbook. A lot of college students like netbooks for their portability, but they typically don't come with dvd drives, so it is probably not what you want.
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Shaygirl
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@Osiris Thanks! I appreciate the clarification.

Thanks to all, I think I have what I need. But then again, it's not like I haven't said that before... [Smile]

~Shay

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MattLeo
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I've been using laptops for twenty years now; to give you an idea how much I use them it's typical for the labels on the keys to be worn off in under a year. I've changed laptops about every two years and usually the plastic in the palmrest is worn out.

By far the best reliability I've had is with Apple laptops and Thinkpads (originally IBM, but now marketed by their longtime manufacturer Lenovo). Consumer oriented laptops just don't stand up to that much use. Toshibas are junk as far as I'm concerned. They have good specs per dollar but don't hold up to the punishment of daily use. They'd be fine for an occasional user who mostly worked on a desktop. Asus has been OK for me, although I find the keys tend to fall off; but I do most of my work with a USB keyboard to spare my laptops these days. HP I have found no better than Toshiba.

Do you need to have a pro-quality build laptop? Maybe not. As a professional developer my work has always been backed up in a version control system (I use it for writing too). That means as far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter if my laptop is broken or stolen. It's the *content* that is valuable, and not the tool. The main reason I don't like Toshibas isn't that they break and lose my work; it's that the low price is no bargain if I have to replace the thing in under a year.

If you don't use yours so hard, maybe the best thing would be to get a bargain laptop and make sure your work is stored on a server somewhere where you can access it from any computer; then when it breaks or is stolen buy another cheap computer. If you'd rather keep your laptop for a couple years, then buy an Apple or a low-end ThinkPad and get insurance for it.

Another thing to consider is the horrible ergonomics of a laptop. It's very bad for your neck and hands. I recommend setting up a workstation with a laptop stand which raises the top edge of the screen to a few inches below eye level, and have a separate keyboard and mouse. There are folding stands that will fit inside your laptop case, or you can go with one of Targus' laptop backpacks which gives you room to carry the keyboard.

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Robert Nowall
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Sidebar thought: on warranties...well, they don't seem worth the extra money you pay for them. If I get past the original warranty, I've accomplished all I wanted with it, and can spring for a new one if it's something I need to replace. If my car doesn't break down before I've finished paying for it...if a washer lasts ninteen years...if a dishwasher lasts five years...if a TV lasts seven years and is rendered technologically obsolete besides...

More specifically, "electronic products," computers to radios and so on. Since coming into theoretical adulthood, nearly everything I've gotten still works, and I usually stop using it because I've abandoned it for a better one. Just yesterday I was using my big Grundig radio...about fifteen years old but it worked fine.

For more modern "electronic product," well, my iPod is about, what, four years old...my Nook Color is less than a year...and I think I've gotten my money's worth out of 'em already. I've moved from one computer to another, but the first one still worked, it was just slow...as this one is getting to be.

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