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Author Topic: Laptops . . .
Joldo
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I'm looking to buy a new laptop soon, but I'm really not sure what my best options are. I mean, there are numbers and accessories, and those make comparison easy, but I'm aiming more at quality.

I'd like to know what brands and models of notebooks Jatraqueros have experience with. I mean, a good service record is nice, but I'd love a laptop that wouldn't NEED service for a long time. I'd like to know what owners think of their laptops--of battery life, efficiency, quality, and so on.

I'm a student, so I'm not looking for something really expensive. My parents have offered to stake me five hundred dollars as a graduation gift, and I can tack on a few hundred from my job. But passing the thousand mark gets difficult.

So, I've looked at
Apple--GREAT quality, I hear, but sadly, MacBooks are really expensive
Gateway--their combination laptop/tablet PC looks lovely, but I don't know how well it performs
Dell--my friends tell me these are good, reliable, inexpensive computers. Opinions?
Toshiba and Sony--I'm a firm believer in Japanese quality. Call me crazy, but experience says . . .

My laptop will mostly go to watching DVDs, typing and doing other schoolwork, Internet use, some music, and possibly a little graphics work (though this last bit is more of an option). Oh, and the only video game I play is Civilizations III, which almost any computer can handle, so . . .

Suggestions? Please and thank you.

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jlt
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I looked into this a lot when buying my laptop. Apple is expensive but they also limit you to Apple software in many ways. Gateway is a poor value and not great quality. Dell can be good but my brother has had 2 Dell laptops that have both broken down. I had a Toshiba that broke after a few years, very bad and very slow, and Sony is even more expensive than Apple. So I got my HP which I love to death. It was a good value, has excellent graphics, is fast in opening and running applications and on the internet, and there's a wide variety of them, and oh how I love my laptop, it's never given me problems yet.
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JumboWumbo
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iPods and macbooks alike are heavy on the wallet, but, in my opinion, worth every penny. I wouldn't trade my iPod for anything, and I've tried other MP3 players. Sure it may cost more, but it's so sleek and comfortable that I don't know what i'd do without it.

But we're talking about laptops here. I have a macbook at home, and it runs like a dream. I use an IBM laptop at school, and it just doesn't compare. If you can't afford a Mac, I'd recommend a gateway of some sort, but macs are completely student friendly, and well worth the price.

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pfresh85
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Yeah, to me, the only downside to the Mac for someone like me (who doesn't do much coding or gaming on his computer) is the expense. Still, I've had a Mac for almost 3 years now, and I don't regret the amount I spent on it. Worth every little bit. Still if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. That's how it goes. I haven't gotten any opinion on Windows-laptops, as most of my friends are gamers and refuse to buy any big brand (aside from Alienware, if you consider it big). I know my brother has a Dell though, and it hasn't caused him any problems. My mother and my sister both have Compaqs and they haven't had any problems either.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Gateway is a poor value and not great quality.
When it comes to laptops, Gateway's purchase of eMachines gave it one of the best value laptop lines out there, next to (maybe) the old Averatecs.
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rivka
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I have an Averatec (which I love), but I don't know if it counts as "old."
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jlt
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Cnet's very useful for information on this.
Links:
http://reviews.cnet.com/4323-6527_7-6509049.html?tag=dir

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-7602_7-1016082-1.html?tag=dir

http://reviews.cnet.com/Notebooks/2001-3121_7-0.html?tag=cnetfd.dir

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fugu13
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You can pick up a refurbished MacBook from Apple for $800-$900 most of the time, which is within the sweet spot for low-end laptops.

I would put the sweet spot for low end laptops at around $700-$900, nowadays. I'm actually contemplating a (non-mac!) laptop (and in a few months, a non-mac desktop!) right now, and this is appealing: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16834115356

I'll probably get a similar one from Sam's Club (mmm, immediacy) soon.

Even if that one doesn't appeal, take it as proof you can get a dual core processor, one gig of RAM, and Vista Home Premium (which seems worth seeking out over Home Basic, based on what I've read) for $700, and don't spend a lot more on a laptop that doesn't give you more value.

pfresh: macs are great coding platforms, don't let anyone tell you differently [Smile] . One of the reasons I'm willing to go non-mac for some additional machines, besides still having my mac at home, is that at work I have a wonderful Mac Pro to develop on (with two 24" widescreen monitors [Big Grin] ).

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pfresh85
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Yeah, I know you can do coding on Macs and such (in fact, I tried to for a brief while before I became overwhelmed with other stuff). It just seems that, at least at my college, they seem to overemphasize programming on Windows machines, and if you are a Mac programmer you're SOL.

Oh, and two 24" widescreen monitors? Lucky. [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Cnet's very useful for information on this.
I disagree. I would never in a million years trust a CNet review.
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Sterling
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I have an Acer Travelmate; going on one year, no problems besides the lack of availability of proprietary video driver updates.
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jlt
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Why Tom?
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Shanna
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Dell makes great desktop computer. But their laptops are terrible.

My roommate had hers arrive with screws missing and various pieces proceeded to come loose inside for the first six months she had it.

Mine is three years old and I've lost track of how many times its crashed. The keyboard keys are popping up and I had to replace the hard-drive on it last year.

Another friend's monitor died last month right after her warranty ran out.

I'm already planning on getting a Macbook in March. My roommate replaced her Dell with an Apple laptop a few months ago and she hasn't had a single problem with it.

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Lyrhawn
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I'm on a Dell laptop right now, and I love it. I've had it for a year now, never had a single problem with it.
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TomDavidson
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CNet's own standards are ridiculously mutable and tend to be heavily biased towards the flavor of the week. In general, CNet can be trusted to give a good review to something manufactured by a company that was making good products the previous year.
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Tante Shvester
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I recently got a Dell Inspiron 2650. Sweet. I got it used, for a bargain. However, it was my 4th used laptop from the same shop. He gives a 90-day money-back satisfaction guarantee on all his used stuff. Laptops one, two and three all had problems that made me bring them back (at first for repair, and then, when I wasn't happy with the repair, for a return). This one is great, although the guy who owns the shop turns off his lights and locks the doors when he sees me pulling into his parking lot. Can't say as I blame him.

So, if you are trying for a decent machine at a bargain price, consider a used one, but only if the shop is willing to stand behind their stuff with an unconditional satisfaction guarantee.

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Boris
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If you're gonna get a Dell, get a Latitude. The Inspirons are notorious for poor quality (both in construction and components). Lenovos are relatively good. You can boot Windows with a Mac, though I have seen some issues with Winmacs. And if you're thinking about buying a Mac just to run Windows on it: *bonk* <-- you deserve that [Big Grin]

I will give Gateway credit on their laptops. At the very least, I saw them far less in the repair bins in my old job than I did Dells, Compaqs, HP's, and Sony's. Never ever buy a Compaq! They're HP's little bargain bin wing now, and they haven't come up a lick in quality in...ever. So just don't buy one [Big Grin]

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Celaeno
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I have a Toshiba laptop, and I love it. I bought it three and a half years ago, and I've never had a problem with it.
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Tstorm
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I've had good experience with my HP laptop thus far. Now, granted, I didn't purchase it and it doesn't belong to me, but I've been using it for a few months. Battery life is good and speed is good (for web development stuff).

And I'd steer clear of Sony. Just personal vendetta talking here, though.

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quidscribis
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I had an Acer Craptop that went in for repair more than a dozen times in the first year and had every single major component replaced at least three times each. Still didn't work properly. Never did. Repair was terrible - came back once as unbootable. I took the repairs up to the VP level, and even they didn't give a hoot. As far as they were concerned, they owed me nothing. They didn't even stick to their own guaranteed turnaround time of 5 days - they once had it for a couple of weeks or a month - I don't remember which anymore.

Even if Acer had improved in quality, their repair service is completely terrible.

Fahim had an Acer, which, when he got an even newer laptop, I migrated to. (I never would have bought it myself because I'm now biased against Acer. Doesn't help that I had an Acer monitor that went up in flames. Literally. I could see them shooting out of the back of the thing.) Its power supply died. One dead laptop.


Had a Dell. Its power supply died after a year and a half of use. Completely dead laptop.


Now have an HP/Compaq which is mostly fine, except that I have these funny vertical lines on the left half of the display. They're permanent and obstruct my view. The last time I counted them, there were over twenty, but it's at least three times that many now. The laptop is a year and a half old.


Point is that every single manufacturer has crappy laptops and anecdotally, you'll always get at least someone with a horror story and at least one other person who loves it.


Oh, and I also don't recommend Sony. In my opinion, they make crap products. I'll grant you that I don't have recent experience - my last time buying a Sony product was in the early 90s, and it was a Walkman that was so defective that I went through three in a week (or a few days?) before I demanded my money back, which they were extremely reluctant to give me. My brother had similar experiences in the mid 80s. I don't trust their products anymore.

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rivka
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*twinkle*

Actually, I think the point is that you're a laptop-killer. [Wink]

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stihl1
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I've had a Dell laptop for over 2 years now, as well as a Dell desktop, and plasma tv, and pda. All of them work great and I highly recommend anything they make. They have some rather inexpensive laptops as well.
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quidscribis
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rivka, we're trying to ignore that. *shh!*
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