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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Hey you computer experts, I'm going shopping...

   
Author Topic: Hey you computer experts, I'm going shopping...
Crystal Stevens
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...for a new laptop probably tomorrow at Best Buy and need some advice. I don't need a lot of extras. Just something to write my stories and poetry, store and send pics, and connect to the internet. Right now I'm on a Dell Inspiron 15 with a 4GB memory and a 320GB hard drive, and an integrated Webcam. It's 3 yrs. old, and the hard drive came a hair from crashing not long ago. The hard drive's been replaced. I've also heard it's good to replace (upgrade?) computers every 3 yrs.

So, should I replace my current laptop or stick with what I have? If I replace my Dell, what would be a good buy on today's US market? So far I've heard it's best to avoid American made. That Sony, Toshiba, or Asus is the better buy. My cousin is sold on Asus, which is a German made 'puter that I'm leaning toward at the moment. I would like to stay around $300 to $500 range, and Best Buy is running clearance sales right now.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Robert Nowall
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Wish I could help...looks like I'm going to be computershopping myself. I'd probably go top-end, the more expensive model with more whistles and bells. But it's gotta do what this one already does---or at least, what it does when it's working...
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billawaboy
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I stand by HP laptops. There's two in the family one is 5 years old and the others 3 years old - no problems at all. But they are 17" desktop replacements costing $1200 each.

But there nice deals of HP laptops in $300-$500 range. And I think Best Buy may still have that deal where you can buy an HP laptop/HP Touchpad bundle for like $500.

you can try a :
HP - Pavilion Laptop / AMD Phenom™ II Processor / 14" Display / 4GB Memory / 320GB Hard Drive - Pewter Model: g4-1135dx SKU: 3184308
for like $400 at best buy.

If you want something light and can splurge - You might want to try an ultra-book. A lot of them coming out this year. Extremely thin and light. but they are pricey.

Have fun shopping!

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Treamayne
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I would suggest avoiding Toshiba. unless alot has changed in the last 2 years or so, they were using proprietary hardware so if you need to repair or upgrade you can only install Toshiba brand hardware (HD and Memory) and they jack up the price on those to lower the base price for models. there was also a scare not too long ago that the Chinese made motherboards had firmware installed to steal passowrds and info from computers (by building it into the hardware, it can't be detected by virus scanning).

I've used HP since 2004 and their products were lasting a long time, but I will admit their customer service has gone down the toilet in the last 2-3 years. It's still not as bad as some other brands (*cough Dell *cough) but it is nowhere near the industry leading service it was 5-6 yrs ago. Their products are usually solid though. I don't have alot of experience with Asus and Sony, but I've heard good and bad things (which you will here on any product). If you are looking at reviews - always ignore any 5 star and 1 star reviews. The latest trend in gadgets is for companies to have employees log on anonymously and write a bunch of 5 star reviews to bump up ratings. Competitors are jumping in and doing the opposite by writing 1 star reviews to lower competitions' ratings.

I would suggest looking at the Consumer Reports website for some unbiased information and comparisons. They don't have every model, but tend to have representitive models in most categories. Always compare "whole price" (purchase plus likelihood of repair costs and upkeep).

To be more specific about about recommendations we would need to know more about how you plan to use it. Do you travel with it alot? Do you just use it from different rooms in the house? do you worry more about battery life than quality of display and performance? Do yo uuse a docking station? Things like that.

Also, I would suggest an external HD for all your files and back-ups, so whenever the HD craches you have the files stored elsewhere. you can usually save money this way on a smaller internal HD if you aren't installing alot of large programs by keeping music, pictures and stories on an external.

Hope that helps.

V/R

AT

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EVOC
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My wife has an HP. I have a Dell. I have an HP desktop for gaming.

All in all, I'd have to say HP and Dell are the brands to choose from. Toshiba and Acer I would stay away from.

I haven't had a bad experience with either. I will say my wife's HP had several key on the keyboard break on her.

I'm using a Dell Inspirion 15 too. Its about two years old. I love it. And it is great for what I need.

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Crystal Stevens
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I hope I didn't make a mistake, but I went with an ASUS laptop from Best Buy. Bought it yesterday and just now trying it out. Right now, I'm on my Dell laptop. I started going through all my favorite sites on my ASUS and listing them in my favorites but had trouble bringing up Hatrack for some reason. I couldn't bring up the forums at all, and when I tried to go in through the front door and login, it didn't accept my user name or password. I'll try again on my ASUS and see if it's just my air card, but it seems wierd that my other forums came up just fine after logging back in like normal.

Another thing I think I'm going to like is ASUS has Word instead of Works. On my Dell, I can't just type up my stories in Word. I have to write them in Works and them switch them to a Word doc to send them to anyone for crits. Now that I'll be writing in Word, I hope this won't be necessary.

And don't let my already buying a new computer stop this thread. It might be beneficial to anyone to know what's out there and your thoughts on different brands; pros and cons. In some ways, maybe I should've waited before shopping so soon after posting this, but I didn't want to miss the clearance sales. They don't last forever. I'll let everyone know how my ASUS works out after I've gotten more used to it. I'm still feeling her out if you know what I mean [Big Grin] .

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Crystal Stevens
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It took me some time but I'm now writing this from my ASUS laptop. Hatrack is coming in fine now, and I have no idea why I couldn't do it before.

Now I still have to transfer all my files from my Dell laptop onto here. I think I'm going to like this once everything's done.

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Robert Nowall
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Congratulations. When I moved from my previous (first) computer, I never figured out how to move anything from one to the other, other than a Favorite Places list I downloaded onto a diskette beforehand...not that there was much of importance on my first computer. That won't be the case this time; I've got to get copies of all my writings and such in particular, and update my safety disks for iTunes...

My problem is online stuff...everything else, wordprocessing, iTunes, the few games I play, they seem to work fine...but going online has gotten difficult. It's working fine now, or apparently so...but often it starts and freezes up and I have to reboot.

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Lyrajean
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On my second Lenovo laptop. Very good workhorses. One of the many reasons I got these is that they don't have those Sony style mush-y feeling keyboards. Much better for marathon typing those novels.
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billawaboy
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I've never tried an ASUS, but can't imagine any problems. It should be fine.

If you're having some hiccups, typical first things to do with a new computer/laptop:
Make sure to get latest Windows (or Mac) updates. Typically that works. Next get most recent browser of Firefox, Chrome, or IE. And update Adobe Flash. If that dont fix the hiccups I'm plum out of ideas.

If you're looking for other writing software:
There is a free version called OpenOffice.org. Behaves almost exactly like Word 2003.

I prefer Notepad. I dislike autocorrect and all those enticing buttons just asking to be pushed. Heh. After I finish writing I just cut-paste into a Word novel template file I have.

There's Google Docs - an online office suite you can access via a gmail account. Good tool if you're working on a collaborative story with another writer. My friends and I do critiques this way sometimes. Also I'd guess everything is saved online - won't have to worry about data losses. Behaves just like Word.

I love CELTX. It's meant for movie production but it has the formats for novel (as well as screenplay, comic book, storyboards) - and it's free!
What I really love is it's Sketch and Storyboard feature, You can physically map out a scene using simple drop-in clip-arts provided and see how characters are positioned, how far they are from each other. Nice way to keep track of the action, and also do reality checks.

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LeetahWest
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quote:
I will say my wife's HP had several key on the keyboard break on her.
Ya know EVOC, maybe if you didn't make your wife mad so often she wouldn't be breaking things. [Big Grin]
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Robert Nowall
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On keyboards...my working with / on a computer got easier when I got an ergonomic keyboard...I suppose if I ever got a laptop I'd just have to (1) get one with an ergonomic keyboard, or (2) figure out how to plug one into the laptop.

Probably (2), 'casue, far as I know, there isn't a laptop with an ergonomic keyboard. If there is, enlighten me...

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LDWriter2
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Haven't joined this discussion since I didn't know the answer to the original question but Robert have you tried a Steampunk keyboard? I know someone who had one. She sold it.


But I think you can plug another keyboard into yours. I've seen it in advertisements anyway.

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Utahute72
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I got my wife a new Dell for christmas, QVC had one heck of a deal. $600 for an I5, with a ton of memory. What sold her though is it had switchable cover plates to personalize the computer.
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redux
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I am late to the conversation but ASUS is a great brand. While I've never owned one of their laptops I have owned their motherboards and they are a very well made product.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I like to type in my lap, but laptops can get rather warm (yes, I know about lapdesks for laptops).

I also don't like the keyboard on my laptop, nor do I like the touch pad. So I have a wireless mouse plus keyboard that I connect to my laptop via a USB antenna which sends a signal to both the keyboard in my lap and the mouse on the mousepad.

If I take the laptop somewhere else, I leave the wireless keyboard, but I have to have the wireless mouse.

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Treamayne
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Another good option if you want a laptop, but only travel rarely with it is to get a Docking Station. When on the docking station it will use a USB/Wireless/BT/PS2 keyboard and mouse (and you can hook it up to a bigger monitor, if you want) but when you need to travel you disconnect just the Docking Station connection and go. This alleviates un/plugging several cords every time you want to take the system somewhere. Probably not as good if you constantly roam the house with the laptop, but if you generally work from one location and still want a laptop you can travel with it is a great option. I have the XB4 Docking Station for my HP HDX laptop at home, it's set up so the laptop monitor stay at a comfortable viewing height when docked but is easy to connect and disconnect for travel.

http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/hp-media-laptop-docking-station-xb4/10114396.aspx

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