Need laptop purchase help

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Al.Anderson, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    I'm getting a laptop for my daughter for Christmas, but my problem is I have never purchased a laptop. (And to make it worse I've let my PC knowledge lapse too.)

    So a few questions:

    - I'm looking at a Toshiba. Mostly because it's not a Dell, HP, or Gateway - all of which I have reason to not buy. Anyone have anything particularly good or bad to relate concerning Toshiba?

    - I'm going fairly low end. But the gap between the Duo and Duo2 is $100. Both are 533 FSB. (T2050@1.73 vs T5200@1.60) She'll be doing the usual multimedia stuff along with some light gaming - Sims and the like. Can I go with the lower end Duo?

    - I can get either the XP-Multimedia edition or XP-Pro for the same price. Any recos?

    - I was going to splurge for the nVIDIA® GeForce® 7300 instead of the on-board graphics. Is this a bad idea? I'm thinking power consumption, compatibility, and replacement costs.

    Any and all help would be greatly appreciated! I should have ordered this already, so I'm starting to panic.
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Toshiba is probably not too bad. If you need to save money, go for the Duo -- I doubt she'll notice much difference given the stated uses she has for it.

    The upgraded graphics is probably worth it if she's planning to play some games on it.

    I would get XP Pro personally, but I'm a geek. Also, I've never used XP Media Center.

    Another thing to consider -- the hard drive speed. Old laptop drives were 4200rpm. Now the low-end standard is 5400rpm with some laptops running 7200rpm. Definitely don't get one with 4200rpm. 5400 is a good compromise of speed and battery life.

    Finally, you should also consider Lenovo (formerly IBM). While these are not quite as solid as they were under IBM, I think they are still some of the best made laptops out there.

    EDIT: How much RAM are you getting? I would consider 1GB a minimum.
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Seth brought up some good points here.

    I have owned many laptops over the years. Started with a
    Dell, went to a Sony Vaio, then Toshiba and now IBM Lenovo.

    Good idea to stay away from Dell, HP and Gateway.

    The Lenovo is absolutely the best laptop you can buy, but it
    comes at a significant cost.

    Sony Vaio is very good, but I liked my Toshiba a little better.
    Either of those brands would make an excellent choice.

    The BIG question is how much you want to spend? If we had
    a ballpark figure we could assist you a little better.

    I would highly recommend you not spend less than $1300-$1400.
    Laptops are very delicate instruments and if you buy cheap, you
    will get crap.

    As Seth pointed out, you want a laptop with at least 512mb memory,
    though I would go 1GB -- especially for Windows Vista that's right
    around the corner. You can get away with 128mb video card if you
    are using the computer for anything besides gaming. A 256mb video
    card is optimal for graphic-intensive applications.

    Processor speed? Either Duo or Duo2 is fine. I also agree with Seth
    that your daughter will not find much difference between the two.

    Another very good point is hard drive speed -- and you should
    pay very close attention to what you are getting. You should get
    at least a 5400 rpm drive. If you can find a 7200, you hit the
    jackpot -- but in my experience these are usually available through
    specially built online models. Still, who knows, they may be more
    standard now than they were 6 months ago.

    Really, Windows XP Home is perfect for what your daughter needs,
    though if they are including Windows XP Pro, it's an added bonus.
    No big difference between those versions other than that PRO
    adds a lot of security features for business use.

    One thing that you should look for is if there is a coupon included
    to upgrade to Windows Vista when it is released January 30th. I
    know that most online companies are offering free upgrades, but
    I am uncertain if Sony or Toshiba are offering it.

    That's about all I can think of for now. Let us know what you
    end up purchasing.
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    What about screen size and overall machine size? This may be the most important decision for a laptop, past brand name.The screen size for a laptop can really affect how usable it is.

    Desktop replacement? Get the largest screen you can.
    Carried all around? Small system to be truly portable.
    Important to use on a plane? Stay smaller than 15" I think.
     
  5. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Thanks guys - I feel much better about the purchase. (I pulled the trigger last a little quicker than I ordinarily would have since I need it for Christmas.)

    I did look at the Lenovo's; but I was *trying* to stay under 1K so that didn't lead to many options. I would up paying $1150, but that included about $400 in coupon credits, so I hope I didn't just get an eggshell.

    The 7200 HD was $150 more so just I went with the 100G 5400. I got 1G of memory, which I figure is adequate since the video card has 256M.

    Oh, and I also went with the Media Center Edition. That choice still has me second guessing myself, but I didn't mention that she's into making movies with her friends; and of course the mp3s - so I went with the idea that I could use the media features more than the security/flexibility of XP-Pro.
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Al,

    Am I to believe you went with the Lenovo?

    Which series?

    Did it include a Vista upgrade?
     
  7. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Ron, no I went with the Toshiba. (I confused the issue with kind of a run-on paragraph.) The Lenovo's were too expensive. And I did not get a Vista upgrade that I'm aware of. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet - but I have a while before I regret it because I would never install anything from MS until it hits at least SP-1.

    And thanks Dave - I went with a 15 in widescreen. I didn't ask about that because I was pretty comfortable with the choice. I was originally going to go for 17in, but after using one in a store I decide that was too big, even if the portable nature for her will be dining room for homework and bedroom for playing (until the router shuts her off at 10:30!).
     
  8. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    That's just when she'll switch to a neighbor's unsecured signal!
     
  9. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    You know, I'm *really* embarrassed I didn't think of that ...

    I think I'm safe for the immediate future, but it's only a matter of time. Thanks!
     
  10. Brian Fineberg

    Brian Fineberg Second Unit

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  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Brian,

    I like the Sony model, though not crazy about a white laptop.
     
  12. Brian Fineberg

    Brian Fineberg Second Unit

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    I agreee with the white....is the gateway a terrible cpu? would i be mistaken to purchase it cause the sony is out of stock....I can get the Gateway. is it ok or....

    thanks Ron,

    Brian
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Brian,

    The specs look decent, but...

    Two things concern me....

    I'm not a huge Gateway fan, and I know very little about
    AMD processors.

    Perhaps someone else could chime in on what they think of
    this model.
     
  14. Brian Fineberg

    Brian Fineberg Second Unit

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    thanks Ron1!!
     
  15. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    As far as specs go, the Gateway looks like the better deal since it has the video card. I also don't know a thing about AMD mobile chips (other than my reseach indicated that Intel was ahead in the mobile category).

    My personal reason for not dealing with Gateway was a horrible almost-purchasing experience a few years ago where the salesman (phone) out-and-out insulted me during our conversation. I talked at length with his sales manager but wasn't happy with the conversation. So I swore I would never buy Gateway. The part I can't figure out to this day is I was 30 seconds away from making a purchase before this guy started abusing me. Oh well.

    Other than that I think their overall rep in in the middle ground.
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Yeah, to follow up....

    I agree. The Gateway has the better specs....but....it's a
    Gateway and I have heard my share of horror stories about them.

    Still, Gateway is one of the leading computer companies out there.
     
  17. Brian Fineberg

    Brian Fineberg Second Unit

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    thanks again...well i am going gateway...lets just hope i will not be a horrow story...thansk again for your help!!
     
  18. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    You should be fine. Every brand will have it's lemons. I've had a few Gateway desktops and never had any problems with them. My current desktop is a Dell and no problems either. I just bought a Dell Notebook for my wife for Christmas. Couldn't find a better price:

    E1505 w/ 15.4 inch screen
    Intel 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo
    1GB RAM
    80GB SATA Hard Drive
    256MB ATI MOBILITY RADEON X1400 (fine for her needs)
    CD Burner/DVD
    Multi-Card Reader
    Wireless Ethernet
    Vista upgrade

    for $818.00
     

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