I need to buy a new notebook - Dell, Sony, Toshiba, or other?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Michael D. Bunting, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    About 2 weeks ago, I dropped my almost 3 year old Sony VAIO laptop and it does not work whatsoever.

    Bad news is: I have had it looked at (Diagnostic check) at two different repair shops and both cannot fix it.

    Good news is: I had a special insurance for this type of accident with my Insurer, and they have already issued me a check for what that computer's replacement value is today, which is somewhere around $1300 (I had originaly paid $2000 for it). More good news is that I can sell my damaged Sony on ebay for at least $200-$300.

    So, I need a new laptop. I have mostly looked at Dell's to be honest. Sony seems to be too high priced (at least at sonystyle.com anyway) for what you get.

    Dell has some pretty good rebates going on today (that also end today) and I'm tempted to go ahead and place an order tonight before they expire. However, I don't know anyone who owns a Dell laptop. We use Dell's at work, but they are all Desktop PC's.

    I'm also tempted to go the ebay route and buy a used laptop...but I know this can be dangerous, especially when dealing with something like a laptop computer.

    Here is what I'm looking for in my new laptop:

    P4 CPU (HTT is a plus)
    15" (+) Wide-Screen high resolution screen
    CD Burner (Possibly DVD Burner as well)
    512MB RAM
    40 GB (+) Hard Drive
    128MB Video Card

    Given these specs, are there any other manufacturer's that I should check out?

    Thanks for any and all guidance you might be able to pass on.

    Mike
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Definitely take a look at IBM. IBM sells direct on Ebay also, so take a look at those. I have a Dell Latitude C800 and I like it a lot, but my sister recently got an IBM A31 (I think) and I really like it more than my Dell. It seems like it is more sturdy and just feels like it's a better built machine. She's had no problems with it at all. Dell's a good brand too, but I just prefer IBM. I think I would choose between those two though as I'm really not to keen on any of the other mainstream brands.

    Another thing to consider is a tablet PC. You would have to settle for a smaller screen, but you could get most of the other features you're looking for. The thing I hate most about my laptop is that it weighs in at about 9 pounds which makes those 3 pound tablet pcs really tempting.
     
  3. Scott_lb

    Scott_lb Supporting Actor

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    Your specs almost match the laptop I picked up from Dell last fall (I couldn't go higher than a 64 MB video card). I think that their least expensive model that features those specs is the 8600. Also, when I got my computer they seemed to have expiring online coupons every other day.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    Okay guys - I went notebook browsing tonight, here are my findings:

    Fairly decent deals at Best Buy this week with some Mail in Rebate offers, comparable to Dell and the coupons/rebates they offer.

    My question:

    What about Hewlett-Packard (HP)?

    Now, I used to own a Compaq desktop (many years ago) and swore that I would never purchase another Compaq product again. Now that Compaq and HP are one, how worried should I be with an HP notebook?

    The model that really peaked my interest in HP is this one:

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....uct&cmp=%20%20

    I thought it really looked nice (better than dell) but not as nice as Sony. Feature/Spec wise, it has everything (and more) that I wanted, except for not having a DVD-Burner (which I doubt I would use much anyway, considering I have one on my HTPC).

    The 17" display was quite impressive in person, and I would love it for when I watch movies while deployed overseas or anywhere on the road or in the sky during a flight.

    It's kinda pricey, but it has a $250 Rebate through Saturday.

    The only review I found on the web for this particular model wasn't favorable at all. It was pretty bad to be honest. They said that the HP software was awful and it was slower than the older laptop that it was purchased to replace.

    So, any comments on HP for me?

    How much more important is it to go with a CENTRINO CPU vs. a regular Intel P4 CPU? Is it strictly a batterey life issue?

    FYI: I looked at Toshiba's also, and they didn't impress me that much. Seemed kinda pricey for what you got, and I didn't care for the look.

    Seth, I will look into the IBM's tomorrow. Thanks for the recommendation.
     
  5. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    If you buy Dell, be sure to use the 15% off coupon in the Home Theater Forum deals section. That'll save you some extra bucks.

    If you decide on an HP, the ZT3000 (or Compaq X1000) is excellent. That's the one I have.
     
  6. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I'd personally be a little hesitant on the HP. I used to work in retail at a store that sold both HP and Compaq computers (before HP was bought-out). My store actually stopped selling HP because they were such piss-poor computers. They have probably improved since then, but I would still be hesitant.

    As for you question regarding Centrino vs. Pentium 4. Yes, Centrino will definitely give longer battery life, but at the cost of processing power. Most Centrino chips still offer more than the average user uses, so it may not be a big deal. Also, (I think) all Centrino laptops come with Wi-Fi built-in whereas some P4 laptops may not (or will at an extra cost).
     
  7. Andrew Grall

    Andrew Grall Supporting Actor

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    Hmmm.... Wasn't it Compaq that was bought by HP? We bought an HP laptop about a year ago, and it has been one of the best laptop computers I have ever worked with...
     
  8. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Avoid Compaq and HP there are much better notebooks to choose from. I bought a Dell but only b/c I couldn't afford the IBM I wanted. As far as customer satisfaction goes I believe the latest ranking went IBM, Toshiba then Dell. I'm happy with my Dell but when ever I use the IBM's here at work I get very green with envy.
     
  9. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Wife has a 2 year old Compaq that she runs her internet business off of and it's a heap. The HDD has flat out failed once, the new HDD sounds like it's going, and the touchpad left button is a pain to work with (have to press it really hard.) Also crashes all the time adn gives funny errors during normal operation.

    I wouldn't buy another Compaq unless I read they had done a 180 like Dell. We are looking at new laptops now, maybe IBM is a good one?
     
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Do avoid HP and Compaq.

    I have a Sony Vaio and love it. I find it hard
    to believe that a Dell would be cheaper. IBM is
    usually even more expensive for what you get.

    If you don't want another Vaio, I would opt for
    a Dell.
     
  11. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I second the IBM ThinkPad recommendations. I am a repeat customer for them; I had a T23 and now I have a T41.

    Here is what I think makes IBM's stand out:

    1. Best keyboard in the business.

    2. Best security and recovery software. You get Rapid Restore which saves a hard drive backup partition outside of the operating system so you never lose a file.

    3. Active hard drive protection. IBMs move the read/write head off the drive when a drop is detected which lowers the chance of a hard drive crash.

    4. Their screens are the best I have seen. I usually use them in business meetings and even people far to the side can see my PPT slides clearly.

    5. The machines are very solid.

    6. The black design is very cool and professional looking.

    I might be tempted to take a look at the new Sony Carbon Fiber 505 as well but as you can tell I am sold on IBM. [​IMG]

    I have had at various points HP, Compaq and Dell and did not like them. Avoid Compaq and Gateway (wife's old PC) at all costs. [​IMG]
     
  12. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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  13. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I love Toshiba. Very sleek and the quietest I've heard, even the left and right-click buttons are barely audible. I hate going to my college's computer lab, trying to read something over the click click click....
     
  14. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    Gabriel, thanks for those two links. That somewhat eased my nerves after reading about what really is going on with laptop manufacturers. I think I had already read some of that before, but it was nice to read again.

    I will indeed avoid HP (Compaq). I want to stick to my guns and not buy HP simply due to the fact that my previous Compaq Presario (many years ago) was a piece of crap. My sister recently had an HP desktop "blowup" on her. It popped one day while she was using it and smoke just poured out. This may have been her fault, no way for me to take a look at the computer now either, as she trashed it and ordered a dell desktop. [​IMG]

    I have pretty much narrowed my choices down to:

    1) Sony - I loved my Sony notebook (that I'm replacing). I also use a Sony Digital Camera w/ Memory Stick...and pretty much every Sony Laptop offers the Memory Stick slot making that aspect a no-brainer. I am aware also that other manufacturers have Memory Card readers as well. One drawback with Sony, no Widescreen models to my knowledge (which doesn't make sense to me, being that this is Sony?)

    2) Dell - Basically due to the pricing (Coupons/Rebates). Plus they offer Widescreen models and occasionaly have freebie deals (Camera/Printer) and sometimes they offer free upgrades.

    3) IBM - I still need to see one of these in person before coming to a decision. What retail stores carry them?

    Thanks again for the continued support.
     
  15. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    If you are going to be using it on airplanes a lot beware of these big screens. Unless you are sitting in first class it is very hard to fit anything larger than 14" screen on a normal seat tray. You can put it on your lap fine but its not as comfortable on a plane that way. I had an old powerbook with a 14" screen and it was always very cramped on flights so I can only imagine what a 15" or 17" screen would be like.
     
  16. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    I've watched movies on my 15" dell no problem on flights across the country but yeah the widescreen's might be a little too wide for that purpose.
     
  17. PhillJones

    PhillJones Second Unit

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    Just add my voice to the don't buy HP gang.

    I own one, it's pants.

    The DVD-ROM died about 13 months after we bought it. HP exchangeded it, a couple of months later, the CD-Rom died. It was then well and turely out of warranty.

    My dad owns an HP desktop a purchase he made against my advise and I was bought an HP digital camera for a graduation present. All of these products have serious short-comings.

    I wouldn't buy any HP products.
     
  18. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    I just took delivery of a new Dell Inspiron 9100. 3.0 Ghz P4, 1 GB RAM, WSXGA+ screen, 64 MB ATI Radeon 9700 video (128 available), 60 GB 7200 RPM drive, DVD-ROM/CD-RW, built in LAN, modem & WiFi (b/g), Windows XP Pro. Went with Dell because we get a discount through work (on top of whatever other discounts Dell is currently running).

    It's an awesome machine. Very solid workmanship - the DVD/CD-RW drive feels a lot more solid than what I'm used to on laptops. We use Dell Latitudes at work, but the Inspirons seem to be better-built. The widescreen display is bright, crisp & clear.

    I'm mainly excited because for the first time I have a laptop that feels as fast as my desktop. The 7200 RPM drive has a lot to do with that (paid extra to get it - many if not most laptop drives are 4200 RPM, which makes them feel sluggish). It draws more power, but I will be mainly using it at the theater where I work and on trips in hotel rooms, so it will very rarely be on battery.

    So obviously I believe Dell is a good choice. I would agree with the "avoid HP & Compaq" advice. My new Dell is a replacement for a Toshiba Satellite. I was very happy with it (didn't have a single problem in 3+ years), but for what I needed Dell worked better for me this time. However, if you find a Tosh that does what you want at the right price they are good machines. IBM is also a VERY good choice, albeit expensive.
     
  19. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    I just wanted to update everyone and let you all know that I went with a Sony.

    Sony VAIO PCG-K15

    [​IMG]

    I went with this for a couple of reasons. 1) I'm a previous VAIO owner, with no complaints on my last one (Sony VAIO PCG-NV170). 2) Features and price-point on this model (K-15). I feel like I got (pretty much) everything I wanted, except for long battery life and maybe not as good as a video card as I had originally decided upon.

    I paid $1399 from Fry's (on sale from $1699)

    Specs:

    Intel® Pentium® 4 processor 2.80GHz
    Windows XP Home
    15" XGA (1024 x768) TFT display with XBrite™ technology
    64 MB ATI RADEON™ IGP 345M
    512 MB RAM
    60 GB Hard Drive
    DVD±RW/CD-RW drive
    Integrated Wireless (802.11b/g)
    Memory Stick (Pro) Slot

    Thanks again for everyone's help and the great information everyone provided.

    Mike
     
  20. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Congrats on the purchase, Mike. Looks like a good machine and a nice deal.
     

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