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Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-25-2006, 10:15 PM   #1
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Bad year for electronics...

Not that I'm complaining, but the laptop I've hated for several years now died hard about 2 hours ago.

Now i'm debating replacing its heavy, crappiness with a lightweight model to pretty much just do mobile surfing with, or getting a heavy duty clobberin' machine and dumping the aging desktop and the notebook at the same time.

Any suggestions? I'm inclined towards costco/sams club offerings due to the superior returns policy and pretty good prices. Seems like a lot of HP and Compaq slabs, and the hated slab of doom was an HP so thats not going to be favorable. I think there isnt much difference between compaqs and hp's at this point, unless someone wants to shave that point with some info.

Other than that, I see a Toshiba that looks like major overkill (their top of the line Qosmio) for ~$1799 and some clearanced Dells in the sub $1000 range.

Anyone besides C-T and his Sony buy something recently and really, really like it?
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:20 AM   #2
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

I have been a Dell man for manyyears and my newest is a Latitude 9300. It is big for a laptop but the wide screen is great for movies and sufing. The keyboard is a little odd but I am getting used to it. I just love surfing while my wife sleeps next to me.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 01:18 AM   #3
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Good.* *You've learned to avoid HP/Compaq.* *That's a first step.

Sony sources the best LCDs, but I've never been impressed with any other aspect of their machines.* *Keyboards seem especially bad, and I've seen a lot of broken hinges on Sonys.

Costco's markup vs Dell and other online vendors just doesn't seem worth the warranty protection (which they cut way back for computers anyway).

Best lightweight machine on the market is the Dell 700m.* *You just have to see the LCD, and you'll be in love.* *It's getting a little long in the tooth, but it's still my fave.

Best general-purpose desktop replacement is the Dell 9400 or E1705 or whatever they're calling it this week.* *That 7800 GPU it comes with is no slouch either.

If you want an over-the-top gaming rig, Sager/Clevo dual-core AMD X2 with 7800GTX is currently the way to go.

And IBM/Lenovo is always a safe bet.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 09:25 AM   #4
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Good start. I actually find the prices at costco to be pretty decent, not a big premium for what i've looked at. I know its just six months to return it vs 'whenever' for other merchandise, but given I can take it in 5.99 months later and say "Here it is" and get a credit, no questions asked, is pretty nice.

I was sorting through the Dell models last night. Man, do those guys have a segmentation problem. I only spent 15-20 minutes, but it still wasnt completely clear to me what each product was addressing that was significantly different from the others. Apparently one must commit a good chunk of time to really understanding their product line, even if that is what one did in their former life. Not a good sign for Dell. I mean, whadda ya need? A 10" 3.xlb super traveller, a 12" 4.xlb lightweight, a 13-14" 6.xlb economy, and a 17-19" desktop replacement. Why the dozen or so models? Ick.

Anyhoo, wifes off today so I have time to do some looking with both hands on the keyboard and without hurricane gabe 'swimming' towards the keyboard. I need to go find him one of those old fashioned 'ruggedized' laptops to play with...one of his favorite activities is when I set up Word with the huge fonts and let him at the keyboard...its pretty cute...he puts both hands on it and very gingerly pushes buttons and keeps looking up from the keyboard to the screen to see the letters show up. Unfortunately I sat him down with an old laptop and 3 minutes later he had all the keycaps off and was trying to eat one of them...then BAM. Apparently once he's 'done' with something, it must be smacked several times, and then ideally disappear from his view as permanently as possible. His latest 'trick' is to take up an armload of toys, take them into the laundry room and stick them out the cat door.

But I digress.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveR
I just love surfing while my wife sleeps next to me.
You and I need to have a chat.

Thanks for the info on the 9000 series, I do keep hearing good things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
Sager/Clevo dual-core AMD X2
Last thing I said to the wife before I shut the computer off last night, right after posting this, was "I wonder how long its going to take before some comedian suggests an AMD rig (which of course all catch fire) or some apple product (which up until recently were all underpowered and overpriced.)

I was actually interested in the turion 64 mt series, as I kept seeing cheapo machines with that in it. After reading a few reviews on it, I was a lot less enthused.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 10:20 AM   #5
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Cute Fuzzy Bunny)
Last thing I said to the wife before I shut the computer off last night, right after posting this, was "I wonder how long its going to take before some comedian suggests an AMD rig (which of course all catch fire) or some apple product (which up until recently were all underpowered and overpriced.)
Heh, sorry to disappoint you. I had the idea to recommend exactly that last night: "get either an AMD or one of those PPC Macs before they're gone". Not sure why I didn't follow through; maybe more than one Mac recommendation per week is too much for me.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 10:30 AM   #6
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Cute Fuzzy, let us know the results of your research. I'll probably buy based on those results. Still waiting to replace my failing work HP. It works ok as long as it doesn't move.

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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 11:05 AM   #7
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Hey BMJ...you're already in line for a noogie. Dont make me add a wedgie to that.

About ready to dig in and snoop. I'll probably stick with Toshibas and Dells. Had good luck with both of those, especially considering I still have all of the ones i've bought and they all still work. History with computers, as with investing, is however not a predictor of the future.

Martha - dont move it! Mine started for a couple of hours looking like I had switched to battery power...the backlight would dim and the fan would slow down when I moved it...then a second or two later it'd switch back. I tried it with just the battery and just the AC and it did the same thing. I tried a reboot and had a dark machine. By the way, if yours dies, have your computer guy look into one of the nice pcmcia or USB external disk enclosures. You can remove the hard drive from your old machine, put it in one of the enclosures and plug it into the new machine, extracting your files. Then you can use it as an external backup device going forward. Under $50.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 11:25 AM   #8
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Well so far I'm leaning towards this one...
http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product...opnav=&browse=

Pentium M 2.0ghz, 1gb ram, nice but unspectacular video chip and screen, 8x dvd burner, 3 year warranty, 100gb disk. $1299. I configured the same system directly with dell using every coupon combo I could find and the closest I could get was $15xx...so it looks like the 'costco premium' isnt in force here. Its a little heavy at 6.7lbs, but i'm not going to take it 'on the road'.

Anyone wanna crap on that one before I fall in lust?

I'm still looking....
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 11:35 AM   #9
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

The toshiba in this price/performance class has a much lower battery life guestimate...a little over 2 hours vs "up to 5 hours, 20 minutes" for the dell 6000. Has the intel graphics instead of the better ati. And 1.73GHz vs the dells 2.0. And the toshiba's a hundred bucks more.

Not looking good for toshiba...
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 11:39 AM   #10
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Sams Club has the same dell model for a hundred bucks more, or one with a smaller hard drive and the lesser intel graphics for a hundred bucks less than costco...
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:06 PM   #11
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Looked at the IBM's. Once again I'm confounded by 172,000 variants and models, and the apparently inability to customize one to what I want. I did manage to get one model that was in the vicinity of the dell above, in stated quality/performance level. With a slower processor, a smaller amount of ram, what is likely a nicer screen and keyboard, a fingerprint reader, and some corporate level security goodies, I'm looking at a price premium in the 50% range. If price were no object, I'd consider it, but I dont know if i'd be really getting a good value. After a brief dalliance with some sony models, i've come to the same conclusion. They're better, but not 50% better.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:14 PM   #12
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

I see from some interesting stuff I read that the dell 6000 is far and away the most popular notebook sold.

I also read a pretty decent and well thought out article that rated the processors thusly:

Pentium M
Mobile Athlon
Mobile P4
Turion
Sempron
Celeron M

With the latter two being reserved for the cheapest of the cheap with modest performance expectations. They measured battery life, thermals, overall performance, gaming performance, etc. Looked pretty well balanced. I had wondered about the simpron as its showing up in a lot of cheap, full featured notebooks. Looks fine for surfing, email, office apps. Nothing to write home about if you want to do video, make dvds, or play 3rd person shooters.

That having been said, I do all those things on my 3 year old desktop with a p4 2.4GHz thats pound for pound, probably weaker than the latest celeron M and semprons. So its all relative.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:38 PM   #13
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

No complaints about the Mobile Athlon in my gasp/argh Compaq, and it keeps your legs warm!!

Compaq = POS otherwise...
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:44 PM   #14
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Thanks, I was looking with my cheapo side at a compaq with a turion ml-32 for $899 at sams club.
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:49 PM   #15
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

To be more specific, the left button has been touchy from the get-go, and the mouse driver sucks, as in unresponsive, randomly telling me the touchpad is off, and occasionally giving me the screen of hexidecimal garbage after an IRQ fart...
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:50 PM   #16
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

I looked at the Dell E1705, looks like a nice machine but they're only offering it with the core duo and core solo. From what I hear those have a lot of errata and some initial problems. The Dothan cores (Pentium M 1.8 and 2.0) are good performers, excellent on thermals and battery life, and are probably a better buy unless you absolutely, positively need a burner and price is not an object. 17" screen looks good. If watching movies on the machine or regularly making DVD's was the key need, I'd probably feel a hook in my cheek...
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 12:54 PM   #17
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Have Funds, Will Retire
To be more specific, the left button has been touchy from the get-go, and the mouse driver sucks, as in unresponsive, randomly telling me the touchpad is off, and occasionally giving me the screen of hexidecimal garbage after an IRQ fart...
Funny, I had mouse problems with my HP (same company as compaq). The right button has to be pushed hard and in just the right direction to work. Whole thing quit working a year ago and was fixed under warranty. CD drive kept whirring up for no reason at random intervals and was eventually replaced with a dvd drive after two cd drives did the same thing. Someone also subbed a mobile celeron in it in place of the mobile p4 that was originally in it while it was in under warranty, so it had to go back in again to get my parts back. Hard drive failed. Of course, when you send it in for a repair that doesnt involve the hard drive at all, they wipe and reload the disk with their base build. I've gotten good at keeping my data portable and my apps disks in a handy stack... :P

All in all, not a great track record for a lappie less than 3 years old. But then again it was $1150 minus a $300 staples coupon, minus three $150 rebates that made the mistake of not saying the use of one excluded the use of another...

All in all, I got what I paid for...
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 01:04 PM   #18
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

While I recommend and use a Dell, I also use a G4 powerbook.

Here is an Apple commercial showing a 12 in and 17 in powerbook
http://www.advertisementave.com/tv/ad.asp?adid=494
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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 01:16 PM   #19
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Cute Fuzzy Bunny)
Well so far I'm leaning towards this one...
http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product...opnav=&browse=

Pentium M 2.0ghz, 1gb ram, nice but unspectacular video chip and screen, 8x dvd burner, 3 year warranty, 100gb disk. $1299. I configured the same system directly with dell using every coupon combo I could find and the closest I could get was $15xx...so it looks like the 'costco premium' isnt in force here. Its a little heavy at 6.7lbs, but i'm not going to take it 'on the road'.

Anyone wanna crap on that one before I fall in lust?

I'm still looking....
Not sure if you go through small business at dell like I always do. I priced the inspiron 6000, and got $832 as a base price for a decent set up. Add everything to get it comparable to the costco computer, and it is about $1400 without any coupons or special deals beyond what was already on their small business front page.

You can significantly reduce your costs. Depends on what you are willing to give up - 20 GB less hard drive, save $51. 512 RAM, save $140. 1.6Ghz CPU, save $140, 1 yr warranty, save $125, etc.

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Re: Bad year for electronics...
Old 01-26-2006, 01:21 PM   #20
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Re: Bad year for electronics...

And about the same washout for the 9300 as for the thinkpad and the sonys.

Apparently the manufacturers feel a 17" screen vs 15, and a little better screen and keyboard are worth a $500-700 premium. If you're going to watch movies on it and/or type an awful lot, and money/value arent part of the equation, they look good.

So here's the summary:

If you just want a computer, you can do a lot worse than going to dell or costco or sams and buying the cheapest thing they've got that you like the looks of. I saw a lot of $499-799 notebooks that would simply beat the crud out of the very best computers of 2-3 years ago. Excepting twitch games and doing video transcoding, these should do the job. The battery life might not be in the 4-5 hour range, they might weigh 7 or 8lbs instead of 5, and they might warm your parts a little bit, but a great notebook circa 2002/2003 did all that stuff and cost three grand. You're going to get a sempron or celeron M in these, if you really want more juice, get a turion 64 based machine for a hundred or two more.

If you're into a very light machine for big travelling or you're going to carry it around your house and muscle is sparse, the Dell 700M looks good. The averatec 10 and 12" machines also appear to give you a lot for your money at $999 and $799 for a ULV pentium M 3.5lb'er and Sempron 4.5lb'er respectively.

If you want a big powerhouse machine and you know why you need one (re-read those last six words again please) then the 9300 or e1705 have a bigger screen, can be equipped with very powerful processors, and have very nice quality parts in them. The toshiba Qosmium is also a good contender. The sony and lenovo thinkpads are high end units where you'll be assured the best parts and you'll pay handsomely for the pleasure. I'd seriously consider these if someone else (the company) is buying.

For a mainstreamish machine where you need a balance of features and price is a consideration, the Dell 6000 or the Toshiba Satellites look good. Everyone has a horror story, but on balance the product quality and service from dell and toshiba seems to be a lot better than HP/Compaq/Averatec. Unless you get a sweet deal on one of the latter makes or fall in love with a particular one, I'd avoid them.

Buying Dell from Costco seems cheaper than buying direct. Sams was also cheaper than buying direct but not as cheap as Costco on the models I looked at. The direct buying experience was also annoying. While a lot of customization was available, I kept feeling like I had way too many choices. Twice a thing came up saying I could get a better deal with a free this and free that but when I took that option I lost some of the customization I wanted.

I went back out to the stores and looked at and typed on the 'high end' models vs the 'mainstream' models. Side by side I could see and feel a difference. On their own, after a few minutes...well...they're like tv's. If you arent looking at them at the same time you dont see the one thats slightly 'worse' as being worse.

So at this point i'm leaning towards that $1299 Dell 6000 from Costco. I can eval it for six months and get a 3 year warranty...by which time it'll be time for a new machine. Price is right. Good battery life and therms. Decent weight. Has all the specs I want.

Anyone with some info to talk me out of it before I pull the trigger? Going once...
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