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I Need (want) a Laptop
Old 01-13-2009, 06:26 PM   #1
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I Need (want) a Laptop

My 7 year old Sony desktop computer is on it's last legs and I was thinking about getting a laptop. I know next to nothing about computers and could use some advice. All I do is surf the net, do email, and watch tv shows online. Maybe a very limited amount of Word documents. What do I NEED to have in terms of speed, memory, etc? My understanding is that I need a good graphics card to watch tv shows online without having skips or pauses in the show but what exactly is "good"? I don't want to spend more than I need to because every dollar I spend is another dollar I need to earn before FIRE. So what are the minimum specs I should be looking for? Brand name recommendations? I'm definetly staying under $1000 even after wireless router, wireless mouse, and anti virus.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:35 PM   #2
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Check out TigerDirect for some later model computers left over from the holiday "stock up" operation. Sometimes TD will run a special just to offload inventory they didn't move quickly in a peak season. You picked a great time to shop.
My advice is always buy a little better capability than you think you need in case you get into something that is more processor intensive down the road. Memory and video card upgrades are very expensive. I used to spec out and buy a lot of digital equipment and computer systems when I <gulp> w*rked.
Stay away from the high end gaming systems featured on the home page. Too expensive and are geared for the addicted gamer market who have to have the fastest blah blah blah...
I am a lover of Dell systems, strictly a personal preference. Avoid all Gateways if they still make them - the mean time to failure (break down)tends to be very short based on my past experience.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:37 PM   #3
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A certian fuzzy rodent pointed this gem out to me. Good price on a high end laptop:

The Dell Online Store: Build Your System - $599

Bought it yesterday. Get the free upgrade to the 250 gig 7200 rpm hard drive with drop sensor.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:42 PM   #4
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After you get advice here check: Dell Outlet - Refurbished Computers - Refurbished Laptops - Refurbished PCs

You will find a Inspiron Mini less than $349 with a 16 gig solid state drive. It depends on you desire for screen size if this will work for you. The computer is light, good battery life, good for email, and net surfing. Not sure about TV.

Anyway if this is not your cup of tea, there are good deals on just about all dell products.

As recommended above, Tiger Direct, has good prices and gets good reviews for service.

I have 2 HPs. one 4 years old, one 6 months old. Both have been good computers, but I have heard their service is not rated very high. I also have a Gateway desktop. 1 year old. Worst computer I have owned and I have owned computers since 1978!
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:47 PM   #5
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If you don't need a dvd drive or can live with a separate one; look into the Lenovo S10
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:51 PM   #6
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How about warranty's? Are they worth it on a low end laptop?
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:54 PM   #7
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Depends on the cost of the warranty, the one Laurence linked to has a good deal on an extended warranty.

My Thinkpad is three years old and had a three year warranty. In that time period I got a new keyboard, new touchpad and a new fan. I don't think that it is a lemon either, this is the first time I have had a laptop last three years. I drag them everwhere.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:55 PM   #8
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I have never paid for the extended warranty on a computer. Take it home, turn it on and leave it on for a week or so. Heat kills computers. If it survives, it will usually be good for as long as you hav eit.
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:17 PM   #9
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Go to Ebay and purchase a used laptop. An excellent computer loaded with Microsoft Office, a DVD/CD RW drive and wireless internet capability can easily be had for $250 that will meet all your needs.
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Old 01-14-2009, 05:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronc879 View Post
How about warranty's? Are they worth it on a low end laptop?
I think they are. I bought my first laptop about 8 years ago. (HP). At that time everyone I talked to told me to get the extended warranty because laptops are more fragile than desktops. I wound up purchasing the 5 year extended warranty for $250.00. Sure enough.......4 plus years into the warranty my hard drive bit the big one. I called the service department # on my warranty and they replaced my hard drive free of charge. This situation happpened to work out for me.

P.S. As a rule of thumb I NEVER purchase the extended warranty on anything I buy!
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:43 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by aaronc879 View Post
My 7 year old Sony desktop computer is on it's last legs and I was thinking about getting a laptop. I know next to nothing about computers and could use some advice. All I do is surf the net, do email, and watch tv shows online. Maybe a very limited amount of Word documents. What do I NEED to have in terms of speed, memory, etc? My understanding is that I need a good graphics card to watch tv shows online without having skips or pauses in the show but what exactly is "good"? I don't want to spend more than I need to because every dollar I spend is another dollar I need to earn before FIRE. So what are the minimum specs I should be looking for? Brand name recommendations? I'm definetly staying under $1000 even after wireless router, wireless mouse, and anti virus.
Why do you want a laptop over a desktop? A desktop offers more and better video options and has beter price performance than a laptop. Do you need mobility or have limited space not mentioned in your needs summary?

Michael
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:10 AM   #12
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Best Buy has specials each week on different laptops . I bought a Dell duo processor for $499 .
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:38 AM   #13
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I'd recommend you take a look at the Acer Aspire AS4730-4857 Notebook or one of it's may variants. Based on the recommendation of a certain hairy hare, I bought it a month ago and have been very happy with the results. I've seen it priced from $399 (at Newegg) to $549 (at Office Depot) and I've also seen other variants with larger screens and hard drives priced in the same range. Check out the customer reviews at Newegg and you'll see the unit offers a lot of bang for the buck and should meet the needs you described very well.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:01 AM   #14
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Why do you want a laptop over a desktop? A desktop offers more and better video options and has beter price performance than a laptop. Do you need mobility or have limited space not mentioned in your needs summary?
I think these are good questions to think about, Aaron, especially given your inclination to LBYM more than some others here might (like me - - I have both a laptop and a desktop). Desktops do tend to be sturdier, in my experience, and seem to last me about a year longer than laptops. Desktops are often cheaper than laptops so you might be able to save $100 or so. Or, you could upgrade to a larger monitor with a desktop than you might have with a laptop.

I hesitate to recommend a model of laptop, since I am unfamiliar with what level of various resources might be required to watch TV on a laptop. I would assume that nearly any laptop would be able to handle the rest of your requirements.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:18 AM   #15
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The best deals I have seen are on www.dealnews.com
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:57 AM   #16
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As I said earlier I have both. There was a time when I had no use for a laptop. They were heavy, hot, and lower powered. I still think many are too heavy/big. However, I use a laptop almost exclusively now. It sits besides my chair and I turn it on and off multiple times a day. Check in here, look things up on google as questions come up, check tv listings, just about anything that comes up during the day. It is the older of the two and as far as I know going strong. Battery will still last about an hour, however I never use it on battery.

I bought a new laptop to replace this one, but when I had so many problems with the Gateway desktop, by the way I think it is made by Acer now, I gave DW the new laptop and she uses it as a desktop replacement.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:35 AM   #17
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DW benefits from a laptop in that she can drag it throughout the house to work on the business while still being in the same room the kids are playing (ah, wireless). I agree you get more bang for the buck on features with a desktop vs. a laptop, but that price difference has seriously converged. The laptop I linked to would cost almost as much in a desktop format. My experience with laptops is you have less flexibility to upgrade, but at the same time they've been more stable (both OS and hardware) since the parts are essentially tailored for each other. DW's current laptop is 4 years old (stinkpad) and is just fine. But it's provided to her by largest client/former employer and really shouldn't be used for other business.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:41 AM   #18
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How about warranty's? Are they worth it on a low end laptop?
Also, your credit card might double the original warranty period provided by the manufacturer (mine does).
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:09 AM   #19
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Granted, the difference in price has declined, but it is still there. The same processor, memory and hard drive costs less in a desktop, while the monitor is larger (important for TV) and the video card probably somewhat better. Laptop packaging has an unavoidable cost, to be paid either in less function or more $$.

The advantage of a laptop is mobility and footprint.

The advantage of a desktop is component upgradeability. This means additional functionality and capacity can be introduced over time, and component prices are also less expensive than their laptop counterparts.

Both have their uses, and we have had so many of each I can’t even keep count. My only point is to try to narrow down the requirement – that makes it easier to find the best solution.

Michael
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:24 AM   #20
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I went desktop for those reasons. Still, DW picked up a docking station for $40 and can have whatever size monitor she wants that way. If cost is the only/primary consideration then laptops can't compete, but the premium for the convenience is becoming very small. Unless you are a gamer (which I am) the laptop makes a strong case for itself now.
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