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Laptop recommendations?
Old 03-03-2016, 08:25 AM   #1
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Laptop recommendations?

As I rapidly approach my moment of FIRE, I'm looking at things I will need, and one of them is a new laptop. I've always had a laptop through my place of employment. Well that's not going to work, now is it?

It's been so long since I've purchased a PC-based computer, I'm a bit adrift on specs and brands.

I will use this laptop for basic things like internet and doing the finances. I will also likely use it for simple video editing (GoPro stuff).

My current employer-provided workhorse is a Dell with an Intel i7 4610m 3.0GHz CPU with 16 GB RAM. A direct replacement is probably a bit more than what I'd ideally like to spend.

What is everyone else using these days?

TIA
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Laptop recommendations?
Old 03-03-2016, 08:39 AM   #2
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Laptop recommendations?

I have a MacBook Pro. Do a lot of GoPro editing in iMovie (included). I also have excel and quicken on it and do all of my finances on it. And great for Internet. Also do a lot of photo editing/cataloging in Lightroom.

A Mac will require a little learning curve if you've never used one. My macs have been more dependable than my previous pc's. Albeit more $.









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Old 03-03-2016, 08:41 AM   #3
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I have a MacBook Pro. Do a lot of GoPro editing in iMovie (included). A Mac will require a little learning curve if you've never used one. My macs have been more dependable than my previous pc's. Albeit more $.


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We have an iMac for the "home" device, and it's been very good. The problem is that it isn't portable when we travel, and the Mac version of Quicken is awful. I know Quicken isn't the only personal finance program out there, but it's the one we've used for the past 10 years, so I am loathe to change.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:44 AM   #4
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We have an iMac for the "home" device, and it's been very good. The problem is that it isn't portable when we travel, and the Mac version of Quicken is awful. I know Quicken isn't the only personal finance program out there, but it's the one we've used for the past 10 years, so I am loathe to change.
I agree that Quicken for Mac is awful. I suffer through it since it's a little bit better than the Excel setup I was using.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:29 AM   #5
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Thinkpad T-Series are pretty good business laptop that can fill your computing needs. Video editing will require the most cpu processing, storage and transfer speed.

The display is basically okay for your purpose. If you plan to use external monitors, Thinkpads are made for that. You can use wired display cable to connect to external monitor or tv (hdmi), or use a docking station for the same purpose. If you want to connect wirelessly, use Microsoft Wireless Display although the graphics will not be as good as wired connection.

As far as transfer speed and storage, I'd use at least a usb3 and a small external hard drive to keep all your docs and video files. Buy a laptop with Solid State Drive or change the internal hd into SSD.

Also if you travel, buy a slim or lightweight laptop.

So, I would recommend Thinkpad T-Series which are business class laptops. I'm typing on a T430s (slim) and it's been great for everything I do. It's got MiniDisplayPort connection (HDMI) and a USB3. It comes with Intel i5, but you can get them in i7.

Got mine for $200 used and that was a couple of years ago. I have traveled with it, connected everything to it and it works like a charm. Keypad is nice to work on too. If you do get a used one, make sure you have a friend that knows hardware or/and make sure the laptop is still under warranty.

Good luck...
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:38 AM   #6
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I've got a Dell XPS 13 that I really like and would recommend if you're looking for something that's great for traveling. It's very thin and light and has an excellent touchscreen display (although I rarely use the touch capabilities of the screen). A bit on the pricey side at around $1400, but worth it if you're going to be using it every day and will be traveling a lot.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:45 AM   #7
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You can run Windows programs on Macs, either by dedicating a portion of your storage for Windows and booting to it using Boot Camp or getting a VM program like Fusion or Parallels.

The thing with Mac laptops is that they only offer SSD storage so if you have a lot of videos, they use up the limited storage space. I believe 256 GB is standard and you can upgrade to more when you buy but it's pricey.

You can connect a relatively inexpensive USB 3 external drive to store all those videos but opening and editing them will be slower than if you had them on the SSD. So you'd copy the file you're working on to the SSD and then copy it to the external drive when finished.

The Retina screen is sharp though so the videos as well as photos will look sharp.

But you are talking about spending $2000 and up for the 15-inch model.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:51 AM   #8
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I bought my wife an Alienware laptop with a 3GB dedicated graphics card and a 17" 4k ultra sharp screen. Wow is that thing amazing. It is really hard to tell you are not just looking through a glass at a picture outside.

They are around $1500 though.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:58 AM   #9
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I don't have any personal experience with this product but I am intrigued by what I have read:


Forbes Welcome - Surface Book Review: 24 Hours With Microsoft's Ultimate Laptop


Forbes Welcome - Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review: Confused Excellence


Forbes Welcome - Surface Pro 4 Long-Term Review: Purity And Power Of Windows 10 Perfected




(I have to use Chrome to get past Forbe's Cookie blocker.)
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:08 AM   #10
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Asus makes a great laptop. Mine has lasted seven years now.
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:36 AM   #11
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What is everyone else using these days?
I have usually stuck to either Dell or Toshiba. I tend to mistreat my laptops severely, and consequently my last 3 Dells (which I loved!) have not lasted even half a year for me. While Toshibas are terribly unpopular among a certain segment of computer users, they work just fine for me, plus they are cheap and seem to hold up better for me, lasting for years despite the battering they get. Right now I have a Toshiba with i7 processor and 12 GB RAM that I got last summer with W10 pre-installed, cheap, and it has been just right for me.

I know, I should be more careful with my laptops than I am and I am ashamed to be so guilty of near felony laptop abuse. "This is why we can't have nice things".

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Old 03-03-2016, 11:38 AM   #12
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I've had a whole lot of laptops over the past 30 years. My experience has been primarily with laptops that could survive our living on a sailboat while sailing halfway around the world and handling everything in our lives. Portability for the first twenty years wasn't quite as important as robustness. Now, portability, i.e. weight and size, is more important to me.

The very expensive laptops are great for work, but considering the rapid technological advances I wouldn't buy a very expensive laptop that is going to be less-than wonderful two years down the road.

Your travel plans will probably be most important with respect to the kind of laptop you want. Will they be extended travel exceeding one or two months? I mean lots of plane/train/auto traveling with many stops along the way. If so, you might want to consider a very light and portable laptop, say a Microsoft Surface. You give up a lot of storage and speed with one, though. However, flash drives and external hard drives can augment such a laptop beautifully along with backup capabilities which are even more important when traveling.

If your travel is the shorter vacation-trip type, you might want to consider trying a tablet first – you can get a Kindle Fire for as little as $50.00. I especially like mine for long plane trips where I can load lots of books to read.

Will you be traveling outside the US and dependent upon WiFi in hotels, etc.? If so, not only should your security software need to be close to bullet-proof, but you should probably not access bank accounts, etc., while traveling. Additionally, if your travel will include cruise ships, I wouldn't count on good and/or safe access to your accounts, so a smart phone might be all you'd want to take with you on those trips. If, on the other hand your travel would be more of the long stays in one place, i.e. renting a house or apartment for 1+ months at a time, a laptop that handles all your needs (financial, archival, video etc.) is best.

As impatient as I may be, I don't think one needs the fastest processor on the block for personal computing, so you could do okay with a processor speed around 2.5 gHz, and as much as I'd love 16 Gigs of RAM, 4 to 8 gigs is probably enough, which will keep the price down. I have an ASUS laptop now, and it’s pretty good for most of my needs, especially now that I’ve gotten rid of Windows 8. My favorite laptop, though, has been the SONY Vaio series – I’ve owned 3 of them and was always happy with them, and probably will get another one when this ASUS dies.

I have tablets for most short-stay travel, foregoing access to bank accounts, financial transactions, etc. I use it for reading, email, and rely on my phone for texting. Since most of our travel is international, we do more texting than phoning while overseas, more checking in on Facebook than emailing, and no complicated stuff like video/photo editing while traveling.

Rather than go on any longer, I’ll close for now. I’ll answer any questions you might have.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:00 PM   #13
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I bought a Dell machine that was the low cost brother to the machine that the University bought for me. I set up my home office with a docking station and dual monitors. That way I can snap in either machine and have a decent keyboard and lots of monitor space. My personal machine is a step down in speed, and has a more conventional hard drive. The school machine has a solid state hard drive which is nice because it starts up really fast. For the money, my home machine is just fine. I think it was around $1000, plus a dock, two monitors, and keyboard. Some of which I already had. I have had it for almost 3 years now, and it has and continues to do everything that I need. I do edit some GoPro video on it, and it works fine.

My wife bought a $500 Lenova machine. I don't care for the glossy screen, but she likes the laptop just fine.

One of the things to figure out is what size screen you want. The larger screens cost more, and make the laptop heavier and larger. I like the larger screen, and don't mind the luggability factor. I carry a backpack with the laptop, power supply, and any papers, books, tools, etc. If I was wanting to frequently travel light, I would consider a smaller screen and thus it would fit in a smaller bag.

When we travel we have a little notebook that we carry. It is small, but does fine for web browsing and email.

Horses for courses.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:04 PM   #14
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I go with a desktop/laptop combination. I have a robust desktop at home. I do most photo and video editing on it. For the road I use an Ipad Mini. I have a Dell Venue 8 pro (8 inch windows), however, I seldom take it one the road. My desktop is setup beside my chair in the TV room, so it is available most of the time.

If I were going for prolonged trips away from home, i.e. over a month or so, I would look at a more powerful laptop. I really like the Surface Pro, but can't get by it's price tag.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:08 PM   #15
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Check out the off-lease business/enterprise types of laptops. You can often get them priced quite reasonably and then you will have a ready source of cheap spare parts for years to come.

I just purchased from ebay a Dell Latitude d630 for $50 but I needed to put a hard drive into it. This was okay in that I wanted a solid state drive (SSD) anyways.

Also you may have a better opportunity to avoid the high-gloss screen models that are presented to retail purchasers using this strategy.

-gauss
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:27 PM   #16
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I've had many Dell, Toshiba, HP and Sony laptops over the past 6 to 8 years. I like the have the latest and greatest most of the time. For me, at this point, if I needed to buy "now" I'd stick with Dell or HP. For my money I always want the latest and fastest Intel based processor with lot's of ram. After that I look for other secondary options that are important to me. Screen size, battery life, number of USB ports, DVD drive/burner, etc, etc, etc
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:48 PM   #17
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I'm going through this process now and looking for PC laptop for my MIL. I have no idea what to look for as her budget (maybe around $400) is way out of my experience. It appears that specs that I would consider necessities like 8gb ram and SSD are not possible at that price point.

For myself, I'm very happy user of macs. Last laptop was a tricked out late 2013 MBP retina. At the time it was around $2k. I compared to PC prices and a similar specced laptop was about the same (or maybe even a little more).
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:02 PM   #18
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I'm going through this process now and looking for PC laptop for my MIL. I have no idea what to look for as her budget (maybe around $400) is way out of my experience. It appears that specs that I would consider necessities like 8gb ram and SSD are not possible at that price point.
At that price point this is as good a deal as you are likely to find:

Lenovo Laptop Z51 (80K601CSUS) Intel Core i5 5200U (2.20 GHz) 4 GB Memory 1 TB HDD AMD Radeon R7 M360 15.6" Windows 10 Home – NeweggFlash.com
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:03 PM   #19
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Our current laptops are 15" BestBuy sale items. Both under $400. Mine is an HP Windows 10 touchscreen, the wife's is a Toshiba.

When we retire I intend to get one laptop and maybe one hybrid like the Surface.

There are several models of Windows 10 laptops on Amazon, Fry's and BestBuy near the $200 price point.
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Old 03-03-2016, 02:02 PM   #20
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I recently entered the new laptop market as my current laptop is on its last legs. I ended up opting for Asus as they had very good reliability ratings. I chose the UX305 which is a sexy little number.
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