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Most Reliable Laptop
Old 01-14-2010, 09:13 AM   #1
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Most Reliable Laptop

I'm planning on buying a laptop that's inexpensive (of course), but my main criteria is that it is reliable because time is money and I do not want to decrease my productivity by dealing with repairs, etc, even if the laptop is within the warranty period and needs fixing.

I purchased a Lenovo 3000 N200 about a year ago based on Consumer Reports reviews which showed it to have a low rate of problems. However, within a year the battery has stopped working, I found out when upgrading that one of the memory slots is defective and was likely defective since I got the computer, and the most concerning thing is that it randomly shuts down in the middle of use on a daily basis, and usually multiple times/day. I have gone to the Lenovo forums and it is fraught with similar complaints of their computers shutting down with no one having found a solution despite being much more savvy than I and testing hardware components, etc. It is also out of the warranty period and Lenovo refuses to help.

I just checked the latest Consumer Reports article on laptops and Lenovo is no longer ranked on top, but unfortunately none of the laptop manufacturers they reviewed scored well in terms of reliability.

Can anyone recommend a laptop that will be really long-lasting? Mine is 1.73 Ghz Pentium now, so I'd like something faster than this, must be upgradable to 4 GB of memory, and it also cannot be a 64-bit operating system (I think this excludes Vista) because I have a software program that will only work on Windows 32-bit systems. Interested to hear what others have found.
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Old 01-14-2010, 10:02 AM   #2
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Dell and Toshiba. Stay away from HP.......... I have heard good things about ASUS but the CPU box is big and bulky. I was torn when I bought mine, and moved from a laptop to a desktop because I don't need the computer on the road as much as in the past.........

You can go to Windows 7, but you need the higher version (Professional or Ultimate), as this has a module that runs 32 bit programs.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:46 AM   #3
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I bought a Dell a few months ago and it seems to do the job. Only problem is you have to like a hot lap. Yikes! My SIL had a Mac (expensive) but that will be my next lap top as it stays pretty cool.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:56 AM   #4
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Only problem is you have to like a hot lap. Yikes!
If the Bunny were around he'd be all over you - the problem isn't the Dell, it's the fact you went with the AMD chip instead of Intel. Hope you didn't try to go really cheap and opted for the built-in fire retarding system ...
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:08 PM   #5
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Most commonly, shutdowns like that are caused by overheating. Overheating can be caused by a number of things, but most likely, you have a bad power supply, improper cooling, and/or components not positioned properly. Once IBM sold Lenevo, it became a completely different brand, much lower quality, on par with HP.

I would strongly recommend Dell Outlet for decent quality and very good prices. The inventory there changes daily, and there are often 15% off coupons available (that work), which are single use, and sometimes can be found on forums, but usually can be bought on e-bay.

I took a quick look, and the ones that meet your specs are around 509-519 (plus shipping+tax, but minus 15% from a coupon, so likely about 500).

I personally want to get a ssd hard drive in the next year for my laptop. They are starting to become reasonably priced, and they provide a huge upgrade in performance (much more than a faster CPU). Still waiting for them to get below $200 for something above 100 gigs with 200mb/s write/read speeds.
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:48 PM   #6
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I've used Dell since the mid-nineties (?). 3-4 laptops and a desktop or two. The only hardware failures I can remember were in my daughter's college laptop, which had a tough life. The jack for the power failed, the keyboard had to be cleaned after orange juice was spilled on it.

My E1505 was purchased as a refurbished unit, and it's been fine. DWs was also a returned machine.
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:04 PM   #7
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Most commonly, shutdowns like that are caused by overheating. Overheating can be caused by a number of things, but most likely, you have a bad power supply, improper cooling, and/or components not positioned properly. Once IBM sold Lenevo, it became a completely different brand, much lower quality, on par with HP.
Yea, I tried cleaning the heatsink, trying running it with and without the battery, etc. Some on the Lenovo forum have used thermometers to measure the CPU temperature at the time it shut off and found that they were not overheating. People have also replaced the power supplies, opened up the laptop and done things more savvy than my understanding, but to no avail.

The solution --> new laptop, non-Lenovo! Thx for the link, I'll take a look at those laptops.
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:11 PM   #8
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I've had three Dell computers over the past 12 years; two laptops and one desk top. All have been extremely reliable. My only complaint is that the batteries for the laptops stopped holding a charge after a couple of years, even though I mostly used the laptops while connected to AC power. I'm guessing that the batteries were discharged/charged less than 100 times. I bought a replacement battery for one of the laptops, and it also failed within a year.
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:06 PM   #9
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My last three laptops have been Dell. I usually buy near top end of technology and keep the laptop 4-5 years. Since I have no "corporate" MIS department anymore...I purchase the Dell top end warranty and have found it to be well worth the expense.

I have had a couple of component failures but have been very pleased with the Dell Premium Service staffing and response...sometimes they mail the part and help you change on line...other times I have had a next day service tech do the repair. Remeber...most of the component are somewhat generic and some failure is certainly possible...no matter who puts the components to gether.

I buy Dell primarily due to great online oredering help AND the Premium service staff...please note that you get a different group of staff with the other service levels.

FWIW...TomCat
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:19 PM   #10
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Dell and Sony laptops are very reliable from my experience (3 of each over the years) and so some of the issues that might help select the right model are:

1. More L2 Cache is good for speeding up programs that access the same data often.
2. The Front-Side Bus (FSB) should be 1067MHz if you want faster processing.
3. The CPU is likely to either be a Txxxx or Pxxxx, the difference being Txxxx CPUs puts out 35 Watts thermal and Pxxxx are 25 Watts. So that's a factor to consider, and a more expensive SLxxxx puts out 17 Watts and a SUxxxx puts out only 10Watts.
4. And get RAM to match the FSB speed, so DDR3 1067MHz RAM.

One apple-to-apple comparison is: A T9400 CPU at 2.53GHZ, 6MB L2 Cache and 35 Watts at 1066FSB versus a P87000 CPU is 2.53GHz, 3MB L2 Cache and 25 Watts at 1066FSB.

They are nearly identical specs but one has more L2 cache and the other is 30% cooler. So a trade off.

Just some things to consider to get the best speed at a lower heat output.
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Old 01-14-2010, 10:06 PM   #11
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Last time I bought at Costco, they make the manufacturer cover the product with a 2 factory warranty. This can lower the overall cost , if you are inclined to get an extended warranty.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:32 PM   #12
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I've had a couple Dells and they are very reliable! My newer one (purchased last year, Jan?) does get hot on the area where your wrists rest and mouse too. Had on HP laptop several years ago and it was crap - have friends with similar experience, although some of their more recent ones seem to be rating well...but I'm still sketchy and have friends who have worked there and wouldn't buy one!

I think Dells are equivalent to Honda's, Sony would be more Toyota - similar but a little nicer and more expensive..hehe
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:18 AM   #13
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I am typing this on my old Dell whose internal cooling fan failed a year ago. I use a cooling pad that plugs into the USB outlet on the computer. It has two cooling fans that draws heat from the bottom of the computer. You can purchase them at Target or WalMart for around $24.
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Old 01-15-2010, 06:17 AM   #14
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I've had a couple Dells and they are very reliable! My newer one (purchased last year, Jan?) does get hot on the area where your wrists rest and mouse too. ...

I think Dells are equivalent to Honda's, Sony would be more Toyota - similar but a little nicer and more expensive..hehe
Hmmm. My Acura is a flawless car, but I would prefer to pay a couple of bucks more for a Vaio laptop. At recent sale prices at our local Best Buy, they're almost a steal.

Even if a computer breakdown is easy to fix my own preference would be to get one that won't break in the first place.
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:31 AM   #15
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Last Dell lasted about 5 years. I had to have a computer before the new Dell 7 came out, and cannot wait for this one to die so I can get it as it's a much more reliable unit; but, in general, I am sold on Dell.
And once my free customer service repair service contract expired, I re-purchased a yearly contract so when my computer crashes I can call and a professional will walk me thru the process to fix it myself. So worth it to a computer illiterate like me.
My first computer was an off-brand, which I was constantly taking in for repairs as I didn't know what I was doing at all and didn't know anyone who could help me. I probably paid 4X for that computer over the years I had it due to crashes and jams. That service contract is worth alot to me.
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:36 AM   #16
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Apple gets high ratings for the most part. The problem with soliciting opinions is that the sample size is small. I purchased an HP model, because I wanted specific features. You could buy an HP model based on my recommendation, but pick a model that has problems. Batteries have been a problem at one time or another for every manufacturer.
Examine your requirements carefully. I must use a few websites on a regular basis that work with IE, but have problems with other browsers. I don't like it, but had to take this into account when spending $800+ for a system.
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Old 01-15-2010, 02:03 PM   #17
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My HP laptop has been extremely reliable.

Quality at all manufacturers goes up and down. Look at the forums and see who has the least complaints about recent models. That's probably your best bet.

Apple notebooks are not that much more expensive now and they have a good reliability record.
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Old 01-15-2010, 03:09 PM   #18
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Apple, remarkably reliable. Have had four over time, used each for many years. Had a couple HP PC laptops, worked OK. Apple will run windows if you want it to.
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Old 01-16-2010, 05:39 PM   #19
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My last three laptops have been Dell. I usually buy near top end of technology and keep the laptop 4-5 years. Since I have no "corporate" MIS department anymore...I purchase the Dell top end warranty and have found it to be well worth the expense.

I have had a couple of component failures but have been very pleased with the Dell Premium Service staffing and response...sometimes they mail the part and help you change on line...other times I have had a next day service tech do the repair. Remeber...most of the component are somewhat generic and some failure is certainly possible...no matter who puts the components to gether.

I buy Dell primarily due to great online oredering help AND the Premium service staff...please note that you get a different group of staff with the other service levels.

FWIW...TomCat
How much does it cost for the warranty and the Premium Service staffing and how long does it last?
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Old 01-16-2010, 06:53 PM   #20
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Lots of positive reviews here for Dell and Sony, also some for Apple and HP. Called Dell for pricing and found out I can get an Inspiron Core 2 Duo 2.1 Ghz with 3 GB RAM, 250 GB hard drive for $530 + taxes + shipping. Looked on Ebay and found out I can get a used Dell 3 Ghz laptop with 15 in. monitor for $250 including shipping although not as much memory or HD (but these can be upgraded). The Dell person I spoke to said they didn't sell laptop warranties on used computers, does anyone know if there are other reputable warranty companies? I'd like to get an ultra-fast computer at half the price if I can get some kind of service plan for it.
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