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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-27-2005, 09:45 PM   #21
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Re: Super cheap laptop

It's not just gamers... some of us who don't game much have other requirements, like ergonomics. The cheapest machines will run hot, make lots of fan noise, and have worse screens.
At least that has been true recently, not sure if going forward it will be as much.

I've played with the Sony 17" wuxga screen, and setup the way I like, it is much easier on my eyes than the screen I have now. Cheap laptops have xga screens, with blocky text.
Also, the wuxga screen can show more on one screen than my current 14.1" xga.

And, I have a notion to record HDTV to an external hard drive (from a PC) and watch it on the laptop.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 01:03 AM   #22
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Quote:
How's the keyboard? Used to hear complaints about Dell's.
Excellent. The key action is very similar to a ThinkPad -- very smooth, solid, and quiet.

The new Dells are really top notch, but you have to be careful with Dell. They use multiple suppliers for their parts, and some are better than others. This includes LCDs and keyboards, which can be deal-killers for some people.

And the other thing about Dell is that they play pricing games pretty much daily, so if you want a bargain, you have to be ready to catch the next wave of deals.

I'm a big fan of Dell's Outlet, where you can get refurb'd machines (which have always been indistinguishable from new). Sometimes their prices are no better than new, but sometimes they'll really blow them out.

I'm talking crazy deals. Servers for $5. Laptops for under $300. The competition for these deals can get pretty intense, but if you're looking for a nice laptop at a great price, it's the only way to go.

I bought a high-end 9300 for myself (WUXGA, nvidia 6800) for around $800, and a lower-end 9300 for my wife (WXGA+, X300) for $550.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 08:07 AM   #23
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Thats generally the tradeoff with the cheaper ones...they're thicker, heavier, usually have shorter battery life, and may have little or no expansion capability.

The two big bugaboos of laptop yesteryear are using hotter desktop microprocessors instead of the more expensive mobile versions and really crappy lcd screens. I dont see the desktop mpu's getting put into laptops much anymore, and the screen quality on even the el-cheapo lappies are pretty good. No more 'passive matrix' screens.

A couple of companies still make their own laptops internally...I think IBM still does for example. Other than that, there are only about 4 or 5 companies who make them for everyone else...different cases, some different quality/types of guts, etc.

The Dell refurb route can be good for a persistent shopper. Just know that there is a whole subculture of people who monitor and scrounge that product class for resale on ebay. There are whole complex theories on when and where Dell puts what up for sale and at what price points and a couple of thousand people sitting there hitting 'refresh' at the appropriate times. If you're persistent and lucky though, you can in fact get a pretty sharp deal.

While this is definitely not a 'power laptop' or an ultrathin state of the art unit with a 10 hour battery life and a 17" widescreen display...you just wont find a less expensive basic portable PC with decent specs.

The only time I've seen a cheaper slab was the HP unit I bought a couple of years ago; it was cheap because 3 different HP business units put out rebates on it at the same time and none of them thought to point out that only one rebate was applicable per product purchase. As a result of that, coupled with a stapes $200 off coupon, a goodly number of people were able to buy an $1100 laptop with a coupon and three rebates for about $350. Let me tell you though, its barely worth it. The thing is a complete piece of crap. HP's build quality has completely gone down the drain.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 10:15 AM   #24
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Re: Super cheap laptop

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The thing is a complete piece of crap.
That's my point. Do you want to pay $500 for a piece of crap that you'll hate using every time you fire it up, or do you want to pay $1000 for something that's a joy to use?

Most of us here probably use their computer on a daily basis. A lot of the quality attributes of a laptop are subjective, but I wouldn't recommend that people make too many compromises for something that's an integral part of their lives.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 10:28 AM   #25
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Re: Super cheap laptop

For anyone who bought this on my recommendation, I still stand by it despite the naysaying. I wouldnt plan on using this for high end gaming, doing hours of video format conversion a day, or using it for heavy travelling away from AC outlets. Aside from those uses, its a very nice basic unit at an exceptional price. I think you'll be perfectly happy with it.

If you arent, Dell will give you your money back or let you swap it for a different machine.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 02:33 PM   #26
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Re: Super cheap laptop

wabmester, thanks, good to hear about the keyboard--other than the multiple supplier bit.
sounds like you got great deals on both Dells!

th, hope you don't take any of my comments as naysaying, and I'm glad you post exceptional deals when you see them. I may buy a $500 Dell laptop someday if I can't get the $1000 one I really want.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 03:33 PM   #27
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Nah I dont have THAT thin a skin.

I was just aware that a few folks had already bought one before Wab told them it was a piece of crap. Its hardly a piece of crap, it just isnt exactly the lexus of notebooks.

While its admirable to say "dont buy that honda, you're wasting your money if you dont buy a mercedes" from a quality perspective, a whole lotta people do just great with the honda...
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 04:20 PM   #28
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Hondas are great. I'll pass on Dell since my mid-range 2001 Inspiron 4000 purchase. It's run extremely hot with intermittent freezes since I bought it. Their service wasn't much help. It's somewhat better now since I replaced the 1GHz CPU with a slower one (900MHz).
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-28-2005, 11:37 PM   #29
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Quote:
While its admirable to say "dont buy that honda, you're wasting your money if you dont buy a mercedes" from a quality perspective, a whole lotta people do just great with the honda...
Hondas are fine, but I'm not sure it's a good idea to highlight a sale for discontinued Yugos

Dell has stopped making any laptops with desktop-style chipsets. You can often pick up their new low-end lappies for $500-$600: the i1200 (replaces the 1000), i2200 (replaces the 1150), and i6000 (replaces the 5160 and 8600). Those are the Hondas.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 05:08 AM   #30
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Wabmester wrote:
Quote:
Dell has stopped making any laptops with desktop-style chipsets. You can often pick up their new low-end lappies for $500-$600
Yea, I was looking that one over as well, comparing the two offers. With the newer model 1200, for $100 more, the differences I see is it comes with the wireless external card, a free color printer, and it seems to be a different processor. The 1000 had what they called a mobile Intel Celeron Processor, and the 1200, an Intel Celeron M Processor 350. Don't know the difference, but I recall seeing the 1200 offered for $529 thru their small business side. This was in my local paper on Tuesday, so don't know if it still exists.

I recall th stating he's bought his this way for a while, so may be worth the extra $30 to get what's offered with the 1200. I'm still thinking about it. One article I read said XP is slow with less than 512MB of RAM. Don't know if 256 is enough. :-/

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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 10:06 AM   #31
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Hopefully someone more knowledgable can confirm this, but I believe the Celeron M is significantly cooler running than the Mobile Celeron. I think the former is based on the Pentium M (Centrino, if included with other stuff) chip which is relatively efficient, and the latter based on the desktop Celeron, which runs hotter.

I don't know if the Celeron M is as efficient as the Pentium M. It is lower end, but not sure if is just slower, or also less efficient.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 10:17 AM   #32
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Woohoo! Now we can really bash TH (former Intel marketeer). I am just dumbfounded by Intel's marketing. They have managed to confuse *everybody* with their Celeron and Centrino brands.

In any case, the "Mobile Intel Celeron" is a nasty chip. It has an itsy bitsy cache, and it's basically a neutered hot-running desktop Pentium 4.

By contrast, the Celeron-M is a very nice chip. The new ones have a full 1MB L2 cache, and they have the same core as the cool-running Pentium-M, but they have SpeedStep disabled. In short, they are much higher performance and much cooler running than the higher clocked "Mobile Celeron."
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 10:20 AM   #33
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Bookm-

I would get 512.

Wabmeister-

What's speed step?

Thanks,
rapoole2000
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 10:25 AM   #34
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Re: Super cheap laptop

SpeedStep is the Pentium-M feature that automatically reduces the clock speed when the CPU isn't under load. It improves battery life quite a bit since chips eat watts in proportion to their clock rate.

The newer Pentium-M's also have a 2MB L2 cache, but frankly the 1MB of the Celeron-M is enough.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 10:41 AM   #35
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Re: Super cheap laptop

I have had the several Dell laptops for the last 5 years compliments of my company. I have always been very pleased with them.
When I got laid off a couple of weeks ago, my former boss unofficially (guilt) allowed me to keep my Dell Lattitude C640 laptop. It is 2 years old with 1 more year of onsite maintenance.
I will miss this small perk as I have never bought a PC in my life. I hope to use this one for another year or 2. At least keeping it saved me $500 to $800.

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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 10:48 AM   #36
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Re: Super cheap laptop

(sigh)

Ok, we get it Wab, you hate the laptop. Its truly a piece of crap. Nobody should ever have to even look at one, let alone buy one. You can run along back to your sheep now.

Anyhow, back to constructive information.

Celeron/Pentium "M"s are based on a different architecture than the pentium 4; more closely akin to the pentium III than anything. Its a smaller die, cooler running, more efficient per clock cycle. A very nice chip for mobile uses.

If you can find a pentium/celeron-M laptop for a comparable price, that would be a better buy. If you're going to sit for hours with the machine on your lap, an "M" processor based machine will feel a little cooler to your legs. By the way, a 50 cent cookie sheet under any laptop dissipates heat completely.

The whole celeron cache vs pentium cache vs pentium M cache is such a 1990's argument/concern. Excepting twitch games, high end video conversion and benchmarks, the average person probably cant tell the difference between a 1.5GHz Pentium M, a 2.4GHz mobile celeron and a 3GHz pentium 4. Unless you have unique processing needs (and you'll know who you are), almost any modern manufactured computer will do 98% of what you want to do just as well as any other.

As far as XP and memory goes, XP runs just fine in 256MB of ram. You will notice no difference between 256MB and 512MB when doing email, browsing, listening to music, ripping a cd, copying digital photos, etc. There are some particularly high memory demand applications; I wouldnt recommend running any of them on any laptop except for the very highest end units. Pretty much the ones already discussed...Doom3, virtualdub, etc.

I jumped my XP desktop from 256MB to 512 to 1024 and except for video encoding I've perceived no performance benefit.

As far as the "performance numbering"...well, lets see, MHz ratings dont tell the whole story when dealing with very different architectures, so all of the major chip manufacturers have come up with a numbering scheme to try to help consumers size up the difference. In simpler terms, instead of cubic inches they're trying to change that to horsepower...neither a perfect measure but more helpful. Unfortunately there are products out there with both the old MHz/GHz numbering scheme and the newer performance numbering scheme. That can be confusing. Over a short period of time the older un-numbered products will work their way out of the system.

In a way its kinda funny...if you took this laptop back to 2002 and offered it up for sale, people would swarm you to pay $2000-2500 for it. Its faster and more capable than almost anything made then. Today its a 'yugo' with a 'nasty chip' in it :
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 10:58 AM   #37
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Re: Super cheap laptop

C'mon, TH, everybody here is about best bang for the buck. Of course, a cave man would love to have a Yugo, but Dell does offer better, faster, cooler lappies in the $500-600 range today than the 1000. Just let that thing die, will ya?

And I would never recommend running XP with 256MB. The OS will thrash (swap to disk often) with that little memory. You can upgrade to 512MB for $20-$50 (depending on RAM type), and it's probably the best performance bang for the buck upgrade you can do.

If your CPU is underpowered, you'd be amazed at the performance increase more RAM and more L2 cache will give you. You *will* notice it for everyday tasks such as web surfing since even those lowly apps have become more bloated and more CPU hungry over the years.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 11:25 AM   #38
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Re: Super cheap laptop

Show me the "better faster cooler" laptop in the $500-600 range...anywhere...without a bunch of mail in rebates, coupons, price matches and so forth.

I see a Dell 1200 for ~$550 after a $100 mail in rebate that appears to be identical to the 1000 except for a mobile celeron M 1.3GHz instead of a Mobile Celeron 2.2GHz processor.

Its debatable whether the average user would note any difference between the two in average use, although if you dont mind playing with mail in rebates the 1200 might be slightly quicken on a benchmark for slightly more money.

As far as the memory goes, I have XP/SP2 loaded with Norton Antivirus, antispyware, about 12 more oh-so-helpful tray icons, Outlook 2002 and Firefox with 15 tabs loaded. Committed RAM to XP is just shy of 100MB. Committed RAM to applications is about 90MB. 600MB is allocated to system cache (because XP doesnt know what else to do with it) and the rest is unused.

In other words, more than 256MB is not going to make much difference in this instance. You are certainly not going to see any difference with the naked eye.
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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 11:47 AM   #39
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Re: Super cheap laptop

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Show me the "better faster cooler" laptop in the $500-600 range...anywhere...without a bunch of mail in rebates, coupons, price matches and so forth.
As you mentioned, the 1200 is better than the 1000, and about the same price. * Not only will it run marginally faster, but it will run cooler, and you will get better battery life, which is especially important since Dell gives you the old-fashioned NiMH batteries in the 1000 and 1200.

But I would skip both of those and get the i6000 for $649, no rebates. * The improved build quality and LiIon battery alone are worth the marginal extra cost.

And there still are *incredible* bargains in the outlet if you're quick with the mouse clicks.

There really is no reason to buy a discontinued 1000. * Most people won't even touch one in the outlet when they find one in the $300 range.

The other option is eBay. * Dell has flooded the market with outrageous deals for the past 2 months, so you can find an even more outrageous deal from people selling new systems on eBay. * Caveat Emptor, of course.

Edit: and the easiest way to tell if you have enough RAM is to check your Peak Commit Charge in Task Manager. If your peak commit ever exceeds your total physical memory, that means things are getting swapped out to disk. I just did a fresh boot, opened up IE, and my peak commit is at 280MB.

Bottom line: disk is *much* slower than RAM. If you ever swap to disk, you're really slowing things down. 512MB is a sweet spot for XP, since with that amount of RAM, you won't swap to disk unless you're running games or other demanding apps. 1GB RAM means that you'll almost never swap to disk, even with games and demanding apps.

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Re: Super cheap laptop
Old 04-29-2005, 01:04 PM   #40
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Re: Super cheap laptop

So what you're saying is that 8 months ago when you were using...what was it? A 333MHz machine with 96MB of ram that you said was 'perfectly good' for everything you wanted to do except play "doom3", that you were mistaken then?

Or are you just...what is the nice term for it...'playing devils advocate'?

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