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Surprise Laptop for Daughter
Old 12-04-2007, 07:01 PM   #1
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Surprise Laptop for Daughter

DD is a junior at college, and her old Dell Inspiron 1150 is having some problems (flaky charger connecter, DVD drive not working, slow from three years of accumulated software gunk).

I'm planning to surprise her with a new Dell Vostro 1000 that only costs $479. Didn't find anything as cheap in the dell outlet site.

Anyone see any pitfalls here? I know it's about the cheapest computer they sell, but it's a big step up from what she has (including bigger screen). She's not a gamer, and I don't think there's any apps she uses that would be too slow on this system.

Thanks,
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:13 PM   #2
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My DD had a Dell the first two years at college, then she changed majors. She found that most of her design classes used Macs so when the Dell died, she got a MacBook and loves it.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:40 PM   #3
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The Simpron processor is a huge dud. It wakes up in the morning and hopes to one day be a 1997 Celeron. Power use is lousy and the performance stinks.

Highly recommend you spend a few dollars extra and get a dual processor machine. Dual CPU's make a big difference. Even the wimpy pentium duo-core is pretty good.

I'd recommend coughing up $100 more for something that'll still be lively 3 years from now. And I recommend getting XP vs Vista if you have a choice. I couldnt be any less happy with Vista and the next major hiccup I get I'm going to do a fresh XP install on my laptop.

If you want to look at other options besides being a cheap bahstad, I'll look around and find something for you thats in a similar price area but had better specs.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:51 PM   #4
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Al, I bought a similarly configured Vostro 1000 from the Dell outlet a couple of months ago. About the only difference is I got XP and the AMD dual-core processor...mostly just to aggravate CFB. I've been very happy with it.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:57 PM   #5
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I purchased a mid-range Vostro for my freshman this summer. Besides the price, I liked the fact that it came without all the junkware.

Bought her Office, anti-virus software and some peripherals at discounted prices through the school. I already had a file transfer application from when I last bought a desktop, so there was no trouble transferring her all-important i-tunes files.

It's been problem-free so far. She did need to recruit a (male) physics major to help her get hooked up to the dorm's wireless network, but I'm fairly certain that had nothing to do with the computer.

The one upgrade from the base configuration you might consider is bumping up to 2GB memory.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:59 PM   #6
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I got the AMD dual-core processor.
And then your wireless broadband stopped working right, eh?

Coincidence? I dont think so...

And those funny little bites on your legs? Not chiggers.

Is the 15" screen a must? Some nice bargains on the vostro 1400. The Latitude D520 (square screen) also has a few deals. Thing is, you get something nicer now, you'll get a year or two more use out of it and/or higher resale at the other end. Nobody's gonna give you a peanut for a sempron machine.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:55 PM   #7
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Don't have a recommendation on a computer. I just bought a cheap-o Acer at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago. The main thing I wanted was the 1 GB RAM - but it came with Vista

I'm getting used to the Vista (Home, Basic) but one of the things that drove me nuts is the lack of an "up" button to take you one directory higher than the one you are working in. Maybe some of you guys have figured it out already, but there is an "up" directory command: alt+up button (as in the up, down, left, right button).
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Old 12-04-2007, 11:07 PM   #8
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I'm writing this on a Vostro 1000 with AMD dual-core. I like it. It's even better than the first computer I worked on (an IBM 360-50).
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Old 12-04-2007, 11:16 PM   #9
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See if you can do a little sleuthing on how much she wants a larger screen. Does she pack it around? Maybe smaller would be better - more portable. I second the advice about staying away from vista. It doesn't support a lot of older hardware (printers, scanners, etc) and is a security nightmare has other issues.

I was on the Lenovo site a couple of days ago and was amused to see that they have instructions for "downgrading", wiping vista off their machines and installing XP.
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Old 12-05-2007, 07:12 AM   #10
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Might opt for a 6 or 9 cell battery, depending on her use. Also, Vista runs painfully slow with 1 meg RAM. Don't upgrade from Dell, go to Newegg and buy the Patriot RAM at half the cost. I did this on my wifes Volstra, easy to install also.
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Old 12-05-2007, 08:32 AM   #11
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OK, great advice. Went to Dual-core AMD, XP and a 6-cell battery. I'll think about it some more, but probably go with this. Thanks.
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:26 AM   #12
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Now up to $681 with shipping, etc. I was pretty sure shipping was free yesterday, maybe they'll give me free shipping if I call in the order.

This money-spending thing can be difficult.
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:28 AM   #13
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Whatcha looking at now? Gee, yeah, Dell almost always has free shipping...

Did you sign up for Fatcash at Fatwallet and use their sponsor link to get an extra 1.5-3% off? Signing up for a Dell Preferred Account (DPA) credit card can also get you a lump of money back on the deal.
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:32 AM   #14
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See this one from Dell Small Business?

The Dell Online Store: Build Your System

Good CPU, plenty of ram, plenty of disk, nice graphics chip, windows XP, $629 with free shipping...? You could sell this in 2-3 years for $250-350 if its in good condition. Martha bought one of these recently. Built like a brick. Kinda heavy though for what it is.

Check out the office supply stores (staples, officemax, office depot) circulars online and see if they've got anything on closeout. I got 2 of my last 3 laptops that way...
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:31 AM   #15
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I bought my last laptop through a close out from OfficeMax and I got a great deal on it. I only paid $500 for a brand new Dell.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:31 AM   #16
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Thanks, CFB, you da man! Went through fatwallet.com, got a significantly better system, and saved $85.

Placed the order a few minutes ago.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:46 AM   #17
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Yes, we bought the Vostro 1500 on CFB's recommendation. It seems to be a good solid machine. It isn't light weight, but it is speedy enough and the screen is nice and big.
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:19 AM   #18
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Looking for a cheap laptop myself, but would far prefer to buy a machine that offers the "eraser-head" mouse in the middle of the keyboard. Only Lenovo machines seem to still feature it. If not, anyone have a suggestion for a decent quality laptop at less than $500? I have one for work, so it wouldn't get much use except around the house and in coffee shops.
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Old 12-07-2007, 12:04 PM   #19
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And I recommend getting XP vs Vista if you have a choice. I couldnt be any less happy with Vista and the next major hiccup I get I'm going to do a fresh XP install on my laptop.
I agree with you on XP vs. Vista, but I'm pretty sure all the major manufacturers have rolled to Vista for their new machines so I think T-Al's stuck unless he wants to install an old copy of XP he might have lying around.

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Old 12-07-2007, 12:29 PM   #20
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Looking for a cheap laptop myself, but would far prefer to buy a machine that offers the "eraser-head" mouse in the middle of the keyboard. .

My Toshiba laptop has one of those...........
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