Help me pick a laptop

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by strobel, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL
    My brother in-law in comming from Denmark and when he arrives he would like to purchase a new laptop computer. The downfall is that he wants Windows, don't ask me???? So I thought I would ask some of you who are into Windows what computer to get. Here are the rules.

    Maximum dollars is $1000
    At least 512 Meg ram
    Wireless B/G
    Good battery life (Centrino?? that is where I am lost) just do not keep up on Window machines.
    DVD and CD burn.

    He does not really edit photos on his computer so he is looking to do some basic picture viewing, internet, word processing, and Movie Watching on long flights. So what do you think can I do this? Please give me some links if you have a recommendation. Obviously I would like to get the most bang for the buck.

    Thanks in advanced
     
  2. I've had good luck by checking out different models at CompUSA, BestBuy, CircuitCity. It's good to see the screen and look at the features, and to see who has the best deal. Should be able to find something that fits your requirements for about $700, and something really nice for a $1000. I have a 3 year old eMachines that has served my well. I bought an HP for my daughter, and she loves it. He may want a smaller screen, like about 12" if he wants to use it more comfortably on an airplane. These tend to cost a bit more. May want to look at Averatec.
    http://www.averatec.com/notebooks/2100series.htm#buy
     
  3. Another alternative would be to look at HP's dv4000 series. What I like about these is their BrightView widescreen. Unlike usual laptops, it truly makes viewing pleasant. The monitor almost comparable to Macs. Go to CompUSA (or like) and take a look. I am sure you will like them.
     
  4. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL

    How familiar are you with the brand Averatec, I have never heard of them before.
     
  5. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL

    I do like the monitor on my Mac so Looking at the HP with BrightView is a great idea. Thanks for the info.
     
  6. Thoughts on choosing a laptop

    Here are a few thoughts that may help:

    What is the power type in Denmark? Computers in the US run on 110VAC, 60 cycle. If Denmark is different than that, he'll either have to get a computer that comes with an 'autoswitching' or universal power supply, or he'll have to get an adapter. Something to check before you buy.

    What's he going to do with it? If his goal is to do general web surfing, reading email, running the occasional powerpoint or writing the occasional letter, then even the cheapest computer processor will offer ample horsepower. The thing that most manufacturers scrimp on is memory. The recommended minimum amount of memory for Windows XP is 512 MB, but most entry level laptops come equipped with just 256 MB, or occasionally 128 MB. The machines will still run, but they run much slower because they are 'paging out' a lot of information to the hard drive. For this reason, I would suggest upgrading the memory in the machine to 512 MB when you buy it.

    Most entry level machines come with 40 Gigabytes of hard drive space, which will be enough for general use. If he plans to store photos on his laptop hard drive, he may wish to get a larger drive, or a DVD burner, or both.

    Look for a machine with as much connectivity options as possible. The latest wireless network connectivity is 802.11 (b) and (g); this is also known as Ethernet. Another connectivity option is Bluetooth, which has not caught on here but is very popular in Europe (why, I don't know; as a high speed data transfer mechanism, it's terrible). I would also look for a built in 56K telephone modem, and a built in wired Ethernet plug (in addition to the wireless option mentioned above). In general, the more common peripherals that are built into the computer, the better off he is, as they're already integrated and known to work. Make sure you have USB 2.0, not the earlier 1.1 specification; 2.0 is roughly 50X faster.

    Two brands that I can recommend are Acer, and Dell. Acer is an up-and-coming taiwanese company known for making solid, reliable, low cost peripheral expansion cards for PCs. I own one of their laptops, and am very happy with it; and their pricing is currently very agressive, as they are seeking to carve out a piece of the market. Check Circuit City and Costco for Acer.

    As a former Dell technical support engineer, I can solidly recommend the hardware of Dell laptops. They're well built, although the plastics have a known problem with cracking. (If yours crack, Dell will -or at least, did when I was there - send you spare plastics for free, and instructions on how to install them yourself; it's very simple.) If you order a Dell machine, be advised that Dell - like most other manufacturers - is no longer including an OS system disk. When you recieve the machine, call Dell immediately and complain bitterly; they will then ship you one for free. Or at least, they did when I was there. Try to get an OS disk, as it is massively useful in repairing your system later. You should also know that most customers express frustration when dealing with Dell, both in the sales process and in the service/support process; if you buy a Dell, write down EVERYTHING: the salesmans name, ID number, date and time of the call, specific details of the offer... everything. Customers have called back to place an order, and then had their attempt refused by a different salesperson. Dell can be very frustrating to deal with. But their hardware is very rugged and reliable, with the exception of the plastics, which they will replace.

    So, to summarise:

    Check the power for compatibility.
    Processor speed, brand and type isn't all that important for general usage stuff.
    Buy 512 MB of memory, it makes a huge difference in speed.
    Get 40 GB of hard drive space, more if he plans to work with large files such as images from a digital camera. Consider purchasing a machine with a built in DVD burner.
    Get as much built in connectivity as you can find: wired and wireless Ethernet in both the (b) and (g) specification, dial up 56K modem, and (possibly) bluetooth. Also make CERTAIN you have true USB 2.0 connectivity built in.

    Hope that helps - if you have any further questions, let me know. Best wishes, Charlie Worton, MCSE, A+
     
  7. They've been around for a while. I've seen them at a number of different stores. I mentioned them because they offer a 12" model for $1000 or less. Sony's version is much more expensive but has a much nicer screen.
     
  8. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer Guest

    Dont buy Averatec!
     
  9. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer Guest

    First thing that comes to mind is the Dell Inspiron 700m, its small, True Brite Widescreen Display and lightweight. The battery lasts forever and the price was good, about $995 for mine.

    XP Pro
    512 Ram
    40GB HD
    B&G Wireless
    CD Writer/DVD Reader
    Large Battery
     
  10. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL
    Thanks Charlie, I appreciate the time you took responding. I know that both my Apple and HP laptops have power supplies that will run on 110-250 volts 50/60hz, you just need an adapter. My guess is that most laptops have the same type of power supply, but it is definitely is something to watch out for.

    I guess my biggest question is what processor should I look for for good battery life vs power consumption.


    Thanks again for all the information
     
  11. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL

    I must say that I have always had good luck with my dell systems at work, that is when I am forced to purchase a Windows system.:biggrin: :biggrin:
     
  12. cknight

    cknight

    663
    May 2, 2005
    Madison, AL
    I got one from Alienware a few months ago that I've been pretty happy with (so far anyway).
    They have some for under $1000.
     
  13. The Dell 700m with Centrino technology looks good to me. I didn't realize you could get one for under $1000. I may look for one myself when I'm ready for another laptop. It has a 12.1" screen and great battery life. Sounds like a winner.
     
  14. I've had profoundly good experiences with the Dell refurbished site.


    I just looked.
    Here's what $1003 will get you.
    I can't imagine needing anything other than maybe a gig of RAM for those 10-12 MP photos!...Pretty high-end for the bucks.:smile:

    54421817.
     
  15. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL
    I do love the reviews about Alienware, but they tend to be a bit over the price mark when I check the web site.

    Thanks
     
  16. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL
     
  17. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer Guest

    Oh and I forgot to mention...the refurb site is where I got my 700m!!

    As long as you dont plan to do serious 3D graphics the 700m is a fine laptop, the only thing I dont like is the widescreen, I would have rather had a standard aspect ratio screen. I use this laptop as my digital wallet so its very portable.
     
  18.  
  19. strobel

    strobel

    428
    Apr 30, 2005
    Algonquin, IL
    Thanks everyone, we purchased a refurbished dell.
     
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