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  1. #1
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    I am about to buy my first laptop (been working on desktops for 25 years)
    I need it for traveling on vacation not for work (I don't think weight is an important issue for me).
    My main needs are:
    1) surfing internet (usually wireless connection) and checking web-based mail
    2) watching DVD's for pleasure
    3) (not so important) MS Office WORD and EXCEL

    What should be my minimum requirements re screen card, internal memory and other basic details I should be aware of.

    Thanks in appreciation of any advice

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    [quote name='golouis' post='767220' date='25-Mar-2009 06:14']What should be my minimum requirements re screen card, internal memory and other basic details I should be aware of.[/quote]
    This is an almost impossible question to answer since the laptop market is so broad and we really don't know much about your computer use other than the few things you've said in this post.

    I would say pick a reputable brand name, not some little known company. We all know who the top sellers are such as Dell, HP, Toshiba and others.

    Then it seems to me you should decide what is the "top dollar" you are willing and able to spend and find a model among those brands that comes in under your price spec. The selections are endless and the most that consumers among us can say is that we have had good or bad experiences with something we're familiar with.

  3. #3
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    [quote name='Bigaldoc' post='767222' date='25-Mar-2009 12:38']This is an almost impossible question to answer since the laptop market is so broad and we really don't know much about your computer use other than the few things you've said in this post.

    I would say pick a reputable brand name, not some little known company. We all know who the top sellers are such as Dell, HP, Toshiba and others.

    Then it seems to me you should decide what is the "top dollar" you are willing and able to spend and find a model among those brands that comes in under your price spec. The selections are endless and the most that consumers among us can say is that we have had good or bad experiences with something we're familiar with.[/quote]

    Thanks.
    My friends have had bad experiences with Dell and Toshiba but all my HP-owning friends have nothing but praise for HP.

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
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    [quote name='golouis' post='767223' date='25-Mar-2009 06:58']... experiences with Dell and Toshiba but all my HP-owning friends have nothing but praise for HP ...[/quote]
    Well there ya go, that's a start. Although every brand will have had its customers who have some negative experience but that doesn't make the brand a bad guy. But, if your "gut" tells you HP, then you might want to start your shopping there.

    As for two of your examples, i.e. video and memory, your "ceiling price" should help you make that decision. Along the way you'll probably see other factors that will either strike your fancy or not, such as weight, color, keyboard design, etc. But those will shake out as you shop. I think your location might be a consideration also, as laptop service or repair is almost always a "mail in" process. How locally you can buy might have a bearing on your decision.

    Hang on for a bit, as other Loungers will probably want to add their opinions also. And, Good Luck with the search!

  5. #5
    4 Star Lounger
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    A few thoughts:

    If you're watching DVDs, then a nice wide screen would be useful, as would some way of getting good sound out.

    An obvious thought (perhaps) would be to max out the memory, to my mind this is probably more important than processor speed, given today's processors

    If (given that we're talking about leisure time here) you suddenly get a first-person shooter gaming bug, you might want to check out the video specs.

    Remember to factor in the cost of MS Office, unless you have a spare license or you're happy with OpenOffice (I am)

    Oh, and a good warranty...
    John (Unreconstructed Jacobite)

  6. #6
    Gold Lounger Rebel's Avatar
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    [quote name='golouis' post='767220' date='25-Mar-2009 06:14']I am about to buy my first laptop (been working on desktops for 25 years)
    I need it for traveling on vacation not for work (I don't think weight is an important issue for me).
    My main needs are:
    1) surfing internet (usually wireless connection) and checking web-based mail
    2) watching DVD's for pleasure
    3) (not so important) MS Office WORD and EXCEL

    What should be my minimum requirements re screen card, internal memory and other basic details I should be aware of.

    Thanks in appreciation of any advice[/quote]
    I currently have 3 laptops in my household - all Dell models - and to date I've been pleased with all three. As with any manufacturer however, horror stories abound - not so much with the hardware itself, but with the after sales customer service. This seems to be a common concern with all of the manufacturers (including HP) who have outsourced their technical support and customer service to offshore locations.

    Users of Lenovo laptops however, at least from what I have read, seem to be relatively happy with that company's products and after sales service.

    Whatever brand you purchase, there are a few recommendations that I would make:
    1) If weight is not a problem, a 17" (or even 19") widescreen is great for watching DVD's. As screen size increases however, run time on battery decreases.
    2) An integrated graphics adapter will probably suffice unless you plan on any serious gaming or running sophisticated graphics applications.
    3) If you are purchasing in the very near future, the machine will probably have the Vista OS installed. Vista Home Premium should be the minimum version of Vista that you should consider. If the machine comes with Vista Home Basic, leave it on the shelf.
    4) With Vista, the MINIMUM RAM should be at least 2GB (but that's pretty standard these days).
    5) Many manufacturers do NOT provide an operating system (Vista) installation DVD. Some provide a method to create your own recovery DVD and some provide a partition on the hard drive whereby you can "restore" your machine to the factory shipped state. An operating system CD or DVD installation disk is the best option.
    6) jonWallace has pointed out the extra cost of MS Office (if you require it). Just remember that an OEM version of Office is licensed ONLY to the machine onto which it is initially installed (unlike the retail versions which can be installed on two machines).
    7) WARRANTY - WARRANTY - WARRANTY !!! Purchase a minimum 3 year extended warranty with the machine (and even longer if it is offered - and of course if you plan on keeping the laptop for a while). Over twenty five percent of laptops WILL experience some type of failure within the first three years of ownership, and laptop repairs can be very expensive.

    Hope this helps a bit, and good luck!
    John
    A Child's Mind, Once Stretched by Imagination...
    Never Regains Its Original Dimensions

  7. #7
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    We use Sony VAIO's, we have been using them since Windows 98.
    WE are BOTH each on our third Sony, that makes 6 that we have own.

    The one Toshiba that we had was so bad, that we will NOT even think about looking at another, but that was back in the 98/ME time period.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

  8. #8
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    [quote name='Rebel' post='767266' date='25-Mar-2009 16:57']I currently have 3 laptops in my household - all Dell models - and to date I've been pleased with all three. As with any manufacturer however, horror stories abound - not so much with the hardware itself, but with the after sales customer service. This seems to be a common concern with all of the manufacturers (including HP) who have outsourced their technical support and customer service to offshore locations.

    Users of Lenovo laptops however, at least from what I have read, seem to be relatively happy with that company's products and after sales service.

    Whatever brand you purchase, there are a few recommendations that I would make:
    1) If weight is not a problem, a 17" (or even 19") widescreen is great for watching DVD's. As screen size increases however, run time on battery decreases.
    2) An integrated graphics adapter will probably suffice unless you plan on any serious gaming or running sophisticated graphics applications.
    3) If you are purchasing in the very near future, the machine will probably have the Vista OS installed. Vista Home Premium should be the minimum version of Vista that you should consider. If the machine comes with Vista Home Basic, leave it on the shelf.
    4) With Vista, the MINIMUM RAM should be at least 2GB (but that's pretty standard these days).
    5) Many manufacturers do NOT provide an operating system (Vista) installation DVD. Some provide a method to create your own recovery DVD and some provide a partition on the hard drive whereby you can "restore" your machine to the factory shipped state. An operating system CD or DVD installation disk is the best option.
    6) jonWallace has pointed out the extra cost of MS Office (if you require it). Just remember that an OEM version of Office is licensed ONLY to the machine onto which it is initially installed (unlike the retail versions which can be installed on two machines).
    7) WARRANTY - WARRANTY - WARRANTY !!! Purchase a minimum 3 year extended warranty with the machine (and even longer if it is offered - and of course if you plan on keeping the laptop for a while). Over twenty five percent of laptops WILL experience some type of failure within the first three years of ownership, and laptop repairs can be very expensive.

    Hope this helps a bit, and good luck![/quote]


    Some good points there.
    Especially about screen size and Vista Home Premium (I noticed they were offering Basic or nothing).
    Don't understand know why you say Basic is to be avoided.
    I would only pay for an OS where I get the installation disk (in case of the need to reinstall)
    As for RAM, if VISTA needs 2GB then I suppose I should get quite a bit more for other applications.

    Thanks for your time

  9. #9
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    [quote name='golouis' post='767269' date='25-Mar-2009 10:27'][/quote]

    See Windows Vista: Compare editions for the Microsoft view on the various versions. You also ought to check out Windows Vista Footnotes for a very brief list of what features are in which editions. You can check out the features in detail by starting with Explore the features: Accessibility.

    Most laptops I've seen recently advertised in the newspaper have 3GB or more RAM. Most have Vista Home Premium. Many of those have the 64-bit version.

    Many OEMs will let you add an OS disk (DVD with Vista) to an online order.

    Joe
    Joe

  10. #10
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    Thanks
    Very useful information
    You've no idea how much I've learned today from all these posts

  11. #11
    Gold Lounger Rebel's Avatar
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    [quote name='golouis' post='767302' date='25-Mar-2009 13:27']Thanks
    Very useful information
    You've no idea how much I've learned today from all these posts[/quote]
    One other site you might want to look at is Battery University. There is a wealth of information there regarding batteries and their care and maintenance. A really useful site in my opinion!
    John
    A Child's Mind, Once Stretched by Imagination...
    Never Regains Its Original Dimensions

  12. #12
    4 Star Lounger
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    Unhappy

    You might also consider where the various ports and connections are and how many USB ports are provided.

    On my laptop, the external sound card and the power cable plug into the right hand side of the machine. The CD/DVD drive is also on the right hand side. I get frustrated at the tangles and the fact that if I connect a mouse or number pad, it has to further away than is comfortable.

    Mine only has two USB ports, so I nearly always have to have a 4 port hub attached as well. I continually swap out thumb drives and external HDDs and invariably want to download my camera photos and print something and ...

    And those USB ports are on left hand side of the machine and whatever is plugged in there gets knocked about by the paperwork that accumulates on my desk ...

    Whinging now, I know, but they are things that I will consider when I buy my next one.

    Johanna

  13. #13
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    [quote name='johbot' post='767334' date='25-Mar-2009 22:00']You might also consider where the various ports and connections are and how many USB ports are provided.

    On my laptop, the external sound card and the power cable plug into the right hand side of the machine. The CD/DVD drive is also on the right hand side. I get frustrated at the tangles and the fact that if I connect a mouse or number pad, it has to further away than is comfortable.

    Mine only has two USB ports, so I nearly always have to have a 4 port hub attached as well. I continually swap out thumb drives and external HDDs and invariably want to download my camera photos and print something and ...

    And those USB ports are on left hand side of the machine and whatever is plugged in there gets knocked about by the paperwork that accumulates on my desk ...

    Whinging now, I know, but they are things that I will consider when I buy my next one.

    Johanna[/quote]
    You're right. My wife's previous laptop gave so much trouble when she wanted to plug the mouse and other accessories into the various ports. She usually ended up taking something out or re-arranging the items and it was never comfortable.

  14. #14
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    [quote name='golouis' post='767220' date='25-Mar-2009 03:14']I am about to buy my first laptop (been working on desktops for 25 years)
    I need it for traveling on vacation not for work (I don't think weight is an important issue for me).[/quote]
    Be aware that hotel room safes often are designed for 14-15" laptops with 4:3 aspect screens, and that widescreen models may "stick out" and make it impossible to close the door. Still, a widescreen is fantastic for movies and very handy for Outlook, if you plan to use Outlook's 3-column display.

    I generally stick to 14" displays as offering good viewing and a reasonable weight. To get a lightweight model with a larger screen may cost significantly more.

    If you can get a built-in media reader compatible with your digital camera(s), that will spare you a USB device or cable in your bag.

    I have used Dells for about 10 years now. No serious problems, but many of the models have had what I consider to be design flaws. For example, on one, there was a hard plastic ridge that rubbed a line into the screen. On another, I was not able to get a non-shiny display and had to see my reflection when using the PC in bright environments (such as an airport waiting area). Each new generation seems to fix one problem and introduce another. But if you were to ever find the perfect model, sadly, it too would be discontinued in 6 months.

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