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Thread: Laptop Advice?

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    Cool Laptop Advice?

    So I decided to migrate from desktop to laptop and am aiming for some kind of desktop replacement. Now there are several ways I can do this I can go for a laptop with 16 or better screen with additional switching ATI or nVidia video card with the idea that, powered, I would use the better graphics, on battery the onboard Intel video to save power.

    I can get a Sony Vaio VPCF13Z0E/B 16.4" Core i7 Laptop (6GB,640GB)]Sony Vaio VPCF13Z0E/B 16.4" Core i7 Laptop[/url] for 900 or so the basic spec of which is, Core-i7 (1.7 turbo to 2.9), 6GB, USB3, 640GB/7200, 16.4 screen with 1920x1080 (1920 x 1200) & blu-ray reader which is very good as the laptop sells for between 975 and 1200 elsewhere. Alternatively I can get a Samsung R780 17.3" Core i5 for 723 or so the basic spec of which is Core-i5 (2.66 I think they have a slight turbo as well, not sure), 4GB, USB2 (oh well), 640GB (not sure on spin rate), 17 screen (1600 x 900) with blu-ray.

    Both look good and yes, Id like an i7 but Im not sure Id like it THAT much when I can save 150 on the Samsung and thats still over what Id originally wanted to pay (700 max) also Im not that much of a gamer anymore.

    One option Im looking at is to go for a lower spec machine with onboard video but buy some kind of docking station such as the Targus Expresscard Card Docking Station (though as far as I can tell the Samsung has no ExpressCard slot) but Im not quite sure what kind of video they use in these devices Id like it to support 1gb net, HDMI/DVI, USB 3 etc. the basic idea being that I can more-or-less plonk my laptop down and with minimal reattachment get on and work as if on a desktop (with a large external monitor, keyboard and mouse). I like this idea because the laptop will likely be used at my desk most of the time.

    Any advice or info welcome

    Keke

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    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Hi Keke,

    I will be happy to offer my opinion, just so you can add it to the various perspectives you will receive in this thread.

    If I were looking for a laptop to serve as a desktop replacement, I would also want a docking station of some sort. And the majority of the time, the laptop would be docked and used as a desktop. That said, a 7200 RPM hard disk would be my preference as the hard drive is in almost all configurations the bottle neck in modern systems. Battery life would be of secondary importance to me here, because using the laptop as a mobile device would be a now and then occurrence.

    As far as processors, prices of laptops equipped with the first generation Core i7 and i5 processors are very attractive now since the arrival of machines equipped with the 2nd generation Sandy Bridge Core i7 and i5 processors. From what I have gathered, the performance of the Sandy Bridge processors, which incorporates the Intel gpu on the cpu processor die, is much greater than that of the first generation processors. Of course, it depends on the applications one will run today and in the future that should be weighed before making the decision as to which model to purchase. In my mind, as quickly as technology is changing, I would rather invest a little more up front to get the Sandy Bridge processor performance at this time, and plan to stay with it a little longer before replacing the machine in the future. A Core i5 would suit me just fine.

    As to video capabilities, if I purchased a laptop equipped with a Sandy Bridge processor, I would be fine with the Intel gpu built into the processor die. That is all I need to utilize HDMI, or any other video needs, as I am no longer a PC gamer, nor do I do any heavy video processing. I do not see Blue Ray as important, or being a deal breaker either way.

    While USB3 would be okay to have, I find USB2 to be fine. The only advantage I see in USB3 is it is faster at transferring large volumes of data from one drive to another, such as in image backups, large databases, and video files. Adoption of USB3 has been very slow to date, and there may be new technologies arising that may prevent USB3 from gaining the popularity that USB2 has enjoyed.

    As to the brand of laptop, in my opinion, Toshiba, Sony, Samsung, MSI, and Asus would be my personal choices. I am not a fan of Acer, Gateway, Compaq, HP, or Dell. Let's just say my experiences with the latter five vendor's quality or support has been less than satisfactory.

    Those are my opinions, and as everybody knows, everyone has an opinion. Just some food for thought.
    Last edited by Deadeye81; 2011-04-10 at 10:10. Reason: additional comments

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Keke,

    I'd have to agree with Deadeye81. However, I am a fan of Dell. I've been using Dell's for years with nary a problem. My latest laptop {now 18mo in} is a Dell w/i5 processor & 15.4" screen. I just love it. This was the first laptop I've ever bought w/o an addon video card. I did a lot of reading about the built-in graphics that came with the i-series processors and decided to take the plunge. I have not been disappointed. the i5 handles Aero just fine, in fact it handles it just as well as my desktop with a quad core processor and NVIDIA card w/1Gb memory. Now I don't play games other than minesweeper but I do a lot of photos and MS Office stuff w/o problems. So I'd counsel saving your pounds and skipping the addon video card {BTW: I don't think it's easy to switch back and forth between the two as you had seemed interested in doing. And even if you could I don't know how you'd be able to cut power to the addon card.}. YMMV

    Good Luck!
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    My last 3 laptop purchases, all still in use by myself, my wife and my daughter, were all Sony Vaio VGN-FW models. All seem to be performing flawlessly. All use Win 7 64 Bit. Two have Win 7 HP, mine has Win 7 Ultimate. All have 4 GB RAM which seems more than enough for our uses, which are all personaly. All have duo core Intel processors. We are all happy with these laptops. I do not have the comparrison experience that Gerald has, but would recommend these laptops.
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    Thanks for the replies guys ... I definitely want an i5 or i7 since this is the laptop that is going to have to last the next 5 years maybe but yeah, some good advice there

    Does anyone know anything about these USB or expresscard docking stations (how good they are etc.)? If I could get one of those and it had half-decent graphics I wouldn't need to worry about better onboard graphics at all as I only need them at my desk.

    The apparent age of you guys replying is interesting ... I haven't retired yet but I'm looking forward to it being 54 next month (only 12 years to go I hope)

    Laters

    Keke

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Keke,

    To the best of my knowledge most docking stations don't include any graphics capability except to pass the output of the laptop to a standalone monitor. Most of these docking stations can be pretty expensive and unless you have a lot of extra's you're going to leave at your desk when you take the laptop they're probably not worth the money.

    What you might consider is: a wireless kbd/mouse {I have a logitech that I love ... uses a single receiver that is very very small} and an external monitor and maybe a powered USB hub. So you have a cable from the monitor to the computer, the wireless receiver & your printer and maybe an external USB drive in the USB hub and the USB hub plugged into your laptop. Want to move, disconnect the monitor & USB hub and you're on your way. With more weight in your pocket! IMHO the way to go.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, I'm not retired either. Wish so but it just ain't so. I have found that it's not just the younger studs that can have advanced PC knowledge to share with others. There are times I can get my brain cell fired up and actually make sense in an answer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    To the best of my knowledge most docking stations don't include any graphics capability except to pass the output of the laptop to a standalone monitor. Most of these docking stations can be pretty expensive and unless you have a lot of extra's you're going to leave at your desk when you take the laptop they're probably not worth the money.
    OK ... thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    What you might consider is: a wireless kbd/mouse {I have a logitech that I love ... uses a single receiver that is very very small} and an external monitor and maybe a powered USB hub. So you have a cable from the monitor to the computer, the wireless receiver & your printer and maybe an external USB drive in the USB hub and the USB hub plugged into your laptop. Want to move, disconnect the monitor & USB hub and you're on your way. With more weight in your pocket! IMHO the way to go.
    Yeah, I already have a 10 port hub with mouse, keyboard, various external hard drives and so on attached but part of the appeal of a dock is that it would also do audio (so run my speakers etc. without having to fiddle with wires and such) ... of course if I bought a USB audio card that problem would get more-or-less solved with my current setup

    Quote Originally Posted by tedshemyers View Post
    Unfortunately, I'm not retired either. Wish so but it just ain't so. I have found that it's not just the younger studs that can have advanced PC knowledge to share with others. There are times I can get my brain cell fired up and actually make sense in an answer.

    It’s true (and I say that as the oldest member of a team of 15 or so engineers) but here’s the thing, there’s not THAT much to get excited about these days … I remember the days when Win 3.1 was new and oh so flash, I remember when my friend would call me up to say he’d got the new DOS 5 floppies and I’d drive 50 plus miles to get them, I remember having to (and more to the point knowing how to) configure AUTOEXEC’s and CONFIG’s to get the best performance out of the system and play the latest games. Ah … them were the days!

    Keke

    p.s. did you know you can get PC’s that look like Commodore 64’s now? They ain’t cheap but how cool is that?

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Keke,

    p.s. did you know you can get PC’s that look like Commodore 64’s now? They ain’t cheap but how cool is that?
    I want one that looks like my old Radio Shack Model 1! Or maybe my Osborne 1. Yeah I'm that OLD!
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    I want one that looks like my old Radio Shack Model 1! Or maybe my Osborne 1. Yeah I'm that OLD!
    LOL … the first computer I used (discounting mainframes and such) was a Horizon Northstar running CPM/80 …


    Attachment 27861


    … and used it later for my degree dissertation (the only person in my class to not either type it themselves on a real typewriter or hire someone to do so). It looked dead cool

    My first personal computer was a Commodore VIC20 ... ah 8K of memory, what luxury


    OK … so I ended up winning a Sony Vaio on
    eBay. Not quite as high spec as the one I was looking at (only 4GB memory, 500GB HD & 1600x900 screen) for 752 including delivery.

    I figure the memory can be upgraded some time so isn’t an issue and screen kinda works for me (in the sense that I couldn’t get my head around buying a monitor the only difference of which was size as opposed to resolution). As Deadeye says, the HD is the worst part of the "downgrade" being smaller and slower (5400rpm) but I figure if the RPM would simply be solved by a disk exchange at a later time.


    So yeah, thanks for the advice guys … in a few days I’ll have a Sony Vaio (with Blu-Ray & USB 3)


    Keke
    Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 2011-04-12 at 06:07.

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    Anybody have thoughts/comments on this one .....
    New! Inspiron 17R 2nd Gen Intel Core i5 processor for $686

    includes: 17" screen, 4GB RAM, 500 GB SATA (5400), 2 Year in home warranty

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    CPU speed 2.3 GHz, good size HD, sufficient RAM, very basic Office, McAfee AV,

    Seems like a reassonable system for the price. By the way the price is listed as sudent discount price.

    My daughters Dell does not include a user replaceable Optical medis the way my Sony Vaio does, but the Vaio was more dollars.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Tfspry,

    I agree w/Ted looks like a good deal. I have an Inspiron 1564 that's about 15 mo. old. It has a i5 {first version} and 15" screen and I paid $800. I've been very happy with this machine I use it as a desktop replacement when I'm on the road in my motor home. While in Texas this winter I purchased a Logitech wireless kbd/mouse combo that I am also very happy with as it allows me to put the laptop on a foldable table and keep the keyboard on my lap and run the mouse on the arm of my lazyboy {the chair not me} and the mouse tracks true on that rough uneven upholstery.
    Last edited by RetiredGeek; 2011-04-13 at 10:14.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

    PowerShell & VBA Rule!

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    RG,

    No one would ever think you a "lazyboy", just a "retired boy" that has his own less cluttered time table for things.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
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    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

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    Quote Originally Posted by tedshemyers View Post
    ..........
    By the way the price is listed as sudent discount price.
    ...........
    Ted and RG - Thanks for the comments.

    The Non-Student price is $14 more....
    New! Inspiron 17R

    Got a few more of the specs from Dell chat......
    thanks for the wait, i was able to check on it and it has these ports:
    16:56:22 Alejandro T
    2) USB 3.0
    (1) USB 2.0
    (1) USB 2.0 with E-SATA & Power Share
    HDMI v1.4 Port
    VGA Port
    Integrated network connector 10/100
    LAN (RJ45)
    AC adapter connector
    Audio jacks (1-line out, 1 Mic-in)

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