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Thread: Laptop newby

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    Laptop newby

    Hi,
    Wondered if anyone can tell me what too look for in a laptop?
    I know what too look for in a standard PC. Does the same apply?
    Presumably 256 DDR, 30 GB harddrive, DVD/CD drive, 2.0 ghz processor or greater.............What about graphics cards, CD-RW drives,sound cards,modem............etc. Do I get a spare battery, does it come with a mains charger and a recharger for the battery...........?
    Lots of questions.........

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    Re: Laptop newby

    Hi, Nigel. From what you wrote in your post, I would say you have a good handle on the kinds of "bells and whistles" you want to look for. So, it's probably a matter of what brand name and how much money do you want to pay for the machine. My personal experience was limited to Gateway at work and I had one as did my son. I had a spare battery and charger so I could always carry a charged battery with me when I traveled. Shortly after I retired, the screen on mine went dead and Gateway "estimated" (on the phone) that it would cost in the $700 range to "fix" it, so the dead laptop sits idle here now. Funny thing is, about six months later the same thing happened to my son's laptop. I don't think I would have another, since my inability to take one apart and repair it myself puts me at the mercy (or lack thereof) of the the vendor. Good luck in your decision!

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    Re: Laptop newby

    Nigel

    If you are a Laptop Newbie, then the first question to ask yourself is: "Do I actually NEED a laptop?". They are more expensive than the equivalent PC, and have been built down to a size, which results in compromises. Our 500 laptops produce more maintenance trouble than our 2500 ordinary workstations. If you have a good reason to buy a laptop, then fine.

    The second question is: "What am I going to use the laptop FOR?". Powerpoint presentations? Word processing? Gaming? Internet/email access? These will need somewhat different specifications, but any current laptop will have most of what you suggest.

    I suspect you will need to do a bit of research in a couple of the UK computer magazines, both in the articles and the adverts. You can pay up to
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

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    Re: Laptop newby

    From my limited experience:

    Does the same apply? - Generally yes, but at a higher price.
    Spare battery? - Unlikely
    Mains Charger - Very unlikely that it wouldn't be included.

    You probably need to tell us the sort of application(s) you will be needing to run to get the best in feedback. I recently bought a Sony VAIO and was very impressed with the clarity of the screen outdoors in bright sunlight - I can't remember the technical name - something about 'black'... It also included floppy and DVD drives as standard, but no serial port.

    Other things to consider:
    Will you be carrying it around a lot? If so, weight (and weight and bulk of charger) may be important.
    Will you be travelling a lot? If so, built in wireless connectivity may be useful (e.g. Intel Centrino)
    Using it outdoors? Battery life between charging may be important

    Compare closely the specs of those that appeal, see them in the flesh if you can, and read those comparative reviews!

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    Re: Laptop newby

    Hi John,
    Thanks for your reply, and the others in this post! Its got me thinking!
    Kinda know where I am with my PC, and how to upgrade performance etc. Hence the questions.........
    I'm thinking about sticking with the main brands, Dell, Toshiba...........mainly for the warranty. I basically need to get a laptop due to me living and working in two different places. Didn't want to lug my basebox and monitor on the train!
    The laptop will mainly be used for Office applications, and the net. I'd also like the option of being able to play games etc, for those times of boredom that I'm frequently subjected to.
    It boils down to best laptop for the best price, preferable below a thousand.............
    Thanks for your reply, I think I'm heading in the right direction with my choices.

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    Re: Laptop newby

    I think one of the biggest things to consider is what BigAl eluded to, that is, there is no fixing it yourself. EVERYTHING is proprietary - which makes it more expensive and more of a hassle to fix. About the only thing the end user can do is add memory and swap out drives.

    The other thing to consider is security - what damage can be done if your Laptop is lost or stolen? Will you have personal data (passwords, bank records, credit cards, addresses, phone numbers of friends, family, or business contacts) that you would not want compromised? Some laptops makers have addressed this (IBM comes to mind) - but it will cost you!

    I might suggest a much cheaper alternative - that is a removable hard disk that you can pop out of you home machine, throw it in your briefcase and take to work, and then pop in your work system. These can be of the cage type that slide in a drive bay, or the USB versions are becoming popular too. A memory stick reader and writer at both sites might fit your needs too - and memory sticks are cheap, physically small, but with fairly large capacities.

    Another alternative is a PDA (such as a Palm device) - with these (and a memory stick), you can transport and edit (okay, a major rewrite would be a pain but minor editing is not) a MS Office doc on a Palm as needed. You can synchronize your Outlook contacts (and notes, to-do lists, and calendar items) - thus providing a ready back-up to your PC! There are lots of time burning games available, and you just slip it in your pocket when not in use.

    Of course, if your intention is to use the laptop for full-blown production on the train during LONG commutes, then my suggestions are moot.

    If you do decide to go with a laptop, that is one area where I would definitely get the extended warranty - which I normally try to avoid. Good warranties cover express (overnight) pickup and delivery, and also cover loss due to physical damage - like when it falls to the floor. It should also extend the period to 3 years instead of the normal 1. But of course, it will cost you.

    If it seems I am trying to talk you out of a laptop, well, I am. For the business traveler, they may be perfect. For most others, there are better alternatives that will save you a bunch of money, time, and headaches.

    -bill
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    Re: Laptop newby

    We (the wife and I) have found that the Sony VAIO's are very good in performance, durability and competes with others as for cost. I use one to do a lot of beta testing and have had it for over 4 years.

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

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    Re: Laptop newby

    My main consideration in a laptop is whether I want it as a 'desktop replacement' or 'traveling utility'. For the first the same considerations apply as in a desktop-capacity, burner, etc. For the second my usual requirements are considerably lower-but don't take into account only your *usual* requirements. 80% of the time all I need while traveling is Internet. But the 20% of the time I need Oracle or VB or whatever, I *need* it. If I bought my laptop just enough for my usual needs then it couldn't handle my needs the other 20% of the time-so I buy it for my 'maximum' needs. That always seems to turn out to be the desktop replacement for me, but I do know others who work successfully with that 'traveling utility' type of laptop. I guess it depends on why you travel.

    By the way, I agree whole-heartedly about the Sony Vaio. Or at least about the GRV-600 I have. Nice machine.

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    Re: Laptop newby

    All of the responses are good. Let me throw another option at you . I to searched for a good take along laptop. I settled for a Dell C600 and it ran great. Then the display went south (white screen) and I couldn't fix it. It now is hooked to a monitor and is used as any second PC is. However, what I did find and enjoy using are memory sticks. Lexar makes them in a multitude of sizes. I use the 16-meg versions to send pictures to my kids in the service: they fit in a regular envelope. I use the 256-meg versions to take data with me. I also carry a 3 1/2" floppy with the driver so even if/when I "borrow" a PC I can be up and running in short order. I carry a minimum of 2 with me, one is a back-up just in case and is also good for additional storage. The neat part is they fit in a shirt pocket (3 1/2" floppy and both memory sticks), something no laptop can do. Also, I find that I'm not glued to the PC while traveling, I get to smell the roses during the journey. That in and of itself allows me to arrive at my destination a little more relaxed and actually ready to work .
    Just a thought...

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    Re: Laptop newby

    Well, at the office we get the Pentium-M lines. They actually perform much above the 1.5Ghz clock speed, and they have the "g" wireless built-in, which you will want.

    Extra battery is nice if you sometimes travel longer distance, but if you know you can get from the home to the office and back again on one battery, then you may not need one. The machines that we buy just charge the battery while in the laptop. Depending onthe type of batteries you can select, you might select one the pops in to replace your CD-Rom drive.

    I would get a CD-RW/DVD drive, whihc makes it a portabel video machine. We used to use the CDRW drives as the main way to move data off of the laptops, however, with USB keychain drives becoming bigger and cheaper, you can probably replace the CD for that function. If you can do that, you may be able to save weight by getting a detachable CDR0m drive and only taking it with you when you need it.

    Accesories I would get would be a smallish USB optical mouse (makes it so much nicer for exztended use), and a retractable Network cable and retractable phone cord.


    512MB and a large hard drive might be cheaper when you buy it than an upgrade. If you are _really_ into games (like you want to play Doom 3 or somthing), then you should probably seek out the gamer hardware websites and see what those folk are using for laptops. I know on most laptops you can get a reasonable 64Mb video chip, which should be Ok for a lot of games.



    Jim

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    Re: Laptop newby

    Last night at the store I saw a wireless 'travel' mouse. I've seen the travel mice before-smaller than a normal mouse-but this is the first wireless that I've seen. Has a USB adapter that plugs into the notebook. Haven't tried it out yet but if it works well I'll probably make it standard-I hate both touchpads & wires.

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