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Choosing a laptop is down right

by Brantach / January 30, 2009 2:52 AM PST

Hi! I'm interested in purchasing a laptop, but there are way too many out there to choose from!
I'm a web & interactive media design major in school and I do some dabbling in graphics as well. I need something that is of course portable, but weight won't be too much of an issue. I would prefer at least a 15" inch screen, my poor eyeballs wanna fall out of my head sometimes if I go with anything smaller. I'm going to need good deal of RAM and I'd say a rather large hard drive as well. Of course a decent graphics and audio cards go without saying. I have a feeling I would prefer Intel since (from what I have researched) they tend to be faster processors than Athlon (is that the right name?) My required programs for school and every other program I have is for Windows, so no MAC! Plus they are waaaaay too expensive for me anyway. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

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Like a desktop ...
by Kees Bakker / January 30, 2009 3:02 AM PST

quite a few laptops (dell for example) can be configured to your choice so the total amount of varieties is practically unlimited.

On the other side that makes it easy. Choose a manufacturer (Toshiba, Dell, Compaq, Acer or a locally made custom one), determine screen, CPU, disk, RAM, OS, graphics, other connections (like TV-Out, FireWire, 6 USB-slots, Bluetooth) and order it.
Price, service, software, warranty, location of shop, support, presence of recovery DVD or OS DVD might be relevant factors also. DVD-RW and WiFi and basic audio should be standard so no criterion.

Hope this helps.


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Re: Choosing a laptop is down right
by Autobot032 / January 30, 2009 11:04 AM PST

What you're looking for generally starts in the $600-700.00 area, and quickly climbs. I'd say about a grand would get what you're looking for and then some.

A major electronics store (not the one closing down, it's blue and yellow competition) has some great deals on laptops right now. A mighty powerful Asus for $649.00 last I checked.

And don't be too quick to judge on the AMD processors. While it's true that Intel can outperform them, it's not the case for all of their processors. An AMD Turion 64 X2 Ultra can stand up against a good portion of Intel's current offerings. AMD generally costs a lot less than Intel as well, and if there's a slight performance difference, it's well worth the money you saved. (Some prices are $100-300.00 cheaper!)

Oh either want a Nvidia 8000 series, or ATI Radeon HD series chip for the video. Both come with HDMI, and the Nvidia usually comes with 512 MB of RAM specifically for the video.

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(NT) Thank you for your help
by Brantach / February 5, 2009 7:55 AM PST
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Choosing a laptop is down right confusing
by Uncle John2 / January 30, 2009 11:15 AM PST

I would also suggest that you consider the cost of a laptop battery as they can be expensive and generally last only one year. I was shocked to discover a replacement battery for my Dell laptop was over $300.

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Which Laptop?
by WAArnold / January 30, 2009 11:33 AM PST

from experience with my current and some past I would suggest you stay away from the HP and Compaq machines. I have been pretty well satisfied with the ACER machines and the Toshiba has been well so far. HP has been unwilling to support their machines, but, I suspect it's due to some agreement with Microsoft.

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Some Points to Remember
by jack_rons / January 30, 2009 1:04 PM PST
In reply to: Which Laptop?

According to me Toshiba is best then HP n Compact but think according to your choice before brand n cost you should try to point out some important features of any of laptop like Battery Usage, Display Drives, CD-ROM and the Floppy drive, Hard Drive, Lock, Memory, Modem, Network Card, Processor, Sound Card Sound cards etc. These are the features of any of system that are important and always play a important role to make a system perfect.


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Acer? Really?
by lowrider130 / January 31, 2009 12:26 AM PST
In reply to: Which Laptop?

Since brands are being mentioned, I thought I'd toss in my 2 cents. I bought an HP Pavilion zd7000 from their website a few years back (4-6 years ago, I can't remember right now). I did have a few problems, but it was one of the first desktop replacement computers with a 17" screen, so a few hiccups didn't surprise me. HP was quick to fix all the issues with no argument and they fixed and shipped it the day they received it. I sent it to them on a Wednesday and I received it on Friday. Since then I have had no problems with it and still use it every day. I'm working on my Masters in Computer Science (programming basically) and I have my own business doing web design, web applications, and computer repair. Because of the variety of what I do, I have used it for programming, writing research papers, graphic design, and playing games, etc.

My College gave me an Acer to use (they hired me to do research while I work on my thesis). The computer is also a 17", but much newer. I got it brand new in the box about a year ago. Since then, the CD drive has failed, the web cam doesn't work, the screen hits the keyboard (causing scratches), the Case is cracking on the back of the screen where the hinge is, several keys fall off while typing, and even though it's dual core with more RAM and more Video RAM, mine does circles around it. The Acer has frequently taken up to 15 minutes to boot XP, which really cuts into class time and meeting time.

Mine is about 4 years older, more durable, faster, and feels more sturdy. I wouldn't recommend Acer to ANYONE. I have a business repairing computers and I can tell you HP and Dell have great documentation online if you need to take the computer apart to fix it. Some other brands do not, like Samsung.

I have since recommended an HP to my dad. He bought one with a 17" screen, vista (unfortunately) and capitalized on some good deals with the economic slow down. The computer is amazing and kinda makes me want to buy a new one, even though I don't need it yet.

Last part, I promise. When you are looking, you may have to make some trade offs. Speed vs. Battery life is one. If you pick a 7200 RPM Hard Drive, the computer will be noticeably faster, but your battery life will be less. A faster processor is the same way, the more power it consumes the faster it is, but it will lose battery life. The larger the screen, the less battery life, etc. So if you want a faster PC, you can go all out with a 7200 RPM hard drive, lots or RAM (either before or after you buy, depending on your likeliness to add RAM yourself), faster processor, etc. Screen size obviously doesn't effect the computers speed.

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get a dell 9300 or 9400 for sure
by drillerboy / January 30, 2009 11:44 PM PST

I think your comments on the graphics make this easy. I have owned several dozen laptops and the dell 9300/9400 is my favorite by far. It is one of the very few laptops with a replaceable graphics card. Most laptops have a chip soldered into the motherboard, and that's it for life, no upgrading and if the chip goes bad, for practical purposes, you have a new doorstop. You can go all the way up to 512mb nvidia with the 9300/9400 I believe, and the 17 inch lcd is awesome. As far as the comment about battery replacements being close to $300, you can get a 6 or 9 cell for about $80 on ebay. Dell has had some real dud laptops like the 5100 series which could double as a frying pan and should have been recalled, but the 9300 runs cool and I have five for a number of years with no problems, and all but one I got used on ebay. You can spend quite a lot getting a new one with all the upgrades, but there are some really good deals on ebay, if you ask for the serivice tag number on the bottom you can get on dells website and get all the factory configuration details, and it is a laptop that ages well and runs about 35 degrees cooler than some other laptops, and believe me, the cooler the better if you want trouble free performance over a long life.

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Can video card of a laptop be upgraded.
by relic_hunter25 / January 31, 2009 1:06 PM PST

I have a Dell Inspiron 6000 and want to upgrade the video card. Can it be upgraded?

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That's not what DELL said lol
by Brantach / February 5, 2009 7:54 AM PST

They are not available anymore, according to dell site. Im not so sure about inspiron either. I haven't heard good things about them

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Thanks for the info everybody
by Brantach / February 5, 2009 7:59 AM PST

But I am still lost. I'm not a fan of HP, not familiar with Toshiba or Acer, I know Gateway & Dell. That and call a company and make your own. I'm not looking for all the bells and whistles just yet. I need something that will get me through school and that has plenty of capacity to take care of my graphic and web design projects.

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by Phil Crase / February 5, 2009 9:45 PM PST

While the AMD dual core can be superior in some respects, preferentially for a laptop I will take the CORE 2 DUO, less heat and longer battery usage. Most laptops are very similar in functionality. From what I have seen most are at least reasonably reliable. Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo and HP, running CORE 2 DUO, split a hair. The Acers surprised me, in a good way, so don't rule them out either.

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