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First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?

by springchild74 / November 5, 2004 2:28 PM PST

Hello - I am very confused. I am planning to purchase a laptop for hte first time and reading stuff around on the CNET, and I'm reading different things from different people - I know my friends at school had problem with Toshiba and Dell laptops, and I saw them suffer first hand so I want to avoid those two companies - but then again I read on here htat the IBM is awful, Sony's customer service is non-existent as well, etc. HP, I have its desktop with Celeron processor which clashes on me all the time and I don't feel like venturing aagain. Panasonic seems to have really cool laptops but they are on high ends -

So which one is really good? I do a lot of multitasking - surfing, emailing, listening to music, DVD movies, photo editing, MS word + excel, endnotes, a couple of messengers - all at the same time. It will be a basically the desktop replacement but about a couple of times a week I want to take it to the class for notetaking purposes (quiet fan). So, I'd like it to ahve a doable portability - yet powerful enough, and fast enough! I would like to have a big screen (at least 14') as it drives me crazy to work on my paper on a small screen.

So far I'm listing
HP ZT3000 (despite my past bitter experience with HP)
Sony VAIO K27
Compaq X1000
IBM THinkpad T42,
IBM Thinkpad R51

so what do you think?
THanks for your input,

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 5, 2004 10:56 PM PST

Frankly, I dismiss Sony and the Panasonic due to service and support. For them, such is non-existent in North America.

I would buy IBM and HP without much hesitation.

About your HP Celeron. With today's SPYWARE invasion and Antivirus vendors that have been far too slow to realize that threat, I can imagine the melee.


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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by KenSanramon / November 6, 2004 9:45 AM PST

If you buy a Celeron processor you are buying a decontented chip (either Pentium 4, 4m or Pentium M Celeron) so the problems you had may be related to the chip and not the manufacturer you bought the chip in.

I didn't like HP in the past (I had 2 Emachine desktops and one was a Celeron with no hardware issues --the other is a AMD desktop my mother still uses).

At any rate, I have had zero problems with my HP A250N desktop and I have a Compaq X1000 (now HP) and I have had no issues with that after downloading the proper bios updates (see for information on both the sister X1000 and HPZT3000 notebooks).

IBM's are outstanding for their durability and service (they are primarily sold to business users) but you will pay a bit more for what you get.

If you will mainly use the notebook and home and won't be too hard on it the HP/Compaq will give you good value and they are still well made (the models above have a metal bezel surround for good LCD protection).

If you do travel all the time or anticipate drops or a lot of vibration than the IBM may be for you.

The HP and Compaq ordered custom at hpshopping allow you to order exactly what you want for each component and you can get the new HP briteview LCD XGA screen (on some models retail but not all)-- make sure you order the 64mb dedicated video memory if you order custom as it is not much more than 32mb but will allow you to do more and you can't add more video memory later (you can add to you sustem RAM later but remember you have only 2 slots so order RAM in one slot only if you want to upgrade it possibly later)

Also, ordering a 5400 60gb hard drive for only $25 or so more than the same size 4200 rpm hard drive in most retail notebooks will give you much faster boot up and program access times,

See for all the discounts you can get as well on any HP or compaq notebook (most of these except the rebate would not be applicable if bought at retail)

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by nmzak / November 8, 2004 11:17 AM PST

I have owned laptops for 18 years. The brands in my possession have been NEC, Gateway, Toshiba, Dell and IBM. I have had trouble with Gateway and some with Toshiba. The Dell Inspiron worked great but the case had cracks in it over time. The IBM T42 is what I have now. So far so good. I am impressed with its build quality. The keyboard is also topnotch (much better than Sony). The IBM costs a little more but seems to be worth it with the extras (restore button, hard drive protection that senses when the notebook is falling).

It is thin, light, sturdy and so far, reliable. The screen is 15 inches with sxga+ (1400x1050). I am so impressed, I recently bought another one for my son in college whose Dell had a system board failure and is out of warranty. Out of your list I would definitely go T42 first and R51 second. I would also try for the three year warranty as notebooks in general tend to be less reliable than desktops.

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by KenSanramon / November 8, 2004 12:44 PM PST

The IBMS definitely are more durable, have the best PC notebook service (Apple is #1) and have great keyboards.

You pay more for IBM versus a HP/Compaq or Toshiba consumer model but you do get a stronger case, the self-parking hard drive, etc.

So that is a great option if the IBM has what you want and you are willing to pay the price.

I got a coupon from Citibank credit cards stating a 15% off code to use on IBM notebooks online so if you are a Citibank cardholder look for this in your statement or let me know ....

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by Gatorpond / November 9, 2004 12:00 PM PST

I'm with Citibank and must have missed the coupon code. Could you email it to me? I'm in the laptop market as well. Pros and Cons to them all. Confused as well. I just want one that's not going to give me problems. We've had HP and 2 desktops and love the Dells - but that's desktops.....

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by KenSanramon / November 9, 2004 12:10 PM PST

You are right about Dell -- great desktops, not the same with the notebooks (at lease case integrity and keyboards).

HP/Compaq and Toshiba both have very nice notebooks and I have a Compaq X1000 series and it is great (and I have a HP 350N as well) -- I never had HP computers before these 2 but chose them on specs and price.

IBM has the superior notebook service definitely and since it is a business model the case and hard drive parking are a plus.

But that doesn't mean you can't use the other brands for a better price for a consumer model (assuming you don't toss it around and travel constantly -- that is what the IBM is built for).

The flyer just came in my Citibank credit card statement in November -- I will try to post here what it says about the IBM 15% notebooks discount online.

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Citibank credit card holders -- 15% off select IBM notebooks
by KenSanramon / November 9, 2004 3:45 PM PST

This is one of 3 coupons that came with the November statement...

It states 15% off the IBM web price on select award winning Thinkpad X and T series notebooks plus select Thinkcentre M and S series desktops. Also discounts on hundreds of other IBM products.

Go to or call 1-800-426-7235 ext 3181

Expiration date of offer is 12/31/04

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by susceptor / November 10, 2004 1:19 PM PST

it depends on what you want. Do you want a portable and light laptop for work/fun, or do you want a semi-portable laptop to use at home. Do you want one with a lot of power and storage, but little battery, or do you want one with long battery life?
First of all, don't believe what you hear about these different companies.
Toshiba makes good computers, so does Sony and HP. I have heard bad things about the services for Sony and Gateway, but I don't put much faith in this. My suggestion is that you focus on the features you want, and then look at the companies that offer such packages.

Now in terms of choice of product, when I chose what i want to buy, I look at:
1)Power of the laptop
2)Storage capacity (hard drive)
3)USB, flash memory, DVD-+R, and other media storage
5)thickness of the case, as well as color (light color gets visible dents)
6)life of the battery
7)Type off screen (widescreen or not, xbrite, etc)

SO basicly I use this criteria to evaluate a machine. For example I like having a machine with a balance of power and portability. So I look for a machine in the weight range of about 5-5.5 pounds. I also like widescreen, and long battery life. So I go for screens that are about 14 inches (drains less energy) but is big enouph to view comfortably for a long time. battery life is important to me since I like portability, so I like laptops with celeron technology (note: Celeron is NOT a type of proccessor as most people think, rather it's a package of several componenest that when placed inside one machine are labeled "celeron"), so nayway, I like celeron, but Pentium M is just as good, and it's cheaper.
(im looking to buy a HP dv-1040 right now)

Again these are my prefrences, so it all depends on what you want. If you want a machine for the home, then having a 9 pound laptop is just fine. In that case you can settle for a higher clock speed pentium 4 machine with lots of harddrive space and a big 15-17 inch screen. On the other hand if you want something light you will have to go for smaller screen, pentium M, and smaller hard-drive.
Also in terms of gaming there is a tradeoff. A desktop "replacement" PC will usually come with a good graphics card with at least 64MB so you can play good 3D games. A light laptop won't usually have a good graphics card, so no Doom 3 for you in that case.

Hope that helped.

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by susceptor / November 10, 2004 1:26 PM PST

I said celeron, I meant centrino!!!

long as we are on the subject, celerons are totally okay. I used one before, and these is almost no difference between a celeron and a pentium chip.

however there is a BIG difference between a Pentium M and a Mobile Pentium 4. Bus speed is one major difference.

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by KenSanramon / November 11, 2004 2:59 AM PST

A Pentium M Dothan cpu (which is labeled as the 715 Pentium M 1.5 or higher (710 and 105 are not a Dothan) have 2mb L2 system cache on the chip (much faster web page access and program access as it uses on board chip memory instead of the system RAM or hard drive).

The original Banias Pentium M's (of which the 705 and 710 1.5's are an example) have 1/2 the L2 system cache or 1mb -- I have one of these and it is fine but I would not buy one now that the 2mb is out for only $50 more for the 725 1.6 Dothan Pentium M.

A Celeron Pentium M has 1/4 the L2 system cache or 512kb.

Would you buy a car engine that has 1/4 the horsepower of the mainstream model ???

The L2 system cache is one of the primary reasons the Pentium M has been able to perform 1.5 - 2x its mhz speed in comparison to a Pentium 4M.

You can still get a full Pentium M cpu (in a Centrino system) like the HP DV1000 series (14" widescreen) or HPZT3000 (15.4" widescreen) for just over $1,000 if you order less RAM and smaller hard drive, etc.

Don't cut out the heart of the computer or it is obsolete right off the lot just as a Chevrolet Cavalier was with its 10_+ year old technology (they finally came out with a new Chevy Cobalt this year to replace that).

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Re: First time buyer- help - Sony, HP, IBM, Panasonic?
by KenSanramon / November 11, 2004 2:53 AM PST


You are misleading people by calling a decontented Celeron chip (which is either a decontented Pentium M or Pentium 4M) a Centrino.

A Celeron CPU should not be purchased under any circumstances unless price is the absolute highest priority (as there are Celeron Pentium M's and Celeron Pentium 4M notebooks now out that are under $1,000 retail and even down to $700).

What he meant to say is that not every Pentium M cpu notebook is Centrino (as that is an approved combination of a special chipset, an approved wi-fi minipci card and the Pentium M processor) but most are called a Centrino.

For maximum battery life and the lightest possible weight for the LCD size and the cpu you are looking at the Pentium M (Centrino) is the best option now.

However, AMD is supposedly releasing a low voltate version of the Athlon 64 (which is 64bit for the future) that may change that equation -- right now a Pentium M 15.4" widescreen (with dedicated video memory) like the HP ZT3000 is 6.5 pounds, an HP or Compaq Athlon 64 system (same LCD) is about 7.8 pounds and a Pentium 4M notebook is somewhat thicker and heavier (and runs hotter) than that.

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Buying A Notebook
by kfews1 / December 28, 2004 10:50 AM PST

To those of us that are looking to buy a good quality notebook, that offers good quality and IS SUPPORTED in a timely manner by manufacturers, all I can say is try HP or Toshiba.

All though I own two Sony VAIOs and a new HP 64bit Pavilion I have had issues with all of these companies in getting them to support their products.

Most recently when I bought my HP zv5255us it was "dead out of the box". In fact I had bought it at CircuitCity...a so called "Open Box". (Typically a returned product that has been checked out).

It turns out that according to the Circuit City manager I spoke with, they ARE NOT checking returned products out. So my advice, don't waste your time - MAKE THEM check the product out before you leave the store. Because many of these retail stores are now limiting returns to 15-days, I think their hope is that you will get stuck with their faulty and untested product.

As a former computer systems' tech and analyst, I have tested and serviced desktops and notebooks in the field and for some well known notebook manufacturers. For my money, I would still ONLY recommend that you concentrate your notebook search and purchase to two companies. They are, HP since they really know how to match the hardware with software to bring good products to consumers and Toshiba.

Toshiba, even though they have their share of ups and downs is truly about providing good products and meeting the needs of their buyers.

I stand behind what I have written and anyone may feel free to e-mail me at anytime.

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There is a retail choice beyond the 14 day return
by KenSanramon / December 28, 2004 11:03 AM PST
In reply to: Buying A Notebook

Note that Costco has a 6 month return policy to protect you from this 14 day return malaise at retail. And you can custom order HP/Compaq or Dell at and get that same protection.

Costco also sells refurbished products through its business centers or online that its own subsidiary refurbishes. They still have the same 1 year manufacturer warranty from HP/Compaq etc and they are not just put back on the shelf like you are implying at retail.........

Some people just today having trouble with Toshiba Satelite models are having problems and Toshiba will not take them back ...........

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