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Help choosing a laptop?

by KM145 / July 23, 2008 5:21 PM PDT

Hi, I'm buying a new notebook and I've narrowed my choices to the following two. I am not a gamer, I mostly use the computer for schoolwork and the internet, but I REALLY want this computer to last me at least 4 years. The main difference between the two is that the Gateway has 4GB of RAM and Vista 64-bit. Will that make a difference in terms of longevity? Also, is Gateway any good, I've heard they tend to crash a lot? Thanks in advance!

Toshiba Satellite L305-S5877:
15.4"-diagonal widescreen WXGA (1280 x 800) TruBrite

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Re: laptop choice
by Kees Bakker / July 23, 2008 5:43 PM PDT

If you're a gamer or not, I wouldn't buy 64 bit Vista. And you really don't need that extra Gb for what you do with it.

So it would become the Toshiba, I'd say.


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Here's a shocker. Try 3 years.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 23, 2008 9:22 PM PDT

I used to think 5 years for a laptop's life but with the new lower prices and the real world of consumers that don't pamper their laptops I am seeing 3 year lifespans.

I'd skip on Vista 64 today. Just too leading edge and annoyingly bad support from the industry.

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by Phil Crase / July 23, 2008 9:47 PM PDT

I agree with Bob and Kees, would do the Toshiba.

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by Jimmy Greystone / July 24, 2008 1:42 AM PDT

Personally, as someone who actually uses Vista x64 daily (for about a week now), I would say that it's really not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. App compatibility is not 100%, but it is at least in the upper 90% range.

Since you'd be getting a laptop, the majority of the hardware would already be supported if you could get it shipped with Vista x64. You may have to be a little careful if you want to buy cheap USB add-on devices, since not all of those will have 64-bit drivers... But if you can upgrade the RAM in these systems to 4GB or beyond (and the Gateway already comes with 4GB) then getting Vista x64 would give you greater longevity potential.

That all being said, if you take the OS out of the equation, I would go with the Toshiba. Gateway is only a little bit above HP/Compaq in my book, and I recommend people not even touch HP/Compaq systems with a stolen 10 foot pole.

Like all previous versions of Windows, Vista could use with better fault tolerance. Try to run Windows on crap hardware, it will not be a pleasant experience. Run it on quality hardware, it will generally be pretty stable and reliable. So if you skimp and get an HP/Compaq system, you'll usually end up paying for it with a very problematic system. Gateway is probably a step or two above HP/Compaq, and Toshiba is probably up there with Dell vying for the #3 spot on the quality chart behind Apple and Lenovo.

So in the end, if you could get the Toshiba with 4GB of RAM and Vista x64, that's what I'd highly recommend. However, if the 32/64-bit argument is put aside, better a system with quality hardware, especially on a laptop. What good is longevity potential if the OS spends most of its time tripping and falling due to poor quality hardware?

Just don't let people scare you with all this "bleeding edge" talk about Vista x64. It's not like Windows XP x64 where it was like an isolated desert island in terms of support. XP x64 was always meant to be more of a dry run for Vista x64. Vista x64 enjoys quite a bit of support. Maybe not quite as good as the 32-bit version, but it's far from the deserted wasteland most people (who've probably never used it) make it out to be.

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That 10%
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 1:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Personally

One of those was a HP printer. No driver for x64 so what to do?

Yes, its great when all you have is compatible. But the makers are not ready.

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Probably for the best
by Jimmy Greystone / July 24, 2008 2:18 AM PDT
In reply to: That 10%

Probably for the best, and something of a blessing in disguise. HP makes excellent laser printers -- aside from graphing calculators, pretty much the only good thing they make -- but whomever they outsourced the driver writing to makes them all but useless.

But in reality, I'd say hardware vendors are just trying to be cheap. Driver development is a giant black hole for money, so they're not going to make 64-bit drivers unless people start demanding them. They're plenty "ready" and capable, they're just trying to save a few bucks. If more people started demanding they cough up some 64-bit drivers, we might all be surprised just how fast they materialize.

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So what happened last time? That is XP 64.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 2:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Probably for the best

Talk about plenty of time. They had years and zip.

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For one
by Jimmy Greystone / July 24, 2008 8:31 AM PDT

For one, XP x64 was never intended for mass consumption. There's a reason it was only sold as an OEM release, and never promoted in any way. It was really only ever intended for people who do a lot of things that would benefit from having a 64-bit OS. But of course some people found out about it, thought it'd be really cool if they had it on their home system, so they rush in without thinking, and oh look, it goes badly for them. Vista was always meant to be the first real 64-bit release, Microsoft just cow towed to pressure from some of its deep pocket customers and whipped out XP x64 since Vista was still stuck in that quicksand bog.

Vista x64 OTOH is being actively promoted, it was released right along side the 32-bit version, unlike 3-4 years in with XP x64, and unlike the last go around, it's becoming more and more common now to find systems with 4GB+ of RAM. Best Buy, for example, is selling a number of Dell brand models with 4-6GB of RAM, and the person who started this whole discussion found a laptop shipping with 4GB of RAM that also came with Vista x64.

So, I'd say the big difference this time around, is that with XP x64, it was never intended for Joe Q. Public, but Vista x64 is. It was released, and has been maintained, along side it's little brother in the 32-bit version. Hardware vendors are just being predictably cheap, and procrastinating on coming up with 64-bit drivers. I've read enough of your posts, Bob, to know that you know as well as I do, there's no technical barrier when it comes to making 64-bit drivers. In a lot of cases, all that's probably really required is a simple find and replace in the source editor to change a few API calls and then to recompile the thing as a 64-bit binary. Vista x64 just tends to insist on signed drivers, which means a couple hundred dollar fee to Microsoft's little racket. So when you're selling some cheap inkjet printer, almost certainly at a loss and hoping to make it up with hugely inflated ink cartridge refills, you need to sell quite a few more cartridges to just break even if you have to pay off Microsoft. So hardware makers aren't going to do that until people start complaining loudly about the lack of 64-bit drivers. They're going to try and avoid it for as long as possible to try and milk things as long as possible.

In the business world, pretty much everything comes down to money. And unfortunately, with the pressures put on managers from shareholders who only care about making a few extra pennies per share for themselves, long term profitability is almost always compromised in order to meet short term quarterly projections. If HP, for example, had started developing 64-bit drivers for all of their currently supported printers the day Vista was released, over the long term they probably would have saved money, and be selling more units. That won't ever happen, because if some manager fails to meet quarterly projections, they are either out some bonus pay or possibly a job.

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