General discussion

I'm ready for a new laptop, but

I barely know where to begin. I want one that's light, fast, and doesn't get hot. I prefer Intel, 3-4GB ram, plenty of memory, 14-16 inch display, DVD burning optical drive, Windows 7, good battery life, and endurance. I'd rather spend less than $700.

I don't do fancy photo or video or presentation stuff; this is for home use but with capacity to expand if necessary - who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Recommendations?

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Comments
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We have a forum post just for that.
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Toshiba

I see a Toshiba Satellite A505-S6005 at BB for $599.99 that has pretty much everything you are looking for.
I bought that same laptop 5 months ago and it has been rock solid with lots of use.
It has a i3-330 2.13.GHz Intel processor, Windows 7 Home Premium, 4 gig DDR3 ram, 16 in screen, 12 cell battery that gives you about 6 1/2 hours run time, 500 gig hard drive and the graphics are very good.
It weighs 6.5 pounds.

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Those things are heavy

Those things are heavy. I should know, I was replacing motherboards in them all afternoon. The way the battery makes the laptop sit up at an angle may not appeal to some people either.

And maybe I'm just spoiled on the gorgeous LED backlit displays in Apple's laptops, but all of Toshiba's displays feel dingy and poorly lit to me.

In any case, the OP is going to need to sacrifice something because what he wants just doesn't exist. Light, big screen, and good battery life all tend to be mutually exclusive. Batteries are heavy and big screens take a lot of power. That's just the way it is. Bigger screens also tend to mean more money is expected.

The Toshiba systems also just feel cheap to me. But again, maybe it's because I'm accustomed to the all metal cases Apple uses for everything but the MacBook, and even that feels like a much higher quality plastic. I also do so love the counterbalanced display hinges on Apple laptops. You don't need to hold the system down to open the display, just lift up. I could stand to see a few more ports on Apple laptops, but when you open them up, there really just isn't any room to spare.

In general, nothing I've seen from Toshiba impresses me in the slightest. They're cheap, and you tend to get what you pay for. They're better than your average HP or Acer system, but that's about all you can really say of them. I spend a good part of my day repairing Toshiba systems, so I know them inside and out. I also repair Apple systems. Those would meet the criteria on all fronts except price. But if the OP is willing to increase the budget a little, you get a very noticeably better display, excellent battery life (Apple has set the bar for laptop battery length for years), and they are pretty light all told. The aluminum cases also help keep the system cool by functioning as a giant heat spreader. And Apple aligns the exhaust fans to point out horizontally, not down and on the left side in the A505. The major issue is the price. You pay for that higher attention to detail and better overall engineering.

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Agree

The Apple is a few steps up from Toshiba, HP or any other laptop for that matter, but the price is just too high for most people.
Before retiring the company I worked for would only buy Toshiba. I have seen them dropped, fall off tables one even off the front of a truck and they just kept working. Out of the 14 they had I only saw one fail and that was because one of the techs dumped a liter bottle of Pepsi on it. So my experience with Toshiba has been very positive that's why I stay with them.
If I had my druthers I would have an Apple, but I just can't justify spending that much money for a laptop.
I see what you are saying about the 12 cell battery tilting the laptop up, but to me that's a plus because the intake is just behind that with the heat exhausting horizontally out the left side so it makes it much harder to accidentally cut off circulation.

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I'd say

I do love the new MBP's but the performance value for the price you pay doesn't add up for me. I do own a i7 powered 15" MBP (part owner anyways), it is bout half the weight of my 18" Toshiba, and in actuality I have to hold down the laptop to open the display, the Toshiba, not so much. They both generated around the same amount of heat doing general tasks, and the Mac definitely has the better brighter display. That thing is amazing, I have to admit, and that's were the party ends for me, cept for the HUGE touchpad along with its gestures, that's awesome. A big point in Apple's favour for me would be if they made a MBP with a black metallic finish, I would def dig that. Bet you'll pay a $500 premium for that too.

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I'm ready

Yes, I've worked through some of these, and don't find them terribly helpful. For example, how would I find a laptop that doesn't get hot?

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Heat

One thing I didn't mention in my previous post was that my Toshiba doesn't run hot at all.
Under load the fan will kick on which is normal, but compared to other laptops I have used it runs cooler.

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Toshiba indeed

I would second that motion for a Toshiba brand. Mine is a Qosmio x505, it is a desktop replacement and crams lots of power in a small package, so I can't really say for heat generation and dissipation but it runs great, relatively no problems.

You can peruse through and see what suites your needs.
http://reviews.cnet.com/laptop-reviews/?filter=100021_10197309_#filter=1000036_2792031_1000036_3808734_500140_18561306_500035_122022_500035_122023_500016_119833_500053_12472363_500076_14664109&maxPrice=850&rpp=10&sort=userRating+desc

HP Pavilion dv6t:
http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/computer_can_series.do?storeName=computer_store&category=notebooks&a1=Screen+size&v1=15.0+-+16.9&a2=Processor&v2=Intel&series_name=dv6tse_series&jumpid=in_R329_prodexp/hhoslp/psg/notebooks/15.0_-_16.9/dv6tse_series

Toshiba Satellite L650-ST2G01:
http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/pdet.to?poid=490991

In buying a laptop your limited to what you pay for; not much room for expanding other than bigger hard drive and more ram. I would recommend a i7 or a least a i5 processor coupled with 4gb ram and at least a 512mb gfx card as well as a 500gb hd.

Brands i would definitely stay away from are Gateway (Acer), just not great and Alienware, excellent hard ware, but crappy materials(In my experience). HP's Envy line is said to run very hot but HP's have served me well. I'm typing this on a 6 year old Compaq nc6220. My desktop is round 8 years old

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I can't recommend that

I can't recommend that. At work we have 20-30 of those big Qossimo systems stacked up because there is an issue with the video card failing in them. The repair part is about $800, so no one wants to sign off on fixing them.

And desktop replacement systems in general tend to generate loads of heat, be way overpriced, are like lugging around a cinder block, have horrible battery life, and really just don't fit any of the things the OP wanted except for large screen.

Simple fact is, like I already stated, the OP is going to have to give up something. Batteries are heavy, large screens expensive and power hungry, and performance ultimately results in more heat. What they want doesn't exist.

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I wasn't

recommending a Qosmio, its not even in the OP's price range. I have heard about all the horror stories bout the Qosmio line having loads of problems, Luck of the draw i guess, mine is nearing a year old and has had none. I should add this in as well, stay away from laptops running nVidia graphics cards, nVidia cards are notorious for running HOT. Which may just be the reason for them failing, users over estimating what the system can really do, over exerting the machine with intense gaming; some food for thought. In laptops heat, can't really be removed from the equation, there's always going to a significant amount of heat generated by the component that is going to be transferred to the case, whether that be a plastic shell or the sexy aluminum body of a Mac. Battery life on the other hand, in my experience the Qosmio gets an amazing 3.5hrs of life, thats shocking I know. Mind you that's doing nothing more than FF, and maybe a word document but 3hrs is still a feat for a system of that size. I don't think it was over priced at all, $1799 from Provantage was very reasonable to me, some may find it heavy, some may even find it very heavy, I find it quite light; comes in at around 13lbs. with the power brick, it is pretty heavy, but it is a desktop replacement, thats what you'd expect.

All in all the Toshiba's I've experienced have served me well.

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Define hot.

While I really like the i3 Tosh mentioned above the only way to avoid heat is to go back to the desktop since that puts all the heat producing parts away from the operator.

Bob

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