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Need Notebook Advice!

by Ken10 / May 29, 2004 10:15 AM PDT

I will be going to Japan in about 2 months to teach English. I need a new notebook and was wondering if anyone can help me. My friends have differing opinions on what to buy. I am leaning towards a Dell Inspirion 8600 but a few of my friends said that it is cheaply made and has many problems. They said to buy a Sony or Toshiba.

The problem is that many of the internet sites like CNET don't have very good ratings for either unless you buy the pricey models.

I looked at the Toshiba M35-320 at Circuit City and had a good first impression. CNET didn't rate it very high though. One more thing about Toshiba's . . . is it me or do the screens look a little dimmer?

Another friend said to go with the IBM Thinkpad R51. It does have good ratings but it seems that the Dell 8600 had more features for less money.

One final thing, does Dell, Toshiba, or IBM have good international support (since I will be living in Japan for at least a year)?

Aaargh! This is getting quite confusing for someone with basic computing knowledge!

Please help!

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International support.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 29, 2004 11:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Need Notebook Advice!

That's the killer item here. Not only must you ship it thousands of miles, but the customs work may drive you nuts.

Please don't take anyone's word on this one. Call IBM, HP and get it in writing.


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Re:International support.
by Ken10 / May 30, 2004 3:32 PM PDT
In reply to: International support.

Thanks for the help Bob! Will do just that.

How about the differences between the Dell Inspirion 8600, Toshiba Satellites, and the IBM Thinkpad R51.

Any comments will be helpful.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 30, 2004 10:45 PM PDT

The office has Dell, a couple Toshibas, and IBMs from a few years ago. We don't have the current models.

All have worked well and outside of the batteries, all continue to work. Except the ones that have suffered drops to the pavement...

I can't say I see much difference. I find the mouse pad or stick to be an OK for emergency use, but just plug a real mouse in when I really use one.


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Re:Need Notebook Advice!
by KenSanramon / June 1, 2004 9:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Need Notebook Advice!

Yes, the Toshiba M35S320 at Circuit City is an excellent Centrino laptop. It has the 1.5ghz Pentium M chip. Make sure whatever laptop you buy (Centrino or not) has the 54G wireless instead of the old and slower b standard (G will work with B).

I ended up getting the Compaq X1360 at Circuit City (with slightly slower 1.4ghz Pentium M) as it was 150.00 less on sale.

Both of these machines are outstanding (reviews for the Compaq X1360 can be found under the X1000 --- this was rated slightly higher by Cnet).

I would buy the Toshiba if the price was the same as it has a better reliability and slightly better service record through Consumer Reports. Also, this machine is very attractive and the speakers are slightly better. But the Compaq is also very nice and the display is slightly better than Toshiba (my wife confirmed this in 2 different stores -- the Toshiba display was slightly dimmer.

Sony has Xbrite technology laptop (and LCD desktop) screens but they are much more pricey and not necessarily any better.

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Re:Need Notebook Advice!
by canadian / June 22, 2004 5:38 AM PDT

Whatever you do - don't buy a Toshiba!@!@

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Re:Need Notebook Advice!
by KenSanramon / June 1, 2004 9:40 AM PDT
In reply to: Need Notebook Advice!

this is an update to the prior post. The Compaq X1360US can only be used in the U.S. as it has a 3 prong power supply plug. Check on the Toshiba and see if it can be used overseas but it probably can unless it has the same 3 prong plug.

Sonys are very nice but only worth it if you get one with an Xbrite screen (the best and brightest but you pay much more for it) and are willing to pay the price premium.

The Compaq X1360US I have had a slightly brighter and superior display to the Toshiba M35S320 but only slightly. Both have 32mb dedicated video card memory. This is superior to shared system memory which takes away from your regular system RAM.

I would avoid Dell -- they seem to have declined from the past and reviews on the X1000 (of which the X1360 is part of for Compaq) and the Toshiba Cnet reviews confirm this.

Note, if you buy the laptop on a American Express platinum or Visa/Mastercard that has the manufacturer warranty doubling (usually up to 1 year) you can get a 2 year warranty instead of 1 and this is very important and would not cost extra.

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About power.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 1, 2004 9:50 AM PDT

The AC issue may be "not too bad" if it's the normal "open voltage" supplies I'm seeing now. Look closely to see if it's marked "100-240 VAC" and "50-60 Hz." If so, this is good to go with just an adapter.

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Re:Need Notebook Advice!
by KenSanramon / June 1, 2004 9:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Need Notebook Advice!

This is a 3rd update -- get the Toshiba M35S320 -- the lowest price I have seen recently on this model after rebates is 1449.00. The Circuit City price is normally 1499.00 after rebates but it was on sale 2 weeks ago and also Frys Electronics had it at the lower price. Also check Best Buy.

The only key negative is the Toshiba run hotter but if you are not using it on your lap this should not be much of a factor. The battery life was very comparable to the Compaq X1360.

Note: the IBMS are mostly using 14.1" square screens. you will love the 15.4" widescreen for DVD's and even if you got a 15" screen that is going to be better than the 14" IBM (unless you really want a smaller screen for weight and size factors).

15.4" widescreens allow 2 programs pages open in some cases and also allow a DVD widescreen movie to play without black bars (or smaller bars in some movie formats).

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Re:Re:Need Notebook Advice!
by Ken10 / June 1, 2004 12:53 PM PDT

Thanks to both Ken & Bob! Your opinions are priceless! Just two more questions for Ken regarding the Toshibas.

I went to Circuit City and inquired about extending the Toshiba warranty. The salesperson did not know if I could do it. He tried to sell me the CC extended warranty but I told him that I will be in Japan for at least a year.

My question is can I get an extended warranty from Toshiba since I'm going with a reseller? or do I have to go with the CC extended warranty if I want a warranty over one year?

Again, THANKS for your help!!!

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Just me.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 2, 2004 12:52 AM PDT

But CC's extended warranty may be worthless in Japan. In fact, most find this out the hard way.

Fact> CC employees are trained to sell this, so don't expect them to be conversant on gritty details like this.


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Re:Re:Re:Need Notebook Advice!
by KenSanramon / June 2, 2004 2:58 AM PDT

I would agree with Bob. It would be risky getting a Circuit City or other retail extended warranty and getting service outside the U.S.

I think I said in a prior post that American Express Platinum (mine is through Costco -- also you get 1% cash back) doubles the warranty so you get 2 years coverage at no charge and I'm sure credit card warranties would apply worldwide as the cards are offered worldwide.

HP/Compaq offer their extended warranties on their website so I'm sure Toshiba probably does also if you want to go that route.

By the way, the Toshiba offers Microsoft Office Onenote installed standard which supposedly is used by Students, teachers, etc. as a notetaking tool.

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Re:Need Notebook Advice!
by blacklion213 / June 2, 2004 12:39 PM PDT
In reply to: Need Notebook Advice!

It has been a long time since I was in Japan, but if I remember correctly their power ratings are different from ours. Their electricity runs 50 cycle, we run 60 cycle with different voltage ratings. I could be getting this mixed up with Germany, but you might want to check it out.

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