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Need recommendation for Laptop Purchase for Foster Kids

by Foster Kids / November 29, 2009 10:58 AM PST

Hello and thank you for this forum. I truly need your assistance.

My wife and I, recently and unexpectedly, became the guardian of a brother and sister, ages 15 and 16. Making a long story very short - I was a Big Brother to this boy for the past 6 years. In May, I was asked to take him full time, three weeks ago, I was asked to take his sister. Instant Family!

Our foster son wants a laptop for school - he is in high school. I have NO clue as to what to buy him. I want to buy him something that wont break my bank and yet not disappoint him when he unwraps the laptop at christmas.

I have read the forums and tried to answer the questions as to what is our budget, what size we would prefer, size, components, ram, .......I have no clue.

We will be buying in the US, have no budget but we will find a way to make this happen. Hopefully we can find a solid laptop in the 500 - 700 dollar range. I don't mind a refurbished laptop. He will be using this for facebook, itunes, Youtube, school papers etc... He has a PS3 and plays "Call of Duty" with his friends on line. He is a typical 16 year old.

Any recommendations as to what to buy and where to buy would be much appreciated.

Thanking you in advance!

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Try those 11 inch netbooks.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 29, 2009 11:03 AM PST

Not a budget buster and cheap in the refurb market. Example at

I have the 8.9 inch Netbook and get good use from it. But at today's price of 259 and free shipping, not too much too hard on the budget. Since the PS3 takes on the gaming task we can avoid the expensive laptops.

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Check the refurbs.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 30, 2009 1:36 AM PST is the 17 inch version of a 15 inch model my kid has. He has played many games on the road like Sword of the New World, most of the Half Life and Portal games (The Orange Box) and it boots in under a minute from hibernation. At under 400 this would be a fine desktop machine.
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by d_adams / November 30, 2009 1:28 AM PST

first of all, most any laptop today will do web browsing, youtube, essays, etc easily. So, if you were looking for really cheap cheap, then you could get a netbook and it would work reasonably well.

However, I am not a huge fan of netbooks myself because of their lack of basic features (like a DVD drive) and their limited abilities (not much processing power, so they aren't very fast either). I find a full featured laptop much more satisfying. Check out this site here for a few good ones in the $500-$700 range:

Just about any one of those would be an excellent laptop. Some of them actually look like really good deals.

Also, you might go to Best Buy or somewhere similar and check out the display laptops there. That would give you a good idea of what they are like, even if you didn't want to buy there because of the higher price.

One other thing, once you find a laptop you like, you might try to find a online 'certified refurbished' (search that) store to buy it at for a lower price. I know that Dell has one, but I'm not sure about other manufacturers.

Lastly, my recommended minimum system specifications for a fast laptop are: 2GBs of 800MHz memory (minimum), (Intel) 2GHz single core CPU or, (Intel) 1.3GHz dual core CPU, or (AMD) 2.2GHz single core CPU, or (AMD) 1.73GHz dual core CPU, then a 5400 RPM hard disk (nearly all of them have that now), and a graphics card with 128MBs (absolute minimum) of shared or dedicated vram. This setup will work "great" if Windows XP is installed, "ok" if Vista is installed, and "good" if Windows 7 is installed.

Good luck!

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by rochamat / November 30, 2009 5:42 AM PST

I just bought a Dell Inspirion 15" Notebook for my parents for $600. It running beautifully and I expect it to last a good 2-4 yrs. If you want something to be fast and last a couple yrs I recommend:
Intel Pentium Duo 2.1 ghz processor or Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 Ghz processor (better but another ~$120), 4 GB RAM, 250 gb Hard drive (or bigger if you can afford it).
Dell, HP, and many other brand names will have similar configurations to this and this will certainly be enough for your son for a few years. It'll run you $500-$650 depending on sales and what you get.Go to Best Buy and talk to the guys there, see what they think, and hopefully you can find something for him. Best of luck!!

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