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Laptop recommendations?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by Ookster, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. Ookster


    May 17, 2002

    I'm going to have to do some traveling for work, so I'm looking into buying a laptop. I've never had one before. My last 2 desktop PCs I built myself and picked the components I wanted.

    I'd like to get a decent setup for watching DVDs on the plane and maybe playing some games in the hotel. Other than that, it will be used to check email, get online, do some word processing and spread sheets, etc. Mainly, it will be a "fun" travel companion.;f

    Don't really need any wireless networking, CD-R or DVD-R, etc, just a DVD-ROM, some good RAM, a good video card and CPU, and a nice sharp screen.

    Any recommendations on brands, processors, screen types, etc? I've got all the usual big box stores around here: Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Staples, etc. Or is it cheaper to get one online from Newegg or


  2. pyblood


    Dec 22, 2003
    Pretty much all new laptops are going to have wireless and a combo drive. I would recommend getting at least 1GB of RAM and a 5400rpm HD. I would recommend They have some pretty customizable laptops. One of my old co-workers got one from them for his son.

  3. Unbridled Rage

    Unbridled Rage Swollen Member

    Jul 8, 2004
    Vancouver, WA
    I would max the RAM and HD space for best useful longetivity of the unit. These are the things that tend to limit older laptops.

    Given laptop fragility, I would think about buying local to be able to march the machine in for any warrantee / repair work, rather than packaging it up and sending it across the world on a small package carrier.
  4. LinuxKnight

    LinuxKnight Edge Of Reality

    Jul 20, 2004
    PDX Oregon
    Since it is mainly for DVDs and some email/web etc, I would say 15-15.4" LCD is a good size? You might like 17" for the movies but lugging one of those beasts around can get old, and alternatively a 12" is nice to lug but a little limiting for movies.

    Have you considered a Mac? iBook may do what you want, or perhaps the G4 Powerbooks, now that the new MacIntel's are out they will start to drop in price.

    The biggest consideration in a laptop is power vs battery life. The more powerful it is, the less battery life you have. Centrino based laptops (and now Macs) will have better battery life than P4 or AMD64 based laptops, and will generally weigh less.

    You also want to look at how much customizability you need. If you want to be very picky then go with a specialty online shop like but be wary of the warranty, shipping issues, etc. Going with a major name brand from [InsertBigBoxStore] will make it easier for service if/when it needs to be done.

    A bit of front line experience- I work for [InsertBigBoxStore] in the tech dept, and I see all of the big name brands back there for repair. The more serious issues tend to be from systems over a year old or more, out of warranty period of course. A big chunk of the issues though are viruses/spyware.

    Whatever you choose good luck with it, and be sure to give us a "range report" :)
  5. HAVOC

    HAVOC Remember Millennium Member CLM

    Jun 20, 1999
    Location: Location: has build-your-own base laptops in various sizes. Several OEMs that build for Dell, HP, Compaq et. al. are now selling barebones kits. If you shop for price on things like CPUs, RAM and hard drives, you can save several hundred dollars over the cost of a branded, retail laptop.

    As much of a bad rap as Dell gets, I rather like their laptops. They are OEM/OED from companies like Compal and Wistron, they don't actually build any themselves, I don't think.

    Even though their support has shifted about 80% to Asia, they are still very easy to work with. No arguments, for the most part, getting warranty repair service after a quick, by-the-book troubleshooting set. It helps a LOT if you've already figured out what the problem is.

    Most of all I like their "Comlplete Care" plan. It's not cheap, and not a good deal on $600 PCs, but if your dropping two grand on a new laptop, it looks a lot better. Complete Care is an accident plan. Basically a warranty for you screwing up the PC. Provided it doesn't have a bullet hole in it, they'll replace stuff as though it were defective. Could come in very handy for a high mileage, fragile piece of hardware. Crack one LCD and the plan has just paid for itself.

    Definitely get a widescreen, especially if video is a primary concern. Unless you have a real aversion to high res screens, get at least WSXGA+ (1680x1050) resolution. I got that and I regret not going with WUXGA (1920x1200) now.

    The big 17s look nice, but are too large to use on an airplane if you're not in first class. Heavy mothers, too. The 15.4" is a good compromise. Anything smaller and you're down in lousy resolution range WXGA (1280x800). The little 12"s sure are easy to move around with though.

    Right now I'm using a Dell Latitude D800. With the main battery and the optical drive bay holding a second battery, I can get about 7 hours of life if I'm not doing anything to strenuous. For use on a plane, you'll want the second battery and run the movie from a hard drive image. Optical drives are hell on battery life, and that bay is better served with 70% more juice in it.

    If you decide to go with a Dell, definitely set yourself up in one of the Business sections, and not home/home office. For some odd reason, "home" users can't buy Latitude laptops. Having several Inspirons run through my fingers over the years, I can say assuredly that you want a Latitude if you plan to do anything interesting in your travels.

    As for the BYOs, they are pretty new, and I have no direct experience with them. A lot of the names you've never heard of have been making major name laptops for years.

    I'd highly reccomend you not go the Best Buy/CompUSA/Circuit City route. I wouldn't own another Compaq or HP at gunpoint. Sonys are overpriced and the company annoying.

    For right now, Intel's Centrino/Pentium M/Core precessors are the way to go. AMD is making strides, but they aren't there yet. With the release of the new series of CPUs, the older models will be getting less expensive here real soon.
  6. HAVOC

    HAVOC Remember Millennium Member CLM

    Jun 20, 1999
    Location: Location:
    Oh, and another note about Dells (and probably most brands) go with minimum RAM... their markups are insane. You can generally but 2GB on the market and have the built in 256MB for a keychain for less than upgrading to 1GB on Dell doesn't give any warranty hassles if you add memory or stuff like that.

    Tip 2 with name brands... plan on formatting the pig when you get it, to excise the bloatware and adware that come with all of them. HP and Compaq tend to be bastards about a real OS disc, leaving only horrible "restore" options. A real OS disc has become a $10 option on Dells, but it's well worth it. Get it with a little 40GB drive and replace for cheaper with a 100GB drive from a store, install OS from scratch, but a $20 USB box for the old drive, and you have a nice external storage device.
  7. Altaris


    Feb 16, 2004
    Round Rock, TX
    Havoc is my new friend ;f

    I do sales in the Small Business area, so if you are needing a notebook(or anything else) I could alway PM you my work number or email and I will definitely help out a fellow GT'er as much as I can <c>b