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View Full Version : Buying new laptop...help!



TeamSelig
10-28-2008, 05:45 PM
I've started to look for a nice laptop, but I'm not sure what I should get.

It will primarily be used for taking notes in class (and various research projects, homework, ec.), but I wouldn't mind being able to play games, listen to music, and watching movies.

This is what I'm looking for:

* 200+ GB hard drive
* 3-4 GB RAM
* 15"+ screen
* Good video card?

I also have a limited budget, so what is the best bang for my buck that meets the criteria? Also, if my requests are a little too much (do I need 200 GB of space?) let me know.

Anything stick out to you?

GoReds33
10-28-2008, 08:14 PM
It all depends on what you're willing to spend. I know you said you're on a limited budget, so stay away from anything Apple. Dell seems to be the way to go for a good laptop now. I found one that has all of what you want for $600 from Dell. If that doesn't suit you, I would think that the 200 GB of storage needs to be your first cut. From Dell, you save $100 if you downgrade the storage to 120GB, and RAM to 2 GB. 499 for a good laptop isn't a bad deal.

Here's a link to the laptop I'm talking about:
Dell.com (http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspnnb_1525?c=us&cs=19&l=en&ref=lthp&s=dhs)

Stephenk29
10-28-2008, 08:59 PM
I could be the only one, but the Sony Vaio I had was terrible. At least the 4 hard drives that bombed on me.

Caseyfan21
10-29-2008, 01:27 AM
I just bought a new Toshiba in June. It has pretty decent speakers, a 15.4" screen, 400 gig memory, 4 gb ram. I don't really game but I have a feeling it could handle that fine. I haven't had any trouble (knock on wood). I think the screen looks very good and I also haven't had much trouble adapting to Vista so I've been very happy with my buy. It was $1250 at Best Buy but I have a feeling the prices would be lower now with the economy downturn and the fact it's now several months older.

If you buy from Best Buy I'd also recommend getting the all inclusive service plan...best $300-400 you can spend. I know BB is a bit more expensive than some smaller places or online, but the service plan is a clincher for me. I'm a busy person with school so when my computer has trouble I just run it over to the nearest Best Buy, tell them what's wrong and either get it fixed or get it sent out to get fixed and get it back in a couple weeks. My first computer I bought I probably sent in about 10x to get fixed on the plan. I had 2 mother boards replaced (one faulty and one from a drop), I got a battery replaced right at the end of the warranty, I got a new wireless card, I got a new power cable twice, etc. A lot of stupid things failed on it but it was mostly because I was hard on it, ran it 24/7, and had several drops (oops). Anyways, it was a great investment for me.

PedroBourbon
10-29-2008, 11:16 AM
I have a Dell XPS. Great all around, great gaming computer. They can get a little pricey depending on what you add. You can price them with options on Dell.com. See what you think.

TeamSelig
10-29-2008, 11:58 AM
It all depends on what you're willing to spend. I know you said you're on a limited budget, so stay away from anything Apple. Dell seems to be the way to go for a good laptop now. I found one that has all of what you want for $600 from Dell. If that doesn't suit you, I would think that the 200 GB of storage needs to be your first cut. From Dell, you save $100 if you downgrade the storage to 120GB, and RAM to 2 GB. 499 for a good laptop isn't a bad deal.

Here's a link to the laptop I'm talking about:
Dell.com (http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspnnb_1525?c=us&cs=19&l=en&ref=lthp&s=dhs)

I ended up choosing the 1535. Spent a little more than what I had originally planned, but it will be okay. I have the money to buy it in savings, although I don't want to touch that. I'm going to have payments set up to help build credit.

justincredible
10-29-2008, 01:17 PM
Check out http://www.dell.com/outlet

I just bought one of the new MacBook Pro's and would highly recommend it, but it isn't a budget laptop.

EDIT** Nevermind, looks like you already decided on one.

SunDeck
10-29-2008, 01:59 PM
I was looking at one of these babies. They're cheap. And nice if you're into ASCII art.

http://www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/Toshiba1200Laptop.jpg

JaxRed
10-29-2008, 03:03 PM
I just went the other way, bought a tiny ASUS eee. 8.9" screen, solid state drive.

Caveat Emperor
10-30-2008, 12:06 AM
Like Justin, I just bought one of the new Macbook Pros and I couldn't be happier with the purchase thus far. It's simply an amazing machine.

FWIW, my last computer purchase was in 2003 -- I bought a Dell Inspiron 5100. It was a nice laptop for the time, but I started having problems about a year and half into owning it. The keyboard they used was really cheap and I had several keys break off after common usage. The AC adapter was also crap -- I went through three of those due to normal wear around the ends of the wires. Finally, in 2006 - after a scant 2 1/2 years of ownership - the video card died on the thing and I was relegated to plugging into an external monitor until the rest of the motherboard died 6 months later.

I'll never buy another Dell. I took *immaculate* care of the laptop and it still pooped out on me in under 3 years.

hebroncougar
10-30-2008, 09:39 AM
I've had 2 Toshiba's and couldn't be happier with either one.

SunDeck
10-30-2008, 09:56 AM
Like Justin, I just bought one of the new Macbook Pros and I couldn't be happier with the purchase thus far. It's simply an amazing machine.

FWIW, my last computer purchase was in 2003 -- I bought a Dell Inspiron 5100. It was a nice laptop for the time, but I started having problems about a year and half into owning it. The keyboard they used was really cheap and I had several keys break off after common usage. The AC adapter was also crap -- I went through three of those due to normal wear around the ends of the wires. Finally, in 2006 - after a scant 2 1/2 years of ownership - the video card died on the thing and I was relegated to plugging into an external monitor until the rest of the motherboard died 6 months later.

I'll never buy another Dell. I took *immaculate* care of the laptop and it still pooped out on me in under 3 years.

I have that same computer. Haven't had any problems except with the AC adapter. We are pretty easy on the machine, though.

What sucked about Dell was this:
I wanted to upgrade the memory so I used the Dell website to analyze my computer and tell me EXACTLY what I needed. What the site recommended was 333MHz, instead of 266MHz. So I bought the wrong memory ON DELL'S RECOMMENDATION.
I was on vacation when they arrived. When I came back I tried to install them and they wouldn't work. First I thought it was a bios problem. Had a friend who works in IT at work try looking at it and he couldn't figure it out (bios was the correct version). By this time it's about a month after purchase.

I finally got a technician at Dell to figure it out- he told me I had the wrong speed memory (and even said there must be some bug with their website to recommend the wrong stuff). So, I called Dell Cust. Service to ask for an exchange and they refused, saying it was beyond the standard 21 day return period. So, I'm going to buy the right memory from someone other than Dell, then I'll sell these on ebay.

And I will never buy another Dell. Ever. And now I have informed hundreds of people, which proves the old customer service adage, "Satisfy a customer and they won't tell anyone. Piss one off and they'll tell everyone they can."

Nice job, Dell.

ChaseReds
10-30-2008, 11:44 AM
My job is to help my clients buy desktops, servers, laptops and more. Unfortunately it looks as though you already bought at Dell, but let me tell you that we never recommend dells to any of our clients. They have horrific customer support; they use very cheap products (especially their motherboards). If anyone else is looking to buy a laptop than look into HP. Again- we always have issues with Dell here, but very few times have I had to return HP’s gear (and if I did it was no where like returning a Dell).

SunDeck
10-30-2008, 12:03 PM
We have bought about 300 computers in the last couple of years at my workplace. What we have seen from Dell is that the quality of their products has varied. We have had a few shipments of machines that have been rock solid, but then other batches where we see a 15% DOA rate.

Like I said, my laptop has been relatively problem free and I'm otherwise satisfied with it. And I have not seen any problems with the Latitudes we have ordered from Dell at all. Virtually all the problems we have had are with desktops.

dougdirt
10-30-2008, 02:00 PM
I can say that my experience with Dell Customer Service was a little different than yours was Sundeck, but mine was also through a business account so that could be the difference. That said, we haven't had any problems with our laptops here that was Dell's fault (we did have one shipped to the wrong address by UPS and had to wait another week to get a replacement).

TeamSelig
10-30-2008, 03:25 PM
lol these comments are a little late! I got impatient and went ahead & got one.... I really liked Dell's website where you could basically build it yourself, especially if X is added, add Y amount of money to the total.

TylerScottDavis
10-30-2008, 04:38 PM
I know it's a little late but this one's a good deal IMO.

http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Toshiba-Satellite-L305D-S5881-15-4-Widescreen-Laptop-L305DS5881/sem/rpsm/oid/215096/catOid/-18746/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do

15.4" screen, 200 gig HD, 3gb RAM, AMD Turion 64 X2 RM-70 Processor (2.0 ghz). On sale right now for $579 out the door and a free router, printer and virus software after rebates (worth $240 total). I love Toshiba (my current laptop is a Toshiba and is going on 5 years strong with no problems. None. Ever.) In my experience, you can't beat the prices at Circuit City on a computer and they're the king of rebates as well, so long as you don't mind waiting.

TeamSelig
10-30-2008, 08:49 PM
I briefly checked there but didn't see that. It is a minor downgrade from what I picked out (320HD 2.16 ghz 4 gb RAM) but probably within the parameters of what I actually needed... and about $200 cheaper

Ah well... I had never heard negative things about Dell before. Or is this just their laptops?

SunDeck
10-30-2008, 09:15 PM
I briefly checked there but didn't see that. It is a minor downgrade from what I picked out (320HD 2.16 ghz 4 gb RAM) but probably within the parameters of what I actually needed... and about $200 cheaper

Ah well... I had never heard negative things about Dell before. Or is this just their laptops?

Don't worry, be happy. That's the nature of things. Ever looked at the reviews of products on Amazon? If you take them all at face value, then you should never buy anything.

RBA
10-30-2008, 09:45 PM
I have a Dell XPS M1210. Just a little after a year, the battery wouldn't hold a charge. And now I had to replace the power supply as it wouldn't charge the laptop. I wouldn't of bought a Dell, but I got a great deal on it. It's an okay laptop.

TeamSelig
11-07-2008, 03:59 PM
I got it today, and have a problem already lol....

There are pixels that stand out... like they don't belong there. My desktop has a picture of this forest or whatever, but there are orange pixels randomly in it. Sometimes they are red. Very poor quality. I've messed around with the display settings, but no luck.

Whats goin on? Anyone know?

BTW - I called Dell support and wow... This guy would not give up that I wasn't going to buy a service package so I couldn't get any help.

KronoRed
11-07-2008, 04:07 PM
Those are bad pixels, not really anyway to fix them, check your warranty information to see what Dell will do about it, some manufacturers will only help if it's more then 10 pixels.

justincredible
11-07-2008, 05:41 PM
I got it today, and have a problem already lol....

There are pixels that stand out... like they don't belong there. My desktop has a picture of this forest or whatever, but there are orange pixels randomly in it. Sometimes they are red. Very poor quality. I've messed around with the display settings, but no luck.

Whats goin on? Anyone know?

BTW - I called Dell support and wow... This guy would not give up that I wasn't going to buy a service package so I couldn't get any help.

Wow, that's a PITA. :thumbdown

TeamSelig
11-08-2008, 01:15 AM
Are you sure it is bad pixels? They aren't the same on every image/page. Basic web pages with not much color seem to work fine. Redszone works fine.

Detailed graphics, alot of bright colors, etc. seem to really mess it up.

Spitball
06-19-2009, 09:17 AM
Our youngest son just graduated from high school, and my wife and I are buying him a laptop for college. We are hoping to spend about $800 and need some advice.

My wife has found an HP Pavilion v6-1050 for $800 from NewEgg.com. Are there reasons not to buy on-line? For example, will there be a major problem if servicing is needed. Is it better to buy locally? Has anyone else dealt with NewEgg.com?

Does anyone know of any other good deals or suggestions on a laptop in the $800 range? Mainly we are buying it for college, but he is also big into games.

Thanks for any help.

RedsMan3203
06-19-2009, 09:28 AM
I buy all my PC parts from NewEgg.com or TigerDirect.com

For the everyday user it wouldn't be that bad to buy off line from a newegg or tigerdirect. But the only concern i'd have with it would be the warranty process. It could be away from the user for an extended amount of time, where as if you buy from a best buy it could be away for just 10 days.

Now that sounds like a sales pitch for Best Buy - I hate Best Buy... They replaced one of my laptops already and the one that they replaced it with almost got replaced too when so many hardware problems. Maybe I'm a heavy user? Maybe not...

If you feel comfortable with buying online you would probably get a better price and warranty, but you'd probably have to do all the tech work on it to get HP to fix it (send it in or have a repair guy come to you house/work) ... If you don't like that route go with a Best Buy, Staples, Office Max type deal.

Also, Being a kid that went from High School to College in less then 2 months.... I really reallly realllly wish I hadn't gotten a laptop...

Why? Well it was great with notes.... But how often did I really use it for notes? Not very.... I spent more time on my laptop in class playing games, reading other things, talk to friends, downloading then I did paying attention...

Might want to look into getting him a nice desktop for his room (or dorm) - He can hand write notes then come back and re type them... Print them... ETC..

Just my .02 cents

Spitball
06-19-2009, 10:09 AM
I buy all my PC parts from NewEgg.com or TigerDirect.com

For the everyday user it wouldn't be that bad to buy off line from a newegg or tigerdirect. But the only concern i'd have with it would be the warranty process. It could be away from the user for an extended amount of time, where as if you buy from a best buy it could be away for just 10 days.

Now that sounds like a sales pitch for Best Buy - I hate Best Buy... They replaced one of my laptops already and the one that they replaced it with almost got replaced too when so many hardware problems. Maybe I'm a heavy user? Maybe not...

If you feel comfortable with buying online you would probably get a better price and warranty, but you'd probably have to do all the tech work on it to get HP to fix it (send it in or have a repair guy come to you house/work) ... If you don't like that route go with a Best Buy, Staples, Office Max type deal.

Also, Being a kid that went from High School to College in less then 2 months.... I really reallly realllly wish I hadn't gotten a laptop...

Why? Well it was great with notes.... But how often did I really use it for notes? Not very.... I spent more time on my laptop in class playing games, reading other things, talk to friends, downloading then I did paying attention...

Might want to look into getting him a nice desktop for his room (or dorm) - He can hand write notes then come back and re type them... Print them... ETC..

Just my .02 cents

Thanks for the excellent advice, RedsMan. I spewed my coffee when I read your in class laptop activities. I would have done the same and am betting my son will, also. However, I'm pretty certain he won't be swayed from the laptop idea. Also, he will be sharing a dorm room with limited space.

I appreciate the pros and cons because I don't regularly deal with purchasing electronics. We are going away for the weekend, but we will mull over your suggestions. I believe one special on Newegg runs through Monday so we will have time to think about that one.

Stephenk29
06-19-2009, 02:39 PM
I never noticed to many people actually bringing their laptop to class. If they did it was for the stuff mentioned above. No one actually took notes :)

I would think buying locally would be best for service.

Johnny Footstool
06-19-2009, 04:44 PM
I just bought a laptop from tigerdirect.com. Bought it last Tuesday, and it arrived two days later -- $1.98 shipping.

Avoid Pentium, Sempron, and Celeron processors.

Look for Intel Core2 or AMD Turion X2.

You will want to get a wireless mouse for the laptop. If you get a laptop with built-in Bluetooth, the Microsoft OEM Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 is excellent.

If the laptop doesn't include Bluetooth, get the Logitech V450 Nano Cordless Laser Mouse, which is a wireless USB mouse.

wolfboy
06-19-2009, 05:40 PM
Our youngest son just graduated from high school, and my wife and I are buying him a laptop for college. We are hoping to spend about $800 and need some advice.

My wife has found an HP Pavilion v6-1050 for $800 from NewEgg.com. Are there reasons not to buy on-line? For example, will there be a major problem if servicing is needed. Is it better to buy locally? Has anyone else dealt with NewEgg.com?

Does anyone know of any other good deals or suggestions on a laptop in the $800 range? Mainly we are buying it for college, but he is also big into games.

Thanks for any help.

My advice is to browse the deals on slickdeals.net (in the 'hot deals' forum). You will find the best prices there.

George Foster
06-19-2009, 11:55 PM
I bought a cheap Acer at Wal mart for under $400. It works great for what I need. Internet, built in wireless, etc.

Honestly, I would not buy him a PC that is good for gaming. He needs to study. Your 1st year is the hardest, and he needs to make grades. Just sayin'.

acredsfan
06-20-2009, 02:13 AM
I bought a cheap Acer at Wal mart for under $400. It works great for what I need. Internet, built in wireless, etc.

Honestly, I would not buy him a PC that is good for gaming. He needs to study. Your 1st year is the hardest, and he needs to make grades. Just sayin'.Speaking from a college students POV here, but Laptops are the way to go. The portability is great, especially for traveling and doing homework or just going out on campus to get away and do homework. You get a lot more for the same price on desktops, so that is the main drawback to a laptop, but portability makes up for that. Stay far away from Dell, Gateway, eMachines, and I personally don't care for Acer. The first three are only good for a short time, and honestly, if you are paying a good chunk of money you want it to last for as long as possible. Walmart does have low prices on laptops, but you get what you pay for...

Right now, I have an HP dv7-1245dx and enjoy it. Now, be aware that depending on which college your son attends, the university may offer a greatly reduced rate on Microsoft Vista, Microsoft Office, and other essentials, so don't pay extra for them unless you check first. I got Microsoft Office from UC for just $19.95! That's the full version.

About the time wasting thing, yeah not many people use laptops to take notes, but if you aren't going to pay attention you'll just find something else to waste your time if you don't have a laptop.

I would suggest no less than 4GB of RAM for that price range, and at least a 320 GB hard drive. Wireless G is the current standard, but wireless N will take over in a couple of years, so I'd be inclined to look into that. Wireless G will still be supported, but N will be better for the future. Make sure you get a carrying case or backpack designed for a laptop that will prevent damage. I learned that one the hard way.

Spitball
06-21-2009, 08:55 PM
Thanks for all the helpful information. This is certainly the place to come to get expert advice. :)

GAC
06-21-2009, 09:10 PM
I bought a cheap Acer at Wal mart for under $400. It works great for what I need. Internet, built in wireless, etc.

I just bought a new Toshiba Satellite laptop at Walmarts for just under $400.

http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/retail-product.jsp?poid=439937


http://www.toshibadirect.com/images/products/prod_satL355-SLT_300-01.jpg

paintmered
06-22-2009, 08:43 AM
Tiger Direct has some of the worst customer service on the internet. The horror stories are endless. However, Newegg is the gold standard when it comes to customer service of an online retailer.

For warranties, check out Squaretrade. Warranties for 1/4 of the price. I was skeptical with them due to the price but the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. My girlfriend has her med school tablet warranted through them.

Johnny Footstool
06-22-2009, 11:03 AM
Tiger Direct has some of the worst customer service on the internet. The horror stories are endless. However, Newegg is the gold standard when it comes to customer service of an online retailer.

For warranties, check out Squaretrade. Warranties for 1/4 of the price. I was skeptical with them due to the price but the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. My girlfriend has her med school tablet warranted through them.

Tiger Direct has been good recently, especially over the past six months.
http://www.resellerratings.com/store/Tiger_Direct

paulrichjr
06-22-2009, 11:19 AM
I just bought an awesome notebook from Dell Outlet - Dell XPS 16. The screen is incredible. I saved (estimate here) around $400 by going through the outlet of Dell.

http://www.dell.com/us/en/dfh/notebooks/ct.aspx?refid=notebooks&s=dfh&cs=22

I like to get really nice notebooks for cheap and this is "sometimes" a good way to go. The XPS 16 is an awesome computer and I highly recommend it. It is a little out of your range for what I got but it was loaded. I got a 16 HD screen, 340 HD, 4 gig RAM, 64 bit Vista, backlit keyboard, and BlueRay for $1000. Similar computer from Dell was around $1400.

Also, check out techbargains.com. I recently found a coupon code for HP Direct for a friend of mine on there that netted him a $400 discount. He got a loaded computer like mine but without BluRay including Office Small Business and taxes and Windows Ultimate for $1150.

Spitball
06-22-2009, 08:07 PM
Thanks, folks! I really appreciate all the feedback. With all the options out there, it is fantastic to read all the experiences everyone has had. It sure has been helpful. :)

macro
09-23-2009, 01:44 AM
I finally took the laptop plunge and bought this last Friday:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4621293&CatId=1902

It arrived today and so far I am very pleased. Actually, the one I bought was very similar, with the major difference being that it was Wireless-N compatible, whereas the one I linked to is not. The one I bought is sold out so I can no longer link to it.

They're showing an original price of $1,150, but I'm not sure if it ever sold for that amount or not. But I do know that Walmart currently has basically the same setup (with 500gb Hard Drive instead of 320gb) for about $850.

I didn't have to have a 17" model, but the deal was too good to pass up and this one is a desktop replacement that will be used in the home 95% of the time. So maximum portability wasn't an issue.

Also got $60 off the price by getting the Bing Cashback. If you haven't tried it, do a google search on it for info.

Features I was looking for included 4gb of RAM expandable to 8gb, 64-bit Windows, and an HDMI port so that I can hook this thing up to the plasma TV and watch online movies and TV shows.

Another selling point for me was the cosmetics. The bronze casing and keys look really good - a better alternative to black and/or silver, which you see on just about every laptop.

Boss-Hog
09-23-2009, 07:47 AM
Congrats macro...sounds like a really nice laptop.

Razor Shines
09-23-2009, 08:04 AM
I finally took the laptop plunge and bought this last Friday:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4621293&CatId=1902

It arrived today and so far I am very pleased. Actually, the one I bought was very similar, with the major difference being that it was Wireless-N compatible, whereas the one I linked to is not. The one I bought is sold out so I can no longer link to it.

They're showing an original price of $1,150, but I'm not sure if it ever sold for that amount or not. But I do know that Walmart currently has basically the same setup (with 500gb Hard Drive instead of 320gb) for about $850.

I didn't have to have a 17" model, but the deal was too good to pass up and this one is a desktop replacement that will be used in the home 95% of the time. So maximum portability wasn't an issue.

Also got $60 off the price by getting the Bing Cashback. If you haven't tried it, do a google search on it for info.

Features I was looking for included 4gb of RAM expandable to 8gb, 64-bit Windows, and an HDMI port so that I can hook this thing up to the plasma TV and watch online movies and TV shows.

Another selling point for me was the cosmetics. The bronze casing and keys look really good - a better alternative to black and/or silver, which you see on just about every laptop.

:laugh::laugh:

Google the Bing Cashback offer.

Anyway that looks like a really good deal.

macro
09-23-2009, 08:48 AM
:laugh::laugh:

Google the Bing Cashback offer.

Anyway that looks like a really good deal.

Wow, I didn't even think about what I was actually saying! I'm sure the folks at Bing would love to read that! :D

Perhaps my faux pas illustrates just how much of an uphill climb Bing has ahead of it.

Sea Ray
09-23-2009, 05:25 PM
What do you think about waiting for WIN 7 to come out? I've been told it needs half the specs of Vista to run.

macro
09-24-2009, 12:36 AM
All new computers sold with Vista since this summer can upgrade to Win 7 free (plus shipping and handling or something like that). I think I'll wait and see how it goes before taking the plunge on either of my two machines: the new laptop and the 2003 XP machine that just got replaced. I'll have to upgrade that old machine to 1GB RAM to use Win 7, but it's exciting to think about being able to modernize it, and from what I've read, it's supposed to be able to handle it. We shall see. But I never like to be on the cutting edge of software releases.

acredsfan
09-24-2009, 01:02 PM
All new computers sold with Vista since this summer can upgrade to Win 7 free (plus shipping and handling or something like that). I think I'll wait and see how it goes before taking the plunge on either of my two machines: the new laptop and the 2003 XP machine that just got replaced. I'll have to upgrade that old machine to 1GB RAM to use Win 7, but it's exciting to think about being able to modernize it, and from what I've read, it's supposed to be able to handle it. We shall see. But I never like to be on the cutting edge of software releases.I'm currently using windows 7 on all of my computers including the laptop that was linked to. It's far better than Vista, and I love the new media center. I'm using the release candidate, since the real thing isn't out yet, but if they have many better things in the complete version, then it will be a home run as far as I'm concerned.