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#178775 - 08/06/09 11:42 AM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: Eugene]
Matt26 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/05
Posts: 309
Loc: Vermont
Thanks for all of the input Friends, Oddly enough my Wife has recieved much of the same advice from her sources. No pressing need to purchase so we can take our time. Thanks all
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#178816 - 08/06/09 10:28 PM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: Matt26]
BrianB Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/08
Posts: 99
Ok, I can't help myself: How in the world does the repair shop justify having a PC for 35 days? Is this a factory warranty repair?

On to the question:

If you're looking for a second PC, I'd recommend a laptop or netbook. I think it's important to understand the distinction between laptop and netbook, though, and I'm not sure that's been touched on.

A netbook is essentially a very under-powered laptop. In general, surfing the web and doing word processing will work fine, as will most games that aren't graphically intensive (board games, older 3d games, etc.) However, no matter what brand you pick, you're going to get an underpowered CPU, vastly underpowered compared to what you can pick up on even a very low-priced laptop. Fortunately, with one major exception, they have plenty of CPU for handling the use you described. That exception is (some) Flash applications. In general, Flash itself is a huge CPU resource hog, and this means most Flash apps run poorly on netbooks. Youtube runs OK, but Hulu stutters quite a bit, for example. All of the Flash games on Facebook/Myspace also run poorly. So, if you frequently play those "little" online board game type things, you'll be surprised to find out that your netbook runs Unreal Tournament better than Facebook Scrabble. Now, on the pro-netbook side, we have: Light weight, super-convenient size, plenty of power for e-mail, (non-flash) surfing, word processing, running simple games, watching most multimedia (I use mine to watch Netflix's online streaming movies, which run through Media Player - they run well), and a good battery life due to the lower powered CPU. Also, due to size constraints, netbooks usually do not have an optical drive. You'll have to use a networked or USB drive if you need to access a DVD or CD, so you may want to factor that into the cost (which isn't too large, but it adds to the overall cost if you need an optical drive)

As for some buying tips: You'll want to get one with Windows XP -- avoid Vista at all costs on a Netbook -- and you may consider getting one with Windows 7 on it when that's released if you don't mind waiting. (I don't think they're doing the free upgrade to Win7 from XP machines bought between now and release like they are Vista machines.) Max your RAM out. (Usually to 2GB, using a 1GB chip. It's a pretty cheap upgrade.) Check the specs on the Netbook you're interested in to make sure it has user-upgradeable RAM. Another thing to consider is the type of screen, and the screen size. Most brands have bright, but glossy, screens. These look great indoors with no direct light sources on them, but if you're out and about, in varying lighting conditions, the glare can make the screen unreadable at times. The bottom line is that the anti-glare coating costs more, and these are budget machines so glossy is more common. Both of the netbooks in our household are from Asus, and have anti-glare screens. The other decision is screen size. Ten inch screens are most common, and it's a good, usable size. The keyboards run about 92% of full size and are pretty easy to get used to typing on. The nine inch size is considerably smaller overall, with a correspondingly more crowded keyboard. It took me about ten minutes to get used to typing on the ten inch, but about three or so days of regular use to get used to typing on the nine inch. I suggest trying out both yourself. The nine inch is a lot more portable, and I don't mind the KB too much, so I love it. My wife much prefers the ten inch for ease of typing and for the additional screen real estate.

As to brand: Most of the more commonly-seen brands are very decent, including Asus (who started the trend), Acer, Dell, and HP. I don't have any direct experience with the Samsung or Toshiba netbooks, but would expect them to be good. I'd avoid Sony and Gateway at all costs, and that's from the POV of selling both brands for a while. Gateway, due to the very high rate of problems with new machines, and Sony for their terrible support and overall poor attitude toward their consumers, not to mention they're priced way out of line for the hardware in a netbook.


Edited by BrianB (08/06/09 10:33 PM)

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#178835 - 08/07/09 03:33 AM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: BrianB]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2081
Loc: Colorado
If you consider a laptop, for your needs even a low end one will do just fine. At that price-point ($400 - $500 max) you're not that much more than NetBook cost, even cheaper than some NetBooks, so no reason I can come up with to consider a NetBook (unless you want their very small size). You will also get more bang for your buck with more memory rather than a more powerful CPU. If you want more speed for your buck, load a lightweight Linux on it rather than Windows. If you want blazing speed, boot Linux so it loads totally into memory, thus using your harddisk for permanent storage only (not for running the OS from). For me, one of the biggest decision points in buying an inexpensive laptop is the keyboard. There are some really terrible ones out there. And the very best are only mediocre compared to a desktop separate keyboard. Forget the trackpad - they are all horrid, and for emergencies only IMHO. Get an external mouse and don't worry yourself looking for a decent trackpad (there is no such thing).

If you're tempted by laptops, I'd say: (1) Inexpensive low-end model, (2) External monitor, (3) External Keyboard, and (4) External mouse. The money you save on buying the low-end model will cover the expense for the external components.

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#178842 - 08/07/09 10:34 AM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: haertig]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2830
Your getting too much into personal preference now. If your going to buy a laptop then buy external everything you may as well just buy a desktop.
A touchpad has a learning curve (its only a trackpad if its an IBM, thats their name for a touchpad) just like a mouse had a learning curve when we first got them. I paid for my very first laptop in 1998, before that I had company assigned ones or ones that came from the trash bin, I've used touchpads and haven't bought or used a mouse since then. Synaptics makes the best touchpads, though Alps has nearly caught up, the apls touchpad in my katest company laptop is useabe, the trick is to crank the speed up so your not using multiple movements to get from one end of the screen to another then for fine movement you roll the finger back and forth a little bit. I turn off all the extra stuff, scorlling, pinching, squeezing, any other gestures they come with to get the whole pad area.
Now if your going to take the advice of some and buy a $400-500 don't plan on using it as a laptop much, those have the most flimsy cases, weakest hinges, worst cooling, etc and are pretty much stuck to a desk. Those are the $5 chinses made pocket knife that breaks the first time you use it. The business machines are the swiss army knives and leathermans, they may not have the best sound cards or other fancy gadgets you find in ones you buy in the retail stores but they have stonger cases, hinges, cooling designed to run hours at a time, etc.
Netbooks are not as limited as some make them out to be. I haven't owned a desk in years, out laptops have always sat on the end of the couch (again buy business models that can still keep the inside cool) and the next step for us was netbooks. I replaced my 1.2GHz 12" machine with a 1.6GHz 9" netbook and it works great. Its my only home machine right now not counting my 500MHz file server used to dump backups to. I run all my garmin software, keep up with a dozen or so forums, have years worth of mail and pictures (past the 30G mark of pictures) track all my projects, tools, etc on spreadsheets and have nearly a dozen other OS's running as virtual machines; need windows 7, windows server 2008 R2, Solaris 10, etc I just start up a virtual and there it is. I haven't found anything yet I needed a larger system for.

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#178856 - 08/07/09 09:13 PM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: Eugene]
BrianB Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/08
Posts: 99
The truth is, for about 99% of the tasks someone who doesn't play games needs most newer computers are grossly over-powered. The only thing I've seen that our Netbooks have issues with are the afore-mentioned Flash apps. And that's more of a failing of Flash for being such a CPU hog for what those apps actually do than it is of the netbook.

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#178903 - 08/09/09 01:42 PM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: Matt26]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2396
Laptops are getting very cheap - some nice ones for $400 -500 on sale. Get a keyboard that feels right to your hands, a reasonable screen size ( 15 -17") and a mac.



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#178909 - 08/09/09 03:18 PM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: TeacherRO]
big_al Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 586
Loc: 20mi east of San Diego
Matt: when you get your desktop back(35 days? I hope they don't get paid by the hour) get a external hard drive and put Halo on it. Now go to www.tirgerdirect.com (look at the refurbished or off lease )and get a good used laptop. if you don't have a wifi router get one at the same time. Now you can take all your information with you and play halo. and use the laptop where ever you travel.
_________________________
Some people try to turn back their odometers.
Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way
I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved

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#178998 - 08/10/09 05:38 PM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: big_al]
Matt26 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/05
Posts: 309
Loc: Vermont
Without going into details I paid for a system restore and data backup at a large store with big yellow tags. The brillant young mind that did the work chose to do the system restore before the backup. Needless to say I am not paying for the data recovery. I have expressed my extreme displeasure with the dept manager, the store manager and the corporate office as well about the length of time it has taken. it is now 41 days and still no pc back. belive me, compensation is being discussed.
_________________________
If it ain't bleeding, it doesn't hurt.

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#179016 - 08/10/09 10:15 PM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: Matt26]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2081
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Matt26
Without going into details I paid for a system restore and data backup at a large store with big yellow tags.

There is an old saying: "There are two type of people. Those who do regular backups, and those who wish they had." Unfortunately it sounds like you're in the latter group this time. Depending on someone else to recover/retore your computer after whatever disaster must have befallen you is not the way to go (as you found out!) When you get your old computer back, and also when you get the new one, make sure you put a strong backup strategy in place so you don't end up in this mess again.

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#179025 - 08/10/09 11:05 PM Re: Laptop or Desktop? [Re: haertig]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5170
Loc: SOCAL
Agree. I've seen 1.0 TB (1000 GB) drives available to use as back-ups. Not having tons of multi-media, I make do with a mere 120 GB back-up HD and it's mostly empty.

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