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#226860 - 06/28/11 06:54 PM Computer Question
MoBOB Offline

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1219
Loc: here
I am looking to buy another computer to use for school. Here is what I am thinking and I would greatly appreciate any insights into this. I will be using the computer for just standard MS-Office/OpenOffice tasks; nothing elaborate.

My thoughts are to try and use a Toshiba/Asus style netbook. I would attach, via USB, a keyboard, mouse, and a 15" LCD Monitor to it. The thought being I can reduce the carpal tunnel problems with the keyboard/mouse and save the neck pinched nerve problems on the neck I have. I will still have a tiny form factor for portability if and when necessary. Will the ATOM processor that these type computers come with be up to the task?

The other option is to spend $250-300 (minimum) more for a 15"-17" laptop and essentially do the same thing minus the external monitor.

I thank you all in advance for your help, insights, and opinions.
"Its not a matter of being ready as it is being prepared" -- B. E. J. Taylor

#226864 - 06/28/11 07:16 PM Re: Computer Question [Re: MoBOB]
Eastree Offline

Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 62
I'm currently typing on an EeePC 900HD, the slightly newer Intel model. But my older one (same model, now dead) had an Atom processor, and it did perfectly well with Open Office. For a while it was my only Windows box, and I used it for most of my Youtube and Netflix streaming.

Also, just beware its maximum video card resolution is ~1024x768 for a standard aspect ratio monitor, but I've had it connected to a 1080i TV, running as 720p with no problems whatsoever.

OK, some videos were a hair demanding on things (considering shared graphics processing and ram).

For a bit between more permanent places to live, I was using the TV setup (with wireless keyboard and mouse) for streaming videos, general web surfing, creating documents with Open Office, Skype, and even photo editing (a hobby).

Some things may take a minute to load, and I recommend upgrading your ram to max, but a netbook should do you fine.

#226868 - 06/28/11 08:21 PM Re: Computer Question [Re: Eastree]
Outdoor_Quest Offline

Registered: 08/17/09
Posts: 305
Loc: Central Oregon
I had a Toshiba Satellite lap top for two years. I sent it back to the company twice for warranty work. I won't by another.

Got a decent HP and it works fine.


#226869 - 06/28/11 09:47 PM Re: Computer Question [Re: Outdoor_Quest]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Outdoor_Quest
I had a Toshiba Satellite lap top for two years. I sent it back to the company twice for warranty work. I won't by another.

I used to recommend Toshiba's for my entire extended family. Toshiba has apparently decided that an infinite turnaround for warranty work is acceptable, and that they would make it impossible to find out if you would ever receive the machine back, much less in a timely fashion. Furthermore it broke again the same way. We're not buying Toshiba any more.

Our ASUS laptops have served us well.

#226871 - 06/28/11 10:03 PM Re: Computer Question [Re: MoBOB]
ireckon Offline

Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 1629
Loc: Northern California
I'm using an HP laptop that's about 6 years old. It was a top dog at the time. I've had no problems. It still runs Internet video streams just fine. I'm anal about running a virus/spam program all the time. Also, I don't let anybody else use it, unless I'm right there hoovering. One issue is that 100 GB was a lot of hard disk space 6 years ago, but that's not much nowadays. However, I do have an external hard drive for overflow, backup, etc.

I'm thinking about upgrading my laptop, not because I must, but more because I don't want to wait until something goes wrong. My last 5 laptops were HP, no issues. I'm fine operating with no desktop computer, no external monitor and no external mouse. I like to keep it simple.

If you're like me, you'll get the most high-tech laptop beast you can afford. I don't like replacing my computer every 1 and a half years. I'm fine with not having the latest and greatest 3 years after I purchase.

Another option I'm think about is buying (1) a monster desktop and (2) an iPad or similar for travel. I saw a 55" monitor that made me drool, and I think I need to have it.
If you're reading this, it's too late.

#226876 - 06/28/11 11:53 PM Re: Computer Question [Re: MoBOB]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2816
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I have a couple of netbooks kicking around, both upgraded to 2GB (the max they can use). The upgrade is absolutely mandatory IMO, so figure that into the actual price. They serve a niche purpose for me as uber-portables that have great battery life and are more-or-less disposable. But while they can run office apps at a passable speed, they are no substitute for the horsepower of a real notebook. I can't imagine trying to earn a living with one except as an interim/emergency machine.

I have noticed that plugging them into an external monitor speeds up their operation somewhat. I imagine updating the built-in display takes a fair bit of internal processing power. Also, disabling the wireless when you're not actually using it saves a lot of battery and increases their performance generally. Wireless connections also suck a lot of processing power.

My policy has been to upgrade when base-level business laptops are being cleared out for $600-700. These seem to stand up much better (even if they're demo models) than the biodegradable consumer cheapies with all the bling. My current machine is an HP -- far from perfect but I tolerate its quirks because I like the keyboard. Given what I'm seeing these days, my next laptop will be an entry-level business Asus or Lenovo.

My 2c.

EDIT: Don't pay too much for a netbook. The last one I picked up (Acer with Win7 starter) was being cleared out at Staples for $147. The memory upgrade (not from Staples) was $30. I bought it to test my current software suite in a Win7 environment, but it's a perfect disposable travelling box as well.

Edited by dougwalkabout (06/28/11 11:58 PM)

#226880 - 06/29/11 01:24 AM Re: Computer Question [Re: MoBOB]
GarlyDog Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/05/07
Posts: 776
Loc: The People's Republic of IL
I have used/repaired hundreds of laptop computers. They are all fragile, except for the fully ruggedized-class mil-spec computers.

I wouldn't spend my money on anything but Panasonic ToughBooks.

Personally, I use two tricked out CF-29's.

This is the first laptop computer that I actually like, maybe even love. It really can go anywhere with you and be relied on upon to work when you get there, even if you attach it to a chain and drag it behind your 4-wheeler while you drive fast through the mud and puddles to get there. (see the youtube video)

I'm not the least bit worried about breaking them. If I do, there are parts available on eBay from multiple vendors, and incredible documentation to replace any part yourself. It's a mil-spec computer.

GPS,Touchscreen, swappable hard drives with multi-boot Win7,XP,Server2003,Ubuntu,Vista, built mobile radio, room for sat-com hardware, digital TV receiver, fully ruggedized/waterproof metal housing, back-lit keyboard, Thermostatically controlled hard drive heaters for low temperature operation. Matte-screen finish which is great for low and bright light situations, two batteries for super long mobile use, Built-in handle, etc, etc.

I bought the base units off eBay for under $400 each. It costs some $ to finish them, but to me it's worth it to me.

My next laptop computers will newer Panasonic ToughBooks, but it might be a while.

The usual disclaimer about no affiliation or interest, etc.

Edited by GarlyDog (06/29/11 01:02 PM)
Edit Reason: Disclaimer

#226881 - 06/29/11 01:58 AM Re: Computer Question [Re: MoBOB]
Art_in_FL Offline

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Running those applications takes minimal CPU and GPU power. I do suggest and advocate going for the best screen and keyboard you can get as these are the primary interfaces with the operator and define the user experience.

Greatly increasing the power of the CPU and GPU can make things snappier and smoother but you don't feel the difference like improving the monitor and keyboard. The only hardware improvement that comes close is increasing the available RAM. Ram is so cheap now there is no reason not to pack it in. Limited only by the OS, MB and your wallet.

For me a 19" screen and AT 'clicky' keyboard are ante to get in the game. I can work with less but won't be happy doing it. I plan on upgrading my unit soon and have a sweet old-school keyboard and 24" monitor picked out.

#226882 - 06/29/11 02:11 AM Re: Computer Question [Re: Art_in_FL]
MoBOB Offline

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1219
Loc: here

I really like the AT keyboards, but they are like hen's teeth. Those old ones weighed about 10 pounds and had outstanding action. However, I am going to use the Logitech split keyboard I already have. The same is true for the 15" monitor I have.
"Its not a matter of being ready as it is being prepared" -- B. E. J. Taylor

#226884 - 06/29/11 02:50 AM Re: Computer Question [Re: MoBOB]
UTAlumnus Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/08/03
Posts: 1002
Loc: East Tennessee near Bristol
If you plan on using it a good bit as a portable, I'd go the laptop direction but in the next size down 13"-15". When I was carrying one daily a couple of years ago, weight & battery life were higher priority than display resolution/size.

I was running 1-2Ghz single processor w/ max memory & it was doing everything I needed while getting my civil engineering degree. It was 13x9.5 (HP 1000 series). The screen was large enough to not need an external monitor but small enough that it weighed about 5#. IIRC battery life was 3-4 hours or more with the extended battery.

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