Join Date: Dec 2005
Please recommend my first laptop
I am looking to buy my first laptop. I have never dealt with a laptop or notebook PC, so I would appreciate any advice you guys can share with me. In the past, I have always built my own PCs and install the operating systems, so I am quite knowledgeable about desktop PCs. However, I am completely clueless about laptops and notebooks.
Here are my seven criteria for the laptop/notebook PC - I will be as detailed as possible so you will be able to make the best informed recommendations:
First of all, I am a cheapskate. I have a budget, and I want to get the best quality and features within that budget. So the laptop will have to be cheap and under $1000, preferrably around or no more than $500.
I do not want to get the latest, pricier model. In fact, being the bargain hunter I am, I am looking for a way to track down models from few seasons ago. (How and where do manufacurers get rid of their out-of-season laptop anyway? Is there a liquidation or discounted website for that sort of thing?) I still prefer a new, unused but out-of-season laptop/notebook from a reputable manufacturer, but I will take a refurbished one if the manufacturer has a good reputation and offers an acceptable warranty.
Right now, I am waiting for the Christmas shopping season to past, so manufactures and stores will cut prices. Then I will go in for the KILL!
2. Mobility, Reliability, and Battery Life
Together, mobility and battery life are the second most important factor. Of course, reliability is important when I will be mobile with and depending on my computer all the time. My biggest regret for the past five years of my life is that a home desktop has made me too "homely", and I want to change that. I still want to use the computer and the Internet, but I want to use the computer outside my home as much as possible, so I can socialize when I am using the computer. I want to be as mobile as possible, I want to not stay home as much as possible, so the laptop's reliability and battery life will have to support the mobile, nomad lifestyle.
(I have heard some mobile-class processor conserves batteries better and lasts longer than others. However, I have absolutely no clue what they are or how they are graded.)
3. Screen Size
Personally, I would really prefer a bigger screen. (Who does not?) I was looking at 17" and above, but that would put me over my budget. Also, bigger screens are bulkier, heavier, and less mobile, and it drains batteries much faster. For me, mobility takes precedence over the screen size.
So now I am looking at screen sizes between 15" and 17". Of course, if there is a laptop that fits into my budget and provides great mobility and battery life, I will take it. The 15" size isl probably be the minimum I will get -- I really do not want a smaller screen that will give me an eye strain.
4. Operating System
It has to be Windows, preferably XP professional, because my workplace uses it, and I do not want to deal with the hassles of working between different operating systems.
5. Primary Use: the Internet, Office applications, and basic utilities
Right now, 80% of my computer time is spent online. I want to be as mobile as possible so I will be able to enjoy the Internet in bookstores, cafes, libraries, and various "hangout" places. Often, I will be spending up to 4 or 5 hours straight on the laptop. (Most bookstores and cafes electrical outlet for laptop.) The laptop will have to be wi-fi ready or easily configurable for wi-fi. I will listen to music CDs while I surf the net.
The other major use for my laptop will be for office works and notetaking, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project, etc. The other software that will be eating up my power and space will be basic utilities like anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall.
6. Secondary Use: Gaming
The only games I want to play are classic, single-player RPGs and the very few highly rated adventures from the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s. (I plan to track down copies of Planescape: Torment, Fallout 2, Ultima VII and Exult, Deus Ex, Thief, Gothic, Grim Fandango, The Longest Journey, and some other legendary RPGs and adventures, so I will be able to play or replay them on my laptop.) Maybe I will also play a little Blizzard games "lite" and Sid Meier strategy.
The games I never play are: MMORPGs and just all sorts of online gaming, which I absolutely abhor. I have never liked any action, shooter, AI/life sim, or the latest cutting-edge, graphics-intensive games.
So, the point is: I will play games on my laptop, but I will not need the latest laptop with the fastest chips to play any cutting-edge, graphic-intenseive games.
7. What I Will NOT Be Using the Laptop for:
I will not be using the laptop for multimedia (although I will watch movie previews and trailers on the laptop,) video or music editing, or CAD or any other business/engineering/math applications. I will not watch movies or DVDs on anything smaller than a 27" screen.
No mail-in rebates!!! I don't deal with mail-in rebates. I would rather go with a lesser model at a low walk-out price than a better model at a lower price -- but only with mail-in rebates or whatever craps.
512MB is my minimum requirement. If I get 256MB now, I will upgrade it to 512MB right away (either from the manufacturer or third-party.) I plan tol upgrade it to 1024MB later. However, I will not get one at 1024MB right away -- way too expensive.
Those are my basic requirements for the laptops. Please make some recommendations based on the criteria I have just outlined. Thanks!
Now, I am not fixated on brands -- I have zero brand loyalty. I am only loyal to price and quality. However, I want to know what manufacturers and brands have better reputation in terms of quality, and what brands are to be avoided at all cost. Please let me know.
Also, if there is any website that offer great consumer advice and produce comparisons on buying laptops, I would love to know about it.