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Old 04-21-2008, 07:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Shopping Around

I'm in the market for a new laptop for college. I have never owned one before, so I need a few idea's. My main question is do I go for a Mac Book or Windows something? Mac is relatively expensive, but from what I have seen they seem to run pretty smooth, and everyone I have talked to who isn't a die hard Windows Fan loves them.

I am only going to be using the laptop to serf the net, type, and listen to music, not much else. I already have a PC that can take care of the rest, so gaming isn't an issue.

I have a budget of around $2000, I am just wondering from your experiences what you would prefer. Would there be major compatibility issues with a Mac that would make them more trouble than they are worth?

Also what about size? I noticed that the price of most laptops seems to be determined by the screen size. Is it really worth it to get a 17" Screen, or stick with something smaller and lighter?
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Old 04-21-2008, 09:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shopping Around

Well i am a diehard Windows fan. But i also like Linux as well. A Mac is alright. But remember OS X was hacked in 2 minutes at the Pwn2Own contest recently.

Also remember that almsot all Windows apps do not work on OS X. So if you wanted to use Office you would have to buy Office 2008 for Mac. I do not believe OpenOffice works on Mac either.

If you have a iPod well you would be set as iTunes for OS X works flawlessly.

I would prefer a Windows laptop only because you have more of a selection and you are not paying for the Apple name. Apple overcharges for everything. They charge you over $500 for a RAM upgrade. For the same RAM you could get for $100 on a Windows box.

As for the size that all depends on what you plan on doing. If you plan on traveling with it to classes and such you ahve to remember that you will be toting around a 17" laptop. I have a 15.4" and love it. Perfect size.
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Old 04-21-2008, 11:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Shopping Around

Lol... I wouldn't call myself a "die hard Windows fan"...in fact, up until last Friday I hated Vista...then I got my new laptop...

Well, Vista SP1 has many improvements (most of my apps actually installed correctly and ran well), because my parents' comp that also runs Vista had problems with almost everything. I also like Linux, and plan on installing Ubuntu Linux 8.04 on my new laptop (dual boot with Vista) when it comes out (just a few more days!).

I just got a college laptop, same budget, and I have a post in this forum down a bit.

I don't recommend Mac...it's just a shiny expensive fingerprint magnet, and under the surface just a mediocre overpriced PC running an OS that isn't compatible with very much.

I got an HP dv9700t laptop, and it is AMAZING. I got the laptop, a 20" LCD monitor, and a backpack to carry it in for just over $2000 with tax.

The dv9000 series has a 17" widescreen display. Many people will try to sway you from it, using the (lame) excuse "it's too big" or "it's too heavy". Don't be fooled, my 17" screen is excellent. It's great for web browsing because it minimizes scrolling (eliminates it on many smaller pages). Not only that, but my dv9000 is actually lighter than my old IBM ThinkPad A21p (a 15.4" Pentium 3 laptop). It uses Windows Vista (I got Ultimate 64 bit edition, the most compatible/most expensive).

For processor, I got the Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 (2.5GHz/6MB L2). You probably don't care about the numbers, but this chip is FAST. It outperforms many desktop systems and is well enough to run anything you'll ever need (games, media playback, video editing, compiling, rendering, whatever).

For graphics, I got an nVidia 8600M GS 512MB. This is a fairly good card. It supports DirectX 10 for newer games and graphics apps that use it. It's also good for other 3d programs like modeling or editing apps. It also makes 3d screensavers, Windows Aero, Windows MCE, etc run very smooth.

I also got the HP ExpressCard TV tuner, which allows your PC to play back live HDTV from digital cable or digital antenna. It also has an analog antenna/cable tuner and FM radio. It also supports composite/s-video/component (maybe, some apps say it has component, but no cable for it) inputs. It also includes a remote control so you can control your laptop from far away.

Overall, I'm incredibly happy with my system. The 17" screen is perfect for media and games, but it also gives plenty of workspace for documents and picture editing. The fast CPU and graphics keep the interface incredibly quick. The TV tuner card is great for watching and recording TV on Windows Media Center. For $2000, I'm not sure how much better you could go.
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Old 04-22-2008, 12:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I guess Windows is the way to go then. It is cheaper, and there is a lot more you can do with the system by means of customization on order.

What brands do you recommend? How is Alienware?

Also would it be better to wait till the end of the summer to shop?
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Old 04-22-2008, 12:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Shopping Around

I recommend HP, Compaq (made by HP), or maybe ThinkPads (Lenovo).

HP:
I just got an HP, it's incredible. The base price isn't too high, especially for a powerful laptop with a 17" screen. Similarly, their 15" screen laptops are also reasonable compared to other brands.

Compaq:
I've never owned a Compaq laptop, but my friend has one and he likes it. Since it's made by HP, it shouldn't be too different, and Compaq may even be a bit cheaper than HP for the same components.

ThinkPad:
I have an IBM ThinkPad (not Lenovo, mine's old). Although it's heavy, it shows good build quality even though it's 8 years old. I bought it used on eBay, but the hinges are nice and strong after 8 long years. For its time, it also has very good components. ThinkPads are more business-oriented, so you probably won't get very good graphics or a big screen (the reasons I went with HP instead this time).

Dell:
Dells seem too expensive compared to other brands. I looked at Dell, but their 17" PC's were way overpriced compared to HP. Also, there have been issues before (exploding laptops anyone?) and the hinges often wear out on many Dell models, leaving a weak screen that moves back and forth a lot.

If you wait, you may or may not get a better computer. I got mine now because it's a graduation present (however, I haven't graduated but I kinda...took it...early).

Anyways, I'll keep saying you should get 17" screen, but it's really your decision. If you really want ultraportable, then you should probably go with something with a 12 or 15" screen. The screen resolution is also important, as a 12" screen at 1024x768 isn't anywhere near as good as a 12" at 1280x1024. The higher resolution will have smaller text, but you can fit more stuff on the screen at a time. Considering the normal viewing distance from a laptop is like 1 foot or so, small text isn't really that hard to read (my ThinkPad has a 15.4" 1600x1200 screen and it's great).

Also, battery life may be an issue for you. I'm almost always by an outlet, so I don't really care much about battery, but if you're going to be away from power for long periods of time (you can get car adapters if you're in the car, but planes, buses, etc don't usually have outlets), then maybe you should invest in a power saving laptop (usually they're slower though). Either that or you can just get another battery to carry along with you.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shopping Around

I don't look at cost when buying laptops. I make a list of what features and requirements I want. I/O port and DVD placement can be important if you use external devices.
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Old 04-22-2008, 11:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackmoore View Post
I guess Windows is the way to go then. It is cheaper, and there is a lot more you can do with the system by means of customization on order.

What brands do you recommend? How is Alienware?
Also would it be better to wait till the end of the summer to shop?
AlienWare is over priced IMO. Plus Dell bought them out. I kinda agree with Calc on this one. But i have a Dell 1501 Inspiron and it is great. No issues at all with it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KurrentEweser View Post
I don't look at cost when buying laptops. I make a list of what features and requirements I want. I/O port and DVD placement can be important if you use external devices.
This is a good suggestion. Know what you want when you look. That way when you find a couple of laptops with the stuff you want you will know to ask which one to choose then. This way you are not looking at a specific brand but at what you want to get and it will do what you want.

Not trying to work around what you want to do with the laptop with what you get. I know it sounds confusing there. But put it simply. Get one that does what you want rather that find one and it can not do that.
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Old 04-22-2008, 11:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Shopping Around

Good deal on a decent lappy.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Asus makes great laptops. I have a Compaq laptop and it is decent but I would not buy one again.

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