Laptop Suggestions

Hi all,

I've kinda bitten the psychological bullet and admitted to myself that I need a computer. I haven't owned one solely for myself since I was at home in Scotland - and THAT was an ancient IBM desktop the size of the north face of the Eiger.

I really know very little as far as purchasing computers is concerned. I was wondering if anybody had any suggestions based on the following criteria:

I would like a laptop.
It can be used or new.
It has to cost no more than $1,000 - and preferably a LOT less ($500-$900). I'm broke.
It has to have WiFi capability - either through a PCMCIA card or through an internal WiFi signal receiver.
It has to have a reasonable amount of storage for my files related to writing, website maintenance etc.

I'd like it to be able to run GRLevelIII - but the requirements for that are fairly low, right?

It does NOT have to run any chase-related software I.E. Delorme OR have GPS capability.

Hahahahahaha. Tell me how much money I'm under-budgeting by.

Cheers.

K.
 
Karen, Circuit City has some pretty good deals going right now on notebook PCs under $1000.

http://www.circuitcity.com/rpsm/catOid/-12...categorylist.do

Hope that search link works.

I have bought TWO notebook computers from them with no issues although I did buy them in store. Might visit your local store as well. Sometimes they have closeouts, openbox or demos (all with original warranty) you can almost steal the deals are so good. You just have to catch them at the right time. I went one time and they had three they were selling for 50% off. They had used them for store inventory and that was all.
 
Hi Karen,

You should have no problems with that budget; even the most basic new offerings out there should meet your list of criteria easily. Some other factors to consider might be the size of the laptop (wide screen, thin types etc), battery life, drives/media slots etc. A lot will reflect on how and where you will be using it. In all cases try to get as much memory and processing power as your budget will allow, and don't be swayed by features/extras you don't think you'll need (some retailers will "Sweeten" the deal on an otherwise mediochre unit by throwing in a printer, wireless mouse etc).

I always tell people to do some research at 3 different types of venues (there's obviously more types than I've listed):

1. Big box stores (circuitcity etc.); huge volumes sold, prices usually very competitive. Don't expect much knowledge from staff though.. and followup support can be touch and go. Generally sell brand names and models that will sell quickly.

2. Online manufacturer/retailers (Dell etc.). Again huge volumes sold, so prices are extremely competitive. Opinions vary, although a lot depends on what you'll be using it for. Online support often quite good.

3. Local retailers (non large chain) - may sell brand names or unknown names. Prices often higher than others, support varies.

Get quotes from all these various sources and compare.. ask lots of questions. In short order you'll understand the specs and be able to see where the value lies. Remember that laptops are not as easy to repair as desktop PCs so a decent warranty may be a factor for you.
 
I really like Fujitsu laptops.. Check out their Ebay outlet store. It is run by Fujitsu.

Although some have not heard of them, Fujitsu laptops are some of the finest in the industry.. they have many models on Ebay that are under 1000 that would fit your needs and paramaters..

If i could have any laptop though it would be a Panasonic Toughbook.. WOW! 3k + pricetag..
 
Hey Karen,

Not sure what Dell has to offer in that range, but I can't complain with anything about them. Everyone I know before I bought this one all had Dells and they all recommended them to me as well.
 
Well, my suggestion would be for a "new" somewhat used laptop....the Panasonic Toughbook CF-M34.
I currently have a nearly 5 year old 1GHz lead weight that I use on chases, and it has worked well. But I am fond of older, smaller laptops that I have used years ago. That is where this tiny beast delivers. TINY screen (8.2") set at 800x600, but weighs 4lbs. and is waterproof, shockproof, and yes....bulletproof. A US soldier sitting in a Humvee had an AK round rip into the truck and lodge into the keyboard. He didn't get a scratch.

Here is the PM story:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology...rs/1279251.html

When my laptop konks out, I will be getting one of these babies on E-Bay.
 
If you really want to get a deal then get a Dell like this then pull the 512 mb of ram out of the dell and sell it on ebay as a "new pull" you can expect to get about $35 and use it towards purchasing (2) 1 gb ram sticks like this. Then pull your hard drive and sell it one ebay (expect about $75). Then purchase a new HD like this. You will then have a computer that most places would charge upwards of $1500k and you will be out of pocket about $850 after everything is shipped and installed. The best part is the Dell notebooks are extremely easy to pull the ram and drive and will take you less than 10 minutes to do both even if you have never worked on a computer. This is what your new notebook will look like.

If you wanted to you could call Dell and find out what the fastest processor the notebook will handle and then buy that processor on ebay for about $300 and you will have a notebook Dell would charge you $2500 or more for. Changing out the processor is a bit more tricky and I wouldn't suggest it but it is an option. I wish I had done this because the online stores like Dell don't make their money selling you the base model, they make bank on upgrading the Ram and hard drive for extremely high prices. They also have large markups on anything that can be "upgraded". Just on the ram and hard drive upgrades I listed above they are making over $500 in pure profit.
 
Hi, Karen. Here's the big secret to laptop purchasing: purchase a laptop a couple hundred dollars under your limit, then purchase a ton of RAM for it from another vendor. Make sure you have at least a gigabyte. It's a self-install type thing, but if you're afraid to do it, odds are someone you know can do it for you. The biggest current limiting factor to the speed of a computer, by far, is RAM until you get it up to 1GB. Most laptops don't come with anywhere near a gig of ram (usually 512MB or 256MB is the standard for the low end), and if you purchase more RAM from the place you're buying the laptop from, they'll charge you welllll over the going rate for that RAM. The difference between 512mb or RAM and 1GB of RAM is really night and day. If you can do more than 1GB of RAM, then go for it, though it's not as crucial unless you're going to be running memory hungry programs like Photoshop.

BTW, you might want to hold off until Microsoft releases their new OS. Once they do, all new computers will be bundled with it, and this OS is likely going to be the OS of the future when it comes to Microsoft, whereas XP will be the legacy OS that is always a step behind.
 
BTW, you might want to hold off until Microsoft releases their new OS. Once they do, all new computers will be bundled with it, and this OS is likely going to be the OS of the future when it comes to Microsoft, whereas XP will be the legacy OS that is always a step behind.[/b]

Last word on Vista (the new OS)is that it won't hit the streets until early 07. It's just going into a second phase of Beta testing now. Personally I don't get all hyped up about new M$ OS's when they hit the street... it sometimes is better to wait until all the bugs are shaken out before jumping in. Of course if you're buying something new at the time that changes things a bit.
 
NOT A MEDION! I have had the worst luck with this peice of crap, god news is that the next time it craps out Best Buy has to replace it with a new computer for the same price I paid for it, and the computer can be one of my choice.
 
Oh, and here is my WHAT NOT TO GET computer..........GATEWAY!! I have NOTHING but HORROR stories about them..........Everyone I know, including yours truly has had nothing but MAJOR problems with them.
 
Others have given votes for Dell, and I have to agree. I just got a new one for a graduation present, replete with internal WiFi, SD card reader, CD/DVD Burner, 50 gig HD, and 512 MB of RAM for 820 dollars with shipping included. I am very pleased with it so far, and I really like the widescreen setup and the SD slot is an absolute blessing! It's more than enough to run GRLevel3, iTunes, Excel and Weatherscope all at the same time with no delay, so I think it would be perfect for what you are looking for.
 
Wow - what a response! Thanks, everybody! :D

I figured the subject of "What Crappy Low-End Laptop To Get" would have been done over and over to death on here by now - so much so that everybody's sick of answering the same questions and dilemmas. But nope - I still got a buncha advice!

Yes, I must admit - albeit that Dell are the Wal-Mart of laptops......I am beginning to look to them more and more. They're a big company who specialize in the type of machine I'm looking for and they definitely have the warranty/after-sales that I'd be looking for with a new purchase. I did hear of a bad experience with a Dell laptop a couple of years ago - but the thing was second-hand, relatively old and had been messed around with a bit. Everything else I've heard about them has been good. I also like their online purchasing system and the way you can specify certain requirements/upgrades etc. It makes it much easier for the layman like me who just-wants-a-laptop. LOL.

Well - it's a bit ahead in the future but I DO like the look of that E1505 for the money. We'll see!

Thanks again guys! B)

Karen
 
Wow - what a response! Thanks, everybody! :D

I figured the subject of "What Crappy Low-End Laptop To Get" would have been done over and over to death on here by now - so much so that everybody's sick of answering the same questions and dilemmas. But nope - I still got a buncha advice!

Yes, I must admit - albeit that Dell are the Wal-Mart of laptops......I am beginning to look to them more and more. They're a big company who specialize in the type of machine I'm looking for and they definitely have the warranty/after-sales that I'd be looking for with a new purchase. I did hear of a bad experience with a Dell laptop a couple of years ago - but the thing was second-hand, relatively old and had been messed around with a bit. Everything else I've heard about them has been good. I also like their online purchasing system and the way you can specify certain requirements/upgrades etc. It makes it much easier for the layman like me who just-wants-a-laptop. LOL.

Well - it's a bit ahead in the future but I DO like the look of that E1505 for the money. We'll see!

Thanks again guys! B)

Karen
[/b]


Karen,

I think the best information resource out there about each manufacturer is a forum much like what we have here about weather, except its about notebooks.

It is called Notebook Forums.com *LINK*

If you find time, go there and read what others say about each manufacturer. It is pretty well stocked with many posters relating their experiences not only with the manufacturer, but each model.

It has hundreds and hundreds of user reviews. I feel it is the best resource to help a person decide on what kind of laptop is available at the price they want that has the fewest user problems. B)
 
Karen,

I like my Dell Inspiron 9300. Only problem for me is that it has a 17" screen....which isn't terribly good for chasing. I have also had good luck with the Inspiron 6000. Dell is pretty good on technical support, which I haven't had ANY problems since I have had my laptop (1 year +). If you want to go expensive....you could always buy an Alienware. :eek:
 
Been running the same Fujitsu now for almost five years ... it's taken a beating and a half and has never had a single problem. Two weeks after I got it I spilled coffee on the keys (with sugar) ... a couple of the keys still stick, but this thing is fantastic. I've never reformatted (though its probably time I do). Been a great machine. I'll definitely look for another one just like it.
 
I just bought a laptop from the Dell outlet online. I got a computer that was brand new and never used. Dell took $100 off the original price when I bought it. I just got it the other day. It works great. And it only cost me $600 that was with overnight shipping and a 1 year warranty purchase. It's a Inspiron B120, 512MB RAM, 40Gb hard drive and it came with a wireless card. My brother's computer has been malfunctioning the last few days and we decided we didn't want to risk our whole chase on whether or not his computer would power up, so we bought one. It's really a good computer. I don't know how much you like Dell, it's kind of the "user friendly" brand, but I have no complaints so far.

check it out!
http://www.dell.com/content/default.aspx?c...2&~bandwidth=NA
There are also some better equipped models that are just a little more expensive. Good luck finding the right computer.
 
Been running the same Fujitsu now for almost five years ... it's taken a beating and a half and has never had a single problem. Two weeks after I got it I spilled coffee on the keys (with sugar) ... a couple of the keys still stick, but this thing is fantastic. I've never reformatted (though its probably time I do). Been a great machine. I'll definitely look for another one just like it.
[/b]

I have the 7010d subnotebook.. Its really nice.. I concur on Fujitsu
 
About to buy a laptop from Dells outlet store but I know very little about Notebooks can anyone tell me how important and what the diffference in the wireless cards are, will a 1370 work for normal internet surfing or should I look for one with a better card??
 
You should get a 1337 wireless card :p lol, j/k

But seriously, ask c|net, they are usually very good at giving the right advice on questions like that. And what ever you do, don't go into a big box and ask them. They may look like they know something, but most of the time they are BSing you.

Here is the link to c|net's dell reviews: http://reviews.cnet.com/4511-5_7-4.html?qt...o=1&ds=1#seeAll

Hope that helps you make your choice.
 
My new computer has the 1370 in it, and it works just fine. It's an internal combo wireless-b/g. I wouldn't bother with the other ones because they are not worth it IMO.
 
Thanks; I just picked up a refurbished dell with DVD-RW, 80gb HD, 1gb Ram, 1370 wireless card, leather carrying case with a 15.4 screen for $569, total of $625 with tax and shipping from what I have seen you cant touch a computer with those specs for under $1000 in the stores. There are definetly some great deals on their outlet webpage I recommend checking it out I will let you know how mine works when I get it; thats the only downfall the estimated delivery time isnt until June 7.
 
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