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Steve Schlumpf
04-18-2012, 7:01 PM
We are thinking about getting a laptop for the first time and honestly have no idea what to look for. So far we have had good luck with Dell for our desktops but my wife would like to start typing up family stories and yet have something portable so she can show photos to her aging sister. She really likes the 17" screens...

I personally want a laptop that will still be able to handle the internet in 5 years... so a fairly fast processor and memory would be important... to me!

Any suggestions?

Thanks!!

Brian Elfert
04-18-2012, 7:30 PM
A 17" laptop gets old if you have to move it around much. I like the Dell Latitude series of laptops personally. I got a Latitude E5520 last November and really like it. This is a business/corporate laptop and tends to last longer as they are a bit better built. I bought mine from the Dell Outlet when they had a coupon for something like 25% off.

Ed Aumiller
04-18-2012, 8:06 PM
If you have a flat screen on your desktop, your wife can use it with a laptop to show photos to her sister and you can go with a smaller screen on the laptop...
Recommend min of 15" screen though....

Chuck Wintle
04-18-2012, 8:08 PM
We are thinking about getting a laptop for the first time and honestly have no idea what to look for. So far we have had good luck with Dell for our desktops but my wife would like to start typing up family stories and yet have something portable so she can show photos to her aging sister. She really likes the 17" screens...

I personally want a laptop that will still be able to handle the internet in 5 years... so a fairly fast processor and memory would be important... to me!

Any suggestions?

Thanks!!

I would go with an Apple product personally as they are high in quality and the OS is fairly resistant to viruses. The problem is they are more expensive than the average laptop. I never understood why they don't become more competitive on price. That said maybe a Dell or a Lenovo with Windows 7 pro installed. And possibly with an upgrade coupon to windows 8.

Steve Schlumpf
04-18-2012, 8:22 PM
Thanks for the input everyone, I appreciate it! I should have mentioned that Colleen's sister is disabled and she wants to be able to share photos/movies with her... so that is why the 17" screen.... easier viewing.

Tim Boger
04-18-2012, 8:52 PM
Steve .... check out the ASUS K73SV-DH51 (http://www.amazon.com/K73SV-DH51-17-3-Inch-Versatile-Entertainment-Laptop/dp/B005PAJW68/ref=sr_1_8?m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1334792906&sr=1-8), We've had an ASUS with a slightly smaller screen size for 6 months without a hitch.

Tim

Pat Barry
04-18-2012, 8:56 PM
I have had good luck with Toshiba but would not recommend Lenovo. We use those at work and they are behind the times. The Toshiba's seem to be a good value price vs performance.

Paul McGaha
04-18-2012, 9:11 PM
I have a Toshiba laptop at home. Had it almost 2 years now and it's been perfect. We bought it at Costco.

My work computer is a Dell laptop that stays docked almost all the time. It's been fine also.

PHM

Jerome Stanek
04-19-2012, 7:13 AM
I have a Toshiba that is about 4 years pld and my wifes Toshiba is about 7 years

dennis thompson
04-19-2012, 7:41 AM
We have 3 Toshiba laptops & are happy with all of them, I think they are 15" screens.
The Toshiba Qosmio 775 (which appears to be the top of the line, or at least the most expensive at Costco & Best Buy, & has a 17" screen) is $1300 at Costco & $1673 at Best Buy (I'm not sure if they are exactly the same machine)
Dennis

Curt Harms
04-19-2012, 7:48 AM
17" to me is more luggable than portable but if you're not traveling with it much that might work fine. You should get a near-desktop keyboard & screen. Most of my laptops have been Thinkpads. There is or was a difference between Lenovos and Thinkpads with Thinkpads having a higher build quality. All my Thinkpads were manufacturered when IBM was still involved so I don't know about the current generation. I still use a 2002 vintage PIII Thinkpad R-31 with a light weight Linux distro (Lubuntu) on it. It works fine for web browsing, word processing etc. It does not run flash worth crap.

Matt Meiser
04-19-2012, 8:51 AM
Given your location it might be a little more difficult, but my recommendation on laptops is to go to the store and look. My old work laptop is a 19" and its heavy and huge. We get to choose from a couple choices and I went smaller on the second. The first, I bought from work for 10% of the original price and its my personal laptop now. Its now 5 years old and is still plenty for word processing, internet use, woodworking-sized Sketchup projects, iTunes, etc. My wifes HP which was a clearance special at Best Buy (during one of the periodic times where I give them another chance) is also still going strong. Its a 15" and much more manageable. Even the $300 Acer we bought my daughter at Wal-Mart is decent though I'd probably go slightly better next time.

Over the years I've had a Toshiba, a number of Dells, and 2 Thinkpads. All were fine except the Thinkpads. BOTH thinkpads, a few years apart just did wierd stuff. It took hours to get the wireless working on the one, finally fixed by uninstalling the IBM software that "managed" the card. That same one would randomly just freeze for 5s. Didn't matter what you were doing, just random 5s freezes.

Matt Meiser
04-19-2012, 8:52 AM
It does not run flash worth crap.

No worries there--Apple says Flash is dead so it must be so!

Phil Thien
04-19-2012, 9:51 AM
I believe many of the newer machines from HP, Toshiba, Sony, etc., are made by a common manufacturer (I'm thinking Foxconn, Acer, or Asus). Used to be, machines were designed here in the states (or IBM Japan, where the ThinkPads were designed, I believe), and then manufactured in China, etc. There were substantial differences from one brand, to another.

Now I think what is going on is Foxconn, Acer, and Asus are developing designs and shopping them to major manufacturers. So it isn't unusual for the same basic design to be marketing under multiple brands.

Also, I've seen an increase in the # of machines with hard drives that are not easily removed. Dell and some others have designs now where the hard drive is screwed to the motherboard. Seeing as the hard drive is about the most likely part to fail, this is unacceptable. So whatever you buy, I'd make sure you can easily get to the hard drive.

John Shuk
04-19-2012, 10:02 AM
I've been an Apple fan for some years now but when it was time to get a laptop I found the price gap far too extreme to be justified. I found a great deal on a Lenovo loaded with Windows 7 for $300. It is a pretty barebones system at that price but I don't need more than what I can do with this machine.
I connect laptops and tablets and just about any other device you can imagine up to the FIOS service I install every day. I see all of the different laptops out there. I can't overstate how much the Lenovo touchpad impresses me compared to most other machines I come across. The machine boots quickly, runs MS Office Professional flawlessly and surfs with no problems. Compare that to a $1200 Dell I had used for a little while that was running Vista. Wireless connection errors constantly, touchpad was only okay, and it was slower.
My 3 sons (11,9 and 6) use this to make Powerpoints watch youtube and play (gasp) flash games and it has never been broken or frozen one time in 8 or so months of use.
If I were buying another laptop today in any price range I would get a Lenovo based on a good experience.
I hope this helps.
PS. I am not running ANY antivirus software.

Brian Elfert
04-19-2012, 10:06 AM
The Mac is good if someone just starting with their first computer and doesn't have a lot of programs they need to transfer over. The main issue is the price. A 17" Mac laptop starts at $2,500. It is very well equipped and would last the average user for many years. If you already have a Windows PC and plan to move programs over to a new computer it is easier to stick with Windows.

Dave Lehnert
04-19-2012, 6:04 PM
I have never owned another brand computer other than Gateway (Now Acer I think) Two desk tops and one laptop (I am on right now) Have not had any problems outside what I would consider normal computer stuff. First desktop purchased in 1997. lasted till 2004 before running too slow to do anything online. Got another Gateway desktop and still use it today. Laptop was purchased around 2007 or 08.

Keith Outten
04-19-2012, 6:26 PM
Steve,

I can't give you any advice except to tell you that last year I bought an iMac. I recently got an iPad 3 and have had an iPhone for a couple of years. The next laptop we buy will be a Mac machine, the Acer laptops we purchased a couple of years ago aren't holding up well. In fact most of the more recent Windows machines that I am exposed to these days are not holding up well.

I still run a Windows XP machine in my shop, my CNC Router and Laser Engraver both ship with windows drivers and they use Windows software almost exclusively. I can run a duel boot Windows / Apple on an iMac but I haven't had the chance to try it yet. No doubt it will be the way I will go in the future.
.

Bob Lloyd
04-19-2012, 6:33 PM
I got a Toshiba Satellite and have never had an issue. I got a 17" screen; I wanted a larger screen for work and I use it to get all the soccer feeds from back in England. Works great for me.

Graham Wintersgill
04-19-2012, 6:43 PM
Steve

It may also be worth bearing in mind the set up at you sister in law's. My Mum's 18 month old Toshiba and my wife's 6 month old Sony both have HDMI outputs which allows us to connect them directly to our TV making laptop screen size irrelevant. The Mac book requires a DVI to HDMI cable and seperate audio lead but also works well. Not to get into the Mac v Wiindows debate here but what ever you look at find out how much to max out the memory, that is always the most effective upgrade and will give the laptop more 'headroom'

Regards

Jim O'Dell
04-19-2012, 9:27 PM
I'm really happy with my HP 15". They also make a 17" model. Lots of feature packages to choose from, including processors. I do like the screen on the Acer units. Seem to be much brighter/clearer. My HP has an almost matt type screen texture which is supposed to help with glare. I agree with going to look at some before you make your decision. Jim.

Larry Browning
04-19-2012, 11:52 PM
My take on this is that computers are getting to be more like a commodity. Like say oranges or apples(the fruit not the computer). Brand is sort of irrelevant. I say just go to wal-mart find one that has the features and price you are looking for, and buy it. Don't loose any sleep over it. Any new computer you can find on the shelf will provide you with many years of good service. They are ALL good.

Brian Elfert
04-20-2012, 12:08 AM
Not all of the laptops on the market will really last all that long as far as CPU power goes. The really low end laptops will have the cheap AMD processors. The cheap AMD processors barely benchmark any faster than the Pentium 4 processor in my 2006 desktop! The Core i5 processor in my new laptop benchmarks about five times faster than the cheap AMD processors. The average computer user will probably be fine with a Core i3 processor. I got an i5 so my computer would last a little longer.

Kevin W Johnson
04-20-2012, 2:34 AM
The Mac is good if someone just starting with their first computer and doesn't have a lot of programs they need to transfer over. The main issue is the price. A 17" Mac laptop starts at $2,500. It is very well equipped and would last the average user for many years. If you already have a Windows PC and plan to move programs over to a new computer it is easier to stick with Windows.

With a $2500 entry price, I wouldn't even give Mac a second thought. One could simply buy a $500 Windows machine every 5 years and have 25 years worth of tech for the same money. I don't see anyone hanging on to the Mac long enough to justify the cost.

They all have one thing in common anyways. They're built by and or supplied components from the lowest bidder. Add in RoHS, and it's even worse for the expected longevity of electronics.

Curt Harms
04-20-2012, 7:45 AM
I believe many of the newer machines from HP, Toshiba, Sony, etc., are made by a common manufacturer (I'm thinking Foxconn, Acer, or Asus). Used to be, machines were designed here in the states (or IBM Japan, where the ThinkPads were designed, I believe), and then manufactured in China, etc. There were substantial differences from one brand, to another.

Now I think what is going on is Foxconn, Acer, and Asus are developing designs and shopping them to major manufacturers. So it isn't unusual for the same basic design to be marketing under multiple brands.

Also, I've seen an increase in the # of machines with hard drives that are not easily removed. Dell and some others have designs now where the hard drive is screwed to the motherboard. Seeing as the hard drive is about the most likely part to fail, this is unacceptable. So whatever you buy, I'd make sure you can easily get to the hard drive.

The EeePC's are sort of like that. The H.D. isn't screwed to the motherboard but required major surgery to access it.

Brian Elfert
04-20-2012, 8:14 AM
With a $2500 entry price, I wouldn't even give Mac a second thought. One could simply buy a $500 Windows machine every 5 years and have 25 years worth of tech for the same money. I don't see anyone hanging on to the Mac long enough to justify the cost.


I wasn't recommending anyone pay $2500 for a Mac. I was pointing out how ridiculously expensive they are. I use Windows PCs and I do not have a Mac.

Bill ThompsonNM
04-20-2012, 8:24 AM
With a $2500 entry price, I wouldn't even give Mac a second thought. One could simply buy a $500 Windows machine every 5 years and have 25 years worth of tech for the same money. I don't see anyone hanging on to the Mac long enough to justify the cost.

They all have one thing in common anyways to . They're built by and or supplied components from the lowest bidder. Add in RoHS, and it's even worse for the expected longevity of electronics.
$2500 sounds like a lot, but the comparable Dell machine, the M6600 starts at $2500 also and has options up into the$7000 range. You can't compare prices on machines with completely different specs. In the past year I've purchased a Dell laptop and a Mac airbook and like them both. There are gloatable deals at the Dell outlet store, but it takes some time to compare the bewildering number of models.

Bill ThompsonNM
04-20-2012, 8:29 AM
Out of about 10 laptops I've owned most of the problems I've had have been with drive failures. If you want a long lived notebook consider getting a solid state drive. You won't get as much space but should get plenty enough for everything but storing videos. They help the performance and decrease the wait while booting a lot!

Steve Schlumpf
04-20-2012, 8:42 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!

Brian - the processor is what I am most concerned with and for the same reasons you listed... so the unit can last a little longer.
Larry - you bring up a valid point that most all computers on the market today are pretty good. Just having my wife try a few out - Walmart, Officemax, etc - will tell us a lot. As long as it has memory, a good processor and is comfortable for her to type/view... that's good enough for me.

Appreciate everyone taking the time to offer suggestions! Not sure when we will get the chance to head to town and look at computers but if/when we pick something up, I'll let everyone know.

David Weaver
04-20-2012, 9:48 AM
You can spend as much as you want. I gave up buying expensive machines a while ago because the price never makes sense in a longer scheme.

5 years ago, I bought an HP DV7 format laptop (17"). They are hulky, but if you're not traveling on business a lot, it's no big deal. It cost me $600 with 4 gb of memory back then, and a dual core AMD processor. I think chasing high processor speed is a waste of money, everything is finite with computers, just my opinion. I could easily buy two laptops for what a lot of people pay for 1, and certainly at 5 years+ per PC, my second PC will be faster than a single "better at first" PC for years 5-10.

The HP we use is getting a bit long in the tooth now, but it still works fine, and the only problem I've had with it was something any woodworker could solve - the socket that the charger plugs into became a little loose, mostly because my very young daughter as soon as she learned to walk took to tugging at the power cord. I glued it a year ago, no problems since.

Apple is off their rocker on price (in my opinion - pretty much on everything they sell), and I am by no means a "poor" fellow. I just don't agree with throwing money at people unless they have a really convincing reason for it, and keeping a platform exclusive to jack up prices isn't a good reason to me. When the DV7 poops out, I will probably just get another one.
I have a relative who also bought a DV7 at the same time I did, he's also still using his, except he uses it for work all day. Mine probably only gets 3 hours of use time a day, or maybe a little more between my wife and I. I'd consider that a lot of use, but we no longer watch TV. My mother also got the same computer at the same time. She managed to allow her dogs to extract keys from the keyboard permanently by leaving the computer on a chair that the dogs jumped on and ran across (my parents can't keep anything nice for long, it's sort of a natural skill they have).

All of us have had longevity issues with the power supply cord - I'd say they last about 12-18 months before the computer rejects them (HP branded or otherwise doesn't seem to make a difference), but they cost $7 each, so that's not really much of an issue.

In my view, 95% of very nice costs 1/2 to 1/3rd as much as 100% of very nice. I'll keep my money for other things.

Kevin W Johnson
04-20-2012, 2:09 PM
I wasn't recommending anyone pay $2500 for a Mac. I was pointing out how ridiculously expensive they are. I use Windows PCs and I do not have a Mac.

I wasn't impling you were, just expanding on how crazy expensive they are in comparison ;)

Kevin W Johnson
04-20-2012, 2:12 PM
You can spend as much as you want. I gave up buying expensive machines a while ago because the price never makes sense in a longer scheme.

5 years ago, I bought an HP DV7 format laptop (17"). They are hulky, but if you're not traveling on business a lot, it's no big deal. It cost me $600 with 4 gb of memory back then, and a dual core AMD processor. I think chasing high processor speed is a waste of money, everything is finite with computers, just my opinion. I could easily buy two laptops for what a lot of people pay for 1, and certainly at 5 years+ per PC, my second PC will be faster than a single "better at first" PC for years 5-10.

The HP we use is getting a bit long in the tooth now, but it still works fine, and the only problem I've had with it was something any woodworker could solve - the socket that the charger plugs into became a little loose, mostly because my very young daughter as soon as she learned to walk took to tugging at the power cord. I glued it a year ago, no problems since.

Apple is off their rocker on price (in my opinion - pretty much on everything they sell), and I am by no means a "poor" fellow. I just don't agree with throwing money at people unless they have a really convincing reason for it, and keeping a platform exclusive to jack up prices isn't a good reason to me. When the DV7 poops out, I will probably just get another one.
I have a relative who also bought a DV7 at the same time I did, he's also still using his, except he uses it for work all day. Mine probably only gets 3 hours of use time a day, or maybe a little more between my wife and I. I'd consider that a lot of use, but we no longer watch TV. My mother also got the same computer at the same time. She managed to allow her dogs to extract keys from the keyboard permanently by leaving the computer on a chair that the dogs jumped on and ran across (my parents can't keep anything nice for long, it's sort of a natural skill they have).

All of us have had longevity issues with the power supply cord - I'd say they last about 12-18 months before the computer rejects them (HP branded or otherwise doesn't seem to make a difference), but they cost $7 each, so that's not really much of an issue.

In my view, 95% of very nice costs 1/2 to 1/3rd as much as 100% of very nice. I'll keep my money for other things.

It's not just HP's power adapters. It's the number one replacement item, as can be the power jack on the laptop that it plugs into, followed by keyboards. The adapter and the power jack both take a lot of abuse if the laptop is moved around much.

Steve Meliza
04-20-2012, 2:19 PM
I've never owned a Toshiba laptop, but I have worked with people that did and the rest of us always gave them a bad time about how it sounded like a jet engine when the fans were on. One fella even had a separate platform with fans it in that he would set his laptop on to keep it from overheating. This seems contrary to what others have posted here, but since that is what I saw you can be sure I'll never buy a Toshiba.

I've had an HP laptop at work that I couldn't wait to get rid of. It just wasn't very mechanically sound and there were tons of issues related to docking and un-docking that was a huge pain. My wife had an HP laptop that was about 5 years old and one day it just turned off while she was using it and wouldn't turn back on.

I jumped at the opportunity to get a Lenovo as a replacement for my work laptop as I find them well suited for work use. I doubt I would ever get a Lenovo for personal use though.

My Dell laptop is 6 years old and still chugging along fine with Linux, but does a face plant with the same WinXP that it was shipped with. Can't blame the laptop for that, it's bloating of the OS and software over the years that has done it. After a year of ownership I upgraded the RAM as it had become dirt cheap and a few years later dropped in a much larger hard drive. At about the 5 year point I replaced the battery with a $35 aftermarket one and just recently have been having to repair the cords on the power supplies. This is a laptop that is usually running 24/7 and gets used every day. For the first 3 years it traveled to and from my office every day in a backpack. If I was to be looking for a replacement I would probably get a Dell with the fastest hardware that I could afford, focusing first on the CPU and video as those can't be upgraded later, and upgrading the RAM and adding a solid state drive if the budget allowed it. If I didn't get a Dell then it would be because I got a...

MacBook. I've never owned one, but when the wife's HP died we went to the Apple store and came home with a 13" MacBook Air. She really likes it and it works well for her purposes. Thanks to the solid state drive it starts up very quickly and goes into and comes out of sleep in just a second or two. Nothing opens your eyes quite like seeing someone reach over and grab their laptop that is powered down, flip open the lid, and start typing immediately. Now that I have a time capsule providing our wireless I don't have to worry about backing up her data and have even used it once to restore a document that she messed up and was unable to undo the changes to it. If I had to describe her laptop in one sentence it would be "It just works." The price is a big issue for me on the bigger MacBook laptops, but if they come out in a smaller form factor and with Intel Sandybridge processors at the end of April as rumored then they just might win me over.

Brian Elfert
04-20-2012, 2:26 PM
$2500 sounds like a lot, but the comparable Dell machine, the M6600 starts at $2500 also and has options up into the$7000 range. You can't compare prices on machines with completely different specs. In the past year I've purchased a Dell laptop and a Mac airbook and like them both. There are gloatable deals at the Dell outlet store, but it takes some time to compare the bewildering number of models.

Apple has no options for a 17" display besides a $2,500 model. Windows 17" laptops can be purchased for around $600. Certainly the CPU and other specs won't be the same, but if your main criteria is the 17" screen then you have no other choice with Apple.

Brian Elfert
04-20-2012, 2:29 PM
The Dell I bought in November I immediately upgraded to an 80GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. The SSD and RAM were less than $150. Very fast machine and the battery meter shows over 9 hours although I have my doubts on the battery lasting 9 hours.

Steve Schlumpf
04-28-2012, 7:34 PM
Wanted to thank everyone for their input - it sure helped. I said I would update this once we made a purchase... and today we picked up a Toshiba Satellite P755-S5387 (http://www.officemax.com/technology/computers/laptop-computers/product-prod3610058?history=wnm3tyqo%7CcategoryId%7E10004% 5EcategoryName%7ETechnology%5EparentCategoryID%7Ec ategory_root@g6u38zgr%7CcategoryId%7E283%5Ecategor yName%7EComputers%5EparentCategoryID%7Ecat_10004@o x8fxmbt%7CcategoryId%7E325%5EcategoryName%7ELaptop +Computers%5EparentCategoryID%7Ecat_283@zqk716fn%7 CprodPage%7E15%5Erefine%7E1%5Eregion%7E1@a6ont0xx% 7CrefineName%7EBrand%5EprodPage%7E15%5Erefine%7E1% 5Esub_attr_name%7E1%5Eregion%7E1%5ErefineValue%7ET oshiba) Laptop from Officemax. Colleen has really enjoyed the laptop so far but that mouse thing sure is a little different than the desktops we are used to!

Once again - Thanks to everyone for voicing their suggestions! I am sure Colleen will be very happy with her new laptop!

Matt Meiser
04-28-2012, 7:38 PM
I carry a real mouse with me even when I travel.

Dave Lehnert
04-28-2012, 8:07 PM
I also use a wireless mouse with my laptop. Target always seems to have a good sale on them.

Steve Schlumpf
04-28-2012, 9:05 PM
Thanks guys! I will check into that option!

Curt Harms
04-29-2012, 10:07 AM
I think you'll be happy with your Toshiba. They've have a pretty good rep for durability I believe.

Matt Meiser
04-29-2012, 10:40 AM
Target

Probably the same one I have for my personal laptop. We've gotten some at Costco too that are really nice for in the $35 range. Make sure you get one with the "Nano" receiver that you can just leave plugged into a USB port full time.