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Thread: Buying a Laptop, any Tips?

  1. #16
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    If you're willing to consider Chromebooks then also consider a Mac. As the desktop support guy in my house my workload went down about 5x once I convinced my wife to switch. Now everything just works. The hardware has proven to be very robust with the introduction of SSDs; we have 3 MacBook Pros and a MacMini from 2011-2013 that leave nothing to be desired. Happy to not have to do weird dances to get printers to work or backup servers to connect properly and function. I do occasionally run a Windows instance on my Mac using VMWare for the occasional oddball program that won't run on the Mac side, but it's been many months since I needed to use it.

  2. #17
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    Vancouver Canada
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    I didn't want to advertise them, but since someone else touted theirs, I added a second Lenovo laptop to my arsenal. Lighted keyboard SSD drive, light, and like with my 5 YO Lenovo laptop, I can run a 24" screen off the video port.
    With this new one, I hook it to my Toshiba TV via the HDMI port, and can see things on a 43" screen.
    I was going to buy Dell, again, but the reviews were that the battery life was horrible.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  3. #18
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    Feb 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Joiner View Post
    Thanks. I'm happy with my current desktop. However it's 15 years old and I'd like a laptop for a spare and the portability.

    Lightable keyboard sounds great. I have to point a clip on lamp at my keyboard. Good sound and camera is a pulse. I really don't care much about weight or battery life.
    Any more laptop ideas? I'd prefer windows unless chromebook has advantages.
    15 years? Yeah, I'd say it's time to put the old girl out to pasture.

  4. #19
    I just got a Lenovo flex 15. I like it so far. Has a SSD instead of a hdd. It is a referbished model from MicroCenter. I wanted the SSD because my last laptop the hard drive failed just after a year.

  5. #20
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    Mar 2019
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    I just bought a new computer this month and am waiting for it to arrive any day.

    I am not a laptop fan, except when I travel, and then I only need the basics, to store photos, search the internet with a good wireless card, send emails, etc. So a good laptop choice would be a used laptop off Craigslist for under $400 with an i7 processor. That will be fine.

    For my money, put your dough into a decent desktop with a i9 processor and a 1tb SSD hard drive. That will be super fast. Use a network based NAS (Cat5) for either large storage needs or backup. If installing a NAS is too challenging then go with attached storage options like a WD My Book Duo which has either a USB-C or a Thunderbolt interface.

    A wireless keyboard and mouse is a nice touch.

    I happened to pick Dell, because my IT guy recommended it. The Dell outlet shop has a ton of returned computers for any price range, and I find you can save $200-$1,500 from the list price. The more expensive models have bigger savings. If you're not in a hurry, spend a month and check out the inventory--it changes daily. Another bonus is that the rig is ready to ship and you'll have it by the end of the week. The 24-7 warranty is a nice option, and they'll come out to your house and fix anything, after an online diagnostic check. For $200, its peace of mind for me.
    Regards,

    Tom

  6. #21
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    Our last several have been Asus, and we never had any trouble with any of them. They each lasted some years, until we just upgraded to faster, and faster ones with more storage. You can buy them direct from Asus online for very reasonable prices. I had used Asus motherboards for a couple of decades, and never had any trouble to amount to anything with them.

    They don't have the hard to get rid of bloatware that Dell did-not sure if that is still a problem with Dell.

  7. #22
    Another vote for Lenovo.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    Our last several have been Asus, and we never had any trouble with any of them. They each lasted some years, until we just upgraded to faster, and faster ones with more storage. You can buy them direct from Asus online for very reasonable prices. I had used Asus motherboards for a couple of decades, and never had any trouble to amount to anything with them.

    They don't have the hard to get rid of bloatware that Dell did-not sure if that is still a problem with Dell.
    Simple fix for pre-installed bloatware from Dell or anyone else. It's possible and not hard to download the appropriate Windows version directly from Microsoft. Install over the existing Windows and download any required drivers from the manufacturer. Some people remove the hard drive in case they need to return the machine under warranty and replace it with a higher capacity SSD. This of course presumes the hard drive is accessible.

  9. #24
    Join Date
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    You can get a very nice, refurbished, 15" Chromebook for well under $200. If you have solid internet speed and availability, and don't need to install Windows applications, it's the way to go. Brand new they are under $300. Pretty much bulletproof, low security risk, and highly capable for most things.

  10. #25
    I have 3 laptops. An HP that came with (still has) Vista. I have a Chinese Hasee that came with my first fiber laser, came with 32bit Win7 Ulitimate. My newest is another HP, old enough it was a win8 machine, a customer had the drive wiped and Win10 installed, then gave it to me towards payment on account (worst deal I ever got)...

    I hate the things. The keyboards suck. The first 2 have no keypads. Can't type for crap because my hand keeps bumping the touch pad, and I don't do 'crab' typing very well. The Vista is the only one I know how to turn OFF the touch pad. Using touchpads suck so I have to connect a mouse. The screens are too small. They're slow, although oddly enough, the Hasee is much faster than either HP. And the Win10 machine, never in my life have I been so disgusted with anything that cost more than $50 new. It is so ridiculously slow I have to wonder how anyone gets anything done using win10. Takes forever to boot. It takes nearly 4 minutes just to load TurboTax. Bump something with my hand or an errant finger while typing and and the screen goes crazy re-arranging task bar icons into large thumbs on the screen, where the hell did TurboTax go, and what did I touch?? I can't stand the thing. Seriously, I'd pay the shipping to give it away to someone except for (a) TurboTax only runs on Win10 these days, and (b) I dont' want to be responsible for driving anyone bat**** crazy!

    Seriously- I really don't know how anyone, at least someone like me who does a LOT of typing everyday, can use a laptop in daily use...
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  11. #26
    Andrew Joiner,

    If you're buying a laptop for Zoom, I suggest having one for which there is a "docking station" available. A docker is a box that the laptop sits on that instantly- you just set in into guide pins and lower it onto the connectors- connects the laptop to a full size desktop screen, keyboard, and mouse. I bought my first laptop two month ago, a used HP ZBook 17 G2 with a 17.3" screen, a NOS HP docking station for $60, and plugged in a couple of monitors I had around- HP 2711X (27"/ 1080P) and a 2007 Dell 17", Dell keyboard, mouse, and a 4TB external drive:


    P1060051.jpg

    The laptop is on the right sitting in the docking station.

    Here is the connection side of the docking station:

    P1060053.jpg

    It looks complicated, especially amidst extreme moving chaos, but that docking station is one of the few components I ever bought that I simply took out of the box and without instructions, just plugged everything in and it worked.

    For the external monitor, have a minimum 24", but as Zoom puts the participants into square viewports with borders, if there are ever more than four viewports open, have a 27" monitor so you can see them. For example:

    https://www.newegg.com/p/pl?N=100160...20&Order=PRICE

    Make sure that the screen mounting adjusts for height, tilts and swivels.

    As Mike Henderson mentioned, the laptop camera is sometimes placed on the laptop so that it produces a really good view of the inside of your nose. The older model HP ZBook has the camera on the upper screen bezel rail, but a lot of modern laptop screen have such small bezels, the camera is under the screen near the hinge point, hence the nose view. The current HP ZBook 17 G4 has that arrangement. Anyway, when using the docking station, the laptop is left closed (The station has an external on-off switch), so the laptop camera is not available. Place a good quality 1080P or better USB camera on the top of the external monitor. Logitech makes good ones. These have two microphones built in.

    https://www.newegg.com/p/pl?d=usb+ca...ame=Web%20Cams

    As for the specifics of the laptop, the choice depends on the range of tasks and base the purchase on the most demanding task. As I'm using 3D CAD, the HP I bought is oriented to that- a 4.0GHZ processor, and dedicated Quadro graphics card and fast Thunderbolt connectivity. However. for Zoom, streaming, text, and medium photo editing, writing, making pdf's etc., a modern laptop with integrated graphics will work and if using a docking station, the screen can be moderate size. Still, I'd suggest a 15".

    If you're using a 15-year-old computer, be aware that it's possible to buy a fairly recent workstation that is extremely competent and absolutely reliable for a very reasonable cost. Search Ebahhh "HP z420 Xeon E5-1650 v2". I've had three z420's and those have very high performance and 100% reliable.

    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...lete=1&_sop=15

    But, be careful to buy a system that is more or less ready to use if you're not used to upgrades, changing processors, adding memory, drives, etc. I bought a z420 for $136:

    HP z420_3: (Original) Xeon E5-1607 (4-core / 4 Thread @ 2.8GHz) / 4GB (1X 4GB DDR3-1866 ECC unbuffered / NVIDIA GeForce 7100 GS / WD Blue 500GB / 400W PSU > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (HP OEM)
    [Passmark System Rating: = 569 / CPU = 5492 / 2D = 538 / 3D = 60 / Mem = 1117 . Disk = 864 ] [Single Thread Mark = 1509] 9.27.17

    And after spending about $400:

    HP z420_3: (2015) (R11) Xeon E5-1650 v2 (6C@ 4.3GHz) / z420 Liquid cooling / 32GB DDR3-1866 ECC registered) / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB/ Samsung 860 EVO 500GB + HGST 4TB / ASUS Essence STX / Logitech z2300 2.1 / 600W PSU > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (HP OEM )

    [Passmark System Rating: = 5644 / CPU = 15293 / 2D = 847 / 3D = 10953 / Mem = 2997 Disk = 4858 /Single Thread Mark = 2384 [6.27.19]

    Computers are the bane of my existence, but necessary. I liken computers to extremely expensive hammers on which the head falls off after every fifth nail.

    Alan
    Last edited by Alan Caro; 05-30-2020 at 8:35 AM.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Harms View Post
    Simple fix for pre-installed bloatware from Dell or anyone else. It's possible and not hard to download the appropriate Windows version directly from Microsoft. Install over the existing Windows and download any required drivers from the manufacturer. Some people remove the hard drive in case they need to return the machine under warranty and replace it with a higher capacity SSD. This of course presumes the hard drive is accessible.
    I choose not to bother with a company that wants to keep their fingers in your computer. I know a friend that had a Dell, and couldn't even upgrade the BIOS, so one he bought with Windows 8 could not have the OS upgraded. No thanks.
    https://store.asus.com/us/category/laptops

  13. #28
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    SoCal
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    A camera for your existing desktop makes more sense for me. A laptop, like a smart phone, is a compromise. Retiring from nearly 40 years in I.T. I used a laptop when I had to and a phone when nothing else was available. A phone will suffice for Zoom almost as well as a laptop; both are undersized and awkward without external goodies.

    If you just want another computer, a laptop, docking station, keyboard, mouse, display, sound system and camera/microphone will get you there. You probably have most of this hooked up to the desktop you already have. Desktop-replacement scale laptops are a pain to me due to weight and size. Again, they are a compromise that are very handy when you can't get to a more suitable device. There are certainly some kick-butt laptops out there but again, you buy one of those when you have to be in the field. Opinions differ but, when I want compute functions and want to be comfortable, a portable device is not what I yearn for ;-)
    "The Danish government believes that if we train 5,000 designers, and produce
    one Hans Wegner, the money is very well spent." - Ole Gjerlov-Knudsen

  14. #29
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    Feb 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    .................................m,
    Seriously- I really don't know how anyone, at least someone like me who does a LOT of typing everyday, can use a laptop in daily use...
    If I were faced with that, a good USB keyboard. Some USB keyboards have USB ports to plug a pointing device in. If a docking station is available that'd be another option. Or a powered USB hub with all USB devices plugged into it. Few ways to defur that particular feline.

  15. #30
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    Apr 2017
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    If you've got poor eyesight, then there's nothing like a nice 27" monitor. I've got a 27" Dell on all 4 of my shop computers, plus one in the office. I've also got an original Gateway pc purchased over 20 years ago - upgraded to Windows 2000 back in 2005 or so. Still going strong.
    David
    Last edited by David Buchhauser; 05-31-2020 at 8:37 AM.

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