Laptop advice

I need to get a laptop for school. (I’m going back to college this fall) I’ve never owned one before so really am not sure what to ask. I wouldn’t mind a system that could I could play games on, being able to get into LOTRO would be cool but isn’t an absolute neccesity. I don’t want to spend a fortune, but could go $1000 or so.

What would dopers suggest I look for?

I just bought a Macbook 2.4ghz for $1,200 (not including tax) – however, you can grab a 2.1ghz for just $1,099.00 (or $999 after your student rebate).

I never used a mac before this computer, and I can honestly say I’ll never go back. The battery life is at the top of its class and the UI is excellent. I can’t recomend it enough.

Though if you want a laptop for gaming, you’d best be off with a PC.

So your dollar limit is $1,000, eh?

Any other restrictions? Hard disk size, RAM, CPU speed?

FWIW, I bought three Lenovo IdeaPad Y510s during the Memorial Day weekend sale. While they come with Windows Vista Home Premium, I uninstalled Vista and installed WinXP Pro instead. (The official Lenovo Forums have great instructions on how to do this. I did keep the One Recovery Tool in place so I can revert to Vista at any time.)

I was considering a Dell Vostro at the time. If you consider Dell, do not buy a home laptop from them. Buy a business class machine. And if you consider Dell, play with all the different cofigurations for the machine you may have in mind. Do not take their configuration plan at face value because you can sometimes build a Dell machine on their web site that’s less cost than if you take their suggestions directly.

I never seriously considered HP, Sony, Toshiba or a Mac (can one ever take a Mac seriously? :stuck_out_tongue: ). One has to be careful with HP laptops in that you might get a rebadged Compaq. As for the remaining two, I’ve never liked Sony (full of baloney) nor I will I ever buy anything from Toshiba.

There’s a 99% chance I would go PC anyway. I’ve never used a Mac and have no desire to learn a new system. But I’ll look at it anyway to compare.

It’s not so much a limit as a general idea of what I want to spend. Basically I want something that will do what I need but I don’t want a $2,500 machine.

Now those look interesting and a decent price too. How have they worked for you? Any major issues?

I’ve bought Dell desktops and liked them, so that’s a good thought as well. Thanks.

I just picked up a Toshiba satellite P305-S8820. I love it. 17 inch. It was on clearance at Office Depot for $799. I’m not a gamer so I don’t know how good it would be for games. But, everything else is perfect and it has the best keyboard I’ve every typed on.

I got a nice 15" widescreen Lenovo ThinkPad from last December for $585. I really like it a lot.

You could check out what kind of goodies they have now. (I couldn’t believe it – a new ThinkPad for less than $600??)

To further the MacBook idea, as a student you can get a free ipod touch if you buy a laptop (and that’s on top of the student discount)

There’s not much too learn – it’s pretty intuitive. Sure, there’s a few things that might throw you for a loop, but by and large, it’s pretty easy (and worth it, imo). At least check it out before you dismiss it altogether.

That is plenty of budget, especially if you hold out for a good sale.

One word of advice specific to laptops/notebooks: all else being equal, Smaller+lighter=better. With a small notebook, you will sometimes wish for a larger display. With a 17" desktop replacement machine, you will curse the weight and bulk every single time you lift it, and you will often choose to leave it behind.

Get an R series Thinkpad or a Dell Latitude.

The Thinkpad will take more abuse, but the Dell will have slightly better specs.

When you’ve got some more cash to play around with, grab a docking station for either and plug in the keyboard, monitor, and mouse of your choice.

I’ve got a 17" Dell Vostro with most of my desired bells and whistles (320GB HD, 2GB RAM, Bluetooth, DVD writer) for $600 at the Dell outlet store. It’s a fine machine, only not really luggable anywhere (I’ve got an ASUS pceee for that).

I think I’m going with the Dell Studio 15. It’s $910.78 including tax. (free shipping)

here are the specs…

Module Description Description Product Code & SKU Product Code & SKU
Studio 15 Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5850 (2.16GHz/667Mhz FSB/2MB cache) MH585HN [223-9780]
Operating System Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1 VHP31E [330-0495][420-5769][420-6436][420-7622][420-8223][420-8566][420-9100][463-2282]
System Color Option Jet Black BKBK [320-6865]
Memory 3GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 3G2D [311-8611]
Built-in Keyboard Options Back-lit Keyboard BCKLIT [330-0498]
LCD Panel Glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display (1280x800) DXGAT [320-6867]
Video Card 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450 ATI3450 [320-6516]
Hard Drive Size: 320GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM) 320GB [341-6693]
Adobe Software Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 8.1 ADOBER [420-7468]
Combo or DVD+RW Drive 8X Slot Load CD / DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive) 8XDVDRW [313-6229][330-0496][420-8183]
Sound Card High Definition Audio 2.0 IS [313-4783]
Wireless Networking Cards Dell 1397 Wireless-G Card DW1397 [430-2929]
Camera Module Integrated 2.0M Pixel Webcam DCAM [320-6653]
Office Productivity Software (Pre-Installed) No Productivity software pre-installed MSONO [412-1397]
Anti-Virus/Security Suite (Pre-installed) No Security NOAV [461-8389]
Battery Options 56 Whr Lithium Ion Battery (6 cell) 6BAT [312-0694]
Hardware Support Services 1Yr Ltd HW WRTY, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis, 24x7 Phone Support S1OS [412-0360][950-3337][950-9797][960-2780][988-3950][990-5827]
Dial-Up Internet Access No ISP requested NISP [412-0148]
Finger Print Reader Module Integrated Finger Print Reader FPRDR [313-6224][420-8312]
Bluetooth Option Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth Internal (2.0) TM370I [430-2933]
Bluetooth Option Dell Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Bundle BTHWKM [310-8691]
LCD and Camera Glossy, widescreen 15.4 LCD (1280x800) w/ 2.0M pixel Camera TCXGAT [320-6878][420-8310]
Processor Branding Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor IC2DNB [330-0717]
Labels Windows Vista™ Premium VPN [310-8628]
Datasafe Included 3 GB DataSafe Online Backup for 1Yr
Sound decent?

Personally I’d avoid Dell.

I’ve always recommended Apple first, but some people don’t want to change, in that case I recommend ThinkPad. They’re the best in the Windows world, I think.

While the experts are around, could I ask for some laptop advice too? I’m a gamer, so while it probably isn’t possible I’m wondering if anyone has recommendations for a decent gaming laptop for < $1,400 ?

I’ve had company issued Dell Laptops for about the past 6 years.

I’ve never had a problem with them.

Get a good tough bag to carry it around in, though. Abuse is no friend to laptops.

I checked out the apple store and everything was quite a bit more expensive with what looked like lesser features. I’ve been looking at thinkpad, but for a similar price as the dell the features aren’t as good. (A lot less memory, tiny hard drive etc)

Can you recommend a configuration in a thinkpad or apple that will have as good of specs for a similar price?