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Kochers

Laptop Advice

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So, I'm asking for a laptop for Christmas. My computer has been with me since 2002, with various additions throughout the years. My motherboard/CPU is the only original part remaining. So, suffice it to say that, its time for a new computer. After I did some research, I found this laptop at Best Buy. Its a Toshiba, with everything I wanted. I was hoping some more techy people could give me some advice on the laptop and computer hunting in general. What say you?

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It would help if you gave some specifics as to what you would be doing with it :)

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Nothing too hard core. Mt biggest (only) games would be The Sims and Civilization 4. Otherwise, most of my activity will be Internet-based, with a lot of multi-tasking. Besides the games I mentioned, I don't do anything that my current computer can't do, so I doubt its CPU's full power will be used.

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It's just that the only issue with this laptop is that it doesn't have a dedicated video card, so if you want to play games which require high power on the video card then you're pretty screwed. Plus the RAM in this is old... DDR3 is the new standard and you'd probably want to go straight for 4GB RAM so you don't have to upgrade later.

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I'd say avoid buying a laptop unless absolutely, totally necessary ^_^

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Toshiba is terrible. Well, it might have been my particular model. There was a class action lawsuit against Toshiba because the damn thing continually got wires disconnected inside. I have a Dell Studio right now. You want something with lots and lots of DDR3 RAM to help with the multitasking.

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Guest Francium

I've never had a good experience with Toshiba, nor has anyone I know. I'd also stay away from the cheaper HP laptop models, because they really do just fall to pieces.

 

 

I won't add any tech advice because everyone has covered it. The thing is that modern laptops (although they look better/ have better hardware) they are made as cheaply as possible and won't last more than three years at a stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

Regards,

 

 

Francium.

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The laptop you're linking would be pretty good for what you want to do with it.

The gfx card will be more than enough for civ4 and the sims. However, remember that you wont be able to run intensive 3d apps like more recent games. This does, however, still leave you a lot of room to maneuver in. if you want the laptop to last, going for an integrated card like that, and not a true 3d card like an Nvidia or an Ati is a smart choice. 4GB for some multi-tasking will also be more than enough in the foreseeable future. Even if it's only DDR2 memory.

 

DDR3 allows double the amount of data transferred at once and features a 30% decrease in power consumption. Since memory never was the biggest power-hog, this will only marginally affect your battery life. also, the extra speed wont benefit you much unless you need to process large amounts of data, or large files.

In short: useful for people doing graphical work, but not noticeable for the casual user like you are.

 

I must get in line about Toshiba having dropped from grace, however. For a long time, they were known for robust machines, but this has degraded in recent years. One such issue was the problem with the machines distributed at the University of Eindhoven which eventually had to be settled in court, iirc. We were seeing like 30% to 40% of the machines showing serious problems within the first year, but this was back in the fall/winter of 2003 and I don't remember the exact specifics anymore, only that the numbers were several times what we were used to seeing, which isn't a good sign when you consider this was concerning a batch of about 800+ laptops.

 

IBM is still renowned for "you can drop them from 1 or 2 stories up and it will still work" or something like that. Recently, I have heard that Samsung is pretty good as well. This happened only after I bought a Samsung laptop, myself, though, and I must say that it indeed features above-average battery life. I cannot say anything about how robust the device is, though, since I only bought it back at the start of March.

My NEC laptop lasted from 2003 to 2009, dunno how broke it is since i wasn't the one to break it, but my sis says it no longer works. figures it gives out only a couple of months after handing it to someone else.

 

tl;dr

  • Toshiba: heard bad things about recently. no longer considered a 'good' brand.
  • The laptop's specs are good for what you are planning to do with it.
  • In fact, if you don't wanna use graphically intensive applications, you should avoid grabbing a true 3D card. They will fail earlier and more often, but you could still have other parts giving out before the GFX card, regardless.
  • DDR3 can be considered, but is not necessary for you. All it means for you is a minuscule drop in power-consumption
  • The amount of RAM, 4GB, is fine for whatever suits your needs. REMEMBER, having more than 3GB is pointless if your Operating System is merely 32bit and not 64bit (when you're looking at other machines).

Hope this helps you.

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Thanks everyone who responded. I got to read the latest edition of Consumer Reports that came out today, and this laptop was ranked 3rd (They were divided up by screen size). The 1st and 2nd place runners were from Apple and Sony (I think) and were both well over 1,000 dollars. Consumer Reports also listed Toshiba as the laptop brand lest prone to laptop repairs (It ranked a 16, with the worst a 21). I, too, have heard bad things about Toshiba in the past, but the brand was actually recommended to me by a friend who is a heavy gamer.

 

MAD Pirates, I had actually just learned of the fact about 3gb RAM and 64-bit vs. 32-bit machines. This laptops a 64-bit running Windows 7 Home Premium, so I feel pretty good about that.

 

Francium, I too have had a bad HP experience (my mom's first computer was an HP running ME. Even after we upgraded to XP, it was still worse then my computer, which was running XP and was a bare-bones computer from TigerDirect). I know I won't be getting an HP computer unless I start hearing REALLY good things about them.

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Francium, I too have had a bad HP experience (my mom's first computer was an HP running ME. Even after we upgraded to XP, it was still worse then my computer, which was running XP and was a bare-bones computer from TigerDirect). I know I won't be getting an HP computer unless I start hearing REALLY good things about them.

 

We have had bad experiences, too, with HP.

 

We bought four high-end 17" laptops from them (pretty much replacement desktop). Mine, which probably got used the most, broke recently and I have now converted to MAC (and I must say that my MAC experience has been flawless).

 

Out of the four, here is how it stands.

 

- The video card on my one (GeForce Go 7600) decided to break, and because it is mounted onto the motherboard it would result in a costly repair.

- The left side of the screen on my mum's laptop is actually split, so she can't close the lid any more (not so bad, considering it is literally a desktop replacement for her :P).

- My brother somehow managed to delete his OS (he knows how to use a computer, that is it).

- My sister is continuing use with extreme caution after some lights on the "Quickbar" (or whatever they call the media player buttons on the keyboard) stopped working.

 

For all of them: the battery life has been TERRIBLE, lasting no longer than one hour in most cases.

 

I must admit though, because they were desktop replacements they sucked more juice out of the battery.

 

They were also heavy bricks. I had to move my old one that I keep lying around the other day, and I must say that after having used my MAC for a few months, I almost dropped it because I wasn't used to the weight any more :P.

 

That's all for my HP experience ;)

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Nice post, mkor.

 

I can't say I've used "Consumer Reports" before, but I think you should be wary of articles by review magazines. All they're generally interested in is getting people to read their articles. (I see it says Consumer Reports are nonprofit, mind you.)

 

Are you going to be using the laptop away from home/a power supply a lot? What kinda situations are you gonna be using it in?

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Nice post, mkor.

 

I can't say I've used "Consumer Reports" before, but I think you should be wary of articles by review magazines. All they're generally interested in is getting people to read their articles. (I see it says Consumer Reports are nonprofit, mind you.)

 

Are you going to be using the laptop away from home/a power supply a lot? What kinda situations are you gonna be using it in?

 

I must say, Consumer Reports is held in high regard over here in the States. Their reviews of car brands make the nightly news. My uncle (he works for Verizon Wireless as one of their higher-level tech guys) also cites them as a good review of computers.

 

Most of the time I'll be using it at home, though part of the reason I want to get a laptop is for its mobility. Most of the time I'll just be sitting on my couch or in my room, outside on my porch, etc. (we have a nicer-end Netgear Wireless-N Router)

 

(Verizon Wireless is the biggest cellphone company in America, for those who don't know :))

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Well, my comment about the memory was merely for if you didn't know yet AND would be looking at another one. I can say, though, that I've been able to use my laptop for roughly 3 hours (of playing zSNES, which is CPU-intensive, though not GFX-intensive) on battery-power a mere 2 weeks ago, and it's seen some heavy battery-usage! on average, 1,5 battery drains every week.

Well, I can say my university was pretty happy with Toshiba UNTIL that 2002/2003 year. They said that a fabrication error caused a greatly increased risk of the GFX "card" (chip- and display- connection) to let loose in the next year, let alone the next 3 years. This in itself was bad and costly enough, but to top it off, Toshiba refused to adequately consider the problems, in stead stating nothing was wrong. So, though they may make better laptops than average, if something is wrong, prepare to have to fight.

 

On the other hand, this is one of those non-dedicated GFX chips and they are supposed to last longer...

And the 500GB will last most people QUITE some time :)

 

 

What I can truly recommend, though, is that before you start using it, you "prepare" your laptop FIRST:

That is to say, first, uninstall all the software you WON'T need. Microsoft Works and Norton Internet Security Trial are the 2 most common examples, but not the only ones by far.

Next up, fix the laptop's partitioning scheme.I'd recommend limiting win7 to 50GB, but most likely you wont be able to get away with less than 100 GB or so. create 1 or 2 additional data-partitions, more or less equally sized.

another nice extra step is the disabling of windows' Indexing Service. unless you often search, you dont need to index your files, so turn it off (is a bit harder nowadays).

this may or may not be followed by an extra harddisk cleaning and defragmenting step (of c:).

Then, proceed to configure the SWAP-file to no longer be resized. 2-3GB is more than you'll ever need, so set both the *minimum* and *maximum* to the same number, 2048 MB, or maybe even 2560/3072MB.

 

After the restart due to this, its finally time to install what you want :)

Most programs, including Civ4, may just as well be placed on a non-os partition, since almost all programs dont need to be installed before use. you can move it from a partition on your current pc and then use it.

And don't risk having to reinstall them when something fecks up your C:.

 

Anyways, good luck with your new laptop :)

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Just an addition to the "preparation" of your laptop before you use it.

 

Apple advises its customers to "calibrate" their battery.

 

This might be common sense, but it happens all the time where people forget to do it.

 

-> Calibrating involves first charging your laptop FULLY, without first turning it on.

 

-> Then you discharge your battery until the laptop turns itself off/hibernates (you can use it during this time).

 

-> Then you charge it up again and you should be kicking. This also ensures that the "time remaining" is nicely accurate.

 

-> If you plan on using it plugged in, then you should, ideally, perform this operation once per month.

 

-> However, if you generally use it on battery where you discharge it significantly, you probably don't need to do this (but it really takes little effort to do it once per month anyway).

 

Also, another note. Set up your power saving settings to your liking so you get the maximum life out of your battery.

 

If you're not using your laptop/battery for an extended period of time, as a general rule you should store it at about 50% charge for it to remain healthy.

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Guest cadieness

wow, i should come to you guys around christmas when i'm (supposedly) getting my laptop! xD

  • Upvote 1

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oops, didn't realize i wasn't signed in >_>

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I have to ask, is there any reason you actually need a laptop? And what are the specific reasons you would need one for?

 

 

I have a nice setup right now in which I have my desktop I built for about $1k, and a netbook I bought for $300. The netbook has a longer battery life than any laptop out there, and does anything I would require from a mobile PC. My desktop is what I do my power computing/gaming on, and it does it better than any laptop on the market. Overall it is a much better value than any $1.3k laptop. I would suggest buying/building a nice desktop, and if you find you actually need a mobile PC, get a netbook later. They are very, very cheap. But if you absolutely need a full sized laptop for whatever reason, I would suggest going with a Thinkpad.

 

Also, Fox, all laptop batteries are LithiumIon and the methods you are talking about seem to be geared towards Nickel-Cadmium and Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries. You don't really ever need to discharge your battery and storing a full charge doesn't negatively effect it.

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Well, if you click on the link, Best Buy has now upped the price from $629 to $899. Suffice to say, I'm pretty pissed off. $629 was a stretch but there is no way I'm going to spend $899 for it. So now, with just 12 hours before a lot of Black Friday deals start, I have to scramble and find a new laptop. Lesson learned, I'm never trusting Best Buy again.

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I'd highly recommend what Rajin said. That is precisely the advice I give out to people.

 

A friend of mine spent £1,300 on a laptop recently. My £600 desktop is far more powerful, and £300 will get me a mid-top range netbook (which'll still be faster than a lot of laptops). What's more, even with only limited technical capability, you can take control of your desktop PC from your netbook, allowing you to use whatever files and applications you have on it. (Albeit a bit slowly, with high end applications (i.e games) being pretty much unusuable remotely.)

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Thanks for the advice guys, but I don't have $1300. I mainly want the laptop so that I can take it to school or whereever I go on trips. Plus, my current desktop needs a new motherboard/CPU and my siblings need their own comp. It just all works out if I get a laptop and they get my old desktop and just get a new motherboard/CPU.

 

Some good news, my laptop's price dropped back down to $629!

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I found these graphs, from the insurance company Squaretrade, that show the expected malfunction rates of different laptops. Asus and Toshiba are listed as the best and HP the worst.

 

Posted Image

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for what you plan on doing I would recommend that you keep your current computer (unless you planned on selling it for money towards the laptop) and invest in a netbook. It won't give you the gaming capabilities if you planned on playing the Sims during a trip, but you'll have the internet and office at your disposal.

 

If you do plan on going to Best Buy, make sure to get the black tie protection with Accidental Damage and Handling. If you ever have an issue, you wont pay a single cent. As well as working at the big box, I have had to use it several times for my HP laptop. Overheated motherboard, broken (sheared) hinges, operating system meltdown. In the end they just reimbursed me for the laptop and now I have a Dell Studio XPS 13.

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Mikean, you have to wonder what they consider to be a malfunction, though. It could be something simple or something serious.

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Also, it's a shame they don't include Samsung in there. They produce some of the most popular (and justifiably so) netbooks.

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My wife has a Samsung Netbook and would trade it for an HP one any day of the week. She hates Windows 7(can't do jack with the starter edition) and the HP model just has a better feel to it.

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