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Old 08-04-2011, 11:11 PM   #1
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Default I've got a $400 laptop budget, insert advice here

Bought the GF a $400 mountain bike for our anniversary, I'm leaning towards asking her for a laptop, and she'd be able to get some use out of it too. Feel free to suggest other gift ideas, I can't think of anything.

I mostly want one for battery powered tuning with the MS, although it'll be used a lot downstairs when I'm not in the office with my desktop.

What I want:
bigger than 11" screen
good battery life
big keyboard
budget it stated in thread title
no gaming capabilities required
used for internet browsing, nothing fancy.

I'm sure one of those requirements might need to be sacrificed, but I'm sure I can find something decent. This is all spurred from this thread:
https://www.miataturbo.net/showthread.php?t=59422
but I'm sure with another $175 I could get something a little newer/better, but feel free to prove me wrong.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:20 PM   #2
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We just had this thread today. The guy posted up a $300 unit on sale somewhere and this was the response from the Admin, who is pretty computer savvy

meh.. it will function.

For basically $100 more you can have this.
http://www.amazon.com/HP-XU015UT-Dua.../dp/B004RCUIJU

for only $80 more you can have this one.
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Lap...ci_sku=1623867

both of which are superior to the one you posted.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:25 PM   #3
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For what you looking to do, I dont know how much power tuning needs but I dont expect much, you could go to Wal-mart and get something for $299.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:40 PM   #4
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If I could find a used or sub $200 net book that's what I'd use for tuning. I use a 5 year old acer that was one of the first vista equipped machines and was "downgraded" to xp the day it was purchased.

Net books will do everything you require but have small screens. The IBM from the other thread looks great for your needs.
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Old 08-05-2011, 12:12 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stein View Post
We just had this thread today. The guy posted up a $300 unit on sale somewhere and this was the response from the Admin, who is pretty computer savvy

meh.. it will function.

For basically $100 more you can have this.
http://www.amazon.com/HP-XU015UT-Dua.../dp/B004RCUIJU

for only $80 more you can have this one.
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Lap...ci_sku=1623867

both of which are superior to the one you posted.
On this forum or another? I must of missed it if it was here.

Thanks for the links, I'll look into them.

I am leaning towards the one posted, however I was just wondering if you guys knew of something better for not much more.


Secondary question, does TS work well with Windows 7?
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Old 08-05-2011, 12:43 AM   #6
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All of the machines which have been listed above are too big. You might as well attach a carrying handle to a mainframe.

http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...200-3R&cpc=SCH

Upgrade the RAM and you've got a great machine. I'm typing this on one right now. Seriously, until you have used an ultralight laptop, you don't know what you're missing. The keyboard is excellent, the touchpad is among the best I've ever used, the battery life is better than most larger machines, and there's really nothing like having a computer that you can fold up and carry with two fingers as though it were a hardcover book.
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:36 AM   #7
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Grr...hearing "best touch pad" and "keyboard is excellent" from you sucks, cause that's expensive for an outdated machine. And at that price I won't be upgrading the ram anytime soon.
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:58 AM   #8
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Nice things cost money.

You can pay $400 and get the latest processor wrapped in a shitty, overweight package with a crappy keyboard and a bad display, and watch the fancy GPU suck down your battery as it sits completely idle, burning a hole in your lap while you surf the web and download gay ****.

Or, you can get yesterday's top-of-the-line machine for the same money. So it won't play Assassin's Creed at 60FPS. You said you weren't gaming on it anyway. I use this machine to configure $300,000 broadcast routers and run 500+ MB XML database applications. It works just fine. A 4GB memory stick is $23.

A 2009 Lotus Exige, or a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Your choice.
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:27 AM   #9
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Does the $225 IBM fall into the "too heavy" category too? Your arguments are well argued. We'll see what the gf says about the added price.
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:33 AM   #10
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Not counting the tablets, I've had maybe a half-dozen laptops over the past 12 years. It's hard to keep track. Most have been company-issued, most in the 15" class.

Three and a half years ago I bought my first ultraportable, a little 11" Sony Vaio VGN-TX with a 1.2 Ghz Core Solo processor and 1.5 GB of RAM. I got it used off eBay, and it was already trailing-edge at the time.

It was the best laptop I have ever had.

Seriously, I never really realized it until I got that machine, but the most powerful, feature-laden laptop in the world is complete bullshit if you can't comfortably balance it on one knee while sitting on the couch, or set it on the seatback tray, fully open the screen, and watch two full-length movies on a single charge while sitting in a coach-class seat with no AC outlet from LAX to JFK while the guy in front of you is reclined all the way.


Two years ago, my stepfather (who is a realtor, and spends most of his time on the road) spent a ton of money on a 17" Dell with all the bells and whistles. He absolutely loved it, that is until the first time I was back home and he saw me sitting in his recliner with my little Sony on the armrest and the two chihuahuas in my lap. He bought one a week later and gave his $2,300 machine to his daughter.


If it weren't for the fact that Sony crippled the VGN-TX series with a 1.5 GB memory limit, that machine would still be my primary laptop today. Unfortunately, when we migrated from the old AMD Elan platform to an ARM9 architecture for the embedded controllers that we use at work, one particular database application that I use almost every day ballooned significantly, and the Vaio just couldn't cut it any more. Between that and the fact that my battery was just about kaput, it was time for an upgrade.


I spent a solid month searching for a replacement. I probably tried out 20 different machines, most of which were brand new, cutting edge systems with i5/i7 processors. The problem was that while the specs looked great on paper, most of them sucked ***** in terms of the mechanical design, the keyboard, the touchpad, the display... in other words, most of the things that actually matter when you are using a computer. It was pure dumb luck that I stumbled across this Dell. ComputerGeeks.com happens to be just up the road from where I work, and I was there picking up an ethernet switch when I happened to notice the E4200 on display. It was love at first sight.


Is it cutting-edge? No. The processor is two generations old, and frankly, the display isn't as good as the one on my old Vaio, though in fairness, that's like saying that a Ferrari Enzo isn't quite as fast as a Bugatti Veyron. Sony makes the best laptop displays in the known universe, but unfortunately they've decided that the ultraportable market can go **** itself and now offer nothing but Atom processors.


I'm being completely serious when I say that, if you're not looking for a full desktop-replacement machine, the Dell E4200 is the best laptop that you can buy today. I'm sure it probably sucks at gaming (I've never run anything more complex than Stella on it, game-wise), but I still drop by the laptop section at Fry's every now and then, and I have yet to see anything that can beat it for everyday use.

I just counted, and I have 27 tabs open in Chrome right now, along with one tab of IE that's remotely logged into my computer at the office via Logmein.com. The machine isn't even breaking a sweat.


(full discolure: mine is the SU9600 model, which has the 1.6 Ghz processor. So the one I linked to is very slightly slower.)

Last edited by Joe Perez; 08-05-2011 at 03:43 AM.
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:03 AM   #11
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Ok, you've sold me, that laptop is mine! Pending payment of course.
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:12 AM   #12
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I'd get a used intel Mac. They run Windows quite well along with Apple's OS.
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:51 AM   #13
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check newegg open box deals ever few days and wait for a night laptop that's $200 off to come up. found one for john wag a few months back. great specks and was $560 with $750 retail.
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:30 AM   #14
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Thanks, but i sent joe's link to the gf, she just texted me saying she bought it. Woot.
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Old 08-05-2011, 06:08 AM   #15
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Cant go wrong with a DELL. Bought mine online about 6 mos ago and it's great. cost a bit ver $400... like $430 or something. stay away from $200 laptops.
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Old 08-05-2011, 06:17 AM   #16
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I seem to be skirting that line all the time, the line between a $200 laptop and a refrub'd Dell, begi s kit and a eBay kit, etc. I think I stayed on the right side this time.
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:46 AM   #17
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Enjoy the Vista.
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:41 PM   #18
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Too late I guess, but geeks.com also had the SU9600 for not much more:

http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...200-6R&cat=NBB

Still a Vista machine, unfortunately. I'm tempted, but if I'm going to buy another laptop I want to get Win7, rather than feeling like I have to wipe Vista away and install XP.

I was looking at this one:

http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...CZU-DT&cat=NBB

Any thoughts?
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
Too late I guess, but geeks.com also had the SU9600 for not much more:

http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...200-6R&cat=NBB
I saw that one, but it comes with the anemic 4-cell battery, whereas the one I linked to has the 6-cell battery. It's worth the tradeoff.


Quote:
Still a Vista machine, unfortunately. I'm tempted, but if I'm going to buy another laptop I want to get Win7, rather than feeling like I have to wipe Vista away and install XP.
I'm getting ready to put XP on mine (it came with Win7) because I just can't get a certain application that I need for work to run reliably.

One note about the Dell machines (and this applies to their desktops as well) is that their implementation of AHCI isn't supported by the XP installer and will cause a bluescreen. You can download the driver and put it on a floppy so that you can load it when the installer says "press F6 if you need to load..." except that you don't have a floppy drive. So you'll either need to go into the BIOS setup and change the disk controller mode to ATA, or slipstream the driver into your XP disc.





I have nothing useful to contribute, as I think that large laptops are pointless.
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:50 PM   #20
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