Need a new laptop

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by mccoady, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. mccoady

    mccoady Notebook Consultant

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    General Questions

    1) What is your budget? $400 more or less maybe a little flexible here.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer? C or D this is for my wife in a nursing home. She’s currently using my Dell Studio 15 (1535) which weighs 6.17 lbs and it’s just too heavy for her to deal with. There’s no room for it to be permanently setup so she stores it under her bed and then sets it on her bed when she uses it... she’s in a wheelchair. But the lighter the better. I assume the Thin and Light laptops are more expensive so they may be out of my price range. All things being equal I’m not sure (yet) what size screen my wife would prefer so I just need you to give me options.
    a. Ultraportable; 10" - 12" screen
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen
    e. Desktop Replacement; 17"+ screen
    3) Which country will you buying this notebook? USA

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like? I’m pretty open have had several Dells though but can’t say anything good or bad either way.
    a. Like:
    b. Dislike:
    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed? Yes I think I would be open to it if it had a good warranty plus good reviews for reliability.

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook? My wife makes t-shirt quilts and needs PrintMaster to run on the laptop. I’m not sure what else she will use it for since she has an iPad Mini. I suspect though browsing some and if she could find some coloring games would use it for that to.

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both? Probably just moving it from storing under the bed to the bed to use but possibly moving it to a different room in the nursing home once in awhile.

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?) Not really unless you consider coloring book type games.

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need? I’m not sure but probably not a priory I don’t need the longest battery life. The battery doesn’t hold a charge in my Studio 15 so my wife just leaves it plugged in when using.

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK? Not sure about this would kind of like to mess with it but not ruling out buying sight unseen.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc. Windows 10 if possible.

    Screen Specifics

    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.)
    • High Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.) My Dell Studio 15 (1535) has a glossy screen and it is plenty acceptable. My wife’s room where she will be using it is rather dark.

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you? You know I don’t think this would be that important just so it’s not ugly. Lol! One feature I love on my Studio 15 is the back-lit keyboard but that might limit what I have to choose from. Think I need an optical drive too.

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you need? My Studio 15 came with a 250 GB but I replaced it with a SSD 256 so that is plenty.

    Timing, Warranty and Longevity


    16) When are you buying this laptop? Anytime until now and Xmas. If you can help narrow it down to a model or two I can certainly wait until Black Friday or later.

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop? Probably several years.

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail? Probably a few weeks.

    19) Would you be willing to pay significantly extra for on-site warranty, or would it be acceptable to you to have to ship the laptop to the vendor for repair with perhaps a week or more outage? It would be acceptable to ship it to the vendor for repair wouldn’t want to pay extra for on-site warranty.

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    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  2. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    I'd search the Lenovo and Dell Outlets for a refurbed ThinkPad or Latitude. Something like the ThinkPad E series or Dell Vostro/Latitude are solid, if unspectacular, notebooks. You can probably find a base model under budget, but $400 seems a little low for FHD, though you may get lucky.
     
  3. mccoady

    mccoady Notebook Consultant

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    Thanks ZaZ for replying! It's been 11 years since I bought my Dell Studio 15 (1535) so I'm really out of touch with laptops in general didn't even know about 2-1's and whether I'd even want one.

    If I'm limited to a refurbished ThinkPad E series or Dell Vostro/Latitude to get a decent laptop that doesn't leave much to choose from... I'm not finding much on their websites.

    If a person insists on getting a laptop with 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 256 SSD it really does limits your choices especially at a given price range. My Studio 15 has a resolution of 1280 x 800 and guess I kind of got used to it... how necessary is getting a laptop with 1920 x1080?

    It seems like if I find a refurbished one that might work it either has a 1366 x 768/256 GB SSD or 1920 x 1080/128 GB SSD... rarely the 1920 x 1080/256 GB SSD combo at least in my price range

    Are all those refurbished laptops on Tiger Direct worth checking into?

    I did get a quote for a new Dell Inspiron 14" 5493 that has everything I want but it does cost $589.99 without tax... really more that I wanted to spend though.
     
  4. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    The FHD screens tend to be better IPS screens that will offer you richer color, more brightness and wider viewing angles than a 1366x768 screen will give you. The downside being the higher resolution can be harder to read for those with poorer eyesight, though bumping up the DPI and making things larger works quite well in Windows 10. Between the screen and the SSD, I'd get the better screen as upgrading the screen has a much higher degree of difficulty than swapping out the drive.

    I have seen E series ThinkPads in the outlet sub $400, so if you have the luxury of waiting to get the right deal, some persistence in checking the outlet stock may pay off in the end.
     
  5. mccoady

    mccoady Notebook Consultant

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    Yes my wife and I are in our upper 60's and our eyesight's are definitely not what they were... that's why I was asking about maybe going with a 1366x768. But maybe with Windows 10 we can compensate.

    When you buy a refurbished laptop I assume you are buying one that's several years old... curious how you justify that?

    Any differences buying a factory refurbished vs user or 3rd party refurbisher?
     
  6. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    The FHD is most definitely a better screen and scaling works well in Windows 10, but it's more expensive. Is that worth the extra cash? It's hard for me to say for you. The TN panel will work and have nice big lettering, it just won't look as good as an IPS screen. The color is more muted and the viewing angles are thin, so it'll look decent when you're looking directly at it. but colors invert when you go off center and it's hard to be at the right angle most of the time. Perhaps you should visit a store like Best Buy and look at some screens to see if you to spend extra money?

    Most notebooks sold directly from the manufacturer outlets are returns, which means they're typically the current generation or the last, though you do occasionally see something older and you get a nice discount. Buying directly from the manufacturer as long as it's not marked scratch and dent, it should look new. That's been my experience with Dell, Lenovo, HP and Apple. Plus, you're getting a year of warranty directly from the manufacturer. A third party warranty is harder to say. It might be good, but it might not be.

    Given that your needs are modest, you might to consider something used, though it's a more risky proposition as there's often no warranty should a problem. You'll pay less and don't need a 2019 machine, so you'll get better bang for your buck. Buying on eBay gets you a 45 day warranty. If you have a problem in the first 45 days, you can dispute it and the chances you'll lose are almost zero.
     
  7. mccoady

    mccoady Notebook Consultant

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    Thanks for explaining some of this. I think as far as knowing what a TN screen looks like I’m assuming it would look similar to my Dell Studio 15’s 1280 x 800 screen. It just seems crazy to me that in this day and age they don’t all come with a FHD but they make you go up in price. So apparently the manufacturers get away with this strategy because people keep buying the inferior screens.

    I think I’d rather stay with a refurbished from the manufacturer outlets it looks to be a safer purchase.

    Yes I can be patient but still would like to know if I can get a refurbished with my main requirements 256 GB SSD, FHD, and back-lit keyboard for $400 to $450? I’ve already given up having to have a dvd drive I can always buy an external one.

    Maybe my thinking is all wrong but it seems to me if you spend over $450 for a refurbished laptop you might as well buy a new one.
     
  8. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    Eventually, the notebooks that have that will become used and fall into your price range(there's probably some now), but even refurbished might be a stretch. One problem being less expensive machines like the Vostro or E series ThinkPads don't support backlit keyboards, so you'd need to bump up in class to get a backlit keyboard, which is likely above your budget. I have definitely seen Vostros and E series ThinkPads in the outlets sub $400, but without the SSD and they never tell whether it has the backlit keyboard, even if they offer it.
     
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