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  1. #1
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    Default Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    I've had the same desktop for 8 years now. It is not only painfully slow, its starting to die a painful death. The cd burner stopped working and now my internet won't work (hubbies laptop works just fine on wifi or connected so its not the internet provider or router). I've decided to bite the bullet and get a laptop to replace it but I seriously have no idea what I"m doing. I'd prefer to buy from BestBuy... more experience with them I guess... but I'm lost. They've recommended the HP Pavilion DV6-3268 for 699.99 (quad core, 1.8 ghz, 2MB L2 cache, 15.6 monitor). I found an HP Pavilion DV7-4223 for 699.99 at Costco (triple core, 2.3 ghz, 1.5MB L2 cache, 17.3 monitor). I'm thinking the Costco one is a better deal but there are a lot of differences in the core, processor speed and cache that I just don't get. While we don't need the larger monitor as I'd be using an exernal monitor most of the time, it'd be nice to have if its the same price. Which is the better system and why? Is there another you'd recommend instead?

    Here's teh form:

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget? less than $1000
    2) What size notebook would you prefer? prefer 17in but 15in would suffice because using an external 23in monitor that was just purchased at Christmas
    a. Netbook; 10” screen or less
    b. Ultraportable; 11" - 12” screen
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen
    e. Desktop Replacement; 17"+ screen

    3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like:
    b. Dislike:

    HP was recommended by BestBuy but I'm open to any reliable brand

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed? No
    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?

    Internet surfing (likely many windows open at once)
    email
    word processing



    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both? 98% of the time it will be on my desk attached to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.
    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games? If any, it would be kids PC games (ie: for kids 8 an under so learning games mostly.
    9) How many hours of battery life do you need? A few hours in case we're on a plane would be nice.
    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? Definitely want to see it first.
    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista or Windows 7), Mac OS, Linux, etc. Using XP now but hubbie says Windows 7 is necessary.
    Screen Specifics

    12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer? Keep in mind screen size in conjunction with resolution will play a large role in overall viewing comfort level. Everyone is different. Some like really small text, while others like their text big and easy to read. If you are unsure of what to purchase, we would highly recommend you check some notebook screens before you buy to see what you like. You may also wish to take a look at the notebook screen guide for more information.

    •Netbook resolution: WSVGA
    •Actual resolutions: 1024x600 and 1024x576
    •Offered on Netbooks 10" and smaller
    •Netbook standard resolution. This is the lowest resolution available, and is designed to easily read text and icons on smaller-sized netbook screens. However, this leads to a somewhat “crowded” display that can generally only handle one visible window at a time. Typically not available on larger machines.

    •Standard Resolutions: WXGA, HD, 720p
    •Actual resolutions: 1280x800 and 1366x768
    •Offered on larger Netbooks and Notebooks up to 16"
    •Lower resolution screens offer big text and icons that are easy to read. Less stuff fits on the screen, which translates into more scrolling. Multiple windows can be worked with, though they may have to overlap some.

    •Midrange Resolutions: WXGA+, HD+, 900p
    •Actual resolutions: 1440x900 and 1600x900
    •Offered on all Notebooks. Keep in mind text will be very small on a 12" WXGA+ notebook.
    •A set of in-between resolution options that are found on some machines. Considered base resolution on 17" inch and higher laptops. Text and icons are smaller than standard resolution screens, and more windows fit onto the screen. These resolutions are very good for working with multiple windows side-by-side, without having to overlap them.

    •Maximum Resolutions: WSXGA+, WUXGA, FHD, 1080p
    •Actual resolutions: 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 1920x1080
    •Offered on Notebook 15" and larger
    •On these screens text and icons will be very small. Text can often be hard to read, though some do like it. A very large number of windows fit on the screen, and there will be little need to overlap any of them. Max resolution screens are good for applications that require high detail (CAD, graphics editing, etc.)

    I like reading standard size text as would be seen on a regular non laptop computer monitor.
    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? Don't really care. I expect I'd prefer matte but it doesn't matter as I won't be using the screen that much.
    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you? No
    15) When are you buying this laptop? In the next week
    16) How long do you want this laptop to last? Forever LOL. I'm not one to buy the latest gadgets. The longer it lasts the better. I'll own it til it dies but it better last at least 3-4 years.
    Notebook Components

    17) How much hard drive space do you need; 80GB to 640GB? Do you want a SSD drive? I have no idea. I have loads (probably over 10000 pictures on my computer and I add thousands each year). That's a must. I'd like to email video but haven't figured out how to download video on to a computer yet. I need to load skype, Nikon and Canon picture programs, Word, Excel, and some internet security software (looking at Kaspersky Pure Total Security) and a few others I'm sure I"m forgetting.
    18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a CDRW/DVD-ROM, DVD Burner or Blu-Ray drive? I'm not sure what an optical drive is. I need a dvd and cd burner for pics and video. I need a cd/dvd player for various kids games, picture cds etc.
    ==========
    END COPY

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    Joanne

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    Anyone?

    One of my problems is I don't understand the specs. Which is a better computer (ie: will last me longer, run faster and hold more pics/documents/video):

    a) quad core 1.8 ghz with 2MB 2L cache

    or

    b) triple core 2.3 ghz with 1.5MB 2L cache

    Thanks!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    HP dv6-3250us is $650 at OfficeMax. It has more than enough CPU and RAM (memory) for what you'd be doing. There's also a DVD burner. It has VGA (analog) and HDMI (digital) outputs so can connect the system to your external monitor. You would use one or the other to hook it up to your display, not both.

    Perhaps most importantly, it comes with a 750 GB hard drive so you can store your photos and videos. There are 4 USB ports for connecting a mouse, keyboard, and external hard drive. The latter I hope you have as well as online storage (Carbonite, et al) for backing up your data.
    MacBook Pro 15 (Late 2011)
    Core i7 2860QM | 16 GB RAM | AMD Radeon 6770M | 1 TB Samsung 840 EVO | Antiglare Display | OS X + Win 7

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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    Thanks! It looks great but we don't have OfficeMax here and it doesn't seem to ship to Canada. I did a google search and couldn't find a Canadian seller of this model. Any idea if there's an equivalent Cdn model number? I found one DV6-3278CA with an intel i5 processor (most seem to have AMD), with 2.66ghz, 6GB memory, 640 GB only though, but I can't find info on the cache size even at the HP website. It sells for $899.99 at BB. It has the same 640GB as the other models I mentioned... are the other differences worth an extra $200?

    You also mentioned external harddrive... I figured CArbonite was enough ... feeling stupid here but why would I need both?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    Ah, you didn't mention what country you were from. That being the case, you could go for something like this Acer AS5742-6878 for CAD$600. Same RAM and hard drive space as the HP. The CPU is of a slightly lower grade, but again, for what you're going to be doing, it will be more than enough for today and the future.

    Good to see you're using online backup via Carbonite. An external hard drive is simply another backup method that can be used to supplement it. If you have a catastrophic internal hard drive failure, restoring your files from an external drive will be much faster than retrieving them from "the cloud." The external drive will not replace anything but simply be another repository for your data.
    MacBook Pro 15 (Late 2011)
    Core i7 2860QM | 16 GB RAM | AMD Radeon 6770M | 1 TB Samsung 840 EVO | Antiglare Display | OS X + Win 7

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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    Wow! You're fast! :-)

    Glad to know Carbonite will do what I need it to. I will think about getting an external too though. My concern wasn't only crashing but my house burning down. LOL With pics of three kiddos, I figured an external wasn't going to help me keep the pics if something catastrophic happened to the house.

    Ok, so let's see if I understand this, it seems that the number of cores is basically irrelevant for what I need it for. Its the size of the harddrive (750MB instead of 640MB of the HP, and the size of the cache (3MB instead of 2MB or 1.5MB of the hp's I mentioned) that will make a difference as far as the pics and videos are concerned... is that right?

    What about brands? I haven't heard a lot of good thigns about Acer ... is it equivalent to HP? For the sake of $100 (the diff between the Acer at Staples and the HP elsewhere, I'd like to get the best bang for my buck).

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    I'd say a good reliable External Hard Drive is a MUST!!!

    If you're storing 10,000 pictures you can't have it fail on you, and laptops (while not being too notorious for having faulty HDDs) just aren't as safe as a laptop + a large external drive.

    I'd suggest Canada Computers. A reliable ASUS can come in under 1000, check their laptop section on Computers, Computer Parts, Laptops, Hard Drives, PC Hardware & Accessories Sales | Canada Computers

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    Here is a nice priced Acer at Costco which requires membership but they have the best in store warranty of anywhere. It's a i3 380m which is a dual core but 4 threads which acts like a quad core. It's 2.53 clock speed with 3MB Cache with 640 GB HD. It's 1600x900 screen resolution which is 720p high definition. If you don't have access to Costco I would Google the model number and see if it's available i your area.


    http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11626492&whse=BC&Ne=5000001+4000000&eCat=BC|84|56670&N=4047229%204294896008&Mo=3&No=1&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ns=P_Price|1||P_SignDesc1&lang=en-US&Sp=C&topnav=
    Last edited by Orlbuckeye; 29th March 2011 at 11:13 AM.
    Acer Aspire AS8950G-9839
    Intel Core i7 2630QM (2.0GHZ) 8 GB DDR3 1066 RAM 18.4 " (1920 x 1080)
    240 GB OCZ Agility SSD, 750 GB 5400 RPM
    BD Combo
    AMD Radeon HD 6850M 2GB DDR3 VRAM
    Windows 7 64 Bit Ultimate

    HP Pavilion dv7-2180US
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 2.0 ghz Windows 7 64 bit Ultimate
    6 gig Ram ATI 4650 500 gig HD

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    Quote Originally Posted by casperjj View Post
    Wow! You're fast! :-)

    Glad to know Carbonite will do what I need it to. I will think about getting an external too though. My concern wasn't only crashing but my house burning down. LOL With pics of three kiddos, I figured an external wasn't going to help me keep the pics if something catastrophic happened to the house.
    Carbonite is for when the house burns down, but the external drive would be for "routine" system crashes and internal hard drive failures. If you're super-paranoid about your data, buy one external hard drive to keep with the machine and get a second one to store someplace off-site (your office, parents/in-laws, etc). And keep Carbonite as the final failsafe.

    Ok, so let's see if I understand this, it seems that the number of cores is basically irrelevant for what I need it for. Its the size of the harddrive (750MB instead of 640MB of the HP, and the size of the cache (3MB instead of 2MB or 1.5MB of the hp's I mentioned) that will make a difference as far as the pics and videos are concerned... is that right?
    Yes, size of the hard drive is most important. Size of the cache is like the number of cores, completely irrelevant for what you'd be doing.

    What about brands? I haven't heard a lot of good thigns about Acer ... is it equivalent to HP? For the sake of $100 (the diff between the Acer at Staples and the HP elsewhere, I'd like to get the best bang for my buck).
    Most consumer-level notebooks are about the same. You're going to have people with good and bad experiences across the board. Keep in mind, that a lot of people you see who post on message boards are those who have problems (after all, not much need to post if everything is kosher, right?). If you're concerned about reliability, I would recommend purchasing a warranty that includes accidental damage coverage.

    That's why Costco might be your best bet. Here is a Toshiba with a good CPU and same hard drive. My wife has had a Toshiba notebook for more than 2 years, and we've had absolutely no trouble with it.
    MacBook Pro 15 (Late 2011)
    Core i7 2860QM | 16 GB RAM | AMD Radeon 6770M | 1 TB Samsung 840 EVO | Antiglare Display | OS X + Win 7

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Which laptop to buy for complete beginner?

    For lasting quality, I'd actually recommend a Lenovo, personally. Better build quality then the usual HP/Toshiba, but it'd cost you a little more. This one also only has 500gb of space, but that's billions of photos, and hundreds of 2hr movies... So I don't think it'll be a problem at all.

    NCIX.com - Buy Lenovo Ideapad Z560 Intel Core i5 480 4GB 500GB 15.6IN DVDRW WLAN Windows 7 Home Premium Noteboook - Lenovo - 09143YU - in Canada

    Combo'd with this external drive (USB powered for super portability) and you're set to go:

    NCIX.com - Buy Western Digital Elements 640GB 2.5IN Portable USB2.0 External Hard Drive Black - Western Digital WD Retail - WDBAAR6400ABK-NESN - in Canada

 

 
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