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Customer Discussions > Laptop forum

The best laptop for me?

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Showing 1-25 of 68 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 18, 2009, 4:54:15 PM PST
Hi all.

I'm sorry to post such a general question here, but I am really fed-up trying to wade through all the different types of laptops, and I need some suggestions.

So here it is:

I am looking for a "middle of the road" laptop. I'm a writer, so I will use it mostly for writing (I like to use Microsoft Word). I'd like it to be portable, but I DON'T want a teeny tiny netbook. I'd like it to have a full sized keyboard too (screen size is secondary).

Integrated wifi, good memory and processor, large hard drive (for music and maybe videos), cd/dvd drive, and good USB support are all very important as well.

I was hoping to spend between $400 and $700, but I'm willing to go a little higher if the laptop is a good fit.

Any and all suggestions are appreciated. thanks in advance.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2009, 10:04:03 AM PST
S. rich says:
First, try consumerreports.org. IBM has dominated this market 11-12 inch screen 2.5-3.0 pounds, but price has until now been in the $1,500 range. Now HP has entered this segment as has Dell. I love HP (have their desktop), Dell, not so much, and I generally stay away from products with weak North American support. Consider a 2-3 depot warantee, (including accident breakage protection)



In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2009, 6:15:39 PM PST
Florida45 says:
Try to find an emachines d620 14.1" widescreen or the very similar ACER 14.1" (Office Depot $549). Before the Holidays the emachines were on sale at Best Buy for $299. I bought one for my wife and one for me. They are super we are both overjoyed. The 14.1 widescreen is just the right size...much more portable than a 15.4 or a 17 but not as hard to see for documents that a Netbook 8.9" would be. Hope this helps. Al

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2009, 7:59:15 PM PST
N2 says:
I was looking for a similar laptop a few months ago and wound up getting an Acer Extensa 4620. Was $499 on sale at Staples. 2 gigs of ram, 160 gb hard drive, 14.1 inch screen-which is actually what sold me on it over a similar dell machine. The screen was just much sharper and watching movies on it is great too. Has Vista installed and the machine is really pretty quick and I loaded MS Office onto it. Battery life is a couple of hours I think, mostly I have it plugged in when I'm using it.VGA out if you want to hook it up to a desktop monitor. Has 4 usb slots, media card reader, DVD drive and wifi. So I would definitely check out this Acer or a similar one in person to get a sense of the screen. Good luck!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2009, 8:41:01 PM PST
Hey, I just wanted to thank everyone for the input. So far, based on your replies, I'll give Acer a look, and use consumer reports to help with the decision.

I was originally looking at Dell laptops because I have a Dell desktop that has been very reliable, but I've heard some negative things about their laptops.

Thanks again, I'll be looking into this for at least another week or two, if anyone else has any suggestions.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 6:14:58 AM PST
I had the same problem trying to find a computer that could suit my needs, i also wanted a full key board and powerful machine, so i bought a HP for u$900, it has everything i need it plus more, obviously they are cheaper ones it all depends on what you want. (hp, however are very reasonable, and also Acer's) the laptop i got is a 17" (i wanted a big one) 400gb , 2.1ghz x2, 4gb Ram, blue ray dvd player, integrated camera etc......for the price i think its pretty good.
Also remember that when you try customize your computer (to buy) it will be more expensive, try buy already made computers......(did that made sense?) anyways good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 7:19:18 AM PST
Yes, it made sense. I've actually tried going through the Dell process, just to see how much the laptop would end up costing, and yeah, the price does go up significantly. That's one of the things I am trying to keep in mind. I know I don't need a very powerful machine, but my tendency is to want to get the very best I can. So I have to keep reminding myself that for my purposes, a smaller, less powerful laptop is okay.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 8:50:39 AM PST
S. Wheeler says:
I am a graduate student and do quite a lot of writing myself. Although I am looking at this product myself I found my last acer as good as any thing as expensive as Hp etc. and am going to stick to Acer I am just in trouble and need a computer quickly so I may nuy the 14.1 screen available now bwcause I am unsure of the release date. Acer is a workhorse as far as I am concerned and I am a dedicated customer of thiers. It is an excellent buy for what you get.
Hope this is helpful. Unless I went with a an apple I will stick with ACER!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 9:37:04 AM PST
Thanks, Wheeler. Yeah, my brother owns two apple computers (G5, and macbook), and he told me to get a macbook. I also like Apple, but I they are pricey, plus I don't really need the extra power.

Anyway, I'll definitely take a look at Acer. One thing that concerned me was the lack of reviews (here on Amazon) for the larger screens (14-15in). there are plenty of reviews for the netbooks, but it seems like less ppl are getting the bigger ones...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 5:48:46 PM PST
R. Bright says:
consider the Panasonic Toughbook's. I have a vioa and it's good but I still worry about breaking it, I am geting my self and my son a toughbook because the hard drive is shock resistant, etc. they are a bit out of your projected price range but well worth it.

oh and yes they have a fullsize keyboard, can't imagine one without it!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 5:49:58 PM PST
R. Bright says:
IBM's are ok

can't stand Dell, HP are generally crappy

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 5:50:54 PM PST
R. Bright says:
ACer is a good brand, never used an emachine or heard anything good about them either

in genral stay away from notebooks

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 5:53:13 PM PST
R. Bright says:
Apples are a lot better than they were..just no right click with them :D

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2009, 8:58:21 PM PST
Roddoc says:
O. My opinion. I have owned several notebooks over the last 5 years. IBM, Lenovo, HP, Compaq (for my mom), a Powerbook, and Macbook Pro. I do video editing for which I use the Apple laptops. You have to be truly honest with yourself. What are you going to be doing 90% of the time? Writing OR 50% writing 50% web "research"?

If Writing: keyboard/mouse fit will be very important. 15 in may be better in the long run(vs.14in). I know most laptops have the clear display now days, but in your case, the glare that you'll get, will get old fast. Great for movies, not so great for work.

Are you going to be carrying your laptop to 3-5 different place each day?
Think more rugged business class types like lenovo.

Will you have access for elec. outlet? If not, lean toward one with more battery life, ALTHOUGH, think of battery life like a car's advertised MPG or a smart phone's REAL talk/standby time. Depends on several factors. brightness, programs/dvd player being used, etc. If you can get over 2.5 hours of battery power after a year, be grateful.

Also, check out HOW the power cord is connected. One wrong movement or placement that puts pressure on that connection, and you will have a paper weight!

This is a great time to buy. Stay between $500-600, but you really should be able to get one between $450-550. Why so low? Look at it this way. DON'T spend a lot of money on your first! You don't really have a good sense of what your preferences, likes, & peeves are yet. And with vista getting ready to bite the dust (Windows7), get twice your current laptop in a year for $500.

You can get today's $1000 vista laptop that WILL be old & busted next year or $450 now, & $600 next year for the new hotness and you can still get at least $200 if you sell old busted. Back to $400! lol

Not that familiar with Acer, but I always check Amazon & Newegg reviews, and google the model number of what you're interested in.

If I were you, I would go with Levovo or HP from Costco/Sams/BJ's because of their excellent return policy. Then maybe Staples/Office Depot/ frys/bestbuy places. Hands on for you is best.


Not too hot, not too cold. Don't leave it plugged in after its fully charged for days at a time. When its booting up. (turning on or off) DON'T bang it around or carry it. Leave it alone. There's more, but this will get you started. Good Luck.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2009, 8:25:14 AM PST
Milo Fulton says:
Have you tried HP's business outlet? You can easily get a refurb laptop for under $500.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2009, 10:42:00 PM PST
J. Caffiero says:
I would suggest you get a used Macbook pro. You can find them on craigslist for 800.00. You can run windows or the mac operating system. They are very reliable, come with excellent software and don't have to wory about viruses.

Good luck,


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2009, 10:45:02 PM PST
J. Caffiero says:
I would suggest you get a used Macbook pro. You can find them on craigslist for 800.00. You can run windows or the mac operating system. They are very reliable, come with excellent software and don't have to wory about viruses.

Good luck,


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2009, 11:08:39 PM PST
ANDY NG says:
jim... do you know macbook is good for using window vista or not?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009, 7:10:49 AM PST
PJ says:
I have a full size (15.4") Acer laptop. Have had it for a few years now. It worked okay in the beginning but now it's kind of falling apart at the seams. Half the keyboard isn't working, the down button has run amuck. I'll be reading down some webpage and all of a sudden it'll just start going down (it's so annoying losing my place) or I'll be watching a movie and it'll just start freezing and glitching (again, annoying to lose my place). And now it's started a new thing where it beeps, loudly, for about a minute or so before it starts. It's pretty annoying. I don't know if I just got a crappy one, but I don't think I'd get another Acer unless I had no other viable options.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009, 7:14:29 AM PST
PJ says:
Had an Emachines desktop. Don't know about their laptops, but my desktop died a few years ago. Took it in to Best buy (where I bought it) and they said that the mother board had fried (surged likely) and that supposedly it's a problem that comes with emachine computers. Don't know if that's something that's true or something that'll help but that's something they told me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009, 7:21:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2009, 7:38:04 AM PST
PJ says:
I find it quite ridiculous that a USED mac is $800. That's more than brand new computers from most other brands. You know what's funny though, you're last comment lead me to a comment made by one of my teacher's. She works in the tech department and also teaches a few technology courses. And she was talking about when the first viruses that were coming out and made a comment about how back when PC was first starting, a lot of users would say that PCs are awesome because you don't have any viruses, unlike the brand that was more common. Then she turned the the Apple users in the classroom, and asked if that sounded familiar. Pretty much the only reason macs aren't overrun with viruses is because it's not as big a target, as big a temptation as PC. But I think if people keep pushing that enough, they're going to tempt someone into doing it just to be able to say that they did. On another note, I read an article about a tech contest that they had, hacking the different operating systems that are common now: OSx, Vista, and linux. Guess which was the first to get cracked?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009, 7:32:45 AM PST
Thanks for the insight. I started looking into Lenovo after reading Roddoc's comment. I've been eyeing up the Thinkpad SL500. It's the cheapest model they have, I think. The jury is still out, but that one is on my list for now.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009, 11:19:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2009, 12:01:13 PM PST
Roddoc says:
A little more info.

As a writer, back up your material, even if its just to email that file to yourself.

1. I agree with PJ. $800 for a used MBP may not be the best choice FOR YOU. Like Milo says, HP outlet is another option. Matter of fact, I am about to get a refurb workstation for video through them. It sounds like you maybe on the light side of expertise with laptops, (no offense), that's why I am stressing the support, customer service and returns issues. Craiglist at $800?.. You NEED to know how to QUICKLY evaluate this thing. Plus, there is no reason for you to get a MBP. For your "writing" needs, Apple Education has new macbook 13in for $950 (just use your alma mater or favorite school- we are all students of life!) They also have refurbs with warrenty at $850, so don't even think about ebay/craigslist/classifieds!

2. Just because you have a good brand, that model/product may have problems.
Apple may have 10 great notebooks, but the MBP 2.5Ghz model (the one I bought) has a video card problem in SOME on its models. Apple has issued a 2 year warrenty for that problem (instead of its typical 1 year) No problems for me, but its just nice to know before buying it, which I did. Goggle & forums are your freinds!

3. One of the best advice given to me. Hardware and software MUST work together for you to be productive. This is were Apple excels, because they have put together a very good colaboration of general computing needs & desires where the basis user can do photo/video/music fairly painless. And eleviates the need to buy photoshop elements or other software later on. This is called configuring your computer with its software & therefore its "purpose". Hey that sounds like something from the Matrix, lol (Remember when I was asking you, what you were going to be doing 90% of the time?) One downside is that OfficeMac is $150 if you want that. BUT (mac/pc) OpenOffice, flicker/picassa, & a now better moviemaker(pc) are free.

Apple makes a good argument that by the time you finished buying the good additional software on a PC (hassle too), you could have that and much more function-wise by paying as additional $200 for a macbook. Your call.

4. Gordon on another post gave good advice about bloatware or crapware. The first thing you do when you open your laptop is to make a nice cup of tea, put in a good movie, and call tech support and tell them to walk you though getting all those trial versions off you computer. Norton/Office/ebay links and programs OFF. NEVER agree to tool bars (legalized spyware). I've been using Avast (free) for almost 2 years. No problems. It also helps NOT to surf to these free games/music/naked celebrity/porn or torrents with your main/only computer.
Don't ask.

5. When you leave your home with your laptop. Say 3 times outloud, EVERYONE WANTS TO STEAL OR BREAK MY NEW LAPTOP!!!
Don't take your eyes off it no matter where you are, don't go to the rest room for "just a second". Don't let people "use it just to check their emails". You don't have to think hard why I am taking the time to write this...
See the 2nd sentence in this post!

Finally, I know its information over load, but you are doing the right thing. Information is your best bet. BTW I just heard today on CNN that Belkin admitted to hiring people to give their products higher ratings for their products and lower for their compitiors, ON AMAZON. Makes you say, "Hummm...."

Sorry for the long posts, but hope it helps.

"American components, Russian components...All made in Taiwan!!!"

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009, 3:18:14 PM PST
Hey, Roddoc. I appreciate you taking the time to write it all out for me.

You are correct in assuming I'm new to the laptop game. I have plenty of experience with desktops, and even Macs (I have my BS in digital media, and we primarily used the G5), but as you said, it's best to do A LOT of research. And I always do. :-)

Yeah, I'll mostly be writing on my laptop, with a little sprinkling of web surfing, music listening, and maybe (MAYBE!) movie watching. I've mostly moved past the Mac option because of it's higher price tag. I figure I'll be able to do the same things (write, listen to music, web surf) on a cheaper computer with about the same ease.

I've also started to move past the Lenovo option because they seem to be more business oriented.

Again, thanks very much for all your help.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2009, 8:42:45 PM PST
Does anyone have any experience with Toshiba?

I'm looking into the Satellite series of Toshiba, either L300 or A300. Any advice on these lines would help a great deal. thanks.
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