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#281302 - 12/03/09 09:04 AM Laptops
real80sman Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 1121
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Just wondering if I could pick your brains. My very old T40 Thinkpad died, so it's time for a replacement.

The Thinkpad was very good up until the last 3 or 4 months. I loved having the track point, but very few new units have that feature. It will mostly be used for work (MS Office) and surfing the net. At home, it will access my mp3's and watch the odd movie. No gaming or cad software, so a killer video card is of little importance.

Thoughts? Any brands I should stay away from? I've searched high and low for that post regarding reliability from the different brands, with no success.
_________________________
Shawn

Epic 80/600 + M3's + Custom Finish Algonquin V3's

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#281307 - 12/03/09 09:42 AM Re: Laptops [Re: real80sman]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3448
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
Lenovo took over building the ThinkPads from IBM. They're still built in the same factories. If you want something along the same line you could go that way.

As for the reliability report it was a study done by aftermarket warranty company, Square Trade. You can read their findings in a PDF linked from here: http://www.squaretrade.com/pages/laptop-reliability-1109
_________________________
Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K, PDP-5020FD, DV-79AVi
Axiom M22s, VP150, QS8s
Sony PS3, surround backs
-Chris

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#281313 - 12/03/09 10:22 AM Re: Laptops [Re: ClubNeon]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17741
Loc: NoVA
We just got a few Thinkpad T400s machines (not the plain T400--that one was heavy and slow!) at work, and I've actually been pretty impressed with them--I normally find Thinkpads to be miserably slow, for one reason or another. Avoid the X300 like the plague.
_________________________
I didn't do it, no one saw me, you can't prove anything.

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#281317 - 12/03/09 10:56 AM Re: Laptops [Re: real80sman]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
I am personally somewhat leery of Dell Inspiron notebooks. If you get one, spring for the extended 2-3 year warranty.

In the past couple of years, I've owned two of them (a 1420 and a 1520). I have family members (for which I provide the tech support) that have owned another three or four of them (1525's, 1720's, 15's). Within 12-18 months, all but one of them became untrustworthy and generally not usable.

The 1520's LCD backlight died with about 2 months left on the 1 year warranty. Dell replaced it, without hassle. Three months later (outside of warranty), the hard drive died. I replaced it on my own. Two months after that it started suffering random lock-ups, even after full reinstalls of XP, Vista, or Ubuntu. New memory didn't help. Then the LCD started occasionally winking out on me. At that point, I was done with it.

The 1420's LCD screen started randomly just flipping to a red screen about 4 months outside of the one-year warranty. It got worse and worse over the next few months until it ceased functioning all together. The machine still works, but only with an external monitor.

The family members' Inspirons have suffered similar fates. The LCD died on one of them, and another one had a hard drive failure as well. My sister currently has a 9-month old 15xx. It's working fine now, but time will tell.

On the other hand...

Us upper-level software developers at work all have Dell Precision workstations. We like them. They have proven to be reliable, even when beat-upon as temporary database & web servers. Our in-the-field sales team all use Dell Latitude notebooks on a three-year rotation cycle. Generally speaking, they hold up pretty well. We do occasionally have hard drive crashes or keyboard problems, but I'd guess that about 90% of them last the full three-year cycle and are still in "good" shape when they return. Other than batteries, which only last a couple of years (but that's normal).

. . .

I have a friend who spent like $4,000 on an Alienware notebook a couple of years ago. He had more problems with that thing, and regretted spending that much. We told him he was nuts. It was a beast of a machine when it wasn't randomly overheating and locking up.

I've had dealings with a couple of Toshiba notebooks. My sister owned one for a couple of years until it's started to become untrustworthy with random lock-ups. It was a good notebook until it wasn't. My brother-in-law used to have a Toshiba notebook too. It worked really well for a couple of years until it was dropped and the LCD ceased working. Hardly the Toshiba's fault. But on the other hand again, a co-worker bought a high-end gaming Toshiba notebook about 3 months ago and has had a lot of problems with it as well. Heat related lock-ups when gaming. Best Buy & the Geek Squad has worked to fix it but can't, and so they recently replaced it with an equivalent Acer model. No idea of the longevity of it, but the Acer seems to be a nice notebook.

After the Dell's died, my wife wanted a Mac. It worked so pleasingly well that I soon followed. She has a Macbook Air and I have a 15" Macbook Pro. The Air is about a year old and my Pro is about 6 months old. No, not old enough to really gauge long-term longevity. But the build quality and aesthetics of both surpass anything I've ever experienced in the PC world. Everything from the tactile response of the keys and touchpad to the resistance of the screen's hinges are pleasing to me. Both machines have been absolutely flawless hardware & software wise. They're both a joy to use. And with Parallels or Bootcamp for those couple of stubborn Windows-only apps that I have, neither of us can imagine going back to the PC-only world. I may just be growing old and tired of the endless tinkering and patching of a Windows machine (which I still have to do at work, of course...), but I've found myself very much enjoying the "it just works" ethos of owning a Mac for home. YMMV, of course.

If you want to really get some good opinions, check out the forums on NotebookReview.com, http://forum.notebookreview.com/index.php . They have broad, general-discussion forums, and specific, model-by-model forums for every brand imaginable. It may take a bit of reading & searching, but you can definitely get a feel for what models people like, what they don't like, common problems & solutions, the most cost-effective configurations, where to get good deals, etc.

And for deals, keep an eye on http://www.xpbargains.com. From first-hand experience, you can save hundreds of dollars by using coupon codes from that site. Dell in particular often has semi-secret coupon codes that will knock 15%, 25%, even 30% off the price of a machine.

Good luck! \:\)
_________________________
M80v2 | VP150v2 | QS8v2
SVS Pci+ 20-39
Emotiva UMC-1 & LPA-1
M22ti + T-Amp, in the Office

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#281320 - 12/03/09 12:06 PM Re: Laptops [Re: PeterChenoweth]
CatBrat Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 5801
Loc: Some random location
Just a warning on the extended warranties.

A few years ago, I bought a HP laptop with a 3 year extended warranty. I ordered both from HP online. All I had for paperwork was the shipping info.

After 2 1/2 years, the motherboard went out. When I contacted HP for maintenance, they said I had to prove I had bought the extended warranty with a receipt, and that the shipping notice was not sufficient. I couldn't prove it, so it's now a paperweight in my closet and I'll never buy anything from HP again.

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#281322 - 12/03/09 12:19 PM Re: Laptops [Re: CatBrat]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17741
Loc: NoVA
I wasn't sure if you were interested in a Mac, but I have my choice of laptops at work, pretty much. I have a Thinkpad T61p and a Macbook Pro (which, I will admit, is a bit newer). I use the Thinkpad only when I need the extra screen real estate to remote control computers. Otherwise, I spend all of my laptop time on the Macbook. If I had a T400s, it would be the same.
_________________________
I didn't do it, no one saw me, you can't prove anything.

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#281326 - 12/03/09 01:23 PM Re: Laptops [Re: Ken.C]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8268
Loc: Tacoma
Will Netbooks with the Atom processor run Office?
_________________________
bibere usque ad hilaritatem

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#281331 - 12/03/09 01:41 PM Re: Laptops [Re: tomtuttle]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3448
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
Yes, the Atom is fine for Office. Get one with nVidia's ION chipset and it'll play Blu-rays.
_________________________
Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K, PDP-5020FD, DV-79AVi
Axiom M22s, VP150, QS8s
Sony PS3, surround backs
-Chris

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#281335 - 12/03/09 02:27 PM Re: Laptops [Re: ClubNeon]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17741
Loc: NoVA
The one netbook I tried (a Dell Mini 10v) I just about threw through a window. Now, I was predisposed not to like it anyway, but here were the main problems:

1. The trackpad was terrible. Obviously the designers never used it during the design/testing phase. They tried to make it like the no button Macbook trackpad, but it's only about 1.5" tall, and it's not multitouch, so clicking the button in the lower left moves the cursor to the lower left. And you always run out of room moving the cursor up. Seriously stupid design.

2. The screen is, by definition, dinky. 600 vertical pixels is nothing, especially with a modern OS. Consider the Start menu--this screen isn't big enough to show the whole thing!

It's actually reasonably fast on start up running Windows XP, which surprised me, but with a 1 GB of RAM limitation (thanks, Intel!), there's no way you're going to be running more than one, maybe 2 programs at one time. Browser and email, check, oops, better close one so you can run Word!
_________________________
I didn't do it, no one saw me, you can't prove anything.

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#281336 - 12/03/09 02:38 PM Re: Laptops [Re: PeterChenoweth]
oldskoolboarder Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/25/03
Posts: 2181
Loc: Menlo Park, CA
I really like the Thinkpads. My coworkers use the newer T6x series and those are nice. I really like the X series but you lose the DVD player.

Macbooks are nice but you pay the 'tax'. Don't think of it as only a Mac, you can make it a PC by running Boot Camp or Parallels/VMWare/VirtualBox. My wife runs her Macbook w/ XP and it's pretty much a PC.

I have a Dell Mini 9 and love it, but wish the keyboard was bigger. The 10v is rated well.

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