Looking for a laptop recommendation for my wife...

By foycur
Jan 13, 2008
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  1. It has been some time since I"ve even looked at laptops, and I need some guidance. My wife's HP Pavillion is about 4 years old and showing its age. I would like to replace it with another laptop for her, not necessarily a Pavillion. These are the specs I need to follow:

    --15.4" screen or larger
    --at least 2 GB DDR2 RAM, expandable to 4 GB
    --A laptop with XP would be grand, but it seems that all the new ones have that dog Vista, so I need at least 512 MB dedicated graphics.
    --graphics card not as important to her as to me, but it has to be able to handle Vista
    --HD-DVD player not a necessity
    --something with decent battery life

    I don't know where AMD and Intel stand at this point in terms of one over the other, so I don't care unless there is a clear winner with the users that frequent this website.

    Anything else I need to be looking at? THe last time I bought a laptop the 15.4" screens were all the rage, and 512 MB RAM was considered high end.
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

  3. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    1. before buying ensure the CPU is of a decent speed. 2.0ghz is the minimum and at least dual core

    2. ensure your RAM is maxed out. 2gb is standard nowadays. If you are graphics intensive, ensure you have more as integrated graphics borrows ram from the main board.

    3. ensure the HD is at least 7200 rpm or faster. You can always add an external drive if you need additional storage

    4. no need to buy software. There is plenty of freeware online that does an equal or better job than commerical.

    firefox.org
    openoffice.org
    7zip
    thunderbird

    just to name a few
  4. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 12,117   +23

    A. If you want decent battery life you'll need to upgrade from the standard 4 cell batteries that come as the stock offering.

    B. You can still get a laptop with XP by the following means:

    (i) eBay or other online websites that sell older or refurbished models.

    (ii) Newegg.com that has many choices (I know ZipZoomFly.com also sells laptops but I am not sure if they offer ones with XP).

    (iii) Go directly to manufacturer's websites such as HP, Lenovo (formally IBM), Sony, etc. Customize as you see fit.
  5. sallyduk

    sallyduk Newcomer, in training Posts: 16

    http://www.itcsales.co.uk/

    Sells Dell products at much discounted prices. Have made numerous desktop & laptop purchases from these guys & all are as described. Last laptop was an Inspiron 6400 at less than half Dell's direct price.

    If you purchase without OS already installed make sure you request drivers disk or you'll spend ages getting rid of all your ! ? in Device Manager.

    Look out for motherboard limitations on RAM - most are 2GB which might be OK for now but not much future proofing. Having said that you can always add RAM via PCI Express card slot.

    Be careful when looking at CPU speeds/Dual Core, ie. "minimum of 2GHZ Dual Core" is actually 2 x 2GHZ = 4GHZ which is currently very much at the top end of the range - all depends on what software you're intending to use & whether you do a lot of multitasking. If you're not intending to run heavy weight 3D graphic games or serious video editing or using CAD software then 2GHZ Dual Core is a little OTT as are the new Quad core CPUs & expensive. L2 Cache on the CPU is considered important & you should be looking for a min of 2mb (1mb for each core). 1.6GHZ Dual Core CPU is considered (currently anyway) a reasonable budget spec for most tasks along with a minimum of 1GB RAM (preferably more), 14.1" to15" WXGA LCD screen is pretty standard.

    But as always, the more you spend now the more you're future proofing - especially relevant for laptops as they're more difficult, more restrictive & more expensive to upgrade as compared to desktops.

    Best of luck!

    ps. just noticed you're in the States (here's me thinking everyone lives in the UK!) - not sure if ITC export.
  6. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,282   +24

    IMO, get a Dell XPS 1530 base model, customize it with 2GB of RAM and the 8600M graphics card and you'd have what you need for about $1200. Del''s XPS line is its best besides Alienware, with very few problems according to what I've seen.
  7. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

    I deleted my post thought Dell XPS 1530 was talking about a desktop
  8. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 5,899

    I have never heard of that possibility, care to elaborate ?

    We're talking about a laptop here, unless you're constantly running some distributed computing client, converting different video/audio file formats or crunching huge amounts of numbers you can be perfectly fine with something around 1.5/1.6GHz.

    I have to agree that you shouldn't skimp on memory for the simple fact that laptops tend to have 5400rpm hard drives (to save on battery life) & because of that it's better to launch lots of applications that will then run from memory thus lowering the need for multiple I/O operations on the hard drive.

    Have you considered the Lenovo Thinkpads ? If you want your laptop to be as reliable & to last as long as your previous HP, you might want to look into them.
  9. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    You need to determine your needs before shopping. whatever you get -ensure it is maxed out on ram and has a fast hard drive. Also ensure you have wifi and plenty of usb ports and a PCMCIA/PCI express slot. Processor speed it not so important unless you are a gamer, but you want a dual core minimum. Also ensure you use OPEN source software to save money. Programs like openoffice.org, firefox, 7Z, thunderbird, ccleaner, etc.... these will save you tons of money.
  10. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,711

    Just a word on appearance - have a look at the Ferrari range from Acer which are not quite so bloke-ish as the general run of the mill laptops!
  11. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,282   +24

    Acer doesn't produce such great laptops and all the ones I have seen have very high failure rates. The fact that they own eMachines (via Gateway) doesn't make you feel better either, although the Gateway PCs are quite reliable from what I've heard.
    And take Tedster's advice, get as much RAM as possible, since it'll save you a lot of battery power. More RAM means less chance of programs accessing the HDD for information, which in turn saves power.
     
  12. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,711

    Wow - I never knew that about E-Machines. I have sold loads of Acer laptops and only ever had one failure - and that was the power connection on a 4 year old laptop which had a hard life. Will rethink the strategy, perhaps!
  13. fairytale00

    fairytale00 Banned Posts: 65

    Personally I think Acer is a good brand for computer.
  14. rhythmstix

    rhythmstix Newcomer, in training

    my asus a6 has just gone back to the retailer ,1yr old with 2 yr warrantry, we were watching a dvd when the it lost all power, could be a repair, replace,or refund,will know in a week, incidently heard that laptops have a 20% failure rate, will also see if the retailers/manufacturers have any integrity when it comes to guarantees
  15. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 18,353

    to answer rhythmstix, it's a manufactures warranty (good idea hey)

    I have only sold about 15 refirbished Acer Laptops, none have come back.
    I like Acer, but prefer Dell due to their support and onsite service.
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