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Author Topic: Need a new laptop - advice?
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 01:01      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yeah, it's me again, asking what I do once every few years, it seems. Our MacBook is fading, so it's time to buy a new laptop. There are so many options out there now that I'm not sure where to spend our hard-earned money. I'm hoping that someone(s) here will have some advice/opinions that they could share.

We do the following with our computer:
- access Facebook, Ravelry, YouTube, and various other Internet sites
- create/print Word documents for teaching school
- upload pictures to the Internet
- occasionally listen to music

I was looking at the new Google Chromebooks. Have you any feedback about them? We don't have a huge budget (new MacBook is not a consideration), so the $250 price tag is appealing, but not if we're going to be regretting our purchase.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 07:13      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My experience is to avoid Walmart. We bought two Name brand Laptops from WM only to find out that they were refurbished, factory returns. Also when one of them needed a new sound card I was informed that I would have to have WM order the replacement part.

Now the MrsMoMan just got a system 7 HP that I have not had to deal with as often as these from WM.

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 09:22      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Most of what you're doing will work fine on a Chromebook. The biggest problem you'll encounter is that Microsoft Office does not exist on the platform. You'll have to use an alternative like Google Docs.

Depending on the complexity of your documents and the features used, exporting from one to the other might not be perfect. If you haven't used Word alternatives before, I would strongly suggest trying them on your current system to see how well they work for you and how well your documents can be transferred back and forth.

A second potential problem is that the ChromeOS is designed to be online. Offline functionality has been added but isn't always feature-complete. The various apps can usually be set to work in offline mode, but there are some that can't. You also usually have to be able to get online in order to switch to offline mode (anything that stores data in the cloud will require this). If you have consistent internet access, none of this should be a significant problem but it is something to be aware of.

Finally, read the reviews for the Chromebook model that you decide to buy (if you decide to buy one). There are several manufacturers (Acer, Samsung, HP) and each has it's own strengths and weeknesses.

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Snaggy

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Icon 3 posted June 10, 2013 10:42      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
what's your maximum budget?
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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 10:47      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Will open office work with the google OS?

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 12:53      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TheMoMan:
My experience is to avoid Walmart. We bought two Name brand Laptops from WM only to find out that they were refurbished, factory returns. Also when one of them needed a new sound card I was informed that I would have to have WM order the replacement part.

Now the MrsMoMan just got a system 7 HP that I have not had to deal with as often as these from WM.

Yeah, I avoid Walmart - and most big box stores - with a vengeance.

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Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 12:59      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Snaggy:
what's your maximum budget?

LOL. That would be a good thing to mention.

We're in the process of buying a house right now, so I'm looking to stay under $500. From what I've seen, there doesn't appear to be much difference between a $250 laptop and a $750 laptop, but then, I haven't been following computer specs in the past few years, and those details don't mean as much to me as they probably should.

I've been checking out eBay, and I'm going to see what NewEgg and TigerDirect offer. BestBuy scares me.

Oh, and we want a fairly small laptop, like 13" or 14". I have a 17" or 19" Dell for work; it's ridiculously heavy and designed more for use on desks, rather than on laps.

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Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 13:03      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TheMoMan:
Will open office work with the google OS?

See, I don't think so. If I'm reading the specs correctly, ChromeOS runs apps, not programs, so you can't download/install OpenOffice. The other thing I should think about is that as my husband is a math teacher, he needs to use Equation Editor (or something like it) to write his lesson plans and make worksheets for the kids. I think ChromeOS has apps to do that, but I don't know how well they play with Word docs.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 18:46      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The difference between a $250 and $750 laptop? It's nonexistent if both run Windows 8. [Wink]

But seriously - the $250 laptop will probably be a piece of garbage that you curse at everyday once a month or so has gone by and the novelty has worn off.

I'm a bit biased, but today's new MacBook Airs are looking /mighty nice/.

IMHO, spending a few extra dollars on something that will last you many years is better than spending fewer dollars on something that will become antiquated in relatively short order.


As to PCs and big box stores - I honestly /would/ buy one there rather than somewhere small. Not Walmart, as I never set foot in such labor unfriendly places, but Staples or something similar. If you have a Costco membership, I've heard *great* things about them w.r.t. problematic devices and an extremely friendly replacement/repair policy. (And they tend to sell pretty affordable computers.)

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Snaggy

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Icon 14 posted June 10, 2013 20:52      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I was going to say MacBook Air too!

We might be selling our original MacBook Air, but I'm not sure what they are worth now. If I have time and it turns out to be in your budget, I'll let you know!

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 21:19      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Snaggy:
I was going to say MacBook Air too!

We might be selling our original MacBook Air, but I'm not sure what they are worth now. If I have time and it turns out to be in your budget, I'll let you know!

I feel like the MacBook Air has too many bells and whistles for what we want. I'm sure you guys are running it to its full potential. That wouldn't be us. I can't even stand iPhoto. I use Preview to download pictures from my camera.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 22:32      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bells and whistles? It's a laptop, not a Toshiba.

I don't use most of the Apple applications either (save for iTunes & Preview) - I copy my pictures with Finder. Still, it's a system that doesn't crash, burp, or otherwise foul up my day. [Smile]

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted June 10, 2013 23:13      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
TheMoMan wrote:
Will open office work with the google OS?

Not really, but kind of if you're willing to put a lot of work into it. There was a company that offered a cloud-based version, but that closed down. LibreOffice has built-in support for running it in a web browser, but you have to have a Linux server somewhere to run the server portion and you can only use it when you have internet access.

Rhonwyyn wrote:
The other thing I should think about is that as my husband is a math teacher, he needs to use Equation Editor (or something like it) to write his lesson plans and make worksheets for the kids. I think ChromeOS has apps to do that, but I don't know how well they play with Word docs.

The only one I'm aware of is the one in Google Docs and reviews say that it isn't too compatible with MS Office. This might have been improved since those reviews, but you'd want to try it first. Fortunately, Google Docs is free to use and you can try it now rather than waiting until you've bought a computer. If you're doing all the work and printing from the one computer, it won't be a problem. If you have to move your documents to MS Office, it could be an issue.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted June 11, 2013 00:31      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
While I'm not too keen on a ChromeBook*, I will say that I'm pretty impressed by Google Drive (née Docs) lately. I was helping someone with a Nexus 7 who was interested in writing/composing notes/documents on it and on a hunch, I downloaded the Google Drive app. Wow! It's certainly not OpenOffice or MS Office, but it would give TextEdit or iOS Notes a run for the money. The fact that such documents are immediately available on one's desktop or laptop is also quite handy.

*Isn't it basically a NetBook that doesn't suck because it isn't running Windows...but then is a bit lacking because it doesn't do what you expect it to do? (Much in the same way that Windows NetBooks suck because they're way underpowered to do the things you expect them to do.) You might as well get an Android tablet and a keyboard no?

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 11, 2013 17:18      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
Bells and whistles? It's a laptop, not a Toshiba.

I'm sorry, but I don't understand this. I thought Toshiba made PC-compatible laptops that weren't really any different from any other laptop?

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted June 11, 2013 21:25      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyyn:
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
Bells and whistles? It's a laptop, not a Toshiba.

I'm sorry, but I don't understand this. I thought Toshiba made PC-compatible laptops that weren't really any different from any other laptop?
Toshiba sells computers chockful of 'utilities' to 'enhance' your something-or-other. In other words, bells and whistles. The number of running processes starting with 'T' is surely greater than the number of letters in Toshiba. About the only thing worse than Toshiba in this realm (that I've witnessed) is the management suite Landesk.

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 11, 2013 21:44      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyyn:
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
Bells and whistles? It's a laptop, not a Toshiba.

I'm sorry, but I don't understand this. I thought Toshiba made PC-compatible laptops that weren't really any different from any other laptop?
Toshiba sells computers chockful of 'utilities' to 'enhance' your something-or-other. In other words, bells and whistles. The number of running processes starting with 'T' is surely greater than the number of letters in Toshiba. About the only thing worse than Toshiba in this realm (that I've witnessed) is the management suite Landesk.
So Toshiba's out. [Smile]

How do you feel about Dell?

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Snaggy

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Icon 10 posted June 12, 2013 10:38      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"I feel like the MacBook Air has too many bells and whistles..."

lol, I think you are the first person ever to describe a MacBook Air like that!
(laughing with you, not at you)
[Big Grin]

Here's a few links if you are going Mac...
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-places-buy-refurbished-mac-laptops-mac/

iBooks
http://www.powermax.com/parts/code/PM_CU_IB_14

MacBook Pro:
http://www.powermax.com/parts/code/PM_CU_MB_15

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Ugh, MightyClub
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Icon 1 posted June 12, 2013 14:02      Profile for Ugh, MightyClub     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have no real problem with the commercial-grade Dells we use at work. But my limited experience with the consumer line of Dell laptops is that the build quality is fairly awful. And I have no idea how much extra crap Dell loads on these days.

I'm also here to say that even though I am a step or two below Apple Fanboi status I would urge you to not be afraid of Windows 8. I wanted to hate it. I basked in the glow of early negative reviews. I took comfort in the ridicule aimed at the Surface. But then I started playing with it a bit for work and... it's not so terrible. Certain things do take some adjustment. But hate it I do not.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted June 12, 2013 20:09      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ditto Ugh about Dell. My experience w/Dell differs somewhat from consumer grade gear. (OTOH, I got an acquaintance to buy a Latitude /many/ years ago instead of an Inspiron and he's using it to this day without issue.)

Basically, to my earlier remarks, you get what you pay for.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted June 12, 2013 20:56      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You mean that all of these curbstone Computers I have are just JUNK? Some of them have served me well after I put Ubuntu on the HD.


Truthfully I have an old quadra that I do finances on.

A Compaq with Puppy, Ubuntu, and winblows.

Another Compaq that I use for GPS with the motor home.

The MrsMoMan has a new HP with 7 installed.

From the Quadra on in the list I have bought all of those the real workhorses are freebies.

A high end Dell I use for Sound Card Modes, and a iTi I use for SDR Software Defined Radio

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 12, 2013 22:47      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Ugh, MightyClub:
I would urge you to not be afraid of Windows 8. I wanted to hate it.

My Dell for work has Win7. I hate it. As my coworker put it, the designers took a working system and added two or three extra steps to everything we do.

Based on your comment, I wonder if M$ deliberately made Win7 awful so that everyone would be ready to jump to Win8.

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted June 12, 2013 22:53      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Something I just thought of... should I try taking this computer to the Apple Store to see if they can figure out if something's wrong with it? Do you think they could do something for it, or would they try to sell me a new machine?

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted June 12, 2013 23:10      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyyn:
quote:
Originally posted by Ugh, MightyClub:
I would urge you to not be afraid of Windows 8. I wanted to hate it.

My Dell for work has Win7. I hate it. As my coworker put it, the designers took a working system and added two or three extra steps to everything we do.

Based on your comment, I wonder if M$ deliberately made Win7 awful so that everyone would be ready to jump to Win8.

Umm...I guess you haven't touched Vista. Or Win8.

Most people 'in the industry' loathe Windows Vista and consider 7 to be a breath of fresh air by comparison. OTOH, Windows 8 is like being waterboarded. (OK.../slight/ exaggeration. [Razz] )

I'd be perfectly happy not to have to get rid of XP for the foreseeable future, but if that happens and I still have to use Windows, I'd much rather it be Win7.

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CommanderShroom
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Icon 1 posted June 13, 2013 09:53      Profile for CommanderShroom     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
The number of running processes starting with 'T' is surely greater than the number of letters in Toshiba. About the only thing worse than Toshiba in this realm (that I've witnessed) is the management suite Landesk.

This is why the first thing I do with any computer is reload the OS. If it's mine, Debian, otherwise I will figure out how to wipe and rebuild the system without the garbage.

And I know about the difficulties of LanDesk all too well.

My 0.02 here.

Save up for a new Mac. I know that the price is painful, but you are Mac people from the sounds of it. I think that in the long run you will be much happier if you do.

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