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Grahf
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"Laptop Help" , posted Wed 18 May 05:21post reply

Not sure how much attention this thread will get with all the E3 news floating about, but here goes. I'm sure I'm not the only one with these kinds of questions too.

I have recently started shopping for a laptop computer. I was wondering if anyone here knows some good info sites on the web (or just good info) regarding the options, prices, accessories, etc. when looking for a good laptop. I'm not too knowledgeable about batteries, wireless connections, accidental damage warranties and whatnot.

Some specific questions:
- What kind of battery is best? Is it worth getting an extra battery?
- If I get widescreen, does it drain the battery faster? How much more does it weigh?
- Right now Dell has a 25% discount on laptops and free shipping. How good are their laptops?
- I'm going to be using this computer in Hong Kong later this year. Does anyone happen to know if I need anything special for connecting to the internet, wireless and otherwise? Any other issues about using a computer and the internet in Hong Kong and the rest of China that I should be aware of?
- Are there any advantages to getting a better network card? What does Centrino do?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.






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Ammadeau
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"Re(1):Laptop Help" , posted Wed 18 May 05:27post reply

First, don't by a Dell anything if you can in any way avoid it. Their products are the worst quality you can get. Second, every laptop has networking built in. Mine that I'm using now has wi-fi, hard ethernet connection, and even a modem. You won't have any networking issues if its running XP, and that's been the standard for a while.

I personally loathe widescreen laptops so I can't help you any more than that. Mine is actually a Tablet PC, which is very cool if you have any sort of artistic inclinations. But this particular one only has a battery life of 2 hours. Most new laptops last 6-8 hours for low grade consumption (ie not using the dvd drive).





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kyo717
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"Re(2):Laptop Help" , posted Wed 18 May 06:10post reply

I'm not sure about specs and stuff like that, but I think Centrino is much lighter (Power Laptops can be pretty heavy...friend of mines has a 12 lbs laptop) and longer battery life compared to other processors. I might be wrong.

I've have always heard good things about Dell products but I don't use thier products myself so I can't verify.

Since Compaq merged with HP a while ago, you might wanna check out thier brand since most Compaq Presario brands has mostly HP parts.

If you want to go all out and get the works...Don't get alienware, it's a good brand but way overpriced. I'll ask my friend what he has later.





DarkZero
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"Re(1):Laptop Help" , posted Wed 18 May 07:08post reply

Well, the majority of my paycheck comes from selling laptops, so I suppose this is my kind of question. Here's the basic rundown:

As far as I see it, laptops pretty much come in two flavors. There are workhorse laptops, which are the Pentium 4s or Althon 64s. They're going to give you pretty much the same processing power as a desktop, often the same amount of RAM, and in the 15.4" or 17" models, you'll often find that they have an ATI or nVidia IGP, which will give you some amount of gaming performance. The other type would be the Pentium M or Centrino (same thing, really), which are going to give you less power, but much better battery life. They generally run around 1.4-1.7GHz, which is really more like 2.0-2.5GHz on a Pentium 4. The real advantage is that they often get about four or more hours of battery life when they're off the cord, compared to a P4 or Athlon 64's two or maybe three hours. Also, a Pentium M laptop is generally one to two pounds lighter than a P4 or Athlon 64, so where a 15.4" P4 laptop might be almost eight pounds, a 15.4" Pentium M is going to be more like six and a half to seven. It just depends on what you really need.

Do not buy a Celeron M laptop. Just don't.

For the most part, the only power difference you're going to see between screens is between a 14"-15" and a 17". The differences in power consumption between a 14", a 15", and a widescreen 15" are negligible. You're also going to see very little weight difference between a 15" and a 15.4" with the same processor, but a 14" will definitely be lighter than a 15" and a 17" will definitely be heavier. They don't vary THAT much, though. The average 14" laptop will weigh in around 6 to 6 1/2lbs., while a 17" will weight in at only around 8 to 8 1/2lbs. Not a HUGE difference.

Battery: Unless you're getting a custom built one and can actually choose what type of battery you want, I'd just buy the laptop, see if you like the battery life on it, and mail order another battery if you really need it.

Hong Kong: Nothing special about the wireless or wired connections as far as I know, but you'll probably need a power inverter, because I believe they use a difference power standard.

Warranty: The big deal about the warranty on a laptop is that the manufacturer's warranty won't cover the screen, which is an enormous repair cost. For the majority of the laptops I sell, the cost of the screen repair is more than the cost of the screen itself. It's all "buyer beware" though, because anyone whose warranty doesn't cover the screen will definitely out-and-out lie to you and tell you it does. No matter where you get it from, be sure to take a good look at whatever documentation is available about the warranty and make sure that you're not getting swindled out of a few hundred dollars.

Dell: Some people think Dell sucks, other people think that Dell just gets a bad reputation because they're willing to make a "bargain basement" line of computers with ultra low prices and ultra low quality, even though their higher-priced stuff is pretty good. Personally, I wouldn't bother with them.





EddyT
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"Re(2):Laptop Help" , posted Wed 18 May 08:13post reply

quote:

As far as I see it, laptops pretty much come in two flavors. There are workhorse laptops, which are the Pentium 4s or Althon 64s. They're going to give you pretty much the same processing power as a desktop, often the same amount of RAM, and in the 15.4" or 17" models, you'll often find that they have an ATI or nVidia IGP, which will give you some amount of gaming performance. The other type would be the Pentium M or Centrino (same thing, really), which are going to give you less power, but much better battery life. They generally run around 1.4-1.7GHz, which is really more like 2.0-2.5GHz on a Pentium 4. The real advantage is that they often get about four or more hours of battery life when they're off the cord, compared to a P4 or Athlon 64's two or maybe three hours. Also, a Pentium M laptop is generally one to two pounds lighter than a P4 or Athlon 64, so where a 15.4" P4 laptop might be almost eight pounds, a 15.4" Pentium M is going to be more like six and a half to seven. It just depends on what you really need.



The Pentium M will also keep your system a lot cooler. My sis and a friend of mine both have Pentium 4 chips in their setups. Both of their laptops get tremendously hot over a short period of time. It will literally burn you if you touch it. Mine is a Pentium M 1.6, and it never gets hot even after hours of use.

I have a Dell Inspiron 9200, which seems pretty solid and has not given me any problems so far. I've had the laptop since January... I've been pleased with it, and it definitely suits all of my needs with software. I have the newest Adobe CS2 Premium Suites, and that runs great. I also have Corel Painter IX, which runs very fast and without any lag.

I was also doing a lot of research about laptops, like you... and came up with the conclusion that Dell had the most to offer at a very reasonable price. I was also thinking of HP, but I wasn't able to customize it as well as I wanted. I also considered Alienware, but the expensive price drove me away. Same with Apple. It's unfortunate that it's very difficult to build your own laptop, compared to building your own desktop PC.

I can understand why people would not want to get Dell. Their customer service is not very good, and a lot of people have had bad experiences with them. I'm very lucky not to have any problems with my laptop, and it has exceeded my expectations so far. My recommendation is to keep doing research to find out what laptop will suit your needs, and read lots of reviews on cnet.com.





Grahf
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"Re(3):Laptop Help" , posted Wed 18 May 08:28:post reply

Wow, thanks for the info so far everyone. I have another quick question about screen sizes. What are the specific dimensions of the different screen sizes? Does a 14.1" screen with a 4:3 ratio have the same height as a 15.4" widescreen?

EDIT: Another quick question. Is it worth it to get an internal bluetooth card? From what I can tell, wireless mice usually use USB. And could I get an external card later if it turned out I needed one?





[this message was edited by Grahf on Wed 18 May 09:16]

DarkZero
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"Re(4):Laptop Help" , posted Wed 18 May 10:24post reply

quote:
Wow, thanks for the info so far everyone. I have another quick question about screen sizes. What are the specific dimensions of the different screen sizes? Does a 14.1" screen with a 4:3 ratio have the same height as a 15.4" widescreen?


It may be a trick of the eyes, but to me, a 15" and a 15.4" laptop have the exact same height, but one is just wider. It's the exact same thing, but one has a 4:3 ratio and the other has a 16:9.

It's worth checking out your local retail stores, though. They're not really that great for buying, but they're fantastic for seeing. By just looking at the specs of a laptop, I can't really tell the size or quality of the screen, nor the weight or overall bulk of the laptop itself. In particular, there's one model of HP that I'd like to buy that doesn't look that fantastic on paper, but looks excellent when there's a demo model sitting in front of you. Same with Acer and Sony. An HP, a Toshiba, a Sony, and an Acer are all going to say "hi-def screen" or some such in their specs, but that doesn't tell you just how much more beautiful the Acer and the Sony are compared to the HP and the Toshiba. The difference in screen quality is really outrageous. (Note: We just got the Acers last week, so I can't really tell you much about them. Beautiful screen, great specs, great price, but no idea how often they break.)

quote:

EDIT: Another quick question. Is it worth it to get an internal bluetooth card? From what I can tell, wireless mice usually use USB. And could I get an external card later if it turned out I needed one?



A Bluetooth USB adapter will only set you back about $30 to $40 right now, so I don't see any reason to get an internal. Yes, it takes up a USB slot, but if you're using it for a mouse, then it's only going to be taking up the same spot that an RF or Infrared adapter would be taking up for a normal wireless mouse. And if you're using it to connect to a PDA, a headset, a printer, or whatever else, then it only needs to be in there when you're interfacing with that specific device. And they're only about the size of a flash drive, too.





Grahf
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"Wireless trouble with MMCafe" , posted Mon 23 May 15:16post reply

Well, I got the laptop and everything works great. It's a Sony Vaio 15.4" Widescreen and looks really nice.

I am having a very specific and peculiar problem, though. For some reason the Madman's Cafe runs really, really slow when I'm using wireless internet. It seriously takes about 30 seconds to load any time I click something, and I'm on broadband. This post alone is taking forever. The weird thing is that this ONLY happens on Madman's Cafe. Every other website comes up lightning fast. Also, Madman's Cafe comes up at normal speed on my old computer using the same cable connection, just not wireless.

Has anyone else experienced similar problems? Anyone know causes or solutions? Professor? Thanks in advance for any help.





Maou
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"Re(1):Wireless trouble with MMCafe" , posted Mon 23 May 15:33post reply

Oddly enough, Grahf, I have had the same problem with the Cafe ever since the BBS's new server came into being. At first, I was wondering if it was the crummy broadband company I'm using this year till the end of the month or what, but ever since the BBS change it takes around 30 seconds at best to load anything, which seems a bit odd considering I'm using Using Windows 2000 and recent Internet Explorer. !Another Mystery!





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EddyT
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"Re(1):Wireless trouble with MMCafe" , posted Mon 23 May 15:56post reply

quote:

I am having a very specific and peculiar problem, though. For some reason the Madman's Cafe runs really, really slow when I'm using wireless internet. It seriously takes about 30 seconds to load any time I click something, and I'm on broadband. This post alone is taking forever. The weird thing is that this ONLY happens on Madman's Cafe. Every other website comes up lightning fast. Also, Madman's Cafe comes up at normal speed on my old computer using the same cable connection, just not wireless.



Do you have the laptop plugged in or not when you surf the web? I don't know how to fix it, but I remember I had horrible times trying to load pages when I was not plugged in. A friend of mine changed a setting, so that it would still keep the WiFi running at full strength when it wasn't plugged in. I can ask how he did that if you'd like.

Congratulations on finally choosing a system. I hope it really works out for you well. For me, I'm pretty satisfied with what I have right now. The screen may not be as clear as other models I've seen (I really wish I heard more about Acer before going to Dell, but oh well), but every system out there is going to have their good and their bad sides. It's really best not to dwell on the bad, especially if there's so much good things for your system that are working well for you. After this laptop, I don't see myself getting another desktop again. Laptops are just so much more convienent for me.





DarkZero
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"Re(1):Wireless trouble with MMCafe" , posted Tue 24 May 07:44post reply

quote:
Well, I got the laptop and everything works great. It's a Sony Vaio 15.4" Widescreen and looks really nice.



No clue about the wireless problem, but I'd just like to add that those 15.4" Vaios are sweet. Definitely some of the best laptop screens I've ever seen.





Grahf
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"Re(2):Wireless trouble with MMCafe" , posted Tue 24 May 12:25post reply

OK, some more information on the wireless issue. When I connect using my neighbor's wireless connection, MMCafe comes up just fine.

So, the situation must have to do with my router specifically. Has anyone had any problems opening specific websites on a wireless router?

Also the MMCafe main page comes up fine even on my router. Is the message board on a different server or something?

Thanks again for the help.