advice on replacing an aging craptop

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Luke, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Hi all. I'm not a techie by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't want to become one and waste a couple days researching laptops. My theory about computers is that since I don't demand much from them, I don't spend a lot on them. Every 3 or 4 years, it's about time to upgrade or replace anyways, so why spend a ton.

    So to those of you who follow along with where the deals are, if you were looking to buy a cheapo Windows laptop (the one I'm using now was around $350 four years ago and while it's no world beater it's still robust enough to run Photoshop, Lightroom and do what little I expect of it), what would you get?

    So I don't need anything really any better....Moore's law should take care of that already just from the calender turning over, but it's getting a little old and I'd rather replace it on my time schedule than wait until it dies and rush into something.

    Thanks in advance for your time and suggestions.
     
  2. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
  3. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    No size or weight requirements. 17" seems like a decent size, but I'm using a 15" now and that seems fine as well. Maybe a 15" would actually be better since it barely fits on the end table by the couch. Hadn't even thought about that.
     
  4. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    The problem (IMHO) is that most cheap 15" models saddle you with the low-res 1366x768 screen. My lappy is the same Dell Vostro 1500 I bought 5 years ago, primarily because the res is 1440x900 and too get a new one that matches that resolution would cost too much.

    What are the specs of your current laptop?
     
  5. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I hesitate to say this, given the word "cheap" being bandied about... but why not go Mac? 13" Macbook Air is $1199 and has 1440x900. The Macbook Pro "Retina" is another option with high resolution (and a much higher price, of course). The thing is, any decent screen is going to cost a lot. That's why the cheapo PCs dont have them.

    Also worth considering is the second hand market. Try your local Gumtree. You might be able to pick up second hand PC laptop with a high res screen thats inside your budget. Also... seriously... buying new now is going to get you Windows 8 in most cases and that is the most illconceived piece of poo I have ever had the misfortune to come across. Get a Windows 7 machine if you can, its a much better option.
     
  6. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I bought a 17" Asus sometime last year to replace my old 15" Lenovo. I can't remember the specs but at the time they were decent and it cost me about $700. The 1.5Tb hard drive is nice. The body is bigger of course but the 1600 pixel screen resolution is worth it. We don't take it out of the apartment, but it is used literally as a "laptop".
     
  7. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    You can get a Windows laptop with a decent screen for much less than the MacBook Air. The MacBook Air is also a highly limited machine, the price one pays for such portability. Perhaps a 2011 MacBook Pro?

    Win8, while the interface is teh suxor for PC use, is easily modified to make the experience Windows 7-like.
     
  8. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Asus makes a lot of nice stuff, although their tech support is somewhat lacking for typical end-users. If I were going for an ultrabook-class unit, I'd definitely get an Asus Zenbook.
     
  9. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I've been Mac since 2007, but have been using a Dell from work with Win 7. Very impressed with Win 7, and would not be afraid of a new Win laptop.

    Is this your main machine? The screen res and color gamut, IMO, are the biggest issues. Do you have a good external screen? I prefer a small laptop with a good sized external screen. Then, you are free to get a more compact one, but whatever you do, work to get a RAM upgrade. 4GB at least, and at 8GB, performance is always soooo much better. Even if you pay BestBuy (or whomever) to do the RAM add-on. Just my two cents worth, and I've probably already blown your budget, lol.

    One thought -- check out Dell (or HPs) small business offerings. I've found better deals there than the consumer offerings, and they often come with less bloatware and more options. Just sign up under your record store as a business. Then, of course, enjoy several years of catalogs for small business coming to your house, lol.

    Lastly -- check Newegg or even B&H!
     
  10. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    yep, lots of RAM. At least 6 for win7/8.
    My Lenovo G770 is only "ok". I had a damn great Samsung RF711 for a few weeks which was fabulous (bags of storage, very fast, lovely screen) but I had two with faults and gave up. Just bad luck I expect.
    also budget for a colour calibration device like a Spyder. It really does make a difference
     
  11. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    I don't know. I got an HP G62 with an corei3 processor a couple of years ago. It runs well and with an upgrade to 8Gigs of ram, I don't need anything faster. It runs music restoration software, Lightroom, Photoshop with no problems. I don't do much video, but what little I've worked with has not been a problem on the machine. I always do critical work on photos on my desktop, with a real monitor, mostly because it's calibrated with my printer, so it makes life easy.

    Oh! I know for those who use them, it can be almost a religious experience, but I've always hated Macs. The interface justs frustrates the hell out of me. I've had to use them at work, so it's not lack of practice -- a conflict of personalities I guess.
     
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  12. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    But its not going to have *that* screen or the portability. (1440x900 on 13" is gorgeous)

    Only if it were the 15" with the hi-res screen and you are getting into v expensive there. I have a low end 13" which suits me OK, and when needed, pair it to a Dell U2410 screen. With the benefit of hindsight, (always 20/20) I ought to have simply got myself another iMac. But... didnt... oh well.
     
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  13. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    my current screen is crap. My next screen will be crap as well. I'm fine with that.

    I buy nice cameras because I love cameras and I love taking photographs. Computers bore me to tears. I will not spend real money on one. Last time I did was one named after a fruit and it died a few weeks after the 2 year warranty was over. That was $1,000 down the drain. Now I buy Windows-based crappy ones (the cheaper the better it seems) and they work fine and I replace them while they still have a bit of life left. I want a cheap one that will do what I ask of it. I was kinda just wondering if someone could tell me which $400 craptop was best. But maybe they are all the same.

    Maybe I'll just go to Best Buy tomorrow and look them over.
     
  14. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    For $150 less than the MacAir (which, granted, is not *much* less), you can get an Asus Xenbook with a 13.3", 1920x1080 IPS screen. :cloud-9-039:

    Of course, I have a feeling we are doubling what Luke is looking to spend! :doh:


    1.5 years ago my brother's boss won a MacAir in a raffle... he's unpacked it, but never turned it on! :mad:
     
  15. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Well, I can't tell you which one is best, but I can tell you this:

    A few years ago, I contracted with a company which supported mobile technology to pharmaceutical companies all over the world; Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, etc. We literally managed and did warranty work on 10's of thousands of Windows-based laptops per year. Our own internal tracking found that the repair rate of laptops were generally split into 2 tiers: the consumer-grade laptops, like Dell Inspiron, HP Pavillion, etc. had a greater frequency of repair compared with "business-class" laptops, like Thinkpad, Dell Latitude, HP NC series. What it boils down to, essentially, is that budget laptops are generally all built to similar quality standards, no matter the brand.

    All else being equal, I would be inclined toward Lenovo Ideapad, as there is (hopefully) a trickle-down effect from their premium Thinkpad line, and they do have a decent reputation for support, unlike Dell & HP.
     
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  16. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    Imagine how much nicer the nice photographs would be on a nice screen? If you shoot digital, the computer screen IS a photographic product. Buy a junk box but at least allow yourself to fully appreciate your images with a good monitor.

    Gordon
     
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  17. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Gordon, I agree with you 100%, except for the fact that my workflow is "process photos on the couch while my wife watches horrible TV." Much as I would prefer a cheapo tower with a kick-ass screen in my office.....that doesn't work for me.

    My days are filled with work. And my nights are time to spend with my wife (and lucky for me that she allows me to play with my pictures). I can't reconcile the difference in price between a great screen on a laptop and a crap screen on a machine that does (ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME THING).

    Imagine if there were 2 cameras that were nearly identical except the viewfinder was WAY better on one. And one cost $399 and one cost $1,399.

    Maybe I just lucked out, but when I print my photos, the colors very nearly match what I'm getting on my four year POS laptop. Maybe the way I decide should be to bring a memory card with some favorite shots that I have printed out and see if I can get the screen to come close to displaying what I see in print.
     
  18. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Luke see if you can find your brand of laptop somewhat updated.. maybe the results and the price will be similarly acceptable. Good for you btw for knowing what you want and and need and not being compelled to get shineys. :)
     
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  19. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Indeed. For $400 he's going to get something OK but not startling. Pity about his previous mac. Its amazing to me it died at 2 years, but I suppose it happens. All mine were going strong at 5+
     
  20. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Good idea. If you dont want to spend much, you need at least to be able to see if what you shoot is going to be usable on screen.

    I had a craptop from Acer for about 30 seconds, I thought I needed it for some Windows programs (one diabetic logging tool which linked to a meter, and another logging tool for my sleep apnea machine) so I thought I might be able to use it for photography also, but the photographs looked worse on that 15" 1366 screen than they do on my current 13" 1280 screen. It was dead cheap too, under $400, would have been great if I could have kept it, but it was just unusable, as far as I was concerned.

    I love my 13" screen, its just the right size, and most of the time its in the loungeroom whilst *I* watch horrible TV, but if I want to do a bunch of processing (not just one or two) its off to the study and a quick plugin of the Dell, for a really good experience. I'd probably be in there all the time if it were not both the hottest (in summer) and coldest (in winter) room in the house.
     
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