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lynnl
12-06-2011, 05:44 PM
I'm thinking about buying a laptop and router so the spouse and I can both compute harmoniously and simultaneously.

This is just general purpose, household use; no special requirements.

I've become a dinosaur for the last few years, and not been keeping up with all the techno stuff. Our current desktop unit is at least 5 or 6 years old.

Anybody have any recommendations of what I should seek/avoid? CPUs/memory/disk space/etc. I guess windows..., what 7, is the only OS choice nowadays, other than of course the apple stuff or unix.

justanengineer
12-06-2011, 06:01 PM
While not directly computer related, I would highly recommend getting a good dock and second monitor if you are going to be regularly using it in a common location. Leave the dock on a desk and you can walk up, drop the laptop on the dock, and have monitors, speakers, mics etc instantly all connected instead of fighting with cables. Spare monitors also greatly enhance viewing/comfort/productivity. If you dont want to spend the bucks to buy new, USB monitors are easily sourced via Craigs in most areas pretty cheaply.

armedandsafe
12-06-2011, 06:13 PM
I don't have one in my shop, but my primary computer is a laptop. I picked up a nice LCD monitor at GoodWill for about 10 bucks. I had to repair the D connector and it was basically a plug'n'run after that.

I have used HP, IBM, Dell and Toshiba. I like HP the best, although all the others were satisfactory. I purchased everyone of the laptops and comupters I've used over the past 10 years through refurb, close-out or NOS.

I'm using a wireless router plugged into the desktop and my laptop and the wife's laptop interface and internet seamlesly.

I did not look for anything special in the laptops except drive storage, going fot the largest storage available. From there, I attached outboard hard drives via the USB ports. 60Gb for backup and 1 Tb for photos (my other business is photography.)

In other words, go for it. When Momma ain't happy, nobody's happy. ;)

Pops

goose
12-06-2011, 07:14 PM
For general household use, get a tablet (Kindle, Nook, Ipad, etc.). Unless you have a particular 3rd party application you need to run, laptops are obsolete.

Grind Hard
12-07-2011, 12:43 AM
For general household use, get a tablet (Kindle, Nook, Ipad, etc.). Unless you have a particular 3rd party application you need to run, laptops are obsolete.

I call BS on that.

I do quite a bit of 3D modeling and rendering on my laptop. I also run photo-editing software, 2D CAD as well as the full range of Office applications.

Show me a tablet that can do all of that and has a 500 gig hard-drive.

macona
12-07-2011, 02:26 AM
I agree, laptops are far from obsolete. Tablets have taken a big chunk out of the netbook and laptop market for those who were primarily looking for a portable browser/reader solution. They just don't have the HP of a laptop.

But for this situation, I agree, a tablet. If I ever get one it will be when apple puts a higher res display in the iPad. Android is fine, its just you got to watch out what you get. There are quite a few cheap tablets woefully under powered and running very old versions of android.

Allan Waterfall
12-07-2011, 02:43 AM
I now use a Mac,it's easier to use,doesn't keep constantly security updating and it also runs Windows7 from a separate partition for any software that won't run on a Mac.

Allan

Evan
12-07-2011, 03:33 AM
Unless you have a particular 3rd party application you need to run, laptops are obsolete.

Not yet they aren't. There is no reasonable substitute for a real keyboard. Having to haul around extra pieces eliminates any advantages in my book and my wife too.

For me, even a laptop doesn't fill the bill either. They don't make ones with the capabilities of my desktop and laptops aren't flexible enough. They cannot put 140 watts of CPU power in a laptop. Not now and not soon.

goose
12-07-2011, 08:05 AM
I call BS on that.

I do quite a bit of 3D modeling and rendering on my laptop. I also run photo-editing software, 2D CAD as well as the full range of Office applications.

Show me a tablet that can do all of that and has a 500 gig hard-drive.



I said "for general household use"

Unless the OP and his wife need to run CAD software, etc., there's no compelling reason to get a laptop in this case. My tablet provides email, web browsing, watch TV, etc.,

As for obsolescence, I think laptops are a compromise product that appeal mostly to a broad base of consumers who want to get basic computing needs along with portability. As tablets become more prevalent and powerful - and less expensive; the big, clunky, power consuming laptops will drop in popularity.

Weston Bye
12-07-2011, 08:19 AM
For general household use, get a tablet (Kindle, Nook, Ipad, etc.). Unless you have a particular 3rd party application you need to run, laptops are obsolete.

I don't agree that laptops are obsolete, but do agree that the tablet can be a good option. I got an I-pad, to be shared by the wife and me, ostensibly to use as a reader. Haven't downloaded a book, yet.

The plusses:
Instant boot-up and connectivity. Turn it on, immediately check e-mail, scan the BBS, etc, shut it off or let it go back to sleep on it's own.
Use it anywhere in the house - shop, couch, throne, bed, breakfast table. (Wi-Fi required)
Good battery life. A couple of days of moderate intermittent use. I'm using it more than usual right now in my convalescence and get 2-3 days on an overnight charge.

The minuses:
Less-than-perfect keyboard/editing. Good enough for casual text entry, but some cut-and-paste operations are beyond it's capability....or mine to understand the procedure.
Some functions are unsupported, like scrolling within the text editing box for this BBS. I can scroll the page that the box is on, just not in the box.

Pricey, but most versatile at the time.


Observation:
I was surprised at how fast I've become at one and two finger touch typing with the on-screen keyboard. There is built-in auto-capitalization at the beginning of a sentence and the single I,and limited spell checking.

Mcgyver
12-07-2011, 08:29 AM
I call BS on that.

.

+1. Doing lots of travel these days. :( I currently find i carry both, in some ways a bit silly, but the ipad is great for reading on the plane or restaurant, browsing where there's wifi, but you need a laptop for emails, word documents, contact management excel, power point etc. Try typing any volume on an ipad, its a mess...I'm fast with a tactile keyboard but find the ipad just sufficient for doing a google search and nothing more. Its completely inadequate for 4 hours of working on a report on a plane ride, with linked spreadsheets etc. They also have very limited resources, get a pdf with lots of large pics and they'll mess up the display and wreck a presentation.

ipad is a good product for what it is, but it does not serve the same function as laptop. My laptop is my mobile office, as well as my main computer when i am in the office, anyone seriously think an ipad, as it currently is, is an alternative?

terry_g
12-07-2011, 08:33 AM
My wife has an I-Pad and loves it. I find the display too small for my ageing eyes. I have a laptop I take on the road with me.
It's a mid range Dell. It does everything I need internet and email mainly.

We have owned three laptops to date and the only advice I would give is buy an extended warranty.
My first laptop a Toshiba was in for repair on extended warranty three times on extended warranty.
One of the repairs was over $500.00.

Terry

madwilliamflint
12-07-2011, 09:20 AM
Tablets are great, I've got one and love it. But they're not computer replacements.

For laptops, I really love Asus hardware. My last few have been made by them.

I'd go to a Best Buy or something to try out keyboards and touchpads and pointer thingies. It's amazing how different they can be and how off-putting they are when they're "just not quite right somehow." That will help you narrow down the brand at least.

Aside from that I really think we're past the point where, unless you're doing something specific and computationally intensive, it matters much.

Harvey Melvin Richards
12-07-2011, 09:33 AM
My wife has an I-Pad and loves it. I find the display too small for my ageing eyes. I have a laptop I take on the road with me.
It's a mid range Dell. It does everything I need internet and email mainly.

We have owned three laptops to date and the only advice I would give is buy an extended warranty.
My first laptop a Toshiba was in for repair on extended warranty three times on extended warranty.
One of the repairs was over $500.00.

Terry

If you think the iPad is small, be glad you don't have an iPhone.

I have a brand new Dell high end desktop. I've spent 20 or more hours talking to support trying to get the internet to connect consistently.

I re-installed the OS on my 8 year old Toshiba laptop and it still runs great.

We probably have 30 computers of all makes where I work. There are crappy ones made by all the big names.

lynnl
12-07-2011, 09:43 AM
As I said, I'm a dinosaur. I know next to nothing about kindles, ipads, androids (whatever that is), and frankly have no interest in learning.

If the rest of the world wants to be forever migrating to teenier, tinyier gadgets that's fine, but it's not for me. I want a real keyboard and a display big enough to see. And for books, I want to turn pages and hear the rustle and crinkle of paper.

The last 3 or 4 years of work I used a company provided IBM Thinkpad, loaded with company networking software, and other unique applications, to permit troubleshooting and emergency oncall work from home. I got pretty comfortable with that, but still preferred a desktop. I did have a docking station at the workplace.

With just the wife and I in a big house, I've got plenty of room to set up another desktop, but the mobility feature will be nice.

I also don't know much about the wifi. As I understand it, I just position that box between my DSL modem and my desktop, and then the laptop will "magically" interface with the internet. Am I oversimplifying that?
Any gotcha's I need to be aware of?

(added)
Speaking of WiFi, I get the 'Wi' as wireless, but what is the 'Fi' in that term?

macona
12-07-2011, 11:20 AM
Yeah, slight oversimplification. Depending on your router from your internet supplier you may already have wifi. Does it have an antenna?

Other than that, you plug the router in to the dsl modem and then you plug all your other computers or accessories in to that. Then you use a computer to configure the router where you set things like the name for your wireless network, what kind of encryption, and password/key. Then on your portable device you will do whatever their procedure to connect to a wireless network and it will pop up a list available networks and you select yours and enter the password.

justanengineer
12-07-2011, 11:21 AM
First you need to setup a pretty simple to install program that should come with the WiFi router, but then it will magically connect, as long as you can get a good signal. The setup is pretty basic, and you can then run other fancy new things like wireless printers and even some speakers, if they are wifi capable.

I applaud you for knowing what you want and sticking with it. Im dealing with her Nook right now. Having had touchscreen toys (no more ipad for me! yay!!) in the past, two things I know - 1. Touchscreens dont last nearly as long as a real computer does and 2. Trying to do "real" work that involves data input with a touchscreen makes my finger joints feel like theyre 88, not 28. Yes, they make keyboards and cases, but carrying around other crap and being super careful of everything simply isnt always an option. Her nook was broken bc her 8 lb kitty stepped on it with a single paw, while it was in the soft case. $70 went bust rather quickly, as I knew it would.

RTPBurnsville
12-07-2011, 01:12 PM
For general household use, get a tablet (Kindle, Nook, Ipad, etc.). Unless you have a particular 3rd party application you need to run, laptops are obsolete.

I just got an ipad2 and it is a total joke, not even close to a real PC or laptop. It does have a nice screen but beyond that it does not even come close to a PC or laptop in user function. It has been used 3 times max and has found a nice place on the shelf. Someone is going to be getting one for Cmas, just not yet decided whom I really don't like all that much.

Robert

Evan
12-07-2011, 01:28 PM
How does anyone type on a tablet? On screen keyboards are worthless as input devices. No tactile sense at all, I can't stand zero travel push buttons on anything including microwave ovens or any other device. It eliminates a very important feedback mechanism that tells you what you a doing.

lynnl
12-07-2011, 01:38 PM
What's the story nowadays with processors? Seems a lot more complicated than the olden days with the xx86 or pentium2,3,4,etc.

In the ads I see "dual core", quadruple core, etc.; and Intel vs AMD does that make much difference now, or are both brands about equally up to snuff?
...and the bios, is that a factor to consider? As stated, I'm woefully behind the times. :)

What I have now is a Compaq Presario, that I bought as a package at Best Buy. It has a Celeron processor 2.5Ghz, which was certainly not top echelon even when I bought it. But it's been adequate for my purposes. I was having some performance issues a couple of years ago, and Cuemaker (hsm member) helped me out, and at that time I upgraded the ram to a max of 1GB. With Cuemakers guidance and the added ram, performance was better, but still nothing to write home about.

I realize anything I get now should far surpass that, but I don't want to get something near the bottom, nor do I need "top of the line" either for that matter.

lost_cause
12-07-2011, 01:42 PM
these new small high-tech devices that are being marketed as computer replacements are becoming one more problem in a production environment. in the field i work in i've been seeing more and more people trying to do their job on a blackberry from home, the car, or wherever. the problem is, they aren't able to do it well, so everything is taking longer to do because it has to be done again to get the right answers. isn't the point of these devices to streamline production?

most people who do what i do have all settled on using TWO 19" (or larger) monitors. that way you can have one to view construction documents that were originally intended for 24"x36" or larger hard copies and use the other screen for other applications. you aren't having to tab back and forth and zoom in or out to look at a small detail. this isn't even practical to try from a phone, but that doesn't stop them from doing it.

you then have to evaluate the poor answer given, and ask the question again, and hopefully the second time around they will use a larger screen to look at things, or maybe at least be more careful if they insist on using the phone. these devices are probably fine in some fields as a computer replacement, but even a 17" laptop is borderline for some things - it will work, but it's a lot harder to do things.

goose
12-07-2011, 02:04 PM
How does anyone type on a tablet? On screen keyboards are worthless as input devices. No tactile sense at all, I can't stand zero travel push buttons on anything including microwave ovens or any other device. It eliminates a very important feedback mechanism that tells you what you a doing.


I guess tablets, touch screen devices and all aren't a big hit with the curmudgeony crowd. Nevertheless, all PC technology is going in that direction quickly. Go take a look at the local big box electronics store, you might be surprised what's selling and what's collecting dust in the back aisle. In my estimation, you will not be able to find a conventional laptop (flips open, built in keyboard and fingerpad, & harddrive and CD rom) a year from now.


You want tactile feedback, go find an old Oliver typewriter.

Weston Bye
12-07-2011, 02:26 PM
How does anyone type on a tablet? On screen keyboards are worthless as input devices. No tactile sense at all, I can't stand zero travel push buttons on anything including microwave ovens or any other device. It eliminates a very important feedback mechanism that tells you what you a doing.

The i-Pad has audible feedback, as well as the keys change shades of grey when touched. The keys are well spaced, similar to a *real* keyboard. It is not true touch typing as you (or at least I) have to watch where the fingertips land, as well as watch the resultant typed text. It works. Better than I expected. For a writer, I don't type very fast, on a tablet or otherwise. I wouldn't choose the tablet for writing an article, but for most posting, it's not too bad.

Back when I was building machine tool controls, I was suspicious of anything but the big old NEMA 12/13 pushbuttons that could be pushed with a gloved finger, thumb or broom handle. Most of those have been replaced with touch screens.

Sent from my i-Pad:p

Harvey Melvin Richards
12-07-2011, 02:30 PM
I just got an ipad2 and it is a total joke, not even close to a real PC or laptop. It does have a nice screen but beyond that it does not even come close to a PC or laptop in user function. It has been used 3 times max and has found a nice place on the shelf. Someone is going to be getting one for Cmas, just not yet decided whom I really don't like all that much.

Robert

I think you are a moron. Do you need my address?:D

My wife has an iPad 1 and hardly uses it. I have an iPhone and use it all of the time. When the iPad 3 comes out, I will be getting one.

Harvey Melvin Richards
12-07-2011, 02:34 PM
How does anyone type on a tablet? On screen keyboards are worthless as input devices. No tactile sense at all, I can't stand zero travel push buttons on anything including microwave ovens or any other device. It eliminates a very important feedback mechanism that tells you what you a doing.

My wife has one of these on her iPad, and it makes it just like a laptop for typing. Still no mouse though.

http://www.amazon.com/Kensington-Performance-Bluetooth-different-adjustable/dp/B0054L7FVW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323286647&sr=8-1

I occasionally find myself tapping my computer screen with my finger trying to get it to respond.

Evan
12-07-2011, 02:46 PM
I guess tablets, touch screen devices and all aren't a big hit with the curmudgeony crowd.

I keep up with all the latest developments. Not all the latest developments are better than what they replace. A standard keyboard is miles ahead of a touch screen as an input device but it takes up space and costs more money. Touch screen keyboards exist because they are cheaper and make double use of screen real estate (which is also a negative). They don't exist because they are better.


You want tactile feedback, go find an old Oliver typewriter.

Never liked Olivetti. I have a wide carriage Underwood. :p

http://ixian.ca/pics9/type.jpg


My wife has one of these on her iPad, and it makes it just like a laptop for typing.

Might as well buy a laptop.

Weston Bye
12-07-2011, 02:49 PM
....I occasionally find myself tapping my computer screen with my finger trying to get it to respond.

Yep, me too. :D And have become somewhat dependent on the auto caps function.:o

Harvey Melvin Richards
12-07-2011, 02:55 PM
Might as well buy a laptop.

She has one, a nice Macbook. It's not the same thing. As long as you equate laptop to equal tablet, iPad etc, you aren't getting it.

Harvey Melvin Richards
12-07-2011, 02:58 PM
Yep, me too. :D And have become somewhat dependent on the auto caps function.:o

That is a great feature. I've always been a one finger type inputer on small keyboards, so the lack of tactile input doesn't bother me.

Evan
12-07-2011, 04:43 PM
As long as you equate laptop to equal tablet, iPad etc, you aren't getting it.

How useful is an iPad if you aren't online?


I've always been a one finger type inputer on small keyboards, ...

I guess that is the main problem. I touch type even in the dark. So does my wife. You can't touch type on a flat surface.

panchula
12-07-2011, 04:55 PM
Tablets are great for consuming media, not creating it. Granted, you can get a bluetooth keyboard for a tablet, but then you end up with something very akin to a netbook for about twice the price.

Laptops have become very powerful in their latest iterations. I'm currently supplied with a Lenovo Thinkpad quad core with 8 GB of RAM and a 500 GB disk, and a discrete Nvidia graphics card. It flat out hauls.

SGW
12-07-2011, 05:07 PM
I tried out an iPad a few weeks ago. I agree with Evan -- not all change is progress. Personally, I cannot think of anything I would prefer to use an iPad for, rather than use a small laptop. If I didn't have to carry it around, I would prefer a desktop with a big monitor and decent keyboard. To paraphrase W.C. Fields: "An iPad is like an elephant.. It's fun to look at, but you wouldn't want to take one home with you."

My family has Acer, Dell, Levono (IBM), System76, and Toshiba laptops. They all work. I think the Levono may be the most bullet-proof, though I have no real complaint about any of them. Dell may be the easiest to self-service because they have the repair manuals online, and there is a mail-order source of parts. .

Mcgyver
12-07-2011, 05:14 PM
How useful is an iPad if you aren't online?
.

extremely if you are reading.

a lot of this discussion is, imo, akin to arguing which is best, lathe or mill.


Tablets are great for consuming media, not creating it. .

nothing more to be said after that! :)

danlb
12-07-2011, 05:33 PM
I use a little of everything. :)

I'd suggest you buy either a tablet or laptop, depending on what support you have available. There are more applications and more tech support available for the PC. For instance if you need to ask for help from your kids, it helps if they have the same general system.

Whatever you get, I suggest at least a dual core. Most computers (and tablets and phones) have an OS that tries to do multiple things at once. In a well designed OS the second core keeps you from noticing that it's multitasking.

My personal situation:

I have a very capable android phone with a big, readable display. It does well as an 'instant on', always available pocket computer. I read kindle books on it daily, and it makes a swell MP3 player, internet radio, remote mail reader, etc. It's even a pretty decent phone. (HTC Evo 3D)

I have a laptop that is dual core, running Linux (because I'm one of those guys) and another running Windows 7 (for those rare occasions when I need the compatibility). They both do the same things. Lots of memory and dual core or better make all the difference. If you are always using it in one place the battery life is not an issue.

My desktop is a quad core linux box with multiple screens and gobs of memory. It's my main system at home. It happily runs everything at once, and is never turned off. It's really easy to see details on a 24 inch wide screen.

Dan

.RC.
12-07-2011, 05:58 PM
I would not buy an ipad given Apple have just gone and sued Samsung because the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 "looks" like an ipad, in so far that it is rectangular and flat..

Apple are just a bully company these days...

lazlo
12-07-2011, 05:58 PM
I agree, laptops are far from obsolete. Tablets have taken a big chunk out of the netbook and laptop market for those who were primarily looking for a portable browser/reader solution. They just don't have the HP of a laptop.

That's pretty concise.

For years, laptops have been "hollowing-out" the desktop market segment. Meaning, the percentage of desktops sold is decreasing, and the percentage of laptops is increasing, implying that people are chosing to buy a laptop over a desktop.
Netbooks started to hollow-out laptop sales, using the same metric.
Now tablets have supplanted Netbooks and are hollowing-out laptop sales.

But as had been said, tablets are essentially a giant smartphone. An iPad is literally a giant iPhone. So a Samsung ARM Cortex, mobile graphics, etc.

That's great for email, web surfing, reading eBooks and Office documents, but like Evan says, typing on them is miserable.

The graphics accelerators on tablets is improving by leaps and bounds, especially with the *cough* Tegra chipsets, but Android/iPad tablets will be ARM-core based for the foreseeable future, and therefore in a very different performance footprint than even the slowest PC.

Evan
12-07-2011, 06:24 PM
Whatever you get, I suggest at least a dual core.

Absolutely. Multi core is the best thing since, well, since one core. My Floor top machine is a six core Athlon and can run each core up to 3.6 ghz. Or, with the right software it can use all cores at once. For me that is a huge plus because I use special software for image stacking that is enormously CPU intensive. It is able to use all six cores at once and that means what would be a 1 hour job turns into a 10 minute job stacking images for my astrographs.

Naturally the average user doesn't need to do that but having at least 2 cores spreads the load very well with Win 7. It provides more horsepower just like multi engines do on an airplane.

goose
12-07-2011, 07:10 PM
The thing with laptops over desktops, is the consumer is choosing a device with a certain minimal amount of computing power, and is most interested in "low threshold" computing needs; (email, web browsing, gaming, photos and video, maybe Microsoft Office type stuff) None of which are impossible or really limited on a tablet. Sure, there's an occasional person running Solidworks or some other hi performance software on their laptop, but that's not a driving force in sales.

None of the advantages of laptops can't be met by touch screen tablets, especially considering the primary user/consumer, which is most likely a pretty girl sitting in a wifi spot - checking email, checking Facebook, web browsing, working on an occasional Word document, or viewing a PDF doc.

Desktops have their niche, and are preferable in their maximum cpu speed, storage, peripherals, and the "work station" feeling many (I do) prefer.


Laptop negatives:

finger pads
flimsy plastic construction
cramped, poorly designed keyboards
heavy, bulky
hot
long boot time
noisy

lynnl
12-07-2011, 07:35 PM
What is this "core" concept? Is this something analogous to the old "math coprocessor?" Or is it just another, parallel processor?
Does each core have its own dedicated on-chip memory or cache?

Evan
12-07-2011, 07:47 PM
A core is an entire processor that runs independently from the other cores on the same chip die. A core can be enabled or disabled and software can be assigned to run on particular cores or just one core or all as you wish. Depending on the CPU the cores can run at different clock speeds as well which conserves power. When my machine is idling all six cores drop back to 800 mhz which consumes very little power, perhaps 15 watts. The clock speed picks up automatically as the demand increases. Computing jobs are by default assigned to the cores by the OS and an attempt is made to equaliize the load. If the software is written for "multi threading" then it can run on more than one core at a time.

Multi threading isn't applicable to all computing jobs though. It is almost impossible to make use of multithreading with a CAD program. Rendering jobs shine on multi cores as they are ideal for multi CPU computing. Note that only Windows 7-64 bit takes full advantage of multi core CPUs ( of the Windows OS's). And yes, each core has its own cache.

lazlo
12-07-2011, 10:36 PM
Sure, there's an occasional person running Solidworks or some other hi performance software on their laptop, but that's not a driving force in sales.

None of the advantages of laptops can't be met by touch screen tablets

Not sure about that -- I have a quad core Nehalem in my work laptop, with a high-end graphics chip, and I run Visual Studio/parallel make and Solidworks renders on my laptop daily.

That's a pretty typical use of a corporate laptop, and you won't be doing that on an ARM core anytime soon...

danlb
12-07-2011, 11:16 PM
None of the advantages of laptops can't be met by touch screen tablets, especially considering the primary user/consumer, which is most likely a pretty girl sitting in a wifi spot - checking email, checking Facebook, web browsing, working on an occasional Word document, or viewing a PDF doc.
< snip >


Laptop negatives:

finger pads
flimsy plastic construction
cramped, poorly designed keyboards
heavy, bulky
hot
long boot time
noisy

I have to disagree with many of the assumptions here.

It's easy to say that tablets are just as good as laptops if you first assert that tablets are only used for certain tasks. Once you do that, of course they are as good. In real life, there are programs and hardware that you can use with a laptop that you can not use with a tablet. If you go with an iPad you have the restrictions that Apple places on your choice of programs / uses too.

The laptop critiques are also sort of exaggerated. I have small, light notebooks and large, medium weight laptops with big screens and full sized keyboards. As a matter of fact I have 5 laptops. None of them are noisy. Two do run hot. One has a metal case. One is flimsy. I can run any OS I want on them, and I do. :)

If I did not have a good smartphone, I might want a tablet, but only if it had a good cellular connection since the "always available" is really the most attractive part of either a tablet or smartphone.

Dan

macona
12-08-2011, 01:33 AM
How does anyone type on a tablet? On screen keyboards are worthless as input devices. No tactile sense at all, I can't stand zero travel push buttons on anything including microwave ovens or any other device. It eliminates a very important feedback mechanism that tells you what you a doing.

Actually, I can type quite fine. And on my iPhone I can type one handed without looking and get a real high accuracy.

macona
12-08-2011, 01:40 AM
I would not buy an ipad given Apple have just gone and sued Samsung because the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 "looks" like an ipad, in so far that it is rectangular and flat..

Apple are just a bully company these days...

Protecting their IP. This has not been the first time this has happened. Look in the past when the original iMac came out. It became very popular and eMachines decided to make a windows running knock off. Apple sued and won.

Frankly the Samsung does look like the apple and they are within their rights to sue. People always come up with the argument, "well, how else are you going to build one?" Well a lot of ways as illustrated by this pic:

http://osxdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/tablets-before-and-after-ipad.jpg

Iraiam
12-08-2011, 02:28 AM
Depends on what you want to do with it, or what you may do with it in the future, I use numerous programs that are for industrial use from Allen Bradley, Fuji Electric, and several others. A tablet would be completely useless to me.

My main laptop has 3 operating systems on it, Windows 7, Windows XP Pro, UBuntu Linux.

I did have a tablet for a short time, I found it about as useful as another hole in my head, so I sold it. About the only thing I ever used it for was reading .PDF files

.RC.
12-08-2011, 04:23 AM
Protecting their IP.

I do not recognise a vague description like flat and rectangular as a valid patent...

The tablet like design the ipad follows was not created by apple..... It was seen on most of the star trek series, including the original one back in the sixties...

Allan Waterfall
12-08-2011, 04:55 AM
Laptop negatives:

finger pads
flimsy plastic construction
cramped, poorly designed keyboards
heavy, bulky
hot
long boot time
noisy

finger pads.......it's a big one on a Macbook
flimsy plastic construction.......Mac book machined from "billet"
cramped, poorly designed keyboards....same size as the iMac desktop on a Macbook
heavy, bulky......very light and slim on a Macbook
hot......not noticed that on a Macbook
long boot time......about 30 seconds to boot and 3 seconds to shut down on a Macbook
noisy......like a whisper on a Macbook


Allan

.RC.
12-08-2011, 05:37 AM
finger pads.......it's a big one on a Macbook
flimsy plastic construction.......Mac book machined from "billet"
cramped, poorly designed keyboards....same size as the iMac desktop on a Macbook
heavy, bulky......very light and slim on a Macbook
hot......not noticed that on a Macbook
long boot time......about 30 seconds to boot and 3 seconds to shut down on a Macbook
noisy......like a whisper on a Macbook


Allan

Want to do something Apple does not want you to do...

Opps, can't do that..... And that is why Apples are so reliable... You cannot do something they do not want you to do.... Great for consumers, not so great for prosumers who like to tinker....

lazlo
12-08-2011, 08:29 AM
Actually, I can type quite fine. And on my iPhone I can type one handed without looking and get a real high accuracy.

I guess if you're a hunt-and-pecker, but I type 80 WPM on a real keyboard, and a small fraction of that on the awful iPad virtual keyboard.

Now, if you're talking about a Bluetooth keyboard, that's a different story, but now you're getting close to the bulk of laptop.

lazlo
12-08-2011, 08:34 AM
Protecting their IP. This has not been the first time this has happened.

Oh, come on Jerry -- that picture is from MacRumors -- fanboy central! :)

The Android tablets came out before the iPad. Just as the Android Smartphone came out before the iPhone. Apple fanbois get a brain hemorrhage when you point that out :)

Besides, Apple had their own clunky, disasterous tablet in the 90's:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/76/Apple_Newton_and_iPhone.jpg/800px-Apple_Newton_and_iPhone.jpg

goose
12-08-2011, 08:57 AM
finger pads.......it's a big one on a Macbook
flimsy plastic construction.......Mac book machined from "billet"
cramped, poorly designed keyboards....same size as the iMac desktop on a Macbook
heavy, bulky......very light and slim on a Macbook
hot......not noticed that on a Macbook
long boot time......about 30 seconds to boot and 3 seconds to shut down on a Macbook
noisy......like a whisper on a Macbook


Allan


All good points, but just goes to prove that there are high end laptops along with high end tablets as well. How much does that MacBook cost, though? Probably towards the high end of laptops.

Alot of criticism earlier in the thread about tablets, (many of which I've not used) but my Ipad is almost bullet proof, easy to type on, silent, and boots up in about 1 second.

lazlo
12-08-2011, 09:18 AM
Alot of criticism earlier in the thread about tablets, (many of which I've not used) but my Ipad is almost bullet proof, easy to type on, silent, and boots up in about 1 second.

Not criticism - just the right tool for the job. I have laptops, desktops, smartphones and (Android) tablets. Each excels in a different area.

Right tool for the job ;)

danlb
12-08-2011, 02:04 PM
There is a lot to be said for matching the machine to the job.

My friend is a gadget enthusiast. He has all the major game consoles, macbook, ipad1 and ipad2, two iPhones (4 and 4s), PCs and on and on.

Last week he bought a Kindle Touch. "Why do that when you can run the Kindle software on your phone, ipad, pc and laptops?" I asked.

He smiled. "The Touch does not hurt when it hits my forehead if I fall asleep reading."

He's a pretty smart guy.

Dan

lazlo
12-08-2011, 02:17 PM
He smiled. "The Touch does not hurt when it hits my forehead if I fall asleep reading."

Very true! Sir John got me into buying a tablet -- it's very nice to sit in bed with the combined collection of MEW.

macona
12-08-2011, 02:50 PM
Oh, come on Jerry -- that picture is from MacRumors -- fanboy central! :)

The Android tablets came out before the iPad. Just as the Android Smartphone came out before the iPhone. Apple fanbois get a brain hemorrhage when you point that out :)

Besides, Apple had their own clunky, disasterous tablet in the 90's:



Yes, the photo is from a mac fan-boy site, but it is still representative of what was going on before and after the the ipad came into existence. I have seen all sorts of tablets surplus and nothing ever looked like an ipad, but almost everything since had. Excluding industrial stuff like the Panasonics and rugged type tablets.

Apple has had a lot of abominations, the Quicktake, Newton, Pippin.

danlb
12-08-2011, 02:58 PM
I'm pretty sure that Lazlo's point was that Apple did not introduce the rectangular touch screen form factor. They did popularize it, as they popularized the use of multi-touch gestures, but that does not give them any rights (in my mind).

Dan

macona
12-08-2011, 03:00 PM
All good points, but just goes to prove that there are high end laptops along with high end tablets as well. How much does that MacBook cost, though? Probably towards the high end of laptops.

Alot of criticism earlier in the thread about tablets, (many of which I've not used) but my Ipad is almost bullet proof, easy to type on, silent, and boots up in about 1 second.

Macbooks start at the $1000 mark for an Air and up to $2500 for the big boy pro.

One of the IT guys at work dropped one of the new 17" MB Pros on to the concrete floor. OOPS! It took the hit pretty well. Mushed some of the aluminum in the corned. Popped it apart to repair what I could since the bottom cover stuck out a but and I have to say I was impressed by the insides. Really well made. And a whole lot easier to work on than a generic laptop. I have taken several apart and they have always been a pain to work on, hidden screws, clips, etc.

Yes, I like macs, but I have way more PCs than macs. Last count 3 PC laptops. Nothing fancy, Pentium M is the fastest. One if for my mass spec and vacuum system control, the thinkpad is for my telescope, and I have an odd ball Japanese Epson that is a generic one I use for setting up servos and messing around in general.

lazlo
12-08-2011, 03:51 PM
I'm pretty sure that Lazlo's point was that Apple did not introduce the rectangular touch screen form factor. They did popularize it, as they popularized the use of multi-touch gestures, but that does not give them any rights (in my mind).

Yes, thanks for translating Geek for me Dan :D


Macbooks start at the $1000 mark for an Air

Even the most die-hard PC enthusiast has to admit: the Macbook Air is damn sexy! ;)

Evan
12-08-2011, 05:09 PM
Trek vs iPad

http://ixian.ca/pics9/trekpad.jpg

lynnl
12-08-2011, 05:16 PM
Even the most die-hard PC enthusiast has to admit: the Macbook Air is damn sexy! ;)

Really lazlo, you need to get out and mix and mingle more. Your social life is sorely lacking. :)

Allan Waterfall
12-08-2011, 05:42 PM
How much does that MacBook cost, though? Probably towards the high end of laptops.



Yes,but you don't need to waste your life buying and installing anti this and anti that,neither do you have to suffer the constant need to keep downloading and installing security updates.

I've put Windows 7 on a sparate partition so I can run some windows only software,it crashed after installing all the updates it needs.

Being unused to the different operating system,support is only a free phone call away for the first 90 days,dunno how you get support for Windows 7,not that I'm bothered anyway.

Allan

lazlo
12-08-2011, 05:54 PM
Really lazlo, you need to get out and mix and mingle more. Your social life is sorely lacking. :)

It's worse than that Lynn, I'm married with 2 kids. So like most men in my situation, I'm celibate :p

Evan
12-08-2011, 07:12 PM
dunno how you get support for Windows 7

You ask here. :)

Orrin
12-08-2011, 08:52 PM
I'm very fond of my setup. My desktop provides me with an excellent keyboard and a georgeous 25 inch screen. Try to find that on a laptop! I do a whole lot of writing, so a good keyboard is a must.

I also have a laptop that is needed for presentations and on-the-road computing; but, it is a pain in the butt for my daily on-line reading. My Kindle Fire is perfect for that.

So there you have it: Desktop, laptop and tablet. If you shop around on Craigslist you can have all three.

Orrin

steve45
12-08-2011, 11:53 PM
If you want it for entertainment, look at the iPad. If you actually need to work with it (typing, etc.), look at a laptop. A netbook fits the bill for me because I need to use it for work in my truck and don't want anything huge. For serious work and graphics, I use a desktop with a 32" monitor. It really helps when you need to copy stuff from one document to another, etc.

Before you buy a laptop, go to Best Buy or other retailer at night and feel the bottom of the laptops that have been sitting there running all day. You'll find some that are significantly cooler than others.

Personally, I avoid the brand names. They load you down with bloatware and crap you just have to remove. Most of my computers are MSI (MicroStar International). They private label computers for everybody else.

If you get a laptop or netbook with a touch pad, make sure you download the latest driver for the touch pad and adjust it so it doesn't mess you up while typing.

Evan
12-09-2011, 12:21 AM
Personally, I avoid the brand names. They load you down with bloatware and crap you just have to remove.

HP is the worst offender in that respect. I strongly dislike HP for a number of reasons including service policies. I also don't like Dell for the same reasons. As Steve mentions, you are better off going with one of the lesser known brands. Keep in mind that as usual, there are far fewer actual manufacturers than there are brands. Even for a particular brand that is from a manufacturer the particular product you see may not be made by them. Industry sells products back and forth to each other constantly with the sole possible exception being Apple.

Other than Apple, brand is not a reliable indicator of quality or performance.

J Tiers
12-09-2011, 08:58 AM
To the OP.....

If you really ARE a "dinosaur", my suggestion, (discounting "goose") is to find a USED Dell 600 or 610..... We see them for $150 in perfect shape.

They are built like a tank, not that heavy, and the only real drawback is they don't have the latest screen res..... AND THEY ALL USE XP... SO NO NEW MICROSOFT CRAP. and, of course, no surprises when software won't run. Fast enough to run circuit simulations, so good enough for you.
.
.
.

The tablet argument is fundamentally bullcrap.

For the people who never really intend to DO anything, the tablet is OK..... it gives you a "sorta access" to the web.

If the screen is big enough to use effectively, they are too big, and are really in the "mini laptop" area. If they are "Samsung smartphone" size, they are too small for anything but the simplest uses..... probably good enough for the "sitcom watching crowd" who put minimal demands on it, and there it ends.

I have to use a laptop. I use it as a way to bring serious computing HP along with me.... something that simply would not happen with the "tablets" I have seen of any sort I'd like to carry, or that would actually be different from a laptop in convenience.

When it would make any sort of sense to put Autocad, Alibre, ICAP, etc on a tablet, then we'll talk.

lynnl
12-09-2011, 09:30 AM
Keep in mind that as usual, there are far fewer actual manufacturers than there are brands. Even for a particular brand that is from a manufacturer the particular product you see may not be made by them. Industry sells products back and forth to each other constantly with the sole possible exception being Apple.

Other than Apple, brand is not a reliable indicator of quality or performance.

Yeah, I'm very familiar with the manufacturing process. My last 17 years of employment was with a contract electronics mfgr. ...first SCI, which then merged with Sanmina to form Sanmina-SCI. Then Sanmina sold off the PC division to Foxconn, which then downsized a bunch (IT dept), including me, after just a few months.
At various times, at plants throughout the world, we made the PC's for all the major players, as well as most of the smaller guys: IBM, Dell, Gateway, HP, Lenova, etc., etc....
At a given point in time we might be making all, or just some, specific models for a customer.
HP was the one big constant client through the last 8 or 10 years.

One interesting fact: some of the smaller players were just a 'virtual company', just a handful of employees. Orders would come to us electronically (EDI), and we would build, slap the company name on, and ship to that "company's" customer. Said 'company' never got involved at any point along the way. ...other than accounts payable/receivable.

Actually, even with the bigger customers (HP, etc.), the shipping was pretty much the same, we didn't ship to HP, but rather to HP's customers.

Dan Dubeau
12-09-2011, 09:36 AM
I've got a desktop (old cad box from work) and an acer aspire one with a 10" screen. I love that thing. The battery lasts for ever, it's small enough to take anywhere, but big enough keyboard for normal typing. I don't need the latest/greatest tech for anything I do with it, so it's perfect. We actually just bought a second one for a Christmas house present, so now the wife and I don't fight over it.

That thing has been used, abused, spilled on, dropped, and it's still going after 3 years. The only thing I use the desktop tower for is when I bring work home, and for taxes.

justanengineer
12-09-2011, 09:38 AM
I'm very fond of my setup. My desktop provides me with an excellent keyboard and a georgeous 25 inch screen. Try to find that on a laptop!


I hope you do realize that with a laptop, there is no requirement to use either the standard screen or keyboard, nor to even see the machine itself.

The standard issued computer in my office is a laptop (as in many industries), along with a dock and whatever peripherals you want. More than a few of my coworkers keep the laptop and a dock in a cabinet, and simply connect them to multiple 30"+ screens and remote keyboards. You cannot even tell its a laptop and not a desktop, but they retain the ability to easily travel with their PC.

I am another of those guys that has a high end laptop at work for 3d modeling and running simple simulations. When I get to the high end work however, I do switch to a desktop machine, so for some multiple machines are necessary. If you have simple needs, to me the best compromise is a laptop, but I do have a sibling however whose needs are completely met by his iPhone...all in what you do and what youre willing to put up with.

lynnl
12-09-2011, 01:17 PM
..... AND THEY ALL USE XP... SO NO NEW MICROSOFT CRAP. and, of course, "...no surprises when software won't run. .

ROTFLMAO :D
"...no surprises when software won't run." :D

Hmmm, not sure how to interpret that.
So I buy this computer, bring it home, plug it in, and try to run something and it fails. Then I say "Oh well, no surprise there!"
Thanks for a good laugh! :D

But you bring up a point, about the OS. How different is Win 7 from XP?
In my case the point may be moot. I just sorta stumble along with XP anyway. Actually I liked 2000 better than XP. ...at least the user interface.

goose
12-09-2011, 02:14 PM
Buying a used laptop off of Craigs list or wherever is probably the worst advice anyone can hear. Especially for the OP, who is not likely wanting to spend eons of time downloading drivers and fiddling with the network connections in the control panel on XP.

......You can do this and that, and fiddle with some cords, and you don't really need a battery, just keep it plugged in, and just go to MS website and download Service Pack 3, blah, blah, blah.......yeah, right :rolleyes:

I wouldn't want a used computer for free, other than to turn around and sell it to some fool. Computers have effectively a technology life of 3 years, (and I'm being generous), after that, OS compatibilty, speed and hardware failures start becoming a serious issue. Sure, they're still good for browsing the web, etc. And I'm sure there's a handfull of hardcore guys who are using the same chassis from the 1980's and just keep replacing the motherboard every few years, so what? That's not realistic.

Apple or not, my Ipad will be worthless garbage a couple years from now, with a re-sale value of less than $50 if I'm lucky. I'm hoping to talk my wife into getting a new desktop soon, and dump this 3 year old HP I'm using now. Hot stuff when I first bought it, now tragically underpowered by today's standards.

Evan
12-09-2011, 03:40 PM
But you bring up a point, about the OS. How different is Win 7 from XP?

On the surface, not much. Just a few irritating cosmetic changes and some differences in how various functions operate, like search.

Under the hood it depends a lot on whether it is 32 bit or 64 bit. The 64 bit system is much more capable in some respects, especially in how it deals with multiprocessing and security. In fact, the security aspects can be a PIA but there are ways to deal with that. I like Win 7 and it can be made to very closely resemble XP from the user interface standpoint so that isn't an issue. It won't run 16 bit software but there isn't much of that around. In general, software compatibility is excellent. I haven't found any important software that won't run.

It appears that Win 7 will be the last "real" do it all Microsoft operating system. From what I have seen Windows 8 is very tablet oriented and is much less capable in order to be able to run on low power portable processors. I suspect that Win 7 will be around for a long time since Win 8 isn't suitable for a lot of high powered applications unless they make some big changes.

Bottom line is that I like 7 more than XP even though it can be irritating at times. One thing I had to do was install a utility that gives back the XP style Start and Programs menus. The new one is a big step back in usability.

lynnl
12-09-2011, 06:21 PM
Under the hood it depends a lot on whether it is 32 bit or 64 bit. The 64 bit system is much more capable in some respects, especially in how it deals with multiprocessing and security. In fact, the security aspects can be a PIA but there are ways to deal with that. I like Win 7 and it can be made to very closely resemble XP from the user interface standpoint so that isn't an issue. It won't run 16 bit software but there isn't much of that around. In general, software compatibility is excellent. I haven't found any important software that won't run.



So does that mean I have choices to make (32 vs 64 bit) when buying a new laptop? Is this like the "Home" vs "Professional or Corporate/Enterprise" versions of XP.

danlb
12-09-2011, 07:27 PM
If you buy a new laptop and are not a power user, the 32 vs 64 is irrelevant. The laptop will be loaded with one or the other. The only difference it will make it one more thing to check when buying software or loading drivers. Even there, it's often invisible.

Dan

J Tiers
12-09-2011, 09:38 PM
Buying a used laptop off of Craigs list or wherever is probably the worst advice anyone can hear. Especially for the OP, who is not likely wanting to spend eons of time downloading drivers and fiddling with the network connections in the control panel on XP.

......You can do this and that, and fiddle with some cords, and you don't really need a battery, just keep it plugged in, and just go to MS website and download Service Pack 3, blah, blah, blah.......yeah, right :rolleyes:

I wouldn't want a used computer for free, other than to turn around and sell it to some fool. Computers have effectively a technology life of 3 years, (and I'm being generous), after that, OS compatibilty, speed and hardware failures start becoming a serious issue. Sure, they're still good for browsing the web, etc. And I'm sure there's a handfull of hardcore guys who are using the same chassis from the 1980's and just keep replacing the motherboard every few years, so what? That's not realistic.



WORST. ADVICE. EVER.

Apparently written by a person who did not read the OP's comments..... the OP does not want the newest whiz-bang.

And,

I have bought several used or refurbished laptops, Dell 600 or 610.

ALL worked. All STILL working. ALL had the necessary drivers for everything.

All you need to do is make sure that you have the restore disk..... my rule is, "no restore disk = no sale, you are a software thief, pay your OWN fine, chump".

Buy from a used store..... might cost a little more, but if it flat fails you have some form of warranty.

Get XP with SP3..... you can still get SP 3 from MS, but..... make the store do it, much less hassle, if you are not computer savvy. They can do it, no problem.

I am sure that goose is trying to be helpful....... but in this case, he is, if I may be pardoned for the comment.... being a "silly goose".

lynnl
12-09-2011, 09:39 PM
If you buy a new laptop and are not a power user, the 32 vs 64 is irrelevant.
Dan

Now you've confused me, I thought they all used power? (chuckle, snicker :D)

Naahh, I'm not a power user, but unless the price difference is significant, might as well go with the extra horsepower, right? ...or no?

danlb
12-09-2011, 11:35 PM
Now you've confused me, I thought they all used power? (chuckle, snicker :D)

Naahh, I'm not a power user, but unless the price difference is significant, might as well go with the extra horsepower, right? ...or no?

Now you are adding an extra parameter. Your average user just needs 'good enough'. You are now asking about 'better'. Good enough is easy, as 60% of the machines will fill the bill.

Once you start thinking "a bit better for a little more" you are on a slippery slope.

A nice little dual core, 2.5 gig ram machine is $400
A 3.0 ghz machine is only $30 more than a 2.9 mhz, so why not?
A 15.5 inch screen is better than a 15 inch screen, and only another $50. Sure, Ok.
Ooo. A terabyte drive is only an extra $40. That's 50% more disk for only $40!
And you can double your ram to 6gb for another $120. Cool. You need ram!

Your perfectly acceptable $400 machine is now $650 and you will not use it to do anything any different than when it was $400.

I suggest that you find out what your 'adequate' model is and stop once you found one the price point you can accept.

Dan

lost_cause
12-09-2011, 11:59 PM
All you need to do is make sure that you have the restore disk..... my rule is, "no restore disk = no sale, you are a software thief, pay your OWN fine, chump".

i've done tons of restores and reinstalls for people who have lost drives, had a corrupted file system, or just plain filled them with crap. barely 50% can put their hands on their original disks. people treat computers like every other piece of disposable electronics - until they have a problem and realize they have their life on it. not having a disk certainly does not mean they are pirating software, and in the case of name brand computers, there is always the license sticker on the computer to legitimize it. people who home build them may not always affix those, even though they are supposed to. if they have the license sticker it's a good bet that they have the right to use that software as needed.

i bought a computer for the ball & chain a few months ago. first one i've bought complete in 15 or so years. it was always less expensive to build and possibly do one mid level upgrade before retiring it to a complete new platform. knowing that i would need the disks at some point before the end of the hardware life, i asked about them, and every one i looked at came without disks. it's one more cost savings for them, so the user must create their own disks from preinstalled software. i'd bet that 50% or more never bother to make them, and of the ones that do, probably another 50% will lose those disks before they need them.

J Tiers
12-10-2011, 12:18 AM
not having a disk certainly does not mean they are pirating software, and in the case of name brand computers, there is always the license sticker on the computer to legitimize it.


yes they are, and no there is not......

WHEN the unit comes with XP, HAD a restore disk when sold, AND is "loaded" with Office, and a half dozen other desirable programs.......

AND when the "owner" suggests that they "can make a copy of an install disk for XP" (no mention of the other stuff)............ HECK YES THEY ARE A PIRATE.

That's why to buy from a used computer store, not some joker on Craig's list.

Frankly, just about every computer user is a software pirate to some degree.... And people who "lose" the disks are so stupid that you should not buy their computers... they probably beat the comps like a bad dog....

Agree about the idiocy of the "restore area" on the HD..... most won't make the copy. And still expect you to fix it...

But even restore disks are not a great thing... you STILL have to restore all the programs YOU installed, the restore disk can ONLY erase the lot and put the computer into a dataless, programless, worthless "new puppy" state.... Most people do not ever make data backups either..... nor image the machine... ever.....

A used computer from a store, with restore disks, is no problem.... and the Dell 600/610 are real workhorses, relatively trouble-free and rugged.

Evan
12-10-2011, 02:18 AM
All you need to do is make sure that you have the restore disk..... my rule is, "no restore disk = no sale, you are a software thief, pay your OWN fine, chump".

Many, if not most laptops do not come with any sort of disc(s). The operating system image is kept on a hidden partition on the hard drive. You usually have the option to create a restore disk set but many people don't bother, usually because they have no idea why they should or what it is good for.

If a used laptop doesn't come with restore discs that is usually because it didn't come with one new and nobody followed the manufacturers instructions to make a set. All the major lap top sellers/manufacturers do it this way.

There is a good reason for it too. Microsoft prices Windows depending on the difficulty of installing it on an unauthorized machine. No discs=lowest price.

lynnl
12-10-2011, 02:16 PM
Many, if not most laptops do not come with any sort of disc(s). The operating system image is kept on a hidden partition on the hard drive. You usually have the option to create a restore disk set but many people don't bother, usually because they have no idea why they should or what it is good for.



Yep, that pretty much describes my situation with my current desktop. Wasn't til several months after I bought it that I realized no discs came with it.
Oh I do have an appreciation for the backup "why's and what fors." I'm just one of the world's great procrastinators. ...and No, I'm not proud of it.

But I do have a thumb drive that I put anything REALLY CRITICAL on, which is mainly my tax info.

Say, what is the best (or a good) backup system nowadays? Do they still make tape drives? Or some kind of dedicated, high density CD backup drive.
Or do most folks just back up to the regular CD

The Artful Bodger
12-10-2011, 03:19 PM
Say, what is the best (or a good) backup system nowadays? Do they still make tape drives? Or some kind of dedicated, high density CD backup drive.
Or do most folks just back up to the regular CD


I am really, really, lazy. I dont back up anything and I am still waiting for my first hard drive failure in more than ten years.

What I do, when I buy a new desktop computer it usually has a hard drive that is ten (or a hundred?) times bigger than the previous one so I just copy the old drive onto the new one into a directory called "Olde Drive C:", or somesuch. Then I add the old drive to the computer or if there is no space just put it on the shelf.

Thats the my home computer which has nothing mission critical. Our work computers all had plug in hard drives, one in the machine and one with a known good image in a safe place. We used the same system for our aviation clients around the world and the system never let us down.

J Tiers
12-10-2011, 03:20 PM
Many, if not most laptops do not come with any sort of disc(s). The operating system image is kept on a hidden partition on the hard drive. You usually have the option to create a restore disk set but many people don't bother, usually because they have no idea why they should or what it is good for.

If a used laptop doesn't come with restore discs that is usually because it didn't come with one new and nobody followed the manufacturers instructions to make a set. All the major lap top sellers/manufacturers do it this way.

There is a good reason for it too. Microsoft prices Windows depending on the difficulty of installing it on an unauthorized machine. No discs=lowest price.

Sigh...............

#4 to tell me what I already know.... I HAVE a machine like that.....

But I ALSO KNOW THAT THE SPECIFIC MACHINES I MENTIONED HAVE RESTORE DISCS, SO DO NOT LET ANYONE BS YOU INTO ACCEPTING ONE THAT DOES NOT HAVE IT.

lazlo
12-10-2011, 03:24 PM
I am really, really, lazy. I dont back up anything and I am still waiting for my first hard drive failure in more than ten years.

Oh, that's not good. At least once a month there's a post here along the lines of "my hard drive crashed -- how can I recover the data"?


All you need to do is make sure that you have the restore disk..... my rule is, "no restore disk = no sale, you are a software thief, pay your OWN fine, chump".

The problem with those restore disks, IMHO, is that laptop retailers seem to be bound and determined to load as much evaluation software on your machine as possible, in the most invasive way. First thing I do with any laptop is run Decrapifyer, which gets rid of the {HP, Dell, Sony} control panel (which conveniently phone home for special offers :rolleyes: ), the Nagware versions of Norton, AOL, ...

I just make sure I have the license key for the OS install, and backup any key data.

The Artful Bodger
12-10-2011, 03:32 PM
Oh, that's not good. At least once a month there's a post here along the lines of "my hard drive crashed -- how can I recover the data"?



So far my hard drives have proved faithful and reliable. ;)

I am not talking about just one or two either, more like 20 over the years.

I bought a new ute in 1999 and made a music machine to go under the drivers' seat. An old Dec PC mother board and a hard drive with a MP3 copy of my CD collection. The system started when I turned on the ignition and was cut dead when I turned it off, no orderly shut downs, just chopped the power. I drove the vehicle at least twice a day for more than ten years. It ran Windoze 95 and never failed, the hard drive never failed either.

lynnl
12-10-2011, 03:43 PM
Back in the old DOS days I really enjoyed fiddling around with computers, and maintaining them and keeping everything up to date, backing up, etc. But when Windows became (essentially) the universal OS, the appeal just kind of vanished. I got tired of wasting a half day, or even more, of my life mucking around with some issue.

Now I just want to turn the thing on and use it. Of course that attitude insures the inability to quickly and easily deal with a problem when it does arise. But (knock on wood), other than one old tower, that I retired after 2 or 3 upgrades, which has some kind of bootup problem, I've never had a complete HD failure. Can't remember what cpu that has ...I think it's a 486.

My recurring problem is lightning strikes. I can't count the number of modems and ethernet cards I've had to replace.

Mcgyver
12-10-2011, 03:45 PM
I bought a new ute in 1999 and made a music machine to go under the drivers' seat. An old Dec PC mother board and a hard drive with a MP3 copy of my CD collection. The system started when I turned on the ignition and was cut dead when I turned it off, no orderly shut downs, just chopped the power. I drove the vehicle at least twice a day for more than ten years. It ran Windoze 95 and never failed, the hard drive never failed either.

now that's pretty cool...what about user interface? you set scripts so it loads right in winamp or whatever? how did you select songs?

goose
12-10-2011, 04:02 PM
So far my hard drives have proved faithful and reliable. ;)

I am not talking about just one or two either, more like 20 over the years.




Relying on hard drives to be faithful and reliable, for years on end, is kind of like driving around with bald tires. "Well, I haven't had a blow-out yet..."

They will fail, only a matter of time.

I consider computer hardware as the same as disposable tooling. You can run a tap when it's well past dull and still pretend it's the same as new, but eventually something bad will happen.

Said it before, I'll repeat; computers, 2 or 3 years useful life, after that, Russian Roulette.

The Artful Bodger
12-10-2011, 04:11 PM
now that's pretty cool...what about user interface? you set scripts so it loads right in winamp or whatever? how did you select songs?


I put a numeric keypad in the arm rest wired through a keyboard chip, a small alpha numeric display was in the ash tray space in the dash, it ran software I wrote in Delphi to play the MP3 tracks, respond to 'characters' from the keypad and write to the alpha numeric display. Putting the program in the Windows startup directory caused it to start when the operating system booted. The Dec motherboard had a jumper to 'boot on power on'. I only scrapped the system earlier this year.

The Artful Bodger
12-10-2011, 04:15 PM
Relying on hard drives to be faithful and reliable, for years on end, is kind of like driving around with bald tires. "Well, I haven't had a blow-out yet..."



Yea well I drive slowly and if I get a blow out I will put the spare on and continue my journey.;)

Evan
12-10-2011, 08:27 PM
My recurring problem is lightning strikes. I can't count the number of modems and ethernet cards I've had to replace.

You are a customer for a service entrance filter. There are a couple of models by American Power Conversion that will do what you need. See here.

http://www.steadypower.com/tvss.htm

vpt
12-11-2011, 08:57 AM
Since I have gotten my laptop I haven't used my huge desk puter. Wife and I only use our laptops. I originally got mine because I needed to tune cars and it was gonna be strictly for that only. Well here I am sitting on the couch with my "tuning only" laptop playing on the internets.

lazlo
12-11-2011, 11:48 AM
Said it before, I'll repeat; computers, 2 or 3 years useful life, after that, Russian Roulette.

The hard drives, yes. That's been my experience as well, with consumer ATA drives. Enterprise-class drives last considerably longer, but they cost 2 - 3 times as much.

lynnl
12-11-2011, 12:00 PM
Well, my experience, consisting of 4 or 5 personal computers and maybe a like number at the workplace, is not necessarily a representive sampling, but it so far has far exceeded 3 or 4 years MTBF.

What's the verdict on continual operation vs shutting down at the end of the day? I used to hear/read that it was the startup/shutdowns that measured the life expectancy of hard drives.

The Artful Bodger
12-11-2011, 01:50 PM
The hard drives, yes. That's been my experience as well, with consumer ATA drives. Enterprise-class drives last considerably longer, but they cost 2 - 3 times as much.

You must be buying from the wrong place as that is certainly not my experience.

The Artful Bodger
12-11-2011, 01:56 PM
What's the verdict on continual operation vs shutting down at the end of the day?

The ones we had in our development office, the ones I have at home, the one I had under the seat of my car, were all shut down when not being used but dozens in use at client sites are typically not restarted for months or even years. There does not seem to be a noticeable difference. However consumer grade PCs that run continually fail quicker as the fans wear out or get clogged and the power supply overheats. Thats my experience..

lazlo
12-11-2011, 02:21 PM
You must be buying from the wrong place as that is certainly not my experience.

Well, I have dozens of machines that I used on a daily basis, so my sample set is considerably larger than yours, unless you happen to be an IT guy.

The entry-level Western Digital, Maxtor, etc have 2 year warranties. The enterprise-class Seagates have 5 years warranties. That's not a coincidence.

But good luck! :)

danlb
12-11-2011, 02:38 PM
What's the verdict on continual operation vs shutting down at the end of the day? I used to hear/read that it was the startup/shutdowns that measured the life expectancy of hard drives.

That's really not easy to say. There are many different technologies, quality levels and designs in play.

Having said that, most disk drives are engineers to do at least X number of starts/stops, where X is a large number.

The concept of "never turn it off" does often work, with the caveat that you provide proper cooling with clean air and power. My system is turned off a few times a year and I have some drives that have lasted 10 years.

The big problem with shutting down the drives for long times appears to be thermal. Once they cool off, the bearings seem to not work quite as well, and the anemic motor is not always able to spin it up to speed. That's really pretty common.

I've worked with several companies that have huge server farms, and an extended power outage is a hair-raising experience. At one place, I was guaranteed 1 dead disk per 100 ( that's one for every other server) after a power outage.

Dan

The Artful Bodger
12-11-2011, 02:49 PM
Well, I have dozens of machines that I used on a daily basis, so my sample set is considerably larger than yours, unless you happen to be an IT guy.



We sold our software all over the world and usually supplied the equipment for it to run on. Exciting countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, DPRK. Most clients expected continuous operation and the machines were only restarted after a hardware failure. HDDs were rarely the cause of failure and the more expensive 'servers' were less reliable than the entry level consumer machines.

I dont know how big your sample set is but I doubt they are in a more varied environment than ours..:D

steve45
12-11-2011, 10:05 PM
My recurring problem is lightning strikes. I can't count the number of modems and ethernet cards I've had to replace.
Been there, done that. I've got a UPS, plugged into a surge protector, that is plugged into another surge protector. I went with a wireless router and solved the problem.

Also, used to have trouble with static electricity. Got a wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, and a static pad for my desk and no more problems.

steve45
12-11-2011, 10:10 PM
So far my hard drives have proved faithful and reliable. ;)

I am not talking about just one or two either, more like 20 over the years.
I've currently got about hard drives in 8 computers. I've had several fail, but not since I stopped buying Western Digital. They suck.

The Artful Bodger
12-11-2011, 10:18 PM
I've currently got about hard drives in 8 computers. I've had several fail, but not since I stopped buying Western Digital. They suck.


The half dozen that are close to hand are all Seagate and considering they came from the same source as the ones we put in clients machines I suspect they were Seagate too...:)

Evan
12-12-2011, 03:13 AM
I like Seagate drives because they use fluid bearings. As long as the platter is spinning there is zero wear. There are two primary limiting factors to hard drive life, barring faulty OEM components which put Fujitsu out of the drive business.

The factors are operating temperature and the number of spin ups. One or the other will kill the drive eventually. Other failure modes are very rare with the exception of power surges.

The number of spin ups is limited by landing zone wear. Every time the head touches the landing zone a little bit of wear happens to the surface of the landing zone. The landing zone is located to the inside of the disc where velocity is lowest. The platter has a special pattern laser etched in the surface to reduce the effect of "stiction". This is the same effect that makes Johansson blocks stick together. Eventually, after enough starts and stops this pattern wears away and one day the heads will stick to the platter and if you are lucky the drive will fail to start.

In that case it will probably start when tried again. Or, it might do what has happened to me once and rip the heads off the tracking arm.

The other factor is temperature and it is a slow but sure killer of semiconductor electronics. Semiconductors are made from mainly silicon with tiny amounts of "dopants" such as arsenic added in very tiny specific zones of the silicon. This alters the electrical properties of the silicon so it will act as a transistor or other type of component. The higher the operating temperature the more mobile the dopants atoms become. Eventually dopant migration will first weaken and then destroy the electrical properties of the chip. It only takes a single tiny integrated transistor to fail to destroy the functionality of the part.

Optimum hard drive operating temperatures are quite low, around only 85 degrees Fahrenheit for a Seagate drive. As the temperature goes up the life goes down and the curve isn't linear. Once it goes over about 120F the life drops dramatically.

The Artful Bodger
12-12-2011, 03:25 AM
However the Seagate drive in the music machine under the seat of my ute spun up twice a day for ten years and never failed even though the front exhaust muffler was just a few inches away right under the floor.

Evan
12-12-2011, 04:00 AM
That's only about 7300 starts which is well under the 50,000 or so they are rated for. The spinup problem really comes into play when the discs are set to spin down in 10 or 15 minutes on a machine that is used once every 30 minutes.

It's often much worse on laptops because of power saving settings. Best bet if you can afford the power drain is to set the drive to never spin down. That of course assumes the drive is properly cooled.

In the case of your utility vehicle it must not be running all that hot. There isn't any getting around the effect of heat on the parts.

Incidentally, hard drives become more sensitive to shock damage as the altitude increases. They are only rated for something like 9000 to 10000 feet for most (3000 metres). As the air becomes thinner the head flying height draws closer to the platter. This is especially applicable to using a laptop on commercial air transport as the cabin altitude is about 8000 feet.

High altitude also causes cooling problems since the air is thinner. It also increases the cosmic ray flux considerably which will cause "soft upsets" (read Crash). As example, commercial laptops on the ISS crash an average of once per hour.

The Artful Bodger
12-12-2011, 04:34 AM
That explains why we had so little trouble with our clients' machines. They are usually run 24 hours a day and most only stop when the hardware fails, usually the power supply.

Even the ones in Afghanistan, where several were above 6000ft or so, kept going until the power supplies failed, which was not very long as some of the windows had no glass and blowing dust soon killed the fans.:(