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  • OT - Laptop Computers

    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.
    Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

  • #2
    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.
    Last edited by justanengineer; 12-06-2011, 06:04 PM.
    "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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    • #3
      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

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      • #4
        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.
        Gary


        Appearance is Everything...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by goose
          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.
          "The Administration does not support blowing up planets." --- Finally some SENSIBLE policy from the Gov!

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          • #6
            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.

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            • #7
              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

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              • #8
                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.
                Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Grind Bastard
                  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.
                  Gary


                  Appearance is Everything...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by goose
                    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.
                    Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                    ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Grind Bastard
                      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?
                      in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                      • #12
                        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

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                        • #13
                          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.
                          ----
                          Proud machining permanoob since September 2010

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by terry_g
                            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.

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                            • #15
                              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?
                              Last edited by lynnl; 12-07-2011, 12:10 PM.
                              Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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