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Author Topic: Thoughts about laptops wanted.  (Read 20862 times)

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Elena

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Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« on: November 04, 2006, 07:18:57 PM »

As time marches on carrying along with it technology, I find my computer background relegated to the last chapter of the intro book.  Therefore when I sallied forth to the local computer store I found myself exchanging incomprehensible dialogue with an impossibly young child who, when I said my primary usage was for writing headed off in a land of jargon.  Eventually, I caught on and said 'NO, I am writing fiction, not music.'  For my candor I was given a start of horror, and then mumbling something unintelligable he left.

So what do you all think - what's important to look for in a lap top primarily used for writing?  I do intend to wander around with it, so it shouldn't be too heavy, and backing up easily is desireable, I think I'd like the keyboard to feel vaguely like a keyboard, but have no idea if this is an option.

Any laptops that impress you favorably?

Many thanks,
Elena
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Joyce S

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2006, 09:15:17 PM »

I like my MacBook. But I've only had it about a month. Next week I will be able to comment on its 'travel-ability'.

Joyce
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melph

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2006, 04:58:47 AM »

Step one is,  go to the computer store of your choice and find one that feels right.  Try the keyboard to see if it feels good.  Is the screen the right size?  Check the heft.  Does it feel too flimsy?  Once you find a model that feels right, go on line and order it with the right options.  You need to look at things like harddrive size the speed of the processor and the amount of RAM.  Software is another thing to look at.  Do you want to buy Microsoft Word or are you going to download Open Office free?  When you have all that figured out, don't forget to get the extended warranty.  Laptops are the only things I can think of that justifies the expence of a extended warranty.  For what they are expected to do, they are as flimsy as hell.  Next you need a external harddrive for back up and a good ( hard!!!) carring bag.
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Susan August

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2006, 08:27:32 AM »

Elena,
I love my laptop.  It is small enough to fit in a large handbag.  It weighs no more than 3 lbs.  And it's top of the line for its size/weight class.  When my desktop went belly up recently, I just plugged the laptop into all my peripherals and haven't missed a beat.  I don't need the desktop anymore.  But here are the things I considered when buying it, which might help you.

Weight.  If you are traveling around a lot with it, that counts.  If you just want to move from room to room, it's not as important.  You pay more for small size.  Small size also means small screen.  It doesn't bother me, but some folks really like that big screen.

Keyboard and mouse.  Try the touch of the keyboards in a store.  For the mouse, there are many options.  I love the IBM "little red dot" trackpoint, but many people don't like it.  It's very personal, so try a few out.  You can always add an external mouse if you find the one that's built in doesn't please you, but all other features of the laptop are good.  Just one more thing to cart around, of course.

Memory.  I'd go for at least 512 of RAM.  I went to 1 GB because I do photo editing, but it's usually not needed.

Hard drive.  Get the biggest hard drive that you can.  It's so easy to fill it up.  I would also get an external drive for backups.  There are also differences in hard drive speed and you pay more for faster.  Not sure that is as important, except to compare two laptops that may have unexplained price differences.

There are also differences in how you attach peripherals, such as CD-ROM, DVD, battery size and life, wireless cards, # of ports (USB, firewire, etc).

Yeah, it's a lot of detail to decipher and decide!  I found that my best resources were over the phone when I was talking to the company that I was going to buy from.  I would talk directly to the manufacturer, such as Dell, Gateway, IBM/Lexmark, Apple, etc.  They were very patient in explaining everything and I asked a lot of questions.  I wouldn't trust anyone in a retail store to have the knowledge to do this.  They are just there to sell.  Talking to you in jargon is designed to impress, not to educate.  When someone does that to me, I ask question after question to get them to explain it, until they have to admit that they don't know the answer!    ;D

Susan

If you have more specific questions, let us know.  I'm sure there are many opinions and lots of advice here for you.
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Elena

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2006, 09:41:57 AM »

Joyce, Melph, Susan, thank you so much.  You've given me a place to hang my hat when looking.  I'm especially interested in the Macbook since I have a Mac now, so I'd love to hear about your experiences with it.  Am going to check out OpenOffice, that's new to me too.  Hadn't thought to call around and talk to people that way.  You have all been so helpful, I feel a lot more confident about going forth and looking - I think I'll take a pair of earmuffs, just in case.
Elena   :D
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Caro

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2006, 03:48:05 PM »

Hi Elena--

I have two laptops and love them both. The one I write on is the smaller, older one and I do nothing else with it but write.  It's just over 3 pounds. I bought it "reconditioned", so there's another thing to think about.  Never had a problem and it's been five years.  It's a Compaq. The other one is a tablet hybrid,  an expensive indulgence I really didn't need and rarely use.

Caro
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Ingrid

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2006, 05:17:22 PM »

I made a note of Compaq.  Susan, what's the kind you love?  Light weight is good.  And Mouse is good.  I'm not used to the pad.

I need a present.

Ingrid
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Dave Freas

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2006, 05:30:46 PM »

Santa graced me with a laptop (a Dell) for Christmas last year.  I'm very happy with the thing with 1 exception I'll get to.

Weight is about 6 Lb.  I upped the hard drive to 1 Gig and got a R/W (read/write) CD drive.  Haven't had a speck of trouble with it.  Took it on several road trips with no problems.  Battery life is good so far.

I'd reccommend getting a R/W CD drive.  I use mine to back-up my files monthly, burning them to a re-writeable CD.  For day to day back-up I use a 1 Gig Flashdrive, just plug it into a USB  port and 'save' to it like you would to a floppy.  If you plan to be on the move a lot, the flash drive is easier and more compact to use than an external hard drive.

The exception is the touch pad.  I have big hands and I'm forever stroking the thing by accident with the fleshy pad at the base of my thumb and making very weird things happen.  Thank God for the undo icon!!.

Just my 2/100 of a dollar.

Dave
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B L McAllister

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2006, 06:35:25 PM »

It should be possible to obtain and plug in an external mouse, though carrying it around could be kind of irritating.  I have no end of trouble when I try to use the keypad on my spouse's laptop, though she claims she's used to it and has no trouble at all.  Byron
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Susan August

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2006, 07:06:37 PM »

I have a Thinkpad x60s.  BTW, for reviews of laptops, you can look at CNET...should be able to google 'laptop reviews' and it will show up.  I think the mouse preferences are mostly about whatever you are used to.  And if you just love that separate mouse, you can get an add on item.  The Thinkpads are a bit pricey, but we get an employee discount that made a big difference.  Also, if you don't get the latest and greatest model, the prices drop across the board.

Susan
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Daniel Hatadi

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2006, 07:49:11 PM »

I'll second or third the notion of finding one that feels right. A writing laptop doesn't need to be particularly powerful or expensive. I've been using a 12" Powerbook for a year and a half and the keyboard and screen size are perfect for my purposes. And this is coming from a computer programmer that used to always want to be on the bleeding edge. :)

I plan to hold on my Powerbook until it dies because it's already been superseded by the Macbook, which now uses an Intel processor. The reason I mention this is because Microsoft Word hasn't been updated to run at full speed on the Intel Macs, so it actually runs slower than the current version does on my Powerbook. Not sure when Microsoft will update, probably some time in the first of of 2007. Something to consider.

I've also played around with Sony VAIOs and some of the new ones have some really excellent full size keyboards.

And yes, nothing is better than going in the store and trying things out.

Elena

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2006, 10:56:36 PM »

You are all being so helpful. I really appreciate it.  I don't quite have the stamina I used to have, so playing with hyperactive sales people in computer stores is very hard for me.  Having some ideas what I, as a writer, am looking for makes it so much easier.

I looked at the MacBook today since I am on an eMac, and as Daniel said, they have gone over to an Intel chip - one difficulty came up - they had no idea how compatible it might be with mine. 

Also looked at Open Office and they don't even support the now 'old' Macs, just the Intel.

Makes me concerned that Apple may not be supporting the Motorola Macs much longer.

However, Caro (good to hear from you) you gave me a great idea.  There is a place here that refurbishes Macs and may have one that is compatible with mine.  Something to look at.

I truly appreciate all your thoughts and am making copious notes.
Elena
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Michele Viney

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2006, 05:05:57 AM »

Elena

Yes another Mac person! I have a little i-book for the past three years which I love. Small and portable and the battery life is pretty good too. But I would ensure that whatever you get has a write facility as well as read facility for CD's which what I use for backing up - very useful.

cheers
Michele
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Daniel Hatadi

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2006, 08:16:19 AM »

Elena, I'm pretty sure most people on the Mac use NeoOffice rather than OpenOffice. It's a version that doesn't need the extra doo-hickey of X11 installed, so it runs quicker and cleaner.

It also supports both the Power PC and Intel chips. I use it for spreadsheets every so often, as I didn't want to fork out for Microsoft Office (only bought Word).

http://www.planamesa.com/neojava/en/index.php

In terms of the new Intel Macs, they should be compatible with any OS X program, it's just that programs that haven't been updated will run slower.

But how fast can you type anyway? :)
« Last Edit: November 06, 2006, 08:19:47 AM by Daniel Hatadi »
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Ingrid

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Re: Thoughts about laptops wanted.
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2006, 01:36:56 PM »

Thanks, Susan.  It's the light weight that turns me on.  :)

Ingrid
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