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Thoughts about laptops wanted.

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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,

Joyce S:
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'.


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.

Susan August:
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


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

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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