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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2007-01-15          138837


I an quite aware we are trying to get TP back to a more tractor oriented board, but we all are communicating with each other by computers, so here goes. This relic I'm using has something going wrong, the disc drive has gone from a gentle humm to more of a rock crusher sound so I think it's time to head to the computer store, I would like a laptop to be able to take it along on week ends. I'm barely computer literate enough to E-mail, get tons of information from company websites, print things of interest, and that is about it, I don't know a giga bite from a mosquito bite. I looked in the Sunday paper, all the big stores have laptops from 350. to 2500. what do I need for the things I do?

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2007-01-15          138838


Here's my long winded opinion. I have a five year old Dell Inspiron 4000 that is a 1.3 gHz Pentium 4 (older processor) with 512MB of memory. I don't play games or much streaming video but do just about everything else with this computer, including software development, and it works just fine for me. I think most people just have to have the latest and end up overbuying for their needs. You can easily pay double to get an extra 20-30% in performance, so there is definitely a sweet spot of price/performance. What I'd recommend first is to get a name brand machine that has decent support - Dell, HP/Compaq, Lenovo, etc. You probably don't need a dual-core processor. I'd recommend a processor the 1.5-1.8 gHz range. AMD or Intel will work, AMD is a bit less expensive but Intel tends to be a bit more compatible. Don't spend a bunch extra for fancy video but do get a nice display. Get at least 512MB of memory, I'd recommend 1GB if you can swing it. Maybe an 80 gig hard drive. Are you on dial-up? You'll need a built-in modem or at least a real serial port (harder to find on notebooks these days). Here's the wildcard - the new Microsoft OS called Vista is imminent and it will require more processor power, more video, better video, etc. Do you need it? My opinion is no, it will be a few years before it takes over the market. I'm still using Windows 2000 and it works just fine. You can spend a lot more to run Vista now and my opinion is five years from now you might end up buying a new machine all over again anyway. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2007-01-16          138841


KW; Thanks for your reply. Yes we are on a dialup, and I'm assuming that at the motels that offer free internet hookup I will be able to plug the wire at the motel into a laptop and e-mail. etc. just like I was home, please correct me on my assumptions, because I really don't know. I have no need to print things when we are on the road, we only go away for two or three days at a time anyway. One of our sons did tell me to check how my hands fit the keyboard before I buy anything, guess I would'nt have thought of that either. I go into the hospital on Wednesday morning for a couple days of minor sugery, and Doc. says I will be fully mobile when I come home but not to do anything heavy for a week or so, so I thought computer shopping might pass the time and still accomplish something. Thank's again. Frank. ....

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AV8R
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882 North Central Wisconsin
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2007-01-16          138842


Frank, most laptops now have a "wireless" internet capability. While traveling (staying at hotels) most places will have a wireless hookup available. Its very easy to do, the computor does it itself.

For use at home a laptop is fine, I would suggest getting a mouse to use in addition to what ever "touch pad" or similar the laptop come with built in. ....

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Oliver
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 210 Massachusetts
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2007-01-16          138852


I just bought a laptop -- a Dell 1405. I wanted a small, very mobile laptiop to bring to and from work. But, I really don't like the laptop keyboard. What I did was buy a docking station. Now, my printer, Internet connection, regular keyboard and mouse can be plugged in with just a single connection via a USB port. When I want to go, I unplug one connection (and the power cord) and I am off. This set-up works great for me ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5223 South Carolina
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2007-01-16          138853


hardwood, what Oliver did works well for me also. My only suggestion is be sure to see the laptop working. My dell has a very fine setting for the screen (1280 X 800 pixels) and it is a bear to read some things. Dell does not allow any options on the settings for my model. This is a problem for me on some web sites. Yes, verified it with their to me terrible customer service. ....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2007-01-16          138855


I chose the Sony Vaio route which is available through Circuit City and Best Buy stores. Mine has the big screen (16"). My particular model of the Vaio series is more powerful than you need but has been very reliable over the past couple of years. I do engineering drawing with it and take it everywhere I go. It may be a little more bulky than some but the picture sure is nice and you can watch DVD's too when you are traveling.

Dell's have always been known to be good, but they got under my skin on my last PC purchase. I vented on a previous post about them. With a direct purchase like a Dell and others, you can't touch and feel 'em first.

I don't feel that you need that big of a hard drive as Ken has indicated unless you are doing allot of extra stuff. A 30 GB hard drive would seem ok to me for your needs. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2652 NorthWest NJ
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2007-01-16          138856


If you are going to have just one machine the docking station (about $75) is terrific. I have one for my Lenovo IBM Thinkpad, have a keyboard and 19" flat screen monitor ($288) hooked up to it. I am much faster on a regular keyboard and mouse and the LCD monitor is easy on the eyes.

I have had about 6 Toshiba laptops, which had alot of problems with the screens. Since I switched to the Thinkpads I have had no problems. The Thinkpad is targeted more for business customers rather than retail. I always thought they were stodgy and overpriced, but after having 2 of them with no problem and heavy use, I am going to stick with them.

A laptop always lags desktops in performance, and desktops are more durable and repairable. I consider having a laptop a must though, we have 4 laptops and one desktop computer in the house, so I guess we are computer centric this house ;)

Many hotels have ethernet wired connections as well as wireless broadband connectiviy, but most of them charge a fee of $9.95 per day, though some percentage include it for free, or its free if you are a points member. Dialup from a hotel is expensive as hotels usually charge onerous rates to guests, unless you have 800 dialup access.

If you really don't know much anout computers some of the wireless connections can be challenging. I go through this every time I talk to my brother about computers, I tell him how easy it is, and he tells me how it just ain't working on his end.

Years ago I was giving instructions to someone over the phone about how to access a system. I told him exactly what to type, and it just wasn't working. Turns out when I said to type in your userid, space, then password, he literally typed the word S P A C E as well, too funny. Easy for me not so easy for you.

When I get involved with technology and my brother he usually wants to toss the technology in the garbage, and or blows up into the incredible HULK!

Anyway have fun LOL.

Dennis

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2007-01-16          138878


My last "work" laptop was a Dell; it was preceded by two Compacs, one good and one a POS. I liked that machine and it was very easy to plug a remote keyboard and mouse into it when traveling. So I had the docking station at my desk and the extra stuff I carried in my vehicle, made life easier on the hands when typing.

Not being a laptop expert myself I am not certain if my opinion can help you but I was in the Mac store last weekend and they have some really nice looking machines in there. Price seemed decent too. You may want to take a look at the Apple site.

My newest machine is due to be handed over to me tomorrow, but I am not sure what it is but most likely a Dell. I have a Dell 8200 here at home which has been OK but the company upset me over other issues so I will not buy another one. I plan on trying a Mac. ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2007-01-17          138892


Man was I mistaken. I was handed a custom-built Nexlink laptop, additional Blue Tooth mouse and keyboard and a new Linksys wireless router to network at home. I must have moved up on the food chain. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2652 NorthWest NJ
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2007-01-18          138893


Cutter,

I looked at Nexlinks site, did you get the magnesium case, sounded interesting.

Dennis ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2007-01-18          138894


Faux magnesium ;) ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2007-01-18          138898


Working for IBM I must say that IBM Thinkpads are highly regarded. I would tell you if it was not true. Unfortunately as Dennis tells you they are made now by Lenovo (China) under the IBM brand name. They were always made my Lenovo but engineered by IBM. When we sold Lenovo the Thinkpad line our engineers went with them.

I have had IBM Thinkpads for the past 12 years and never had a failure until recently. I do lots of heavy data work which really gives the hard drive a work out and finally I was able to cause one to fail after a few years. Fortunately I had data backup.

Docking stations are great but not necessary, Windows XP Home Edition, 80 GIG hard drive (as Ken recommends), processor is not as important for the internet - Pentium is nice, try to get a screen greater than 14 inches if possible, most should be wireless capable but make sure - you will want it. At least 500M memory, preferably 1 gig. R Series sould be fine probably for your purposes, we use T Series at work. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2007-01-18          138899


I really appreciate everyones advice, so hopefully next week someday the Mrs. and I armed with your advice will take the Sunday paper along and go laptop shopping. I came home from sugery today, Doc. says no lifting heavier than a jug of milk for a couple weeks so that might make for a daytrip thing, or at least dinner out if we don't agree on what to buy. Thanks again. Frank. ....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2007-01-19          138907


Hardwood:
Hope you have a fast recovery and didn't have anything serious! ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2007-01-19          138908


I have had an opportunity to use the keyboard on this new laptop and it is by far the most user friendly and comfortable I have had to date. I still prefer using the wireless board but in a pinch this thing is not bad!

Happy shopping and speedy recovery Hardwood!

....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2007-01-19          138909


Guys; Thanks for the well wishes. I had the normal prostate roto router job on Wednesday morning and came home yesterday afternoon. I said a few prayers of thank you this morning that no cancer was involved. A couple of my coffee shop cronies had stoped by a couple days before telling their gorry war stories about their prostate sugery, as usual their stories were greatly exaggerated. Please never fear it when it comes your time, there was very little pain involved. Doc. said they no longer "auger" it out, but use a laser to vaporize the problem tissue, bet that smells good. Time for a bit of rest now, hospital beds don't seem to have ever been designed for maximum comfort. Keep warm. Frank. ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2007-01-19          138911


Frank, glad to hear things are going good. Get rest and take care! ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2007-01-20          138939


New development, No. 3 son called last evening, he has been doing some research to help the old man out. He found that a wireless provider has an antenna on top of a grain elevator leg, I think it is in the range of 150 to 175 ft. tall about 6 miles from me as the crow flies. He has wireless on his laptops at work and tells me it has no equal. He also travels a lot for the company and said he has no problem finding wireless service while on the road. He's going to call the provider on the didtance issue, I'm not real sure if I have line of sight to the antenna or not but it would have to be close. Anyone have any experience with diatance to the antenna? Thanks. Frank. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2652 NorthWest NJ
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2007-01-20          138940


Hardwood, if you have a computer that is wireless capable, all you have to do is go to your network connections, click on the wireless connection, search for wireless providers from your house. If you don't find one you are too far.

Wireless service has gotten very good, and it is terrific for people who travel or visit customer sites where they are blocked from getting on the customers network. The speeds are usually slower than the fastest rates you can get from a cable or DSL provider. This only becomes meaningful with larger downloads for example, in my case I need to be able to do do massive downloads (10GB) of entire software products.

Dennis ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2007-01-20          138941


If your neighbor has a wireless router you might be close enough to use his ;) ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2652 NorthWest NJ
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2007-01-20          138942


Cutter as yoiu put that ;) on there I guess you have seen where people of been arrested for that, I think the one I saw was where a guy had a laptop in his car and was using the residents wireless router. Ouch! hey just trying to send and email to my boss right? ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2007-01-20          138968


The use of any available signal is pervasive among the younger people. Especially folks in the city or an apartment building where wireless signals are everywhere. ....

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cutter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 1303 The South Shore of Lake Ontario, New York
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2007-01-20          138969


Tongue-in-cheek Dennis :). I love mine and I did password protect it so hopefully the only ones that will be on it other than me will be by permission.

The beauty of this is that now I can use my laptop on the picnic table out back in the summer. Really adds new definition to a home office. ....

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Agric
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2007-01-23          139048


Hi Hardwood,

Looking at your original post, you will do fine with any modern laptop for general web surfing and email. Disk sizes only become important for things like image storage. A modern laptop with anything from 30Gb upwards would be fine.

Both of my computers are more than six years old but as I don't play games age is not really an issue. Operating systems become a bit more important though, probably best now to use Microsoft XP for the time being as Vista is rather new.

Cheers ....


Link:   Laptops

 
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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2007-01-23          139050


Agric; Thanks for the info. Since No.3 son makes his living building and installing computers I've turned the task over to him. Today or tomorrow a wireless company is to show up at the house to check for a line of sight test for their service, if it passes then we're signed up if not they go home and forget about it. They offer a three year contract at 50.00 per month including taxes, etc. and no installaton fee for a three year contract. Since the No. 3 son is in the computer building business he said throw the Sunday paper in the trash, he can get them cheaper thru his suppliers, why did'nt he tell me that in the first place? I'll post how things work out. Have a big day. Frank. ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2007-01-25          139171


When setting up wireless on my laptop I made the mistake of calling my wireless network by my family name. Then after I got all set up (including encryption - it takes some effort but do it.) I realized that everyone can see my signal and know which house it is coming from. (After I myself went around scouting out signals around me.) They can't tap into it but I still don't like people knowing which signal is mine. ....

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