roommate needs a pc laptop-any tips?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by question fear, Sep 12, 2004.

  1. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    So, my roommate needs a pc laptop for school (she'd love a mac, but at her law school the testing software is pc-only and boots from a floppy, so vpc isn't an option).
    I know there are some people who use pc laptops for work, etc, so i'm hoping someone can give me some suggestions to pass to her.
    her budget is ~1500, with a few dealbreakers:
    it has to have an extended warranty (her current dell is having major issues, so she wont do anything without the warranty).
    it has to be able to last two years of law school and possibly beyond if possible.
    it must have a floppy built in or be able to boot off a usb floppy.
    it must have internal wifi.
    and it must have xp pro.
    i can pretty well configure a computer for this, but i just wanted to know if anyone has any specific brand or model that's good...hp is the most affordable for the quality, but what about IBM?
    I know its silly to ask on a mac site about pcs, but since im a mac-head about to config a pc laptop for a friend, i figure there must be some people out there who can throw out some advice :)
  2. Franks21 macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2004
    I second IBM HP or Sony. Any of those are fairly decent. I wouldnt go with Dell there quality has gone down lately.

    Edit: I own an IBM and am very happy with it. Runs well no problems has internal wifi im running on a network now and it works well.
  3. lazymuoio macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2004
    New York
    my family has 3 sonys and they run very well, plus they have a lot of options from portables to desktop replacements i recommend them
  4. jimsowden macrumors 68000


    Sep 6, 2003
    Though i'm sure people will tell you these are the kia of the computer world, i've had an emachine for the better part of 5 years with no problems. Obviously, it doesn't get much use. This is their low line, for what you get, not bad. Add a $30 floppy and a PSP at Bestbuy and your good to go.
  5. mrbailey macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2004
    My dad has an HP laptop and he hasn't had any problems with it since he bought it about a year ago. It's not too thick and seems to run pretty well.
  6. Apmonia macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2003
    I will second the emachines vote. A nice computer at a nice price. Just remember to either get an Athlon or Centrino, the other chips just aren't worth it. Go to and check out the emachines. And one more thing: if you can't find an emachine that fits your needs, they did merge with Gateway and, believe it or not, the Gateways are getting much better in built quality. You might want to check them as well.

  7. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Gateways's customer support is bad. They broke my friends laptop, and it took him over a week to get it back. Then he sent it in again, and it came back fixed, but with more things broken. Then they had it for another week.

    Don't use them!!!
  8. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    I had a Dell Inspiron - bought about 4 years ago - and I cannot recommend that anyone buy a Dell computer at this time. Mine had a lot go wrong with it over that 4 year period; and while 4 years ago their phone service personnel were helpful and technically competent, when I had problems more recently I eventually gave up trying to get it resolved thanks to Dell's now crappy and unhelpful support staff.

    Of course having so many problems with it over that period, I'm not sure I'd have recommended Dell even if their support was still good. :D But that was just the icing on the cake.

    You get what you pay for. Tell your roommate to spend the money and buy an IBM or Sony laptop.
  9. nikeballa09 macrumors member

    May 22, 2004
    Get a toshiba laptop.

    Get a toshiba satellite. i just recently bought one with a centrino 1.5 and its awesome. i only cost 1049 after rebates and has wifi. it is very nice and battery life is good. If you get it from a retail store like best buy or compusa then u have a good service plan option.
  10. hcuar macrumors 65816


    Jul 23, 2004
    There are only two really good laptop makers in the PC world. IBM (Thinkpad), and Toshiba... Other than that, good luck. Toshiba is going to be a good value and tough. IBM is pretty expensive, but the laptop is a road warrior. I recommend getting a Pentium M (Centrino is the same processor with an Intel 802.11 WiFi card built in). Do NOT buy a Pentium 4 based laptop... They are mean't for desktop replacements. ie They must be plugged in most of the time.

    HP makes a good laptop that will last 1 to 2 years. No more. Good price but they break faster than i like. (Compaq is just a cheaper HP).

    Dell and Gateway have degraded to the point of not being a smart buy for desktops or laptops.

    Sony makes some good / some bad. It's hard to tell which is which. I've had an on again off again relationship with them.

    Ok... now for the most important rant. DO NOT BUY EMACHINES! They build products with the absolute cheapest, crappiest parts.

    If she wanted a Mac, she won't be happy with anything other than a IBM or a Toshiba. :cool:
  11. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Dec 18, 2003
    I don't have the resources (RAM or money) or the need to know anything about it, but would it be possible to boot Virtual PC from a USB floppy drive? If so I'd suggest an iBook with plenty of RAM, cheaper than a decent (i.e. a good Sony or IBM) Wintel laptop. Failing that, if money is not much of a concern, your friend should consider Sony, basically the Apple of the Wintel market.
  12. dotnina macrumors 6502a

    Aug 19, 2004
    A lot of major retailers (i.e., Best Buy) have extended warranties you can purchase.

    How about this:

    Avaratec Laptop, $850 after rebate
    (4.3 pounds! Doesn't have a floppy built in, it seems, but I'm sure you can find an extrernal drive easily.)

    $850 + $200 (3-Year Warranty) + ~$150 (Tax) ... $1200!

    Toshiba Laptop, $1000
    (But it's heavy -- 7.7 pounds)

    $1000 + $200 (3-Year Warranty) + ~$150 (Tax) ... $1350!

    And they meet all the requirements :D
  13. ThomasW macrumors member

    Nov 27, 2003
    If the whole software is installed on the floppy disk and there is no copy protection, VirtualPC on an iBook would be a great solution. It's certainly fast enough to emulate old applications that run from a floppy. You can use a USB floppy drive or even make a disk image and use that instead.

    If however, the floppy is only used as a copy protection, VPC would not work, and if the software is only booted from the floppy but installed on the hard drive, it would be possible that it's not fast enough. In that case I would recommend a Sony Vaio laptop, because as someone said before, Sony is basically the Apple of the Wintel market.
  14. Vanilla macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    My wife has a IBM T20 Thinkpad, which we bought last year refurbished together with a copy of XP professional installed by the shop, 512mb Ram and a 802.11b wireless pcmcia card for £550 ($987 incl all taxes at current conversion rates).

    Its only a PIII 700mhz & has 20GB HD but the build quality is superb, the screen is great, the keyboard is justly famous for its quality and the speed is perfectly adequate for most things we have used it for.

    I assume you are American so popping over to Tottenham Court Road,London UK is probably not an option,but I guess there must be places where you can buy refurbished units in the States? Its certainly worth considering.

  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I'd aim for IBM or Toshiba, like hcuar said.

    IBM is expensive, and Toshiba is a decent deal, although I don't like them too much.

    Personally, I'd buy an Averatec 12" or Toshiba, but neither come with a built-in floppy drive. I haven't seen many new laptops come with floppys built-in anymore, but I haven't looked too hard at PC laptops. ;)
  16. question fear thread starter macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    The software she uses (im a little fuzzy on this) is only for exams. essentially they put the floppy in, reboot their computer, and the exam boots up. they cannot access windows directly, and their exam is saved back to the floppy, which is in turn given to the professor for grading. so vpc is out, since you can't boot an ibook into vpc.
    sony, sadly, is out too. apparently the exam software has been known to encounter problems on certain sony laptops, though their tech people as of yet aren't positive what is causing the incompatibility. But during the finals in the spring, all students with sonys were told to hand in their laptops, because the software puts a backup of the exam somewhere on your hard drive, but they were told if the extraction failed they would have to retake their year of law school (no second chances).
    but these suggestions are fantastic...hopefully we'll know soon if her dell will make it the semester or if its going to die on i may be helping her with specs sooner rather than later
  17. Koodauw macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2003
    Boot from USB

    Can you boot from a USB floppy drive? I didn't think you could. Might want to look into this.

    You can't boot from USB flash drive can you?

    Anyways, I was going to recemend a Sony, but that wont work. If you can find an IBM in your price range I would do that. IBM will easily last you the 2 years, and then some.

    Also check out the refurb section of the Dells. Good deal to be found there.

    I've been impressed buy the build/specs/pricing of the Gateways as of late. Best BUy now sells them, so if you have a best buy near buy, it might be worth the look. Not sure if the quality has improved though.

    Good Luck in your search.
  18. AliensAreFuzzy macrumors 68000


    May 30, 2004
    Madison, WI
    I like the IBM ThinkPads. They're really nice and pretty durable.
  19. MacUser1 macrumors 6502


    Aug 23, 2001
    i'll have to vote for the IBM ThinkPads as well. We were given ThinkPads when we arrived at school, and I've been pretty happy with my IBM these past few weeks. However, it is of course nothing like my PowerBook!
  20. paxtonandrew macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2004
    I Come From A Land Down Under
    Anything But Dell! I had 4 work Latitude C600s in 1 year because they kept breaking down on me. I believe Sony or Hp/Compaq to make the best Laptops. If he has a but more than $1500, maybe Alienware?
  21. dieselg4 macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2003
    Rockin' Pittsburgh!
    In my experience, with the exceptions of sony, IBM, and most toshibas, they all seem a little flimsy n the "chassis".

    If she buys it at a place like compUSA, (mayeb best buy does it to) they usually have an option to buy extended warrranty that includes the screen. Weather or not they honor it without a hassle is something else.

    I second not buying a P4 laptop. Get a pentiumM or Centrino, (pentium 755, 765, etc? they ahve a new numbering system). I had an HP with a P4 2.4 and it lasted 1hr 45 min, and the fan was LOUD!
  22. budugu macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Boston, MA
    May be you can look at microcenter. They have refurbised IBM systems too. HP and Compaq work for exactly a year before they break. THat is what has forced me to switch to mac in the first place. But it depends on the use too. for pretty light loads any decent pc manf. would hold up. if you are going to use it extensively and roughly better get thinkpad or what ever with a warranty eqaul to the life of the notebook. In the PC world that is what is the most important thing!!!
  23. gunnar23 macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2004
    I would buy a used laptop off of ebay or craigslist for $300.00.
    A used Laptop with 500 mhz is more than she need to run a program off a floppy.
    She will not be happy switching over to PC, this way she can use her money to buy a new Mac Laptop.
  24. jasonar macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2004
    Alexandria, VA
    If I were in need of a PC laptop, it would be an IBM ThinkPad for sure. ThinkPad's are very well built and should last for sometime. I've owned a Dell Inspiron (in '97 and '98), it was poorly made, and everything went wrong on it within two months of ownership. I don't recommend Dell laptop's to anyone, but if you were in need of a desktop, then they would be fine.

    IBM = Quality
    Dell = Value

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