Suggestions for a PC laptop for my sister

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Time Clock, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Time Clock macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Hemet, CA
    Let me preface my question with this: I know that this is a Mac website, and its primary purpose is to discuss everything Mac related. That being said, I have found that this particular site is a veritable fountain of knowledge and advice that I have found invaluable throughout the years.

    Here is the situation: My sister is looking to purchase a computer for college, and she's looked at the Macbook, and a couple of computers from various PC manufacturers such as Dell and HP. Her budget is between $600 and $900ish. However, I'm pretty sure she isn't looking to spend $900 unless it's for the Macbook.

    She will be using the computer to surf the web, write documents, perhaps watch movies, etc. I don't think that her needs will extend past that. Any suggestion will be very helpful.

  2. thejadedmonkey, Jun 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011

    thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Get her a Vostro 3350 or Vostro 3450. I have the 3450 myself. It's really a great machine, no crapware pre-installed by Dell, save for Dell diagnostics, Roxio and anti-virus. It starts at $500 for the 14" 3450 or $550 for the 13" 3350. If you upgrade to an i5 model, it also has a backlit keyboard.

    Plus, if she's into red, you can get it in red for $30 more.

  3. Time Clock thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Hemet, CA
    Actually, those don't look too bad. How is the keyboard and the screen? How do they compare to say a 2006 Macbook?
  4. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I personally have always had terrible experiences with Dell. Aesthetically, they've gotten better over the years and maybe it's just my luck, but their hardware quality has just been horrid.

    I'm a Sony (Vaio Z) and Apple (27" iMac) person myself, but both are probably (like you mentioned) pushing her price limit. Maybe try Lenovo or Asus? From what I recall, Lenovo used to be IBM (their laptop line), but I'm not sure if the quality has stayed the same. Asus manufactures a lot of internal hardware (or at least in the desktop business they do), of which I've always been a fan (Asus-made motherboards, video cards, etc). I would guess their laptops would be pretty good quality also.

    Maybe just go for refurb 11in MBA? That's in the low 800s nowadays and would probably suit her just fine?

    Also, check out her college education store for computer packages and discounts. Mine has some pretty decent deals (preinstalled applications, free printer, education discount, etc)
  5. skier777 macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2010
    For non Macs, im a fan of Lenovo and HP. I love the Thinkpad Edge, and would probably fit into this budget.
  6. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
  7. bruinsrme macrumors 603


    Oct 26, 2008
    hp, dell or lenovo
    I have accidental policy through dell and its great.
    the new hps are very nice
  8. Michael383 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2011
    My Toshiba laptop has worked well for me. It's a 2008 model but based on my experience you may want to look into their offerings.
  9. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2007
    The cesspit of civilization
    Or get a refurbished macbook (the white, regular one), they're about 850-900 bucks. She won't need anything else.
  10. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I can't say how it compares to a 2006 macbook, but I can compare it to a 2006 Macbook Pro quite easily, as that's the model I just retired. The keyboard is a pleasure to type on, I usually have issues with chicklet keyboards - especially the newer macbook pro's keyboards I can't stand - and this keyboard works for me. The travel is right, no flex, no complaints. Another thing I like is the ability to set the function keys as either function or multimedia. usefule for mashing F9 to set a breakpoint in visual studio, and then F9 to pause music later. I like how the up and down arrows are full size instead of the half-size on the mac keyboard.

    The screen is matte, no gloss at all. It's LED backlit, which is standard across the board I guess. It's not high-res or anything either (which means if you look closely you can see pixels), but I realized a superior screen is only superior if you use the superior features. I don't, I use it for text (mostly programming), gaming, and DVD's. It's just fine for viewing things on. I haven't tried officially testing it, but to my untrained eye, it passes inspection with flying colors.

    Other things... It's very clean. There's a power light, and the other lights for battery, wifi, and hdd are grouped together in front, where it's only noticable if your not using the computer.

    The other thing that's nice is the number of ports. 3 USB (2 are 3.0), Express card, esata, hdmi, mic in... heck, there's even a VGA for connecting to projectors, which are more common than you'd imagine at college. It definitely blows my MBP out of the water, port wise.

    It's also lighter. My MBP is just over 5.5lbs, this is about 5 lbs, and it feels lighter to pick up...

    Really, the only downsides I've found is the battery life is about 3-4.75 hours instead of 7*... but 1) that's normal for Windows laptops 2) the battery charges to full in about an hour, so I can charge it over 2x as fast as my MBP 3) Most importantly, I can just buy a better battery if I actually cared, which I don't.

    That's my mini-review, feel free to ask me more questions!
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I teach a few college engineering courses and have touched many student notebooks helping them out. I'd draw more of a line between the consumer and commercial grade notebooks than the different brands. Frankly the consumer grade ones I've seen (Acer, HP, Dell, and even Lenovo now) have terrible keyboards and trackpads. The commercial units I've seen (most recently from HP and Dell) are much better. But I still find the Apples have generally better displays, equal or better keyboards, and much better trackpads.
  12. Time Clock, Jun 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011

    Time Clock thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Hemet, CA
    Holy smokes, that's quite a few replies. This is why I love MacRumors- so many people are willing to help.

    The problem with the 11" Air is that the screen would be too small for her to use as her primary computer for four years and she makes use of the optical drive regularly on our family's Macbook for movies or importing CDs.

    The price difference between the new and refurb Macbook isn't that high. She also gets that $100 App Store gift card which compensates (in my opinion) for the price disparity.

    That sounds pretty great, actually. Did you upgrade to the i5 or did you stay with the i3?

    That seems to be what people most people have said- the business models seem to be better built than their consumer counterparts.

    And thanks to everyone for their help.
  13. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I did get the i5 model, just so I would get a backlit keyboard :p

    and I would agree with Talmy too, always get business models, they just "feel" better.
  14. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    I had a Vostro 3300 with an i5 520 last year, with both under W764 it was just a bit slower than my 2009 MBP (2.8 GHz). Which means it was LOTS faster than my 2006 iMac, which should be about in the same league as a 2006 Macbook.

    The one thing I didn't like about the Vostro was the integrated graphics and poor battery life. Get a larger battery and make sure you have decent graphics if possible. I really liked the 13" form factor even though it felt so much chunkier than my 2008 uMB.

  15. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Although I switched to Apple in 2008, all of the offices I have ever worked in were PC equipped.

    Thus, I have worked with Dell computers (never liked them) and HP (which were okay). Personally, I have owned an Olivetti laptop (small neat machine, but ultimately very heavy), a Toshiba Satellite Pro (an excellent computer) and a Sony Vaio (which was also very good) before I switched to Apple.

    For your sister, I'd recommend a refurb Apple MB, or a Toshiba or Sony laptop. Quite often, when Apple introduce upgrades, or a new refreshed line, the line that has just been superceded drops considerably in price, so, in the event of a forthcoming refresh, that may be worth looking into.


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