Wife wants a PC laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by zelmo, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. zelmo macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2004
    Mac since 7.5
    My wife will be homeschooling our 3.5 year old son, and has begun collecting some software as she prepares her curriculum. We had purchase VPC w/ XP Pro for our G4 iMac 800, but it runs like a dog. Now my wife wants to just get a PC laptop she can use for Office (Word mostly, maybe some simple Powerpoint) as well as some of these small curriculum applications she will need.
    She doesn't want to spend a ton of money on a laptop. A 14" display, 802.11g card, CD-R/DVD, 30GB hdd, 512 RAM, XP Pro, Office 2003 Student Edition, and virus s/w will easily suffice for her needs. Don't care about the graphics card. We will not use this for games, ever (we have PS2, XB, and GC for games).
    I don't know too much about the different PC processors available, but have a friend who says I need to stay away from the Celeron at all costs.

    If I toss these spec's on a Dell Inspiron or Sony Vaio with the Pentium Mobile, I'm way over what my wife considers to be a reasonable price (sub $1,000 is where she wants to be). I don't mind going to $1,400 or 1,500, but she won't agree to buy at that price.

  2. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    Thing is, for Word and PP and other little stuff, a Celery would be fine if it was chock full of memory. This page has a laptop which sounds as if it might be adequate... for $599... slap in some cheap RAM and she'll probably be alright... course, if you're set on Pentium-M then go for something else.

    edit: I misread the CD-R DVD thingy. why not just buy her a cheap USB key instead? Also, why would she need XP Professional? For it's SMP ability ? ;)

    Also, remember to lock it down for her before she starts to use it. Start with a fresh version of whatever OS, load Firefox and Thunderbird, Ad-aware and get the F-Secure internet security 6-month trial. F-Secure is well worth buying, actually.
  3. csubear macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2003
    you could save you self some time and money and get office for mac.. if you want to make good presentations, get keynote. it is much nicer than power point.
  4. csubear macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2003
    Also, don't waste your time in VPC with winXP.. 2k is much faster in VPC. Take the money you are going to save from not buying a pc laptop, sell the old imac and get one of the new ones. I have a 1.33 Ghz powerbook, and VPC 6 runs win 2k nice. Its not the fastest thing in the world, but it runs good. I would guess that a new imac + VPC 7 + win2k would run very nice
  5. hulugu macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    quae tangit perit Trump
    You can either run Win2K or you can run XP, but you should change the preferences so it runs faster; also memory would be a huge advantage here: OSX is already memory hungry and VPC is a memory hog.

    As for PC laptops, the IBM Thinkpads seem to get good marks, so do Acer and Toshiba. However, stay away from Dell, I've had two out of four go dead at my office. Also, remember that a sub-$1000 laptop is really not a very good buy, they're often heavy, bulky or poorly designed.
  6. budugu macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Compaq V2000 (customize it witha PM-1.6Ghz)... that looks good and sort of fits your description!
    and another possibilty is Dell inspiron 600m ... check it in the small business version of the site! they have it for 900 bucks and is a very good machine.
    both are close to 5.1-5.7 Lb range so they are not that much a burden.
    IBM is not an option unless you spend $1500.
    'Celeron M's are not bad at all - but you have to keep away from celerons (old desktop versions though)!
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Try getting an Averatec laptop. They're cheap, and quite good from what I've heard.

    While I agree with getting VPC, it sounds like you can do with just a desktop PC if you're only using it for your 3.5 year old son.

    Otherwise, get Office 2004 + an iBook + VPC 7. If you take all visual effects off and turn off all the stupid little things that Windows runs, even WinXP will run okay, although any older version of Windows will run faster.

    So yeah, get an Averatec, a desktop, or iBook (in that order).
  8. Coca-Cola macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2002

    I think it is time for her to consider a dell, and time for you to consider getting a divorce.
  9. wowoah macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Would you mind if I asked why you're choosing to home-school your son? I've attended public school my whole life (I even go to a public university now) and I've always wondered what are people's motivations to home-school their children. This is just out of curiosity more than anything else.
  10. devwild macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2004
    The Dell 1150, 5160, and 600m will all fit in your budget with some tweaking, but I highly highly suggest spending a little extra on the support, complete care if you can (full accidental coverage, no questions, quick replacement -- if your kid drops it in the bathtub... no problem... tell your wife this!). I also highly suggest the 600m, as I own one and love it. I bought it the same time my friend bought a 15" Powerbook and they are very comparible hardware, granted mine was a Pentium M version. (NOT a diss on the powerbook folks, put the bats down)

    For your uses the Celeron should do fine though, you don't need horsepower really, just the memory. Buying the memory seperate from newegg or something will probably save you some over adding at Dell.

    Also, watch deal sites like gotapex.com... they have Dell specials every day, and some of them lately have been insane (like $750 off laptops).
  11. RealDeal macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2004
    if you must..

    had a few Win Laptops in last 17 years- best to worst- Sony, Toshiba, Toshiba, Compaq, IBM, IBM, IBM, IBM, Dell.

    With Dell at moment as last "legacy" Win computer- screen temperamental, burner never worked, support pathetic, latest office crashes almost every time used with by now hundreds of automatic updates- less than a pet's toy for quality.

    As to Office Word and ppt- got 17 yrs of legacy files that are never compatible with upgrades to the suite- more than 1 page in Word is a joke- this stuff should be free, and as such is not worth the money- pity alternatives harder to find (openoffice etc.). Ggrrrghhh... wasted productivity decade!

    Spend as little as possible if a windows machine, and never buy another one! Buying any PC used is a real gamble- they're made to throw out rather than cherish and upgrade (even if a bit cheaper). Any good Linux laptops? good luck...
  12. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I'd agree the m600 is a nice laptop and with a Pentium M (1.6hgz) and it can be had for about $1.100. It's not to heavy either 4.9lbs with 14-incher.

    I would disagree that it compares to the powerbooks, but its still the one of the nicest lowend pc laptop you can get.
    Take a look here http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/inspn_600m?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs
  13. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    sony viaos are crappy avoid them at all costs they are expensive ugly and often have huge flaws like a maximum ram limit of 256MB or 512MB.

    i'd get the cheapest pentium m you can find and fill it with ram, well if you were me i'd get her a ibook with vpc 7 and 2k pro.

    and unless your going to be useing remote desktop don't bother with xp pro
  14. zelmo thread starter macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2004
    Mac since 7.5
    Thanks for all the advice, sarcasm and humor. MR never lets me down! :)

    Against my better judgement, my wife has convinced me to get her a PC laptop. Even worse, she expects me to find a reliable and sufficiently powerful one for around $800, so we can keep the total cost w/ software under $1000. I have a hard time putting the words "reliable," "PC," "laptop," and " sub-$850" into the same sentence without it sounding comical, or at least dubious. I'd much rather get her a $1,700 Sony Vaio that I know she'll still be using in three or four years.

    The best deal I've found so far is this one:

    Compaq Presario 2210US at Circuit City, on sale for $929, with an additional $180 in rebates taking the price to $749. specifications: Intel Celeron M 330 (1.4GHz), 512 MB RAM, XP Home Edition, 40GB hdd, CD-RW/DVD, 802.11g, 15" XGA TFT, 1 year warranty, 6.7 lbs, 1.7" thick.

    Unless someone has a better idea which conforms to the budget limits, I have a feeling I'll be swinging by Circuit City this afternoon.
  15. devwild macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2004
    This is just to clarify what I meant by comparison, not to argue. This is one configuration vs. another, 2 year old versions of each model at speeds that are no longer available (1GHz 15" TiPB vs 1.3Ghz Pentium M 600m).

    We actually got chuckles out of how close our machines came out:

    - Similar application performance (2D and 3D, subjective due to different platforms, each is faster at certain things)
    - Same combo drives, read and write speed
    - Same hard drives
    - Same memory (I think we both bought more aftermarket)
    - Same video card and VRAM
    - Similar internal wireless (B on the PB, B/G on the DellI)
    - Similar value on LCDs (the Dell is smaller/square but higher resolution - 14" 1400x1080 - Resolution is my only gripe about PBs besides mouse button because I do graphics design)
    - Similar expansion (except 600m lacks useful IEEE1394, includes useless smart card reader)
    - Same networking - 1000/100/10
    - Overall volume is similar, the 600m is thicker than the PB, but smaller than the average current pc laptop.
    - Similar battery life (but around 8 hours on the Dell with second battery in media bay)
    - Same wrap-up concept and interchangable cord/nub on the power supplies
    - Price (including second battery and CompleteCare on the 600m, but on sale), was within $100.

    Some of the components are even from the same manufacturers.

    To top it off, we both had small problems that required us to send our laptops back around the same time. We both had one day out, one day return. :D

    We thought that was cool, you all can take your own perspective. We like being able to have spontaneous wireless games of Jedi Knight/Academy, especially between two different platforms. :cool:

    Also worth note, when you are sick of Windows on the Dell, I believe all of the hardware works with Linux as long as you stick with Centrino wireless options. I tried Fedora on mine, and I think everything was auto detected except for the wireless card, which won't work right because mine is a broadcom card. This shocked me after my past experiences with linux on laptops.
  16. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    With a young child in the household, and given that the child will be around the laptop... I would strongly suggest that you talk to your insurance company (homeowners or renters) and see about getting a policy rider that'll cover accidental damage to the laptop. An extended warranty won't cover that.
  17. devwild macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Actually Dell's CompleteCare, and HP/Compaq's Carepaqs both have this option, I assume some others will as well (Sony has horrid policies, stay away). From personal experience, it is very worth it. LCDs are easy to crack and expensive to replace, and without accidental coverage, replacement can be painful to get unless you talk to a nice CSR. They'll replace it no matter what happens as long as you can present the pieces :)
  18. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    That is great if they have it - but check of course. :) Generally those are add-ons that are above and beyond their typical extended warranty option. When I had a Dell the extended warranty I purchased most certainly didn't cover accidental damage; I'm guessing that was pre-"complete care".

    The other thing to check is price. My homeowner's policy rider against accidental damage was $8 per year on the Dell (for $3000 coverage). Those special plans offered by the manufacturer are most likely much more expensive - those sorts of offerings are where they pick up their profit margin.
  19. devwild macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Indeed, check, these are addons, and HP's carepaq offering in particular is extremely confusing without a rep to help you.

    I didn't know the insurance was so cheap, that's cool. The benefit to getting it through like Dell is you can have a machine in a matter of days with few or no questions, and no filing an insurance claim. But, if you just want to be covered that's an excelent and inexpensive option I know I will keep in mind in the future.

    Thanks for the info. :)
  20. kiwi-in-uk macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2004
    So what did you do?

    My inclination would have been a desktop.
  21. maya macrumors 68040


    Oct 7, 2004
    somewhere between here and there.
    Buy some cheap Dell laptop and let them know that its for educational purposes thus the reason for purchase. They will included it in they EDU numbers. Give that she might be running educational programs that are wintel only (SAD :( ) However all you need this thing to do is the basics nothing more nothing less.

    XP Home: is all you need
    FireFox and Thunder Bird.

    Along with the Educational programs she wants to use, with Word and PP in the mix.

    Should cost you ~500 USD, the base ram of 256 should also be more than ample.
  22. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    the celeron processor of old sucked, but today's celeron, like any processor, is more than adequate for most people

    for a tiny bit more, go for an athlon processor...it has pentium 4 power but at a much lower price...and load up on ram

    for brands, stay away from emachines and compaq since sony, toshiba, and dell consistently get better ratings...but sony, which is the best on the pc side, is not cheap

    i use a compaq presario laptop and while it has lasted five years, i think the hp (different company then), toshiba, and others seemed more sturdy than my flimsy compaq
  23. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    I hope that the purchase will end successfully. Sounds as though you have found the best option. Once a wife makes a decision, it's best for family peace to go along.
  24. zelmo thread starter macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2004
    Mac since 7.5
    A Happy Wife

    I presented my wife with the low-cost option she thought she wanted, along with a strongly voiced reminder that you get what you pay for. We went to Best Buy yesterday, and she looked at some of the models there, just to get a feel for what was out there. She really fell in love with the Sony Vaio S series laptop, but didn't want to spend $2,100 for one (neither did I!). After a little searching, we found a Sony Vaio S170 for $1,500; Pentium M 1.5GHz, 512 RAM, 40GB hdd, CD-RW/DVD, 802.11b/g, 13.3" screen, 4.2 lbs, XP Pro. The small size/weight were really important factors for her, which is why we didn't go for a less expensive 6 or 7 pound model, or an equally expensive but better configured PC from Dell or Toshiba. Merry Christmas to her, and I feel better that she didn't get some low rent laptop that'll die in a year.

    I'm sure we could have kept looking for a better deal (and equally sure some of you will kindly point one out to me), but at some point you have to buy or forget about it. Besides, that screen is gorgeous!
  25. jadam macrumors 6502a


    Jan 23, 2002
    Dells are decent, my friend has a very nice HP laptop that is very similiar to my ibook in size/form.

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