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Old 13 November 2009, 09:52   #1
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New laptop advice

Hi all, the time has come for a new laptop and I'd appreciate your most excellent advise please.

It would suit me (logistically) to buy from PC World (UK) or Dell. Any other source works too but creates hassle and expense. I get good repair work from the afore mentioned and they're handy/efficient.

I will spend NO MORE than STG£500 inclusive of VAT & Delivery, prefer around £400

Need:
Windows 7
circa 15" screen (all the better to see you with )
Performance for general office apps - no gaming
I tend to work with multiple apps
Quite a lot of digital pic stuff - not video

Most of all I want a Model or Brand that is reliable and nice to use, e.g. I see lots of eMachines and Acer units but I'm wary... possibly needlessly. Still, I'm using a Dell and it's lasted three years, purchased as a recon job.

Thanks for any assistance!
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Old 13 November 2009, 10:06   #2
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Roycruse here http://www.1st-technology.co.uk/news.php
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Old 13 November 2009, 10:48   #3
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Whilst I realise that this kind of thread is often open to "mine is bigger/better/shinier than yours" flame wars, I'll chance my neck as follows.

The main reason any electronic kit fails is overheating (as this either burns out components directly, or results in thermal expansion that causes weak circuit boards/tracks or solder joints to break). Open up any desktop system and you'll see its mostly a box of air with lots of fans to circulate said air past the components that need cooling. Clearly a laptop doesn't have this luxury. Therefore manufacturers have 3 options:
1) slap in loads of heatsinks/cooling fans and vanes and get heat out somehow
2) increase build cost by using components that are more heat tolerant
3) say F*ckit, use cheapy components and accept that most units will fall over and die 3 days out of warranty.

Clearly options 1) and 2) add to cost, whereas 3) is a budget option. If you want a workhorse laptop that will last a reasonable length of time you are probably going to have to pay a bit more for it. If you buy cheap as chips then expect it to last as long as a bag of chips.

IMVHO (and all based on personal experience) I wouldn't touch a Toshiba again (3 motherboards in 13 months ) Sony Vaio range seem very well built and seem to last - I'd recommend to anyone. That said I do know of one colleague that has had real issues with his Vaio. Dells seem OK ish (although the cheaper offerings don't really last well). Similarly Compaq

One other point though is to look at what you want from a laptop. If you only really want a very lightweight (both physically and in terms of performance) machine for reading emails on the go and typing a few documents, some of the ultrasmall netbooks use very little electrical power and thus stay very cool. I currently have a Samsung NC10 and this often gives me 8 hrs battery life. Can't complain.

Just my £0.02, Hope this helps
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Old 13 November 2009, 12:03   #4
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Hope this helps
Sure does! Summarised by don't buy a cheap laptop, Tosh bad, Sony good? I'd go netbook but the screens are too small for my style of working. Thanks!

...and as for me starting a Flame War, well that's simply Preposterous
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Old 13 November 2009, 12:32   #5
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Your spec was very simular to mine when I looked recently. Looked around and took lots of (conflicting) advice. Finally settled on an Acer.

Bought from acerdirect.com and for £399 bought the Acer Aspire 5536 as follows

Processor - AMD Athlon 64 X2 QL-64 2.1 GHz Dual-Core
RAM - 3 GB (installed) 8 GB (max) - DDR2 SDRAM
Hard Drive - 500 GB
Operating System - Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
- Windows 7 Upgrade free
Screen - 15.6 in TFT active matrix 1366 x 768 24-bit (16.7 million colours)
Optical Drive - DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM
Graphics - ATI Radeon HD 3200 - 256 MB
Bluetooth - No
Notebook Camera - Integrated - 0.3 Megapixel
Warranty - 1 year warranty

Had it 2 weeks and does everything that I want
Hope this helps
Steve
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Old 13 November 2009, 13:06   #6
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I recently purchased a Refurbished desktop from the PC world website.

I'm really pleased with it as it was a much higher spec for the money I wanted to spend and still came with a 12 month warranty.

They sell Laptops this way too, might be worth a look.

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/martprd/edi...e/?int=top_nav

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Old 13 November 2009, 13:31   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewH View Post
Whilst I realise that this kind of thread is often open to "mine is bigger/better/shinier than yours" flame wars, I'll chance my neck as follows.

The main reason any electronic kit fails is overheating (as this either burns out components directly, or results in thermal expansion that causes weak circuit boards/tracks or solder joints to break). Open up any desktop system and you'll see its mostly a box of air with lots of fans to circulate said air past the components that need cooling. Clearly a laptop doesn't have this luxury. Therefore manufacturers have 3 options:
1) slap in loads of heatsinks/cooling fans and vanes and get heat out somehow
2) increase build cost by using components that are more heat tolerant
3) say F*ckit, use cheapy components and accept that most units will fall over and die 3 days out of warranty.

Clearly options 1) and 2) add to cost, whereas 3) is a budget option. If you want a workhorse laptop that will last a reasonable length of time you are probably going to have to pay a bit more for it. If you buy cheap as chips then expect it to last as long as a bag of chips.

IMVHO (and all based on personal experience) I wouldn't touch a Toshiba again (3 motherboards in 13 months ) Sony Vaio range seem very well built and seem to last - I'd recommend to anyone. That said I do know of one colleague that has had real issues with his Vaio. Dells seem OK ish (although the cheaper offerings don't really last well). Similarly Compaq

One other point though is to look at what you want from a laptop. If you only really want a very lightweight (both physically and in terms of performance) machine for reading emails on the go and typing a few documents, some of the ultrasmall netbooks use very little electrical power and thus stay very cool. I currently have a Samsung NC10 and this often gives me 8 hrs battery life. Can't complain.

Just my £0.02, Hope this helps
Buying cheap isn't always a good guide any more - many of the big brands just stick their name on Chinese impots - even Sony!!!

Dell don't make their own laptops any more - all rebranded.

A "cheap" laptop may be better than a faster one because a slow cpu generates less heat.

There isn't really much to choose between makes - HP/Compaq and Toshiba are generally the best although they also do budget and business models. I have seen good and bad Vaios as with all the others. I was unfortunate enough to have had 3 bad ones!!!

My current HP is excellent - that is what I would spend £500 on - don't get too big a screen - they are unweildy.
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Old 13 November 2009, 18:47   #8
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Thanks guys, certainly food for thought there.

I'll have to make a decision in the next few days - the Dell's battery is about shot, there are 15 lines on her 17" inch screen, the DVD reader can do only 30 mins non-stop before freezing and her second charger/power supply is on the fritz...
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Old 13 November 2009, 20:46   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nasher View Post
I recently purchased a Refurbished desktop from the PC world website.
Although I'm no great PC World fan, Nasher has a good point. You would also be well advised to look at their business website as well www.pcwb.co.uk as this often has more business oriented options rather than the sparkles but no substance that seems more favoured with the domestic market.

Also check the other regular options of www.insight.com, www.dabs.com and www.misco.co.uk. There's no hard and fast rule has to who is the cheapest as they all have offers that change more rapidly than an Essex girl's boyfriend. Check em all out and see what you like
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Old 14 November 2009, 00:05   #10
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http://www.bigpockets.co.uk/

They usually have a good selection of refurb laptops - mate has just bought 2 multi coloured ones for his daughters.
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Old 14 November 2009, 03:59   #11
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Willk - have also had a very good experience with Dell - even their cheaper models - one piece of advice that someone suggested to me when I started down the Dell route of ownership was to do as follows:

1. Ring for a quote

2. Tell them you will think about it - but agree they can ring you back in a few days to check on your decision

3. Wait for them to ring back

4. Tell them you have bettered the quote and will be buying elsewhere

5. They will offer to come in under - now you can start getting the price you want

Has worked everytime for me - my last one purchased through and for work is an Dell xps 15 - original price £1400 - I finally got it for £800 plus 3 years on site warrenty and blueray DVD/RW

Its worth haggling when it comes to PC's

On the Acer front I have just bought an Acer Netbook - again seems very good and reliable and well constructed. I also have a Sony Vaio P - useless as a PC - very slow but a cracking bit of design

Buying laptops is all very subjective - go to PC World have a play and then find it cheaper online - just ensure it's easy to return if you do have any problems

J
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Old 15 November 2009, 09:41   #12
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For Dell use their outlet website, its far cheaper, you need to check daily for new stock, Dell outlet.

Another decent website is UK Hot Deals, they have a system of posting the best deals around which are then rated by the sites users.
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Old 15 November 2009, 16:43   #13
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Thank you all

Thanks to everyone for the advice, all posts were read and clickies clicked

An ex-demo Vista () unit was purchased from PC World today.

14" LED
DVD-R/W
3/250 Gb
Pentium somethingorother
8hr Battery (!)
1" thick, weighs 2Kg
£430 - full warranty
Windows 7 upgrade ordered.

Fingers crossed that it lasts the frenzied keyboard abuse you lot will induce
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Old 15 November 2009, 16:50   #14
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Congratulations that man - what make was it in the end??

Sounds like a good spec for the price

Ive heard the somethingorother processors are very reliable - I have used them a lot!!

J
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Old 15 November 2009, 17:21   #15
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what make was it in the end??J
Ahh, I deliberately didn't mention that, so's not to hurt any feelings (or face ridicule for that matter). Suffice it to say it was purchased on the strength of the advice given by all. The spec is fine but the the clincher was the size of the thing, or lack thereof. It has Laptop spec in an almost Netbook format. I think we'll be very happy together.

Quote:
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Ive heard the somethingorother processors are very reliable - I have used them a lot!
The charming young sales lady in stage makeup assured me that it had an adequate number of mega-hurts and whirly-gigs.
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Old 15 November 2009, 17:28   #16
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The charming young sales lady in stage makeup assured me that it had an adequate number of mega-hurts and whirly-gigs.
I probably should also acknowledge the invaluable assistance of the Network Systems Manager from my wireless ISP, who made a site visit to PC World on a Sunday and give the kit the OK. Bought me a Supersized Big Mac too

Thanks DonegalDan!
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Old 15 November 2009, 19:27   #17
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Originally Posted by willk View Post
Thanks to everyone for the advice, all posts were read and clickies clicked

An ex-demo Vista () unit was purchased from PC World today.

14" LED
DVD-R/W
3/250 Gb
Pentium somethingorother
8hr Battery (!)
1" thick, weighs 2Kg
£430 - full warranty
Windows 7 upgrade ordered.

Fingers crossed that it lasts the frenzied keyboard abuse you lot will induce


Quote:
Originally Posted by Knot Yet View Post
what make was it in the end??
Could it be the Acer Aspire Timeline 4810T-353

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/martprd/pro...rmationSection


Only £399.99 had you bought it online, willk.
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Old 16 November 2009, 05:05   #18
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Ahh, I deliberately didn't mention that, so's not to hurt any feelings (or face ridicule for that matter).
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Only £399.99 had you bought it online, willk.
Yes indeed, little Curious One, if only I could have. In your rush to post you overlooked their Terms & Conditions:
___________
WHERE DO WE DELIVER TO?

For smaller items delivery is to addresses within the United Kingdom only. This excludes the Channel Islands and BFPO addresses. We can deliver all large appliances to any address in the United Kingdom excluding the Channel Islands. For customers living in the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly and some of the Scottish Islands we recommend that customer’s choose a private courier who can ship it to them directly.
___________

There are a number of unsatisfactory "workarounds", none of which I'd risk with an item that I really want a valid warranty for.

FWIW ('cos I know now that you really care, Brad ), Online sales from the UK have been becoming increasingly problematic of late. Firstly, many companies will not ship goods to a non-billing address and secondly will not accept payment from a c. card unless verified by a (preferably UK) post code. I don't have any postcode!

Hopefully they spend the £30 on better quality Slap!
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Old 16 November 2009, 05:12   #19
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I had no idea it was that much of a challenge to get stuff ordered to Ireland - what a pain
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Old 16 November 2009, 07:21   #20
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In your rush to post you overlooked their Terms & Conditions:
No, I had digested all the small print, but assumed someone of your means would have had a little 'pied-à-terre' on the 'mainland' , not to mention a couple of discreet bank accounts.
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