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Thinking about getting a lap-top computer

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johnelliott

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Now that it is obvious that there is a great deal of computer expertise on this forum-
Maybe it would be a good idea to invest in a new computer. It ought to be portable so that I could take it when I visit potential customers. These are the things I want to be able to do with it
1. Show customers images of previous jobs
2. Have some kind of simple estimating program, perhaps a spreadsheet, so that I can quickly calculate the cost of doing their work, and perhaps impress them that I'm not just guessing
3. I would really like some voice recognition software so as to speed up the process of writing estimates and other business stuff. This isn't essential but desirable
4. Do internet stuff, including downloading music, but ideally without picking up a load of unwanted stuff along the way such as viruses , spy programs etc
5. Normal word processing and accounting programs
I think thats it, the only games I would want to play are FreeCell and Minesweeper
Look forward to receiving suggestions as to what I should be looking for. eg is it worth paying the extra and getting a Sony?
John
 

Adam

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I think most laptops could do the tasks you mention easily, the only thing I'd definately suggest, if you are not really "in" to computers, is to make sure the CR-drive can "write" to CD's. This allows you to burn all the data on it to disk, providing a backup. Any new computer will come with the functionality you describe, although you may find voice recognition software far from ideal.

I've been reasonably successfull with

www.dell.co.uk

(it's worth noting what you call a laptop, they call a "notebook").

Adam
 
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Anonymous

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Sony are stylish and funky but you do pay over the odds for them. Ditto Apple

most businesses use well-known and established brands like toshiba, HP and IBM as they are reliable and easy to get spare parts for if they get damaged

A lot of independents in the IT industry buy Dell as good value for money. Only down side is that if anything breaks physically they can be difficult or expensive to get repaired as you have to ship it back to Dell instead of beng able to go back to the local retailer.

Agree with Adam that a CD burner is a good idea for backing up data and being able to provide people with copies of large image files

Voice recognition is still not really mainstream - it may be Ok for dictating prose text if you are in a very quiet background environment, but for something like quotes where the data is very random and needs a lot of formatting it will almost certainly be quicker and more accurate to use the keyboard

other than that, most of the stuff that is on the market should be suitable, and if you don't want to edit movies and play fast graphics-intensive games then there is little point paying top dollar for the latest, highest spec machine....go for something a bit off the cutting edge for a lot less money.

If it doesn't come with a virus scanner bundled buy one, make sure it regularly updates, enable microsoft auto-update for their security patches (of which there is an almost daily stream) and look at getting one of the spyware scanners....your machine will get infected, so you have to make the effort to keep the protection up to date and regularly clean it up

m
 
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Anonymous

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John

I have been using Notebooks/Laptops as my main machine for about 6 years now.

In industry one usually gets given a Toshiba or IBM as both are tough as nails. Unfortunately, their price is very high for what you get

I (and most of my colleagues) only ever buy Dell Inspiron 8xxx or 5xxx now and am on my 2nd which is a 3.02GHz P4 with 15"screen, NVidia 3D graphics 512 MB RAM 60GB Disk and internal CD writer - £900 + VAT.

First Dell Inspiron is still going strong after 3 1/2 years and my wife uses it - never a problem with it. Never tried the Dell Latititude.

If I were to buy another Notebook, there is only one place I would look. www.dell.co.uk

Edited to be more specific about the Dell model - I wouldn't consider the latitude, only the Inspiron
 

Neil

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I was never very fond of Dell, but at work it is all I recommend nowadays - they have obviously beaten me into submission over the years :roll: To be honest, they are so in bed with Intel & Microsoft that it is difficult for anyone else to compete with them on price.

In terms of reliability (an important consideration in a laptop) they are pretty run-of-the-mill - if you don't want to be fixing these things yourself, I would recommend that you pay the extra for the 3-yr warranty.

IBM Thinkpads are generally regarded as the most reliable machines if you want to look at another brand. They also have the best keyboards. Toshiba are second in the reliablity stakes, but tend to be overpriced as Tony said.

Steer clear of Sony - they look very stylish, but woe betide you if it breaks after the (1-yr) warranty period - it costs €20 just to tell someone what the problem is, and that it just the start it - €200 for a new keyboard, anyone? :evil:

Agree with Adam on the CD-writer, although as he says, you'd be hard pushed to buy a new laptop without one now. Also agree on Adam's comment on voice recognition software - if you go down this route, I hope patience is one of your virtues!

NeilCFD
 

Charley

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I bought a baby Sony Vaio at the airport the other week. It's a great little machine and great for on the move but I wouldn't recommend it if it's going to be your main computer as it isn't powerful enough at 1.ghz,512mb ram and a baby 40gb hard drive. It seems you pay more money for the smaller laptops that are less powerful then you do for the bigger laptops are faster.

Sorry I can't help much as laptops aren't really my thing but if you want a PC building I'm your man ;)
 
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Anonymous

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my company's standard lap-top is a dell splatitude - build quality on these leaves quite a lot to be desired - the keyboard WILL go, and fairly soon too! The battery WILL go, also fairly soon. Power supplies are odd - with the recent models, you need a different supply for a docking station to what you need when on-the-move. Lots of the bits are Dell proprietary - locks you in.

Experience has shown me that Tosh are pretty indestructible - IBM too, but I have a personal thing against stink-pads :)

Virus scanner, firewall, spy-ware remover vital. Recommend Ad-aware as a spy-ware killer - http://www.lavasoft.de
 
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Anonymous

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Espedair Street":irpq73pb said:
Lots of the bits are Dell proprietary - locks you in.
This is the case with ALL notebooks and their only real disadvantage when compared to desktops
 

cambournepete

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My company has standardised on Compaq, having used Dell and Toshiba, as they are supposedly easier for IT to maintain. That said, they're pretty inept so their opinion is probably worthless :D .

If I were in your position I'd look at getting a known make with proper on-site service, so that leaves Dell as the obvious choice, but Sony do a commercial on-site extended warranty for £239 extra for a full 3 years.

HTH
 

thomaskennedy

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A good program for downloading music is Shareaza

It has no spy/adware etc.

NOT that i know anything about these sorts of things :roll: :wink: ...errr...a *friend* told me about it :wink: :wink:

hope this helps, gosh, i sound like that Who wants to be a millionaire game :?

Ta

Tom
 
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Anonymous

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There have been a number of recommendations for Dell in this thread. I have to say that my wife's Inspiron has been pretty average.

From personal experience I found the following company very helpful with regard to repairing hers when out of Dell warranty. They also provided the port replicator we wanted after being sold one that didn't really do what we wanted by Dell themselves.

www.portables.co.uk/index.htm

They also seem to do reconditioned, trade ins etc. May be worth a look.

Regards

Roy
 
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Anonymous

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John

One thing worth adding is that when asking this type of question, one should always consider the experience and level of knowledge of respondants. Also, the type of use they get eg. mainly internet + email, graphic work, Office apps (excel, Word), 3 D grpahics work, CAD, numerical analysis etc.

I have no 'real' problems what-so-ever with any of my 3 laptops and 4 desktops but then I would class myself as a very accomplished expert who has built in excess of 100 machines since 1989 and I use 2 of my PCs all day every day at work for all of the things I listed above.

My father in law hasn't a clue about PCs and constantly phones me up with this problem and that problem. One of my desktop PCs is the same as his and whilst I would say it is great + i have had no trouble at all. He would say it is rubbish and always going wrong! :roll:

Food for thought, eh?
 
A

Anonymous

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One thing to be aware of with a laptop (or notebook) is the facilities for backing it up so that if something goes awry you can get it back into operation with the minimum delay. This often gets overlooked as a potential problem area.

Some people say "I'm okay, I copy my important data to floppy disk". Okay, fine. But what are they going to do if the hard disk crashes and needs to be replaced?

Basically you need a means of copying the contents of the hard disk verbatim, including operating system, program files AND data. And this needs to be done frequently enough for you not to lose more than you have to (say monthly at the outside).

To do this job you need a product such as Exact Image:

http://ei.drive-backup.com/

This will allow you to create the recovery image on writable CD's.

I wonder how many people here have a proper backup/restore arrangement even for their PC? It tends to be overlooked by most people until such time as they need to recover, when it's too late.

Andrew
 

Newbie_Neil

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If you only do one thing with a laptop, make sure it is to buy the extended three year warranty.

If anything goes wrong they can be very expensive to repair.

Cheers
Neil
 
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Anonymous

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Generally backup is not a problem as most half decent new laptops have a CD writer on board.

However, my 'data' and research material has reached over 3GB which fits very easily onto modern HDs, nut not a CD or two.

The solution was a USB2 DVD writer from PC World for £120. I now backup everything to a DVD from my laptop on the USB 2 interface.

Note that USB2 transfers at 480MBS whereas USB1.1 'only' managed 12MBS - thus USB2 is the only interface that can be used in this way (OK, firewire and PCMICA will do it too of course but are less commonly supported)
 

AlanG

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Just to breath a bit of life into an old thread:
I took Tony ‘s advice and ordered a Dell inspiron over the internet, that was a week ago and I am still waiting for a order confirmation from Dell !
The site allowed me to start the order, but when it reached the payment page and the details were entered, the connection timed out and would not let me finish the order.
The next day I finished the order over the phone with a helpful Dell employee who assured me that the order would be confirmed by E-mail later that day. It was not, nor the next day. I found that it was just like buying a new car; as soon as you sign on the dotted line they don’t give a …….

I have been bounced around their Indian call centres, ignored on their voice mail: Finally after an E-mail to the boss, I got a reply and was told that they had lost my order and they would re order for me and confirm the order that afternoon by E-mail: What I got was a customer satisfaction survey! And still no order!

I have never had so much trouble spending £1300. :evil:

Alan
 
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Anonymous

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Alan that stinks!!! The PC will be great but can you put up with the rubbish customer service???

Neither of my Dell laptops have had any error at all and so after sales did not come into it for me :)
 

trevtheturner

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I recently purchased my replacement computer, plus extras, from Dell. Placed my order by 'phone through their India call centre, received confirmation of order by snail mail three days later and all the kit arrived on the seventh day, as promised, after placing the order. Pleased with the kit and the excellent service. Call centre operator even supplied me with his name and dedicated 'phone number, without me asking, in case I wanted to go back to him for any reason.

You seem to have been unlucky, Alan. :cry:

Trev.
 

Alf

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trevtheturner":7b5y81r9 said:
You seem to have been unlucky, Alan. :cry:
Not that it's going to make you feel any better, Alan, but I agree. I had no trouble with Dell at all; the 'puter even turned up earlier than expected. Might be a Christmas rush problem?


Cheers, Alf
 

AlanG

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Thank you for the reassuring words Tony, Alf and Trevor.
The computer is a Christmas present for my Daughter so I am concerned about the delivery date.
I do believe it was the right choice of system (thanks again Tony) just hope it gets here in time.

Alan.
 
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