Author Topic: Need Help Choosing A New Laptop  (Read 7304 times)

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Offline .XL

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Need Help Choosing A New Laptop
« on: Thu, 10 March 2011, 16:57:33 »
If any place can find the perfect laptop for my dad, it's geekhack! I ask the collective masses for help finding my dad a new one. My dad has been looking around for a new laptop for a week or two, as his old one has been shutting itself off and overheating quite often.

A friend of his in Hong Kong told him to get a Z-series if he needs one now, but to wait because Sony is coming out with a new laptop in a month or two. My dad has always loved Fujitsu, and his 'travel' laptop is a 12'' Fujitsu thingy that has keys the size of actual chiclets and manages to piss me off to no end.

I recommended to him the Lenovo 410s; it seems to have a lot of what he's looking for and more.

These are his requirements (he's not too picky):
-At least 9 or 10 hours battery life
-Good quality screen
-Quad-core preferred, dual core passable

He mostly uses the laptop at home after work to browse the web and do some light photo editing. He also takes it on trips to China, so he needs long battery life (I read the Lenovo 410s has a big 18-hour 9cell...is this true?). It also has to have a good build quality...he prefers 'well-built' things (part of why he hates his old laptop...it's a cheap feeling Gateway).

His max budget is $3000.

Thanks in advance everyone!
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Offline kill will

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« Reply #1 on: Thu, 10 March 2011, 17:49:56 »
the fastest ibm with the best screen size for you in your budget.  thats a good gift.
I <3 BS

Offline manfaux

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« Reply #2 on: Thu, 10 March 2011, 19:00:56 »
The Thinkpad X220 should be out soon, it has the optional 9 cell with sufficient battery life, along with an optional IPS screen, spec it all the way with SSD, probably be somewhere around $1500.

Offline Pylon

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« Reply #3 on: Thu, 10 March 2011, 20:07:39 »
X220 sounds perfect for him.

Offline .XL

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« Reply #4 on: Sat, 12 March 2011, 12:43:48 »
So Lenovo would be the best bet? How's the build quality nowadays? I've heard horror stories about quality loss but is that just the odd laptop out? He'd be keeping it for a few years so build quality and overall quality is important. The old IBMs didn't age well.
Keyboards: Filco Majestouch-2 87key Browns - Realforce 103UB 55g - Compaq MX11800 (ghetto clears + doubleshots)

Offline Lpb45

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« Reply #5 on: Sat, 12 March 2011, 19:37:48 »
if hes willing to spend that much tell him to just wait for the new z series, although all of the lenovos mentioned are good aswell or the asus u36
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Offline panda-R

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« Reply #6 on: Sat, 12 March 2011, 23:03:35 »
the new Alienware M17x with klipsch speakers and sandy bridge!
DO YOU FEEL THE BEAT? I DO.
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Offline keyboardlover

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« Reply #7 on: Sat, 12 March 2011, 23:12:47 »
Quote from: panda-R;310867
the new Alienware M17x with klipsch speakers and sandy bridge!


What happened to our Counter Strike play date today?

Offline panda-R

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« Reply #8 on: Sun, 13 March 2011, 00:03:30 »
Quote from: keyboardlover;310869
What happened to our Counter Strike play date today?


sorry bro, i was taken away and forced to watch the Battle: LA!
DO YOU FEEL THE BEAT? I DO.
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Offline Lpb45

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« Reply #9 on: Sun, 13 March 2011, 13:13:19 »
Quote from: panda-R;310880
sorry bro, i was taken away and forced to watch the Battle: LA!


how was it?  I kinda wanna see it
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Offline Xuan

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« Reply #10 on: Sun, 13 March 2011, 16:03:07 »
Check lenovo's site they have some nice discounts for Saint Patrick's day.

Offline panda-R

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« Reply #11 on: Sun, 13 March 2011, 20:09:35 »
Quote from: Lpb45;311053
how was it?  I kinda wanna see it


its a mindless action flick, so its not bad!~
DO YOU FEEL THE BEAT? I DO.
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Offline thatdudeberto

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« Reply #12 on: Sat, 19 March 2011, 06:30:59 »
ASUS U series has some nice laptops that offer 8-11 hours of battery life with a price range of 750 to about 2000 dollars. I recommend using xoticpc.com they have amazing customer service and a huge selection of customizable laptops. If not, I hate to say it but a Mac book has some pretty good battery life specs. But please do check out ASUS.

Anyways, good luck to you and your dad.

Offline pietro

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« Reply #13 on: Wed, 23 March 2011, 23:24:12 »
Check out this guys T61 setup.

http://andrew.huang.usesthis.com/

His needs are already much greater than your dads, but would certainly encompass them.   Andrew Huang knows hardware, and his setup is based on proven good design and software.   You can get his setup for well under $3000.

IBM finance sells used certified used T61s for a reasonable price, and you can buy a warranty extension from them.  Alternatively, they go for less on craigslist or ebay if you want to take your chances.   Whatever you do, don't get a model with NVIDIA graphics though since that's the main known defect in some T61 models.

Offline .XL

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« Reply #14 on: Thu, 24 March 2011, 01:29:53 »
Quote from: pietro;317399
Check out this guys T61 setup.

http://andrew.huang.usesthis.com/

His needs are already much greater than your dads, but would certainly encompass them.   Andrew Huang knows hardware, and his setup is based on proven good design and software.   You can get his setup for well under $3000.

IBM finance sells used certified used T61s for a reasonable price, and you can buy a warranty extension from them.  Alternatively, they go for less on craigslist or ebay if you want to take your chances.   Whatever you do, don't get a model with NVIDIA graphics though since that's the main known defect in some T61 models.


This guy is SERIOUS. Bookmarked for further reference. Thanks for this!
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Offline panda-R

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« Reply #15 on: Fri, 25 March 2011, 17:44:53 »
PANDA-R needs a new laptop too... my Asus G1s with the dreaded 8600M GT just took a dump.

Whats the alternative to the MBP 13.3? It look hot!
DO YOU FEEL THE BEAT? I DO.
One Keyboard to DOOM them all, REALFORCE.

Offline panda-R

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« Reply #16 on: Fri, 25 March 2011, 18:35:15 »
Quote from: ripster;318587
13" isn't hipster.  Or even pandster.


ok fine it was too cute to be true. I'll just get the 15 cuz i know u want me to.
DO YOU FEEL THE BEAT? I DO.
One Keyboard to DOOM them all, REALFORCE.

Offline Pylon

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« Reply #17 on: Fri, 25 March 2011, 19:21:11 »
Well, a Macbook Pro has that panda black/gray scheme so it should fit well/

Offline panda-R

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« Reply #18 on: Fri, 25 March 2011, 20:34:33 »
i think he's suggesting i buy that HP but i don't know what it is~!
DO YOU FEEL THE BEAT? I DO.
One Keyboard to DOOM them all, REALFORCE.

Offline NamelessPFG

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« Reply #19 on: Fri, 25 March 2011, 20:50:56 »
I'm all but certain it's an HP DM1z. I only know because ripster himself said that we should do some benchmark comparisons once I got my HP 2730p (which I've had for two weeks now and couldn't be happier with, maybe unless it was a 2740p with multi-touch and the Hydis outdoor LCD installed).

(By the way, if 13" isn't hipster, what might 12" be-or not be?)

Offline keyboardlover

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« Reply #20 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 01:41:18 »
Thinkpad sales Black Friday weekend are the best. Got my W500 w/ SSD for a song.

Offline EverythingIBM

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« Reply #21 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 14:19:27 »
Quote from: .XL;310534
So Lenovo would be the best bet? How's the build quality nowadays? I've heard horror stories about quality loss but is that just the odd laptop out? He'd be keeping it for a few years so build quality and overall quality is important. The old IBMs didn't age well.


Depends which thinkpad you're referring to. There's a lot of old thinkpads which still work great; my lenovo IBM-branded thinkpad is no longer functional, however. Lenovo built the T60s with awful cooling.
Thinkpads at 1997 and before should be better quality though.

But are the differences from IBM to lenovo significant? Well:
#1 IBM resells lenovo branded computers under the "IBM quality" standard.
#2 IBM really cheapened their PC stuff in 2000... so the quality contrast to lenovo is really not noticeable, unless you're buying some fancy expensive IBM server/workstation thing.

To conclude, there really shouldn't be any worrying over the quality of lenovo seeing as IBM would be building PC equipment at the same standard.
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Offline EverythingIBM

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« Reply #22 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 15:32:30 »
Quote from: ripster;319041
I hear the Thinkpad keyboards are better but they changed their scissor switch technology it seems randomly.  See the "All About Scissor Switches" wiki for details.


Every model of thinkpad has a slightly different keyboard it seems...
My T60 [does] feels a little different from a T61, and so forth (actually, they even changed the colour of the lavender plastic even from T60 to T61; it's not as purple anymore).

With that said, they're just rubber domes. Nothing to wet yourself over. The only thing that makes the keyboards any good is the high profile.
And if lenovo really wanted a good keyboard, they'd use a proper switch technology instead of the 'domes.
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Offline EverythingIBM

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« Reply #23 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 15:50:33 »
Quote from: ripster;319086
Yep, that's what I got out of doing the wiki as well.  Some of those scissors look like anybody else's scissor.

I call this the "Vintage Model M Beats Unicomp" nostalgia effect.


The older model Ms have bigger LEDs (which I enjoy; but a visual aesthetic hardly contributes to the feel of the keyboard!)... they are the same in the end no matter which way you cut it.
And the unicomps have the advantage of being fresh from the factory for a better feel; opposed to old Model Ms traded back and forth between geriatric aficionados which will eventually wear out. At least... not feel as good as when they were new.

I personally prefer the IBM logo over the ugly unicomp one, but just the typing experience would be just as pleasant.

Anyways... the thinkpad's keyboard switches can have minor variances (actually, older ones feel more sucky like the T42: could be due to age as well), but they're just standard stuff. Saying the thinkpad's 'domes are better than another laptop's 'domes isn't saying much... domes all suck in the end.
BUT, like I said, the high key profile on the thinkpad is really the only major benefit of it; I personally loved it for that.... NOT because of the 'domes.

It would be cool if some of the manufacturers would start putting in some ALPs or Cherries for a change... I'm sick of rubber domes.
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Offline ch_123

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« Reply #24 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 18:33:42 »
Had to replace the fan in my T61, it was perfectly functional, but some of the bearings were gone so it was making an awful rattle when it was on. Was able to get a new fan off eBay for ~$10, manual told me how to take the thing apart. I think I had the thing dismantled, fixed, and reassembled in about an hour. Beats sending it off for repairs.

The thing that bothered me the most about the T61's construction was the keyboard. It's sturdy in the center, but there's a worrying amount of flex on the left and right, you can do some pretty dramatic bending of the keyboard. This is more than likely due to the fact that the backplate of the keyboard has a lot of holes in it to assist cooling.

Offline .XL

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« Reply #25 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 18:33:56 »
@Ripster - he's not in a rush, seeing as he bought a new 15'' Asus off Woot at around half price. He wants the 15'' for the house, the smaller/more powerful one for travelling. He won't be going anywhere til about June so he's got time to wait and shop around :p
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Offline ch_123

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« Reply #26 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 18:40:38 »
Quote from: ripster;319086
Yep, that's what I got out of doing the wiki as well.  Some of those scissors look like anybody else's scissor.

I call this the "Vintage Model M Beats Unicomp" nostalgia effect.


The difference here being that older Model Ms are different to newer ones in terms of feel. Not necessarily in an ideal way though.

Offline Exoverture

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« Reply #27 on: Sat, 26 March 2011, 20:29:12 »
The Lenovo looks good.

I have a MBP, former Apple hater. I believe the older Macs were terrible value, but the new ones (more namely the MBP) are great.

It's just a nice experience overall with OSX and the MBP. The trackpad is the big sell point in my opinion, along with the great build quality. Sure like me some aluminum. Trackpads on most PC laptops are annoyingly small and just not fun to use imo.

A lot of the hand gestures to scroll through things and back/forward & tabbing is a lot easier I find.

Though, if you want amazing performance, I'd go with a PC. The newest MBP's have i5/i7's in em though.

Offline .XL

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« Reply #28 on: Sun, 27 March 2011, 04:01:35 »
Quote from: Exoverture;319247
The Lenovo looks good.

I have a MBP, former Apple hater. I believe the older Macs were terrible value, but the new ones (more namely the MBP) are great.

It's just a nice experience overall with OSX and the MBP. The trackpad is the big sell point in my opinion, along with the great build quality. Sure like me some aluminum. Trackpads on most PC laptops are annoyingly small and just not fun to use imo.

A lot of the hand gestures to scroll through things and back/forward & tabbing is a lot easier I find.

Though, if you want amazing performance, I'd go with a PC. The newest MBP's have i5/i7's in em though.


Former Apple hater here, too. I found their MBP's offer very good value for the money, as opposed to the mp3's/phones/imacs. The aluminum unibody is great, the battery is still going strong after 1.5 years, the trackpad is great, the keyboard is nice (backlighting comes in handy), and I quite like OS X.

Hell...Apple as a company is pretty sweet, too. My friend spilled Fanta on my keyboard, so we took it to Apple expecting him to have to pay some $500 to get keyboard and trackpad replaced, but then the computer wouldn't turn on. I spoke to the guys at the 'genius' bar and one of them took it in the back, opened it up, and saw the ram and mainboard had liquid damage and had shorted. To not make a long story longer, the ENTIRE laptop, with the exception of the screen, was replace. Unibody along with everything in it. For free. I have extended warranty...but that doesn't cover spills. I guess they were feeling generous and/or clearing out old stock?
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Offline ch_123

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« Reply #29 on: Sun, 27 March 2011, 05:52:06 »
Quote from: Exoverture;319247
The Lenovo looks good.

I have a MBP, former Apple hater. I believe the older Macs were terrible value, but the new ones (more namely the MBP) are great.

It's just a nice experience overall with OSX and the MBP. The trackpad is the big sell point in my opinion, along with the great build quality. Sure like me some aluminum. Trackpads on most PC laptops are annoyingly small and just not fun to use imo.

A lot of the hand gestures to scroll through things and back/forward & tabbing is a lot easier I find.

Though, if you want amazing performance, I'd go with a PC. The newest MBP's have i5/i7's in em though.


And when the battery wears out, you can always remov... Oh wait. Now I remember why I plan on never buying a Mactop.

Offline hcry4

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« Reply #30 on: Sun, 27 March 2011, 10:03:56 »
Quote from: ch_123;319457
And when the battery wears out, you can always remov... Oh wait. Now I remember why I plan on never buying a Mactop.


I think for most people who buy Macbooks, by the time that happens, they would probably have already bought the next iteration.

Offline NamelessPFG

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« Reply #31 on: Sun, 27 March 2011, 12:13:54 »
If only they still made 'em like the PowerBook G3s and gave 'em dual modular bays.

Dual main batteries, use one as an optical drive or a second hard drive bay...and of course, it's all easily hotswappable. (Otherwise, they wouldn't be modular bays, would they?)

In lieu of that, they could at least give them slice batteries and/or docking stations.

Here's my bigger question regarding the MacBooks: why are they still using TN panels, even in the smaller 11" and 13" ones?

Offline Exoverture

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« Reply #32 on: Sun, 27 March 2011, 12:35:49 »
Quote from: ch_123;319457
And when the battery wears out, you can always remov... Oh wait. Now I remember why I plan on never buying a Mactop.

3 years down the line? :)

Quote from: NamelessPFG;319605
Here's my bigger question regarding the MacBooks: why are they still using TN panels, even in the smaller 11" and 13" ones?

It is a bit disappointing. I'm sure the next few out will be replaced with IPS screens as the iMacs are already IPS.

It doesn't bother me too much though - and I have an IPS screen on my main PC.
« Last Edit: Sun, 27 March 2011, 12:38:46 by Exoverture »

Offline ch_123

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« Reply #33 on: Sun, 27 March 2011, 17:00:53 »
Quote from: Exoverture;319615
3 years down the line? :)


Depends on the laptop, and how regularly you use the thing. If you're on the road a lot, that may be shorter.

Besides, if I spend $1500-2000 on a laptop, I want it to last more than three years. My Thinkpad is 3 years old, and I will be glad to use it as my main laptop for another year or even two, and will hope that I can have it as a backup machine longer than that. The attitude of the throwaway computer is utterly stupid to me.

Offline Exoverture

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« Reply #34 on: Mon, 28 March 2011, 22:09:02 »
Quote from: ch_123;319729
Besides, if I spend $1500-2000 on a laptop, I want it to last more than three years.

Well. I've had my Macbook since July 2010, it's at 93% (or 97%? cant remember) battery life still. It's not bad.

It also cost me only $1149 for the Macbook Pro. I am still an avid PC user, and would not consider iMacs over PC desktops, but as a laptop, Macbook's experience is second to none imo. I just haven't experienced the quality in a PC laptop before, and the usability. OS is a different story, more preference than anything.

Offline panda-R

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« Reply #35 on: Tue, 29 March 2011, 01:19:21 »
bloody hell macbook pro's are so expensive.
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Offline EverythingIBM

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« Reply #36 on: Tue, 29 March 2011, 02:53:13 »
Quote from: Exoverture;320398
Well. I've had my Macbook since July 2010, it's at 93% (or 97%? cant remember) battery life still. It's not bad.

It also cost me only $1149 for the Macbook Pro. I am still an avid PC user, and would not consider iMacs over PC desktops, but as a laptop, Macbook's experience is second to none imo. I just haven't experienced the quality in a PC laptop before, and the usability. OS is a different story, more preference than anything.


MacBooks are really awful when it comes to opening up to fix or whatever (ESPECIALLY iBooks). The best laptops for that, I think, are thinkpads. My thinkpad was so easy to pop open and whatnot, the battery is easy to change as it's not integrated inside the chassis. Also, the CD drive has a little latch so you can pop it out and change it (no screws needed, although you can put one in), or, use the bay for something else.
Mind you, said thinkpad isn't even working anymore, so... not sure what I can say about that in terms of credibility. There was some survey saying lenovo laptops only last three years... I never believed it, but I am sure close to it now...

Quote from: panda-R;320476
bloody hell macbook pro's are so expensive.


They are expensive due to inflation. All OEMs do that... Apple is just one of the more abusive when it comes to that.
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Offline .XL

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« Reply #37 on: Tue, 29 March 2011, 20:16:54 »
I've opened up my Macbook Pro twice...it's not that hard, and you can find replacement parts online. The laptops are a little more expensive than similar offerings from other companies, but considering you're getting a much better casing, better quality screen, and a backlit keyboard things start to even out.

Not to mention they'll do stuff like replace your entire laptop, minus the screen, for free. And overnight it both ways, too.

As a company, I'm on the fence with Apple. As far as their non-computer offerings go I would probably never bother, I don't like how closed their whole system is (though it makes sense). I really like their computers, though. But Lion is looking pretty dumb...they're trying to turn the PC into an iPad??
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